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Sunday, April 10, 2016

So The World's Ending, Huh? Eh! I'm Cool Wit' That. Postmortem Review: You, Me and The Apocalypse #Postmortem #NBC #YMATA

So The World's Ending, Huh? Eh! I'm Cool Wit' That. Postmortem Review: You, Me and The Apocalypse #Postmortem #NBC #YMATA

All pictures courtesy of NBC unless otherwise noted 

Greetings, everybody! I'm back once again with another postmortem review of a show that went off the air at least a week ago and that few people watched, and that you probably couldn't give a damn about, so you know this review is gonna be good. As mentioned in one of my previous postmortem posts, since I didn't get to do a 3 week roundup on many of the new mid-season replacement shows, I decided that because many of these shows will only have 10 episodes and wouldn't normally have an extra back-order of episodes anyway, why not do a full review of the entire season. On deck next: You, Me and The Apocalypse.

Sigh! Where to begin. First, I guess I should commend NBC for trying something different in the last few years as far as the foreign acquisitions and rights department goes. If you haven't seen this show or don't know what I'm talking about, let me tell you. This show is a co-production between the American arm of NBC's parent company and a British TV production company. For those who don't know, which is virtually everybody because next to nobody here in America bothered watching it, NBC tried a very similar setup with Amy Poehler's brother's show Welcome To Sweden for not one but two surprising summer seasons. The show was made both for American and Swedish audiences, and was broadcast both in America and Sweden. Mixing familiar American comedy stars with Swedish stars, that show was an even harder sell as half of it was spoken in Swedish and highlighted the cultural differences of a fish-out-of-water American in a foreign country. Ultimately, it got canceled late last summer in the middle of its second season as American audiences could never adjust to the difference in humor, filming styles and the language barrier (half of the show was subtitled, which a great swath of filmgoers have yet to adjust to).

NBC, being the brave company they try to be, forged on with this idea, this time doing the same thing with You, Me and The Apocalypse (#YMATA), this time hoping that a mid-winter start, even more recognizable stars and a prime Thursday spot would help the British dramedy adjust to American judgment. So, did it? Does it hold up to American standards of comedy and storytelling? Well, while I can see this becoming an oft-used trend in the next decade rather than adopting British versions of shows (example: Graceland), I think NBC's experiment in foreign relations is off to a rocky start.

We begin each episode with the same scene to setup the premise of the show, which is also explained in the very title and gets redundant really quick. An asteroid is hurtling toward earth and will hit at any moment, destroying all life as we know it. The only people who may survive this catastrophe have huddled together in an underground bunker. The narrator of this madhouse (and a madhouse it is) explains to us how crazy the people within the walls of the bunker really are. From there, each episode focuses on one of the group, diving farther into their personal story while still maintaining a healthy glance at every other characters' back-story leading up to their encapsulation in the bunker. Following me still? I know, that was worded poorly but I'm not gonna fix it to make sure you were paying attention, because it gets weird and hella tangled from here. Bear with me as this thing's got a lotta characters and they're all important.

We re-begin with our supposed narrator, Jamie. A very, very... very average looking white British bloke, he starts each day by creating a video for his video blog to his missing wife. Seven or so years ago, he got married to a beautiful black woman who subsequently disappeared within one year's time. He knows not where she is, if she was captured, killed or the like. He only hopes that he finds her one day because he is madly in love with her still. He works at a bank in Slough. The manager, he has never fulfilled his potential and is afraid to leave because of his sweet mother and because he fears he might miss his wife's return if ever she came back. Well, before the world learns of this deadly asteroid, all the feces hits the fan in his life when he is brought into a federal office on suspicion of being someone else. As it turns out, he has a twin brother. Not just a twin brother, but the best kind of twin brother, an evil twin brother. Whoa! Like, yeah. We all want an evil twin brother or sister, right? Naturally, he had no idea.

Yeah, I'd probably search for her forever, too. 
Revelations keep coming (see what I did there? Biblical reference) when he finds out that not only does he have an evil doppelganger roaming the world, but that his missing wife is with this guy. His thoughts: She thinks he's me. He returns home to talk to his mother about it and gets even more mind-blowing news when he learns that his mum is not really his mum. She found him somewhere and figured, "A baby? You mean I get to have the responsibility of looking after a tiny human all by myself, watching them grow up, being there for their heartaches and pain, getting all the blame for if and when they turn out to be a crap human being, and possibly not having them really give a damn about me in my old age? Hells yeah!"

