Interview: Brannon Braga On How ‘The Orville’ Pays Tribute To Star Trek While Setting A New Course

Last weekend Fox premiered their sci-fi comedy drama The Orville to strong ratings (see TrekMovie review). In order for Seth MacFarlane to deliver this homage to Star Trek he brought on board a number of Trek vets. Perhaps the most notable is writer and executive producer Brannon Braga who spent over two decades as a writer and producer for three Star Trek TV series and co-wrote two Trek feature films. TrekMovie had a chance to speak with Braga at length about The Orville including its connections to Star Trek. We also talked about Star Trek: Discovery and why it also made sense for him to make Enterprise a prequel.

Brannon Braga (R) with fellow The Orville executive producers Seth MacFarlane and David A. Goodman at TCA event in August

Speaking the language of Star Trek in The Orville universe

With The Orville, you are creating a new fictional future universe. What can you tell us about the Planetary Union and how much you have mapped out?

It is a future where humanity has got its shit together enough where it can turn its eyes outwards towards space. The Planetary Union is the agency that oversees that. The union is composed of different alien species. As for the more finely detailed specifics, it is one of those things where we don’t have everything figured out. Very much like other shows I have done, the backstory is invented along the way.

Essentially, we have a ship of exploration with characters that are more recognizable than your typical space opera. And that is where the comedy comes from, along with the neurotic foibles and relationships problems. It is kind of like the anti-Star Trek in a sense that in Roddenberry’s universe people had moved past that kind of stuff, but on The Orville, we are close but not quite.

The show uses a lot of the language of Star Trek –  like ‘scanning for life signs, captain.’ Is that part of the homage, or a shorthand for telling these kinds of stories?

There is a language of this type of show. The actual nouns and verbs may vary, but the essential language goes way back to Issac Asimov and Amazing Stories, Jules Verne, Star Trek, Forbidden Planet, Star Wars, Alien movies, and the list goes on. Is there another way to depict a crew? Yeah there are variations. The first Alien was great in that it depicted a sort of funky reality that wasn’t so buttoned-down like in the original Star Trek.

The Orville is different with the character dynamics and how there is comedy involved; it is kind of its own thing. But yeah, for the rhythms of this kind of sci-fi show, I like a captain on the bridge with his crew. I think it is a classic, archetypal vibe. And maybe a selfish part of me misses it.

There are a lot of technologies shared between Star Trek and The Orville. Although some of the naming is different, you have replicators, warp, tractor beam, communicators and others. But I noticed one you aren’t using – the transporter. Was that just too Trek?

It is probably the most recognizable technology of Star Trek. We are not out to be Star Trek and we are conscientious of it. The transporter, that is a distinct Roddenberry invention and a brilliant one and we weren’t comfortable doing that. There can be no doubt we are paying tribute to the Star Trek ethos – and others such as The Twilight Zone ethos – but we don’t just want to rip shit off.

Victor Garber and Seth MacFarlane The Orville

The science of comedy

The Orville is supposed to be a lighter show, so how much are you still trying to keep it grounded in real science?

That is a really great question. Yes, we have a futurist on staff as science adviser and writer on the show [Andre Bormanis]. It is imperative for the show to be grounded and believable for the comedy to work. I am not expert in comedy, but if it is all completely unmoored and wacky and no connection to reality, then the comedy has no context. It is all comedy. And that is why this can’t be Spaceballs. It is not just the science we want grounded, but the narrative.

We are going to have some episodes that are more dramatic and some that are more comedic, but there is always something at stake. The physical and emotional stakes are always going to be authentic. And that is what is going to nourish this being an hour-long show.

But does that mean that, like on Star Trek, you will still have moments where the script says “insert tech here?”

No, not at all. You are referencing a dark period. That would happen on Next Gen scripts. It’s not that. In fact, I hated that. To me the technical talk at its best is a kind of poetry. It is rhythmic. It has got to sound right and feel right, even if it doesn’t always make complete sense. But The Orville is far less reliant on that kind of thing.

So no teching the tech? No technobabbling your way out of jeopardy?

No. Not so far.

Although perhaps some of that stuff could be the source of comedy, like if someone actually suggested to “reverse the polarity.”

The show’s sweet spot is between homage and having a bit of fun with archetypes, such as during the pilot when Captain Mercer asked the Krill captain to stand center frame, that is one of the first images that Seth came up with. That is the sweet spot for comedy, because of course that would happen and there are other instances for that kind of thing. So, I think what you are saying about technobabble definitely falls into that category. We have not done it yet, but I am sure we can find a way.

You have said you are not a comedy guy and I know that half the writers on the show are more sci-fi drama writers and half are comedy. So how does that work? Do you write a straight sci-fi script and then they go through for a comedy pass?

No. I had two fears coming into this show. One, could I write this kind of story? And the answer was that I think I am OK in that department. And the other thing was I was terrified that I can’t just be funny on paper. But, the fact is we just break these stories together and the spine of these stories is typically dramatic, but the humor is discussed at length when we break the stories. And the writers are expected to do the drama and the comedy in their scripts. Having said that, there were comedy passes and punch ups on all the scripts, but no I was responsible for my own jokes, a lot of which didn’t make it into the show, because Seth’s sense of humor and sensibilities are the final arbiter on this show.

It’s interesting that when it comes to the characters, Seth’s Captain Mercer isn’t the one delivering all the jokes and he plays it a bit more as a straight man.

I think he is a kind of the straight man, but he has many hilarious moments coming up in the season. They are based in character and situational. The Scott Grimes character, Gordon, is more of the wise-cracking character. But I think it is a smart choice on Seth’s part. He is very generous with the comedy. I don’t think he would have been comfortable giving himself all the best jokes. So, I think the captain as straight man is the perfect way to go.

Allegories and arcs in The Orville

You have talked about The Orville gives you a chance to return to allegorical science fiction storytelling like you did with Star Trek. Would you say every episode has a message?

When I grew up my jam was The Twilight Zone. And when I first got a job on Star Trek the way I approached The Next Generation was as an anthology show with a continuing group of characters. There were other writers like Ron Moore who were interested in exploring the cultures and canon that Star Trek had to offer. So, there are many ways to approach it.

This is just perhaps my view and not the other writers, but for The Orville it is an allegorical show. What is so refreshing and what I had missed is that you can explore an idea, not a case. To me the best allegorical does explore an idea from different angles but it never tries to impart a message. I am always careful not to be preachy.

Were there any ideas or allegories you wanted to do during your time with Star Trek but didn’t that you can now address with The Orville?

I can safely say we left nothing on the table with Star Trek. Every viable idea was used. Certainly, there is a freedom in terms of character conflict and character humor that wasn’t part of Star Trek and that was OK. Some writers would complain that without all the human foibles and pettiness, where is the conflict coming from? My response was “Write for another show, because that is the show Gene created.” But in this case, there is a lot more freedom to do different kinds of things. I don’t want to call them stories we didn’t use, but there is all sorts of stuff you can do on The Orville that you couldn’t do on Star Trek.

Can you give me an example?

There is an episode where The Orville crew finds itself in a situation where they need to destroy an enemy vessel, but they actually take into consideration the thing we never did on Star Trek which was there are families aboard that ship.

Even though this show is structured as stand-alone episodes, is this conflict with the Krill – who we met in the pilot – going somewhere?

Yes. There are seeds being laid in season one that could easily be continue in a really cool way in season two. The Krill are explored more thoroughly as the season goes on and we learn more about what they are all about and how their culture is driven by religious zealotry. They are kind of just scary looking albinos in the pilot. You learn a lot more about them.

Peter Macon and Chad Coleman in The Orville

No Orville v Discovery rivalry

Seth has said that The Orville is trying to fill a void that Star Trek left behind for optimistic and non-dystopian storytelling. Some people took that as a hit on Star Trek: Discovery.

That is absolutely not true. Seth has been talking about this show for years to me. Every single episode of this first season was written before we had any clue what Discovery was about. We don’t know enough about Discovery to say what it is exactly, so how could it possibly be an insult?

I think Seth was making a more general statement about the state of science fiction, the state of which has been pretty dark for many years with things like Divergence, The Hunger Games, and a host of other books and movies with a dark and twisted vision of what might happen in the future. One of the best of them to me is The Children of Men, which is a brilliant movie, but it is pretty grim. So, I do think there is a void being filled, but Seth was not commenting on Discovery not filling that void. We just don’t know enough about it and he wouldn’t do that anyway. He isn’t going to slam another show, it’s unprofessional.

You must have seen the various things coming for Discovery.

I have seen the trailers.

What is it like for you to watch a Star Trek thing that you have nothing to do with? Is it weird for you?

I had that weirdness come and go a long time ago when J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek movie came out. It was still fresh enough that I felt a tinge or sting of its absence in my life. With Discovery, I am honestly as excited to see it as any other Star Trek fan. I devour each new trailer the moment it comes out. I am a fan now, I don’t work on the franchise, but I am still a fan.

Braga awaits each trailer for Discovery just like any fan

Prequeling for Enterprise and Discovery

They decided to set Discovery before The Original Series. You and Rick Berman also chose to do a prequel series with Enterprise. You obviously had many different choices, like doing another 24th century show or maybe jump forward to a future century. What were your reasons for jumping back instead of forward? Did you even consider jumping forward?

Of course we did. Rick’s initial inspiration was – and this was still back when the idea of a prequel was still kind of fresh – was to try to do a Star Trek that was kind of closer to you and me. A show where people could wear tennis shoes.

We were always intrigued by the ending of the movie [Star Trek:] First Contact. We often talked about what happened after that? Were Vulcans back then like the Vulcans we had seen on the Star Trek shows? Or were they assholes because they really didn’t believe we were ready, and that always interested us because it was an interesting period in Star Trek history. There were a lot of reasons why we did it.

We also thought it would be fun to go back before all the technology was taken for granted, so like how the transporter is something people would be scared shitless about. It just seemed like a fun place to go. Now we put in this whole thing about the future and the Temporal Cold War. So, we kind of had our cake and ate it too, because we began to deal with things in the 29th century.

In terms of Discovery, from what I understand it takes place between Enterprise and Kirk, so it is more of a splitting of the hair.

Was part of the reasoning to go backwards for a setting, that by the time Voyager was done the technology of Star Trek was approaching magic and if you jumped to another century…

Yeah, what does it mean? Phasers are smaller? The uniforms are tighter. It was hard to imagine at that time what it meant to jump 200 years into the future. Now the technology is not what it is about, it would be about major Star Trek cultural changes. I do think that Roddenberry would say that Star Trek is a forward-thinking show, it is about the future. I am not sure what he would have thought about the prequel. But as you point out having done many, many years of the 24th century, going to the 26th century was hard to wrap my head around.

