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The Orville – S01E01

So the obvious comparison here, is of course, Star Trek.  The story I’ve heard is that Seth MacFarlane has wanted to do a Star Trek series for a while but CBS has told him no, so instead, he’s not making The Orville, for Fox.  A better comparison is probably the movie Galaxy Quest.  Both are not quite parodies of Star Trek.  I say not quite because while both have their comedic elements and take their queues from Trek, both have their own little ideas and both have some level of trying to be serious behind them.

I kind of worry that this mixture may end up being the downfall of The Orville in the long run.  The Family Guy/Seth MacFarlane audience is going to expect a constant barrage of comedy, something that this show doesn’t really offer.

Yet.

Yet is definitely the possibility here.  Personally, I hope the show steers more into the serious side.  I’m not a huge fan of the Star Trek reboot films, and I’m not sure what Star Trek Discovery will bring, but this show definitely feels more like the older Trek when things were a bit more fun and less super serious all the time.  I say “yet” because this first episode definitely reeks of classic Pilot Syndrome.  It doesn’t quite know what it wants to be and half the episode is devoted to introducing the cast with a kind of flimsy plot tacked onto back end.

I do have to say the resolution of the actual plot and threat was pretty clever and did a nice job of wrapping together several of the previous elements that had popped up during the show.

I also don’t mind the comedy.  I don’t watch a ton of comedy TV these days and have not watched anything from Seth MacFarlane in years but I do enjoy it.  The little side comments and commentary worked well, some of the more random gags, like the guy working on repairs in the window at the end of the episode, not so much.

The cast all were pretty enjoyable.  There’s definitely potential in each of them to have some fun chemistry and interaction.  Some of the effects felt a little off but that is probably a result of Pilot Syndrome as well as the lower budget comedy series nature of the show.

I think a lot of my ultimate enjoyment of this series depends on what directions it heads off into in the future.  I’m not sure the Trek formula, even as a parody, works too well if things remain too episodic.  It kind of needs some level of world building, that’s what makes it fantastical and enjoyable.  Without the backdrop of the universe, I’m not sure that a bunch of random jokes making fun of Sci-Fi really will work in the long run without getting repetitive.

 

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