“The Orville” flies into turbulence

Starlost: Seth MacFarlane (l.) created and stars in “The Orville”. (Fox)

Poor writing, poor acting dooms Orville’s mission

As one who used to watch Family Guy way back when, yours truly was a Seth MacFarlane fan. I even attended a live reading for the show ten years ago.

But oh my, how times have changed. Outside of the brilliant Cosmos remake from a few years ago, he hasn’t done anything of note. He had Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show, which continues to pollute the air in syndication. Then came his disastrous Oscar-hosting gig. And of course, his awkward acting debut in A Million Ways To Win The West.

Now he’s created  – and stars in new sci-fi drama The Orville debuting Sunday night on Fox, who obviously is desperate for hits. But is this a drama? Or a comedy? Can’t be the latter because there were no laughs found in it. Some tagged this as a Star Trek parody, and it does ripoff the classic sci-fi franchise right down to the seats and the creatures. But you knew originality isn’t MacFarlane’s strong suit.

MacFarlane plays Ed Mercer, a strange lout who takes over a ship and he has to work with his ex-wife played by former Agents of Shield star Adrienne Palicki, who he found rolling around with an alien we shall call “Papa Smurf”. Also featured in this show is Scott Grimes, from American Dad and appeared on CBC’s Republic Of Doyle as a pain in the butt to Allen Hawco.

The writing is absolutely horrible as much of the dialogue is awkward. And the plot was stupid – a character played by Brian White (the person who played the finger-wagging guy on Seinfeld and Raj’s dad on The Big Bang Theory) invented a device that aged stuff, and one villain wanted the device. An unlucky woman fell face first into the device and aged and died. One woman remarked the victim looked “125 years old”. Ugh.

The one positive in this show is the look is slick, and the sets aren’t bad – this isn’t 1973’s syndicated disaster The Starlost, where the sets of the low-budget drama were allegedly were made of lots and lots of Styrofoam and shot on videotape. Unfortunately, the writing and dialogue is similar to the short-lived Keir Dullea series (20th Century Fox produces both Orville and Starlost, the latter with Canada’s CTV and Glen-Warren Productions.) The show was so bad, creator Harlan Ellison even had his name changed on the credits.

Well, at least MacFarlane isn’t running around on an 800-mile long ship made out of Solo Cups.

As for the music score, it is similar to Trek’s, but it is too loud and uninspiring. And yes, MacFarlane’s acting skills – as proven in West – are still not good.

Reaction on social media and the Internet in general to The Orville were far more positive than yours truly’s and other critics – then again, the positive response can be said for just about anything on social media not named Trump, Jay Cutler, and the Cook County Board President’s soda tax. And I said before in the previous post, you can’t go broke underestimating the taste of the American public – and it explains the success of mind-numbing crap like the now-defunct Eric & Kathy Show and the should’ve-stayed-defunct American Idol. Now that Kathy Hart is out of a job, maybe she can join the cast of this insipid show – she’ll fit right in given her “acting” skills are perfect since she was “acting” nice to Eric Ferguson on the air for twenty years.

Ratings for The Orville (delayed due to Hurricane Irma) should be strong thanks to its inflated football lead-in this week and next, then it heads to Thursday Nights, where it’ll face football and the return of Will & Grace. But Orville should hold its own in the ratings, meaning they’ll be no quick hook for MacFarlane’s show. Plus, MacFarlane still has a strong fan base given the ratings for Family Guy are still decent and Cleveland’s syndication run is surprisingly still strong. So no T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame Induction – for now but the first episode did not leave a good impression – not a good start for The Orville.

The Orville isn’t the worst sci-fi show to air this decade: that belongs to Tim Kring’s unwatchable Heroes: Reborn, which never should have came out of its uterus. But since Orville is  barely a notch above Reborn in the quality department, Seth MacFarlane might want to change his name on the credits.

Grade: D minus 

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2 responses to “The Orville” flies into turbulence


  1. “And yes, MacFarlane’s acting skills – as proven in West – are still not good.”

    Did you have voice acting in mind while typing this?

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