A sci-fi comedy with some not-so-subtle commentary.
Avenue 5 is a luxury passenger ship captained by the acclaimed Ryan Clark (Hugh Laurie). During a routine cruise, the artificial gravity malfunctions resulting in the death of the chief engineer, as well as the ship’s course being altered by a few degrees. Unfortunately, those few degrees will extend the 8-week trip to over three years. Now it’s up to Captain Clark, the second engineer Billie McEvoy (Lenora Crichlow), head of mission control Rav Mulcair (Nikki Amuka-Bird), assistant to the owner Iris Kimura (Suzy Nakamura), and former astronaut Spike Martin (Ethan Phillips) to get the ship back to Earth. Unfortunately, they are generally hampered by the incompetence of the Billionaire Owner Herman Judd (Josh Gad), the head of customer relations Matt Spencer (Zach Woods), and entitled passenger Karen Kelly (Rebecca Front). It also turns out that most of the passengers are also complete idiots.
I realize that the premise of a ship being massively off course and having to get back home, as well as the presence of Ethan Phillips, make this show more closely resemble the show Star Trek: Voyager, the fact that it’s set in a single location and doesn’t feature the crew stopping off at other spots makes it sometimes feel a bit more like Deep Space Nine or Babylon 5, after which it is probably named. Of course, either way, this show does not really feel like Star Trek as much as it seems like Idiocracy. Most of the people on Avenue 5 are rich (hence 5th Avenue) and most of the staff don’t really have any knowledge of how the ship works due to almost everything being automated. Even the crew are revealed to have almost no idea what they are doing, because the ship, like most things in the future, is better at flying itself than humans are at flying it.
The key to this show is that the cast are all pretty hilarious and great at playing characters who are out of their depth. Possibly one of the best running gags is that Captain Clark speaks with an American accent because people find it reassuring, but when he gets angry, or drunk, he reveals that he is actually British. Little details like this seem small at first, but the show actually accumulates them as the show goes on and, unlike many shows, actually has them all pay off in one absolutely hilariously dark episode. It’s not even the finale, it’s just the point at which the show really had to let everything come to a head or else it would have become stale. That’s another good aspect of the show is that it tends to let stuff simmer for just the right amount of time.
Overall, I really recommend you give this show a shot if you like farces or sci-fi comedies.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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