HBO’s Avenue 5 Episode 1 Review

I’m not sure how to feel or think about this show after watching the premier. First off, I had no idea this existed and only first saw a trailer right before the new episode of The Outsider. I was also surprised to see that it would be airing right after The Outsider. I was a little hesitant because the trailer seemed a bit silly and more like something you would see on basic cable television, but with it being on HBO, I have it benefit of the doubt. After watching it though, I find myself in a weird state of mind. I have no idea where to begin talking about this and whether or not I actually liked it. It’s a bit of a confounding digestion that I may not decide on until I see another episode or two. 

Right off the bat I find myself torn with whether this show is more of a subversion of reality or just a simple comedy. There are points when the show seems to be smarter than your average comedy, but then reverts back to the typical kind of blah comedy that I roll my eyes at. I guess I’m just not sure what the intention is of this show up to this point. Obviously I know they want to tell a comedic space story about a bunch of people that are basically on a space cruise, but I’m not sure if it actually works at all. This could also be a testament to its quality that it’s making me overthink how I actually feel about it.

Stepping away from the confusing mixed feelings, there are some surface issues that I noted. There are two different types of camera work that felt very jarring. One style when we’re on the ship and one style when we’re seeing command on Earth. I didn’t understand why the style changed but it took me right out of the show as soon as I noticed it. I wish I had a little more explanation as to why the change is there but it may take a Director commentary to learn that. 

I also wasn’t very keen on the actual story or rather how we are kind of introduced to everything. Now I completely understand that it’s trying to skip over all of the set up stuff of how we got here so that it can focus on just the comedy part, but I’m not sure if it entirely works for me. In an age where we have some of the best quality TV, I would think that the show would have tried to spend a little more time with setup, but then again it feels at times like the setup isn’t necessary. I would have been more interested I think if I at least had a little more background on our main characters and why I should care about them. I suppose though that information is yet to be entirely revealed. We do start to learn about some of them like the Captain, but not much else than that. 

That does bring me to the interesting cast that they brought together for this. The two most notable names are Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad. I’ll watch anything with Hugh Laurie in it and honestly I think that met be the main reason why I gave this show a shot, but I don’t think they’re utilizing him as much as they could be. He does have some great comedy and it’s definitely a different take than what I’ve seen most out of him so I’ll give it a pass for that. Josh Gad plays the arrogant and not intelligent owner that doesn’t really care about anyone but himself. It’s a stereotypical role that he plays well, but it just doesn’t bring anything new. The other big note character wise is that I noticed a few familiar faces from The Office like David Wallace and Gabe. They seem like they’re having fun and giving some different performances than what I’m used to so I did find them somewhat amusing.

Overall this show seems interesting and I want to be more excited about it, but it leaves a mixed feeling after the first episode. I’m going to give it a chance for another episode or two before I give a final judgement of whether I’ll continue watching or jump ship. Even after going through everything, I’m still not sure if I like the show or not. It has potential and gives something somewhat unexpected but also very familiar at the same time. It has a bit of a social commentary on what we expect vs reality, but I don’t think that’s enough to keep the show afloat. I’m just going to stick with my mixed feeling overall and go into the next episode wanting and expecting more to keep me hooked. I would love to hear some other thoughts from anyone else who gave it a shot to see if they had the same feelings I did. 

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