This week, The Orville returns to it’s very Star Trek roots. Too soon? Of course it is.
Last week was fairly interesting. It had some social commentary, and the good guys didn’t win. A culture standard was upheld, and a marriage continued.
But this week….this week was a little different.
This week, we have the introduction of a generation ship. Reaching into the very deep treasure trove that is science fiction tropes (and if you want to lose an entire day, just check out tvtropes.org The term “Jump the shark” pretty well started at this website). So there are plenty of ideas to use.
A generation ship is an interesting idea. Too bad it was done already, by the Original Series. It was called “For The World is Hollow And I Shall Touch The Sky”. Seriously, though, Seth. You ripped off damned near everything about this show, and you just straight out steal a plot? *sigh*. ok, then. At least you started with the alien blobby still hitting on the doctor, and a dick joke reference for the robot not to understand. At least that’s original?
So, the Captain, Ed, and his ex, Kelly, take the Security Chief, Alura, the Science Office, Issac, the robot supremacist who is there to study human behavior, and the Medical Officer to investigate the mystery ship. They discover it’s got atmosphere inside, so they decide to check it out. They dock the shuttle, and enter the ship and find a peaceful countryside.
Inside the ship, they get an emergency call, and off the ship goes, to help. At least they leave a message telling the away-team what happened. “I hope they don’t need our help” is the heavy-handed foreshadowing they were nice enough to give us.
Inside, they split into teams. The robot, the doctor, and the captain are one team, and the first officer, and the security chief are another. As they are walking through the countryside, Issac asks Ed personal questions about his relationship to Kelly, and why it failed. Then asks about reproduction of humans. This gives Issac a little more character development, but it felt shoehorned in to remind us that the Captain works with his ex. The discuss that exact thing back on the ship in cuts, just to underline the point. I think this might be a re-occurring thing, or something.
Over on the other landing party, they temporarily talk about Alura’s relationship problems (men are scared of women who can beat them up), before talking about….you guessed it, Kelly’s relationship issues with Ed.
We get it. You two got married, then got divorced. Enough already, give us someone ELSE to talk about already!
So the ship gets into a fight with the enemy race, the Krill, and the navigator got to kill the enemy ship. Yay. good for him! I still don’t remember his name. Nor the pilot, the captain’s best friend. Bortas, his name I remember. He had a great episode last week. This week, he and Klyden had work/life balance marital issues. Ending with Bortas going to work early, and Klyden eating a big bowl of rocky road ice cream, and watching “The Sound of Music”. Because, aliens always want to enjoy human entertainment and frozen confections. Let alone understand “The Sound of Music”, or be able to INGEST ice cream. But whatever. Best to give this the MST3K treatment:
“If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes
And other science facts,
Just repeat to yourself ‘It’s just a show,
I should really just relax
For Mystery Science Theater 3000.'”
That feels a little better. I think the biggest difficulty is realizing that, as much as it wants to be, this isn’t Star Trek. We had a Star Trek episode this week on CBS, and it’s all the Star Trek we get, unless you pay for CBS streaming access. Honestly, as much crap as I give Orville for being a Star Trek derivative, Star Trek: Discovery was UNRECOGNIZABLE as Star Trek in almost every aspect. Especially for a “prequel” set only 10 years before Kirk and Spock. It was….well, we still have Orville to remind us they desperately want to be what Star Trek producers should have been trying to accomplish: a decent Trek show.
The Orville wins the firefight with the other ship, but has to limp along for a few hours before repairs to the engines lets them return to the away-team. During that time, the Captain and his away team encounter a family and their remote farmhouse. They stun the father (who admittedly shot first), and then talk to the mom and the son. The son, turns out, is part of a group that is trying to resist the oppressive theocracy that controls the hearts and minds of his parents. The son takes them to another remote location, where the resistors, or whatever their name was, are located. They disagree with the controlling theocracy, and they’re willing to help the Captain.
The other away team didn’t do so well. Kelly and Alura have an armored car come up on them, and a few security personnel type guys get out. They demand papers a few times, and then they open fire, and Alura is hit. She rolls down the hill, and looks to be dead. They capture Kelly, and throw her in the back of their armored car.
They drive her into the city, where the controlling Theocrat has her interrogated for information. They have her tied up, and start punching her, asking about her friends, and where they are. She gives some wise-ass cracks referencing the TV show Friends. Of course the aliens don’t get it, but they get she’s not answering them straight. They threaten to inject her with some really painful drug that is supposed to light all her nerves on fire, so she’ll answer questions. Somehow I don’t think she’d be able to answer, but ok.
Right after they inject her, but before they can really get answers, the Captain shows up, and saves the day. He had signaled Alura, and she barely survived, but due to her heavy-gravity physiology she survived 3 bullets at near point blank range with almost no penetration. Again, going to sing the MST3K theme song a few times. I think it’s helping.
So, they get Kelly, Alura is healing back at the rebellion’s compound, and the good guys get to kick the butt of the super-evil Theocracy Overlord. Back at the rebellion compound,they show the crew a control panel, like the one that led them there. It opens up into the control room and bridge of the giant ship. Convenient.
The on-screen cameo of Liam Neeson was surprising, and fun. He gave the exposition necessary to tie in all the threads (his name was the Theocracy’s “god”/creator), and restored the rightful knowledge of their real situation back to the millions of people living in the ship. The captain promises to send Union teams to teach the citizens to fly their own ship, and access their own technology again.
Then, they open the ‘sunroof’ and let in the night time sky. There wasn’t mass panic, or anything. Just “starry-eyed wonder”…too on the nose? Yeah. I know.
And that’s the end of the fourth episode. Not as bad as the first two, not nearly as interesting as the third. Do we keep getting hit over the head with the Ed and Kelly Story? Probably. Let’s hope the surrounding plot-of-the-week is interesting next week.
What do you think?
So, if you haven’t watched the show, at all, here are some clips.
Ed, Isaac, & Dr. Claire Talk About Procreation | Season 1 Ep. 4 | THE ORVILLE
The Crew Explores The New Vessel | Season 1 Ep. 4 | THE ORVILLE
Dr. Claire Talks To Yaphit About His Loneliness | Season 1 Ep. 4 | THE ORVILLE
Star Mapping With John & Gordon | Season 1 Ep. 4 | THE ORVILLE
Kelly Gets Interrogated By An Evil Commander | Season 1 Ep. 4 | THE ORVILLE