This article originally appeared on Crossfader.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I clicked on the first episode of this show. In a dystopian world riddled with menacing, Daft Punk-looking soldiers called Biotics, the lives of a poor family are saved by a lone hero: Josh Futterman (Josh Hutcherson), a.k.a. Future Man. He dazzles in his futuristic garb and artillery, making sure to deliver clichéd one-liners with every hit. The puns made me roll my eyes so much I thought my eyeballs were going to fall out of their sockets. I hated it until I realized that it was all a dream sequence—the horrifically cheesy dialogue actually a testament to the main character’s childish, but surprisingly clever, imagination. That, perhaps, is the essence of this show’s humor: amusing juvenility. And if you don’t take everything so seriously, this show is a gloriously funny and richly entertaining wild ride.
Suddenly, the hero’s dream fades and we meet him in real life: a janitor at a herpes research center who spends his free time trying to beat the “unbeatable” video game THE BIOTIC WARS. One night, he does the impossible; he gets past the last level. Then he’s visited by two soldiers from the same video game—actually from the future, they need his help to save all of humanity. And so lies the premise of this strange series. FUTURE MAN follows these three time-travelling oddballs on their quest to stop lead herpes researcher Dr. Elias Kronish (Keith David) from developing a “super cure” that destroys the world—a cure developed by experimenting on possum’s ejaculate. And believe it or not, the show only gets more eccentric from there.
“I see dead possums.”
The series takes us on a whirlwind journey through the decades, but it never fails to stay sharp and smart about its quips and gags. With each new episode the absurdity grows, and so does my love for this show. It’s just all so ridiculous, and unapologetically so. Every nonsensical choice these characters make suddenly becomes perfectly clear once the realization sets in that this show was made by the same people who created SAUSAGE PARTY and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. Unbeknownst to Tiger and Wolf, the apt wisdom of fighting and limitless physical abilities Josh used to beat the game are not skills he actually has in real life. Tensions further rise when Josh soon realizes that Tiger and Wolf, jaded by the harshness of the dystopia they came from, have no sense of social norms and morality. Many of the show’s running gags revolve around these two issues, and how the characters have to learn how to work together in order to save the world—that, and dick jokes. A lot of dick jokes.
Tiger and Wolf recruit Josh because he beat the video game that is actually a training simulation for soldiers in the future—which Josh mentions is exactly like THE LAST STARFIGHTER. Time and again, the series emulates bits and pieces (and sometimes whole chunks) of famous pop culture works and points out its own unoriginality. While it can often seem like a predictable pastiche at times, FUTURE MAN never fails to entertain with its goofy absurdities and surprisingly touching character relationships. If you’re looking for a sophisticated sci-fi show, you won’t find it here. Many of the main characters even repeatedly mention how many time travel rules they break. But if you just need a dumb show to watch after a long day, this is it. What I enjoy most about this show is how it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously—no plot point is too absurd and no joke too phallic.
Not sure what this show has more of: lens flares or dick jokes
FUTURE MAN does tend to have a lot of unnecessarily long scenes of violence that could have been cut down to make room for more character building. Despite that, the running time given to each of this show’s supporting characters is enough to build sympathy and love for them.
The world of this show is further enriched by its very energetic and hilarious cast. Everyone, from Josh’s doting parents Diane (Glenne Headly) and Gabe Futterman (Ed Begley Jr.), to bereaved Detective Vincent Skarsgaard (Robert Craighead), adds their own touch to the show’s absolute silliness. Coupe and Wilson shine in their roles as the murderous time travelling warriors, and Hutcherson does well to balance their intensity with his pragmatism and moral compass. Josh begins the series ambitionless. He expresses a want for something greater, but refuses to take any actions to find that greater thing. Until one day, when it is thrust upon him. Through the series, Josh tries to prove himself worthy of being a hero. He fails, a lot, but he never gives up. His growing ingenuity and fierceness, as well as his innate goodness, is actually kind of inspiring.
FUTURE MAN is a grossly stupid but ridiculously entertaining series about a geeky janitor recruited by time-travelling warriors to save humanity. If you’re coming into this show seeking to question to profundities of the universe, space, and time travel, I doubt you’ll make it past the first few episodes. But if you sometimes just need to laugh at a bunch of sophomoric jokes and goofy plot twists, spark a blunt like producers Rogen and Goldberg probably want you to and get ready to binge watch the shit out of this show.