The Orville is… nice. In a way, it’s like watching a highly polished Star Trek fan film and, in a way, that’s exactly what it is. You can tell that series creator and star, Seth McFarland, cares for the show, you can see his love of the various tropes that go into it; his love for the optimistic portrayal of the future that Star Trek represents is more then evident in this love letter to the old series.
The trouble is… this is a Star Trek fan film and it’s not a very interesting one. While attempting to pay homage to Star Trek, The Orville forgot to establish what it is.
I know what you’re thinking: It’s a spoof and, well… you’re kind of right, but The Orville isn’t that much of a spoof. It comes off as a sarcastic show that wants to be serious science fiction… kind of like how Buffy the Vampire Slayer seemed shallow and stupid, but was actually thoughtful and witty… now, imagine that with Star Trek, but leave out the parts about it being thoughtful and witty. It’s not a terrible show, it’s actually sufficiently okay… but that’s just it. It’s okay.
I don’t know… maybe the likes of Rick and Morty has ruined me on science fiction comedy. I just didn’t find the first episode that funny or that engaging. I will say, however, that I want this show to succeed. I’ve love to see another optimistic portrayal of space travel especially since it looks like Star Trek: Discovery is going a darker and more serialized route (not knocking it, but I miss optimism!)
The good news is, that there is room for improvement and I do see, with the proper care and devotion that this series needs, it could go on to do great things. After all, the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was pure poo and it went on to greatness. There’s no reason that The Orville can’t do the same.