TV Review: You, Me and the Apocalypse (Episode Five)

you me and the apocalypse review nbc sky atlantic rob lowe mathew baynton jenna fischer megan mulally joel fry pauline quirke hulu iain holland

You, Me and the Apocalypse is a bold, adrenaline-fuelled comedy-drama about the last days of mankind – boasting a relentlessly entertaining mix of action, adventure, romance and wit set against a backdrop of apocalyptic chaos.

The story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways, all triggered by the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course towards earth.

This week’s episode (well, I say that, it aired a few weeks ago now) was written by Sarah Dollard! (That’s @carrionlaughing, for those of you following at home on tumblr.) Her name stood out to me, actually, when I saw it in the opening credits, because I am a big Doctor Who fan, and obviously I knew that Sarah Dollard is going to be writing the tenth episode of series 9, Face the Raven. I’ve been avoiding plot details for that, more or less, but I do know one thing now – it’s going to be very good.

This fifth episode is very much a transitional one; it’s the mid point in this ten episode series, and you can clearly see a lot of story arcs drawing to a close, and new ones opening up. It’s something that Sarah Dollard handled really well, bringing (in some cases) a sense of closure to this crossroads, with plenty of intrigue following on.

Much like last episode, it’s a great episode for characterisation – much like the whole series, really. Jamie and Dave start to get to know Mary in this episode, and there are some genuinely compelling scenes between them; an obvious one to point to is Jamie’s grief when he finds out about Ariel and ‘Hawkwind’, but the one that stayed with me more was Dave reproaching Jamie for his response to Mary’s delusions – it was a rather powerful moment, actually. The way the show has handled Mary’s mental illness has been impressively sensitive, actually; they’re very careful as to how the other characters respond to her, and just what exactly is played for laughs, and what is a moment of pathos.

I also quite enjoyed the culmination of Rhonda and Leanne’s story; it was similarly well done. It’ll be a shame to see Leanne go, actually – she was a consistently very funny character, and there was a level of depth to her too; the goodbye between her and Rhonda (the circumstances of which were very well chosen) was in fact quite poignant. And, of course, Scotty and General Gaines had a similarly compelling storyline. Kyle Soller is a fantastic actor – fast becoming one of my favourite characters, actually. Very well characterised, from the acting and the writing. Paterson Joseph too is rather wonderful; there’s an interesting potential Doctor in there. (It’s always on the brain.)

Another very strong episode there then! Enjoyed it quite a lot; very much an “end of act one” sort of story, but it’s come at the right time, and it’s got a lot of strengths in its own right.

9/10.

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TV Review: You, Me and the Apocalypse (Episode Four)

you me and the apocalypse review nbc sky atlantic rob lowe mathew baynton jenna fischer megan mulally joel fry pauline quirke hulu iain holland

You, Me and the Apocalypse is a bold, adrenaline-fuelled comedy-drama about the last days of mankind – boasting a relentlessly entertaining mix of action, adventure, romance and wit set against a backdrop of apocalyptic chaos.

The story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways, all triggered by the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course towards earth.

Now, obviously, since this is a serialised program, and typically the reviews I’m writing for this series a much shorter than my reviews for, say, Doctor Who, I’m trying to find something new to comment on each week, where possible.

This time, we’re going for the strength of the acting, particularly in terms of characterisation. There were three main standouts, in this episode – Rob Lowe as Father Jude, Jenna Fischer as Rhonda, and Mat Baynton as Ariel. Obviously, our other main characters were still entirely at their usual standards – have I mentioned how funny Joel Fry is as Dave? It’s reached a point where I’m wondering how the actor ever fit into something quite so serious as Game of Thrones – clearly, he’s very talented.

Anyway, though.

We’ll start with Rob Lowe, because his performance in this episode as Father Jude was his best of the series so far. Jude is a really interesting character; on the surface, he’s so irreverent and acerbic and cynical, yet he still has a very deep faith. The apparent contradiction between what you’d expect of a Vatican priest and what we’ve actually got is the basis of a pretty compelling character – and in this episode, we got to the heart of that. Jude is a priest because his religion helped him through a very hard time in his life, after the death of his father (something I’m guessing will become relevant soon); Rob Lowe gives a brilliant performance in this episode, trying to talk a man down from suicide – it’s handled with great care and sensitivity, and I think it’s one of the stand out moments of the series so far.

