The Orville: Episode 8, into the fold

In the first really boring episode of the series, Dr. Claire and her two sons attempt to go on vacation, but are instead sucked into a fold in space and shot out a thousand lightyears away, and crash land on an alien planet.

It sounds interesting in principle, but instead it’s just endless bickering children and diseased cannibals.

I guess the ‘moral’ of the episode is you should appreciate your parents and how much they care for you. But it is shown in a really dull way.

The kids are separated from Dr. Claire, and have to be taken care of by Isaac, who with his robot ignorance, shows us what parent/child relationships are like by asking very blunt questions like ‘why are you such little shitstains to your mom’, to paraphrase.

In the end the kids feel bad and apologize for being jerks.

Also Dr. Claire is locked up by a survivalist alien who tries to feed her, but won’t let her go outside because of the poison water and hoards of diseased that will try to kill and eat her. To repay him for his kindness, she tricks him into going to her ship to search for medicine (which he does, because he is worried she will die) then when he gets back she kills him. How kind.

On the plus side this episode was real light on the stupid humor.

The Orville, episode 5, Catcalling in space!

So far this is the first episode of the series that was a bit of a letdown for me. I guess even in the far future of space travel, its just fine and normal to comment on the appearance of every woman you come across, even right when she’s about to die.

The Orville receives a distress call, and finds a mining ship stranded on a comet about to crash into a star. The Captain, Priah, is blond and sure is pretty and all the characters make sure to comment awkwardly and creepily on exactly how pretty she is, in every scene she is in.

With Priah safely aboard, Captain Mercer finds they are from the same place on Earth, and gets to like her and shows her around the ship, where she is ogled and catcalled by everyone she encounters. In the 25th century. What progress.

Kelly is suspicious of Priah, and thinks something is up. Mercer thinks Kelly is just jealous of him hanging around with SUCH A HOT BABE and they have arguments about it. Even after Priah saves their ship from destruction, Kelly still doesn’t trust her.

Meanwhile, Gordon tries to teach Isaac what a practical joke is, by sticking Mr. Potato Head pieces all over his head to give him a face. I raised an eyebrow that anyone would know what a Mr. Potato Head was four hundred years from now, but okay.

Isaac retaliates with his own practical joke: amputating Gordon’s leg while he sleeps. This got a big laugh out of me, and that he hid the leg somewhere was even funnier. The call back later when the leg comes crashing down from the ceiling in the middle of a conversation is great EXCEPT why cant anyone pay attention to obvious details?? The leg that fell down was a full leg all the way up to the hip, and Gordon’s leg was only amputated at the knee. It is just so lazy not to use the right kind of leg in your own damn show that you presumably wrote and were aware of.

Later we find that, of course, Kelly is right, and Priah is actually from the future, and is a dealer in rare artifacts from the past. Priah plans to take their ship (which should have been destroyed, and them all dead) to the future to sell to a collector. This wont mess up any timeline, because the ship should have been destroyed.

This is a really neat idea, and this comedy show constantly has more interesting sci fi concepts than Star Trek Discovery and their universal mushroom (I’m serious.)

On a final annoying note, the Orville shoots a missile at the wormhole Priah has been using to go to and from the past, and this somehow makes it collapse and it collapsing somehow makes Priah disappear and it is implied she is erased from everyone’s memory too? Very dumb and annoying way to end an episode.

Overall, though, still enjoying this show a lot!

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 5

War war war war, Michael Burnham war. War, war war war, war spore drive war war. War Klingons war tardigrade war war. Captain Lorca punches Klingons, someone dies, I don’t care. Cue opening credits.

Another ‘exciting’ episode of Star Trek: Discovery, where nothing is discovered, they don’t go anywhere no one has gone before, and instead growl about war and punch each other for 50 minutes.

At least we get Captain Saru this episode! Neat, maybe he’ll take over the ship and run things differently and do sciency things and not care so much about war and whatever boring shit Lorca had planned.

Harry Mudd tells a long rambling backstory for zero reason since captain Lorca abandons him as soon as they escape.

A magic mushroom spreads across the universe. Mushroom. across the universe. I wonder if the writers originally had planed for some quantum veins or multiverse pockets or something more sciency and were told ‘no, make it stupider’ so they came up with a MUSHROOM that grows across the ENTIRETY OF THE UNIVERSE. A mushroom from Earth, no less, that shares 50% of it’s DNA with humans, growing across the entire universe.

Am I supposed to care about Lorca? Cause I don’t. This torture scene isn’t so tense when I don’t care about him. I’d actually be happy if he died and Saru stayed captain. Except Saru turns into a jackass as soon as he’s in the chair. Cool, everyone on this show is jerkoffs to each other. Really enjoyable to watch.

I don’t particularly like any of the characters on this show, come to think of it… hmm. I wonder if they forgot that part about TV shows where you’re supposed to like the characters…

Mudd is an asshole to everyone in the cell, stealing their food and ratting them out to the guards, so Lorca is an asshole to him, and leaves him behind! Yay! Am I supposed to like or feel inspired by any of these shitbags?

How did the tardigrade rehydrate in a vacuum. wtf.

Maybe this is a decent action/war show. It is well produced and there are some cool action scenes and space battles. But when you title it ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ I can’t help but expect the characters to trek around discovering stuff. What I got is not what I expected or wanted, and as a straight action show it’s not good enough or intriguing enough to hold my attention anymore.

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.  But for the Orville I’m wondering, where will they go next?