The Orville, episode 4

In another great episode, the crew encounters a huge ship, so huge it contains a whole city and farmland and sky within. The crew soon finds out that they are dealing with a generation ship with a people who have forgotten they are on a ship.

This may be an idea that seems played out for someone who’s read a lot of sci fi, but seeing this on TV is just great. The ship is heading for a star, and they’ve got to convince the people that they need help before they can be helped.

Another thing I thought was great about this episode is we get to see how tough the first officer, Kelly, is. There is a pretty hardcore scene where she is being straight up beat and tortured, and though she is cracking some pretty funny jokes, it is not a funny scene. It is brutal and feels real. And–as Hollywood looooves to do when it comes to women who are captured or being tortured–I’m glad to say she was not sexualized in any way. What another relief!

At the end of the episode, the ship turns out to have a retractable section that opens to allow the people to see the stars for the first time. It was a really cool, and emotional scene.

Once again, a Seth MacFarlane comedy show is showing up CBS’s Discovery. Just let that sink in a minute… then go watch it!

The Orville, episode 3

I was only last week thinking about one of my favorite Star Trek episodes, ‘measure of a man’, the entirity of which takes place in a courtroom, and thinking how that kind of story could never be on TV these days. And then I get an episode like this episode of The Orville. On a comedy show… ???

Bortus’s egg hatches, and its a baby girl. The only problem is, Bortus’s people are all males. Any rare females that are born have a special procedure done to make them into males. Bortus, of course, wants the ship’s doctor to perform the procedure on his new child. Ethical dilemmas ensue.

And the entire episode is debating on whether it is right to change the sex of the child. Whether the Union has the right to stop another culture (species too, but let’s not go there) from doing what they think is right for their own child.

On a comedy show.

I can’t help but think that Seth is secretly giving a big ol’ middle finger to the Hollywood establishment with this series. Sort of showing them up by having actual good storylines, that make you think and care more than these big budget spectacles do, on his goofy comedy show.

This is real sci fi. While Star Trek: Discovery has aliens blowing eachother up and space ships fighting all over, this goofy comedy show is showing up with actual ideas and interesting concepts.

This is how it’s done.

The Orville, episode 2

Another fun, adventurious episode from the Orville that started with a classic TNG style opening.

After receiving a distress signal from a nearby ship, the crew of the Orville are surprised to find that captain Mercer’s parents are on the ship. He and the first officer take a shuttle over to the stranded ship, but upon entering it, are teleported away. The ship is an illusion, and vanishes, leaving behind a buoy, and the captain and first officer are gone.

Cue rising music, and cut to commercial!

That is great stuff.

Despite the slightly overdone ‘alien zoo’ plot, the episode was enjoyable and fun. I did have a bit of a problem with the ‘moral’ of the episode, though.

When going to the fake stranded ship, the captain leaves Kiran in charge. After they disappear, she doesn’t know what to do. She is very young and has no leadership experience. She contacts a starfleet–er, I mean Union admiral and is instructed to return to earth and leave the captain and first officer behind as dead in the line of duty.

So of course she follows orders.

Until everyone gets grumpy with her, and says that the captain would have gone after her, and so on, until she is guilted into taking the ship after the captain.

The problem is, there was a very good reason she was ordered to come back. The aliens who took the captain are very technologically advanced, and the entire ship could be at risk, and all those lives shouldn’t be risked in order to maybe save two people.

If Kiran had taken a shuttle and some volunteers to go after him, okay. But she took the whole ship with hundreds of people on board, disobeyed direct orders and risked all their lives… and is awarded with a medal at the end of the episode.

I get what they were going for… but Picard would not approve!

Otherwise a good episode, Bortus and his egg was really funny, and overall a lot of fun and thoughtful stuff.

The Orville, episode 1

I had zero interest in seeing this show back when the trailer first came out. Though I used to enjoy Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane’s brand of humor (farts, falling down, and mentioning things you’ve heard of before) is just not my thing anymore. But during my constant complaining about Star Trek: Discovery, I keep getting told to watch The Orville. What is going on? Why should any Trek fan want to watch a bunch of idiots making poop jokes and mocking one of my favorite pastimes?

Well, because it doesn’t do that at all.

Yes, there is some goofy humor, but it isn’t gross or stupid or mean, and actually made me laugh a few times. And more importantly, it is spread VERY thin, and gets thinner as the show goes on. It doesn’t do the supremely annoying thing where every dramatic beat has to be punctuated by a joke to break the tension.

Aside from the humor, the other thing I was worried about was the ‘ex wife as first officer’ scenario. I was ready to be sighing continuously at the constant bickering and cruel backstabbing I’d have to endure. But again, it didn’t happen. There is one big argument, and a few little quips, but they are apologetic, they want to work together, they are decent human beings. What a goddamned relief.

More importantly, the show captures that sense of excitement and exploration that is severely lacking in Discovery. You know, the actual discovering. When the captain first undocks the Orville and they fly off to adventure, I almost shed a tear. It’s just the thing I’ve been wanting since I saw the final episode of TNG all those years ago.

