Review: The Orville’s Third Episode Tackles A Timely Subject With Mixed Results

REVIEW: “About a Girl”

The Orville Season 1, Episode 3 – Thursday, Sept. 21
Written by Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Brannon Braga

[NOTE: Review contains spoilers]

This episode picks up directly from the last one, when we learned that the newborn child of Bortus (Peter Macon) and Klyden (Chad Coleman) is a female. The two characters are Moclans, a single-gender species of men. In their minds, being born anything else is some kind of birth defect that must be rectified. Bortus approaches Doctor Finn (Penny Johnson Jerrald) about performing gender-reassignment surgery, and is taken aback when she flat out refuses. His attempt to get Captain Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) involved also falls on deaf ears. Things escalate when a Moclan ship arrives, with the intent of performing the surgery there. Mercer refuses to allow it, and ultimately a tribunal (with Adrianne Palicki’s Commander Grayson acting as one of the lawyers) is held on the Moclan home planet to determine if the surgery should be performed.  While all this is happening, Bortus has a change of heart that puts him at odds with Klyden, who has very personal reasons for wanting the procedure.

The show opens strongly, with frank discussions about gender and the cultural norms of different species. The Orville crew find the Moclan views on gender reassignment abhorrent, while the Moclans resent what they see as another culture attempting to force their own moral and ethical views onto them. Both sides make strong arguments, and the stage looks set for a very daring discussion about gender identity and one culture’s right to impose their moral beliefs on another’s. It was at this point the show took a turn, and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it.

Bortus, despite pleas from crew mates, remains committed to the child having the surgery, afraid that a female born into Moclan culture would be an outcast. His views change completely after accepting an invitation from Malloy (Scott Grimes) and LaMarr (J. Lee) to watch Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Yep. Rudolph.

Now don’t get me wrong – the story of Rudolph’s ostracization and ultimate acceptance is a great one, and while it definitely has parallels to the topic at hand, using a children’s Christmas story to motivate Bortus’ change of heart about a very serious topic threw me a bit. To be fair, this show is still very early in its run and this may be one of those instances where they’re experimenting to see what clicks when you try and mix drama and comedy together, but I don’t think it really works here.

Bortus tells Klyden that he is now against any kind of procedure, and Klyden reveals that he had the same surgery as an infant, and feels strongly that the baby should as well. It’s at this point where you start to see where the story may be leading. If Klyden was born female, and the baby is female, then there are probably more of them, right?

The story then moves to the tribunal on the Moclan home world, and this is where I feel that the story really starts to lose steam. There are humorous bits sprinkled in amongst the courtroom proceedings and while they add a bit of levity, I found them jarring. If the topic at hand weren’t so serious, the humor would be welcome, but when the stakes are so high it’s hard to find the humor appropriate.  And did the revelation that there was a woman living in secret on Moclan really surprise anyone?

The ultimate decision to perform the surgery is a surprising and daring choice, and the episode ends on a down note. It will be interesting to see if the show follows up on this in the future.

By the way, there were some genuinely funny moments, particularly when this poor fellow and his pillow get caught in the middle of an argument between Bortus and Klyden in the ship’s synthesizer room, which is the show’s version of TNG’s replicator.

The cast does great work here, with Peter Macon (Bortus) and Chad Coleman (Klyden) standing out. Macon has to carry a great deal of this episode on his very broad shoulders, and is more than up to the task.

Granted this is a small sample size, but thus far The Orville appears to be a true ensemble. Each episode has focused on a different member of the crew, and if this show lasts a full season they should have a pretty well-rounded cast of characters.

While I feel like this story didn’t completely work, I applaud them for telling it. Allegorical storytelling still has a place in the modern television landscape, and as the show rounds into shape I hope they’re able to tackle more topics like this in the future.

Clips for “About a Girl”


Orville Update: Dorn approves, Mythbuster cameos and more

Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG’s Mr. Worf) has given The Orville his Klingon thumbs up.

Fox released a new promo showing off scenes from upcoming episodes, along with hyping the good ratings for the show and the move to the regular timeslot on Thursdays.

