The Orville is back. And it’s gotten even Seth-ier this time around.
So, episode two is really starting to put forth the “I want to be Star Trek” vibe hard now.
The intro is pure Star Trek, without an iconic theme. It’s got a swelling , majestic, orchestral piece that was just screaming “I’M STAR TREK DAMMIT!”. And the visuals were pure Voyager intro, with a little Next Generation mixed in.
The uniforms are straight Star Trek, without the legacy of the 60’s, or a pleasing aesthetic. I get it, uniforms are part of the military. But why not look a little like current military-style? Anything, like even a cap, would be more military than what we’ve seen so far.
Their weapons are pure Star Trek, only without any imagination to their creation. Like the producers took a look at the prototypes from the props department, and OK’d it without much thought.
The races are pure Star Trek (everyone is humanoid, huh, why is that?) without the mythology behind it all, unlike Star Trek. At least The Next Generation explained why all the Star Trek aliens looked like humans in makeup, and not….aliens. Except the CGI blobby guy, that Ed (Seth’s character) walked through.
This show is missing something vital. The term I can only think of is “gravitas”. It’s something that Patrick Stewart brought to the table when he joined the cast of Next Generation. It’s what Leonard Nemoy brought when he joined the original cast. Sure, William Shatner was the star, and centerpiece. But his hammy overacting was in direct contract to the stoic and other-worldly Spock, and it was a perfectly set pair. But the world didn’t notice at the time, it took a while before people recognized exactly how good Star Trek actually was.
But seriously, MacFarlane is a captain, with no authority. His best friend and best navigator in the fleet doesn’t take him seriously. There is no feeling of it being military. If this were M*A*S*H it would be Hawkeye as the commander, Trapper John as the navigator, BJ as the pilot, with Charles Emerson Winchester III as the science officer.
Security chief is YOUNG and INEXPERIENCED, and a FEMALE!
The medical chief is OLD, and SUPER EXPERIENCED, and a FEMALE! She takes no shit from anyone, and tells the Captain when he is wrong. She’s gruff! The actress playing her character is certainly doing her best to bring SOME gravitas to the show. She seems the only one who actually shows the proper respect for the captain (even a shitty one). (Edit: Turns out the actress is former Deep Space 9 alumni, and that explains her bringing the best acting so far).
The robot, get this twist, FEELS SUPERIOR to humans, and looks down on them intellectually. But somehow still takes orders from the captain. Gee, I’ve never seen a robotic life form that thinks it’s superior to biological life! The sarcasm aside, it really does sound like Winchester from M*A*S*H if you think about it.
And the big, single sexed alien, the Moclan. He takes this episode off the hatch an egg. He and his mate have decided it’s time, so he’ll be having a child on board. The actor does a great job of staying serious in his part, much to his credit.
After a few jokes at his expense, and questioning how a male gives birth, the crew gets an emergency distress signal from a nearby Union ship. They, in very Federation…err…Union style go to the rescue. Upon arrival, it turns out that not only does the ship need help to effect repairs – but for some reason the captain’s mother and father are on-board.
So now, Ed has his ex-wife as 2nd in command, his best friend as his navigator, and his character’s mother and father make an appearance in the middle of nowhere. This struck me as beyond strange.
They convince him, basically by being embarrassing parents, and he invites his ex-wife to go visit his parents, in the middle of no where on a broken distressed cargo ship. The writers don’t even try to hid their contempt by having her agree, even though she knows it will be unpleasant spending time with her ex-parents-in-law.
So, they two of them prepare, and the Union ship apparently have no restriction on alcohol or drugs as the Federation does – as she has the replicator make a cannabis brownie. Seth’s character has already been shown to drink, so they clearly have no restriction on alcohol like the Federation did. So….that’s a plus?
Off they go to the cargo ship to meet his parents, and when they step over to the ship (They don’t use transporters, I guess. Maybe it’ll be “discovered” during the show?), the door slams down behind them, and everything goes black.
On the ship, the cargo ship disappears, and in it’s place is a buoy, with no sign of Ed or Kelly. This leaves the young and inexperienced Security Chief, Alara, in charge, and she freaks out. She gives some bad orders, ignores the advice of her crew, and nearly gets the ship destroyed when she tries to tractor beam the buoy into the ship.
Back to Ed and Kelly, they wake up in an exact replica of their old apartment when they lived together as a couple, and were married. There was even a copy of a Kermit the Frog doll, which had previously been shown in the opening sequence of the show when Ed and the Moclan, Bortus. Outside the window looks like the view from their old apartment in New York. They spend the night friendly, and enjoying each others company, drinking whiskey and eating chocolate cake.
Alara goes to Bortus, to get his advice (as he is sitting on his egg. The process takes 21 days, they explain, and he isn’t happy with the ship nearly being destroyed as it might endanger his child.) He gives her advice gruffly (get out, deal with it, ask someone else), and she leaves.
Alara leaves, goes and gets a shot of tequila, or whiskey, or something, pukes, and then returns to the bridge where she is back in control, and ready to make things happen.
Back to the Captain, it turns out they were in a zoo. They’re stuck, and can’t do much of anything. Their tempers flare, and they remember why they broke up, as living together (less than a day now), reminded them of all the problems they faced. It goes a long way to resolve their situation, and give them room to be friends with a deep connection, but no more. Let’s see if this character development leads to a better show.
Alara goes to the doctor, and begs for advice. She gets little, but some useful bits about listening to her crew, and not being dumb. She says that if Alara goes against orders and goes into restricted space, and fails, she ruins her career. And if she succeeds, it might make her career.
Alara goes against orders from Union command, and takes the ship along the trail of the transport beam, to the delight of the bridge crew. It leads to a dangerous sector where the aliens, the Calivon view other species as below them, much like humans to pets. Alara leads the crew into Calivon space with a creative idea (well, creative for her. I called it at the beginning of the show.)
The Science Officer, the robot Issac, is superior to the Calivon, as their idea of superiority is technology based. So, they respect him enough to address him as an equal. They show up to the planet, and visit the captain, and negotiate their release.
The big swerve at the end is, that Alara traded their lives for Reality TV programming, that turns out is “our best exhibit ever!”
The show ends with the Moclan baby hatching from her egg.
The all male species, had a female baby.
And for the first time, I’m a little interested to see where this goes.