Similarly interesting character development for Rhonda, too, as we get to see just how far she’ll go in her attempts to see her family once again – threatening to kill a young boy, who’s deliberately shown to be not so different from her son. It’s an interesting place to take her to, given that she started out as a meek librarian out of her depths – clearly, she’s been spending too much time with Leanne! Still, though, it’s a compelling character arc to see playing out.

And, finally, Mat Baynton as Ariel. Typically I’ve been commenting on his role as Jamie so far, but I think it’s really worth highlighting just how excellent an actor Mat Baynton is; Jamie and Ariel feel like very distinct and separate characters, with no chance of confusion between them. Often I forget that they’re the same actor – obviously, they’re both identical because they’re the same person, but there’s such a gulf between the two characters, it’s easy not to be conscious of the fact.

But, yes. Mat Baynton did a brilliant job as Ariel, particularly in terms of the final moments of the episode – when he killed Max, it was a genuinely shocking turn, and Ariel was elevated from more than just a dangerous hacker type, but a proper psychopath to be feared; as a villain, he’s going to have repercussions throughout the rest of the series, I’m sure. And it’s very much down to Mat Baynton’s performance, which is really excellent.

This was a really good episode! Possibly the best of the series, in fact. I’m inclined to give it 10/10, actually.

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TV Review: You, Me and the Apocalypse (Episode Three)

you me and the apocalypse review nbc sky atlantic rob lowe mathew baynton jenna fischer megan mulally joel fry pauline quirke hulu iain holland

You, Me and the Apocalypse is a bold, adrenaline-fuelled comedy-drama about the last days of mankind – boasting a relentlessly entertaining mix of action, adventure, romance and wit set against a backdrop of apocalyptic chaos.

The story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways, all triggered by the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course towards earth.

Another strong episode of You, Me and the Apocalypse, which is fast becoming one of my favourite TV shows. This episode displays all the same strengths as the previous ones, really; lots of funny moments (Nick Offerman is a gift), interesting character development (Father Jude remains fascinating) and entertaining interactions between characters (Joel Fry and Mat Baynton are a brilliant double act).

What’s most interesting about this one, though, was the furthering of the overarching mythology of the show, as You, Me and the Apocalypse begins to concern itself with a much wider ranging plot, with implications that reach far further – yet, at the same time, remaining tied to what we’ve seen before.

In this episode, we see Layla (if that is her real name) for the first time – the missing wife that Jamie is searching for. Her daughter (who, it’s implied, may also be Jamie’s daughter) is the fabled giraffe messiah. A whole crowd of people have gathered in Warsaw, worshipping this young girl in a giraffe onesie, and Father Jude and Sister Celine have come to investigate. It’s an interesting look at mob mentality, and the sort of mania that the apocalypse might create in people.

But at the same time, they imply that this young girl might, in fact, have some supernatural powers. Because she knows about Sister Celine’s dead friend, from the convent.

And then later on, we see a model of judgement day, built by Jamie’s mother – one which has a White Horse as a central part of it. The White Horse, we already know, is Ariel’s hacker name. So perhaps there is something to this?

It’s a genuinely fascinating concept, and I love the fact that this show has chosen to play around in that sandbox. It elevates the show further – playing around with this imagery and symbolism allows the writing to go deeper and play around with certain ideas, that opens up a lot more potential. It’s really encouraging, and it’s got me really excited for the rest of the show.

And, you know, if you’re not into all that, it is still consistently hilarious. 8/10

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TV Review: You, Me and the Apocalypse (Episode Two)

you me and the apocalypse review nbc sky atlantic rob lowe mathew baynton jenna fischer megan mulally joel fry pauline quirke hulu iain holland

You, Me and the Apocalypse is a bold, adrenaline-fuelled comedy-drama about the last days of mankind – boasting a relentlessly entertaining mix of action, adventure, romance and wit set against a backdrop of apocalyptic chaos.

The story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways, all triggered by the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course towards earth.

So, another episode of this fun comedy-drama series. We’re still following the stories of our protagonists from last week – Jamie & Dave, Rhonda & Leanne, and Father Jude & Sister Celine – but we also meet some new ones (Paterson Joseph as General Gaines, and Kyle Soller as Scotty), and see the overarcing plot move forward.

A real strength of this series, I think, is the multiple perspectives and different strands that the story takes. The narrative progresses at a fairly strong pace, and they maintain a level of intrigue with the little introduction at the start of each episode. Making the ending clear, but not quite the details of the ending, gives them an anchor to each episode, which works quite effectively, I think. There was another new character shown to us in the bunker at the start this episode – a wounded soldier. He’s not been introduced in the present yet, so I’m interested to see where that goes.

