24 votes

I don't get all the love for The Orville

Spoilers for all seasons of both The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery.

The Orville isn't bad, but it's not the worthy successor to pre-Abrams Star Trek that a lot of people on /r/startrek—and increasingly on /r/DaystromInstitute—make it out to be, and honestly I struggle to understand how people are even reaching that conclusion.

I should start, I suppose, with what I like about this show. First, I like the characters—with two exceptions, I'll get to that later. Dr. Finn, in particular, is a delight: Penny Johnson Jerald is a very talented actress and it's really great to see her in a role where the rest of the cast draws on her character's wisdom. She plays it well. The rest of the bridge crew is great, too: Gordon, LaMarr, and Bortas are all lots of fun, and Jessica Szohr is a great addition for season 2: Halston Sage didn't quite have the skill to pull her character off.

The show looks great. Union vessels are distinct from Federation vessels and they're not just ISO Human Standard Spaceships either, which is commendable. Kaylon spheres are neat play on Borg cubes, and my only real complaint in this regard is that Moclan and Krill vessels look oddly similar. The engine effects, the depiction of celestial objects, the overall Union aesthetic, it's all very pleasing to the eye.

The worldbuilding is great. This is the one place that I think I would even go as far to say The Orville has a clear edge over Star Trek. Trek has built up loads of cruft over the years and sometimes struggles to keep it all together. For example, The Orville has swept away the inconsistent depiction of enlisted personnel that Trek fouls up seemingly very chance it gets by just depicting officers, which makes sense for a highly automated vessel. I fundamentally "buy" the Planetary Union as a human-centric interstellar polity in the same way I buy the UFP. (My one complaint in this department is that there does not appear to be any bureaucratic distinction between the Union government and the Union fleet, i.e. it lacks the distinction between The Federation and Starfleet. That seems like an oddity I hope they correct in season 3.) McFarlane is a nerd, he's fastidious about detail, and you just know he's has to have pages upon pages of worldbuilding details which helps him keep it consistent. It shows.

But the show falls flat on its face in two key ways which, unfortunately, appear to be baked into the concept.

Shortfall one: I just can't seem to warm up to either Mercer or Grayson, which for obvious reasons is a huge problem, because the show is now on record as indicating that their romantic relationship is The Key To Saving The Galaxy™. The Orville is an episodic throwback, but if it has a "main arc," that main arc is Ed & Kelly's relationship, and it just feels awkward and out of place.

I don't really dislike Grayson, but I can't find anything to really like about her either. She's just kinda there, and her story never diverges from Mercer's. Which brings me to Mercer... which... just... ugh. Never in my life have I seen a more egregious case of a show creator playing out his fantasy on camera. I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen someone make a statement which boils down to "I don't like Discovery because Burnham is a Mary Sue, and that's why I prefer The Orville" as if Mercer is not the most blatant case of a Marty Stu to ever grace network television and get renewed for a second season. I mean, come on. He's the perfect captain, he always makes the right call, yet for some reason the show keeps trying to sell us on the notion that he's damaged goods and out-of-favor with the Admiralty. It's not believable, and it irks me endlessly that anyone would lob this criticism at Discovery when The Orville is an order of magnitude more guilty of this conceit.

And that brings me to the elephant in the room: the direct Star Trek comparison. I seem to recall Season 1 having a novel episode here and there, even if they were snoozefests. Season 1 also bothered to draw from other sources of inspiration, even if those sources were Trek-adjacent shows like Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. But on the other hand, some episodes from season 1 were straight rips from old Trek. "If the Stars Should Appear"? Straight remake of "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky." "Mad Idolatry"? Straight remake of "Blink of an Eye."

And Season 2? Season 2 doubled down on the Trek remake approach. No other sources, no novel concepts: almost every episode is a remake of a previous episode of Star Trek. Sometimes The Orville at least bothered to remix a pair of episodes, and sometimes a lot of the details got changed, but with one exception, every episode was a Trek episode remake.

