I won’t be doing so much of TV show reviews, but as someone who grew up with Star Trek and has had a love & hate relationship for it, I must talk about these two Star Trek-ish shows.
Now, this will be a review of their first episode or two, but as with all story-driven TV shows, a premiere can either make or break your entire series, regardless of how much better the later episodes might be. So without further notice, which Trek show deserves your attention?
The Orville (Directed By Seth MacFarlane)
The Orville seems to be the popular answer, with a 92% positive reception from the more than 7.6 million viewers. The show is created, co-produced, co-written and stars Seth Macfarlane as Ed Mercer who dreamed of finally leading a vessel onto space exploration, where his duty will be to protect any signs of life that are in distress.
The day of his promotion finally arrives just a year after catching his now ex-wife Kelly Grayson (played by Adrianne Palicki) in bed with another life form. The following statement was important to mention as the galactic authority forces Ed to team up with his ex-wife in leading the ship together.
Each episode seems to be a random adventure with progressing relationships between this unhappy couple and the crew members who help run The Orville. In the end, this is just old-school Star Trek with Seth Macfarlane’s comedy format. Very much so, this show gets pretty deep with its lore and setting, coming up with all of these different species and world-building details.
Yet, when it comes to the humor (and it always will since everything this show comes up with doesn’t move forward without a punch line) Seth likes to re-watch old Family Guy episodes and carry over his favorite jokes. That’s cool…but he’s been doing that ever since after the first couple of Family Guy seasons, which 2005 was probably the last year where I thought he had something refreshing material.
Now, he’s just beating on the same dead horse until his fan base finally catches on. The first two episodes I witnessed featured celebrity references, pop culture references, sexual and sophisticated humor, all of which have been scraped under the barrel of overused Seth Macfarlane jokes. The more you hear them, the more you question if this guy was ever funny in the first place.
You can still make a joke about ball sacks, but just saying it with no context shows how lame of a comedian you can be. How many times can we mention a banana for laughs? Hey, you’re a racist, that’s funny…? Seth is so dated with his jokes that he tries to cram in a Kardashian reference as if she’s still the number #1 current famous icon for everyone to poke fun at.
A recurring joke is when Ed & Kelly argue out of the blue, even after forgiving each other at the end of the first episode. I’m not sure if I find verbal fights hilarious, but maybe I’m wrong. More than 7.6 million people are still tuning in after three episodes, so I could be missing something. In fact, The Orville deserves some praise.
I’ve heard some Macfarlane haters out there, and I’m not a fan of his recent work, but the belief of this guy belittling the opposite sex is not the case here, or at least not in the first two episodes. There are three female characters, and none of them are over sexualized or treated unfairly.
I mean, every build up on character development is ruined by the show’s constant need to crack a bad joke, but no female so far prioritizes on wanting to get into a guy’s pants. The Orville’s chief of security Lt. Alara Kitan (played by Halston Sage) was the one who saved the day, not by having sex or cracking sexual humor, but by outsmarting the gate-keeper in the episode where Ed & Kelly are kidnapped and held in a galactic zoo.
While I am not into the humor and it is bad and frequent enough to where it shuts down a storyline that Seth surprisingly cares very much about telling. I feel like this guy intentionally wanted to keep his own fans entertained instead of trying to reach out to more. It’s not being released onto IMAX or charging me with an extra fee, so I say let him be.
The best term I can use for this show is “harmless”. It does the same tired crud from what we come to know with this creator, but without any material to give it the ultimate “screw you” rating. Fans who just want plain old school Star Trek with some Family Guy jokes will find this a treat, while I will move away from this show, knowing that at least I wasn’t completely in pain.
Star Trek: Discovery (Created By Brian Fuller & Alex Kurtzman)
What about the actual new Star Trek show? Hardcore Trekkies seem to not be digging this nearly as much as The Orville…
8.2 million TV junkies have tuned into the premiere episode, but some folks out there are predicting a drop as this show continues, due to a lot of hardcore nerds out there hating the heck out of this show and another point which I will get into in my review.
Now in here, there’s no rebooted tale to be had, only a brand new adventure starring Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, the first official officer of the USS Shenzhou ship. She’s going to need every bit of her space crusading skills as those nasty Klingons are planning a cold war between their race and the United Federation of Planets, which includes her crew as well.
It’s up to Michael and her crew members to discover and forbid the Klingon’s plans for galactic domination. While this show has lent a mix to negative reception with show-watchers, critics have loved where this series has gone so far, particularly with the main protagonist herself. I have plenty of positives to say about this show, including the intriguing lead character.
Michael grew up as a human raised by Vulcans, adapting her personality to be sort of species hybrid, cycling between the instincts of a human being and that of a Vulcan. It opens up how flawed she is at handling her position, where at first she’ll be sophisticated and well-mannered, but will get ahead of herself at times, risking her’s and other crew members safety unintentionally.
She can come off as maybe an egotistical jerk, but I feel like the show has structured their narrative to where I can see her improve as the show continues. As to if the show in its entirety is better than those previous three Star Trek feature films, to that I say HECK NO! I have no idea who any of Michael’s crew members are, creating a less tense scenario when everyone is in danger.
The other characters with the most screen time are Saru (played by Doug Jones) & Phillipa Georgiou (played by Michelle Yeoh), who aren’t given much to do other than to keep the plot moving. Sorry, but those last three Star Trek films really worked for me.
They established who all of the main crew members are, humanize them with a diverse cast of personalities and even adding a bit of humor so you can feel more of the suspense when their lives are on the line. Yeah, there’s a lens flare effect and the stories are a lot easier to follow, big deal! I’d rather have strong characters than an expansive encyclopedia in my face when it comes to just watching something.
Those past three Star Trek films were able to walk that fine balance between old and delivering something refreshing and exciting. So having where we are taken right into the mission for an hour without getting to know anyone else makes the action less thrilling. The freaking Orville established all of its cast within the first episode and most of them are rehashes of other Seth Macfarlane characters, but you got to know them.
Again, these are both premieres and this episode does have a promising set up for an even greater continuation, with how the Klingon’s plans start to unravel and things get more dire, but again, I don’t know who these other people are so why should I care about what happens to them? Maybe the second episode will strengthen the chemistry between these crew members and give the cast more personality, maybe even just a tiny drop of humor would be nice.
However, for as nice of a set up Michael has for her back story and for as beautiful of a presentation this show contains, the conclusion to this premiere is cynical as crud, abruptly ending in the middle of a conflict with an ad telling me to go subscribe to CBS All-Access in order to find out what happens in the part two of this premiere, as well as all other episodes that are coming up for Star Trek: Discovery.
I could not believe my eyes and ears when I saw this ad! A horrendously greedy business practice in which is popularized by certain AAA game studios has found its way onto television. Yes, CBS All-Access is $5.99 per month with ads, $9.99 per month without them. Isn’t Direct TV enough of a cost for cable television shows?
I can understand Netflix, which brings so many original shows and movies every month, but they don’t cock-block you with a promising start of a TV show, in which you will have to pay an additional monthly fee in order to find out what happens to the rest of the story you were in the middle of viewing.
Sorry, this alone made the show worse than The Orville. I can’t subscribe to a future where we have to keep adding fees to our bills for just one show and one show that’s not great enough to be worthy of an additional transaction. Fans can get upset at my opinion all they want, but I will NEVER accept milking customers to produce entertainment pieces. I will just stick with the current movies, maybe Star Trek Generations, but this I will not support!
So yes, The Orville is better than Star Trek: Discovery. I cannot believe this is a thing!