It’s worth singling out Joel Fry as Dave, who was consistently the funniest character throughout this episode. He’s got a great double act going with Mat Baynton, which is a lot of fun to watch. The majority of the best lines and moments this episode came from him – the sequence with the elderly people was quite funny, as well as the car surfing. It’s also nice to see another approach to the idea of the apocalypse; the show’s done pretty well with displaying a fairly diverse set of circumstances and attitudes amongst the different characters.

Something that also stood out to me was the question of Father Jude’s faith. Admittedly, watching Rob Lowe read the Bible isn’t the most interesting thing I’ve seen on TV before (though they made a fairly good effort), but the fact that, despite all his vices, Father Jude has a strong faith and belief, seems to me to be a fairly compelling character.

Episode two wasn’t, admittedly, quite as good at the opener, but it was still an enjoyable way to spend an hour of my time. Which is really all I want from something like this!

8/10

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TV Review: You, Me and the Apocalypse (Episode One)

you me and the apocalypse review nbc sky atlantic rob lowe mathew baynton jenna fischer megan mulally joel fry pauline quirke hulu iain holland

You, Me and the Apocalypse is a bold, adrenaline-fuelled comedy-drama about the last days of mankind – boasting a relentlessly entertaining mix of action, adventure, romance and wit set against a backdrop of apocalyptic chaos.

The story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways. All triggered by the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course towards earth.

I have been looking forward to this show for quite a few weeks now, ever since I saw the first adverts. There’s a very impressive cast here; Mathew Baynton, Rob Lowe, Pauline Quirke, Megan Mulally, Paterson Joseph and so on and so forth. (Obviously, there are lots more people – Jenna Fischer, Joel Fry, Gaia Scodellaro – who are very talented, but the aforementioned are the ones I was immediately aware of.)

That, and it’s a great concept. 34 days until the end of the world? Sure. Apocalypse situations – anything that changes the status quo – always interest me in stories, because when done well, they can be really great character pieces. Lots of potential for interesting drama there.

The episode starts with a traditional framing device – our title character, Jamie Winton (Mathew Baynton) is narrating from the end of the series, before cutting to 34 days earlier. I’m not always a fan of that sort of thing, but it’s used to quite good effect here. You see, the characters we’re introduced to in this episode span the globe – Slough, New Mexico, and Vatican City are our main locations for the episode. The question of “How do these characters get from Point A to Point B?” is rather more interesting when such a breadth of distance has to be crossed – it presents a much more complicated question of what’s going to happen over the next ten episodes.

Similarly cleverly, the narration points out that there are 15 people in the underground bunker, trying to survive the apocalypse, but the camera very carefully withholds details, only showing us three of main characters (and a monkey) all of whom look very dishevelled and distressed. Immediately, a question is implicitly raised: “Who is going to make it to the end?” The framing device creates this question, rather than precluding it, which is typically the case with such devices.

And, of course, the characters we’re introduced to are all very interesting ones. Mathew Baynton as Jamie Winton, the bank manager who’s spent the past 7 years trying to deal with the disappearance of his wife – and on the same day that he finds out the world is ending, he gets new information as to her whereabouts. Jenna Fischer as Rhonda, a librarian arrested for high treason, covering for her son after he hacked into the NSA. And, of course, Rob Lowe as Father Jude, the Vatican’s very own Devil’s Advocate, with Gaia Scodellaro as his new assistant, the nun who wants to travel the world. They’re characters who work, with really skilled actors performing some excellently written parts.

It is, of course, a very funny series as well. I’d originally expected it to be more in the vein of a half hour sitcom, acting as something more of a joke machine, not too dissimilar to Parks and Rec – but, of course, when I saw that each episode was an hour long, I realised it’d be a little different. The humour does tend to come from the characters (Rob Lowe’s Father Jude is by far the funniest, as a priest who drinks, smokes, and swears. His “Christ on a bike” line is rather brilliant) but there’s also some wonderful subtle humour that comes from the direction, such as the introduction of Megan Mullaly’s white supremacist character.

The first episode is an excellent introduction to the series, and I’m really, really looking forward to seeing more of it. There’s a really interesting overarcing story at play, by the looks of things – I’m trying to avoid going too deep into certain spoilers for now, because you really should watch it – and I’m quite excited to see where this is going.

9/10

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