Orville Ep Trek Ep(s)
"Ja'loja" This is the only original one
"Primal Urges" "Hollow Pursuits" and/or "Extreme Risk"
"Home" "Home"
"Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" "The Wolf Inside" (Ash Tyler's arc in general)
"All the World Is Birthday Cake" "Who Watches the Watchers" mixed with "First Contact"
"A Happy Refrain" "In Theory"
"Deflectors" "A Man Alone" and/or "Suspicions"
"Identity" (both parts) "The Best of Both Worlds" mixed with "Prototype"
"Blood of Patriots" "The Wounded"
"Lasting Impressions" "Booby Trap" and/or "It's Only a Paper Moon"
"Sanctuary" "The Outcast"
"Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" "Second Chances"
"The Road Not Taken" "Timeless"

The degree to which a given The Orville episode is a remake of the Trek episode I've listed varies. "Home" is only similar if you look at the broad strokes: the officer on loan from the scientifically advanced Earth ally goes home where her family disparages her for spending all that time with humans. The home invasion plot from that episode was original, but it was also kinda weird and contrived. The flipside of this constant borrowing from Trek is that when The Orville does go off the beaten path, it's inevitably flat out boring. "Ja'loja" was an utterly forgettable episode because it largely focused on Ed & Kelly relationship drama.

And even if we look at "Ja'loja," there's a bit of "Amok Time" in there with the whole "returning to the desert homeworld" for the Moclan urination ceremony. Sometimes it's bits and pieces into a blender, but other times it's a basically a straight rip, like it is with "All the World Is Birthday Cake" and "Blood of Patriots." Perhaps the most blatant "homage" was introducing a surgically altered Klingon Krill to infiltrate the hero ship, right down to the name and rank of the infiltrator!

I know, everything's a remix, and I know, it's a fine line between "ripoff" and "homage," but the problem with this level of "borrowing" is that when you've seen every episode of Star Trek as many times as I have, each episode of The Orville just becomes an exercise in "I wonder which Star Trek episode this will be," and once you figure it out, it just saps all the urgency and tension out of the viewing experience. It gets boring.

I didn't get bored with Discovery. I mean, sure, Discovery has its problems. In many ways its problems are the inverse of The Orville's strengths: I struggle to care all that much about any of the characters, the show is rife with dark sets and quick shots which just isn't that visually appealing, and the worldbuilding is at times really difficult to reconcile with established Trek lore. (The Spore drive is classified? That's why we never see it again? Ummm... OK, then.) And the story, while chaotic and poorly paced & planned due to constant showrunner turmoil, is at the very least interesting and novel.

The perfect Star Trek would be a synthesis of these two shows, but apart, each show pretty much breaks even when you take the strengths and weaknesses on the merits. Which brings me to my title: I cannot for the life of me get into the mindset of the fans who see this as the True Trek of our time. It's just remakes of old Trek, and while the visuals have been updated for 2019, the stories have not.

The bottom line is that while it's great that we have two Trek-style shows on the air at the same time for the first time since the 90's, neither show is great, or even good. They're both just OK, and the huge disparity between how they've been received doesn't make much sense to me.

33 comments

  1. [14]
    Thrabalen
    Link
    I think a large part of it is that the Orville, for all its faults, is a love letter to Trek, and Discovery feels like divorce papers.

    I think a large part of it is that the Orville, for all its faults, is a love letter to Trek, and Discovery feels like divorce papers.

    16 votes
    1. [7]
      zap
      Link Parent
      I mean no disrespect, but I have a lot of trouble understanding this point of view. The Orville isn't like Star Trek. The Orville is like TNG, specifically. Except it's a pale imitation of TNG....

      I mean no disrespect, but I have a lot of trouble understanding this point of view. The Orville isn't like Star Trek. The Orville is like TNG, specifically. Except it's a pale imitation of TNG.

      Something that's great about Star Trek is that every series has its own style and its own way of storytelling. DIS is no exception to this. It's not an imitation. It takes the best elements of TOS, DS9, and ENT, blends them together, and then covers the whole thing in its own idiosyncratic special sauce.

      When I watch DIS, I feel nostalgic, like I'm a kid watching Trek with my parents again. When I watch The Orville... I just don't feel anything.

      DIS is also more in line with the Trek universe ideologically. For instance, it came out of the gate swinging hard at nationalism, in a way that may have been somewhat shallow but was still satisfying to watch. The Orville feels pretty milquetoast in comparison.

      I could go on and on. Discovery already has some of the best episodes of Trek ever aired, especially in season 2. So, when I see people online saying that The Orville is better than Discovery, or that it's more "trekky," I feel like I'm the victim of a strange prank.

