HBO’s new series ‘Avenue 5’ premiered Sunday January 19th. This space-cruise show is created by Armando Iannucci, the creator of the political comedy ‘Veep’.
Many of Armando’s signatures are found throughout the premiere episode delivering a humorous look at a cruise ship in space after a disaster causing the trip to be extended by three years. This show sets up a cast of strong personalities that are bound to clash as they survive in what feels like ‘Gilligan’s Island’ meets ‘Orville’. I give this first episode an 87/100.
What is it? We are introduced to crew and passengers quickly as they are enjoying cruise life and anticipating the viewing of a passing asteroid. The characters are what will be caring this show; I will list them below with a brief explainer. As the asteroid event is expected to begin, the gravity quickly changes to one side.
Everyone is tossed to the port side of the ship, forcing it to veer off course slightly. Following the gravity’s normalization the crew scrabble to figure out what happened and more importantly, who to blame. The passengers begin to ask questions and already start to ague. The final act of the episode is the discovery of the additional three years and the chaos that ensues. The crew reveal their faults and struggle to create a plan. The passengers are starting to revolt and want answers. We are left with a cliffhanger as the Captain is about to address everyone. There is much more to the story and worth the watch.
How is it? This is very fast paced with tight writing and little (almost missed) jokes being thrown around. This brings the ‘Veep’ comparisons to the forefront. We also have many ‘Veep’ side character alumni joining the series. Other cast members range from the very recognizable Josh Gad to the new but noticeable Sacharissa Claxton.
The set is limited to primarily the Lobby of Avenue 5, but we also see locations like the bridge, passenger rooms, and the HQ. All locations have a very polished look that reminds you of the Axiom from ‘Wall-E’ with it’s white interior and bright lights. The HQ serves as their “Houston to NASA” location and feels like the command room from ‘Westworld’. Overall this initial episode is fun but suffers from introducing many characters. Everyone gets screen time, but that often leads nowhere. This is typical for a big cast but it feel even worse with the 30 minute time frame. All that being said, the series the premiere sets up looks very promising and also has an excellent team.
Hugh Laurie plays Captain Ryan Clark. Almost the same character he played in ‘Veep’. An authority figure that walks around being loved by all and emitting confidence. With a shade of grey behind his “cool guy” facade.
Josh Gad plays Herman Judd. What if a tech billionaire “genius” wanted to make a cruise ship in space? That’s what you get from Judd. The ship is a palace to him with his name in gold everywhere. He thinks he is the smartest person in the room while barely following the conversation.
Suzy Nakamura plays Iris Kimura. Judd’s assistant and the only thing keeping him grounded. She follows all his orders while also running his life.
Sacharissa Claxton plays Jaz. She is the best engineer on the ship and the only person with a grasp on space travel. If they are going to survive this journey, it’s up to her.
Zach Woods plays Matt Spencer. If you’ve been on a crews then you are familiar with the cruise director. They are the voice of the ship to the passengers informing them of activities and the schedule. But we learn that this figure may collapse when problems occur and he is the first stop for passengers.
Nikki Amuka-Bird plays Rav Mulcair. She’s in charge of the HQ. She is trying to clarify what happend…with a 26 second delay.
Ethan Phillips plays Spike Martins. Spike is the old school astronaut that joins the ship to teach others about the comet. After the troubles begin, Spike starts to assess the situation and may become the voice of reason in the future. Also, HE’S NEELIX FROM STAR TREK VOYAGER! Sorry, geek out for a second.
There are many more on this cast but that will give you a basic understanding of the crew.