Seth MacFarlane’s new show, The Orville, premiered on Sunday, the 10th of September 2017. I watched it, I enjoyed it and while there were some things I questioned about the show (the token black guy), all in all, I thought it was a very good show.
Unfortunately, most critics didn’t….and I honestly don’t know why.
I’ve learned enough from my lifetime of being addicted to television to know not to judge a TV show by its pilot episode; the sad fact is that not many get it right on the first try, which is unfortunate because the pilot episode is the first impression viewers get. However, most series come into their own over the course of the first season. A lot of people are comparing it unfavorably to Star Trek, but here’s the thing – every sci-fi show will be compared to Star Trek, and very few (if any) will live up to it. So, yes, people, please relax.
So yeah, while the first episode was not perfect – I just gave that up to the fact that they could not simply do everything they would have wanted to in the given forty minutes. With time, I’m sure it will grow into its own (hopefully); after all, Seth MacFarlane is running this.
With that in mind sha, there are certainly a lot of factors that added up to make the pilot episode enjoyable.
What’s Great About The Show
From the visuals alone, you can tell FOX threw a lot of money at this show. They are certainly expecting a hit off this. The show takes place in the year 2419, although it opens up a year earlier; because it is set in a futuristic time, we expected futuristic visuals – and they certainly delivered. The city looks great, the flying cars look great, the apartment buildings look ah-mazing. I literally had a nerdgasm from the settings alone.
Also, did you see the ship?
See how fine it looks? I think I’m in love.
2. Seth MacFarlane’s Humor
When you think of Seth MacFarlane, you definitely think of Family Guy, American Dad, Ted and his other million comedies. MacFarlane’s humor here is reminiscent of that in his 2014 movie, A Million Ways To Die In The West. I don’t know, a lot of people did not like that movie but I LOVED it. He’s not afraid to go there when it comes to certain jokes, which is probably the reason why he is so successful. Remember ‘Ted’?
With that in mind, his humor is probably needed in the sci-fi genre. When you think of Science fiction – all the movies, televisions shows, even books are always oh-so-very-serious. As if nothing funny ever happens in space or in the future. While this series does not necessarily create a brand new sci-fi genre, maybe it can help popularize it.
3. Penny Johnson Jerald
This woman, she’s the real OG. Penny plays “Dr. Claire Finn, one of the most accomplished physicians in the Planetary Union”. But here’s why you should be excited about Penny being in the cast – she has an impressive resumé and is no doubt a familiar face for sci-fi fans.
She had a guest role in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ but went to a more prominent recurring role as Kasidy Yates in ”Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’. She later played Sherry Palmer in ’24’ and the badass Capt Victoria Gates in ‘Castle’. So, yeah, seeing her in this series, definitely gave me cause for excitement.
4. Colorful Cast
Yes! Serve me all the different kinds of species.
I’ve always loved the idea of exploring different cultures and different alien species so the fact that ‘The Orville’ serves this, just works for me. This was why I loved ‘Defiance’, I appreciated the dynamic between the different races. So coming here and getting to see varying dynamics being developed with the different species just has me on so many levels.
But then again any show that has a variety of alien species has my vote.
5. Fun Sci-Fi Show
As I mentioned earlier, sci-fi shows just need to relax every once in a while. We don’t need every single sci-fi show to have the intensity of Dark Matter or The Expanse. Sometimes, a lighter and more fun approach to the sci-fi genre is capable of drawing up a myriad of interest. Shows like ‘Eureka’, ‘3rd Rock From The Sun’ and ‘Futurama’ effortlessly prove this point.
New comedies are always a fun addition to your watchlist when you need something to lighten your mood.
What’s Not So Great
1. The forced will-they-won’t-they scenario
Adrienne Palicki is better than this. I mean, this is the woman who starred as Bobbi ‘Mockingbird’ Morse on Agents of SHIELD and Ms. Perkins in ‘John Wick’. Unfortunately, her character seems so rigid here, as though she was created and added to the cast just as plot tool for Seth MacFarlane’s leading man. I certainly hope they do more with her.
But whether or not the leads get back together (I certainly hope not – she cheated on him and their marriage was not a happy one), there’s simply no need to force this just for comedy purposes – it just doesn’t work.
2. Still Trying To figure itself out
A glaring problem with FOX’s new show is that it’s still figuring itself out.
Is it a comedy? A drama? Dramedy? Why does it have to be forty minutes though? It would have served better a 20 minutes sitcom, but what do I know? Look at Psych, even though it seemed like the kind of show that should have been a twenty-minute comedy, it miraculously survived 8 seasons (to our delight).
Thing is, FOX really wants this to work so maybe The Orville will have just the time it needs to find its footing.
3. The Token Black Guy
There are actually three black people in the main cast – OG Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon and J. Lee. However, J. Lee’s character – John LaMarr felt like the black guy they just had to cast for the sake of diversity.
Almost of the bat, we know Claire Finn is a brilliant Doctor, Gordon Malloy is a reckless troublemaker (in a fun way), Lt. Commander Bortus comes from a single-sex species, Alara Kitan comes from an extraordinarily strong race of Aliens and Isaac thinks humans are inferior biological lifeforms.
However, LaMarr’s character isn’t offered any kind of exposition. We know nothing about him except that he is the fun black guy. Let’s hope that this is immediately remedied in the coming episodes.
4. Tired Tropes
Here’s the thing, there are very few new places you can go with a show like this, it’s almost all been done before. So maybe we can’t necessarily blame the show for that limitation. However, they visited many of sci-fi’s frequently repeated tropes in the forty minutes that made the first episode – which kind of gave me the feeling that I’d seen this before. It’s only saving grace was MacFarlane’s humor which I certainly believe might be enough to make these recurring tropes feel less tired.
5. It Could Have Done More
For me, the primary reason the pilot episode did not excel as it ought to have, is because it could have done more with what was at its disposal. The Orville could have done more with the genre, with the allotted time, with the comedy, with the actors, and with the line delivery. Comedy and genre-wise, they are doing something that is currently uncommon which allows them to structure it as they please, instead they chose to lean on already familiar tropes.
With the actors, let’s hope the show truly utilizes the cast’s talent as they settle into their own with every episode.
I genuinely wish this show the best of luck because I certainly want to see more of it. It’s fun, new and exciting – an awesome trifecta.
Well, you can judge for yourself by checking out the trailer below:
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