And then the news hits. And we switch from his story over to one of the recognizable stars. Jenna Fischer of The Office (American version) fame returns to TV in this show. Here, she plays a prisoner brought in on charges of having hacked the NSA in the USA or maybe it was the FBI. It was one of them. Hm? I really need to start paying more attention to shows I don't particularly care about. Anyway, she goes to what looks like a max security prison where, in her first day, she unknowingly makes friends with a Nazi played by another recognizable star Megan Mullally of Will and Grace fame. Apparently Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds character branded her on her forehead as she proudly wears a swastika smack in the center. Fischer pleads for mercy as she is not the person who actually hacked the Pentagon(?) and just wants to see her dying husband again. He's got some disease and it's all sad and crap because he's bedridden. Turns out, her son was the hacker but she had to take the wrap because... family (oh yeah. I'll be using that again very soon). She hasn't even had a fair trial but with her new buddy the Nazi ,she will survive the prison.

And then the news hits. And we switch from her story over to the story of a White House scientist adviser. This bespectacled American gent advises the president that he has two plans to ensure the survival of the human race. His first plan is to Armageddon the hell outta that asteroid. We're seriously talking Bruce Willis going down in flames to Aerosmith's "Don't Wanna Miss A Thang" while that big sucker blows up to smithereens, and Ben Affleck can come all the way back to earth to make as many Batman films as he wants. The second plan is a bunker full of young women chosen from the billions on earth and supplied with enough food, water and a DNA bank to carry on human diversity. Working with a black general who sounds like he is from Britain but is supposed to be an American, the plan does not involve any men being saved, including the president, though the commander-in-chief doesn't fully understand that and thinks that the leader the new world will need is him, because... ego.

I'm a Science adviser guy. 

And we switch again from his story to another story of a Vatican priest played by the biggest star and current Grinder Rob Lowe. Let me stop and say that the incestuousness of TV right now is at an all time. Jenna Fischer was getting around, spreading her talent everywhere she could. Because after this started, two weeks later she appeared on The Grinder playing Rob Lowe's ex-girlfriend who wanted him to give up acting before he became The Grinder. Then a week after that, she appeared on Debra Messing's show Mysteries of Laura, who we all know is friends with and worked for years with Megan Mullally. Get yours, Fischer! Back to Lowe, he plays the 12th angry guy in the room (you better get that reference; that's too classic not to get. That's high school classic) when considering sainthood for people (Mother Teresa is used as an example). With the apocalypse on the horizon and no Jesus return in sight, he is given the new task of finding and possibly debunking claims of people being the Messiah around the world. He is paired with a young, black (oh yes, the chocolateyness in this cast is important) nun who has her own doubts about her faith and whether being a nun is what God wants from her. This mission is the perfect place for her doubts as they embark on an international journey to debunk fake messiahs.

Nice sunglasses, svelte figure. Yeah, I'm kind of a hot priest. 

And then we switch back to Fischer's prison and that's when all hell breaks loose. After the comet is announced (I know a comet is technically different but I got tired of using asteroid), the prison goes nuts as there is only a month left before the world ends. Suddenly, the prison doors open and people escape. Fischer and Nazi escape together only to be picked up by the hacker that broke her out and lo and behold, the White Horseman that rescued her is Ariel, Jamie's evil twin. He's a computer hacker and halfway worships Fischer for hacking the CIA(?). He has plans for the both of them and worst of all, doesn't believe the government's "lie" that the world will soon end. Yes, he is dumb. Yes, he is a conspiracy theorist with an odd but very real and understandable fear of germs. While this fear is not always utilized in the show, it does come into play every so often.

Ariel and a buddy of his break Fischer out of jail and Megan (Nazi lady) comes along with them against Ariel's wishes. They eventually ditch her and Fischer's rescue turns into a kidnapping because she only wants to see her son but Ariel wants her to teach him all of her hacking tricks of which she has none. Only when he finds this out do they split, she gets away and Ariel guns for her son.

Ariel the baddie... with a total germ phobia. 