      This isn't really directed at you. I don't want you to feel like I'm deriding you for your opinion. I'm just frustrated. The things that people are saying about DIS are exactly what they said about TNG, DS9, and ENT. It really depresses me that we have to have this same conversation every time a new series comes out.

      6 votes
      1. Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        I have exactly the opposite reaction. DSC invokes no nostalgia for me. In fact, I enjoy DSC most when I think of it as a stand-alone science fiction series with no connection to 'Star Trek'...

        When I watch DIS, I feel nostalgic, like I'm a kid watching Trek with my parents again. When I watch The Orville... I just don't feel anything.

        I have exactly the opposite reaction.

        DSC invokes no nostalgia for me. In fact, I enjoy DSC most when I think of it as a stand-alone science fiction series with no connection to 'Star Trek' (especially that first season of DSC!). To me, it's just a modern science fiction show which borrows the 'Star Trek' name but very little else. I wish it would drop the 'Star Trek' brand and just be what it wants to be without pretence.

        On other hand, as you say, 'The Orville' is like TNG, and I love TNG. It's one of my favourite TV series of all time. 'The Orville' may not be a love letter to the whole of 'Star Trek', as @Thrabalen wrote, but it is absolutely a love letter to TNG. It's basically a rip-off of TNG. So, as a lover of TNG, I find a lot in 'The Orville' which reminds me of TNG, which makes me feel nostalgic and warm towards 'The Orville'.

        7 votes
      2. [5]
        tomf
        Link Parent
        When people say that The Orville is a love letter to Trek / more Trek than Discovery, they are typically meaning that it carries the same spirit, feel, and overall aesthetic. The Orville...

        When people say that The Orville is a love letter to Trek / more Trek than Discovery, they are typically meaning that it carries the same spirit, feel, and overall aesthetic.

        The Orville definitely pays more to TNG than any other Trek series.

        Disco on the other hand is more cinematic and doesn't carry the same spirit, feel, and overall aesthetic of the series -- but it is more inline with the Trek films over the years.

        I am strongly in the 'The Orville is more Trek than Disco' camp. I still enjoy Disco, but Disco tends to rush over the good stuff and spend a lot of time on concerned faces, intimate farewells, and all of the sappy shit that shouldn't be taking place when the universe is about to end if you don't complete a specific task within the next thirty seconds.

        Disco is to Trek as The Last Jedi is to Star Wars -- just more entertaining. They've rewritten so much of the canon that this either has to be a completely different timeline or its just a Trek-like series.

        The Orville on the other hand is still a new series with a new universe -- and it'll take some time to iron out the kinks and to truly step into its own. It's definitely lifting a lot from TNG and other Trek series, but in the same, there are only so many space stories to tell from the perspective of a starship.

        2 votes
        1. [4]
          alexandria
          Link Parent
          What canon did The Last Jedi break? RE: Trek canon, I don't buy that it breaks any canon. As of the ending of season 2 every complaint I've heard of it with regards of continuity is very easily...

          They've rewritten so much of the canon that this either has to be a completely different timeline or its just a Trek-like series.

          What canon did The Last Jedi break?

          RE: Trek canon, I don't buy that it breaks any canon. As of the ending of season 2 every complaint I've heard of it with regards of continuity is very easily debunked with 2 seconds of thought.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            tomf
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            well, in the Legends timeline its Ben Skywalker and Jacen Solo -- but with the films, the new canon is Ben Solo -- at least so far as I understood it all. It's a shame because the story of Ben...

            well, in the Legends timeline its Ben Skywalker and Jacen Solo -- but with the films, the new canon is Ben Solo -- at least so far as I understood it all. It's a shame because the story of Ben Skywalker and Jacen Solo was awesome and could have made for several excellent movies... but instead we got the hot mess of the new films. I hope they continue writing in the old EU.

            With regards to Trek -- the canon for Trek is all over the place, so its easy to justify anything. 'Spock never mentioned Michael because he rarely mentions anyone! He didn't even note that he had a wife until Pon farr...' -- so there's no point in really debating it. My biggest complaint about Discovery is the pacing. There was so much build up with such a quick pay-off, but a lot of time spent with 'this could be the last time I see you' while the clock ticks. I guess I wanted a more incremental pay-off -- spending more time in each checkpoint and putting all of the pieces together with care.

            edit: new is Ben Solo :)

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              alexandria
              Link Parent
              But before TLJ, they already threw out the EU, so TLJ didn't break canon, TFA 'broke canon'. You're right that the canon for Trek is much less respected (Actually, last time I looked at...

