While I’m late on my review, let me say that I want The Orville to do well–when I interviewed the cast at SDCC they were incredibly earnest and eager about the show, and gave me hope that this endeavor was going to be something akin to the much beloved Galaxy Quest. There aren’t a lot of scifi shows on television that aren’t gridmark, and having something that brings both hope and humor to the scene would be welcome. However, the first episode leaves me…worried. Of course, even Star Trek: The Next Generation needed an entire season to find its footing, so I’m not going to judge this show on its pilot alone.
Let me start out with the positives: the show looks amazing. It’s clear that Fox threw a great deal of money at The Orville, and the mix of both practical and special effects is impressive. I’m especially happy to see the practical effects and creature work that has gone into the show; the two alien species (not counting the ‘robot’) looked wonderful, and the prosthetics didn’t seem to impede their acting in any way–something that often shows in the first episodes while actors are getting used to wearing heavy makeup.
The story starts with Ed (Seth MacFarlane), our Captain, finding out that his wife Kelly has been cheating on him–so we quickly cut to a year later where Ed is gaining command of his own starship– The Orville. The ‘ex-wife cheating on me’ trope weighs heavily in this episode, to the point where I feel it drags down the entire thing; there is so much casual sexism thrown around regarding Kelly, and very un-funny jokes about Kelly’s cheating on Ed scattered through the entire episode that I struggled to keep myself from turning it off. Ed is not that likable of a character, and Kelly comes off as incredibly capable and interesting–in other words, she’s the one you are rooting for, not him. So making jokes at her expense, and dragging her down constantly…it doesn’t seem to be the way the show should go. I will note that things seem to wrap up on that storyline by the end of the episode, so I’m hoping things will ease up by next week.
The storyline for this episode was pretty run of the mill for a Star Trek spoof– enemy aliens want a piece of awesome technology, the crew have to stop the aliens from getting said awesome technology.
The enemy are called the Krill, and their ship design, at least, remind me a great deal of Star Trek’s Romulans, though their alien design is more Mass Effect. Again, I respected the work that went into the effects for them, and the general plot line wasn’t bad–there was action there, and while not overly exciting, it wasn’t boring, either. It’s enough to make me want to tune in again, at least. My real issue was the humor.
I’ll be the first to admit that Seth MacFarlane’s humor isn’t something I enjoy. From talking to him, I had hoped that he would have toned his sensibilities down–and I think he has…but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t sophomoric jokes still existing within the piece. Gordon, the navigator, is easily the most insufferable character on the show, spouting dick joke after immature sexist joke, showcasing what I dislike the most about Seth’s type of humor.
However the women on the show, Kelly, Claire, and Alara, are all much more well rounded and much better written–perhaps that means that Seth just thinks men are more sophomoric by default. I’m not sure.
But Alara (whose alien species makes her supernaturally strong and suited for the role of security officer), was an especially great character, and I’m really interested to see where she goes. I’m also interested to see what is done with Kylden, the stoic ‘Klingon’-type alien, whose species is all one gender.
Overall, the first episode was a mixed bag, and despite my criticisms, I found myself interested enough to want to come back for another episode (or two). The show has potential–and I think Seth deserves a chance to find his footing, and prove he boldly go…
Go where, is the real question; but I’m willing to come along on the ride.