The Orville

The Orville is basically Star Trek with dirty jokes and lots of twentieth-century references thrown in. Lots of Star Trek alums make appearances both in front of and behind the camera. Because I’m a bit of a Star Trek completest, I felt compelled to watch it. I sometimes enjoyed it, but overall, I wasn’t that into it.

There’s an episode where the Orville crew come across twentieth-century artifacts, but they don’t know what cell phones or cigarettes are. Since the show is so full of twentieth-century references already (Dolly Parton is still a celebrity in this far-future space show), it doesn’t make sense for them to suddenly be so ignorant of the time period they’re all apparently obsessed with.

I did like that they don’t have a transporter. In the original Star Trek, the transporter was introduced for budgetary reasons, but it ended up causing issues. If you can make copies of people using the transporter, there’s no reason for any death to be permanent. Also, any time someone gets in trouble on a planet, they could just be beamed up. In order to correct for this, we usually get some arbitrary reason the transporter can’t be used to solve the problem. There’s interference on the planet or something. It’s nice The Orville doesn’t have to explain why they can’t use this problem-solving technology, because they simply don’t have it in the first place.

I felt like the characters in The Orville didn’t have much depth, which is also a problem with several Star Trek series. The captain’s main characteristic is the fact his wife cheated on him once and he’s still upset about it. They introduce a character in the third season whose main personality trait is she hates robots. There’s also a robot character like Data from Star Trek who obviously experiences emotion, but doesn’t think he does.

I didn’t keep track, but I feel like The Orville rarely passed the Bechdel Test. Whenever female characters talk to each other, they’re usually talking about their relationships with men.

There’s a shift in tone in the third season. Body part humor (as well as humor in general) is largely abandoned and instead the show doubles down on the relationship aspects. Episodes are typically over an hour and they also lean more into Star Wars territory with lots of ship battles and fight scenes.

If you like Star Trek, The Orville is worth checking out. I felt like the early seasons had too much body part humor and the third season spent too much time having characters talk about their feelings. Also, for some reason, there were several lengthy scenes of the crew smiling while Lieutenant Malloy played the guitar and sang. There were enjoyable bits, but with so many other shows to watch, I felt like The Orville wasn’t worth my time overall.

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