The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse to You is any old episode of the show given Netflix’s rudimentary choice-based “interactive” makeover.
This review of The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse to You is spoiler-free.
The Last Kids on Earth is a weird franchise. It seems to crop up fairly regularly on Netflix, so obviously has enough fans for multiple “Books”, which is what the show arbitrarily calls its seasons, even though the first one only consisted of a single episode. Yet nobody seems to talk or care about it, really, and even within its own fiction, it exists in a kind of nebulous post-apocalypse that could conceivably go on forever. I reviewed the first “Book” and the second and found it perfectly enjoyable in that low-effort family-friendly kind of way, but it hardly seemed like a show with real longevity. Then again, what do I know about kids’ TV?
Evidently not very much, since here we are again for The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse to You, an interactive holiday (what holiday?) special that is certainly interactive but isn’t particularly special. As the opening narration assures us, we’re not very long into a monster apocalypse that has wiped out basically everyone besides the four core characters — Jack (Nick Wolfhard), June (Montse Hernandez), Quint (Garland Whitt), and Dirk (Charles Demers) — who’re having the time of their lives during the end of the world. The setup for this 37-minute episode is an end-of-the-world birthday party for June, the first thing any of them have had to celebrate since the beginning, and all of the potential monster-shaped problems that the party brings.
Thanks in large part to Bear Grylls, I’m not a huge fan of Netflix’s binary this-or-that style of “interactive” storytelling, and the makeover this show gets isn’t particularly convincing either. Choices invariably involve picking one of two options that amount to basically the same outcome; here it’s stuff like tackling a monster or continuing with Jack’s “secret plans”, or deciding which particular MacGyver’d weapon Quint deploys. For the younger audience this property is obviously aimed at, it’ll probably feel like enough to be exciting, but it’s hardly meaningful authorship as anyone who has ever played, say, a decent RPG might understand it.
It’s better than the You vs Wild stuff, at least, because the choices are at least rooted in the fiction, and the animation gives a lot more leeway for outcomes. You know that whatever option you choose — or however much you might like it to — a lion isn’t actually going to eat Bear Grylls, so here’s there’s a better sense that you’re having a tangible impact on the story. But a brisk episode of kids’ tv probably isn’t the best use of this technology, and Netflix don’t seem interested in doing anything with it beyond this. For fans, it’s a bonus episode with a cute gimmick. For everyone else, there’s still no real reason to care.