Faulty, charming “No Tomorrow” has potential to be great

Monday, October 10, 2016 - 12:52am

The premise for “No Tomorrow,” The CW’s new light-hearted hour-long comedy, almost feels too familiar: a guy and a girl fall for each other, but one of them finds out something about the other that makes their relationship a little more complicated. In this case, the beautiful, timid Evie (Tori Anderson, “Open Heart”) falls for the handsome, bearded Xavier (Joshua Sasse, “Galavant”), but discovers that he believes the apocalypse is imminent. Despite being hesitant toward his strange beliefs, Evie realizes she can truly live in the moment if she puts herself out there and subsequently follows Xavier to complete his list — or “apocalist,” as he calls it — of crazy adventures before the world goes kaputt.

It sounds kooky as hell, and its rom-com formula walks a shaky, thin line, but “No Tomorrow” spins its offbeat plot into something surprisingly deft and intelligent.

Adapted from the Brazilian TV series “How To Enjoy The End Of The World,” “No Tomorrow” is not nearly as excellent as other female-led CW comedies like “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” However, its faults are easily fixable, thanks to the show’s witty script, strong supporting cast and Sasse and Anderson’s acting and undeniable chemistry.

Though the pilot of “No Tomorrow” is undoubtedly one of the better pilots of the fall network TV season, the episode wrestles with moments of cleverness and exaggerated romanticism. On the one hand, you have a girl-meets-boy type of setup: Xavier and Evie’s meet-cute at a Seattle farmer’s market, where Xavier introduces himself and Evie awkwardly runs off, too awestruck by his beauty. Later, she receives a package intended for Xavier and decides to bring it to him, leading to their second meet-cute and the beginning of their journey.  

In addition to hanging out with Xavier, Evie must deal with the other people in her life, most of whom are disablers of her newfound interest in living like there’s, well, no tomorrow. Her work friends, the snide Kareema (Sarayu Blue, “The Real O’Neals”) and the dorky conspiracy theorist Hank (Jonathan Langdon, “Special Correspondents”), aren’t too keen on Evie being pulled into Xavier’s zany worldviews.

Unsure of all this, Evie also feels pressure from her parents and bossy older sister, who joke about her past mistakes (including an unfortunate childhood incident at a talent show) and push her to settle down with her smart, extremely soft-spoken boyfriend Timothy (Jesse Rath, “Defiance”). But after a day of joy-riding with Xavier and a night of defiantly singing a karaoke version of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” Evie finds out that being fearless in her often calculated decisions makes her extremely happy.

Clearly, “No Tomorrow” seems to be grappling with themes and concepts that many romantic comedies have tried and often failed at portraying. But beneath its glossy, somewhat clichéd exterior, “No Tomorrow” showcases great writing and performances, as well as some unexpected twists along the way.  

Anderson, in particular, brings an unusual emotional warmth to her character, matching Evie’s klutzy naiveté with depth and magnetism. Similarly, Sasse curtails his character’s douchebaggery and slightly sinister motives with genuine ease, depicting Xavier as more of an uninhibited believer of the world’s end than a bizarre lunatic. Together, Sasse and Anderson make a nice, attractive pair, even though it would’ve been better to have had some build-up to their romantic relationship.

While most of the pilot focuses on Evie and Xavier’s burgeoning cutesy romance, it also includes some interesting detours that disrupts their new relationship. After Evie finds out Xavier hacked her email, telling off her brutal boss Deirdre (Amy Pietz, “Aliens in America”) and quitting her job for her, she briefly cuts ties with him. But soon, she’s led back to him due to a plot detail that shouldn’t be spoiled. The resolution of Evie running back into Xavier’s arms seems a bit far-fetched, especially after he raises several red flags by invading her privacy and almost ruining her career. Fortunately, Evie comes back to Xavier with much more directness, telling him that she’ll be seizing the day on her own terms and thus making her own version of an “apocalist.”

Considering that TV pilots are never totally perfect, “No Tomorrow” can certainly bounce back from its flaws. The character development will likely improve over the course of the season, and the writing will hopefully become sharper and rely less on rom-com tropes. If it continues to highlight the talent of its leads and the potential of its intriguing hook, “No Tomorrow” is destined to make strides.