The Orville is the new sci-fi action-comedy series created by Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad!).
Perhaps the cutaway scenes in Family Guy parodying old telly shows were the OxyContin prescribed to Seth MacFarlane after a shoulder surgery. They were his gateway drug. From there he moved on to metaphorically smoking heroin with entire episodes of Family Guy dedicated to parodying Star Wars. Now, having created an entire series parodying Star Trek, he has become a track-marked, STD-riddled, full-blown junkie who turns tricks on the street to support his habit and nightly passes out in alleys with a syringe still sticking out of his arm.
The Orville begins in the year 2418 in a very Futurama-esque city and centers around Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane), an officer in the Planetary Union. He returns home to find his wife in bed with another man. Well, not another man exactly, but some sort of humanoid creature who appears to be male. We then fast-forward one year into the future where we see Ed being offered a job as the captain of a spaceship in spite of his irresponsible behaviour over the past year stemming from the failure of his marriage.
After this point, the main characters, and the relationships between them are established through a very mundane series of events. The events are interspersed with brief comedic moments, most of which sadly fall flat on their face.
As we are introduced to the members of Captain Mercer’s crew we find out that one of them is a personality-free robot that needs to be taught how to be more humanlike. This show’s use of this ancient trope is quite ironic considering that most of The Orville’s non-robot characters seem to be essentially free of interesting personality traits as well.
Approximately two-thirds of the way into the show a decent action scene breaks out. It is a welcome break from the pathetic attempts at humor that unfortunately resume once the action ceases.
One of the few bright spots within this largely dull offering is Lt. Malloy, the ship’s pilot and good friend of Captain Mercer. The character is responsible for most of the very few genuinely funny lines of dialogue and thankfully actor Scott Grimes has the talent to deliver those lines competently.
I will admit that I was never much of a fan of any of the Star Trek series, any of the Battlestar Galactica series, or any other similar programming. For that reason, it is difficult for me to predict how fans of such programmes will respond to The Orville. However, I am a big fan of Seth MacFarlane’s films and his other telly shows. Family Guy fans who tune into The Orville expecting to see Family Guy-caliber comedy will likely have a reaction similar to that of passionate supporters of Hillary Clinton on the night of the US presidential election last year.
The special effects on The Orville might earn it an Emmy. But my advice to anyone looking to witness Seth MacFarlane satire entertainment that was part of his childhood would be to just rewatch the Star Wars episodes of Family Guy - and hope he soon creates new ones based on the new additions to the Star Wars anthology.
- Aired on FOX, December 14 2017 at 21:00.