Cut to his brother Jamie back in Great Britain. Still in shock from the many revelations laid upon him in the last few days, he and his best friend (a black guy with a funky afro; again, the blackness is strong in this show. Me likey. And it's a hint at the big twist) embark on a journey to find his wife, but to do that they have to find Ariel and to do that they have to find his birth mother. The hunt for his birth mother leads him to an old house where he runs into Ariel's second white girlfriend who nearly kills him because of the whole twin thing. She tells him where his real mom is--a mental institution and he and his friend go to rescue her. The most interesting thing here is that out of all the characters that play a role in this show and don't die immediately, this woman is the only one who shows up for a few minutes and then is never mentioned again. Just had to point that out for viewers. Anyway, they rescue the mum from the institution because she would have to know where Ariel is, right? Not only does she say that she didn't give Ariel up and leave him in a parking lot like she did our venerable hero Jamie, but she continues talking with him and knows Ariel hates Jamie. Why? Because he heard about Jamie throughout his childhood. Why? Because their birth mum believes Jamie is the savior returned, yeah, that guy Jesus. Awww snap!

Cut to the priest and the black nun roaming around the European Union looking for real messiahs and debunking them. Still paying attention? OK, because it's about to get intense and I'm not slowing down. They review many different would-be "Christs" for the church and Rob Lowe even tries to stop a man who was a priest abuse victim as a child from jumping off a building. People are losing their minds and clamoring for any faithful thing bolted to the ground. They go to a cult in Spain where the leaders are worshiped as new messiahs (plural), and forced to get married under their law in order to enter into the kingdom of paradise here on earth--a requirement for entering after death--only to realize it's a sex cult. Nope! Not for them. 
There's a woman who helps people in her town and feeds the poor and takes care of the sick but it turns out she just steals free food and medicine from shipping containers filled with the stuff but that sits and would rot because of improper approval for the food. There's even a little girl in a hospital who is about six or seven years old and wears a giraffe costume all the time. The locals think she is Jesus returned because she's been able to predict certain things for people and generally makes them feel good, but her mother--a black chick--argues that she's a kid and that's what kids do. They say funny stuff that sounds deep and smile a lot, making people feel good. She tells the nun something about four horsemen before Rob Lowe helps sneak her and her mother out of the hospital away from the crowd. All of them are denied by him as being the new Messiah.

And back to Fischer who partners once again with the Nazi to get across country to her son before Ariel does. They run into trouble through their rich shenanigans as they sneak into people's house, steal clothes, outwit and escape the FBI trackers and try contacting her brother. Even Megan Mullally's husband Nick Offerman of Parks and Rec fame makes an appearance as a cross-dressing hillbilly in the middle of nowhere. He comes to realize that Fischer has a sizable bounty on her head which he plans to collect because it's his patriotic duty... and, you know, the money can buy him a lot of nice dresses. Still the two escape and manage to go to Megan's house where the same thing happens with her White Power husband and kids who seek to turn her new friend Fischer in for the reward. Well, Fischer manages to escape with the sneaky help of Megan and is back on the road.

Unfortunately, we switch back to Ariel's plan to find that he's got the kid already. He wants to force the kid to tell him the secrets and first starts by playing nice, which quickly devolves into death threats. Only when his chubby, hairy friend tells him that the apocalypse is real--info earned from a hack into credible scientists' computers--does Jamie start plotting. He figures that if it's real then the government has a backup plan to keep humanity going. Whatever it is, he wants in. Get ready for your first twist because here it comes.

"Girl, that sound crazy as hell!"
We hop over to the government workers storyline where he is bulling forward with the plan to Deep Impact the meteor (yes, now I'm calling it a meteor. I know the difference between a meteor, meteorite, and meteoroid. Don't roll your eyes at me. Yes, I know it's significantly smaller than an asteroid, but still... I'm usin' it) and nuke it into oblivion. But he's also working with the president to prepare the bunker. Well, it turns out that the black general he's been working with is not just his workmate but his boyfriend. They've been white house gay for quite some time and even live with each other in a nice, modern-chic apartment. But then one day, he suddenly gets a call from his sister who tells him that his nephew is in trouble because he may have been kidnapped by a crazy hacker dude. Whaaa! That's right, he is the brother of Fischer's character and the uncle of the great hacker who bypassed the DEAs(?) security and is now being held captive by Ariel. As it just so happens, no sooner does he learn this then does he learn that she has broken out of jail and is a wanted fugitive, and has Ariel contact him about trading the boy in exchange for a spot in whatever life-saving thing they have planned. A calculating scientist, he isn't cold-hearted. Even against his boyfriend's wishes, he decides to go and save the boy for his sister's sack, even though he swears he can't do anything about the reward on her head. In the last minute the black guy comes and helps his boyfriend save the teenage boy from the evil grips of Ariel, leaving the White Horseman fiend for dead in some museum place. But Ariel doesn't die. Instead he's picked up by a mysterious woman. You ready for the next twist, because it's a doozy? I'll give you one paragraph to let your mind percolate before I tell you, as we cut to...