              But before TLJ, they already threw out the EU, so TLJ didn't break canon, TFA 'broke canon'.

              You're right that the canon for Trek is much less respected (Actually, last time I looked at Wookiepedia, the EU canon was all over the place, too...), but all of the complaints regarding 'continuity' that people were whining about were either fixed in the show itself (mostly through offhand comments, which shows you how brittle the criticism was) or could be fixed through a simple 2 seconds of thought of "how would that work anyway?"

              2 votes
              1. tomf
                Link Parent
                Oh man, they’re both a complete mess. The SW EU is a mess, but has had far less opportunity to mess up because it hasn’t had the tv writers. The funny thing about The Last Jedi is that the little...

                Oh man, they’re both a complete mess. The SW EU is a mess, but has had far less opportunity to mess up because it hasn’t had the tv writers.

                The funny thing about The Last Jedi is that the little trick Luke does for the finale is actually a Sith trick done in the Legacy series (in another form, but very similar.)

                For me, I hate the new SW and the overall direction — but I am far more forgiving with Trek, and will most likely enjoy anything they throw at me, regardless of the faults. :)

    2. [6]
      Kraetos
      Link Parent
      At the risk of being too blunt, I'm not sure this analysis really means anything. I can trivially flip it around to make Discovery look good and The Orville look bad: That's not to say you're...

      At the risk of being too blunt, I'm not sure this analysis really means anything. I can trivially flip it around to make Discovery look good and The Orville look bad:

      Discovery is new, different, and taking risks. The Orville is just rehashing the past.

      That's not to say you're wrong, your statement is just... insubstantial.

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        Spel
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Why is new, different, and taking risks necessarily something positive? Rebuilding Notre Dame as some kind of modernist glass sculpture thing would be all of those things, yet I certainly think...

        Why is new, different, and taking risks necessarily something positive?

        Rebuilding Notre Dame as some kind of modernist glass sculpture thing would be all of those things, yet I certainly think that more people would prefer it to “rehash” the past. This obsession some people have that everything must be new and “innovative” is strange to me.

        It’s true that The Orville is not a great recreation of the good things in the past, but at least it’s trying to be and is occasionally pretty good and always well-intentioned which is nice when there is nothing else that’s even trying. I can't really think of even one sci-fi series out there that is optimistic and cheerful.

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          Kraetos
          Link Parent
          Things that don't change get stagnant and die off. You've set up a dichotomy between "change" and "optimism," but it begs the question. "New and different" is not mutually exclusive with "optimistic."

          Things that don't change get stagnant and die off.

          You've set up a dichotomy between "change" and "optimism," but it begs the question. "New and different" is not mutually exclusive with "optimistic."

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            Spel
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Why is that necessary? Sturgeons have been around for 200 million years. Sometimes winning concepts are timeless. Where have I done that? All I've said is that there is nothing out there that is...

            Things that don't change get stagnant and die off.

            Why is that necessary? Sturgeons have been around for 200 million years. Sometimes winning concepts are timeless.

            You've set up a dichotomy between "change" and "optimism," but it begs the question.

            Where have I done that?

            "New and different" is not mutually exclusive with "optimistic."

            All I've said is that there is nothing out there that is "new and different" and optimistic, so you should not be suprised that people enjoy the "rehashed" The Orville since there is nothing out there doing anything similar and there hasn't been in decades.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              Kraetos
              Link Parent
              This sentence links the two concepts together. Perhaps that was not your intention, but that's how it reads.

              It’s true that The Orville is not a great recreation of the good things in the past, but at least it’s trying to be and occasionally pretty good and always well-intentioned which is nice when there is nothing else that’s even trying.

              This sentence links the two concepts together. Perhaps that was not your intention, but that's how it reads.

              1 vote
              1. Spel
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Ah, well, there is indeed a missing “is” in there. I’ve fixed that now.

                Ah, well, there is indeed a missing “is” in there. I’ve fixed that now.

                1 vote
  2. [6]
    Amarok
    Link
    Is it really that The Orville is good, or is it just that everything else has become such trash that by comparison, The Orville looks like Shakespeare? With very few exceptions, modern scifi has...

