A Tale of Two Space ComediesThe Dark Herald
If you enjoy science fiction you frequently have to endure Lefty sermons on various subjects.
Beloved Readers: And rain is still wet, Oh Herald of the Dark. What’s your point?
It’s a premise, not a point.
If you look for it, you can find plenty of right-wing science fiction in print but in the English-speaking world, media science fiction is dominated by Hollywood and the BBC. Neither institution is capable of producing anything with a Right-wing viewpoint. Occasionally something like 300 slips through the cracks because it’s not obvious until you see the finished product. It can get past the gatekeepers if it’s subtle enough.
But something that evangelizes traditional families, values and God, is going to get spiked long before the cameras roll. That’s the deal when you watch something from Hollywood or Britain. Whatever you see will be a product of the Leftie paradigm. You can do better if you go further abroad.
However, before the age of SJW convergence, you could at least be entertained by Leftie Sci Fi. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was hilarious but also very Left-wing. I could live with that because it was genuinely funny as hell.
SJWism now plagues any Western production because no matter what the subject is, the Diversity and Social Justice checkboxes come first. Politics makes for poor entertainment. And that goes double for comedies. Lefty political comedies have a lousy track record.
Which is what made Avenue 5 such an anomaly to me because Armando Iannucci has a very good track record for political comedies. I thought that The Death of Stalin: A Comedy of Terrors ///link was absolutely brilliant.
While, The Thick of It wasn’t as good as The Death of Stalin it had some real gems here and there. There was one scene that made me laugh and yet spoke deeply to me because it had actually happened to me. In one scene a government minister who is working 120 hour weeks says, “Last night, I sat down to take a shit. While I was on the toilet, I decided that I might as well read a couple of reports. But then I decided, no. NO, damn it! No, this is for me!” It was funny because I have been there. That actually happened to me.
Iannucci has a great track record, which is why I was so disappointed by Avenue 5. I was expecting a lot, and it didn’t deliver much of anything. I didn’t like any of the characters and I didn’t really like the jokes all that much either. They failed to deliver the bite I was looking for and sadly, they were trying to deliver it.
The premise is “the Love Boat meets the Fyre Festival in space.” This is set aboard an interplanetary cruise ship named Avenue 5*. A very luxurious experience is provided for the passengers all of whom, are various kinds of people of privilege. The Captain played by Hugh Laurie is the hero of some space accident on the Avenue 3. There is a cruise director whose job is to look after passenger welfare but ends up telling them, “you can feel worried if would like you to.” The owner is a billionaire idiot who is based on Richard Branson instead of Donald Trump which is a shock because I know Iannucci hates Trump. And the only one who knows what they are doing is, yep you guessed it, a Stunning and Brave, Diverse Woman of Color who is the ship’s engineer.
A standard cruise is underway. We are introduced to the characters and then there is an accident and the ship is sent off course. It will take the Avenue 5, five years to return to Earth and they only have enough food for 30 days.
Black comedy is Iannucci’s medium and there are moments where that works. Or at least it should have worked. Like when they try to get rid of dead bodies by ejecting them but there isn’t enough force behind the expulsion and the corpses end up in permanent orbit around the ship. I was surprised at how little I was laughing given Iannucci’s record.
I think the problem is cultural. Despite the very Italian name, Iannucci is British. The Brits prefer to have tears along with their laughter. The comedic romance ends with the boy not getting the girl because she goes back to her abusive boyfriend. The protagonist discovers that his father was right all along, goes to see him and finds out that he died in the night thinking his son hated him. Basil thinks he saved a lot of money by using O’Reilly, but it turns out repairing the damage that the Irish handyman caused, will triple the costs.
It’s not just for black comedies it’s for almost every comedy the English do.
Americans on the other hand want a happy ending with their comedy. We want them to be up-lifting. The hooker gets the millionaire. The dumb blonde lawyer wins the big case. The fool becomes the king.
This is the problem that Iannucci has when he is working with an American production company and we just can’t get the pathos right.
As result it comes across as annoying to an American audience. We just can’t get behind the characters. We don’t like how everything fails in the end and all efforts are ultimately fruitless endeavors because the wheel of fate will crush you every time. We just can’t get behind it.
Consequently, the only members of the cast that are able to project the nuances their parts require are the English ones and there are only a couple of those.
The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend Avenue 5.
Now the second space comedy that fails at being a comedy is Season 2 of The Orville.
However, the reason it fails as comedy is because it went mostly serious. The first season of the Orville had some moments that I found drop-dead hilarious.
But ultimately, The Orville in its first season was Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic. It was Seth MacFarlane cosplaying Captain Picard.
However, this season The Orville is no longer STNG fanfic because it simply is a Star Trek series. Honestly, that is what it’s become. It’s all there, all the elements that Trekkies were hoping to find in Picard and couldn’t, are very much present in this season’s Orville.
It addresses modern issues through satire just like the OG Star Trek did. In one-episode Bortis (who comes from an all-male race), put a pin in that one)) develops a porn addiction on the ships holo-deck. The sequences are kind of funny, but the problem is real enough for a lot of people today. Eventually one of his porn programs masks a virus that nearly destroys the ship.
This is the kind of story that the old Star Trek would have addressed if it was still running today.
Another story featuring the Moclans has their most brilliant engineer come aboard The Orville for some MacGuffin work. The engineer has a deep and terrible secret, he is attracted to females. Moclans as noted, are an all-male race and heterosexuality is a big crime for them because it lets the producers pretend, they are being very brave about “Gay Hate.”
Now it’s pretty damn silly on the face of it, if you are from an all-male race, how would you know you were attracted to females? How were Moclan straights identified as perverts before space travel? There was literally no one for them to be attracted to. Did they bang female animals on Moclas? Well, I could see how that would give them a bad reputation, but this seems to be a separate issue to my mind.
Now brainless as this is, this is just how Star Trek would have handled homosexuality back in the day.
While I should have been annoyed by this, I hate what Alex Kurtzman has done to actual Star Trek so much that I couldn’t help but find it all very refreshing by comparison. It was sort of like visiting an old friend from college that you enjoyed arguing politics with. You never agreed on anything, but it didn’t affect your friendship at all. And today he can’t stand what SJWs either.
If you use to love Star Trek, then The Dark Herald Recommends with Confidence.
*If this was supposed to be a call out to Babylon 5, it missed that mark too.