TV ReviewsAvenue 5 (1×01) I Was Flying Early Review

Keith NoakesJanuary 10, 202075/100
Director
Armando Iannucci
Writers
Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche
Rating
TV-MA
Running Time
28 minutes
Airs
Sundays 10pm starting January 19th
Channel
HBO, HBO Canada
Overall Score
Rating Summary
I Was Flying is a solid start for Avenue 5, suffering perhaps from all the heavy lifting in setting up the series despite some funny moments and performances.

Veep in space? Probably not but that thought is intriguing.

Synopsis: When a malfunction occurs aboard the luxury space cruise ship Avenue 5, it’s up to engineer Billie McEvoy to warn Captain Ryan Clark, Avenue 5 owner Herman Judd and his right-hand-woman Iris Kimura that the incident may have a cataclysmic knock-on effect. As Rav Mulcair manages the situation from mission control back on Earth, Matt Spencer, the head of customer relations, tries his best to calm frayed nerves on board, and persistent passenger Karen Kelly discovers the crew may know more than they’re letting on. (HBO)

When it comes to Avenue 5, again, perhaps Veep (a series that I’m admittedly not the most familiar with) in space is not a fair comparison. Considering we are only one episode in, it may very well get there. Being the first episode, I Was Flying features plenty of heavy lifting in terms of setting up this new series, including its many characters and its futuristic sci-fi setting. Despite a few funny moments, the episode would suffer as a result.

I Was Flying doesn’t waste any time by dropping viewers right away into things. This series takes place in the not to distant future and mostly takes place on the insanely wealthy and dim-witted Herman Judd’s (Josh Gad) space cruise ship known as Avenue 5. This would mean some catching up which would only get worse as things of course weren’t exactly smooth sailing as far as the crew and the passengers were concerned (because it wouldn’t be much of a series otherwise). At the helm of Avenue 5 was the begrudging Captain Ryan Clark (Hugh Laurie), a character who definitely had a lot on his plate but little did he know, he would find himself way over his head as a particular accident would lead him and the rest of the crew to struggle to find a solution while managing the countless passengers for which they were responsible for.

The series’ other setting was Avenue 5 mission control back on Earth as Rav Mulcair (Nikki Amuka-Bird) tried to manage things from below, however, this would also present its own set of challenges. While it is still early, it’s difficult to get invested in any of the characters primarily because we don’t know that much about them yet though they still have potential. The plot may be lacking but the writing still showed signs of life. Meanwhile, the production value was also there, helping to bring the ship to life. Though I Was Flying somewhat pulls from the ridiculous premise for comedic effect with some success, it could have gone even further (though it very well could in future episodes).

The best part of I Was Flying was its performances for the most part considering they felt restrained perhaps in favor of all the set up. Laurie was great as Clark, carrying the episode with likability and screen presence. Meanwhile Zach Woods Jared-ed (for lack of a better word) his way through an entertaining performance as Matt Spencer, the ship’s head of customer relations. On the other end of the spectrum was Gad’s Judd. Judd’s dimwittedness clearly exists for comedic effect but be it the writing or Gad’s performance, he was not funny whatsoever and the character was annoying to watch.

At the end of the day, there’s still enough potential in Avenue 5 to warrant staying around. Fans of Veep and Armando Iannucci should find plenty to enjoy despite perhaps needing to adjust to this different setting. Let’s see what the next episode gets us!


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