The Fox network has been home to a few shows created by Seth MacFarlane. If you know that name, it’s most likely you’re aware of his animated creations in Family Guy and American Dad. He was also the creative mind behind Ted and its sequel, Ted 2.
Looking at the projects mentioned above, it would be easy to assume that just about any project he touches is nothing but satire and irreverent humor. It’s not as if there isn’t a precedent set for that sort of judgment.
But if you go into MacFarlane’s most recent series, The Orville, with that sort of mindset, you’ll either be disappointed or pleasantly surprised.
I say you could be disappointed because, if you’re a big fan of Family Guy or the Ted films, you may be looking forward to whatever shocking hilarity may ensue on a sci-fi show like The Orville. I say you could be pleasantly surprised because, if you’re the kind of person who finds Family Guy’s humor to be crass and over the top, you’ll discover that The Orville is actually a really grounded show.
Honestly, when I first began seeing promos for The Orville back in the summer of 2017, I was intrigued, but I was also unimpressed. Years ago, I really enjoyed watching Family Guy and thought that MacFarlane and his staff of writers were capable of writing some really funny stuff. Eventually, that kind of humor just didn’t do anything for me, so I haven’t seen an episode of that particular animated series in nearly a decade.
I assumed that, because this was a new live action series created by Seth MacFarlane, it would feature a lot of the same kind of humor that I had come to expect from TV and movies with his name on them.
Another reason why I wanted to check out the show and avoid it at the same time was because I was pretty much raised on all things Star Trek. Dad made sure I knew all about the voyages of the starship Enterprise and its continuing mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no one has gone before. I am well versed on the adventures of the classic crew, the next generation crew, and all of the spin-offs that have come and gone since.
When The Orville premiered, I was curious enough to watch the first episode. And I loved it.
Kids, every episode of this show is like a love letter to the Star Trek franchise. So much of it pays tribute to the films and TV series that have spanned more than 50 years, but it also stands on its own two feet as something unique. Each week is a perfect blend of sci-fi, drama, and humor that is able to take itself seriously when it needs to, but also remembers the importance of levity.
As a fan of Trek, I appreciate all the nods that The Orville gives to what has come before. But it’s also refreshing to enter into this new world that Seth MacFarlane is building through this series without being tied down to that same 50 years of continuity that everything new in the Star Trek galaxy must be a slave to. Because, if they mess anything up, Paramount will hear about it from the fans.
The Orville is new. And it’s free to make it all up as they go along.
Another thing to note is that, at the same time The Orville was premiering on Fox, Star Trek: Discovery, the latest series in the Trek franchise was premiering on CBS’s streaming platform, All Access. I like Discovery and I like the new direction that it has taken its franchise. But I think I like The Orville more. Discovery is dark and serious and very action heavy, which is fine for what it is. The Orville, like I said before, is much more light-hearted and gives its audience a chance to laugh, even when tackling heavier social issues. Tackling those issues is something that the original Trek series was known to do, but I don’t ever remember laughing quite so much while watching those early adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.
Here’s a little of what you should know about The Orville… Seth MacFarlane plays Captain Ed Mercer who, at the start of the series, was on track to command his own vessel at a young age. However, his life spiraled a bit when he caught his wife cheating on him. Sometime later, he’s offered his chance to command the Orville. The catch is that his first officer just happens to be his ex-wife, Commander Kelly Grayson, played by Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights, Agents of SHIELD). Right away, that kind of sounds like the beginning of a cheesy 90s sitcom. But it works. The crew of the Orville is rounded out by a mix of humans and aliens that all make for very interesting plots as the series progresses.
So, if you’re at all into science fiction, give The Orville a shot. If you’re turned off because of MacFarlane’s earlier work, watch an episode and see what you think. If you’re disappointed at hearing it’s not at all like MacFarlane’s earlier work, watch an episode and see what you think. They’re a few episodes into the second season, but I’m pretty sure you can catch up on Hulu if you’ve subscribed to the streaming service.
Is there a TV show you fell in love with that you weren’t sure you would even like before you saw it? Let me know in the comments below!