As co-creator of Enterprise, Braga brought the franchise back to the 22nd century

Second episode airs this Sunday

The second episode of The The Orville will air on Fox this Sunday at 8:00 pm eastern, following an NFL doubleheader. It then moves to its regular Thursday time slot on September 21st at 9 pm.

Here is the latest promo showing what we can expect coming up this season.


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@Braga: “We are not out to be Star Trek”

I’m surprised Brag’s nose didn’t shoot out so far it poked Anthony’s eyeball out, when he said that.

@Curious Cadet,

I know it must be very hard for you but try to stop tr0lling whenever you see an article about Brannon Braga or any of his projects. #Obsession #Axtogrind

To be fair, they’ve been CLEARLY courting the Trekkies, and been going on and on about how much like Star Trek the show would be– albeit with a farcical twist– it feels very disingenuous for him to suddenly turn around and say “we’re not out to be Star Trek.”

It strikes me that he’s trying to court the pro-Discovery audience now.


“they’ve been CLEARLY courting the Trekkies, and been going on and on about how much like Star Trek the show would be– albeit with a farcical twist”

Oh, I do agree. That was actually an effective strategy on their part that attracted a segment of Trekkies, including me, to The Orville; however that wasn’t the point of my comment.

Don’t know if you’re familiar with OP’s past comments but whenever there is an article that mentions Brannon Braga, even in passing, and regardless of the content of the article he will be there bashing the guy non-stop.

I’m not familiar, but we all get to rip on Braga once in a while don’t we?

As for his comments on Orville, it seems to me his plan was to attract the disenfranchised “I hate anything new and different” Trekkies, and now that they’re all on-board, he’s pivoted to “hey, we’re not trying to be Trek, we’re something new and different!” to appeal to the other side.

He doesn’t care that his initial comments divided Trek fans, and pitted them against each other by backhandedly insulting Discovery and Trek-proper (by trying to attract the anti-Discovery crowd he was essentially saying “don’t like DSC? Watch Orville and you’ll get REAL Trek!”). He did this by touting the many Trek connections– casting Penny Johnson, hiring McNeil, Frakes, and tons of behind-the-scenes people. By making the show look like a TNG clone.

And now that he’s divided the audience, he thinks he can turn around and everyone will be friends again. Up until now, they’ve had very little good things to say about Discovery, but all of a sudden you’ll notice it’s “we’re fans too and can’t wait to see the new series!”

“but we all get to rip on Braga once in a while don’t we?”

Nope, speaking for myself, I never have and never will. There was lots to enjoy during the BragaBerman years and at the time, I had a blast catching new Trek week on week. From TNG all they way through to ENT.

Still hoping for a ENT Movie to tie up he story. No Problem with Braga.

Ahmed is just personally offended when anyone dislikes Orville. And not because he loves Orville but because Orville, oddly, has become the avatar by which people who hate Discovery can complain.

I dont get it. One has nothing to do with the other. And if this site wasnt covering Orville, curiously, we’d likely rarely mention it outside of passing, since it is a Star Trek parody.

OMG, “divided Trek fans” ?
Don’t Trek fans have minds of our own?
Can’t we decide what talk we’ll agree with and what we can dismiss as BS? Does this mean we take sides automatically?
Do we really look to showrunners as gods, never to be questioned? To tell us which Trek we should embrace?

Criminy. It’s not the frikkin’ US Constitution, dude.

“I know” it must be very hard for you but try to stop tr0lling whenever you see an article about Brannon Braga or any of his projects. #Obsession #Axtogrind”

I’m sorry, Ahmed, but everytime there is an article about Discovery, you are always the first person to attack the show. A show, I might add, that you have never seen before. I find it wildly hypocritical for you to call somebody else out for criticising something consistently when you do the exact same yourself.

Oh please Ahmed, Cadet is calling it like it is. There was a lot that was straight lifted from Trek, not inspired by Trek. Feels disingenuous now to say oh no we’re not trying to be Trek.

@PEB — I gotta say, the Krill felt lifted straight outta GALAXY QUEST too. The look, temperament, and the whole exchange really. They just painted Sarris and his race white, and did the whole Tim Allen/Sarris exchange, then blew up their ship against all odds in a very similar way at the end.

THAT’S exactly what it was that kept feeling so familiar during that whole exchange. I was like “where have I seen this before? I know I’ve seen this before!”

@Curious Cadet,

I saw Galaxy Quest once many many years ago and while I found it to be entertaining there was very little else I remember about it. Let alone actual exchanges between characters. (Really, only one joke sticks in my head because it was the funniest joke in the movie) To me, the Krill looked very much like Jem-Hedar, BTW. Also I find using the Krill as the name of the antagonists to be a bit weird as that was the name of the bad guys in The Last Starfighter.

Overall, after watching the pilot yesterday I did enjoy the show. It was more humor than drama and quite frankly I’d like it to stay that way. But will they be able to keep it up over an entire season? We shall see.

The bad guys in The Last Starfighter were the Ko-Dan, not the Krill.

Kirok, the Krill reminded me of the Jem’Hadar too. And I find the name amusing because whales feed on krill. Waiting for a “whale” to show up in “Orville.”

Not to sure why anyone would be surprised by this – virtually all of MacFarlane’s work is derivative of Family Guy, so all he needed to do with Orville is stay just far enough from Trek to not get sued by CBS. He’s the Kenny Rogers of broadcast comedy – the arrangements might be different, but you’re always going to get ‘The Gambler’ in some form or another…

Glad to hear Braga say that.
We shall see how it all unfolds.

@Cadet – yeah, when he said they wernt comfortable using the Transporter, he likely meant their lawyers weren’t. lol

I still dont see any on-screen representation of the nice words Braga (and others) say about Orville. It’s like he’s talking about a completely different series than what aired last weekend.

Wait, what? Seth’s character is most definitely NOT the straight man–he cracks at least half the jokes of the story. I actually liked The Orville quite a bit. But let’s keep things honest, here. Seth gave himself most of the best jokes. There’s nothing “straight man” about him.

Being the straight man is not the same as not cracking jokes. It simply means that he’s most normal character and that his jokes are usually reactions to the weirdness around him, rather than weirdness coming from him.

@Eric Cheung

That’s right. Bob Newhart was always the straight man on his shows. Reacting to the goofballs that surrounded him.

@Kirok — but Newhart didn’t get the punchlines. He set them up. In fact, when Newhart tried to tell a joke it was usually a flop. MacFarlane is trying to have his cake and eat it to, and some of us don’t think it works. He just seems like Seth MacFarlane sitting around the writer’s room riffing off stuff rather than a believable earnest character trying to interact with his dysfunctional crew.

I didn’t expect to like the show as much as I did. It was like a TNG episode with added humor, some of it sophomoric, but not as much as I expected from a McFarlane show. Thank god.

I found Mercer likable enough, and McFarlane wasn’t a black hole of acting; he came across as a pretty earnest guy, making a few wisecracks out of unease. I expected a disaster with the ex-wife thing, but it didn’t bother me, especially when they used it to “buy some time” with the Krill captain. “Marriage is wooork,” he says. Heh!

The second officer’s lines about “we are all male and we urinate once a year” was funny to me, because Trek often has an alien character sum up their racial characteristics in a one-liner: “Klingons are a people of honor!” “Vulcans have no emotions,” &c.

In all a loving tribute in TNG-type uniforms to capture an audience that grew up on TNG, and likes some humor within the universe of the show. I liked it and will tune in again, when next I am near a TV. It was a fun hour.

@Braga — Re: The Krill: “There are seeds being laid in season one”

Ha! I see what he did there!

Happy Arbor Day. :-)

You got wood.

That was really the only genuinely funny line in the entire pilot.

I thought “We longer need fear the banana..” was pretty damn funny.

I thought there were a number of amusing lines in the pilot.

“The Krill are explored more thoroughly as the season goes on and we learn more about what they are all about and how their culture is driven by religious zealotry. They are kind of just scary looking albinos in the pilot. You learn a lot more about them.”

Good to hear that. While the show is not serialize I think it is good to develop them over the course of the show.

Especially because in the pilot they were mostly used as a comedic foil. As for the pilot itself I agreed with Anthony and some other reviewers that it felt uneven at times. There was some moments I liked though so I will stick around for some more episodes and see where it goes.

The actor playing the Krill captain was the best thing about the show IMO. Unlike the regular cast, he seemed to get that the joke was on him.

The Krill were a comedic foil, yes, but also scary, with a very powerful ship, and relentless soldiers.

I’ll be watching to see how fresh the plots are, how the dialogue improves (a big need from the pilot), and how organic the characters become. Lots of work needed on the bot, the doctor, the Worf-wannabe, and the helmsman. Pilots are pilots. It was OK, not great. In truth, though, it’s no worse than most of TNG’s first couple of seasons. I will keep watching for now.

Yeah, why does the bot sound as close to Data as possible? For a second I wondered if Brent Spiner was doing the voice.

Hmm, maybe they could feature different male and female actor’s voices — that would be amusing. The android/person could be trying out different voices to experiment with the group s/he is working with, discombobulating the crew a bit.

While Fox had no problem allowing ‘The Orville’ reviews to be out almost a week before the premiere, like every other network/cable/streaming service is doing, CBS won’t allow any reviews until after the premiere on the 24!

You could argue that the early reviews didn’t do The Orville any favors.

@Gary 8.5,

Despite all the horrible reviews The Orville received impressive ratings, with 8.6 million viewers and a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49.

Respectable might be a better word. When the show lands in it’s regular time slot will tell if the audience is buying what Seth is selling.


Not according to Variety, Deadline and Entertainment Weekly.

Per Deadline, ‘The Orville’ matched the debuts of NBC’s drama This Is Us and Fox’s comedy The Mick, the highest-rated launches last season. That’s impressive for a show that was hammered by negative reviews.

Considering that both those shows show the two different ends of the spectrum in terms of long term ratings (with The Mick ending last season with 1.8M viewers), I think its too early to tell anything from the premiere besides the fact that a lot of people were interested in Seth McFarlane’s new show.

Not really a surprise.

