We were very pleasantly surprised with "The Orville". Given the trend of Seth MacFarlane to make his comedy shows like "Family Guy" into celebrations of gross-violence-gore-humor, we had concerns that what looked fairly promising in the trailers might be yet another one of these kinds of creations. THANKFULLY, it was not! "The Orville" is a fun mix of what feels like classic 90s & early 2000s sci-fi, with the help of modern visual effects. "Galaxy Quest" meets "SeaQuest", with the visual and musical honorable trimmings of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", tongue-in-cheek/camp essences of "Stargate SG-1", and a hint of "Spaceballs" (for the occasional adult humor). Funny enough, even the Orville ship looks sort of like the "Galaxy Quest" NSEA Protector. Straight up, for a concept that could have been an outright disaster, "The Orville" has a good pilot episode, and all the characters are immediately watchable. Also, we finally get to see Seth MacFarlane have the opportunity to extend his acting talents beyond just "Family Guy"-style comedy characters, given that his character has the option to handle more serious and dramatic scenes. Given how rough pilots (and first seasons, for that matter) have been for many now-iconic sci-fi shows like "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Babylon 5", and "Farscape", if they can keep their trademark "Family Guy" vomit gags to a minimum, I think this show has every chance to grow into itself and discover where it can go.
We'll be watching! Good luck!
(Update 10/20/2017: 6 episodes in, the series continues to exceed expectations! Strangely, it feels way more like Star Trek than the new Star Trek series does!)
So the advertising was somewhat misleading in a way; touted as a "Galaxy Quest" type spoof of Star Trek, I like many others, was prepared for a humor-filled romp in space. The Orville is not the parody we thought we were getting and after just viewing the second episode, I am delighted to say we've gotten something far better - especially for Star Trek and Sci-fi enthusiasts. The premiere episode was a little wonky in the respect that there was a push and pull effect between giving us Seth MacFarlane's style of comedy writing and the lovingly recreated look, feel and story elements of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". I would say that expectations for a goofy space comedy and maybe a few out of placed jokes in the premiere, rocked the boat a little because at its heart, this show is NOT a parody - it's classic sci-fi space adventure that's been inspired by Star Trek TNG, and I gotta say...after that second episode, I'm in love. To virtually rewind time and bring us a show that feels like TNG but with humor sprinkled throughout feels so fresh yet familiar at the same time. I do feel some of the actors need time to grow into their parts, much like how TNG needed a few seasons under its belt for everyone to come into their own and the writers started writing for the actors who play the parts and not the other way around. Keep telling solid sci-fi stories with character growth that makes us love them like a TV family and I'll keep watching! I sincerely hope this show continues past the first season - it'll take all the support of Trek fans to keep those high ratings. McFarlane needs to focus on placing the comedy bits more effectively and sparingly - let the comedy come naturally and lean more towards solid sci-fi storytelling and this ship will be firing on all engines, full speed ahead.
This show was given a 34/100 on Metacritic, one of the lowest ratings given to a TV show this year.
And I have no clue why.
The Orville is one of the most sincere and well-created love letters to Star Trek: The Next Generation, taking not just the cues and themes of it to present compelling original stories, but also using the directing and writing talent of those who originally contributed to it. The Orville is admittedly a lot different from what I expected it to be, but different in ways I appreciate. Comedy takes a back seat, only coming out in small doses when appropriate as to not be too intrusive. And at the forefront is a genuine science fiction story that subtly dips and weaves into topical and ethical dilemmas that are neither condescending nor ham-fisted.
Just like Star Trek: The Next Generation was.
The critics are completely wrong about this show. The Orville is a fantastic voyage, and while it has some minor flaws in story and character, it never loses its flavor. It's not a parody of TNG. It's not a satire. It's not a reboot. It's a standalone compliment that carries the torch where TNG left off, and seeks to establish its own personality beyond it.
Seth Macfarlane said this is an homage to "Star Trek", not a parody of it. There are in fact a few noticeable nods to ST:TNG. When you take it from that angle and realize it is a dramedy and not just supposed to be "Family Guy in Space: a Cynical Comedy", it's actually pretty good. The acting isn't terrible, the special affects and sets are well done. If you don't like Seth Mafarlane's brand of humor, I don't think you'll like it, but it is different. Based on critic reviews, I was expecting this to be hokey and painful but it really wasn't.