Louis Turfrey gives us his thoughts on the new science fiction series from the mind of Seth MacFarlane…
Every new show has a few teething issues in the first episode, but The Orville has more than a few – and I can only see them repeating.
I expected The Orville to be a quick fire comedy parody of Star Trek, but it isn’t. Yes there are jokes and sarcasm, some of which are definitely aimed towards the Star Trek franchise, but this show stands out as something different too. The humour is there, but it’s more in the commentary and in the way the crew interact.
First off, can I just say that the first quarter of the show sets up the series, so in many ways it lacks pace. In addition, I would have loved to have heard a bit more “scene” music, but that’s my personal choice. However, once we are on The Orville itself things start to improve. It doesn’t take long before the characters really start to grow on you. A navigator that sips soda at his workstation and a helmsman that thinks its a good idea to have a beer first thing in the morning are just a perfect recipe for sarcasm, commentary and good old banter.
Then we have a super serious single sexed species that takes his job, well, very seriously. Next there is a ships doctor that’s only on the ship because she know the captain will personally need her medical and counselling skills and a security officer that prefers to break down a door rather than try and open in. I can see them having some fun with that one.
In addition we have a captain that is still emotionally messed up, a year after finding his wife having an affair; and a first officer that is that same ex-wife. In fact the dynamic between these characters is going to be a fascinating part of the show. Not least because I personally think they still love each other.
Finally we have the ship itself, which in many ways has a bridge that will feel familiar to fans of the Star Trek franchise – but with a difference. When the captain is yelling in his office, the whole bridge can hear him. I wonder if anyone will ever tell him? The layout of the ship is not explored much, but we know there are long corridors and that they have public toilets. They also have stairs. Yes, like a real ship of most worldwide navies, this ship has stairs. They are stylish, functional and have sweeping curves, but they are definitely stairs. I haven’t seen a lift yet.
This is the first show in what I hope will be a franchise that seems to be relying less on parodying Trek and more on developing the crew interactions, the universe and story. I say “hope” because there are no signs of this yet. Having each episode as an individual plot may be a good idea, but I hope they will integrate underlying themes and background stories that expand as the series develops. It’s nice having a light-hearted science fiction show, but without the guts of a long term story people might lose interest.
This brings me to the main issue with this show; it doesn’t seem to have either enough comedy or enough drama and that can be a failing in a science fiction franchise. I hope that they either increase the output of one or the other, otherwise I can see the critics and the audience turning away.
As I said, this show is 70% perfect. If they can nail the rest, then I can see no reason why this doesn’t go on for years. If not, then this may be a one series wonder. I hope not, because despite its failings, I really like it.