@Etymologicool — another excellent comparison is FOX’ own SON OF ZORN, that premiered in the exact same spot last year, following an NFL lead in, with almost the exact same ratings! SON OF ZORN!!! Not sure if anyone saw that little gem, but it didn’t last very long. Funny how some people conveniently over look details like that. It’s highly suggestive that these ratings are a direct result of the prime leading time slot that fox gave it. Add to that Seth MacFarlane has a huge fan base. Yet despite that huge fanbase it still didn’t premeire with any higher ratings than SON OF ZORN. Hard to imagine. Of course, some of that is due to Irma, as I have stated elsewhere, and given the show the benefit of the doubt that the ratings would have been even higher.

I wouldn’t say Zorn had almost the exact same ratings. It premiered with 6.13M viewers. But your point is well taken, as the second episode dropped to 2.6M and the season ended with 1.5M. But I don’t think the network cancelled it solely based on that. Viewers and critics gave it a mixed reaction.

If Orville’s ratings are decent, and the audience score is high, I think they’ll give it another season, assuming the budget doesn’t prevent it from being profitable.

@Etymologicool — ZORN premiered with 6.13M viewers, but still only a 2.4 rating for 18-49, out of 6.1M viewers. That’s what’s being looked at by FOX. ORVILLE had a 2.3 rating for 18-49, out of 7.3M viewers. So the bottom line is ORVILLE had a lower rating for the coveted age group, even though it had a million more viewers. That said, Florida wasn’t in those live viewer overnights for ORVILLE this time around, and I think the ratings would have been even higher, just based on the fact that this premiere obviously represents a huge following for Set MacFarlane — a following ZORN did not have, yet the ratings are pretty similar. And that’s the point, as well as you correctly point out ZORN took a massive dive in the ratings never finding an audience. So initial ratings such as these are mostly meaningless (unless we get the 1/2 hour breakdowns to see what kind of falloff it had, which we don’t). I expect fans of Seth MacFarlane and TNG/TREK to keep ORVILLE’s ratings much higher for much longer, however. But in the end, it still has to find an audience. Afterall, MacFarlane’s fan base alone couldn’t make A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST a success, not could he and Mark Wahlberg together make TED 2 a success. At some point the production has to be good too.

I would’ve gone to see “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” except misogyny seemed to feature largely. The main female character was, y’know, a prostitute. Really, Seth? And the TED movies, though a friend of mine said they were funny, I just didn’t go, because ugh, really?

I hope MacFarlane doesn’t sink to that level in “The Orville.”

@Marja — one very REAL possibility here is that if the ratings drop, particularly the 18-49 demo, then FOX will likely start putting pressure on MacFarlane to move the series more toward his patented brand of humor. FOX is already marketing it that way now. My feeling is that’s not going to change much, especially if the ratings start to fall. So that leaves pushing to show to match the marketing and audience expectations.

Yes, the ratings were good. But I think anything less and they’d e disappointing. They certainly weren’t “amazing”. They had tons of hype from FOX, was created by Seth and had an NFL lead in. Anything less than what it did would have been bad.

Curiously, it flips to Thursday, avoiding Star Trek’s debut. Is that a coincidence? is something else debuting on Fox next sunday?

TUP, Well, maybe they’ve reached the realistic conclusion that some fans might like to watch both shows?

Needless competition has killed off too many shows.

@Phil — I suspect that it’ll take a few episodes after it lands in its Thursday time slot. I sort of expect FOX chose the third episode to move it into its new time slot, as that’s the worst reviewed episode of the three, and fox likely knows it. So ratings will likely drop over episode 3 & 4 until it’s live audience catches up with the move, and as most will have missed the third episode, continue giving it their eyeballs. So episode 5 & 6 will be the episode to first look for the change. I’d be interested to see the half-hour breakdown of ORVILLE’s premiere as that would offer some interesting insight into the viewer fall-off after the first half-hour. But even epsiode 5, which is supposed to be Frakes’ episode, will likely spike ratings just from the Trek fans who will want to check it out — I know I’m curious to see it as well.

@Curious Cadet

I’m not so sure Trek fans will tune I. Just because Frakes directed and episode. Did his Enterprise (or any other TNG actor directed episodes) get bigger numbers than others? How about episodes Frakes has directed from other shows like The Librarians”?

@Kirok — not sure. Did Star Trek sites like this one report on these things? This is the first time in 10 years that there’s been any Star Trek on TV, and within that time, the first time any Trek alumni have been involved with anything like Trek on the air. And the way MacFarlane has gone about it, he’s basically promoted his show as an extension of TNG, and in doing so has evidently driven something of a wedge between those fans who feel disenfranchised that DISC — and seizing on that opportunity. I had no idea that Frakes directed an episode of the LIBRARIAN, nor do I particularly care. But as a Trek fan who has some interest in the ORVILLE as a Trek parody, where it’s been promoted that Frake’s going to direct, I’m definitely more interested to see what he brings to it than any non-Trek alumni directing, or really continuing to watch if it doesn’t get any better by then. I believe anything MacFarlane does to pander to TNG fans will help keep the ratings of his show elevated, which is why as I suggest elsewhere that they are likely courting Trek alums to appear in the show as gust stars. I know I would watch just to see Shatner in a recurring role as a cantankerous admiral, whereas I would never watch Shatner in SH!# MY DAD SAYS.

@Curious…. So if I read this right, you figured because you would be more interested in the Frakes directed episode than a non Frakes directed one many others would too. Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve seen Frakes directed episodes of other shows and have never gotten more than a “he’s still working it seems” reaction from me.

@Gary — there’s a lot of secrecy surrounding DISC. It could be just as likely that CBS doesn’t want any surprises to leak before the premiere. They also might be trying to protect their network launch and don’t want people to pre-judge a plot reviewed, good or bad, for a new series they haven’t seen.

Regardless, as far as I can tell this rumor has not been substantiated by CBS, and appears to be based on a tweet. It’s reported CBS does plan to screen two episodes on Tuesday of next week, so they’re doing exactly what FOX did, which is wait until 5 days before the broadcast to allow critics to see the series, and/or report on it. Whether they really prevent any reviews from being filed prior to the broadcast remains to be confirmed. And if they do, there’s reason enough and precedent by other highly rated and critically reviewed series like Game of Thrones.

@Cadet – thats what I thought to. Based on the business model, they arent trying to convince last minute channel surfers to give it a try. So the pre-screen aspect isnt as important.

I DO know, reading some Fall Preview sites, a lot of shows that debut late had provided screeners. But I cant think of any that were story-driven like Star Trek where protecting the content was really important.

If they end up screening a couple of episodes next week, its actually pretty smart (assuming the reviews are psitive) as they’d have the field to themselves mostly.

Despite near-universal scorn — The Orville may well be the worst-reviewed TV series of 2017 — the premiere managed some pretty respectable ratings. I suspect CBS would dread a similar debacle, but in the end critics’ opinions don’t really decide these things. So it’s entirely possible that they’re just safeguarding the secrets of the show, as they’ve been doing all through the year. Or, maybe it does suck. People will tune in on the 24th out of loyalty to Trek and/or varying degrees of curiosity, whatever the consensus as to its quality. If it’s good there will be favorable word-of-mouth and subscriptions to All Access; no one will care about a review embargo. If not, given their investment I assume CBS will stick with it for a time in the hope that the situation will improve. We’ll know for certain in just ten days. In any event, it’s just TV.

Hopefully, good TV.

Your bias is showing.

There is a press screening on Tuesday, but according to those in the know, there are HEAVY spoilers in the premiere they don’t want to leak ahead of its airing.

Some key excerpts from the EW article:

“The plan is similar to how HBO handled the return of Game of Thrones this summer (no screeners, one press screening, reviews with any significant details embargoed), and how David Lynch insisted Showtime manage the return of Twin Peaks this year.”

“Discovery has managed to be almost entirely free of outright leaks despite a high level of curiosity, which is saying something nowadays (as HBO can attest). Even the show’s cast hasn’t seen an episode yet.”

There was a reddit post I was reading yesterday regarding the lockout news. Most responses I read were ‘Red Flag, Red Flag!!!’ See it sucks!. gah…

Reddit is a sewer.

I’m sure there is a r/sewer :)

Actually I find Reddit waaaaay more positive than this place lol. Most people there actually DO like Star Trek and sound like true fans of it. But sure, its the internet, you will always find naysayers, especially on a site as big as that one.

Usually Trek sites attract Trek fans. Regular sites like this one and a couple others seem to attract people who hate it too, for some reason. Im not sure why.

But seeking out a reddit sub group just to complain seems odd. Im not a reddit user though, so I dont know.

@SHiiNZoN — this could just as easily be a smear campaign by someone looking to see CBS fail, by getting negative talk spreading without anything to substantiate it. In other words, “Fake News”. Funny that it comes on the heels of ORVILLE”s disastrous reviews.

@Curious Cadet. Of course, I only read into it as such. Am well attuned from too many years worth of this sort of crap that almost everything must be viewed with a cynical eye :) The shame that it is.

I have looked forward to Discovery since it was first confirmed, many have said that it won’t even get this far. I am glad they were wrong. Too many naysayers shouting to anyone who will listen will not deter me from watching something for myself.

I even watched Orville, it was ok but not for me.

@Curious Cadet,

LOL! Anthony Rapp must be part of the “smear campaign” against CBS then!


Rapp: “Screeners won’t be sent out to avoid leaks. Critics can attend screenings but must hold onto their reviews until after the episodes air.”

What are you talking about? Its been well known CBS held back screeners. Ive been pointing that out for weeks.

It could be a smear campaign by someone who’s pissed about the “you only see it if you pay” model. The separate subscription is a major turn-off for me, although I think it’ll grant the showrunners more freedom than having to deal with a “free” network model.

So I may sign up at the end of the season, so I can see the story in succession without a week-long wait in between. At least I hope so.


I read the article and the very first paragraph after your first quote is this:

“Yet those examples have a key difference: GoT was coming into its seventh season as a worldwide hit and Twin Peaks was the continuation of an iconic show. Discovery is the latest entry in a legendary sci-fi franchise but it’s still an entirely new series with a new cast, setting, and storyline. Typically, networks try to get new shows in front of as many media insiders as they can, as soon as they can, and want as much press as possible.”

Nice of you to zero in on that one comment and ignore the rest. So yes, your bias is showing. Pro Orville, Anti Discovery.

@Etymologicool — exactly. The fact is, new show or not, it is bringing all the strength and hype of the entire franchise, as well as a lot of pent up demand for Trek on TV. This is every bit as big an event as GOT or Twin Peaks. Or TMP. No SPOILERS!

And the business model is such that they dont need to be in regular fall tv reviews. Its totally different.

I like it because Im a spoiler junkie. I cant help myself. But I would love to go into Discovery on the 24th completely cold!


