Star Trek Discovery continues this week for those who know how to find it.
The Orville hits its groove, this week.
If Episode 2 felt like it borrowed from from familiar Star Trek formulas, then this week felt like a premise Star Trek wished they'd thought of. I mean, we're not talking Star Trek Voyager anymore, this could've been an episode of The Next Generation, and a good one, too.
Going further in both directions.
The Orville goes further than it's ever tried to go in both directions and as a result of aiming for a target higher than they've ever tried, they simultaneous reach higher heights than previously but also miss by as large a margin. Or do they? I can't tell anymore...
Wow. I was not expecting this.
Maybe I was hoping, or dreaming of something of this caliber, but I didn't think they could actually pull it off. This is prestige television. This is what they wanted. Maybe not everyone will like it, but by God did they spare no expense. This is as large a leap forward in production value as JJ Abrams' 2009 reboot was to the TV shows preceding it. You can see some of the visual cues set up from those movies, like lens flares and dynamic cinematography, but at the same time, they break new ground. I feel like they use the Abrams aesthetic not as a color pallet but as a jumping off point to try new things. Camera angles and colors and lighting that fit in more with today's prestige television like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad or House of Cards than any Star Trek that came before.
Still Weird. Still Waiting.
This could've been a premise on any episode of Star Trek. The Orville meets up with a fellow Union ship broadcasting a distress signal and carrying Ed Mercer's parents. When Mercer (MacFarlane) and ex-wife/first officer Kelly (Adrianne Pallicki from Agents of SHIELD and Friday Night Lights) take a shuttle over to help out, the fellow ship turns out to be a hologram. They are whisked off to the zoo of a "higher level species" while Lt. Alara is left in command all by herself despite her inexperience. While Mercer and Kelly figure out the hopelessness of their imprisonment, Alara has the classic character arc of coming to terms with the responsibilities of leadership. Eventually she learns not only confidence in asserting herself but the confidence necessary for breaking the rules to go rescue their captain and first officer. They succeed, she gets a medal, and Bortus lays an egg. No really.
Remember when Star Trek was good?
Back before special effects and "mainstream" influences took over the franchise and slowly bled the heart out? When they could launch a fourth spin-off and propel a second TV cast to the big screen based solely on themes of humanity and it's betterment? You know, twenty to thirty years ago when you had to sit through commercial breaks and listen to five minute long opening credit themesongs in order to see the latest breakthroughs in forehead prosthetics? Remember, "Make it so," and "Number One" and "Shields up! Red Alert!"? (Bonus if you remember which crew member is "fully functional")
Well, so does Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy (and various other shows and films), and he just happens to feel like going down Nostalgia Lane with us to reminisce about the good old days of television sci-fi. He's clearly a Trekkie at heart and he's filled his crew behind the scenes with much of the same talent that brought us the old Trek. So is this some kind of a joke? Or is he trolling CBS/Paramount for a copywrite lawsuit? Just what the heck is The Orville supposed to be?