Yesterday saw the tv premier of Seth McFarlane’s Sci Fi Comedy series ‘The Orville’. I’ve yet to see a good review. Everyone from Enertainment Weekly to CNN has lambasted the show as shameless recreation of Star Trek that fails at being funny. While I agree that the comparisons to Star Trek are inescapable, wouldn’t the science fiction of the 2000s be so much more satisfying if everything were more like Star Trek? (Even Star Trek needs more Star Trek, I’m looking at you JJ Abrams). So I’m here to write the first positive review you’ve ever read.
The first thing I noticed is that the Orville is beautiful, not just the ship itself, but the entire universe. The show opens with a futuristic city vista that encapsulates an optimistic view of the future, like Star Trek, but not like Star Trek at the same time. The first view of the ship gave me a feeling of childhood excitement that I haven’t felt since the 90s and the days of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.
But the Orville isn’t Star Trek. It isn’t even a Star Trek spoof. You know that Seth MacFarlane, of Family Guy fame, is capable of delivering a litany of joke after joke. He doesn’t do that here. Oh there are jokes, but they come naturally. The Orville is staffed with a crew of ordinary people, who have senses of humour and want to drink soda at work, and the Captain and first officer are a divorced couple who argue openly about their failed marriage. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it is unexpectedly earnest. I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t watching another Galaxy Quest, nor was I watching a live action Futurama.
What I was watching was a lighthearted science fiction show with a positive vision of the future, and a cast with chemistry rarely seen in a premier episode. It isn’t Star Trek but it has everything I love about Star Trek. I can’t wait to see more.
Also, with Star Trek: Discovery premiering in a little over a week, I can’t wait to see how it holds up to the rest of the franchise. If it’s even half as an enjoyable to watch as ‘The Orville’, than the 90s are back in an awesome way.