September 10, 2017
Before we begin this … whatever this is … a brief history of my relationship with The Orville: I heard about the series last year when Fox ordered it and thought, “Guh, Seth MacFarlane + Star Trek? Pass.” But then during the upfronts this past May, Fox released the first trailer and my initial reaction was, “The Orville might not be so bad — it has some solid jokes in there and could be Galaxy Quest-esque. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge!” And in fact, I recorded the pilot episode based on that trailer.
I watched 20 minutes of the pilot and deleted it. But I did so while wishing it well. I didn’t delete the show out of hate or anger — I deleted it because I was bored. I recognized after 20 minutes of it not keeping my attention that The Orville was not a show for me. I didn’t think it was “bad,” just not for me. And after writing about television for more than 10 years, I’ve come to recognize that not everything is for me, or should be for me, and that’s fine.
And that is what is going to make my recapping this series difficult, is that The Orville is not bad, exactly, but it’s not for me. In the end, The Orville is actually just like Galaxy Quest — but like the Galaxy Quest series in the movie, not Galaxy Quest the movie itself — in that it’s a ripoff of Star Trek — a very very very very sincere ripoff of Star Trek. With the occasional joke. The Orville is neither my thing nor is it terrible enough to really rip it to pieces the way I can with garbage like Real Housewives or The Bachelorette.
But what would I be if I didn’t try.
Alright, here’s what you need to know about this series that I deeply resent having to watch for you people:
It’s the year 2419, and Victor Garber informs this one guy, Seth MacFarlane in a Star Trek cosplay costume, that he’s going to be the captain of an exploratory spaceship, The Orville. This despite the fact that Seth MacFarlane’s been a goddamned mess for the past year of his life and there’s no good reason to trust him with a ship that cost God only knows how much and with the lives of hundreds of people.
But, you see, it’s not Seth MacFarlane’s fault he’s been a goddamned mess because the thing is, his ex-wife cheated on him and therefore he gets to spend the entire series making bitchy little comments and being an asshole to her because he is a completely innocent victim in all of this. Please clap.
Joining Captain Seth MacFarlane on The Orville will be:
Gordon, the human hotshot pilot/comic relief.
John, the human hotshot navigator/comic relief.
Alara, the Xelayan security officer. And, see, the joke here is that Alara is a tiny young female alien who has gravity-related super-strength.
Bortus, the Moclan second officer who is a member of an all-male race that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Klingons.
Dr. Claire, the human first medical officer who is the only person who can strip Captain Seth MacFarlane of his powers if she thinks he’s lost his damn mind or is sundowning and tweeting threats at other planets or sports figures or whatever.
Isaac, a sassy robot.
Kelly, Captain Seth MacFarlane’s human ex-wife and first officer, because plot.
Anyway, we spend a good 5 masturbatory minutes looking at CGI footage of the spaceship floating around in space while futurey music — the sort of inspirational claptrap that would be drummed into your head while waiting in line for Space Mountain — swells, just in case you’ve forgotten for a hot second that you’re watching a Star Trek ripoff, before we actually get to the “adventure” of the episode.
The Orville is supposed to deliver supplies to this one research planet, but when they arrive, the scientists on the planet are like, “Actually, we don’t need supplies, that was all a ruse to make you guys come out here because we’re actually being harassed by these bad aliens who want this one device that we made that can accelerate time inside a quantum bubble, and also, too, we have these redwood seeds that can grow anywhere, but mostly we want to save this time device, HALP.”
So they go down to the planet, save the device and shoot lots of lasers at the bad aliens. Meanwhile, in space, The Orville is also shooting lots of lasers at the bad aliens’ ship and if there were a subtitle of this series, it would definitely be “LASERS!!!!”
Actually, it would be “How is Star Trek Not Suing the Shit Out of Us Right This Second?”
Eventually, Ex-Wife comes up with the plan to send the time device with one of those redwood seeds attached to the other alien ship. When the bad aliens activate the machine, the seed turns into a fully-grown redwood, and destroys the bad aliens’ ship, hooray!
And then Captain Seth MacFarlane, who was originally all, “get my bitch ex-wife off this spaceship!” tells her that she can stay because what conflict would we have if she left after the first episode, come on. We then learn that it was Ex-Wife’s idea to give Captain Seth MacFarlane a ship to captain in the first place, in the hopes t
hat the audience won’t hate her and drag her the way they did Skylar White or Betty Draper or Carmela Soprano of redeeming herself for what she did to poor perfect Captain Cuckold. We’ll see.
I have two points of complaint — well, I actually have many points of complaint, starting with I don’t think Seth MacFarlane is nearly as charming and endearing as he clearly thinks he is, and that one scene where he and Ex-Wife are cracking jokes about the time ray which was an attempt to demonstrate that they still have a connection, only accomplished one thing: making them both look like huge assholes. BUT I DIGRESS.
Complaint number one: I have no problem with the idea that a redwood suddenly sprouting inside the ship would destroy it. Redwoods are huge, topping out somewhere around 350 feet — the same as a 32 story building.
What I got hung up on was the CGI. The Orville is supposed to be a big ship — it houses all of these people in both workspaces and residential quarters:
And The Orville is dwarfed by the Krills’ ship:
So to explain to me the size of this redwood tree:
Because if the Krills’ ship is that much bigger than The Orville, and The Orville is pretty huge, that tree looks like it would have to be a lot taller than 350 feet.
Complaint number two: to deliver the time ray to the Krills, they load it up onto a shuttle and send it onto the Krills’ ship where the Krills activate it, sprouting the redwood. Fine. But all I could think while watching this scene was how pissed their bosses were going to be that they blew up a shuttle that had to cost millions in today’s dollars. They couldn’t have flown the shuttle back to The Orville and then given the bad aliens the activation code? I mean, just think of the paperwork they are going to have to fill out for destroying that perfectly good shuttle — because that was all I was doing while this episode came to its self-congratulatory conclusion. Thinking about paperwork.
This show is not for me.
Alright, I’m going to speed through these next two episodes because I WAS THREE EPISODES BEHIND WITH THIS NONSENSE WHEN YOU JERKS DECIDED TO DO THIS TO ME. THREE! THREEEEEEEE. Ugh. Seriously, you guys and Seth MacFarlane are the worst. The worst!
The Orville airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Fox and I’ll never forgive you guys for this.