You provided a quote that fits with your views and neglected to post the very next paragraph that undermines it, now that’s bias.

The EW article went on to list reasons from CBS insiders for the embargo and described it as “understandable” but still called the embargo “super unusual”

Yeah, Ahmed, but I think it’s more a case of avoiding super-analysis by Trek fans of all stripes regarding any spoiler-type aspects of the first episodes. Since the showrunners are looking at a season-long arc, I think they want to surprise viewers along the way.

The cast, particularly the main characters, looks really good.

The alien who senses death seems an odd character — wouldn’t entropy just torture him every day? — but I’ll be interested to see how he fits in ….


While I’m still not sure about the lead actress I do agree about the cast, especially James Frain, Michelle Yeoh and Jason Isaacs.


As for the spoilers, here is what a critic from The Hollywood Reporter said about that.

Tim Goodman tweeted: “That’s usually the go-to excuse. It’s mostly to protect turn-out if there are bad reviews and to increase All Access subscriptions.”

Considering the premiere is on antenna TV, I’m not sure how it would encourage subscriptions: if the first episode is terrible, nobody will subscribe, whether they read about it before hand or the day after.

@Etymologicool — I’ve no doubt they don’t want to discourage subscriptions, and a leaked review with spoilers can do plenty of harm whether it’s a good review or bad. Think what learning about Khan did to poison the well and turn people off in STID. It doesn’t even have to be on that scale with Trek fans, all it has to do is get them riled up over some minor event they haven’t even seen in context, and the entire narrative for the show could go negative.

Curious, Yeah, but Khan also seemed like a sort of desperate measure to ensure a certain audience would attend, while STID would have done better without. Cumberbatch’s worldwide appeal alone would have drawn in plenty of viewers without that ridiculous, awkward Khan plot element. Feh!

@Marja — of course. And then what did they do? The exact same thing with Idris Elba — the only thing worse than not identifying him, and showcasing his work without being buried deep inside makeup, would have been to find out he was also Jonathan Archer.


Yes, by all means go around and around and around on this. The show will be great, the show will suck, the embargo is just to prevent spoilers; the embargo proves it’s a dud. Whatever, keep spinning your wheels. On 09/24, and only then, will I know for sure. I know the DSC producers have worked hard, because putting together something like this isn’t easy, and nerds are notoriously fickle. So I’ll give them a fair chance to impress me with their hard work, just as I gave J.J. Abrams and Seth MacFarland a fair chance to impress me with theirs. They failed, but I don’t fault them for trying.

I don’t know why there’s an embargo. I don’t care. I don’t know if the show will be good or bad. I will watch on 9/24.

But conspiracy theories and bias shenanigans really get my goat. Remember Wonder Woman was under embargo until 24 hours before it’s premiere too.


“Remember Wonder Woman was under embargo until 24 hours before it’s premiere too.”

That’s not true. The embargo broke on Monday, May 29 and the movie was released five days later on June 2.

Its now come out, its not an embargo. Screenings next week. They are restricting reviews until Sunday night though, to avoid spoilers.

if it sucks, it sucks and no amount of hiding reviews will hide that. If anything, they are creating a spotlight situation.

If it sucked, better to have the lousy review be lost within the noise of 20 other reviews as part of all the Fall TV stories.

CBS is creating a scenario where Star Trek will stand on its own, good or bad. Sunday night and Monday, its either getting praised loudly and everywhere…or hammered.

One suspects they’re confident.

And Wonder Woman ROCKED.

@Michael Hall,

Take a deep breath, it’s just TV!

@Ahmed – good point. Try to remember it. You seem very upset when anyone is critical of Orville or positive about Discovery. Do you own stock in either? Just relax man. lol

What I said, thanks

hahah yes, Discovery is TERRIBLE. Let’s go with that. Especially to defend how awful Orville is.

Come on. Not pre-screening is a trick of film studios to avoid being trashed when they have a big budget flop.

So yes that COULD be the reason. But considering CBS extended the season its unlikely to be terrible. But you never know.

Odds are its exactly what they say. They dont need reviews and dont want to blow spoilers.

Personally, I don’t class “Orville” as “awful.” I gave it a chance, and was pretty pleased. It didn’t rock my world, but it was a fun, adventurous hour. No, it didn’t break new ground, it was mostly fun.

That is pretty much what most of figured. I actually made the point for weeks now that CBS did not sent out advanced screeners and Im surprised it took this long for the usual suspects to jump on it. And only then to defend the poor reviews of Orville (Orville might suck but at least they let people know it sucked in advance – lol).

CBS might want tighter controls if there are heavy spoilers. And really, its a strategy. It builds anticipation. If media outlets report that the screeners are super secret, CBS is super protective etc, its good.

If certain outlets are invited to screen and asked to avoid reporting spoilers, it creates a sudden wave of reviews right before the premeire. Assuming Discovery is good, that would be a great thing for CBS.

But given their business model they want to drive SUBS, not one night views. Certainly, they aint gonna get 8 million people watching. And they dont need to.

Ahhh so the screening is the tuesday AFTER it premieres?

There HAS to be some crazy twists in the premiere.

What could they be…? Lorca is Garth? Discovery is from the Future? Spock is in the show? Enterprise shows up?

TUP, I kinda hope Lorca is Garth :-)

I just think we should give both shows a chance and not decide beforehand if we like or dislike them. “Orville” sort of proved that to me; I was prepared to sigh heavily and dislike it and was pleasantly surprised.

Finally someone other than me has mentioned this! lol Yes, Discovery was not screened. And thus, most Fall TV Review sites only had passing mention of it.

The reason is 1) because it sucks and they know it 2) to preserve elements they dont want leaked.

Generally, in film, if you have a big budget flop on your hands and you don’t provide screeners, its a very bad sign.

Is it a bad sign for Discovery? We wont know til the 24th.

I tuned in to watch Orville and changed the channel halfway through. What a horrible show. Seth really can’t act his way out of a paper bag. The sets were generic and bland. And the humor, as I suspected, was juvenile. The effects were great, they obviously spent a lot of money to look that slick. I know that MacFarlane wants his ego project out there, but casting himself as the lead was a mistake in my opinion. The initial ratings may have been strong, but a new show will usually have a strong debut. It’s whether or not they keep those ratings or if they drop off that counts. This show may be be fun for the Orvillites… but I’ll pass on future episodes.

A whopping 12.5 million viewers tuned into the Enterprise pilot “broken bow”, but of course we all know how that turned out…

Yup. I think you can tell a lot by BAD ratings for a hyped show for the premiere. But good ratings? No. Have to give it some time. But Im constantly amazed by some of the shows that get renewed so you never know.

I would suspect Seth is given every opportunity by FOX. But it cant be a cheap show, so who knows.

But that pilot episode was actually GOOD.

@Trek fan 67

I enjoyed he show and will continue to record it. But the ship sets… They totally had a green screen vibe to them that just looked cheesy. I find that unfortunate but it’s not going to stop me from watching future episodes.

If MacFarlane begins to see that his lead acting role is not serving the show, maybe he’ll kill off his character and get another actor in. I think he’s smart enough to know that some people may just dislike him as an actor. If it’s enough to affect ratings and the life or death of his “heart project,” I suspect he’ll cop wise to that and act accordingly.

The humor was sometimes juvenile/sophomoric. If you were in the military, you’d know why. Sometimes it’s a defense when you’re nervous. Sometimes the humor was observational from the POV of a long-time Trek fan.

@Marja — we think alike! I would love nothing more than MacFarlane taking a backseat one way or the other. I’ve already proposed a scenario where he becomes a Menagerie Pike-like character, since nobody wants to kick him off the ship, he just rolls around in a brain powered wheel chair life-support box, blinking his single light furiously. It would also be a dream to have someone like Shatner agree to a recurring role, or anybody from the entire franchise really. Kate Mulgrew would be just as humorous as a cantankerous admiral as Shatner would be. I’d eagerly watch that show!

Unfortunately I’m not sure Seth’s ego wouldn’t get in the way. I’d like to believe it wouldn’t. But this is kind of a dream for him. Hard to give it up and let somebody else do it while you watch for anybody — much less a guy who’s long been used to running the show and getting his way.

My jury vote is still out on The Orville, but…
… the best bit in the premiere had to be
“He’s got a gun. But we’ve got something better.”

@Captain Dunsel — yup, one of the oldest, most overused trick in the Hollywood playbook.

Oldest, most overused, but still totally unexpected in the context of Star Trek. It’s poking fun at 50 years worth of failing inertial dampers and people on the bridge falling out of their chairs. ;)

@Paul — totally, but correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Trek, particularly TNG era, pull very similar stunts on numerous occasions? Turning off the inertial dampers on purpose, or turning off artificial gravity to foil the bad guys? Heck didn’t they do something like that in STV when they were docking the shuttle? My point is, is it really poking fun at Trek when the guys writing it were the same ones who used the exact same technique over and over in the thing they’re now poking fun at?

But who is better to poke fun at stuff like this than the people who had expereience writing it. These guys have given plenty of interviews where they know some of the stuff they wrote came off silly at times, but its Star Trek, thats the show. And when you look at things in hindsight, its even easier to make fun of. Thats why TOS has been lampooned to death over the decades.


It reminds me of a story from the TOS days. A fan wrote a letter suggesting the bridge crew have seatbelts. The reply was “If the chairs had seatbelts the actors couldn’t fall out of them”.

I did like the fact we finally got them in STID.

So, homage is a synonym for copy?

That show seemed s-o-o-o boring.

Actually it put me to sleep after the first ten minutes.

I guess I was tired. So that’s My review.

You weren’t tired, The Orville was boreville. Seth and Company…please immerse yourself in MASH, the tv series and take lots of notes. That is textbook dramedy done to perfection. You would do well to copy it as well.

30 minutes and I might have thought it was a lot better. 60 minutes is very boring. Far too long for three jokes. No one cares about their BS science either. Its a comedy spoof.

No transporter, but a full tribute to the “hijacked shuttle returns to the Enterprise” scene from Star Trek V. Didn’t know whether to avert my eyes, or just laugh along with it. I did more of the former. What does God need with “The Orville” anyway?

Orville reminded me why TV comedies benefit from being 30 minutes long. ‘Brevity is the soul of wit,’ as they say. So they should probably play up the drama as an hour long show. The dramedy angle ain’t quite working.

Its been literally one episode. I think we have to see a few more before any hard conclusions can be made.

It’s on Fox. You may not get a few more, haha.

Agreed. Ill give it a couple more episodes. Although they might not be able to make any quick changes based on feedback. How many episodes are in the can?

