Hit or Sh**: NBC’s YOU, ME, AND THE APOCALYPSE
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
Thank heavens we’ve got another apocalypse-themed show! I was really starting to panic thinking that the hype had finally died down, because clearly this premise has not been cashed in on enough. But let’s talk shop here ‒ what does NBC’s American/British bastard child YOU, ME, AND THE APOCALYPSE bring to a thoroughly worn out library of apocalyptic comedies? The answer is, unfortunately, not a whole lot. A few charming moments and interesting premises are not enough to push this pilot past a resounding “meh,” no matter how hard it worked to drag Jenna Fischer kicking and screaming back to network television.
Ordinary dude Jamie (Mathew Baynton) kicks off YOU, ME, AND THE APOCALYPSE with the worst birthday ever; he’s arrested for (allegedly) leading a ring of cybercriminals and his missing wife turns up in Moscow with his mysterious doppelgӓnger. Elsewhere, technologically clueless librarian Rhonda (Jenna Fischer) is thrown into a terrifying women’s prison, taking the fall for her son who hacked into the NSA. Even more elsewhere, devout but plucky nun Sister Celine applies for a job at the vatican with Official “Devil’s Advocate” Father Jude (Rob Lowe), who disproves miracles to prevent false prophets from being canonized. On top of all this, an eight-mile-wide comet will eliminate life on earth in 34 days.
MY SUPER SWEET APOCALYPSE was rejected as a working title
It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and YOU, ME, AND THE APOCALYPSE’s pilot really takes its time to set everything up ‒ for better and for worse. Despite its shared British and American background, it feels much more like a British miniseries than an American NBC comedy. It’s got the quirky feel, dark sense of humor, and weirdly blue color correction of any British show worth its salt. If anything, the stories feel too separate for too long, but the British miniseries tends to take its time to slowly unfurl the story beats rather than packing everything in up front and rolling from there. In some ways, this unique hybrid tone is the show’s strongest asset.
It’s certainly unique… but at the same time this is one of the most solidly average shows I have ever seen. Nothing particularly stands out, but nothing is glaringly wrong. It just is. Even the long-awaited return of Queen of Frumpy Gals Jenna Fischer feels lukewarm. Her performance is nowhere near as endearing and genuine as in THE OFFICE ‒ even from as far back as season one when her acting experience was severely limited ‒ despite the fact that Rhonda bears a strong resemblance to a recently-incarcerated Pam Beesly-Halpert.
“You and John Krasinski should totally hook up, like, just once”
It’s certainly charming and inoffensive, but is “not bad” the same as “good”? I have to give this one credit for the potential of its characters alone. Part of me feels like the show underestimated its storylines and smooshed them together with an apocalyptic premise instead of letting them stand on their own. Jamie is pretty much a wash for me at this point, but Escaped Convict Jenna Fischer and a southern belle with a swastika carved into her forehead on the run together still sounds worth checking out. Hell, “Cool Priest” Rob Lowe and his plucky nun sidekick out to cynically disprove that miracles exist could be a kickass procedural all on its own.
I can’t make any promises about this one, but the pilot was so perfectly lukewarm that it’ll take a few more episodes to nail down. Strong characters point to success, but an overdone apocalyptic premise says otherwise. It seems that time will have to tell.
Verdict: Sh** Probation
YOU, ME, AND THE APOCALYPSE airs on Thursdays on NBC