Review: The Orville, Fox TV, Initial Episodes with Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, and—Liam Neeson!?
Touted as a comedy, set in the "hallowed" Star Trek universe—sort of—and helmed by its writer/producer, and often, director Seth McFarlane (Family Guy, but also Ted and Ted2), The Orville on Fox Thursdays was not on on my watch schedule. I have a favorite comedic space-opera movie in Galaxy Quest, and sincerely doubted this TV show could match it.
Then I got a nudge from a friend on Gab, and went to Fox OnDemand to catch Episode 1. I wound up watching four episodes in a row.
Surprise! I don't know who was blowing air up whose skirts, but whether with intention or not, this is no comedy. Oh, it has its light-hearted moments. With McFarlane as its principal writer, of course it has plenty of puerile humor. (The "best helmsman in the Fleet" has been beached for "drawing penises on pretty much everything.") The zany mix of aliens in the Fleet are weirder than otherwise expected, including a mucusoid green blob that keeps propositioning the Doctor, finally settling for an evening alone, "just me and my toothpaste."
But the stories are classic Star Trek serious. Episode 1 has Captain Ed Mercer (McFarlane again) battling his XO ex-wife (Palicki) publicly on the bridge, and privately sniping back and forth whenever the opportunity arises. Everyone in the ship, it becomes obvious, is in on the issue, casually debating—or betting—on the outcome of their spats. Others have criticized the marital squabbling and the crew's absorption in it; I found it contributed to the realism. What people anywhere, anytime don't gossip about such things?
Can you spell Kardashian?
A screamingly funny bit in fact literally brought in the Kardashians as a solution to a kidnapping. Helmsman Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) defeats an enemy ship by "humping the donkey", then wonders why his CO didn't ask where the egg produced by alien Lt. Commander Bortus (Peter Macon in a Worf-like appliance) came from, complaining, "How is that not the first thing you ask?"
So there's comedy in this "comedy-drama," just a whole lot more drama. And if it's a bit (or even a lot) strained, I'm willing to stick with it a while longer. I'll give McFarlane and the other writers a chance to grow into the drama-writing.
You see, I remember the initial episodes of Star Trek TOS.