HBO unveils the official trailer for the second and final season of Avenue 5
We almost forgot HBO’s black comedy Avenue 5, which debuted just before the world shut down in response to a global pandemic. But the series, which stars Hugh Laurie as the captain of a luxury cruise ship that visits the solar system, has been renewed for a second and final season. And now we have an official trailer to give us an idea of what awaits the beleaguered passengers and crew.
(Spoilers for the first season below.)
As I wrote previously, the series is the brainchild of Armando Iannucci, best known for creating HBO’s stellar comedy series. Veepwhich won multiple Emmy awards over its seven seasons. Avenue 5 is set roughly 40 years in the future, when private spaceflight, aka space tourism, is totally a thing. The titular space cruiser chip is inspired by today’s luxury ocean liners, with fine dining and regular exercise classes. But the ship ran into major technical difficulties, leading to a malfunction in the route that took three years for the return trip, instead of the planned six months. The crew rushed to solve the problem while preventing the passengers from panicking.
In addition to Laurie as Captain Ryan Clark, the cast includes Silicon Valley‘s Zach Woods as Matt Spencer, customer relations manager, and Josh Gad as smarmy billionaire Herman Judd, owner of the Avenue 5 and pretends to be a man of the people, when he is frankly quite a snob. Karen Kelly (Rebecca Front), an overbearing passenger who is apparently on board, makes Captain Ryan’s job even harder. under false pretenseshaving used his sister’s (non-transferable) ticket.
Rounding out the cast, Suzy Nakamura portrays Iris Kimura, associate owner of the ship; Lenora Crichlow as second engineer Billie McEvoy; Himesh Patel as stand-up comedian Jordan Hatwal, performing on the Avenue 5; and Ethan Phillips as former astronaut Spike Williams, whose boozing wifey ways inevitably cause 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 reassuring figurehead on the ship. In fact, all of the “crews” visible on deck were actors and models, and their deck “controls” were just props, as Judd wanted to achieve a certain look for the Avenue 5. The real crew operate “behind the scenes” and do the real work of operating the ship.
In the season finale, Rav Mulcair (Nikki Amuka-Bird), head of mission control on Earth, manages to bring a two-person shuttle to Avenue 5, but only one person could leave with the pilot, which meant that if Judd returned, Rav would be stuck on the ship with everyone else. In the end, Iris was accidentally fired. Meanwhile, an attempt to jettison ballast (unnecessary items) to correct course and shorten the return voyage to six months instead of three years backfired spectacularly. The ballast was cast off to port rather than astern, and now the return trip will take eight years.
I enjoyed the first season, although I felt it never really found its footing in the comics, and the tone was a bit uneven. It can be difficult to find humor in an inherently dark situation. I guess it depends on how amusing you find a debris field that includes coffins ejected into orbit around the ship – or seven passengers who eject themselves from airlocks to their deaths because they’re convinced whether they’re on a reality show – darkly hilarious or disturbing. Filming for the second season was delayed due to the COVID pandemic but finally wrapped last November. According to the official HBO description:
Picking up five months after failing to reroute the ship, season two follows the crew – including feisty engineer Billie, unpredictable customer relations manager Matt and trusty right-hand man Iris – as they struggle to direct, calm, control and, if need be, hide 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 told about the new, longer homecoming schedule. Clark balks, mostly because there’s no more food. If he’s telling the truth, “I’m going to be the next all-you-can-eat buffet.” He even insists that everything is fine with Iris, who is now back on Earth with Mission Control. But maybe they won’t have time to starve since the ship appears to be on a collision course, tilting the Sun – as Rav calls it, “The big yellow cancer factory made of lava. The one -the.” But hey, at least they have options.
The second and final season of Avenue 5 arrives on HBO and HBO Max on October 10, 2022.
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