Future Man returns for a post-apocalyptic second season. Gone is the gamer Josh that brought us into the series. Now Josh and his time-misplaced squad are stranded in an all-new horrible future. Future Man’s sophomore season takes a few episodes to warm up and adjust to its new status quo. But once it hits its stride, the season is stronger than the first.
The new season becomes more of an ensemble showcase than last season. Future Man’s first season centered specifically on Josh (Hutcherson). He was brought into the action by time-traveling soldiers Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson). This season is more about the team flying equally blind into the future they created. The new approach Future Man takes helps keep the series fresh.
This season starts off very slow, with episodes dedicated to one character at a time. It’s unfortunate that these first episodes of the season are the weakest. Future Man understandably has a lot of set-up to do for its new season. Unfortunately, all the build-up slows down the episodes. These divided episodes are incredibly slow, and play like late-season The Walking Dead entries. Without the squad dynamic, Future Man doesn’t land.
But once the series brings the gang back together, the show gets back on track. There’s a quick turnaround by episode four, when the show unites its protagonists. When the series gets away from the set-up, it has a lot of fun. It’s a shocking twist in momentum, as the early episodes don’t promise much. The season showcases just how strong the team dynamic is, even in moments that aren’t strong. This season illustrates how great the newfound team dynamic is.
Each of the stars get a moment to shine. Although Hutcherson is no longer the sole protagonist, there’s a compelling deconstruction of the unwitting “chosen one.” Coupe and Wilson both have fun as the displaced soldiers. The two also get chances to play alternate-reality doppelgängers, which makes for some great comedy. The strength of all the actors is what helps make the new team focus so compelling. Future Man’s new season puts an emphasis on the team, and the stars really sell it.
The series also finds a better antagonist in Haley Joel Osment. Osment does a fantastic job as the A.I.-reincarnated Dr. Stu Camillo. The first season of Future Man didn’t do a great job of balancing the hatred and relatability of Dr. Kronish. However, the character of Camillo is a far more compelling villain. The series finds a sweet spot between keeping the character sympathetic, while also making it clear he’s sinister. Future Man tells a more compelling story in its second season with an actual villain to fight.
What keeps this season from being as strong as it could be is the slower story. Because of the fractured introductions, it takes a while for the story to really heat up. There’s a lot of wheel-spinning (literally, in Wolf’s case) that fractures the early momentum. There are also several characters who don’t have much of a payoff, like Artemis Pebdani’s therapist, or Wolf-doppelgänger Torque. These elements are fun, but doesn’t always carry the story well.
Future Man really improved upon its first season. Even the weaker characters are still fun as heck to watch. And the central characters elevate the weak points in the season. The new season does a great job refining the heart of the series. Future Man uses its sophomore outing to build a more fine-tuned show – and its future looks bright.
STAND-OUT PERFORMANCES: Josh Hutcherson, Eliza Coupe, Haley Joel Osment
STAND-OUT EPISODES: “The Brain Job;” “J1: Judgement Day;” “Exes and OS”