Ain't It Cool News (

Hercules Says The TREK-Inspired ORVILLE Is Even Shittier Than Seth MacFarlane’s Other TV Shows!!

I am – Hercules!!

The first TV hourlong written by cartoon maven Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy,” “Bordertown”), "The Orville" is a series for everybody who likes Star Trek but wishes it had more references to Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise. And wishes Jean-Luc Picard spent more time calling the other characters “dude” and “dick.” And wishes James Kirk spent more time accidentally trying to eat marbles.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is how rarely “The Orville” even tries to be funny. It’s really a space drama with a smattering of slightly vulgar jokes – which is a problem because the space drama it offers is so amateurish.

I can also confirm that the majority of the limited number of jokes “Orville” offers are plenty weak. (Remember the Family Guy 12-Laughs-A-Year Calendar we saw Fry using in “Futurama”? We’ll see if “Orville” can vault that very low bar before Fox pulls its plug.)

Less importantly, “Orville” has to be one of the least original series ever created; it essentially appropriates 98% of itself from the Star Trek franchise. Faster-than-light travel effects, extraterrestrial crew members, color-coded uniforms, holodecks, shuttles, food replicators, they'll all aboard. (I don’t remember seeing transporters in the first three hours, but they may be lurking just offscreen.) The Orville uniforms are slightly similar to those employed by the movie “Galaxy Quest,” but these just serve to remind us all of how much funnier “Galaxy Quest” is.

One of the first episodes finds Orville officers repurposed as alien zoo specimens – which was pretty much the plot of the 1965 “Star Trek” pilot “The Cage.”

One can imagine Fox execs reminding MacFarlane – who wrote the first three hours, including the space-zoo episode – that space-zoos are one of the most fucked-out sci-fi TV concepts on this planet. Remember the 1960 “Twilight Zone” episode “People Are Alike All Over”? Remember the 1967 “Lost in Space” episode “A Day At The Zoo”? Remember 1974’s “Eye of the Beholder,” which trapped the animated Kirk, Spock and McCoy in a zoo run by giant slugs?

One can also imagine MacFarlane countering with, “Yeah, but our space-zoo episode will be funny!”

As it happens, not so much.

“Orville” features a character who will remind many of Worf (only he’s not as funny as Worf), a character who will remind many of Data (only he’s not as funny as Data) and a character who will remind many of Odo. The Odo-y character is funny only because he’s voiced by Norm Macdonald, who can make anything funny – but the Macdonald character also gets perhaps 25 seconds of screentime in the first three hours.

Years ago MacFarlane let it be known to CBS (any everyone else) that he’d be thrilled to create and run a Star Trek TV series for them. Happily, CBS initially elected to hire instead Nicholas Meyer (“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) and “Deep Space Nine” vets Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal”) and Joe Menosky (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) to man the writers room for “Star Trek: Discovery,” which arrives on CBS in two weeks.

I’ve not yet seen “Discovery,” but I’ll make this subjective assertion: If “The Orville” were somehow permitted to call itself “Star Trek: Orville,” it would be easily the worst of the Trek series televised to date.

TV Line says:

... Two words of advice: Abandon ship. … Riddled with sci-fi clichés and paralyzed by a grim self-importance, MacFarlane’s shiny new vessel ends up being a colossal dud that not only fails to take flight, it short-circuits before it even gets out of the docking bay. …

The New York Times says:

... In his first significant live-action TV role, Mr. MacFarlane’s main attribute is a nervous proficiency. Ed may have to grow into his command, but that doesn’t mean he should be the least memorable person on the bridge. … One last question about “The Orville”: why bother, when “Galaxy Quest” did such a wonderful, warmhearted job of sending up the “Star Trek” cosmos almost 20 years ago? We don’t have an answer for that one. …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

… far from being ready for takeoff.... Fox owes it to MacFarlane and to viewers to bring “The Orville” back to port for necessary retooling. …

USA Today says:

... The Orville feels like a series that sounded good on paper — “Star Trek with Seth MacFarlane!” — but lost its way in the execution. The end result is more confusing than entertaining, and, with a genuine Star Trek series hitting CBS All Access later this month, feels unnecessary.

Deadline Hollywood says:

... purposeless piece of Star Trek fan fiction … nowhere near the comedy Fox is marketing the one-hour show as, and it’s not much of a drama either. …

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... “The Orville” is not that funny. … It’s also pretty dull.…

Uproxx says:

... Seth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ Isn’t A ‘Star Trek’ Spoof. It’s Just Bad ‘Star Trek’ … The whole thing’s bizarre, down to the employment of a bunch of Trek veterans behind the scenes, most notably executive producer Brannon Braga, who was responsible for many of the dumbest and most formulaic parts of The Next Generation and Voyager, including the script for what many fans consider the worst modern Trek episode ever, Voyager‘s “Threshold,” where Captain Janeway and Tom Paris devolve into amphibious creatures. … There’s a point in one episode where Captain Mercer tells an alien, “I’m just not gonna try comedy with you.” It’s a strategy that would serve The Orville well — or would if non-comic parts were worth the bother. …

The Hollywood Reporter says:

... Not enough in the pilot works to fill me with active desire for more. …

Variety says:

... TV could always use more space-set shows, but “The Orville” just doesn’t boldly go anywhere worth following. …

8 p.m. Sunday. Fox.

Follow Herc on Twitter!!

Follow Evil Herc on Twitter!!


Blu At Last Next Week!!

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus