The Last Man on Planet Earth

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“After World War III, there will be no more long queues for the restroom.”

You’ve got to admire any film – particularly a TV movie – that provokes diverse reviews. This, then, not only “was obviously written and made to appeal to a lesbian slumber party,” it’s also a “manifestation of heterosexual panic.” Such even-handedness can only be applauded. Of course, as usual, the truth falls somewhere in the middle. After an errant bioweapon kills almost all the male population off during WW3, the survivors decide that for humanity to survive, the “man” must be taken out, and use cloning techniques to end male childbirth. However, renegade scientist Hope Chase (Bowen) creates one (Francis) without those nasty violent tendencies. But when he escapes and finds his way to Washington, the authorities, led by FBI Agent Hastings (Tomita), are ordered to hunt him down, as a threat to the new world order.

There are some painful clunkers here: calling the man “Adam”, dodgy model FX, and an ending that, far from the “shocking climax” promised by the sleeve, was correctly (and in detail!) guessed by Chris with half an hour to go. It would also benefit from more thought beyond the obvious: what about Earth outside the US? And what would such a world really be like? [Here, it’s almost unchanged – I suspect for budgetary reasons] But if it only has half a brain, that’s still more than most TVMs manage, and bonus points are due for predicting both terrorism on American soil and war in Afghanistan – and this back in 1999, when most people thought Al Qaeda was the guy running the local 7-11.

Tamlyn Tomita comes out best as the FBI agent; she gets nice lines like, “I bet you’re one of those closet heteros, aren’t you?” and manages to avoid the usual stereotypes – or, at least, twist them in interesting ways. Bowen is less effective, but DeYoung is entertaining as the scruffy rebel, ranting against the “Lesbian Conspiracy” that has sent the male sex packing. Overall, this isn’t great SF, or great TV, but it’s edgier than I expected – and as the opening reviews suggest, is likely to peeve both the politically correct and incorrect about equally.

Dir: Les Landau
Star: Julie Bowen, Paul Francis, Tamlyn Tomita, Cliff DeYoung

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