This is my first go with any type of Hulu original programming. Future Man is a sci-fi action comedy series created by Howard Overman, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir. Seth Rogen and his creative partner Evan Goldberg (Rogen and Goldberg have directed and executive produced the AMC series Preacher along with many of Rogen’s film work) also executive produce and directed some episodes. Solid fire power behind the scenes make the show worth a watch, but can Hulu capture action and comedy well like other streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix?
We follow Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson), a lowly janitor that finds escape through video games, especially the one game he could not beat Biotic Wars. Josh makes it a goal to beat the game as no one in the gaming community has completed the game in its existence. After multiple attempts, he finally conquers his obsession, only to be greeted by the games main characters Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) as real life time travelers from the future. It turns out Biotic Wars was designed to find the savior for all mankind in a post-apocalyptic world soon to be realized. Josh must join the time travelers to stop the creation of the Biotics.
Much like Stranger Things, Future Man plays off of 80’s sci-fi nostalgia and the many tropes of the genre, mainly time travel. Taking cues from Back to the Future, The Terminator, and the television series Quantum Leap. These cues are meshed with modern comedy (ramped up cussing, sex jokes) and gross body humor. It works most of the time as I had plenty of laugh out loud moments, but some jokes can be telegraphed. You can see them coming from miles away. Despite that, storytelling is paced well and our three leads show growth in character development near the end. We do not have a true antagonist to go toe to toe with our team. I would have loved to see a mastermind behind the curtains or a physical force to be reckoned.
The action sequences are very well done. With Tiger and Wolf carrying the bulk of combat against Biotics, biker gang members, and drug enforcers. Not just shoot outs, but close quarters combat is up close and not a blur like most action pieces commonly found on TV. Our two future warriors sync up for graphic take downs. Practical effects are used instead of CGI and it’s the right call. Blood splatter and controlled explosives needed to be life like. CGI for the most part is saved for time travel. We get flashbacks of the ravaged, post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Most of our time is spent in past or modern day LA with the same set pieces.
Every acting talent in Future Man is well executed. Hutcherson as the lead is believable as a 20 something who is searching for his purpose in the world. Coupe’s Tiger is solid as the leader of the resistance. Derek Wilson’s Wolf steals the show. A battle hardened demolition’s expert is expected to be intense and on the offensive at every turn, but I found myself connecting with this character as his vulnerability is exposed and he finds that he is more than just a warrior. All credit due to Wilson’s acting. Supporting cast includes Ed Bagley Jr and Glenne Headly as Josh’s parents. Sadly, Headly passed away during production and is only in 5 episodes. Sci-fi veteran Keith David as Doctor Elias Kronish, Haley Joel Osment as Stu Camillo. Robert Craighead, Martin Starr, Paul Scheer, and Britt Lower are peppered into the series.
You get 13 episodes each clocking in near 30 minutes. Normally an easy binge watch. 30 minutes at times felt like an hour as episodes seem to feel bloated. There is one sub plot that the series could have done without to move things a long more quickly. It doesn’t necessarily push the story forward.
Future Man does very well melding three genres together. Yes, there are plenty of sci-fi action comedies currently on network TV, but this show is able to push boundaries that most shows are unable to. With high end action, signature humor and mainstream sci-fi. Hulu has a fun, off the wall series on its hands. There is a bit of a tease in the last episode that our adventure may not be over, so I hope we get another season of Future Man.