MacFarlane must be a Trek fan, because the love is shining through. It’s almost as if the humor is just a trick to get people to pay attention, and then all this interesting sci fi stuff happens.

I’m already looking forward to watching the rest of these episodes far more than I’m looking forward to the next Discovery episode. Because for Discovery, I already know they’ll just be blowing up more Klingons. ┬áBut for the Orville I’m wondering, where will they go next?

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 3

In what feels like the first episode of the series, we begin to follow Michael on her journey after having her rank stripped and being sent to prison.

At least Saru is back!

Good stuff: We are on a science ship, doing research. Not a war ship, not in battle. The characters are mostly scientists, interested in knowledge.

Bad stuff: We’re still in a giant war. The research is for the purpose of war. War war war war. War.

Silly stuff: The fungus spores turn out to not be a biological weapon but some how are used for instantaneous travel? What? At least try to have it make a bit of sense… this is Doctor Who levels of hand-waving going on here.

Creepy stuff: Those twisted bodies… wow, very creepy effect, though no real explanation as to how that creature did that to them. This episode could have been part of a horror movie almost. Very dark.

I like that they are on a science ship doing research. I like that the characters aren’t soldiers and will presumably not be seeking out battle (except maybe Michael). But the Discovery is painted as a dark, sinister kind of ship with a captain that is willing to do anything to achieve his goal, and sort of has the vibe of ‘technology bad!’ that is so damn prevalent these days.

Over-all, better than the first two episodes, and there seems to be potential. I’ll keep watching, but am not holding out too much hope.

 

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2

There were definite moments during this one, where I felt emotional, and excited, and interested. But in the end I was left heaving a big sigh.

This is star TREK, people! Not star WAR.

I am so sick of war. I’m bored and tired and tired and bored. Everything is about war and destruction and weapons and saving the world. I feel a bit misled by the title of “Discovery.”

Yes this is a pilot pair of episodes, where they have to do some crazy action to get people paying attention, but the preview of the rest of the season seemed like… more war. The Klingons are killing thousands! It’s all Michael’s fault! I just want to see intersting, thoughtful aliens and cultures and have interesting philosophies and moral questions. Star Trek was the ONE sci fi show that wasn’t about war and killing and battle. Well, so much for that.

On the plus side, if it didn’t have the label of ‘Star Trek’ tricking me into expecting something thoughtful and intriguing, it would have been a well above average couple episodes. It looked great, the acting was good, the characters fairly memorable, and it actually managed to make me feel something for a ship exploding–which I never do. I’m not sure if it was the characters expressions, the music, or what, but I felt a bit sick and sad when the Europa blew up. Major points there.

Except.

I AM TIRED OF SEEING SPACE SHIPS EXPLODE.

I want to see cool nebuli and weird aliens. I want to be asked questions that challenge my view of life and the universe. I want to be presented with situations that make me look at my morals and ask myself why I believe what I do. PLEASE can we have a science fiction show again that is not about war and fighting! PLEASE!

I’m sure the answer is no, though. So I’ll take what I can get.

At the end of these two episodes I feel like I haven’t even started the show yet. The one character is going to a new ship, so all the characters we met wont even be on the show, I guess?? I suppose we’ll see her redeem herself, learn to control her anger and think before she acts and eventually become captain of her own ship.

I just hope this all happens with a backdrop other than WAR

 

 

 

Star Trek Discovery, Episode 1

It’s been a long wait, but finally we got a new Star Trek television series, and my expectations were surpassed by multiple warp factors.

First, I better preface that by saying that my expectations were very, very low. After all the terrible TNG movies, and the somewhat entertaining but definitely NOT Trek JJ Abrahms movies, I was expecting another explosion fest of people running around killing aliens and saying ‘That’s not logical’ or other catch phrases.

And while there was some running around shooting things, the majority was thoughtful, and there was some great dialogue and the acting was not terrible at all.

The primary conflict of the episode is between ‘number 1’: Michael, and the Captain, after they encounter a Klingon ship, after not seeing Klingons anywhere in Federation space for 100 years. Michael, due to her experience with Klingons and knowing they are a warlike people who seek battle, and respect violence, tries desperately to convince the Captain to fire on the ship, to shoot first, as it’s the only way to get their respect and have any chance at peace. The Captain is determined not to, saying the Federation never shoots first, and we can’t attack just based on their race and Michael’s prior experience.

It’s great because you can see each character’s point of view, no one is an idiot or asshole or villain, and it makes you think. Gosh, imagine that, thinking while watching Star Trek..

This is the first episode, so they have to open with some kind of battle. (TNG opening with Measure of a Man might have been bad, even though it’s one of the best episodes ever.) But I sure hope this war isn’t the entire focus of the show. I want discovery, and exploration, and other dilemmas and thought experiments based on things other than fighting and war.

There are still a lot of ways this could go wrong, but it was a good start and I’m optimistic!