    Is it really that The Orville is good, or is it just that everything else has become such trash that by comparison, The Orville looks like Shakespeare? With very few exceptions, modern scifi has both become predictable tripe, and universally obsessed with dystopian topics.

    I think the love for Orville has more to do with it being the only well known lighthearted alternative. I enjoy it in a popcorn-munching sense, but I don't consider it a 10/10 show. For a lot of people out there, particularly the young fox-centric crowd, this is probably their first exposure to that kind of storytelling and setting. We all love the first shows we see that set us on a path of appreciation, even if we find better ones later.

    7 votes
    1. [5]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      I wish I could disagree about modern SF being bad. There's basically Black Mirror and nothing else. But I think that SF becoming good in the 70s through the turn of the century was more a result...

      I wish I could disagree about modern SF being bad. There's basically Black Mirror and nothing else.

      But I think that SF becoming good in the 70s through the turn of the century was more a result of the prestige of a few really good authors in the space attracting other authors into the genre. It's kind of like how after Harry Potter got popular, fantasy became a popular genre. Or how YA became a genre in and of itself recently.

      I don't really have anything very constructive to say except you will find more to love if you don't restrict yourself to specific genres.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        Thedudeatx
        Link Parent
        How about the Expanse?

        How about the Expanse?

        5 votes
        1. calcifer
          Link Parent
          As a big fan of the books, the show is a pale imitation really. Some of it is the inherent difficulty of adapting a novel to TV, but there are issues beyond that. Character development is almost...

          As a big fan of the books, the show is a pale imitation really. Some of it is the inherent difficulty of adapting a novel to TV, but there are issues beyond that. Character development is almost always skipped, sometimes with time jumps, to get us to the next CGI scape action scene. Major characters in the book are either entirely skipped, have their stories rewritten, or got merged into a single character.

          I still watch it, but that's mostly due to lack of great sci-fi TV nowadays.

          2 votes
        2. alexandria
          Link Parent
          The Expanse was pitched to me as a science-central show, I turned it off as soon as they were struggling to find water... in an asteroid belt that is literally made of rock and water... As other...

          The Expanse was pitched to me as a science-central show, I turned it off as soon as they were struggling to find water... in an asteroid belt that is literally made of rock and water...

          As other people have said, though, character development is a central part of TNG, etc. and The Expanse did the usual 'great job' that most contemporary sci-fi does in... skipping it.

      2. Amarok
        Link Parent
        I've been camping on Dust lately. It's a giant pit of scifi short films. I find many of these to be more engaging and creative than any franchise. It's like Love/Sex/Robots on Netflix, just less...

        I've been camping on Dust lately. It's a giant pit of scifi short films. I find many of these to be more engaging and creative than any franchise. It's like Love/Sex/Robots on Netflix, just less T&A, more head candy. Tasty little scifi snacks.

        2 votes
  3. [4]
    Akir
    Link
    Before I start, I should mention that I was only able to get through less than half of the first season of The Orville before I gave up. There is basically two major problems I have with The...

    Before I start, I should mention that I was only able to get through less than half of the first season of The Orville before I gave up.

    There is basically two major problems I have with The Orville. Number one is the humor; it's sophomoric and almost always misses the mark.

    But by far the largest problem I have with it is that the writing, overall, isn't 'smart' like most Star Trek writing has been. It never seems to want to explore any ideas or talk about philosophical issues. The episode that made me realize the show would never be the Star Trek meta-sequel I wanted was the third one, called "About a Girl", which has so many issues that I honestly don't know where I should even begin.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Thrabalen
      Link Parent
      Honestly, about the halfway part of the first season is when it stopped being Family Guy Trek and grew the beard.

      Honestly, about the halfway part of the first season is when it stopped being Family Guy Trek and grew the beard.

      5 votes
      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        Hah. Might give it another chance then.

        Hah. Might give it another chance then.

        1 vote
    2. Kraetos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      "About a Girl" has a season two follow up and it's equally odd. The Moclans are obviously built into this world to be a social issue plot ticket (and at one point Mercer basically breaks the...

      "About a Girl" has a season two follow up and it's equally odd. The Moclans are obviously built into this world to be a social issue plot ticket (and at one point Mercer basically breaks the fourth wall to tell the audience this), but their culture is just so contrived that the episodes about them are confusing and problematic.

