The Orville – Early Thoughts

What with the arrival of Star Trek Discovery, there has been something of a renewed focus on Star Trek, but another show – a non-Star Trek show – had already beaten Discovery to the punch, if only a little bit. The Orville is from the mind of Seth MacFarlane, usually associated with the crass humour of Family Guy and the Ted movies. Yet, after three episodes, it’s fair to say The Orville is not crass or crude, and what’s more, it’s not a spoof of Star Trek, nor a series version of Galaxy Quest. It’s not serious like Star Trek tends to be, but whilst there are comedic themes, there have also been (bearing in mind I’ve only seen three episodes!) some typically Star Trek takes on issues of the day – such as transgender and parental rights, respect for other cultures and how we treat animals.

There is a kind of gentle humour here, a style that’s quite light and fluffy, yet it’s not trivialising important issues. The writing is quite clever, and it’s worth noting that Brannon Braga, executive producer on several Star Trek shows, is on board as a producer here too, which would help to explain the Star Trek feel of this show. I can’t say for sure how the series will fare as it continues, but so far, it has been very entertaining, quite funny, and it does what Star Trek is supposed to do – it makes you think.

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  1. I actually just spent the evening binge watching the first four episodes. Having been one of those kids that was raised on Star Trek, I like it. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Being from Seth MacFarlane, I think I was expecting something of a spoof. Or, maybe as you mentioned, a series version of Galaxy Quest. It kind of rides the line between drama and comedy, but in a way that makes it seem like it can’t decide which it should be. As I said, I like it, but I’m not optimistic that it’ll get any further than its initial 13-episode order.

    1. I think it’s a subtly clever piece of television, doing – to a certain degree – what we expect Star Trek to do, which is to explore issues/themes behind a sci-fi setting. It’s because it’s clever that it will probably bite the dust.

  2. Aaron & you covered a lot of what I was going to say. I’ve only seen a few minutes of an episode – the 4th, I think – & I was intrigued. I thought it was going to be a Star Trek spoof, but I found the depth pleasantly surprising. I enjoyed the fact that there are strong female characters, although I’m not sure how I feel about them having to report to a doofus male captain.

    Perhaps I should hold my opinion until I see an entire episode, though. 🙂

    1. The captain isn’t as daft as he first appears, though I suspect Seth MacFarlene is playing to his comedic strengths! There’s a lot of respect for Star Trek here, some clever means of tackling serious issues, and a lot of heart too. I really like the show and hope it doesn’t get cancelled!

      1. As I said, I only caught a few minutes of the 4th episode. It popped up while I was looking for the next show I had DVR’d to watch (my provider puts the current channel’s broadcast in the upper right corner while you’re looking at the DVR list). But, every time a commercial started, I went back to watching something else.

        I have a very short attention span. 😀

        I’m going to watch the other episodes, though. Perhaps even add The Orville to my DVR. I hope it doesn’t get canceled either.

        However, if it’s following Star Trek’s path, doesn’t that mean it should get canceled & then brought back after fan uproar? Or am I thinking of another show?

          1. Well, maybe, if The Orville gets canceled (I’m not sure why we’re postulating this possibility right now), maybe it’ll be like Star Trek – audience backlash followed by the show becoming one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons in the world. 🙂

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