For most of this season, I’ve felt like the better episodes of The Orville have come from everyone but Seth MacFarlane. And then, he has to go and deliver what is probably the best episode of the series so far with “Identity, Part 2.”
This two-part installment felt like The Orville’s attempt at “Best of Both Worlds,” taking our characters to some dark, scary places all while facing the potential obliteration of humanity at the hands of robotic beings. And while the cliffhanger here isn’t quite up to “Mr. Worf, fire!” (to be honest, few cliffhangers are), it was still enough that I was glad I’d let episodes build up on the DVR and didn’t have to wait a week to see how it all played out.
MacFarlane and his writing staff pull a lot of threads into focus here, from the romance of Doctor Finn and Issac to the on-going conflict with the Krill to the revelation of why Issac was really on the ship to begin with. Watching as Issac and his robotic others revealed that Issac was there less to learn about becoming a member of the Union and more to probe for weaknesses and possible ways to destroy humanity really put the comment about his race being “incredibly racist” from the pilot into a completely different light. Continue reading
An open letter to Seth MacFarlane:
Do you mind if I call you Seth?
I understand that your new series, The Orville is intended as a homage to the optimistic spirit of Star Trek. And I know that many of your other animated comedies feature callbacks to certain moments from popular culture.
So, you will understand if I’m a bit concerned that it feels like the latest (at least to me) episode of The Orville feels like you crossed the streams of your series. I can understand and forgive the plot line where Gordon is taking the command test and pulls out the “we’ve got this weapon that will reflect back whatever you throw at us” moment. After all, Captain James T. Kirk only used that twice in the original series (and did it better. Of course, when does James T. Kirk not make just about anything better?!?). Continue reading
The Orville: Primal Urges, Home
I’m not sure what this says about season two, but my favorite episode of the young season is one held over from their first season. Borrowing a page from TNG’s “Evolution,” “Primal Urges” finds the ship in danger because of crew member’s carelessness. On TNG it was Wesley Crusher creating a new form of sentient life. And The Orville, it’s Bortus getting a nasty virus into the computing systems thanks to his new-found addition to holodeck adult content.*
*Because the series has to remind us at least once per episode that Seth McFarland is behind this. Don’t get me started on the CGI alien whose species writes the best adult simulations in the business and how he talks exactly like a character out of Family Guy. Continue reading
I started off last season doing a weekly recap of The Orville. Well, at least until three or four episodes piled up on the DVR and I got behind in my viewing and recapping.
I eventually got the rest of season one, binging them* over a short succession of days. What I found was a show that was growing in confidence, characters, and storytelling, slowly moving away from the “typical” Seth MacFarland type of set-ups for jokes that more often than not didn’t quite land. The only drawback of the last three-quarters of season one was the show spent far too much time dwelling on what I considered the least interesting aspect of the show, the “will they or won’t they” aspect of Ed and Kelly’s relationship.
*As much as one can binge having a two-year-old. That generally means that binging is watching a full episode in one sitting without being distracted by whatever mischief Shortcake has discovered.
With the season one finale, I hoped the show might have finally resolved this arc and decided to move on. Continue reading
This week’s installment felt a lot like an episode of Quantum Leap with the TARDIS crew trying to put right something going wrong with history. But where most Quantum Leap episodes (well, at least until season five) were concerned with history on a personal scale, “Rose” found the Doctor and company at a pivotal crossroads of world and universal history.
It made for a fascinating hour of television, buoyed once again by the performances of the quartet that makes up the TARDIS crew. It was interesting to see Ryan and Yas have to confront racism is Montgomery, Alabama at the birth of the civil rights movement. Going back to Quantum Leap, it felt a bit like an early episode when Sam leapt into an older African-American man and was forced to confront the horrors and realities of racism. Continue reading
Last week was all about meeting the new Doctor and assembling her new trio of friends for adventures through time and space. “The Ghost Monuments” is about that first adventure in time and space — even if the trio is accidentally brought along on the journey to locate the TARDIS.
After being rescued from outer space, the Doctor and company find themselves on a planet called Desolation, which is the end-point for a galactic race that will leave one person wealthy and the other stuck on a world that’s pretty much going to do everything in its power to eliminate him or her as quickly as possible. Seeing a planet where even the water is a threat was a nice touch, though Chris Chibnell’s script doesn’t slow down long enough for us to ask questions like who would design such a planet and why they would do it. Continue reading
Introducing a new Doctor can be a bit of a tricky thing. Have too much emphasis on the previous eras of the series and you lose drive-by fans who might be tuning in to see what the new Doctor is like (especially this time around). Have not enough connection to the history of the show and you run the risk of disenfranchising long-time fans who may decide to not tune in again or won’t make Doctor Who appointment viewing any longer.
Over the thirty-seven season run of Doctor Who, we’ve seen examples of both.
In many ways, the debut of Jodie Whitacker as Doctor reminds me a bit of how the Jon Pertwee era began, wiping the slate clean for a new era of the series. For the third Doctor, it was a huge jump from black and white to color. For Whitacker, it was another major change for the show with the first female Doctor. Continue reading