Promoted as a comedy and quite heavily sold on the idea of how weird it was to see Rob Lowe and Pauline Quirke in Slough together, Iain Hollands’ apocalyptic British-American co-production quickly reveals itself to be something really quite sharp and as capable of moving the viewer as it is making them giggle.
The series opens with depressed bank manager Jamie’s (Mathew Baynton) narration as he watches the end of the world from a bunker under Slough with a bunch of strangers. Flashback 33 days, and he’s just been arrested under suspicion of cyberterrorism when it’s announced that a giant asteroid is coming and will kill us all.
Discovering his whole life might have been a lie, Jamie sets out to find the truth, while in the US, recently jailed librarian Rhonda (Jenna Fischer) must escape to find her son, and Italian nun Sister Celine (Gaia Scodellaro) is sent to the Vatican to work with Devil’s Advocate Father Jude (Lowe) in order to help him debunk potential messiahs and miracles. Can this group find answers and their loved ones before the end arrives?
While the show has a global scope that’s both convincing and impressive, it’s the intimate character moments that impress. The relationship between Rhonda and Megan Mullally’s white supremacist, Leanne, is well played, and it’s indicative of the writing’s complexity from start to finish.
Jamie’s buffoonish best mate, Dave (Joel Fry), is often the voice of humanity, Jude’s brash exterior conceals genuine faith, and Rhonda’s scientist brother, Scotty (Kyle Soller), and his army general boyfriend, Gaines (Paterson Joseph), are tortured by the horrible decisions they have to make on behalf of our race. It’s as much about the need for connection as it is about end-of-the-world madness.
It’s not perfect; the conspiracy and hacking business never quite convinces, and Jamie’s evil twin brother, Ariel (also Baynton), often feels like an easy way to move the plot forward. Minor quibbles, though. This is a smart, sensitive and very funny, and the performances are excellent. More, please.