Armando Iannucci has been responsible for some of the greatest comedies of the last decade-plus, having directed or masterminded works like Veep, The Thick of It, and The Death of Stalin. Now, he’s heading into space with Avenue 5, a new science-fiction comedy series on HBO.
The show, which ventures into the world of space tourism and is set 40 years in the future, stars Hugh Laurie as Ryan Clark, the captain of the space cruise ship Avenue 5. Josh Gad co-stars as billionaire Herman Judd, a sort of space Richard Branson, sporting blond hair and a disdain for anyone in a different economic class as he continues growing the Judd brand, which includes hotels, fitness clubs, and of course, space tourism.
The series’ first trailer makes it clear that Avenue 5 is headed for rough space-waters, with the ship’s well-to-do clientele starting to chip away at Ryan’s patience as things begin to go wrong on the ship. Panic, entitlement, and fast-paced banter all mix, in a mode familiar from other Iannucci work.
The series is packed with other strange details, per the character descriptions on HBO’s website. Zach Woods’ head of customer relations, for instance, “has a performance background, but gave up trying to make it as an entertainer years ago.” Nikki Amuka-Bird’s character, who plays the head of Judd Mission Control on Earth, is “racked with guilt at having sent her two best friends into space in an attempt to fix their failing marriage.” Other character details include “terrified of dying in space,” and “often boasts of being the first Canadian to land on Mars, which isn’t strictly true.” This all seems to fit Iannucci’s sharp sense of humor, which is often aimed at puncturing normally serious professions and situations.
Avenue 5 is set to premiere on HBO in January 2020.