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The Orville Episode 1 – My Review

The Orville Review

Science fiction, space, adventure, aliens and advanced technology. Yeah, those are things I like, whether it be in books, TV shows, movies or video games. For while, I’ve been hoping a new scifi show would come along that would be worth my time. When I saw the trailer for The Orville a little while ago, I was hopeful this show might be it. Here’s the trailer.

My initial impression of the trailer, without knowing anything about the show, was that The Orville would be a bit of a spoof on Star Trek, not unlike Spaceballs made fun of Star Wars. So, is that what The Orville is? Or, did I mess up my expectations?

The Story

The show starts with a bit of a personal tragedy for our hapless hero, Captain Ed Mercer. After he finds his wife in bed with a blue alien, his world comes crashing down and he spends a year wallowing in pity, drinking and who knows what else. It’s not until he’s offered his first command of a spaceship, the Orville, that things finally start looking up.

As he embarks on his first trip, a mission to resupply a science station, he is unexpectedly paired with his ex-wife as XO of his ship. This, as you can imagine, creates some uncomfortable moments during the mission and with the crew itself but also plenty of opportunities to crack some jokes. Captain Ed is, of course, set on getting rid of his XO as soon as possible.

When they arrive at their destination, it quickly becomes clear that their mission is not a resupply mission after all. It’s an attempt by the chief scientist of the station to keep their latest technological breakthrough a secret from the evil alien Krill race. When a Krill ship suddenly appears in orbit, the crew has to work together to solve the problem and prevent the Krill from obtaining technology they likely would use to conquer the universe. Will they succeed or succumb to the evil Krill?

My impression

Ok, so the story in itself is not half bad. The technology they have to keep out of the hands of the Krill is actually fascinating and its potential use as both a weapon and a humanitarian tool fascinating. I can see all kinds of plot possibilities around this. However, the execution of the story leaves a lot to be desired. To me, it feels like the story in itself is a serious one yet the show comes off as trying to be a funny at the same time, in a goofy kind of way.  It’s like the show is trying to pull off Spaceballs comedy while also being a serious exploration show like Star Trek. It just doesn’t work.

The dialogue made me cringe for most of the show, as does the interactions between the crew members. The attempts at comedy mostly made me want to cry. Admittedly, there are a few funny parts but they in no way make up for how the rest of the screen time is wasted. For example, there’s a line when the captain is talking to one of the engineers. The engineer’s main concern is that the prior captain lets him drink soda at his workstation. Will that be OK going forward? Then, later, there’s a scene where the engineer does just that. Or the marbles mistaken for mints. That’s a good one but it flies by so quickly that you barely even register it’s there. Captain Mercer just spits it out and that’s that. No gagging, choking?

The action is also just meh. The flight physics of everything is just awkward and doesn’t feel realistic at all. I understand that the point is that it isn’t supposed to but it just looks stupid, frankly.

For some reason, the little shuttle used to go to and from the ship also seemed to have to fly at an angle all the time. I felt like I needed to tilt my head every time I saw it. Not to mention that the shuttle seemed awfully large compared to the ship itself.

The fight scenes contain the usual laser weapons and contain some odd moments too, like when our heroes run through what appears to be a pool of water to reach their ship and then they don’t seem to be wet at all afterward. Right. Wait, maybe they have instantly drying clothing and hair. Yes, that must be it. Let’s not mention the wisdom of running through a medium that will slow you down as you’re trying to save yourself.

Is there anything good about The Orville? Yes, there is, in fact. I do like the sets. The scenery, the cities, the inside of apartments, buildings, and offices, as well as the various ships, it looks like time was spent making it all look good. The ships and the special effects also look good even though their behavior is nonsensical.

My Verdict

The Orville, nah, you can skip the popcorn on this one. The original Star Trek will contain more comedy than this show and shows like Firefly are more likely to keep you at the edge of your seat. In fact, maybe Fox need to rethink their priorities here and cancel The Orville and bring back Firefly. That’s my suggestion.

In all fairness, much of this show seems to be centered around Seth MacFarlane and his style of comedy. If you’re into his stuff, it may be that you’ll absolutely love this show, what do I know? I just…don’t.

I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll even both with episode 2. I’d love for this show to work, I really would, and hope that maybe episode one was just growing pains. I’m just not convinced it’s worth wasting another 45 minutes on. We’ll see.

At this point, my suggestion for you if you haven’t seen it: watch the trailer and call it a day. It’s better than the show it’s a trailer for.

What are your thoughts? have you seen it? What did you think?

I'm just one of those guys that like well as drawing, writing, reading, coding and a whole bunch of other things I rarely have time for.