FOX premiered The Orville Sunday night to an eager sci-fi crowd. Most of the summer was spent speculating on exactly what The Orville would be like, and if it would be equal to (or better) than the new Star Trek offering, Discovery, also premiering this month. The answer is … well maybe.
If you are expecting slap-stick humor on par with Family Guy, this is not the show for you. It's not Spaceballs, or even really Galaxy Quest, two movies the series has been compared to in the early press. It's also not an homage or a spoof of Star Trek, either really. While it certainly plays with a lot of the same sci-fi tropes, The Orville is trying to be its own show, not a send up to others.
Old Wounds, the pilot, in and of itself, is basically a set-up episode; introducing the characters and setting while the main plot is basic and there solely to act as a framework for the world building that needs to happen. It does its job, and after watching it, viewers have an idea of the hierarchy, who the antagonists are, and some idea of the motivations of at least three of the characters, namely Captain Ed Mercer, Commander Kelly Grayson, and Lieutenant Gordon Malloy.
Pilots are always rather hard to judge an entire series on as the pilot is usually the script the producers sold to the network to greenlight the series in the first place. Pilots are usually rough around the edges and if the show is good and manages to find an audience, those edges can be smoothed out over time; and there needs to be some smoothing. The humor is hit or miss in this first episode. The subtle things worked rather well. For example, while the characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation, were rather serious and stoic, with The Orville, you have a navigator that wants to make sure he can still drink soda on the bridge. There's a lightness to the characters that you don't see very often in say Trek.
The more overt humor still needs some work, though, both in the writing and the timing of the actors. Several things were obviously meant to be funny, but just didn't work and that may be because everyone, actors, writers, and viewers, are still trying to figure out what kind of show this will be. Moving forward, the writers will need to decide if they are making an adventure show with comedy, or a comedy set in space. Right now the balance isn't quite right and the humor falls flat in many cases.
On the other hand, the series looks first-rate. The effects are well done, the ship looks good (better than that weird, wedge thing that's Discovery according to someone who watched the premier with me) and there are some interesting characters. There is potential for the series to be an interesting, fun, light drama.
Ratings for the first episode are still a mystery as Nielsen was forced to evacuate its data center ahead of Hurricane Irma. The second episode of The Orville, Command Performance, airs Sunday September 17 before moving to its regular Thursday night slot on September 21.
So what did you think of this first episode? Will The Orville be the surprise hit of the Fall, or will it quietly limp off into the annals of sci-fi history?
UPDATE: Ratings are in and The Orville scored a 2.3 for the premier episode. A good start; a lot of that was certainly curiosity viewing so the question is how far will the numbers fall with episode 3? (Episode 2 won't be a fair comparison as it will be against the Emmy Awards.)
Written by LadyShelley on Sep 11, 2017