Sunday, November 26, 2017

REVIEW: 'Future Man' - Josh Meets Younger Versions of His Parents as Tiger and Wolf Fight in 'Operation: Natal Attraction'

Hulu's Future Man - Episode 1.10 "Operation: Natal Attraction"

Still in the past, Josh desperately tries to change Dr. Kronish's future while not messing up his own. Tiger and Wolf confront each other over Wolf's wavering dedication to the cause.

Future Man riffed on Fatal Attraction in "Operation: Fatal Attraction." And now, it's riffing on Back to the Future in "Operation: Natal Attraction." These two episodes are a part of the same two-parter story that features the team going back to the 1980s to ensure that Dr. Kronish gets on a boat with his one true love, Leslie. It's a plan that went horribly awry in the previous episode. That episode wasn't all that successful because it was just too zany and spastic without really making sure there was something interesting underneath all of the comedy. And now, the show is still producing plot beats in order to be a sendup of a certain movie. But there is also more of a personal connection to the material as well. It's been fascinating to see what Tiger and Wolf's story has been since this latest time jump. They are almost completely separated from all of the parody stuff going on as Josh tries to succeed in this mission with Kronish. They are somewhere else in this world just casually thinking about the success of the mission and whether or not they can make their own lives better by giving up now. That's a story where this show truly shines. As such, it means that "Operation: Natal Attraction" is the first step towards the show regaining some momentum as it heads into its final stretch of story.

It's also just completely ridiculous to see how far the show will stretch the comedy when it comes to this confrontation between Tiger and Wolf at a Corey Hart concert. The show has fallen in love with that singer and has been incorporating him more and more into the story. It's because of that commitment that it's funny when Tiger is chasing Wolf through a crowded room and wonders why everyone is wearing sunglasses at night. It gets a big cheer. For them, it's just a part of the conceit of this fandom. For her, it's confusing that makes her mission more difficult. It's then amusing when she recruits a couple of teenage girls in order to break in backstage. Wolf has that access because he can naturally get whatever he wants in this world. It's surprisingly easy for him to do so and that's why he has fallen in love with this latest time period. With Tiger, she needs to recruit others to the cause. And then, she has no problem abandoning them as soon as they serve their purpose as distractions. She motivates them into action. She is leading a team into an unknown and dangerous situation. She loses them once again. But she doesn't ultimately care. She forms no personal connections with this group of young girls. They provide no new insight into the world that possibly changes her perspective - like Diane did. In the end, Tiger is just focusing on her own mission. She doesn't care about Corey Hart. She just wants to knock some sense into Wolf after all that he has done to compromise the mission.

All of this leads to an epic fight between Tiger and Wolf. It starts with Wolf locking Tiger into a giant guitar case. That's just ridiculous. It then extends back onto the street where the fight choreography shows off just how strong and powerful these two soldiers from the future really are. Tiger can literally kick Wolf through the door of his new car. One punch can knock the trunk open. That leads to an amusing reveal that Wolf never did take the guy out of there. He has been trapped inside all of this time. He's still alive and can run away. But it's still pretty amusing to think about. But all of this eventually comes back to a personal and emotional place for the two characters. Wolf knows that Tiger has fallen in love with the past just as much as he has. The DNA test proves that. But Tiger is still committed to the mission. She needs to create a better life for the future. She needs to honor the team that died getting her to this point. But Wolf has already found his happiness. He has found a place to fit in. He is making a better future for himself. It's a future in the past. That's a funny concept that still manages to hit in a really deep and true place. Wolf has frequently been the most over-the-top, ridiculous character of this story. But it's just as devastating to see him want to be killed by Tiger for losing in their fight. She allows him to live and continue living in the 1980s. He's right where he wants to be in the end. He's at the Corey Hart concert. But he still stands out in this world as well.

