Well, I’ve said many things about The Orville… that it’s a throwback, that is it surprisingly entertaining, and that I’m a fan, but one thing I’ve never accused it of is being terribly original. Yes, I understand that’s kind of the point as this is Seth MacFarland’s Star Trek fan film (and no, I will not stop saying that. You stop saying that it’s better Star Trek than Star Trek: Discovery and I’ll stop saying it’s a Star Trek fan film), but “Pria” takes the homage to a whole new level and, no… that’s not a compliment.
I’m going to be talking about specific… uh… I guess you would call them “twists” in this episode, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read on… and don’t watch the episode because it’s painfully obvious.
The Orville comes across a mining ship crashed on a sundiving comet. The comet is breaking up, the ship is about to be vaporized, and on board is an attractive women, played by Charlize Theron. Insult Seth MacFarland all you want, he’s got a web cast out that seems to catch big name celebrities like minnows.
Captain Mercer falls in love with this woman and, I mean, like… stupidly in love with her even though his first officer and ex-wife, Commander Grayson thinks that something stinks to high heaven and, despite some dressing downs and reprimands for her snooping, it turns out that she’s right and Pria is actually an antiquities dealer from 400 years in the future who came back in time to save the Orville from its predestined destruction so that she could steal it and sell it in the future.
The Orville is an ode to Star Trek: The Next Generation and this episode is quite literally “A Matter of Time” if Picard and Rasmussen dated each other.
From the very beginning, it was obvious that Pria was underhanded and the revelation that she was surprised no one. The idea that she was from the future collecting antiques was lifted directly from Star Trek: TNG, and, perhaps its just me, but the love affair between Pria and Mercer and subsequent fallout when she was exposed was unearned and smacked of fakery.
This was unsurprising paint-by-numbers boredom. The usual humor wasn’t in play, the drama was eye-rolling, and the only thing remotely approaching a saving grace was the practical joke war between Isaac and Malloy and even that was cornier than usual. I can stand stupidity, I can stand parody, and I can stand all the wiener jokes that Seth MacFarland wants to chunk at me, but don’t bore me. The least they could have done was subvert the expectation, but nope… it boldly went right where you were sure it was going to go.
The Orville has had all of its stuff together for the last few weeks, but with this episode they’ve lost all that stuff all over the floor in a big mess. I’ve become rather fond of this show, so I’m hoping this is just a temporary anomaly and doesn’t signal more lameness to come.