One part Galaxy Quest. One Part Ted. One part Star Trek. The Orville is Seth MacFarlane’s space SciFi show, and it’s kinda good.
To Boldly Go Where No SciFi Has Gone Before
The Orville is first and foremost an homage to Stark Trek. It may be a comedy but it’s roots are firmly set in Gene Roddenberry’s world. Everything from the sleek technology to the sweeping orchestral score is perfectly Star Trek. Borrowing so closely from Star Trek is risky. Star Trek has always been a serious look at humanity potential future. The Orville is anything but serious. But perhaps that’s where Seth MacFarlane’s crazy new show succeeds. One criticism to be made of Star Trek it’s that humanity has mostly lost its sense of humor. Injecting that absurdity into such a familiar framework breathes life into a show that wasn’t really needed, but might be just what we’ve been missing.
The Orville is introspectively patronizing the same way Galaxy Quest poked fun at Star Trek, and the fandom that grew around it. In the best way possible, of course. Seth MacFarlane’s sense of nihilistic poop humor in an unexpected fit into the SciFi space adventure genre. Finding the awkward and uncomfortable in dealing with aliens, as well as life among the stars, could have backfired immensely. Instead, The Orville gives you the space adventure you love, with Peter Griffon as Captain. For whatever reason, it works.
Space Comedy, The Final Frontier. These Are The Voyages Of The Starship Orville
The premier episode of The Orville was surprisingly good. It remains to be seen how long this gimmicky take on Star Trek can hold up. With care it could be a surprising hit. I think what The Orville needs to do is find a blend of humorous and serious. Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor works well in a genre that portrays all life in the universe as insignificant, and flawed. But space-fart jokes will get old fast if there isn’t an attempt to show a more vulnerable side to the characters. The Orville can’t simply be a sitcom in space. It can be mostly sitcom, but there needs to be some drama woven in to make it worth viewers’ time.
So Is It Star Trek Or Not?
The Orville challenges a genre that too often makes the modern world seem even more miserable in comparison. We look to Star Trek as a model for our future society, while recognizing our civilization is still far from perfect. The Orville takes the shine off that vision. The he future, no matter how technologically advanced, is still going to have goofy people in it. The Orville gives us space goof!
One thing The Orville has going for it not related to the show itself is that it’s on network TV. Star Trek Discovery is series most Trekkies wanted. But many Trekkies, including myself, refuse to pay for CBS All Access to watch it. Star Trek should be accessible to everyone. It’s one of the most critical social commentaries in human history. The Orville might fill that role, even if it is with a large dose of levity. It will also be free to watch every week. There’s something to be said for that.