Does subscribing to fringe theories make you a sexy free spirit, or just a crackpot? That's the question at the heart of "No Tomorrow," a sunny apocalyptic comedy — apparently there is such a thing — premiering Tuesday on the CW.
Once dismissed for its frothy, youth-oriented programming, the network has overhauled its image in recent years with the telenovela spoof "Jane the Virgin" and the musical comedy "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." Two of the most ambitious, agile comedies on television — broadcast or otherwise — both shows also happen to center on unconventional young heroines in pursuit of romantic and professional fulfillment.
"No Tomorrow" is the latest entry in this mold. A latter-day screwball comedy about an uptight young woman who falls for a bearded hottie who believes the end of the world is nigh, it puts a cheerful spin on mortality in a way that seemingly only the CW could. While it's not as wildly inventive as either "Jane" or "Crazy," "No Tomorrow" is a breezy diversion with charm to spare.
Evie Covington (Tori Anderson) is a leading lady in the Sally Albright mode, both uptight and "adorkable" at once. A woman known for her "spazzy dance moves and organized pen drawers," Evie is a quality-control manager for an Amazon-like online retailer. The job appeals to her meticulous, risk-averse nature, but she also longs to branch out, even if her boss deems her too timid to participate in the company's globetrotting charity initiative.
Evie's carefully controlled life is thrown into disarray one afternoon at the farmers market, where she and Xavier Holliday (Joshua Sasse) meet cute over a root vegetable. Their interaction is brief, but Evie can't quite get "Rutabaga Guy" out of her mind. So when a case of beer addressed to Xavier mistakenly lands on her front porch, she decides to seize the day and track him down.
Happily, it turns out that he lives nearby in Echo Park, in a house packed with pinball machines and other grown-up toys seemingly plucked from a SkyMall catalog. Their chemistry is instant and electric, with Xavier's carpe diem mentality the perfect complement to the tightly wound Evie.
The only problem is that Xavier appears to be a card-carrying member of the tinfoil-hat club. As he explains to an understandably freaked out Evie, Xavier is convinced the Earth is on a collision course with an asteroid that will end in eight months and 12 days — and hey, don't laugh, because he even has the 223-slide presentation to prove it!
Once a khaki-wearing copy editor, Xavier now devotes his time to completing his "Apocalyst," a pre-doomsday bucket list. Items on the agenda range from the seemingly mundane ("talk to Dad") to the highly involved ("run the Iditarod"). How Xavier, with no discernible source of income, pays for these adventures is unclear, though one suspects a trust fund might be involved.
At Xavier's urging, Evie sets about completing her own, slightly more modest list (Item No. 1: singing a Whitesnake song in public), but troubles arise when he pushes things too far and quits her job for her.
The tentative romance is further complicated by the fact that Evie is currently on a break from her boyfriend, Timothy (Jesse Rath), a sweet-but-uninspiring tech writer who is so soft-spoken he needs subtitles. In an uncharacteristically bold move, he surprises Evie with a proposal (though, being the cautious type, he puts on kneepads to pop the question).
Suddenly, Evie is faced with a difficult decision: Does she go for the nice, safe guy, or the dangerously alluring eccentric? (No points for guessing the answer.)
Based on a Brazilian format, "No Tomorrow" suffers from the flaws inherent in most contemporary romantic comedies — particularly an over-reliance on superficial quirk. But with presumably new "Apocalypst" items to tackle each week, the show should have plenty of story to tell even after the boy and girl have gotten together.
In this case, the boy and the girl also happen to be rather appealing. Anderson, a Canadian actress you're not likely to have seen before unless you've been keeping up with the Nickelodeon fantasy series "The Other Kingdom," displays a gift for physical comedy, particularly in a pratfall involving a pogo stick. Like "Jane's" Gina Rodriguez and "Crazy Ex's" Rachel Bloom, she is a real find.
Fresh off his stint as the dashing title character in ABC's cheeky musical fairy tale "Galavant," Sasse proves he can be a lower-key heartthrob in "No Tomorrow." He plays Xavier as an earnest seeker rather than a raving conspiracy theorist, making Evie's attraction to him perfectly understandable. (More disconcerting than Xavier's apocalyptic beliefs, at least to this viewer, is his propensity for wearing knit caps in T-shirt weather.)
Nor is Xavier alone in thinking the end days are coming. Evie's seemingly normal co-worker Hank (a scene-stealing Jonathan Langdon) has some outlandish ideas about the U.S. military (Warning: Don't Google "Jade Helm" unless you want to fall down a rabbit hole) and keeps a stockpile of preservative-filled snacks at his desk to survive the looming nuclear winter. In its extremely lighthearted way, this show taps into the jittery mood of 2016.
Whether or not Xavier's predictions are accurate remains to be seen, but "No Tomorrow" is delightful enough to hope he's wrong.
When: 9 p.m. Tuesday
Rating: TV-PG-DLS (may be unsuitable for young children with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and sex)