Of the two comedies shown during San Diego Comic-Con’s pilot previews (this and Powerless), People of Earth is definitely the stand-out. Here’s our spoiler-free first impression of its inaugural episode.
People of Earth is about journalist Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) who is doing a human interest story on a support group for people who believe they have been abducted by aliens. His reporting leads him to believe there might be some truth to what they have experienced and that he, himself, might have been abducted.
People of Earth is a small comedy but in the best sense. Despite its outlandish premise, the focus of it is the diverse cast of characters and how this shared experience has brought them all together. Even Ozzie, who is a sceptic and a cynic, is drawn into the protective circle of this group.
The pilot is consistently funny, and the show mines Cenac’s deadpan face and ability to imbue a sentence with incredulity to immense effect. Whether it’s during his interviews of the rest of the cast (which includes the superb Ana Gasteyer, Brian Huskey and Luka Jones), arguing with his absolute nutter of a boss or undergoing hypnosis to recover lost memories, Cenac’s reactions always get laughs. There are also a few very strange sight gags and bizarre lines that will make you burst into laughter.
There’s enough mystery surrounding the abductions of these people — and a sense that we’ve only scratched the surface of their characters — that I instantly wanted to see more episodes. It has a lot of potential to be a very different, very fun comedy.
People of Earth will be on TBS in the US later this year. An Australian broadcaster has yet to be announced.