…great article! great show! =)
but the comments here generally suck, with the notable exception of @Ahmed ;-)

I’ve noticed that Ahmed does indeed make some amazingly great comments from time to time. Which is prett good for internet threads.

I agree, Ahmed does make good comments. Most people here do. Unfortunately, he makes some really negative-for-the-sake-of-negative comments too. And will insult and be rude for no reason. But I enjoy reading him. I like all sides of a debate/discussion.

Interesting comments. Yeah I watched the pilot for sure and like others it didn’t feel all there but enough there to intrigue me. It kind of was what I was expecting and I did geniunely laugh at a lot of it. The only thing that took me out is when they landed on the planet and its like they landed in somewhere in San Jose lol. But I know they only have so much budget. Its definitely NOT Discovery in that regard. But I liked the characters and its fun to see anything about exploration. And he’s right how sci fi is so dark these days. I mean I love The Expanse for example, but my god, watching that is like watching your kids slowly dying. Its a pretty bleak show but it is very good. But yes, I love my Star Trek, optimism and all, even when they are fighting in every two episodes. ;)

“somewhere in San Jose” locations — the Vasquez Rocks of TOS, and many of the locations in TNG. Shrug, and an affectionate LOL.

Yeah but it literally looks like they landed in San Jose lol. It just felt like a city on Earth basically.

there aren’t enough people commenting on how pedestrian this show is. very underwhelming

Well, issacs, maybe you could sockpuppet, then the ratio might please you more.
Not that I’m suggesting sockpuppeting.
I’m suggesting that what you think is not represented so heavily because it may not be what that many other people think.

Opinions are like a certain bodily orifice, everybody has one.

I loved Enterprise and still miss it. It ended just as it was fulfilling what a prequel show should be like. I hope we can have a Netflix mini-series about the Romulan War, & Birth of the Federation to cap it off someday. Beyond last year with its Franklin NX and MACO crew, were basically the highlight of that movie and really confirmed what we missed seeing.

I totally agree. Lots of lost opportunity after the series ended.

Yeah, the tensions and skirmishes and politics of the Romulan war, interspersed with scientific and cultural exploration, would have made for an interesting series.

I thought the birth of the Federation happened at the end of “Enterprise,” have I forgotten something?

I watched the pilot, and here are my impressions.

First, I was surprised that the drama-comedy balance actually tipped as much towards drama as it did; but frankly, the drama wasn’t that compelling. In particular, the captain’s ex-wife is his first officer? Gimme a break. If you’re aiming for realistic drama, that’s a ridiculous premise, almost as bad as Kirk’s cadet-to-captain-in-a-day trope of Star Trek 09. There’s a reason organizations frown on relationships between managers and subordinates, much less ex-spouse relationships. The remainder of the plot (evil alien race wants to steal some macguffin) was simplistic, even by the standards of 1980s stand-alone episodes. And TV has moved on since then.

Second, the humor was pretty much vintage MacFarlane. That’s not necessarily bad; I like Family Guy well enough, and I really like AMERICAN DAD, which I think is his masterwork. But does it translate well from half-hour animated work to full-hour live-action? I don’t think so. Regardless of whether you think the humor was sophomoric, it stuck out like a sore thumb. I can see a line like “does this mean we’re not going home at 5” in FUTURAMA or FAMILY GUY; not here.

Third, the acting. Er, sorry, but not one of these actors, not even the much-ballyhooed Adrianne Palicki, came off as polished. TNG and even Galaxy Quest were extraordinarily well acted. No one here is a Patrick Stewart or an Alan Rickman, or even a comedic genius like Alan Alda or Bronson Pinchot. They were…well, stiff. Brent Spiner did a better job of adding comedic flashes to Data. The data and Word clones here? Not so much.

Fourth, I did like the production values, although the bridge seems a bit spartan.

I’ll give it a few episodes, but it hasn’t exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations, and I’m skeptical that will change.

Personally I would love for this show to succeed beyond season 1. It has the potential to be brainless fun :)

Your analysis is pretty much spot on with the majority of viewers who are willing to give it a chance. I hope the showrunners are taking notes and open to addressing these later on in the season.

As would I, Doctor. Any laughs I can get, especially along the lines of Trek-Lite, I’ll take. I hope it does well. I enjoyed the pilot.

Brainless yes. Fun. No.

I wonder if the dynamic would have worked better of the ex wife was the doctor. For one it would have been less illogical than two ex spouses with a poor relationship serving as the two commands. And it would have been more of a spoof of TNG.

TUP, true that! And Penny would have made a great XO. Tension could have happened from the “younger captain promoted over me to CO, I don’t know why”!

@The River Temarc — it’s funny you point out that exchange at the helm. I just happened to see THE DEADLY YEARS last night, and there’s a moment before Kirk returns to the bridge that Chekov is complaint to sulu, saying if he lives long enough he’ll run out of samples … Now that’s funny. And it’s real funny — organic humor that arises out of the situation, that fills the time between Kirk’s previous exit from a different location, and next entrance on the other words, a reason for us to see it, and specific to the story, not some generic joke that could be a catch phrase every episode after the pilot learns about this episodes problem-of-the-week.

That’s because Gene Coon was really good at writing humorous scenes that arose from character.

That’s ep is a good example of the naturally occurring humor in other ways, like when McCoy doing the ‘just a plain country doctor’ with Spock still zinging him for it.

@kmart — even Trouble with Tribbles which was conceived as a comedy, presents the humor in real situations — they’re not just tossing off one-liners. The humor’s organic to the story.

@The River Temarc

Wow…. Bronson Pinchot is comedic genius to you? (Head spins)

Btw… After Stewart the acting on TNG falls over a cliff. Spiner is the next best but he’s merely serviceable. Take Stewart out of the equation and the Orville cast seems just as talented as the TNG cast.

@Kirok, I made that comment on the basis of having seen him in a couple of productions of Shakespeare in the Park in NY about ten years ago. Not PERFECT STRANGERS, which was on before I was old enough to seriously watch it.

I also disagree with you about the TNG cast. Yes, Stewart is the best, but Gates McFadden (who has a stage background, and it shows) and Spiner were excellent, and Dorn only a hair less so. Frakes also easily gets the award for “most improved acting” during the series, and by the end of it I’d put him on par with Dorn. Sirtis is the only one I’d describe as “serviceable,” and some of that was due to the fact they couldn’t figure her character out until seasons 6-7. At any rate, TNG was much, much better acted than TOS.

Braga and co. are being really careful to pretend they aren’t making a TNG rip-off, when they clearly are. I guess they’re just covering their a**es.
It’s not a “good” show. That said, I’m enjoying it.

@Phik — well said. I’m actually enjoying it so far too. At the moment morbid curiosity is driving me after that pilot, and of course I’m interested to see Frakes contribution on episode 5. So I’m in at least that far. As others have mentioned, what would really compell me to watch is if they get someone like Shatner to play a recurring role as a cantankerous admiral — true MASH style. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that between MacFarlane and Braga they are working every contact they have to make something like that happen.

Sigh. It’s like waiting to catch a fish with no bait on your hook. Frakes contribution is as a director, they are all whores for hire. They don’t have much if anything to say about the script. It’s bland, it’s dull, it’s shiny baubles without substance. What do you mean…. Oooh look at the bright colors.

Ouch, Bert, “whores for hire”? How about TV directors who like to work and have some experience on Trek-like shows?

Bert Beukema,

Re: …catch a fish with no bait on your hook.

If you had actually ever fished with a rod and line, you’d know that is not as futile an act as you are trying to paint it. An unbaited hook can still be made to lure in the hands of an experienced angler.

While the pilot was a bit rough in places I am giving this show a chance. My wife also enjoyed it immensely.

Oh, and Adrianne Palicki *ahem*

My daughter absolutely loved it. We’ll be tuning in each week.

My wife was in stitches during a couple of parts, too. We’ll be tuning in as well.

My dog loved it. She also loves chasing cats and rolling in stinking dead things.

I watched it and I am hopeful that it will improve. But, let’s be clear; there aren’t any Star Trek shows on TV this year. Sci-Fi, maybe, Trek no.

That’s actually not true. I’m not sure if you’ve been following the news, but there’s a new Star Trek show on CBS All Access later this month, Star Trek: Discovery.


Maybe he’s referring to TV and not tablets and phones when he says TV?

Oh well then you might not have heard, but there’s a new Star Trek show on CBS All Access later this month, Star Trek Discovery, and you can watch it on your TV.

you mean… …and you can watch it on your TV*.

*If you jump over all the hurdles we set in front of that. So just watch on your tablet. It’s easier.

Been down this road, ML. let it go. No hurdles for most people. is plugging in your Blu Ray player a hurdle?

There are many shows you can watch that are actually worth your time. This Orville shit is not one of them. If you want to watch Star Trek, you can watch literally hundreds of episodes. I don’t get why people sit like zombies in front of their tv’s anyway, waiting until something happens that might be ‘ok’. Go read a book.

Or maybe some of us like what we saw and want to see more?

Like a junkie likes heroine and want to have more? I can’t imagine why anyone would want to shoot this mediocre crap up their brains besides being hypocritical junkies. Bland characters without personalities, check. Bland scripts, ripped off from better shows, check. Creative copying from better shows up to music, costumes and otherwise, check. Third rate actors, check. I don’t know, if you want to see more of this shit then by all means, kill your braincells.

Criminey, Bert, Okay, I get that you hate it. For me it was a fun jaunt down average TNG episode lane. And I laughed a few times. I also see movies that make me laugh. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m a frikkin’ brainless idiot in your book.

Oh, wait, I enjoyed the JJ Trek movies too.

Bert comes off like an arrogant pompus idiot. Sadly you have to deal with people like this on the internet. Wow, he didn’t like the one episode he saw, has now chucked the entire series up to DOA and expect the rest of us to think like him or we are all idiots. Yes TV shows NEVER get better, especially after one episode. People like this are annoying but sadly there is no ignore button.

Tiger, it’s a darn good thing that viewers gave TNG more of a chance innit!

So true!

Marja, in his book liking The Orville and the JJ Trek movies makes you a “frikkin’ brainless idiot”. Pay no attention to him and maybe he will dry up and be Gone With the Wind.

Bert, most people don’t sit like zombies in front of the tv, as I’m thinking you do. In my house about the only time the tv is turned on is when my daughter is playing video games. And we do read books. Lots of them. The library in my basement has over 5,000 titles. Your opinion about The Orville is strictly your opinion and has no standing with me and very likely anybody else.

I did not like the Bridge.

