We almost forgot about HBO’s dark comedy avenue 5, which debuted just before the world shut down in response to a global pandemic. but the series, in which Hugh Laurie is the captain of a luxury cruise ship that travels the solar system, has been renewed for a second and final season. And now we have an official trailer that gives us an idea of what to expect for the besieged passengers and crew.
(Spoilers for season one below.)
As I wrote before, the series is the brainchild of Armando Iannucci who is best known for creating the stellar HBO comedy series veepwhich has won multiple Emmy Awards over seven seasons. avenue 5 takes place approximately 40 years in the future when private space travel, aka space tourism, is all the rage. The eponymous space cruise chip is modeled after today’s luxury ocean liners, complete with fine dining and regular training classes. However, the ship experienced major technical difficulties, resulting in a course disruption that meant the return voyage would take three years instead of the planned six months. The crew struggled to resolve the issue while the passengers did not panic.
The cast includes Laurie as Captain Ryan Clark Silicon Valley‘s Zach Woods as Matt Spencer, head of customer care, and Josh Gad as sleazy billionaire Herman Judd, owner of the avenue 5 and pretends to be a man of the people when, frankly, he’s quite a snob. Karen Kelly (Rebecca Front), a bossy passenger who appears to be on board, makes Captain Ryan’s job even more difficult under false pretenseafter using her sister’s (non-transferable) ticket.
Rounding out the cast are Suzy Nakamura as Iris Kimura, a co-owner of the ship; Lenora Crichlow as second engineer Billie McEvoy; Himesh Patel as stand-up comedian Jordan Hatwal performing on stage avenue 5; and Ethan Phillips as former astronaut Spike Williams, whose boozy nature inevitably creates tension.
The big reveal of the pilot episode: the lead engineer was killed and Clark admitted he was actually an actor hired to be a calming figurehead on the ship. In fact, all of the visible “crew” on the bridge were actors and models, and their “controls” on the bridge were merely props because Judd wanted to achieve a specific look for them avenue 5. The real crew operates “behind the scenes” and does the real work of operating the ship.
In the season finale, Rav Mulcair (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Head of Mission Control on Earth, successfully delivered a two-person shuttle to the destination avenue 5, but only one person could go back with the pilot – meaning Rav would be stuck with everyone else on the ship when Judd returned. In the end, Iris was accidentally sent back. Meanwhile, an attempt to drop ballast (unnecessary items) to correct course and shorten the return voyage to six months instead of three years backfired spectacularly. The ballast was jettisoned from the port side rather than the stern, and the voyage home now takes eight years.
I enjoyed the first season, although I felt that it never quite found its comic footing and the tone was a bit inconsistent. It can be difficult to find humor in an inherently dark situation. I guess it depends on how amusing you find a debris field containing ejected coffins circling the ship – or seven passengers throwing themselves out of the airlocks to their deaths, convinced they’re in a prank -reality show are – darkly funny or disturbing. Filming for the second season was delayed due to the COVID pandemic but finally wrapped up last November. According to HBO’s official description:
Five months after the ship failed to be diverted, season two follows the crew – including fiery engineer Billie, unpredictable head of customer care Matt and trusty right-hand man Iris – as they struggle to lead, soothe, control and… , if need be, hiding from increasingly unruly passengers. On Earth they are hailed as heroes and in space everyone can hear them scream.
In the trailer, we see Matt insisting that passengers be informed of the new, longer schedule for the journey home. Clark hesitates, mostly because food is running low. If he tells the truth, “I’ll be the next all-you-can-eat buffet.” He even insists that everything is fine for Iris, who is now back on Earth with Mission Control. But they may not have time to starve, as the ship appears to be on a collision course with the sun – as Rav calls it, “The big yellow lava crab factory.” But hey, at least they have options.
The second and final season of avenue 5 Coming to HBO and HBO Max on October 10, 2022.
Listing image from YouTube/HBO Max
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