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 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!