Star Trek: The Next Generation, but by the guy who gave us Family Guy, Ted, and American Dad. No, really, it's a masterpiece!
Science fiction Action-adventure Comedy-drama
43–45 minutes (season 1) 48 minutes (season 2)
September 10, 2017 – present
Fuzzy Door Productions Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Seth MacFarlane Adrianne Palicki Penny Johnson Jerald Scott Grimes Peter Macon Halston Sage J. Lee Mark Jackson Jessica Szohr
The Orville is a science-fiction drama/comedy TV series from Fox Television, and created by Seth MacFarlane. It is set in a utopian, Star-Trek-esque future where a organisation known as the Planetary Union has united many alien species under a unified, democratic government. MacFarlane stars as Captain Ed Mercer, a down-on-his-luck officer in the Union Fleet, who's career took a downwards turn following a divorce with his wife, Kelly Grayson (played by Adrianne Palicki). Given a second chance, Mercer takes command of the exploratory ship USS Orville, an "ordinary" vessel in the massive fleet. Hijinks ensure.
While the show has been given mixed reviews by critics, the audience reaction to the show has been overwhelmingly positive. Many trekkies disgruntled with the latest addition to the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek: Discovery, have proclaimed The Orville to be the spiritual successor to Star Trek, simular to how the movie Galaxy Quest- an affectionate parody/homage to Star Trek- is seen as a unofficial Star Trek movie. The show proved to be Fox's highest-rated TV show of Fall 2017, and has won the 2017 Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction TV Show. The show has even amassed a sizable fanbase worldwide, in a similar vein to how Star Trek gained a devoted following during the original run of Star Trek: The Original Series.
Why it is a masterpiece?
Brilliant writing, and likeable characters. Notable episodes include 'If the Stars Should Appear', 'Krill' , and 'Firestorm' from Season 1; and 'Identity Parts I & II','Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes', and 'Home' from Season 2. On the subject of the characters, Seth MacFarlane's Ed Mercer is a rather weak character, but is strongly backed up by a diverse ensemble cast; with Penny Johnson Jerald (a Star Trek alumni, who previously played Kassidy Yates from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as Dr. Claire Finn, Mark Jackson as Isaac, and Haleston Sage as Lt. Alara Kitan being notable standouts. There's also a large number of guest stars, including Robert Picardo as Ildis Kitan, Alara's father; Norm MacDonald as Yaphitt, a gelatinous engineering crewman; and Mike Henry as Lt. Dann, a alien crewmember.
The episodic nature of the show is refreshing in a TV climate overflowing with serialised shows. In addition, the show carries episodic continuity over from episode-to-episode, rather than hit a reset button at the end of an episode like many Star Trek shows had a tendency to do. For example, the temporal field generator seen in the pilot episode is later featured in the season 2 finale.
In addition, the episodes are varied and diverse in their subject matter, and- while having pretty left-leaning opinions- the show doesn't beat you round the head with them. Like classic, pre-Discovery Star Trek; The Orville uses sci-fi allegory to disguise the political commentary of its episodes; making for intelligent and creative entertainment. The show has featured episodes remarking on gender issues, racism, the dangers of social media, and other "sensitive" topics; but has managed to consistently avoid becoming overly preachy or one-sided in the process of discussion; while also managing to integrate the subject matter near-seamlessly into the story of the week.
The show is beautiful in its CGI design, with the standout moment being the amazing space battle from Identity Part II. In addition, the show goes against current trend, and uses physical models to provide shots of the ship's exterior. The only time you'll see a fully CG ship is when the nature of the scene doesn't permit a physical model to be used. Interestingly, the interior sets for the USS Orville actually recreate the top two decks of the ship, with a two-story soundstage. The various staircases in the interiors actually do travel between decks, which is near unheard of within the television set design sector.
The show's score is breathtaking. The composer is Bruce Broughton, who's opening score for the show is fantastic. Many of the themes used in the show are clearly inspired by classic themes from other sci-fi TV shows or movies. For example, one of the scores in 'If the Stars Should Appear' is very much inspired by the V'ger theme from Star Trek The Motion Picture; and this quality is kept consistent throughout the show.
The show is clearly inspired by Star Trek, but also pays homage to many other sci-fi shows. In 'Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes' the show references and pays homage to the movies Enemy Mine, Star Wars, and 'The King and I'. Individual plots are also clearly inspired by Star Trek, (for example, the Season 2 episode 'The Blood of Patriots' is clearly a homage to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode 'Past Prologue') which is not surprising, given than MacFarlane is a massive trekkie, and even starred in a episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.
The first season isn't well-received as it was criticized for it's weak writing and campiness of the dialogue.
There are many pop-culture references that can be considered out-of-place in the show. They include references to Bill Nye the Science guy and Dora the explorer.
Season 3, while a major improvement, had most of the show's humour toned down and its drama toned up. This caused some concern over its fans.