      But I will say that @Thrabalen is right, the "Fart Jokes in Space" conceit gets dropped... not quite by the end of season 1, but certainly by mid-season 2. The humor is actually reasonably well done once it finds its groove.

      isn't 'smart' like most Star Trek writing has been

      I didn't mention this in the OP because it was already on the lengthy side, but The Orville never gets better at this. It's not just that they take old Trek plots and rehash them, it's that the morality tale usually gets muddled in the remix. In a comment below you said you might give it another chance, so stop reading now if you don't want to be spoiled...

      "Blood of Patriots," as I mentioned in the OP, is a "The Wounded" remake. Malloy plays the part of O'Brien in this one, and Maxwell is swapped for a Union Lieutenant named Channing who was a Krill POW. (The Krill, in this case, serving as a stand in for the Cardassians.)

      So they find Channing and yadda yadda yadda, he's a big 'ol bigot who hates Krill. This is a problem, because the Union has managed to finally get the Krill to the negotiating table for preliminary peace talks. With Malloy's help he steals a shuttle and decides to go blow up some Krill ships. Malloy has a change of heart halfway through the operation, Malloy abandons the shuttle, and Channing dies when the shuttle goes boom.

      On the surface, it's "The Wounded." But these changes gut the moral of the story:

      • Channing is just a lieutenant, not in command of anything, not really expected to be an arbiter of Union morality in the field like command rank officers are. Maxwell is a captain. It was unfathomable that a Starfleet captain would just go rogue like Maxwell did. That was the point.
      • Maxwell's family died at the hands of the Cardassians, and Channing was given the same setup. But Maxwell himself wasn't captured and tortured like Channing was, so right off the bat we know that Channing is probably unstable. There's no slow reveal like there was with Maxwell.
      • Malloy doesn't harbor any deep animosity for the Krill the way O'Brien does for the Cardassians. Malloy had no real personal journey to undertake here, like O'Brien did. The only thing hindering Malloy from making a sound assessment of the situation was that Channing was his academy Union Point buddy. Instead of watching O'Brien struggle to overcome his animosity, we saw Mercer and Malloy get in a fight about whether they were still "best friends." Yawn.
      • And in spite of that, Malloy still can't talk Channing back from the ledge. They get in fistfight and Malloy abandons the shuttle, and then Channing's homemade bomb goes off in his face. We swapped old war songs for a fistfight.
      • Lastly, there's no "we'll be watching" moment with the Krill at the end of the episode. Mercer gets a big 'ol pat on the back for doing the trivially right thing. No ambiguity about whether Channing was right, no question about whether Mercer made the right call while sitting on the doorstep of a neighboring power with ambiguous intentions. Channing was a bigot, and now he's dead, so lets all go get some frosty chocolate milkshakes.

      In place of all this nuance we got some technobabble about how Channing's fellow POW's blood can turn what is essentially drive exhaust into an explosive. The tension driving the episode was the question of how Channing was able to make these potent bombs which he was using to blow up Krill ships, rather than any moral conundrums about how war is hell and you need to keep your friends close and enemies closer.

      Most of the time it just feels like it's going through the motions. It's not bad, per say, but it's pretty vapid.

      2 votes
  4. [2]
    moocow1452
    Link
    Orville feels like off brand Star Trek, which is great when I just want to recapture that feeling of watching a cast of characters go to a planet and solve a problem in 44 minutes. I don't care...

    Orville feels like off brand Star Trek, which is great when I just want to recapture that feeling of watching a cast of characters go to a planet and solve a problem in 44 minutes. I don't care how long it's been in the fridge and what it does to my thighs because Orville is comfort food and a lot of people want that feeling from Star Trek.

    Discovery otoh is on it's own service which irks me enough to not keep up to date with it, was intended as a prequel that explored a time before the original series, in a franchise that prides itself on "exploring strange new worlds" and going "where no one has gone before." I know that it's going to change things up next year, but it ties to my most important point for me, Star Trek: Discovery is not a space procedural.

    It sounds really petty, but maybe a lot of people who are super into Star Trek just really appreciate the formula that the Orville duplicated, and when something comes in with Star Trek assets and names, but with Battlestar Galactica mechanics, they're willing to jump ship to the cheap knockoff. I know I was, and I agree with MacFarlane being the weakest link on his own show, and with Orville cribbing all it's notes from Star Trek. But it captures how I felt watching Star Trek, to be watching these characters on the bridge, and finding themselves on weird adventures, and it's mindless low stakes fun that television doesn't have a lot of anymore. That's why I like the Orville.

