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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Roussel

The Orville S1 & S2 (Review)

Moclan: You are a very fragile thing, Captain, do you know that? Ed Mercer: There's an anti-bullying law named after me, so yeah, I do know that.

The Orville is an American science-fiction-comedy-drama. While that may seem like a mouthful, this is the most cross-genre series I've ever seen. It was created and starring the Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane. McFarlane has credited his inspiration as from Star Trek and The Twilight Zone, and both are easy to see in The Orville.

MacFarlane stars as Ed Mercer, an officer in the Planetary Union. The first series begins as he takes his first command on the exploratory space vessel the Orville, with his band of misfit crew - including his ex-wife Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), as his first officer, their relationship stranded at best. Every week, they embark on a new diplomatic or exploratory mission.

It was an avid watcher of series 1 and series 2 premiered on Fox on December 30, 2018.

Gordon: This is Level Eight? What's Level Nine? Lamarr: Level Nine, she's still dating the guy. Godron: And level Ten? Lamarr: She's married and has a gun.

Star Trek vs. The Orville

I've been a lover of Star Trek my whole life and, admittedly, I didn't like the idea of a comic version of Star Trek when I first heard about it.

What I adore about The Orville is it's the story of real people in the future. Real people with their sometimes trivial stories and flawed characters. Star Trek to the future is like The West Wing to politics. It treats the subject very seriously, with serious people who are committed and idealistic.

There's nothing wrong with that. There should always be some series out there which is showing humanity in a slightly idealized state. We need something to aspire to! But The Orville is almost like a soap-opera in space, but done in such a clever way.


There's one particular episode I wanted to talk about from series 2 - Primal Urges. It's only a small thing, but I feel it highlights a strange difference between Orville and its inspirations.

Quite apart from the frankly hilarious plot involving Bortus, his porn addiction and his 'divorce', there's a classic Star Trek plot involving the destruction of a planet. The Orville becomes aware that there is still a civilization living below the surface of the planet and is in imminent peril.

Here's what I found fascinating - they only manage to save a handful of the citizens of the planet, the rest staying behind to die. In the more idealized, optimistic Trekkie world, nine times out of ten, they will find a way to save everyone.

We're used to everyone being saved in a sci-fi world - at least people we get to know. The faceless aliens and redshirts are on their own. But in this case, the leader of the civilisation, the voice and face of the people we're introduced to, chooses to stay behind and die. It was a shock.

It's a small point, maybe. But it still took me by surprise.

That's why I find The Orville to be such a fascinating mix between the comic, the real and the slightly messy nature of life.

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