Everything else to watch instead of ‘Avenue 5’
Avenue 5 debuted on HBO on Sunday, and show creator Armando Iannucci made something that was less of a Veep-in-space style romp and more of a Gilligan’s Island packed with nihilists.
Hugh Laurie stars as Captain Ryan Clark, a commercial pilot responsible for the lives of 5,000 passengers on the luxury cruise spaceship Avenue 5, which gets forced off-course within the first 10 minutes and an eight-week cruise suddenly becomes a three-year tour.
It’s…a lot for 30 minutes.
Laurie is leading an incredible cast, including Second Engineer Billie McEvoy (Lenora Crichlow), Head of Customer Relations Matt Spencer (Zach Woods), eccentric billionaire and first-to-die-in-the-inevitable-class-war Herman Judd (Josh Gad), and Judd’s No. 1 Iris Kimura (Suzy Nakamura).
The setup is promising, and the cast is packed with stars from other Iannucci shows, but so far it feels like a tonally-offbeat work comedy.
As dedicated sci-fi enthusiasts, we know better than to judge a program from its first episode (or sometimes its first season), but for anyone wanting to scratch that itch of travelers led astray on a three-hour cruise, here are our favorite sci-fi adventures of a journey gone horribly wrong.
In our opinion, more shows should dramatically kill off the main characters and then reintroduce them years later, just because. BBC Two’s Red Dwarf killed everyone on a 22nd-century spaceship during its pilot episode, save for one lowly technician and his cat.
The show only got weirder from there.
The cult-favorite explored dark themes as a broad comedy, and embraced the ridiculous nature of sci-fi tropes without belittling them.
The beleaguered citizens onboard the Galactica were not lost, so much as they were systematically targeted, hunted, and attacked by the robot Cylons.
The Syfy reboot of the 1970s program was a darker and more compelling reimagining; created during both the Golden Age of Television and War on Terror. The result is a gritty depiction of terrorism, crackdowns on civil liberties, religious fundamentalists, and prisoner torture.
The cast was stacked with outstanding talent, like fearless leader Commander William “Bill” Adama (Edward James Olmos), and our president for life Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell).
The show was apparently a major inspiration for Avenue 5. Show creator Iannucci told SYFY WIRE that he liked the reboot because “it kind of kept away from aliens, apart from the Cylons. And I like that for its exploring issues, non-sci-fi issues, like exploring terrorism.”
The premise of Syfy’s Farscape sounds like a bizarre fever dream. The Australian-American science fiction television series features a ragtag group of weirdos, including an American astronaut lost in a wormhole, as they try to escape from the militaristic and misleadingly named “Peacekeepers.” There are muppets, costumes made entirely out of black leather, and a biomechanical living ship with a feisty personality.
It is incredible. The best episodes, including “Die Me, Dichotomy” from the second season and “Incubator” from season three, lean whole-heartedly into the weirdness of the premise.
This is a group of people, aliens, and muppets isolated from the rest of the universe and surrounded by enemies at every turn, but they approach every situation with a manic sense of enthusiasm and optimism that is refreshing to watch.
Star Trek: Voyager
UPN’s Star Trek: Voyager does not always fit in tonally with the rest of the Star Trek Universe, but we appreciate that it tested out a new formula.
The series, created by Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor, followed the Starfleet vessel USS Voyager after it was stranded in the Delta Quadrant on the far side of the Milky Way galaxy. Led by Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), the crew spent seven seasons trying to make it home.
Lost in Space
There was a brief, shining moment between 2015 and early 2018 when everyone was feeling some kind of way about sexy monster creatures. Articles were devoted to describing the sexual magnetism of the giant fish monster from The Shape of Water, while Twitter had a meltdown over the thicc robot from Netflix’s Lost in Space.
We watch it for the plot.
The Netflix version is a compelling remake of the CBS original. The Robinson family has been updated, the practical effects have been improved, and the robot is 10 million times sexier.
But again, we watch it for the plot.