    3 votes
    1. Kraetos
      Link Parent
      That's a good point. If the goal is to serve up comfort food, it doesn't really matter that the stories are rehashes. Changing the formula too much would defeat the purpose.

      That's a good point. If the goal is to serve up comfort food, it doesn't really matter that the stories are rehashes. Changing the formula too much would defeat the purpose.

      3 votes
  5. [4]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I found the pilot unfunny. Seth MacFarlane should take a break from comedy. He used to be great but ran out of jokes. It happens, there's no shame in it. Jordan Peele did that, and the result was...

    I found the pilot unfunny. Seth MacFarlane should take a break from comedy. He used to be great but ran out of jokes. It happens, there's no shame in it. Jordan Peele did that, and the result was Get Out.

    I also have a huge Star Trek backlog, which includes the totality of Deep Space Nine, and most of Voyager and The Next Generation. That's more than enough for my current Trekk diet.

    And can’t stand Discovery. There's not much "discovering" and experimentation in it. It feels like generic action sci-fi with a Star Trek skin.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Amarok
      Link Parent
      Discovery is also in the midst of lawsuits thanks to Bad Robot's habit of stealing everything they can get their hands on. The judge moved it into discovery, refused to throw it out, so Anas Abdin...

      Discovery is also in the midst of lawsuits thanks to Bad Robot's habit of stealing everything they can get their hands on. The judge moved it into discovery, refused to throw it out, so Anas Abdin will get his chance to prove they lifted half the characters and the tardigrades from his games.

      The show is dead, it'll never make it to season 3 at this point.

      3 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        Huh... but if they're stealing stuff anyway, couldn't they at least something better? Like, for example, interesting stories? Come on!

        Huh... but if they're stealing stuff anyway, couldn't they at least something better? Like, for example, interesting stories? Come on!

    2. Spel
      Link Parent
      If you think that he should take a break from comedy, have you watched the second season?

      If you think that he should take a break from comedy, have you watched the second season?

      3 votes
  6. Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    I'll preface this by saying I'm only halfway through the first season of 'The Orville' so far. I like 'The Orville', but I don't think it's excellent. Sure, it's an absolute rip-off of Star Trek's...

    I'll preface this by saying I'm only halfway through the first season of 'The Orville' so far.

    I like 'The Orville', but I don't think it's excellent. Sure, it's an absolute rip-off of Star Trek's 'The Next Generation', but that means I like it (because I love TNG). Some of the fratboy humour is misplaced, but the series doesn't lean heavily on that humour (and I've read that this aspect of the show reduces over time). So far, I'm finding 'The Orville' to be enjoyable viewing. It's not the best science fiction series ever, but it is far from the worst. It's above the middle of the pack in my opinion.

    You say you can't relate to the captain or his first officer. For my taste, I want the two guys at the front of the bridge to just vanish (I can't even remember their names or roles: to me, they're just the annoying redhead fratboy and his black sidekick). They're the main focus of the fratboy humour, and I hate every minute they're on screen. I agree that Penny Johnson is a delight. I also enjoy any screen time given to security officer Alara and to Bortas.

    On the other hand, 'Discovery' is just wrong. That first season was abominable. It might have been acceptable if it was released as a separate series, but to try to pretend that was a 'Star Trek' series was just an insult to the franchise and its fans. The second season was an improvement but, as they say, when you're at rock bottom, the only way is up.

    The resolution of the second season made me feel like this season was just 14 episodes of the writers trying to obliterate the first season and tell us viewers "nothing to see here". I almost felt like the fans of 'Dallas' after the writers wiped out the whole ninth season as a dream. However, the big difference here is that I'm happy the writers of 'Discovery' tried to wipe out the memory of Season 1. I'm just disappointed they had to waste a whole other season on doing so. In effect, they've wasted two seasons of this show: first, by making something abominable; second, by explaining away the abomination.

    2 votes
  7. Sahasrahla
    Link
    Orville I like it and it has the same qualities that made me like Star Trek. At its heart is a hopeful message about the future that we can be better than we are now and its storytelling is often...

