Author Topic: The Orville: More Trek than Trek  (Read 210 times)

Offline Hydra009

The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« on: January 14, 2019, 03:57:24 PM »
I've mentioned this show before, but I'd like to gather my thoughts about it here and make the case that this is the true successor of Roddenberry's vision.

The Orville starts out as a blatant TNG knockoff - aping both the backstory and style of TNG.  There's the United Federation of Planets Union of Planets.  Aliens working alongside humans in multicultural harmony vs hostile, xenophobic aliens.  All of the Orville's technology, from holodecks to shuttlecraft to handheld scanners, is borrowed directly from Trek.  Even their uniforms are blatant TNG knockoffs.

That's bad, right?  It should be.  Yet strangely, it's not.

Star Trek has largely abandoned the TNG aesthetic, favoring darker, more militaristic series.  Trekkies, and TNG fans in particular, have grown increasingly unhappy with this new direction while at the same time feeling increasingly nostalgic about TNG.  The Orville's mimicry rather than inviting disdain, invites nostalgia among Trekkies and this familiarity makes for a smooth transition to this new series.  The Orville's bright, optimistic, and heartfelt look is a rare and welcome sight in a genre dominated by dark and gritty series.

Okay, so it nailed the aesthetics.  What about the characters and the plot?

For the most part, the characters are good, although kinda one-dimensional.  The Captain is bold and principled, although plagued by self-doubt and insecurities.  The Number Two is guarded and wary, but friendly and adaptable.  The helmsman Gordon is a lovable dope - kind of an idiot but a guy you'd like to have a beer with.  Bortus is the straight man (although definitely not straight) but honorable and loving.  Chief of Security Alara is an adorable little badass.  Isaac is the mandatory robot character (who unlike Data, doesn't seek to emulate humanity), matter-of-fact and coldly logical, yet prone to comical miscommunications and faux pas.

The Orville even one-ups TNG in having characters that actually act more like people - they get into arguments and misunderstandings, they prank, lie, get jealous, get lazy, etc - they're not the overly formal automata with sticks up their asses spouting clunky dialogue that TNG is known for.

The plots are all over the place.  Episodes bounce around from journeys of discovery and military conflicts to slice of life and even rom-com episodes.  This diversity is a great strength but can also be a great handicap.  I've found some episodes to be incredibly compelling - mirroring or even surpassing most TNG episodes, yet other episodes are barely worth one viewing.  Hell, I tell new viewers to just skip the first three episodes of the show, they're that lackluster.  This is a series with episodes that range from 4/10 to 10/10.

Also, it's more episodic than serial, so there's not much continuity between episodes, which can be good or bad depending on your preferences.  Personally, I would prefer two-parters where a huge crisis really gives the crew a run for their money, the kinds of episodes that really cemented TNG's fame.

Is it funny?

Sometimes.  I wouldn't say it's a laugh-out-loud kind of show, but it has its moments.  If you hate Seth McFarlane's sense of humor as exemplified in Family Guy and American Dad, have no fear.  The Orville is fairly toned-down comedy - mostly witty repartee from the crew, bickering couples, and the occasional leg gag.  You'll know it when you see it.

In fact, the Orville isn't really a comedy series - it's more of a drama with comedy sprinkled throughout.  For people who want a 100% serious show or a 100% comedic show, this can be frustrating.  But I think it achieves a good compromise - appealing to as many people as possible while completely satisfying no one.  People who want action and adventure are only going to get it sometimes, same with the shippers and people who just want a good laugh.  And no matter what you want, everyone gets a nice feels trip from time to time.  That s2e3 episode.  Oof.

All in all, this is a bright and hopeful light in a genre that has becomes overly saturated with gloom and doom.  A humanistic show where people try to become better angels without coming across as preachy or saccharine.

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2019, 04:33:38 PM »
I've only seen bits and pieces of it so far, but it looks pretty good.
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Offline Hydra009

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 06:03:19 PM »
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I've only seen bits and pieces of it so far, but it looks pretty good.
It is.  Though certain episodes standout as particularly good.  Season 1 got off to a rocky start, but Pria and Krill were especially good!

And that's a shame, because we have yet to get an encore for Krill.  It's like going a full season without the Borg or the Klingons.  Though maybe that's unfair.  In TNG, a villainous race would appear and we wouldn't get a follow-up for a season or longer.  Case in point, the Borg.

I think DS9's near-singular focus on the Dominion may have spoiled me a little bit.  Plus, I'm expecting a show to be serialized that isn't serialized.  That and maybe the Krill's superficial similarity to Stargate Atlantis's Wraith led me to think they'd be in just as many episodes.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 06:14:30 PM by Hydra009 »

Offline aitm

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2019, 07:47:01 PM »
i only watched one episode but that particular one was just too uncomfortable for me to watch to the end......sorry there Orville...no popcorn for you.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline Hydra009

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2019, 09:28:39 PM »
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i only watched one episode but that particular one was just too uncomfortable for me to watch to the end......sorry there Orville...no popcorn for you.
Star Trek:  gay characters are too controversial
Star Trek:  Holodeck sex is too icky to even mention
The Orville:  hold my beer!

Offline Hydra009

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2019, 11:08:56 PM »
Season 2 Episode 4 "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" review

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Offline aitm

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2019, 07:37:41 AM »
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Star Trek:  gay characters are too controversial
Star Trek:  Holodeck sex is too icky to even mention
The Orville:  hold my beer!

I am not advocating for any change in the show at all. People can watch what they want. This just isn't a show I find interesting to spend my time on. We all have our own preferences.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline Cavebear

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2019, 08:26:46 AM »
The original premise makes it too silly to watch...  Sorry.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: The Orville: More Trek than Trek
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2019, 03:32:48 PM »
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The original premise makes it too silly to watch...  Sorry.

Warp drive is pretty ... warped ;-)
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