In 2017 Seth McFarlane brought us The Orville, at that same time Star Trek: Discovery came out. Funny thing was (and still is), is that Star Trek fans found The Orville to be more like the Star Trek they loved all these years than Discovery, myself included. Granted, at first The Orville seems to be a comedy in space and to be fair, I just started season two, this has been the case most of the first season and even at the beginning of season two. Still over the course of the first season you gradually saw a shift to also a bit more serious stories, more of a mix than just comic relief.
It does have the Star Trek feel, all the way, if you don’t see that, well, then you never have watched Star Trek: The Next Generation because this show has been its (The Orville) inspiration. What is different about The Orville is that the command is less military like, Picard would have gone nuts had he been the captain of The Orville with types like Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) and John LaMarr (J. Lee). 😊
Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) is the captain, and he himself is very surprised when he gets the command of the Orville. He got in a slump after he found his wife cheating on him. In fact, we learn that his now ex-wife Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), is responsible for getting him this gig. He gets to take his friend, a great pilot, perhaps the best in the fleet, to join him because he too did not expect to ever serve on a starship again as a pilot. The ship doctor, Dr. Clair Finn, played by Penny Johnson Jerald, my god, how is she still so beautiful! Of course, she is a Star Trek veteran, playing Kasidy Yates on Star Trek: DS9 although she was there apparently only for 15 episodes according to IMdB! The doctor is a single mother having 2 young sons. John LaMar is the navigator in season one, and to be honest he does not seem to be the smartest person around, which will be more explained towards the end of the season. Note – I was not convinced by that storyline, I think they just thought it would be cool having him being the new chief engineer!
Bortus (Peter Macon), an alien on the bridge of the Orville, coming from Moclus. Moclus is a member of the union. As a Star Trek fan, you just know he is based on the Star Trek: The Next Generation character Worf. In the first episodes the audience is meant to believe he comes from a society of males only! Bortus lives on the Orville with his mate Klyden (Chad L. Coleman). Lt. Alara Kitan (Halston Sage) is chief of security, she is only 23 years old, but she is as strong as on ox, Due to the high gravity of her homeworld, Xelaya, Alara possessed incredible strength and endurance, making her one of the most effective Security Officers aboard the ship. Isaac (Mark Jackson) is an artificial lifeform, from the planet Kaylon 1, an emissary to Planetary Union and Science. He may as well be the Chief Science Officer on board the Orville. Isaac is not a member of the union.
Ed Mercer finally gets a command but as he later in the season will learn, he did not earn this on his own. On top of that, his first officer, is his ex-wife! He goes ballistic and at first wants her gone as fast as possible. An easy delivery run turns out into a fight with the Krill. Because the scientist to who they should deliver supplies has actually invented a time-travel device. But the Krill have also learned of this new discovery. At the end of this episode Ed decides he wants Kelly to keep on as first officer. And in the final moment we see that Ed did not really earn the captain’s seat on the Orville by himself.
Episode two, “Command Performance” is a very exciting episode! When Mercer and Grayson are being kidnapped, Kitan is left in charge, and she is overwhelmed. Normally Bortus would be the interim commander, but he is sitting on an egg! When she gets an order not to rescue the captain and the 1st officer, her crew does not agree. Meanwhile Mercer and Grayson are stuck in a Calivon Zoo! Gradually Kitan begins to realize her crew is morally right!
The 3rd episode, “About a Girl” is a heavy episode, an emotional episode, still it manages to be light a few times! Boris has hatched a child, but they are in for a surprise, it is a girl and girls are not allowed, are being denied on Moclus. Apparently, there are more women on Moclus. But Klyden wants the operation done, to turn her into him. In a trial it is to be decided who is “right”. Note – Very good episode, it shows The Orville can also tell serious stories and still have lighter moments.
The 4th episode “If the Stars Should Appear” is also a very entertaining episode, so far, The Orville fares better in its first season than all 4 modern Star Trek shows from 1987-2001. The Orville encounters a very old Bio ship. It is adrift and if without interference it would fly into the sun within six months. On this ship however nobody is aware they are on a ship and there is a dictatorship happening. There is also a faction called “reformers” who think there is more then only their own ecosystem. Note - Very interesting story with some interesting guest stars. James Morrison (SAAB) and Liam Neeson as Jahavus Dorahl who was the ship’s captain – Another great episode, there is some comedy but overall a good story with serious overtones.
The quality stays high with next episode “Pria”, a title role for Charlize Theron! The Orville responds to a distress call, it is a woman called Pria. Everything seems to be on the up and up, but Kelly has suspicions about her while Ed slowly is falling in love with her and refuses to believe his first officer who turns out to be right of course. Pria is from the 29th century, travelled back because the Orville and its crew was about to be destroyed, and the Orville is a nice collectable in the 29th Century. Note – Charlize Theron is Pria – Somehow Seth McFarlane is very persuasive with the all the various actors he got to get on his show!