    Orville

    I like it and it has the same qualities that made me like Star Trek. At its heart is a hopeful message about the future that we can be better than we are now and its storytelling is often focused on ideas. It's the only modern, optimistic sci-fi on television that I can think of. The humour got better after the first couple episodes, and especially after the first season, and while I don't like the marriage/divorce plot line it's not as overwhelming as it was in the beginning. (It does feature in the alternate-timeline season finale, but more as a butterfly-effect kind of thing that leads to Dr Finn and her kids becoming close to Isaac.)

    Whether it's an off-brand Trek without original ideas or a spiritual successor that carries on where '90s era Trek left off is down to taste, I think. As I get older and read/watch more and think more about writing I've become a lot less worried about originality. Any idea has its antecedent and inspiration and I appreciate new takes on old stories. I loved A Happy Refrain for instance and it didn't bother me that previously Data had a girlfriend for an episode of TNG, or that human/AI relationships have been explored endlessly in sci-fi in general).

    I'm very impressed by The Orville and I'm happy to consider it Star Trek in all but name.


    Discovery

    I was really hopeful about this one. It was the first new Trek on TV in years I wanted to see what Star Trek could be with modern storytelling methods and modern effects that wouldn't constrain the writing as much. So far I've been disappointed, though. It feels like a generic space adventure show with really good production values. The parts of Trek it kept (references to canon, old characters, the tech, the branding) weren't really the parts I cared about and I feel like it left out the parts I did care about (optimistic and hopeful view of the future, thought provoking stories). Discovery feels more like a "shut off your brain and enjoy the action" kind of show. There were some good episodes along the way but for most of the show I feel like I enjoy it less the more I think about it.

    Michael Burnham

    Worth addressing this character as a separate point since she's so controversial. The writers want her to be the main character but this role doesn't feel like it comes naturally from the story. This leads to her being shoe-horned into roles and situations that don't make sense for her character. She is the centre of events for first a major war and then a fight for all life in the galaxy; she is often the one having the key idea or breakthrough despite others being more experienced, and she is able to help and be involved in all aspects of any plan; she often makes the final decision, even if others around her are her superiors or more specialized in the task at hand; she can easily get others to follow her; she is the key figure in the personal lives of many of those around her; most situations that develop she has a reason to be in the middle of the action and leading the way; she has no clear defined role in the crew, and is instead just absurdly good at anything she does.

    This leads to people calling her a Mary Sue but I think a better comparison would be to the protagonist of a video game. Consider Commander Shepard from Mass Effect: she is at the centre of major interstellar events, she is good at everything she does, she is very involved in the personal lives of everyone around her, she makes the final decision for anything important, she is witness to most key events in a galaxy-wide story line. Despite all this, however, people love Shepard as a character and consider her one of the best parts of the story of Mass Effect. The main difference is that being good at everything and involved in everything and making decisions about everything are all necessary for a video game character. She's how we see and experience the story and her being unreasonably talented and making all the important decisions are key aspects of the game play. It's a necessity of the medium and people are willing to suspend disbelief.

    For Michael Burnham though there's not really any story reason for her to fill all those roles except that the writers decided that was how it would be. What's necessary in one medium feels forced in another. A show can work with a single main character, and I think it's definitely possible that a Star Trek show could work as a single-character rather than an ensemble focus, but they've failed with that in Discovery.

    2 votes
  8. Ellimist
    Link
    I guess I'm the weird one here. I actually greatly enjoy both The Orville and Star Trek Discovery, although, in full disclosure, I haven't seen but a handful of episodes from TNG and Voyager and...

    I guess I'm the weird one here. I actually greatly enjoy both The Orville and Star Trek Discovery, although, in full disclosure, I haven't seen but a handful of episodes from TNG and Voyager and have only seen the latest Abrams films. So I certainly don't have any Trek background to really compare. Watching everything from Enterprise to DS9 is on my agenda though.

    My best friend is a massive Trek fan, though, having seen every episode of every show, every movie, books, even has a high quality, hand made bat'leth replica on his wall. And he, for most part, loves Orville and thinks Disco is quite good, more so the second season over the first.

    He thinks Orville is just Star Trek as done by Seth McFarlane and Disco is more Star Wars than Trek but it's getting closer. I'm eager to see what the third season of both shows have in store.

    1 vote
  9. Removed by admin: 2 comments by 2 users
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