The bridge is too bright and open plan for my taste, and looks nothing like the Enterprise D bridge, which had an ellegant feel, a charming layout and a warm look. The orville looks simplistic and bland as hell. I hope that they change the Bridge (or at least renovate) if they get renewed for a second season.

Did not like the superpowers thing… a woman punching through a strong wall… flying over some more walls…. please, just No…

But I found some enjoyment from the pilot. I hope that the show works out, it has a good concept, but the I think execution must be better if the show is to get a second season next year.

I thought the bridge looked as much like the TNG bridge that it could be without actually being the TNG bridge. And that was the only part that looked real. The rest felt like it was all green screen.

It was definitely homage of TNG bridge. I thought it looked boring and cheap. But it might have been a gag about the large space of the TNG bridge.

Yeah I don’t mind the bridge but for being the main set that everyone will identify it with, they could’ve done a bit more with it. It doesn’t have to look as top notch as TNG but it could be better.

It seems weird that they didn’t do three-quarters angles and that they didn’t bias the light to create some contrast. Somebody seemed hell bent on showing as much bare wall as possible, it was like they were saying ‘look at this set’ instead of ‘watch these characters in their environment,’ actually distracting as all Hell (which is how I found a lot of the fiberglassyness of TNG’s bridge, too.)

That is exactly what the TNG bridge looked like. Boring and cheap. So if their goal was to pay homage then mission accomplished.

:^) The TNG bridge wasn’t cheap-looking, but yeh

It didn’t look anything close to cheap. And I loved it was streamlined. It didn’t look so busy like I felt the NX-01 looked but I will still say Voyager is probably my favorite looking one out of all of them.

A person punching through a wall like that would probably wreck their hands, at the very least. But, really, that was just the setup for a joke. Which is the problem.

Punch? Hmmmm…I wasn’t paying that much attention because I knew what was coming when he told security to open it but I only recall a lot of foot action.

Well,if she did punch it we know they are building on Superman’s alien origins so I imagine whatever explanation 7 decades of comic readers find acceptable to explain his being able to do it applies. I recall a density explanation for Supes, i.e. evolving in a higher gravity world Kryptonians are much denser than Earth creatures.


Also our yellow sun was a factor in Superman having superpowers on Earth.


Re: yellow sun

That was invented later. The Original Superman got his strength and dense skin from his ancestors evolving on a plenet with higher gravity than Earth’s

Yeah, the superpowered female security officer was a bit odd. She simply could have cranked open the door. Why break it down, when with her light weight, it seemed physically impossible? Humor, mebbe.


Well size and volume alone are no indication of mass, ergo weight. Density is a factor. Of course, what the delicate balance is between her and Supes being dense enough to break it down AND still be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound with their powerful muscles, I do not know, but some comic book fan somewhere’s probably worked it out long ago.

The Orville is my Star Trek now, particularly since I won’t be watching Discovery. It isn’t Star Trek.

I will be watching Marlon Wayans new show. That’s my Star Trek now.

Ill be watching the new Law & Order. Thst’s my Star Trek now. Actually, Law & Order: Star Trek might not be bad…

I’m telling you…. Starfleet JAG is perfect for CBS.

@Kirok – I agree actually. Perhaps if CBS wants to expand the universe to keep new Trek across All Access all year. It would seem to be a “cheaper” program (more earth based and character driven).

But you could still include “flashbacks” to the event in question or simply show us. Have the JAG have their own ships or ships assigned to them..assuming they have to go on the road for some cases. Lets us really delve deep into the minutiae of Trek

Hee, yeah, TUP, I actually think that might be a good idea. After all, with 400-1000 crewmembers living together, UCMJ happens. I think it could be quite interesting!

I’d rather watch any of the Ferengi ‘comedy’ episodes than Orville, the bland creative black hole. Remember those? The ones you all hated. They’re better than this lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s so funny. Just two months ago saying the name ‘Brannon Braga’ would have you dipshits foaming at your mouths because of all the crap he made. Now he is doing exactly that and guess what, suddenly you’re all kneeling at his altar. Hypocrites.

Stephen Colbert is my new President now.

That’s how I feel. I hope people enjoy Discovery, but I really don’t have any interest in it. I really liked the pilot for Orville, and I feel that’s going to scratch my Star Trek itch for the time being.

But shouldn’t you at least give it a chance the same way people like me gave Orville a chance? What I mean is there was really NOTHING in the trailers about Orville that excited me. I only watched it because I kept reading all the interviews off this site about it but the actual footage did little to nothing for me. And now, while I still didn’t love the pilot I admit I am more intrigued than I thought I would be.

I guess I’m saying if you are a long time Trek fan, it seems like you will at least give it a shot because trailers don’t give the whole story. But yes, if you are not happy wits a prequel, it looks too different from the original era, the war aspect, etc, etc, etc then yeah I guess its going to be harder.

The pilot was nice. I think the series needs a bit of time to really gel, but it definitely has a lot of potential. I like it that everything is light and fun.

Wow, great interview. Braga really addressed all of the major issues in a substantial way.

What’s left now is to see if the show lives up to its own ideals. I’m not sure that Supertree from Ep.1 is actually grounded in real science*——it seems more akin to Megamaid from SPACEBALLS——but, The Orville obviously knows and has well articulated what it wants to be. I hope that the show actually executes the plan that Braga has outlined here, because it’s a good plan.

* Come on…a tree with not one, single vulnerability? Not even Kryptonite?!? Supertree was obviously written as an easy plot device to destroy the Krill ship (as opposed to a thought-provoking science-fiction concept). I know that Braga & Bormanis can do better than that.


The just took the whole weeds growing through asphalt to the extreme and made a Supertree that grows through metal. It was a fun and new way to destroy an enemy ship.

I liked the tree thing.


It might be fun and new, but it’s not credible as a science fiction concept. Megamaid was fun and new, too. I’m just saying that the show needs to decide which direction it’s going in, and Supertree is more in the zany, screwball comedy direction than in the direction that Braga and MacFarlane have said they want the show to go in.


Also, asphalt is soft and porous compared to the materials that a starship hull would likely be made of. Asphalt, especially if it’s hot, has considerable give to it. It cracks due to weather conditions, and weeds can grow up through the cracks. If a starship hull were like that, nobody would want to ride on that ship!


Re: Supertree

It’s only appears super and invulnerable because the time technology masks its vulnerability. In the same exposition explaining its amazing nourishing abilities, it is revealed that its growth rate is so slow that it can’t outstrip the human digestive track’s ability to digest it, i.e. it’s NOT invulnerable — it’s edible.


Jeez, I must have found that whole bit about the tree totally uninteresting, because I can’t remember any of it. OK, so you can’t eat Supertree. It has one weakness, like Superman. It’s still ridiculous.


Re: It’s still ridiculous.

Well, it is a dramedy after all, but you are missing that the tree wasn’t something that was just thrown in as deus ex machina with no thought behind it, it was setup as one of the plant examples of why the accelerated time device was invented in the first place which is why Number One knew something useful would come of applying the hundredfold time field on the enemy ship.

And its weakness ISN’T just that it is edible but that the process of mass consumption is so slow that in normal time it is vulnerable on a lot of fronts — a vulnerability which the time accelerator removes. To use your Superman analogy, Supes is under a red sun but the device converts its red rays to the super endowing yellow.

Well, it is a dramedy after all, but you are missing that the tree wasn’t something that was just thrown in as deus ex machina with no thought behind it, it was setup as one of the plant examples of why the accelerated time device was invented in the first place…

The time device was basically a MacGuffin, though it had two purposes in the story: (1) to give the villains (the Krill) a reason to be villains (your classic MacGuffin); and (2) as a component of the deus ex arbore plot device that saves the day.


OK, I just re-watched the episode. Firstly, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it the second time through. I had a smile on my face the entire time. But, regarding Supertree, you misconstrued the dialogue.

The relevant dialogue is: “…a redwood seed…genetically engineered with tardigrade DNA, which means that it can survive and grow in anything——rock, metal, sand———it can exist 100 years without water…”

Now, if you research what a tardigrade is, you’ll see that they’re not magical animals that can use anything and everything that they come into contact with as nourishment. Tardigrades can survive in extreme temperatures and environments (like outer space), but they do not use these extreme environs to grow——they can merely survive in them for limited periods, and their chances of dying increase the longer they remain in such environments.

So, tardigrades can’t use any and every material as food, and they can’t survive indefinitely in any environment, though they are more resilient than most animals. So, if the redwood seed in the episode were to be zapped with the time-ray, the resulting redwood would NOT grow to full size in the corridor of the alien spaceship without plant nutrients. And, even if it did, it would NOT break through the hull of the spaceship. Rather, the tree would bend and continue growing down the corridor, if it somehow were able to grow, which it wouldn’t without plant nutrients. Now, if you gave Supertree plant nutrients (CO2, water, soil——carbon compounds/minerals), and surrounded it with extreme environs, it would still grow in the extreme environs for as long as it had plant nutrients and the environs didn’t become too extreme for too long. This is all assuming that the tardigrade’s resilience could be transplanted into the redwood DNA via genetic engineering, which is a reasonable premise for a sci-fi show concept.

I’m trying to remember how many years it was after DEVIL IN THE DARK first aired that folks started writing about how you can’t have a silicone based life form exist in an oxygen atmosphere … and how fast after that when everybody else was saying, ‘go with it, that was a good show.’ Clearly, concerned folks care about their SF, but if ORVILLE had worked dramatically, the tree business would just be a dangling nag of what wasn’t done right, rather than a point of research and discussion just days after it aired.


Re: Silicone

I think people arguing that were forgeting that life evolved on Earth when it did NOT have an oxygen atmosphere. In fact, life is what liberated Earth’s oxygen into its atmosphere. So what they were really attempting to argue is than once silicon-based life emerged most likely based on silicone, was whether it could evolve to tolerate an atmosphere increasingly polluted by oxygen which seems ridiculous to even try to assert as “impossible”? Also, it behooves them to note that Earth’s diatoms, while carbon-based, use a silicate skeletal structure.

“Life will find a way.” — Michael Crichton

@Disinvited — to be fair, we do know that the colony needed a reactor in order to create an atmosphere to breath. That suggests that whatever atmosphere there was down there was not the same oxygen/nitrogen balance we enjoy on Earth. The reality is, deep in those tunnels, the air might have been a suitable mix for a silocon based creature while also offering limited support for the humans. We never saw them actually mining, perhaps they wear special suits for that in order to have enough oxygen to support the increased activity. Add to that, the Horta might be able to exist for limited periods outside of its native atmosphere.


