HBO's new sci-fi comedy Avenue 5 from Veep co-creator Armando Iannucci is about as out there as it gets as far as our galaxy is concerned. Set on a luxury space cruise to Saturn, things don't go according to plan for Captain Ryan Clark (Hugh Laurie) and his crew as they navigate the final frontier and a whole host of peculiar passengers, including bumbling billionaire Herman Judd (Josh Gad) whose ideas are almost as bad as his feathered, blond hairdo. When disaster strikes, it is anyone's guess whether sanity — and properly functioning equipment — will prevail.
Set 40 years in the future, so about 2060, give or take, everything that can go wrong seems to go very wrong. Clark, who is serving major Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea vibes, is joined by a curious cast of crew members such as pessimistic customer service representative Matt Spencer (Zach Woods) and engineer Billie McEvoy (Lenora Crichlow). Back on Earth, Rav Mulcair (Nikki Amuka-Bird) is running the privatized Mission Control. They must do all they can to keep passengers calm as they attempt to navigate the cruise ship back to Earth.
As quirky as the crew seems, their eccentricities have nothing on the passengers. Karen (Rebecca Front) could not be more aptly named. She's the classic "I demand to speak to your manager" passenger that, no doubt, everyone wants to avoid. Apparently, the concept of a "Karen" truly stands the test of space and time. Then there's Doug (Kyle Bornheimer) and Mia (Jessica St. Clair) who might possibly be the most ill-suited couple on this planet, or any other for that matter.
Judd is joined by his handler, Iris Kimura (Suzy Nakamura), who is tasked with liaising between her boss and the crew, which is really just code for keeping Judd's terrible ideas from being implemented. The real question is, will the crew get themselves and the ship's passengers back to Earth safely before mob mentality takes over?
Given all that, Avenue 5 just rocketed to the top of our binge-worthy winter watch list. We might not be jumping on an interplanetary cruise ship anytime soon though, no matter how much technology seems to have changed in a mere 40 years.
You can watch Avenue 5 now on HBO.