The best episode of the season in my opinion is “Krill” where Ed Mercer and Gordon Malloy go undercover on a Krill ship after they were in a fight with a Krill ship which got destroyed, but a Krill shuttle comes out undamaged. Their assignment is to find more info about their bible, the Anhkana because everything the Krill do, is based on that book. They make a friend there, a teacher, Teleya who lost a brother in that fight between that Krill ship and the Orville. When Mercer and Malloy find out Krill is about to destroy a helpless world where 100.000 farmers live, they come up with a plan to prevent that. In doing that, they make an enemy of Teleya. Note – Again the Orville manages to combine humor in a serious story, really amazed how they stay on that thin line!
“Majority Rule” is an episode I really did not like much, what happens: Away team with John LaMar, goes to a planet where two anthropologist, who were checking out this world, go missing. They had some contact before with the Union, but it’s been silent for quite some time. The planet’s democracy is based on the majority rule and John LaMar, who is been warned to be inconspicuously, dry hums a statue of great importance. Note – A lot is wrong with this episode: First, if the anthropologists had made contact with the Union, there first observation would have been those badges, how their democracy works – The captain sends someone like LaMar with the away team while he tells the general he knows he can be impulsive, knowing this and still send him with the away team to a planet where you need to remain inconspicuously. Last one, even after he has been caught, even how stupid the rules are, he still manages to be a total dick, even in the last moments of the episode, he offenses the guards who just release him. In general, a very annoying episode to watch!
“Into the Fold” – a standard story every SCI-FI show has a story like this, apparently this is mandatory or something. Claire goes on a holiday with her kids, Isaac being the designated driver. They crash on a moon while Claire is separated from their kids and Isaac is stuck with two annoying young brats. Note – Okay episode, standard sci-fi story, nothing too exceptional, those kids are truly annoying!
In “Cupid’s Dagger” we meet Darulio (Rob Lowe) again, the alien with whom Kelly cheated with on Ed. It gets a bit silly when Ed also falls in love with Darulio because of some pheromones he sheds, some might find it funny, I found it annoying. Note – if you are watching this pure comedic, I guess it can be a fine episode but when you want a bit more serious sci-fi, you will just be annoyed most of the episode, at least that was how I felt about it. A fun moment at the beginning when Bortus wants to sing a song at karaoke, when Gordon is applauding and yelling, Bortus yells: Silence! Another fun quote: Isaac: Has the Captain entered Mr. Darulio in some fashion? Lt. Gordon Malloy: Not yet.
“Firestorm” is an episode a bit more to my liking, Alara freezes in engineering while trying to help a colleague, she sees fire and for a moment she cannot act. She even asks Mercer for her resignation, but Captain Mercer does not accept. All the things that happen after, seem too absurd to be real! A rather interesting ending to this episode, one might not expect.
“New Dimensions” is another okay episode. Mercer finds out that he had some help getting his command which makes him very insecure. Kelly finds out that LaMarr is actually very intelligent, indeed you would not think so after having seen the first 10 episodes. Kelly wants LaMarr to step up, which he ultimately does, Mercer makes LaMarr the new chief engineer after former Chief Engineer Steve Newton leaves the ship. Note – Okay episode, some nice humor. All through the season you realize it is a bit more of a comedy show but I am glad this will change in season two. Still, I love the humor, so it has to stay.
The season finale “Mad Idolatry” is another okay, not fantastic episode. Ed wants to get back with Kelly and at first, she seems to feel the same way. Kelly and a team discover a planet that appears suddenly and is around for 11 days, when it disappears it takes 700 years, but for Orville crew it is 11 days. Kelly makes contact., helps a girl and when 700 years have passed, Kelly is revered. Ed leaves this out of his report to protect her. She tries to undo what she did on the planet, but it doesn’t work out the way she hoped. Isaac volunteers to stay 700 years on that planet because for him time is irrelevant. After 11 days for the crew, 700 years for Isaac, he returns with unexpected results. Kelly also tells Ed they cannot try again because she is his first officer and for obvious reasons this would be wrong. Note, okay episode, although it happens because Kelly does something inappropriate. Not only helping the girl but going there on her own against Isaac’s warnings. Directed by Brannon Braga.
Overall, a good season, for me, some hits, and some misses but enjoyable, especially knowing that season two will be much better, anyway that is my opinion. So, the best is yet to come. It really feels more like Star Trek than does Discovery to me, but as I said, perhaps a bit too much comedy for my taste. It amazes me how Seth McFarlane is able to get these big stars to come in to do guest spots! But not only big stars, also seasoned TV actors like Robert Picardo, Ted Danson, Jason Alexander and many more who come by as a guest star or even just do a cameo! Really makes it more fun that way to watch The Orville. I might be a bit harsh here and there, but it is because I love the show, not because I want to bash it or something. Can’t wait for seasons two and three!
Screencaps taken from: TheTVShows.us