Well, what a ride Avenue 5 has been, but unfortunately I don’t mean that in a positive way. It’s been akin to the kind of roller-coaster that keeps on breaking down and rather than being filled with highs and lows is one long, flat slow affair which doesn’t come close to being exciting at any point, and fills with you such tedium that you worry you may have lost your ability to laugh and might never do so again.
Now that may sound a little harsh, especially as my review of the first episode was filled with a fair amount of praise, but that first episode was as good as it ever got and a few weeks later one followed where I found myself genuinely surprised at the bland direction the show had taken, and it’s only become increasingly shittier after that. It’s a real surprise too given that it’s by Armando Iannucci and some highly acclaimed writers like Peter Baynham and Charlie and Daisy May Cooper, but somehow they’ve created one of the most annoying sitcoms of the last ten years, and no, not just because Josh Gad is in it.
Gad’s billionaire character is a reasonably big problem, a selfish, petty and rather pathetic figure there’s lots of scope for mocking this kind of man but he’s not been responsible for a funny moment since the first episode, and most of the time has been actively irritating. Yet unfortunately for the show that description applies to nearly all of the rest of the characters, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve wished painful, agonising death on a group of individuals. Which did sort of happen in episode 8, though unfortunately most of those who died were new to the show and not the ones who’ve been responsible for it being so achingly unfunny.
There’s of course been many a sitcom that features unlikeable characters which have been consistently hilarious but this truly is not one of them, if they were cruel, mean, diabolically evil or just bizarrely perverse it might have been amusing, but that doesn’t apply to any of them really, it’s just a case of nearly all of them bickering and moaning in every episode with the dialogue failing to amuse at all. Throughout it’s been lazy and predictable and repetitive, to the extent that it’s amazing no one’s noticed just how monotonous this nonsense has become.
There’s three exceptions to all of this in the shape of Hugh Laurie’s fake Captain, stand up comic Jordan (Himesh Patel) and Zach Wood’s nihilistic Matt Spencer, but the latter two have been massively underused, Wood especially who despite almost always being funny when he is on screen mostly only gets the occasional line or two in a scene. At least Hugh Laurie’s has been refreshingly likeable and amusing as he tries to keep control while being surrounded by some of the most inane creations ever committed to the small screen, but even his impressive comic capabilities haven’t been enough to make the series worth viewing.
This season finale follows up from the deaths in the previous episode with Matt blaming himself and so he’s changed the code to airlocks so no one can ever kill themselves again, but unfortunately that means they can’t jettison the passengers unwanted items and cause the ship to get home in six months instead of three years. That leads to the episode being split in two as initially the various characters split up and go in search of him, and then after finding him in an unfunnily easy manner a shuttle arrives from Earth meant for Josh Gad’s character, and everyone fights as to who they think should be on it.
All of this means just more shouting. More unimaginative quarrelling, quibbling and squabbling. More shitty, bland really quite agitating scenes of no value whatsoever. There’s one minor exception when former astronaut Spike (Ethan Phillips) complains that he doesn’t enjoy sex any more as it now feels like “I’m slapping wet concrete” but that’s not funny either, and for me was one of the oddest comparisons to sex ever made, one which doesn’t make any sense at all – and I’ve fornicated over three times. Even if it is something you might agree with I’d be amazed if you found the scene that amusing as the rest of the exchange is boring as hell.
While everyone argues about who should leave the ship in the one spare seat on the space shuttle (which makes you wonder who on earth would build such a shitty vehicle in the first place, or why many other shuttles can’t be sent to rescue the passengers) they even manage to make the stand up comedian Jordan an unlikeable character, he’s spent the last few episodes flirting with Billie (Lenora Crichlow) but is uncharacteristically horrible to her as he dives on the shuttle, and it’s as if the writers suddenly thought that having three likeable characters was a terrible decision and so made him a shit too.
At the end Rebecca Front’s overbearingly smarmy Karen Kelly is responsible for the airlock plan going wrong and now everyone’s going to be stuck on the ship for eight years instead of three. If it’s meant to be funny as we watch the distress of everyone involved I must be missing something, and the idea of spending such a long time in their company would lead me to committing suicide instantly if I was on the ship. Perhaps that’s what will happen at the beginning of season 2, leaving only Hugh Laurie, Zach Woods and a couple of others alive, it’s almost definitely not going to be the case but it’s the only way I can imagine ever watching another second of this nonsense.
I can’t believe I’m rating this episode so poorly, the idea of giving a comedy by Armando Iannucci just one star seems absurd given how much amazing television and cinema he has created over the past three decades. But it just did not make me laugh once during the entire episode, and the majority of the time I was hoping HBO would notice how embarrassingly atrocious it was and stop airing the episode, so it’s sadly the case.