11 September 2017 | David-Bernhardt
The Critics Must Be Crazy: 'The Orville' Is A Great Show
As many critics have pointed out, this isn't a spoof of Star Trek. It's not exactly an homage either. The best way I can describe it is that MacFarlane wanted to make a Star Trek show that recalls that franchise's earlier days, back before it became an action blockbuster film series and before the TV shows started becoming dark and grim and edgy. MacFarlane is making his own version of the original Star Trek, and he is a new Captain Kirk. All the optimism and sincerity and lightheartedness of that show is here, and in many ways it's kind of wonderful. I'm honestly surprised something like this exists.
There's some off-color humor, but it's never (so far at least) particularly offensive, or at least its offensiveness pales in comparison to many of McFarlane's other works. Still, it's distinctly him, so it's not going to be appealing to everyone.
In any case, I've really enjoyed The Orville. It's not a perfect show. Some of the jokes do fall flat. But I love its spirit. I love that someone is actually trying to make a Star Trek show that isn't just filled with explosions, space battles and gritty action. You should check it out and make up your own mind. Maybe you'll hate it, but maybe not. It's fun and kind of sweet and I'm happy it's a thing, however weird and unexpected it might be.
Update: November 2017 The show keeps getting better from week to week and it seem has now found its groove. The Orville uses its adventure-of-the-week format to explore modern-day social issues and tackle current moral dilemmas in a sci-fi venue. The show is refreshingly progressive in its politics, and optimistic to its core. It is a Star Trek show for folks who want something a bit old-school. By not having a budget (or requirements) for wall-to-wall spectacle, the hour-long Fox show is forced to focus on character, chemistry, sci-fi plotting and moral debates that have partially defined Gene Roddenberry's property for generations. (though the special effects look superb and almost movie like)
Yes, to a certain extent it's fan fiction, but then so is so much of our current pop culture entertainment. But by being a network television show, it is forced to be the kind of Star Trek that fans claim the recent movies have neglected in favor of four-quadrant blockbuster thrills. The Orville is not a spoof, but rather a straight-faced Trek show with characters who are funny and which you can learn to love.