What is “The Orville?” Did You Tune In To the New Show on FOX?

It only takes 30 seconds of viewing the trailer or TV commercial for this new Fox series to know it is a spoof of the Star Trek popularity. Seth McFarlane, he of Family Guy and Ted, is the star of the series as captain of The Orville. Any show that tries to parody one of the most popular sci-fi creations in television and movie history is asking for a lot of backlash. To some, the idea itself is sacrilege. Apparently Fox is taking note, as Fox executives said “we have a large legal team” when asked about its similarities to Star Trek TOS.

This view ends up being of great interest to the Rotten Tomatoes community, with 83 percent of those polled wanting to see it. But the critics at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic have it sinking to about a 30 percent approval rating. McFarlane’s acting is said to be seriously lacking a command performance. Add to that the more than slightly evident stolen material from the Star Trek 2009 reboot, when Uhura walks in on Kirk and her green skinned roommate at the beginning of the first show and you have a recipe for disaster. McFarlane is not seen as a diehard Trekkie, and if that is the case then he will miss much of the subtle humor between the characters in favor of a more direct approach.

As for the ship and its contents, if you have seen the original Star Trek TV series at any time, including its spinoffs, the characters on deck will either be familiar or insulting. A doctor, a helmsman, and a Romulan head up the supporting cast. The captain is married and divorced from his first officer, an attempted parody of the bromance between Kirk and Spock throughout the years.

The storyline behind The Orville adventures is that McFarlane, playing Captain Ed Mercer, has one last shot at regaining his command and restoring his confidence after the divorce. Again, stealing a scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where Kirk realizes for a moment he is rusty commanding the Enterprise, the first episode attempts to give us a starship captain who is the antithesis of Kirk. The problem with the whole concept is that people who are familiar with Star Trek at any level know that seeing Kirk as a broken down, middle aged man doesn’t work because that ground was covered in the Star Trek: Generations movie. Fox would have been better off abandoning any thoughts of mimicking any part of Star Trek.

Finally, there was a movie called Galaxy Quest that did a similar thing a few years ago. It is hard to know if anyone will really care about the show or any of its characters, since the storyline is far removed from any Star Trek theme, and anyone who has paid any attention to the franchise’s recent movies will identify the stolen material fairly quickly. Of the 83 percent of Rotten Tomato members interested in seeing the series, the only people who will watch the show will be enemies of the Federation. And we already know what happens to them.

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