This show has been an interesting one when looking at its reception. Critics slated it, yet fans loved it, creating one of the most fascinating disparities between two selective audience groups. The Orville is Seth MacFarlane’s own take on Star Trek without being an official Star Trek, and what we have here is a charming and exciting series that harkens back to the franchise’s early years, combining elements from the original series and The Next Generation. It’s not a spoof at all, but a sci-fi adventure series with comedic elements sprinkled throughout, and in many ways, the show is kind of wonderful as a result.
While the humour can be hit-or-miss, this helps to make this show feel distinctive on its own merit. Others have dismissed the humour outright, claiming it got in the way of the dramatic heart or that it cheapened the show as a result, but that is a criticism that is ultimately unfair. Humour can be needed in tense, dramatic situations otherwise the whole drama is bogged down in angst and depression, plus it makes the serious moments all the more serious. This series tackles important themes and topics that are relevant and elevates this series beyond being just a conventional sci-fi series, such as race, war, gender reassignment, politics, media, faith, and so on. The writers address these themes, issues and moral dilemmas in a mature way, while still allowing time for levity and happiness, even when our central characters are thrown into perilous situations.
The production value is top-notch for this kind of TV show; everything from the makeup, set design, practical and special effects all expertly well-handled, and the musical score makes it all feel grand and adventurous. The characters have personalities and proper development, making each and every one of them enjoyable to be around, which is helped enormously by its ensemble cast. Seth MacFarlane delivers his best performance to date, bringing real nuance to every scene, and Adrianne Palicki also does a commendable job of bringing genuine likeability to a seemingly unlikeable character at first and maintaining that compassion all the way through. The rest of the cast, including the likes of Halston Sage, Mark Jackson, Penny Johnson Jerald and Peter Macon, all complement each other brilliantly and makes each of their characters shine.
The Orville is a highly underrated show that combines humour, sci-fi and adventure all together to create something that is truly special. The characters are great, the stories are gripping, and the production values are of good quality. This brings back the heart and soul that was found in the best of Star Trek, and with a second season right around the corner, now is the time to check this show out.
Dir: Jon Favreau, Robert Duncan McNeill, Brannon Braga, James L. Conway, Jonathan Frakes, Jon Cassar, Tucker Gates, Jamie Babbit, Kelly Cronin
Scr: Seth MacFarlane, David A. Goodman, Brannon Braga, André Bormanis, Liz Heldens, Cherry Chevapravatdumrong
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, Mark Jackson
Music: Bruce Broughton, Joel McNeely, John Debney, Andrew Cottee
Number of Episodes: 12
Episode Run time: 42 mins
The Orville: Season 1 is out now on DVD