Imagine a series at the crossroads of the world between The Fun Cruise and Stargate. For the new production, HBO decided to take us to Avenue 5, a floating spaceship. Hugh Laurie and his team welcome you to the heart of this sci-fi comedy, for better or for worse. After four episodes, is this series worth watching?
At the end of the 21st century, space tourism is no longer a fantasy, and Captain Clark and his team are on their way to Saturn. This galactic crossing will not be without difficulty and the ship, Avenue 5, will be diverted from its course. The entire crew must find a solution to return to Earth quickly. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s your Captain speaking!” HBO invites you to board its interstellar cruise. Immediately ascend, aim the galaxy.
Worn by Hugh Laurie, Avenue 5 is the new production of the American channel. Available starting today on OCS, it’s heralded as a new comedy to watch. And after watching four episodes, we have to admit that this project is ambitious. Combining humor and science fiction is not the easiest challenge but to get the project going, HBO trusts Armando Iannucci. The creators of the excellent Veep series promise a whimsical and lively show. At least on paper. From the first minute Avenue 5 doesn’t seem to know how to position itself.
Tension or humor, the screenwriter didn’t make his choice and it shows. The issues related to passenger survival weren’t introduced well enough for us to really be interested in the plot. Quickly, Avenue 5 picks up on genre cliches and Armando Iannucci seems to be playing the same catchphrase to us in every episode. The series relied on Hugh Laurie’s talent to exist but that wasn’t enough. The shock effect, very starting, fell flat and our interest in the characters dropped sharply. By the end of the third episode, the series seems to have run out of steam…
The cast is promising, but the characters quickly turn into genre cliches. Avenue 5 ticked all the boxes in a comedy series, but it wasn’t exactly a success. The only character that stands out, apart from Hugh Laurie, is Matt Spencer. The customer service manager was brilliantly embodied by Zach Woods who brought the bit of humor we hoped for.
However, the script did not do justice to Lenora Crichlow who played Billie McEvoy. The actress, however brilliant in “The Hunt” episode of Black Mirror, finds herself in the background and it’s a shame. Despite the quality of Josh Gad’s play, the characters he plays also quickly become caricatures. All of the characters seem to have been borrowed from bad comedy, like a couple in crisis or a bossy passenger.
On the production side, Avenue 5 is doing well. The performance was quite successful and some scenes are still worth seeing. As for the special effects, we will not comment, the version we watched is not yet final. The director loves to have fun with his shoulder-length shots and vivid zooms, characteristic of sitcoms of the past decade. Like The Office or Brooklyn 99, Avenue 5 wants to play around with documentary code, without completely embracing it.
We’re still going to give Avenue 5 the benefit of the doubt, and we hope that the next episode will manage to turn things around. Introducing a plot like this wasn’t easy and the writers could have some surprises for us for this season 1. Embarkation on January 20, 2020 at OCS in France! The series will have 8 episodes, each lasting 28 minutes.