Avenue 5 is HBO’s upcoming sci-fi comedy from Armando Ianucci, the man behind HBO’s satirical political comedy series Veep. The show ended its run earlier this year after seven seasons, racking up numerous awards along the way, and it’s widely regarded as one of the best comedy series of the current decade. So anything he does next is going to get some eyeballs, and those eyeballs are going from the White House to outer space.
The show’s rather brief synopsis is as follows:
Avenue 5 is a space tourism comedy set 40 years in the future when the solar system is everyone’s oyster.
But they’ve made up for that by giving us a detailed breakdown of all the main actors, headlined by the superb Hugh Laurie, and their characters:
- Hugh Laurie will play Ryan Clark, captain of space cruise ship Avenue 5. Suave, outwardly confident, controlled, and personable, Ryan is the man you want in charge of a crisis.
- Josh Gad as Herman Judd, the billionaire face and name behind Avenue 5, and the whole Judd brand, including hotels, fitness clubs and space tourism. Judd is used to a life of luxury; his fortune was made from holiday resorts and he thinks he’s good at everything else. Terrible at science, he leaves that to the experts he employs to give him the answers he wants.
- Zach Woods as Matt Spencer, head of customer relations. Despite being a nihilist, Matt is a nice guy who can’t wait to get to the end of his final cruise before promotion to a more senior role on Earth. He has a performance background, but gave up trying to make it as an entertainer years ago.
- Nikki Amuka-Bird as Rav Mulcair, head of Judd Mission Control on Earth. Extremely intelligent, intense, and slightly odd, she is frustrated and exhausted by lack of control. Rav is racked with guilt at having sent her two best friends into space in an attempt to fix their failing marriage.
- Rebecca Front as Karen Kelly, a born leader who illicitly boarded Avenue 5 using her sister’s non-transferable ticket. Strong-willed, articulate, likeable, Karen soon finds herself becoming the voice of the passengers, enjoying her newfound power.
- Lenora Crichlow as Billie McEvoy, second engineer. Young, outspoken, smart, career-focused, but exhausted by responsibility, Billie loves building and fixing things. She is terrified of dying in space.
- Suzy Nakamura as Iris Kimura, Judd’s right-hand-woman. Straight to the point, sharp and serious, Iris has a very particular sense of humor. Iris is a “fixer,” there to work out what Judd wants, even if it’s unclear, and make sure it happens whilst ensuring it doesn’t cause anyone or anything any harm.
- Ethan Phillips as Spike Martin, elderly space enthusiast and former astronaut. Spike is a grizzled womanizer and heavy drinker who is also surprisingly good with kids. Spike thinks he should have a higher status due to his achievements as an astronaut, but not many people know who he is. He often boasts of being the first Canadian to land on Mars, which isn’t strictly true.
Let’s take a look:
There’s not really much to go on here, but at first glance this looks like a class satire to me. The obviously wealthy passengers and the opulent environment that caters to their every whim stands in stark contrast to the lives of those dedicated to maintaining their illusion. To be honest I wasn’t all that impressed because nothing really stood out as particularly original, until the last couple of seconds that is, which is when I ugly-laughed at Laurie muttering about setting the escape pod on fire. That should resonate with anyone who’s ever had to deal with any sort of customer service-related work.
What do you think?
Avenue 5 will premiere on HBO this coming January.
Last Updated: November 21, 2019