Seth MacFarlane is back and producing his eighth show for Fox, a space comedy in a galaxy far, far, away. MacFarlane has expressed his love for Star Trek in the past and says that the show was an inspiration for his new show, The Orville. MacFarlane is clearly a man of many talents and has produced many great animated comedies filled with song and dance numbers and cut-away scenes that are truly hilarious. MacFarlane also has several funny movies and even took a stab at hosting The Oscars, which was great in my opinion. I’ve been a fan of Family Guy for years now and I appreciate his style of comedy. I even enjoyed his 2014 western comedy, A Million Ways to Die in the West, even though it did not receive the kindest of words. My expectations for The Orville were somewhat high because of my enjoyment level for all things Seth MacFarlane but I still was a bit hesitant.
The Orville centers around Captain Mercer (MacFarlane) as he assembles the perfect crew for his new vessel, The Orville. Many people don’t believe in Ed Mercer as a captain because he regularly shows up to work drunk and doesn’t take his job too seriously. He’s had some struggles recently in his life after he found his wife in bed with a blue alien who he calls Papa Smurf. Mercer begins his journey as captain with the search for a First Officer, a position his ex-wife (Adrianne Palicki) volunteers to fill, which creates tension on the ship. Mercer and his crew are given the small task of delivering supplies to a nearby station but their mission turns into a nightmare when a species known as the Krill seeks to obtain a device from the space station.
The Orville looked promising with a great team behind the camera and visually appealing special effects, but this first episode turned out to be dull. The Orville’s main set resembles that of Star Trek‘s Enterprise bridge, a wide-open room where the main characters sit and perform their duties. Instead of spoofing Star Trek and poking fun at all things space like I expected, MacFarlane decided to create a show more like an homage to Star Trek. The structure for The Orville really doesn’t work because it tries to unsuccessfully balance comedy and drama. The show takes a long to time to introduce any jokes that are worthy of a laugh. There are several moments in the beginning where it felt as if the show was attempting a joke but never fully committed and gave up.
There are some characters that I found enjoyable and who have potential to be my favorites down the road. One is MacFarlane’s old friend and now member of The Orville, Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes). He creates a virtual reality system in the beginning of the show when we are introduced to him and he is battling a troll named Justin which I found to easily be best scene of the show.
Seth MacFarlane produces and stars in The Orville and he creates a character who isn’t pleasing to watch. There is really no depth for Mercer which is surprising because of his history with his crew. There’s a lot of material that could have been explored regarding MacFarlane’s character and his ex-wife. Not much detail goes into the characters besides their name and one or two previous encounters to create a backstory. This is just one of several times the writers got lazy in their attempt to provide a solid story to build upon.
The Orville has some great visuals which is surprising for a Sunday night prime time Fox show*. A lot of effort is put into the character designs and visuals of this universe set far in the future. The show borrows a lot of character and costume designs from Star Trek and even though it feels like it’s been done before, it’s still fun to watch.
The Orville started off very dull and the characters aren’t particularly exciting but it has the potential to be a fun show. Early previews of the rest of the season explore more of the universe the show has created which could be a fun ride. I hope The Orville picks up steam in future episodes and becomes more adventurous like MacFarlane has promised us.
*Editor’s note: The Orville will be moving to its regular Thursday time slot following Gotham beginning September 21.
What do you think of the premiere? Worth sticking around for or one-and-done? Sound off in the comments below!