Elsewhere, Josh is determined to get Kronish onto Leslie's boat no matter what. He has failed too much with this mission. Nothing he has done in the past has changed the future in a significant way. The biotic dystopia is still looming large. So now, it's understandable why he wants to be more forceful in this mission. He has always cautioned subtlety. He just wanted to gently nudge the past along so that his interference wouldn't be too noticeable. But now, he just can't do that anymore. He needs this plan to work. So, he listens to Tiger's suggestion of just holding Kronish at gunpoint to ensure that he gets on the boat. But that plan only leads to more personal complications for Josh. The only place he knows he can get a gun is the Futturman house. That means interacting with his family once more. He just happens to arrive at a time that is much more chill and relaxing for him. He's not startled by the technology of time travel. He's not beaten up by his family. Instead, he is just able to blend in naturally and enjoy a fun party with his parents. It's then that he realizes that this is the night that Gabe and Diane actually meet and fall in love. And so, Josh's actions have the potential consequences of erasing him from existence. So, he's working overly hard to ensure that Gabe and Diane get together. It's just a story of miscommunication though. Josh thinks Diane is actually her friend, Vanessa. He believes he is successful in setting his parents up only to later learn the truth when he is about to have sex with Diane. Again, it's the show really pushing the boundaries of its Back to the Future premise. It goes to the extreme. But it still builds to the moment that the spark between Gabe and Diane would always be present no matter what Josh does in the past. That's nice and encouraging.

Being distracted by his parents in the 1980s doesn't affect Josh's ability to carry out the mission with Kronish either. That would have been the expected way to tell this story. Josh could either ensure that his parents got together or that Kronish got on that boat with Leslie. In execution though, the show allows Josh to be successful in both endeavors. Gabe and Diane are together with just enough time for Josh to kidnap Kronish and get him to the docks. And in the end, Josh just has to come clean about traveling from the future to make sure that Kronish makes this choice. It's further evidence that everyone is more accommodating to this mission once they know that time travel is possible in the future. Kronish actually listens to what Josh has to say the moment he can prove he's from the future. He shares details about the life they have working at Kronish Labs. And then, Josh successfully gets Kronish on the boat. Tiger shows up defeated about Wolf. But Tiger and Josh are able to return to 2017 hoping that the future has been changed for the better. And life in 2017 has changed. It's just clear that Josh's interference has once again made things worse. That outcome was perhaps foreshadowed a little too much. As soon as Josh started talking about possum ejaculate being the breakthrough Kronish has been searching for in his research, it seemed inevitable. So, it basically means that the timeline has been accelerated towards the rise of the biotics. That's an enticing place to find the story as the team has been scattered heading into the final episodes of the season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Operation: Natal Attraction" was written by Dan Mirk and directed by Michael Weaver.
  • James Austin Johnson does a really nice approximation of what Ed Begley Jr. has been doing as Gabe Futturman. There are some really terrific and specific line readings that prove that he studied the performance closely. But of course, this Gabe is also a 20-something who is only interested in parties and girls. That's a lot of fun too. Josh gets high with his father and enjoys all of it.
  • Of course, there's a weird piece of casting in this episode too. Barry Futturman is once again important. But he's treated more as a punchline than a character in this family anyone should be concerned about. But in the 1980s, he is played by Charlie McDermott from ABC's The Middle. That just seems like too noticeable of casting for such a minor role. It's odd and doesn't ultimately mean anything.
  • However, Barry may soon have a lot of importance in the Futturman family. It's a case of knowledge about the future perhaps coming into play for the fortunes of one character. Barry sees no reason to get a job with stock options at AOL. But Josh encourages him to do so and get out at the right time. That knowledge may stick. And so, the show may return to an all new Barry in 2017.
  • Was the young Diane topless shot necessary? Is it the show playing into the tropes of 1980s films where women were frequently asked to take their tops off for no reason? Or does it do enough to subvert that cliche? In the moment, it mostly seems like something to make the offer more enticing to Josh and really push the creepy factor of how far he gets with his mother. But it's pretty conventional and awkward as well.
  • Similarly, does the joke about the size of Josh's new dick still work? It's been a recurring joke over the last couple of episodes. It means Josh is constantly amazed by it. It's having an effect on the rest of his body because of its size. But is it too comedically over the top? It's verging on that territory. Plus, it doesn't seem to have more purpose in the overall narrative. It just fits in to the sophomoric humor of the show.
  • Tiger and Wolf's fight could only have accompanied by "Sunglasses at Night." That is the most popular Corey Hart song after all. It's the song that started this obsession for Wolf. It's also the big punchline doing this big action moment that highlights just how silly and absurd all of this continues to be as well.

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.