The priest and the nun. Going about their business, technically married but not stressing over it, they continued their search for the new Messiah. Well, while on their search the priest sees a woman die on TV in what many people in the world deem a cruelly hilarious way to die--a literal ton of bricks from a building fall on her and crush her to death as she is spouting off gobbledygook about the end times. Is it funny and unexpected? Yes. Did they have to make cruel jokes about it, make it into a gif and put hilarious Three Stooges/Scooby-Doo cartoon music to her death? Well... no. But did that make it funnier? Sadly, yes. Now I feel ashamed of myself. The priest recognizes the woman as his one and only booty call from way back in the day before he joined the priesthood as a young lad. Though it's not his official duty, he feels he needs to go to the town to pay his respects. So, he and the black nun go there and try to visit her grave/funeral to pay their respects. You ready for this? Here we go.

The woman in question is Jamie (and Ariel's) birth mother. She died shortly after Jamie brought her back to Slough and went to his bank for whatever reason outside of which she died, LOL--so ashamed. So ashamed of myself. As it turns out he was Jamie's father the whole time but never knew he had any offspring, let alone twins. The moment he went into the priesthood, he pretty much abandoned any connections with his family. It gets more intense as I will be jumping around here. Ariel awakes to an old lady who has him strapped to a hospital bed and is about to steal his blood. She has been tracking him. "Why?" "Because I need your blood. So I found you through your uncle." Huhh? He was raised by the crazy lady who believed his brother was the Messiah. He knew of no uncle. Oh, but he has one. In fact, he has a Fraternal twin uncle and aunt, the very same who are currently a White House science adviser and an escaped domestic terrorist prisoner on the run with her Nazi buddy. That's right, everybody's frickin' related. To clarify, Rob Lowe as the priest is the older brother to Fischer and the gay scientist dude. He is also the father of Jamie and Ariel, unbeknownst to him. Ariel was admiring and kidnapped the hacker who happens to be his young cousin. Now, the old lady who has him strapped to the bed is actually his extravagantly wealthy grandma who faked her death after killing her husband in the 80s. Yes, this is all part of the plot because... family.

But it gets better because remember how I made a semi-big deal about all the black people? Well, as Priest Rob Lowe is about to leave with his black nun pseudo-wife, Jamie tells him about how he lost his wife years ago and that she was spotted last with his brother Ariel. As it turns out, he shows the photo to the nun and she realizes that the giraffe-costumed kid from the hospital has a mother who happens to be Jamie's wife. Aww snap and aww snap again! Not only is Jamie's wife currently still alive and not with Ariel, but she has a kid who could potentially be his or Ariel's. Step back and look at the map and you'll see that this white half-American, half-British family is essentially the Kardashians as far as taste in partners go. Jamie married a black woman, who he later finds out knew, was raised with and quasi-loved Ariel. They're little bi-racial black baby (though, to be fair the girl looks more Hispanic than anything) is running around half-predicting the future for people. The priest is now currently married (though half-unwillingly) to a black nun, both of them realizing that they do have romantic feelings for each other and sex it up before returning to the Vatican where they wrestle with their faith and whether they should continue their calling or flounce their vows to be with each other before it all ends. The scientist guy is in love with his gay black White House general. Wanna guess what race Fischer's sick husband is? Well, he looks Middle Eastern, so... yeah. But he might be mixed with some Black, so you never know. But to jump ahead a little, Jamie's adoptive mom throws caution to the wind and marries his best friend, the funky-haired black guy. So yeah, the whole family has Jungle Fever, save for the rich old white lady.

I'm your daughter, daddy. 

