After two seasons of interesting but mostly humorous episodes The Orville took a long hiatus, left Fox and showed up on HULU as what can only be called an improved show with a soft self-reboot.
Having binged through the first five episodes of The Orville’s third season and it’s taken me on a good Star Trek-like adventure every time. The humor has been all but eliminated, but when they decide to be funny the jokes land.
The Orville was already a decent show, but during its long hiatus Star Trek Discovery and the other NuTrek shows all imploded, badly. This included what the hack writers at Secret Hideout promised wouldn’t be a dark, cynical show like all their others; Strange New Worlds. In fact Strange New Worlds is their darkest, most cynical show ever. It lacks any self awareness and is mostly a tasteless mess that has fans balking.
It seems in The Orville’s Writers room a decision was made – fill the void and entertain all the old Star Trek fans NuTrek rejected and left behind. And Why not? The incomprehensible stupidity and blatantly contrived story lines of the Kurtzman-Trek projects have sullied the once great Star Trek name. The millions of rebelling Legacy Trek fans are ripe for the taking.
The NuTrek Social Media approach- “Demonize All Critics” helped prime the pumps for any decent Sci-fi show. The Expanse gained popularity along with other shows while Star Trek continued to fade but was too legally dug in to be cancelled.
The Orville has answered the bell with gusto this season and is making a very serious bid to entertain and recruit fans of Old Star Trek. They added “New Horizons” to the title, really invested a lot of money and have made legacy Star Trek fans reconsider their show. Most, myself included, applaud this.
Their ships are now as beautiful to behold as any classic Star Trek ship, with a design that looks more like Star Trek than any NuTrek ship. The Orville now feels like Star Trek and has leaned into established Original Star Trek and Next Generation’s themes. This crew really wants to explore and does, regularly. They go to planets just to see what’s there, something NuTrek never does.
The Orville has an enthusiasm and optimism that is beyond refreshing. This is actually why I used to watch Star Trek. The awful, illegitimate new Star Trek avoids this kind of thoughtful enthusiasm like the plague. The Orville scratched an itch that’s been growing on me since 2005.
Every episode of The Orville New Horizons has been entertaining and most of them were of Next Generation quality.
The creature makeup is also now of a higher quality than NuTrek and Episode 2 really showed this off. The Orville was always better written, but now it has a pretty complete Star Trek feel.
When we see conflict there’s always a reason followed by resolution or growth for the characters. We also see people fail sometimes, which makes their triumphs all the more fulfilling. NuTrek wholly ignores this dynamic. Every big scene in The Orville is an ‘earned pay off’ because there’s cause and effect in all interactions. It’s in the bones of every story’s plot.
When we see space battles they are of a much higher quality than current Star Trek. The Orville mixes action, drama and sometimes humor together effortlessly.
The show is reliably coherent and easy to follow- all without the insulting cues, shame, shade and pandering political head pats NuTrek thrives on. I felt respected as an audience member of this show, even if there is controversy about one episode.
While the show still has comic beats there’s stakes that are realistic and relatable, as are the characters. I felt more emotion for Issac the Kaylon android in episode 1 of season 3 than I ever have at any point watching NuTrek- and I had gone in seeing only a smattering of episodes. You don’t need to catch up, you can jump right in. The show’s aware its been gone for a while and gives everything a proper reintroduction.
The show is now working off Star Trek rules with only the thinnest euphemistic changes. It also looks great. There’s believable real sets, location shoots and well done CGI for exterior shots of the ship. The score is excellent and appropriate, though no one is Jerry Goldsmith, it’s close.
The uniforms and military protocol are logical and Star Trek-like in a way NuTrek never goes for.
The Orville’s version of the Federation, called The Planetary Union, has cool Federation-like ships and a unique design language. They have problems but are benevolent. They are not the sort of incompetent, de facto evil entity that the Federation is in bad NuTrek shows like Picard. The Planetary Union is the Federation we saw when it was at its best in The Next Generation.
The crew looks and acts more like a Starfleet crew than we’ve ever seen in NuTrek. While they often speak informally, they’re always conscious of their ranks and place in the chain of command. In other words- they seem military-like and come across as though they can handle a crisis. They know people die in space and grieve for them. Planetary Union Officers don’t break down and cry or insist on venting their feelings and opinions unsolicited, like in NuTrek. They act like Space-faring professionals with a sense of humor. They seem confident and up to any challenge.
This is nothing like the chaotic, undeclared ongoing mutinies that the crews of the Discovery and the new, fake Enterprise engage in. We know who is in charge of The Orville and so do they.
To me it seems that it’s actually The Orville thats the ‘25% different Star Trek show’ and NuTrek is merely Star Trek aesthetics thrown onto a bad soap opera in space.
NuTrek, in its every iteration, are absolutely inferior shows. Since that in itself says nothing; in so many words ‘The Orville is a GOOD show.’ That is not close to being true of any current so called Star Trek show.
The Orville’s stories have generally been for the whole family even if a character calls someone an asshole from time to time. The one so called woke episode was fine with me, but maybe not overly family friendly depending on your views. However, it also isn’t tasteless. So while we again see Seth McFarlane loves touchy subjects and walking a fine line, in this show he seems to have mostly taken a relatively light touch with things.
Essentially, the Union tries to stand up for what’s right and thrives on exploration. Its ships and captains are tough and ready for anything. Sound Familiar?
These people are simply more fun to watch saving just one crew member in a stand alone episode then it is to watch Tilly and friends on the Discovery reliably saving the universe season after season over ten boring, insipid episodes.
I also think the so-called woke episode, called “The Two Topa’s,” was actually on well visited ground from real Star Trek. No Star Trek show may have gone at it this directly, but it was still entertaining and not really cringe at all. It ‘came from a good place’ and ‘was well-intentioned,’ something NuTrek can not be accused of. There were also real consequences for the actions people take in the episode.
For those angry about that episode all I can say is ‘there’s real no implications going forward.’ You can skip that episode and simply note that Bortus is now a single father. I never felt it was a self important story. It was also somewhat self aware. It was a serious attempt at relevant storytelling, albeit imperfect that week. They earned a pass with what we’ve seen so far.
I theorize the backlash over “The Two Topa’s” was from Social Agenda Preaching Overload. People caught this very real malady watching NuTrek, which only focuses on what I can only call ‘their own bizarre identity politics hot takes’ while lacking any story.
The “Woke” episode at least attempts to be an analogy. Having the gender reassignment involve aliens and artificial life forms only was enough for me not to feel preached to.
This episode was correctly called out by Youtube podcast Film Threat for having no “B Plot” at all. This is valid and it’s a flaw in that episode. Had there been other things going on the episode would have been a lot more consumable for many. That said, I was still entertained and I cared about what would happen.
The cast are all pros who have grown in their roles and are giving solid, true to character performances. Seth MacFarlane is a good actor in this show. He is not channeling Kirk so much as inventing a new role where his character is aspiring to be a better commander. In Season Three’s first episode he even affects a grim, military attitude dealing with an insubordinate crew member quite believably.
Yes, The Orville is good, very good. It’s good TV and it’s good Star Trek. It’s working off a more Star Trek-like concept than Secret Hideouts bad NuTrek has ever bothered with.
I will be reviewing some episodes of this great show, but really, it falls outside my area- the Decline and Fall of The MCU and Star Wars under Disney. Disney’s shows and movies are so bad they beg for dissection. The Orville, on the other hand, has no real problems I can see. There’s not much for me to say except “Watch this Excellent Show!”
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