Well, you should not construe my interest in Supertree as evidence that the rest of the show didn’t work. You should construe it as evidence of me being a nerd.


Ok, thanks to your research, I stand refined in my information.

But, as you see, I was right that they gave it some thought and didn’t just throw it in.

Also, remember it was set off in a ship sustaining its living crew. So there’s water and CO2 there. Also a living crewman entering the code so he was in close proximity to it and its accelerated roots should have had absolutely no problem finding suitable plant nutrients near and in him with minimum problem engulfing him for his nutrients. Assuming the roots could expand fast enough throughout the ship from that we’ve got a growing tree.

Tardigrades are the first known animal to survive in space. They can withstand the extremely low pressure of a vacuum and also very high pressures, more than 1,200 times atmospheric pressure. Tardigrades can survive the vacuum of open space and solar radiation combined for at least 10 days.[47] Some species can also withstand pressure of 6,000 atmospheres, which is nearly six times the pressure of water in the deepest ocean trench, the Mariana trench

Doesn’t that mean the tarditree can sustain growth pressures against a ship’s hull of up to 6,000 atmospheres BEFORE needing to bend? So if its accelerated roots can find enough “nutrients” throughout the ship to grow big enough to exert such pressures, bursting through the hull is not entirely out of the question? We’re back to Ahmed’s the plant growing through asphalt analogy as well, where any cracks in induces in the hull it tries to grow through and in so doing expands the crack further weakening the hull.


No, no, no…we’re not having any of this “there was water and air in the ship” business. The Conservation of Mass and Energy. For a tiny seed to grow into a 1,000,000 lb. redwood tree, it needs an enormous amount of nutrients, probably well over a million pounds’ worth (being that, apart from sunlight, plant nutrients are not highly concentrated forms of energy (like anti-matter, for example), and the plant has to metabolize the nutrients, creating waste product (O2) in the process (not to mention all of the leaves it would shed over the course of 100 years). So, all of that plant food had to come from somewhere, and I’m just not having that it came from the moisture in the air on the ship and one unfortunate crewman that the redwood assimilated. The one million pound tree came basically from nowhere. And that’s not sci-fi; it’s a WB cartoon.

P.S. And, as a side-note, how would the warp bubble know (or be able) to expand around the redwood as it grew from a tiny seed into a 300 ft. tree? In the lab experiment, there was no explanation of the warp field changing size automatically somehow——and the banana didn’t need it to. It would seem that Supertree had a heroic companion in all of this, namely Super Warp Bubble.


I think you’ve hit the nail on the head of proving the tarditree science-challenged. Anyone that’s hung a hammock by hammering a nail in a tree knows trees grow tall from the top and only wider from the trunk. once the top exits the field its accelerated growth would slow even if somehow the roots in the time bubble were able to deliver sustenance with maximum efficiency across time.


Sorry, I shouldn’t say that you’ve misconstrued the dialogue, because the dialogue is ambiguous, at best. The writers took enormous liberty with the concept of tardigrade resilience, and turned it into something magical and zany—— unlike Spaceballs did with the concept of the vacuum cleaner.

*not unlike Spaceballs did…* Jeez.

SPACEBALLS isn’t a tenth as watchable as HARDWARE WARS, which at least had the sense to be brief. Except for going to plaid and being on a ship full of assholes and the John Hurt bit at the end, I don’t think there are ANY laughs to be had in the whole rotten movie. Bill Pullman’s utterly uncharismatic performance makes Kyle M’s unengaging turn as Paul Atreides seem like true star material by comparison, and despite my love of TWIN PEAKS, I’ve always said McLachlan’s DUNE performance is a black hole that sucks down everything and everybody spinning round it … so you know I’m not fooling around when I elevate it compared to Pullman’s BALLS (not that I’ve found Pullman engaging in anything else either, though he is at least sympathetic in IGBY GOES DOWN.)

Yeah, really. Huge fan of Mel Brooks here, but SPACEBALLS was deft only at taking swings at the lowest-lying fruit available, a bit of comedic original sin that an earlier version of Brooks might have found worthy of satire in and of itself. Great cast and (unnecessarily) lavish production values; lousy script. What a waste.

kmart, & Michael Hall,

Before ORVILLE I always said SPACEBALLS biggest offense is likely that it obviously inspired MacFarlane and others in generations to come as to how low can one’s comedy can go in quality and subject matter and still end up economically successful.

I recall Brooks said on PBS that SPACEBALLS bombed at the box office but home video has made it his top money maker.

kmart, bringing up HARDWARE WARS, reminds me, Brooks often liked to take fledgling filmmakers and finance and mentor their budding efforts. I wonder why he didn’t try that with HARDWARE WARS instead of venturing into trying to find comedy in a genre he clearly knew little about?

Nonetheless, I will confess to counting SPACEBALLS amongst my guilty pleasures.

It is not actual science. When the tree grows it will encounter materials far, far denser than it is at any given state in it’s development. Even if you speed it up, we are talking materials that are far stronger than any metal. Thus the tree would have broke before it could grow larger than the first floor. No matter how your dubious technobabble ray works, the laws of physics and the laws of biological growth count first. Ergo, it is a stupid solution to create a special effect. Wow.

Bert Beukema
It is not actual science. When the tree grows it will encounter materials far, far denser than it is at any given state in it’s development.

Well, that’s what I said at first. But, then Disinvited said that the tree has the (magical) ability to use anything that it comes into contact with as nourishment. So, apparently we’re meant to believe that the tree disolved and assimilated the exotic materials that the enemy ship is made of, using them to grow, and then continued growing (and not dying from extreme cold and lack of air) in outer space. Not only can Supertree use any and every compound in the universe——synthetic as well as naturally occurring, even normally deadly radioactive isotopes, like Uranium and Plutonium, or even fire or extremely strong acid of any and every pH——as nourishment, but it also doesn’t need any of the things that normal trees need in order to live.


As I’ve explained before, it is only apparently “super” with the aid of external artificially accelerated time. In normal time the process of mass consumption is so slow its seeds are edible, for example – not invulnerable.

And yet you have typically found little or no value in anything the DSC producers have to say, even as they have very forthcoming in discussing the themes, characters, and storytelling style they’re going for. Whether they can achieve it is, of course, another matter.). Well, to each, his own, but this is still pretty astonishing to me.

Michael Hall

I thought I harped enough about how the DSC people were doing such a lousy job articulating what their show was about. If the DSC people had done what Braga did here, I’d have appreciated it. When the DSC people finally did start to speak somewhat meaningfully about their own show, I said that I appreciated it. But, I’d be lying if I said that I found it compelling or exciting. And even when they did start to speak meaningfully about DSC, it still wasn’t as well articulated or forthcoming as what Braga has said here. It’s like pulling teeth with DSC. There shouldn’t be anything astonishing about my reaction.

Well, to be honest, where I haven’t found your observations about Discovery morally objectionable (“PC casting checkboxes”) they’ve usually struck me as pretty obtuse and even mean-spirited. Not that there’s anything wrong with taking issue with what has been revealed about the show so far–I’ve logged a few objections of my own–it’s just that yours have seemed so nakedly partisan from the beginning, as seems to be the case with your tepid defense of the very flawed Orville pilot and enthusiasm over Brannon Braga’s pro forma commentary about the show. (Really–what did Braga have to say that you found so compelling?) This, coming from a writer I heretofore had considerable respect for, even when we disagreed, is what I find astonishing.

Michael Hall

Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m sorry you feel that way.

It’s all pretty clear to me. Week after week, month after month, the DSC promotion was devoid of substance; it gave me no real notion of what the show was about, what it would be like, what kind of stories it would comprise, what the vision of the show was.

With The Orville, it’s been the exact opposite. Each promo piece——each interview with either MacFarlane or Braga——has given a clear, substance-based, meaningful overview of what the show intends to do and be. What the goals of the show are. As a consumer, I feel that if a vendor wants me to buy their product, the least that they should do is to tell me what’s in it——which, for whatever reason, DSC didn’t seem to want to do for weeks’ worth of promotion, and which The Orville did straight off the bat. As a student of marketing, it’s more of a mystery that I was trying to figure out——why is the DSC promotion so bad? The hypothesis that seems most likely to me is that DSC has been exclusively targeting a (whatever word you would like to use——if you don’t like PC, then how about just Social Progressive?) psychographic. Hence all of the social-progressive buzzwords and tropes offered up in lieu of actual substance about the content of the show. So, that’s what I’ve arrived at, and I find it academically interesting. I’m sorry that you don’t. What can I tell you. To each his own, right?

And I don’t know what you mean by “tepid defense of The Orville.” Honestly, I have no clue what you’re on about there.

“social-progressive buzzwords”


So in the end, I guess this discussion is really just about our divided politics, of which we’re apparently on opposing sides. Fair enough. It would certainly explain a lot; for example, why when the DSC producers talked about addressing the issue of such divisions in our society, you sniffed that this probably just meant that the show’s use of allegory would be heavy-handed. (This, coming from someone who has often rightfully complained about the lack of theme and meaning in the JJ films.)

Again, specifically what did Braga say in this interview that was so much more ‘clear and meaningful’ than what Herberts and the others have been saying for weeks now? Well, no matter. I’ll continue to watch The Orville because, well, why not, and I daresay that I’ll do it with more of an open mind than you’ve evinced thus far. That’s it; I’m done.

Michael Hall

Well, I’m not sure that our politics are all that divided. Though our attitudes about it obviously are. My attitude is that I’m tired of a bunch of drones walking around repeating diversity…diversity… with the implication being that if you don’t champion “diversity” that you’re immoral. I’m tired of the groupthink. There was diversity in Charlottesville when the White Supremacists showed up. How’d you like that diversity? You think that was good and productive? You want more of that? Having the KKK and Neo-Nazis at the table certainly guarantees a diversity of opinion. And this is but one example. There’s also the hypocrisy part of it, where rich social justice warriors up and move to conspicuously un-diverse neighborhoods as soon as they can afford to do so, and then continue to lecture people who can’t afford to live there about “diversity.”

But, all that aside, the DSC promotion was like being told that they intend to serve me bland broccoli for dinner, in the stereotypical sense of “broccoli,” a vegetable which I happen to be fond of. “Addressing divisions in our society” has the double flaw of being both generic and seeming like a self-righteous, heavy-handed lecture is coming. And with all of the PC-buzzword messaging hitherto from DSC, I’m all PC’d out at this point to feel excited about their “divisions in our society” lecture. That was my honest reaction to it. Apparently all of your “to each his own” rejoinders to me have been insincere, being that you are now saying that my feelings and reactions to the promo materials have no validity. You found the DSC promo stuff exciting? Great. I didn’t, and I explained why.

