Monday, September 11, 2017

Television: The Orville

I have nothing against Seth MacFarlane. Family Guy obviously owes a humongous debt to The Simpsons; it always bugged me that the similarities between the two shows weren't talked about more, yet I can't deny I've found it funny anyway. I never saw the Ted movies. MacFarlane's stint as Oscar host was certainly memorable, but ultimately he's not quite as edgy as he perhaps likes to imagine himself...

...and now he has a new, live-action series that's a clear homage to Star Trek - specifically, The Next Generation. The Orville is especially appealing to me, given the fact that the actual new Trek series, Discovery, will only be available as part of a pay channel. Therefore, I've been regarding it as something of a substitute for the real thing, fair or not. Plus, it's episodic; no worries about following season-long story arcs like every other show on TV now. A big plus in my book.

If you've read anything about The Orville, you know the premise: MacFarlane finally gets to command a starship, but his ex-wife is his first officer. Adrianne Palicki plays his ex, and there is, as you'd expect, the requisite amount of bickering in between the missions to strange new worlds, alien invasions, high-tech macguffins and so forth. It was amusing to see such familiar problems in such an unusual setting. I was reminded of the TNG episode "All Good Things...", partially set in a future timeline in which Picard and Crusher have married and divorced, only they, of course, were a little more grown-up about the whole thing. I imagine over the long haul (assuming the show lasts; this is Fox, after all), we'll slowly see Ed and Kelly's relationship thaw, then heat up again. 

The sci-fi geek in me, though, really wishes this didn't look so much like TNG: the Worf character, the Data character, the holodeck, the replicators, the Federation, the ships, the uniforms, the music, etc. I know The Orville has lots of Trek alumni on both sides of the camera (including DS9 supporting player Penny Johnson Jerald as the ship's doctor), but that doesn't mean they have to hew so closely to the Trek model. Jokes and bickering aside, I would've liked to have seen some fundamental difference in the setting, something that doesn't take for granted the audience's familiarity with TNG.

That said, The Orville was fun to watch: not terribly demanding, angst-free, with likeable characters. It's nice to know television is still capable of making this kind of stuff.

5 comments:

  1. Oh - that's what Garry was talking about when he said he was recording MacFarlane's new show. OK. Hope it's still in the PVR. Honestly, I barely pay any attention to the new television programs. A stage in life I never imagined myself reaching.

    Last year I had two new shows I followed, Kim's Convenience and Timeless. And even though I liked Timeless, I wasn't upset when it was cancelled nor particularly overjoyed when it un-cancelled.



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  2. I understand; I don't watch any TV either. This, obviously, was something I had to make time for.

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    1. Janet and I will be giving it the once over in a couple of days. I warned Garry not to erase it yet.

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  3. I think both of you will like it. If you've seen his other shows and films, you'll recognize his brand of humor here. It's a bit jarring within this context, but look at it this way - unlike GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, there are no pop songs to put up with. You should like that!

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    1. Yeah. Actually, kudos to the composer for the similar, but not quite Star Trek-ish score.

      Janet and I giggled throughout, and a couple of times she guffawed so loudly that the cats ran under the couch. We'll be giving it another look.

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