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TV Review - 'Future Man' full of laughs and sci-fi

November 9, 2017 Updated: November 10, 2017 at 7:57 am
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Future Man -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- A janitor by day/world-ranked gamer by night is tasked with preventing the extinction of humanity after mysterious visitors from the future proclaim him the key to defeating the imminent super-race invasion. Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Josh Futturman (Josh Hutchinson), shown. (Photo by: Erin SimkinHulu)

"Future Man"

Cast: Josh Hutcherson ("The Hunger Games," "Bridge to Terabithia"), Eliza Coupe ("Casual," "House of Lies"), Derek Wilson ("Preacher," "The Good Wife"), Glenne Headly ("Don Jon," "Monk"), Ed Begley Jr. ("St. Elsewhere," "Better Call Saul")

Airs: Premieres on Hulu Nov. 14

The premise: Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson) has a mundane life. He lives with his parents and has a dead-end job as a janitor at a medical research company. His only passion is "Biotic Wars," a video game so difficult that no one else he knows even plays it. But when Josh beats the game, mysterious visitors from the future appear. They tell him that the world is in danger, and he's the only person who can save it.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's company, Point Grey Pictures, produces the series. Point Grey is the production company behind the AMC series "Preacher" and the films "Neighbors," "This is the End" and "Sausage Party."

Highs: "Future Man" was clearly made by people who grew up in the 1980s. It reminds me a lot of the Netflix series "Stranger Things," but with time travel and adult content. "Back to the Future," "Quantum Leap" and several other movies and TV shows are frequently referenced. An entire episode even makes fun of "Titanic" and "Avatar" director James Cameron. In this universe, Cameron has an AI named SIGRNE (pronounced Sigourney) that constantly refers to the director's accomplishments in a sarcastic tone. It's a half-hour long dig at Cameron's well-known ego.

Futturman, who goes by the gamertag Future Man, loves video games. He gets debates with snarky video game store employees about "Super Mario" and is even recruited by a futuristic team through a video game, which happens to be the plot for the 1984 film "The Last Starfighter." If you're a pop culture aficionado, this series will be right in your wheelhouse.

"Future Man's" movie and TV quips are always on target, but most of the humor comes from Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson). These two warriors from 2162 were raised in a wasteland where they had to fight to survive. The pair refer to mouths as "rat holes" and someone wearing glasses as a "window-faced man." Their inappropriate dialogue and penchant for unnecessary violence is surprisingly hilarious.

Lows: If you're a male Gen-Xer, the action, special effects and toilet humor can make for a compelling concoction. But because this show can be sophomoric, it's really only intended for a certain demographic. "Future Man" is a series made by guys from a certain generation, for guys of a certain generation.

"Future Man" shifts in tone as the series progresses. The first few episodes play out like an action-comedy, which Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg pull off beautifully. But subsequent episodes produce more drama and less humor, turning the series into a straight up sci-fi set piece with small comedic touches. The show remains entertaining throughout, as Wolf, Tiger and Josh's actions have serious ramifications. You'll want them to succeed. That said, "Future Man" loses some of its punch once the humor takes a backseat to the consequence heavy plot.

Grade: (B): In one episode of "Future Man," Wolf hears the '80s song "Sunglasses at Night." He likes it so much, he starts to introduce himself as Corey Wolfheart. Asked what he knows about cooking, Wolf replies, "Remove the hair, eat the meat." Characters in this series are ridiculous because they blend media of all types and use it for comedic purposes. This is what makes "Future Man" a series made for pop culture fans.

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Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.

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