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The Orville - hang on, its actually good!

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I wonder if this was originally pitched as a film (you can kind of see it working more that way) but it probably would have required a pretty hefty budget to look half decent, certainly more than the $40-50m budgets Ted and A Million Ways To Die In The West had (and although Ted did good returns, A Million Ways to Die.. not quite so much). 

 

Except to stretch a Seth MacFarlane starring program over 20 or so hours is really asking too much. I think he worked well with Ted, but A Million Ways to Die in the West was excruciating to watch and showed he's just not a leading actor. 20 hours of A Million Ways to Die In the West, but in space....

 

 

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15 minutes in and I can't figure out what it's supposed to be, there are jokes but it takes me a second to realise they just dropped one in there mainly because the tone is totally off for comedy. The silly slapstick of Macfarlane ruins any other sort of set up, it's all over the place. 

 

It's like they gave Macfarlane a reject Star Trek script and asked him to put his spin on it and it came out shit. 

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Remember that UK sci-fi sitcom with Nick Frost, Miranda, Johnson from Peep Show and The Actor Kevin Eldon in it?

 

Is it as bad as that?

 

(Hyperdrive - could have been great but everyone bar Kevin Eldon was cast in the wrong role)

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So this was fucking dire.

 

I understand the impulse - I remember watching the various TNG-era Trek shows when I was younger and imagining that I - or a super cool version of me, anyway - would somehow appear on the show and crack jokes and make everyone chill out a little. It was a stupid Mary Sue-esque fantasy of course, but it was also drawn out of a desire to see people acting naturally in an otherwise outlandish sci-if show. Obviously McFarlane (along with plenty of other people) had the same idea.

 

So how is The Orville as an interpersonal drama/comedy? The answer is: fucking terrible. Somehow they actually managed to have dialogue more stilted than in early TNG, a show that was specifically intended to be filled with unrealistic post-conflict paragon weirdos. It has some of the clunkiest exposition I have ever seen on film or TV. Every character other than the two forehead aliens are extremely unlikeable. The two forehead aliens are instead just boring. The point of a wacky "says inappropriate things" character is the responses he illicit from other characters - but no other characters are either upset by him or enjoy his quips. We're told the robot is a racist, and the he fails to say anything racist, or refute being racist either. It seems insane that the ex-wife would believe that forcing her way onto her ex's crew would be acceptable in any way, or even helpful.

 

I think there's something uniquely self-centred about producing a show with yourself as the main character and making yourself unambiguously wronged by a beautiful woman who still thinks you're wonderful and clearly wants to get back together. And it goes without saying that almost every single joke fell completely flat, one was maybe OK.

 

But of course The Orville isn't just meant to be a dramedy - it's a new frontier in utopian sci-fi! But is it? McFarlane talked a good utopian game in the pre-show publicity but there's not a hint of it in the pilot. New York at the start looked nice and clean, and I suppose the mere fact that humanity exists in the far future and has spaceships could be considered utopian but that's it. There's nothing about society, or "The Union's" mission.

 

Instead, The Orville hopes it will communicate these ideas simply by looking like Star Trek. But it doesn't understand Trek at all. There's no real sci-fi concept in The Orville. There's nothing about humanity's place in the universe, or what it should be. It's just a glowy grey bulbous spaceship, primary colour uniforms and beige corridors (and somehow it looks worse than a show made in 1987). TNG and its sister shows had a unique aesthetic because they wanted to communicate something about what a utopian quasi-military life might be like. The Orville has a similar aesthetic because it wants to look like Star Trek. Even when TNG fucked up, their antagonist aliens still had a concept and an idea of a culture (like the Ferengi). In the Orville the Krill appear to just be cartoon evil aliens.

 

In fact, it just seems like there's a huge missed opportunity here - if you want to make Star Trek, make Star Trek. If you can't, take the opportunity to rethink what utopian sci-fi can be. The foundations of Trek are dated in a lot of ways. You could make something with more realistic ideas about how AI might work. Deal with issues of finding purpose in a post-scarcity world that might be relevant sooner than many think. Maybe take inspiration from Iain M. Bank's The Culture. But there's not a single new idea here. Just making TNG again.

 

Compare this pilot to Encounter at Farpoint. For all its many, many flaws, Encounter is about broadening your mind to comprehend ideas you had never considered. The pilot of The Orville was about "Star Trek, but with drama and jokes". It failed at all of them.

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I enjoyed this. It's off-brand Star Trek with a crew of unremarkable people rather than the extraordinary, which seems like a reasonable premise.

 

I'm kind of baffled by the sheer amount of ire this has brought. Some of the lines and jokes are a bit stilted, MacFarlane isn't a good actor and it's a copy of something that hasn't been on TV in a decade (or done successfully for even longer), but none of these are show-breaking problems and it's only the first episode.

 

As a facsimile of Star Trek, give me this over the recent Star Trek films any day.

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Everything is better with Jeffrey Tambor. I'm quite enjoying it really, it's nowhere near what a Galaxy Quest TV series could have been but it's the best we've got so I'll take it.

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2 hours ago, Tetchy said:

Everything is better with Jeffrey Tambor. I'm quite enjoying it really, it's nowhere near what a Galaxy Quest TV series could have been but it's the best we've got so I'll take it.

 

One is on the way at Amazon

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Yeah, but honestly without Allen bouncing off of Rickman it's not going to match up to the excellence of the film. The Orville has some great potential and personally I hope it succeeds alongside the more serious nature of scifi which ST:D is likely to be bringing.

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I enjoyed the first episode. It's completely stupid but it's in space and you can almost rattle off the TNG episodes each scene is lifted from. Proper laughed out loud a couple of times, so that's good.

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I dunno.. compare Chain of Command with Picard refusing to take off his uniform and.. Seth MacFarlane slipping into a bathrobe at the first opportuniy :lol: Not exactly hero material for a Captain. I get it but... just doesn't gel at the moment.

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It's a weird mix to be honest. Seems quite serious until the comedy is introduced. 

 

I'll keep watching it I expect.

 

Also what was the deal with the weed brownie is ep2?  Seemed like it was a set up which never happened. 

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just watched the 3rd episode (its out there on the high seas) and again it really is uneven - a pretty decent idea for a story let down by some flat jokes - its frustrating as there is the making of a good show here if they would just get the balance right with humour that matched the dramatic tones (something like firefly the way it balanced humour and drama) 

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3 hours ago, papalasarou said:

just watched the 3rd episode (its out there on the high seas)

 

It's not leaked or anything, the show's moved to Thursday, probably to avoid competing with the new Star Trek.

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2 was better, 3 was really unexpectedly heavy, especially for Fox. Felt like something more likely to be on ABC, aside from all the "you're a dick" lines.

 

I think I like it, they just need drier humour, rather than it being a bit forced. I had a proper laugh out loud at the Destiny's Child bit.

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3 felt like a bona fide TNG episode but with a different cast obviously. Not just the idea/story but also the pacing which was glacial compared to modern TV. It reminded me of Measure of a Man in terms of how it was structured as well. I assume it wasn't an accident

 

However not sure of long term prospects for the series if they are planning to mirror TNG style and pacing but add in "forced" humour. I don't like the "forced" bit as technically it isn't it just seems incongruous as we aren't used to TNG type characters acting this way.

 

 

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I really don't know what to make of this show, I went in thinking it was an outright ST parody, but it's actually trying to take itself seriously :o

 

Its left me rather confused as to whether or not to stick with it.

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