Speaking of the old white lady, she happens to have a very rare blood disease and needs new blood from a family donor to stay alive. She also has a bunker ready for the apocalypse--well, would ya look at that. Ariel convinces her that his blood wouldn't be nearly as good for her as her great grandchild's the giraffe girl, as her blood is even younger and fresher. She agrees because she is just as evil as he is and she lets him go to find the little girl. His plan is not only to get the girl but his girlfriend/Jamie's wife back. As it turns out, he and the black woman were somewhat hooligans. 
He learned all sorts of criminal trickery and became a hacker to play a game on Jamie. Knowing he always had a twin and hearing how perfect Jamie was and how blessed he was and his importance made him super jealous, so much so that he set out to ruin the man's life in as many ways as possible. He hacked into his records to make sure he didn't get into any of the colleges he wanted, he made sure the man felt less than special at any turn. In his most devious plan, he sent his own girlfriend to go and seduce Jamie, make him fall in love, get married and then willfully disappear and break his heart. Problems arose when the girl actually did fall in love with him after realizing he was a good, honest person. When she discovered she got pregnant just after their wedding, she fled not because that was part of the game but because she didn't want to have her child used as a pawn. But Ariel still found her after that and kept her under his control for a while before she could escape with her daughter. Both Ariel and Jamie have been looking for her ever since, but she watches Jamie's videos-to-her every day with her daughter and tells her that Jamie is her father. My mind was blown after that.

Now, to start wrapping this up, as you can guess now as the show makes no secret about it during its repetitive starting scene, most of the family makes it into the bunker. From the time you learn that Jamie has a twin (twins running in the family) the question arises of who narrates the show from the bunker at the end. For me, it was kind of a giveaway the entire time, which actually made me a little upset, but I digress. Also, Rob Lowe's priest doesn't make it as he is murdered by other Vatican priests, but don't worry his now pregnant black nun wife gets in. Also, Fischer's sick husband plays hero as someone must close the bunker door from the outside, so he doesn't make it either. He was sick and dying anyway so it wasn't a great loss.

What is my grade? I will actually give this one a B+. I know, that seems very high doesn't it, especially for a show that I barely gave a damn about and only halfway paid attention to while watching. But I will qualify this rating by saying that it definitely isn't for everyone. Here's the thing: I grew up watching a few British comedy shows, so I understand and appreciate their sense of humor. I get it. The shows are also filmed differently over there and you can definitely tell, so you might have to adjust to that. It's like that weird too-real-for-life HD thing but it's not actually HD. Sometimes it can look like it's filmed on a personal family camcorder. And even I'll admit that it took me quite a while to start paying attention to this show in any meaningful way. But with that said, I enjoyed the acting performances from most of the Brits and Americans. A lot of the humor is more shake-your-head-worthy than LOL but you might still get a few good chuckles. But the plot does keep you on your toes and plays all the contrivances very tongue and cheek like most British humor. They know it's ridiculous and aren't ashamed of it, which is what makes it so fun. It's a love story about family and revenge... and the apocalypse. In this day and age of everyone talking about the end of the world, what more could you want?

Should you be watching? Well, that's the question, isn't it. Unlike Second Chance or The Family, I feel as if this series was far more of an event series than anything ready-made for a second go-around. I have trouble seeing it coming back for a second season and still maintaining all the wackiness that made the first season so enthralling. Yes, they can be trapped in the bunker while the world doesn't end or they could get out of the bunker during an apocalypse that actually isn't that bad, but I can't think of how they'd make it as entertaining, so I can't recommend you watch it in hopes of having a second season, especially since the ending can be interpreted somewhat as a cliffhanger. But if you watch it solely as an event series, a miniseries that told a nice little story and is contained in those ten episodes, you might enjoy it. You can find it currently on NBC OnDemand on most cable and satellite providers, as well as on and probably on Hulu very soon. Just don't expect it to return to the airwaves anytime soon.

What do you think? Did you see You, Me and The Apocalypse? If so, what did you think? Was it funny with its British humor sensibilities or did you not like it as an American viewer? Or did you think the whole thing was contrived and cliche and you hated it? Or did you not see it at all? If not, do you think you'll take a look now? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or  the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon; season 2 coming this summer. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "So, I had a revelation last night."
'Oh yeah?'
"Yep. God spoke to me."
'What'd he say?'
"He told me to stop being an ass about things."
'God knows his stuff.'

P.S. No, that doesn't just go for religious people. That goes for everybody. Chill out, people. Sometimes, it's not the end of the world if you don't get your way. Speaking of which, why am I not more popular by now? Get on that, people! I'll think of a better sign-off next time.

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