P.S. But, now, look… You got me off point here. We haven’t seen DSC, obviously, so maybe their divisions in our society treatment will be thought-provoking and inspiring, and not like being forced to eat bland broccoli. I only said at the time that I’d be lying if I said that I felt excited about it. That’s really it. And now they have the benefit of a very low bar to clear, as far as I’m concerned.

Having MacFarlane as the straight-man of the show is the right move.

Firstly, a clown would not be believable as Captain of a starship, if the show is to be grounded in a quasi-realistic setting (i.e. not a completely zany, screwball comedy like SPACEBALLS. And, even SPACEBALLS had a straight-man (Lonestar) as Captain, actually).

And, uhh… Well, there’s no need to go any further than that with the rationale.

True. But Seth doesnt have much range. Again, had they switched the two roles where the ex wife was the Captain and Seth the first officer, he could be more of what he can do well – smarmy, sarcastic, smug, joke cracking, wise cracking guy.

There are literally hundreds of actors who can actually act who would do a much, much better job at this. His acting has no range, it is flat and everything is ‘bold strokes’, no nuance. Perhaps he should have attended acting school first. Or you know, not be a narcissist and actually hire a decent actor for the job.

I dunno, I feel the same way about Sam Worthingon, an actor who’s starred in “Avatar” and the Unabomber series. A black hole of acting who sucks all the energy out of a scene. I could see him trying like hell in the Unabomber thing, but he didn’t “sell” me. I tuned in to the second episode and fell asleep.

As for MacFarlane, if he’s hurting the show [and again, I was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t, the character fit him without being a big wise-cracker], I think he’ll have the sense to kill off or transfer his character, and have a serious actor with some comic chops come aboard as captain.


I would hope so. As for why MacFarlane had to make himself the captain of his own show——an issue that somebody else broached——I think that’s pretty straightforward. The guy’s been very successful as a voice actor for well over a decade, and he wanted a challenge, to push himself professionally, to see if he could do screen/TV acting. His foray into it was TED several years back, which spawned a sequel. And then he did A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST, which has all the ingredients of a cult classic——the critics panned it, it did modestly at the box office, but when I watched it I was pleasantly surprised at how funny and entertaining it was. So, I don’t begrudge MacFarlane at all trying to stretch as an actor. He had the good sense to take the straight-man role on The Orville and leave much of the humor to his cast-mates. I think that he knows his own limitations. And, though his performance in the pilot wasn’t all that bad, I hope to see his acting improve over the course of the series, and I expect that it will.

Oh, one thing I didn’t understand was this comment from Braga:

“But, the fact is we just break these stories together and the spine of these stories is typically dramatic, but the humor is discussed at length when we break the stories.”

Break the stories together? What does that mean? How do you break things together (rather than apart)?

I read it as the group of them together break the stories.

It’s a term in the entertainment industry. Essentially translates to figuring out the plot and structure of an episode.

I read it as the group of them together break the stories.

Yeah, I got after the explanation. I think that’s what Braga meant.


“Breaking story is mapping out a story and coming up with a logically and dramatically consistent beginning, middle, and end, and the major checkpoints therein.” — John August

You may recall John from my reference to him in regards to Orci & Kurtzman:

He was also one of my sources for the 2009 writers’ strike.


Why is it called “breaking” the story? Is it a reference to taking the story apart——disecting it, like?

Is it a different intended meaning than “breaking” a news story?


“Why is it called “breaking” the story? Is it a reference to taking the story apart——disecting it, like?” — Cygnus-X1

You betchum Red Rider. Nothing to do with breaking news.

It has to do with how stories are pitched via one or two page treatments and from those acorns big oaks grow.


“Breaking story is mapping out a story and coming up with a logically and dramatically consistent beginning, middle, and end, and the major checkpoints therein.” — John August

It means that all stories are made by committee. A sure way to create bland stuff.

LOL thats how it works in MOST TV shows, from Breaking Bad to The Walking Dead. Do people think 22 episodes a year are written by just a few writers? No, they ALL do this, definitely Star Trek, yes including Discovery. Thats what the ‘writers room’ is, usually a dozen or so people who come together and help build the episode. But once that is done they leave it to 1 or 2 writers to take what they did and actually write out the specifics, ie, dialogue, action beats, etc. Thats why they get the credit but there are plenty of staff writers we rarely hear about who do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Sure there are exceptions where a writer may come up with the idea concept first and he/she basically write most of it but thats more rare in TV, certainly network TV. Cable and streaming you get more of it because you just have fewer episodes and they are given more time to come up with stories. But when you have just nine months and you have 20+ episodes to fill its no way a few people can write that much in such short time on their own.

Yes, that’s how most television, including the great stuff, gets written these days.

Sure. Depends on your writers room then, doesn’t it. Who is in it, what pedigree do you have, what can you work from. Then there are the lead writers, generally these are in charge for the production as a whole, from season to season. Not every writer participates in the writers room or has the same range of input. And the production will be certified by the different unions and ‘guilds’ meaning that a writer’s credit is secured. Again, it all depends on the pedigree of your writers and honestly there won’t be thirty in your team; generally between 6 – 10 depending, again, on the quality of your writers and the amount of episodes.

This is a show that is based on loose episodes, there is no arc nor are the stories connected to form a single narrative. They can pretty much take on any script they like and I suppose that is
what is happening right now. Pitch your script, retool it and go. Easy going. No difficult storylines to think about, maybe a few with some ‘progress’ in them. Perhaps even a two-parter!

But this is 2017. Most series today are not ‘episode for hire’.

Yes but you’re complaining about something that is a very common practice. My guess is 10 of your favorite shows are written this way.

Of course its going to depend on how skilled the writers are, but thats really too hard to judge outside of the writers everyone knows, and thats usually the more famous and bigger ones. And again who knows how much clout they have unless there is a producer credit to their name.

A great example is having Nic Meyer. Everyone talked about that guy like he was going to personally run Discovery. The last ten articles I have read about the show, his name hasn’t even been mentioned. So yeah it doesn’t matter of just who the writers are but how much control they have and thats why its hard to say for television because end of the day its really up to the show runners. The writers usually get waaaaaay too much credit or blame on a TV show since end of the day most of it is made by committee.

He is credited with writing one episode and has said he’s given notes on other scripts, but as you say he’s been pretty off-the-grid lately. Hope that’s not a bad sign.


I noticed that as well. It looks like Akiva Goldsman & Alex Kurtzman have far more creative inputs than Meyer.

I thought it was okay. The character dynamics are similar to the better, though much lower budget, show Other Space. The sniping between Mercer and Grayson (nod to Amanda?) got old, but most of the other jokes played like tamer versions of the Family Guy stuff. They were amusing enough, but not a lot of big laughs.

The effects look somewhere between ENT and Braga’s other series Terra Nova, and therefore, competent and cinematic but hardly cutting edge.

It’s not bad for casual viewing.

DSC looks like it’ll probably be much better, but we’ll see in just over a week!

I thought the first “Orville” was a bit loose around the edges but a pretty refreshing diversion from all the other “serious” tv programming presented night after night. I enjoyed the Trekkian homages and Questian humor, but, for me, those things happen on a surface level. Deeper, if I were to compare it to anything else on tv right now, I might put it next to “Scorpion.” I’ve only seen that show a handful of times but it seems to try to balance action/adventure with humor, although I think it takes itself way too seriously. I don’t think “Orville” is taking itself all that seriously, apart from making tv shows, itself, is a serious business. It seems MacFarlane and Braga both suffer from a similar problem: people tend to love ’em or hate ’em. I am a fan of both of them and I wish them great success with this show.

P Tech, and a welcome diversion from all the “dark” SciFi on right now. I love my dark SciFi and mysteries, but I also like some light fun things, and “Orville” hit that mark.

Their writers’ room may change over time, with some better-skilled writers. I hope it gets a chance to succeed over a season. We shall see.

More good news!

Deadline: ‘The Orville’ Premiere Ratings Rise In Live+3

The premiere of Fox’s The Orville logged a 3.5 adults 18-49 rating in L+3, up 30% from its Live+Same Day delivery. The Live+3 total viewership for the opening episode of Seth MacFarlane’s space adventure series was 11.3 million, up from 8.6 million.

Since I’d like this show to ultimately succeed I’d agree that’s good news. Doesn’t mean the pilot didn’t largely suck, though.

Interesting stats about the latest ratings from DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD:

“In Live+SD, The Orville premiere’s 18-49 delivery tied those of … Fox’s comedy The Mick [2.8] … With three days of playback, The Orville … matched the 3.5 for The Mick, which also launched behind an NFL doubleheader.”

So, FOX’s comedy THE MICK debuted at exactly the same ratings as THE ORVILLE following an NFL football game, but 17 episodes later, THE MICK’s last episode got a LOW 1.3 rating, dropping from an ORVILLE similar 10.9 million viewers to a mere 3.2 million viewers.

The good news here is that THE MICK got a renewal for a second season, part of which FOX attributed to a huge online following, not reflected in conventional TV ratings, as the coveted 18-34 demographic tends to stream content rather than OTA, or via cable/satellite. If ORVILLE manages to pull a similar demographic over its run, then it may very well succeed whether it finds its voice or not.

THE MICK ratings are a good comparison over shows like THIS IS US, or EMPIRE, since it plays as a comedy, a genre MacFarlane is further known for, rather than those kinds of serious dramas, especially when one considers viewers likely tuned in for the comedy potential over the drama.

Variety: ‘The Orville’ Becomes Fox’s Biggest Drama Debut in Two Years in Delayed Viewing

Fox’s new sci-fi drama “The Orville” from creator Seth MacFarlane became the network’s largest drama debut in over two years in delayed viewing since “Empire” in January 2015. In L3, the show delivered a 3.5 rating, Fox’s highest-rated drama launch since “Empire” (5.3 in L3) and television’s highest-rated drama premiere in nearly a year since “Designated Survivor” (3.7 in L3), according to Nielsen data.
The show has also averaged 11.3 million viewers across multiple platforms, up 31% from the show’s premiere on Sunday night.


The pilot episode had two: DS9-regular Penny Johnson Jerald is a regular Orville cast member, and Brian George was in a VOY episode and a DS9 episode. Brian George is also a member of the somewhat-strange-in-its-magnitude (SSIIM) set of crossover actors who have appeared in both Seinfeld and Trek, about which there was an article here a few years back.