Did you spot the hidden cameos in episode 2? Former Mythbusters Tory Belleci and Kary Byron played a couple of aliens. This followed the Rob Lowe cameo from the first episode. Perhaps this hidden celebrity alien cameo in Orville is going to be a thing.

Belleci and Byron in The Orville

Fox also released another behind the scenes video, this time focusing on the production design for The Orville.

Keep up with all the The Orville news, reviews and interviews at

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

My brilliant teenage son is transgender, so our family will be watching with a keen eye to how this is handled. If my son signs off on it, then McFarlane did good. If not, well….

Well… then that’s just his opinion.

Just watched the episode and I liked it more than I thought I would. The Orville isn’t exactly subtle with its allegories but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Very reminiscent of the TNG episode “The Outcast”.

Great episode, not the expected happy ending which is a huge plus (no one likes blatant predictability) but with hope for the future. It delivered much more than I expected from a borderline comedy.

Your name is apt.

Then you should get him some professional help.

But it’s still just his opinion…

@Hollyweird. Sorry for these ridiculous responses to your comment.

It is just an opinion. Regardless of whom gives it.

@Aaron Who. And why does everyone keep saying that it’s just an opinion? Hollyweird is saying that the family is waiting to see what their transgender son — who has been dealing with this stuff — thinks of the episode.

So why is, “well, your son’s opinion is just an opinion” your response to that?

Good grief.

Because his son signing off on it has nothing to do with it being a good episode or not.

Even if your son doesn’t like it,
I am sure that Mcfarlane did his best

Then I’ll say he tried but didn’t make the goal. I’m impressed at the attempt anyway.

If you’re actually honestly impressed by this level of ‘storytelling’ then imagine what viewing the Handmaid’s Tale would do to your brain. Most likely it would explode after ten minutes.

HANDMAID’S is made by and for grownups.

Bert, you said The Orville was “shit” in a previous thread. Why are you still watching it? I thought you had better things to do, like reading a book.

Fortunately, McFarlane did not write this episode.


Re: McFarlane did not write this episode.

The episode’s credits and this article says he did. What scoop do you have to the contrary?

What was the major complaint? Seemed like a great balance to me.

Sadly the apologists will say that he tried. Not that he should have hired a better writer. Which he should have. Which are available. But likely cost too much. Or don’t want to be involved in this.

Perhaps if the show succeeds more, and that is a BIG if, Seth is thinking ahead to the notoriety it would earn him.

Where are the cries of liberal agenda?

Haven’t seen this, nor will I (not a fan of McFarlane or Trek parodies in general) but I genuinely applaud the show for tackling real social issues in the long tradition of sci-fi.

Y’know, you might try it. The second episode, not the pilot. It’s like having a missing ’80s/’90s Trek series with less seriousness. Almost everyone I know on Facebook who’s a Trek fan has said they were pleasantly surprised. If the second episode leaves you completely cold, no harm, no foul.

If I hear it gets more serious, I’ll give it a look. I saw the first half of the pilot just to be fair, and it was everything I expected. I wasn’t upset by this, because like I said, I’m not a fan of McFarlane and did not expect it to be anything else. This just isn’t for me. The only reason I commented is because I *AM* impressed by him infusing some social messaging into the store. Good on ‘im.

@Etymologicool — I’d prefer they stick to the humor. The second episode was forced and tedious trying to be serious. But it was just an empty shell where a real story should have been. I simply didn’t care. It just made no sense. And I see why they delayed this review here until it started airing on the East Coast. Just reading this makes me want to skip it. After last week, I can only imagine how bad this has the potential to be, especially after the reviewers panned it the most. Frankly, this is why the rating could drop dramatically as MacFarlane’s fans find less and less of what they tuned in to see. On the other hand, there are Trek fans who conversely may find more and more to tune into. Either way, unless they establish a balance that keeps both sets of audiences happy, there’s gonna be some fall-off.

I agree. I really wish they’d stick to funny. Their attempts to mix humor and drama aren’t going well.

Yeah it’s like they have a lame story And every few lines in ten script it reads “insert joke here” and they just pull from a hat.

While I only watched the pilot, I thought cramming in the (mostly mediocre) gags there felt really forced. Very rarely did it fit the situation. The humor was the weakest part.

Oddly, I feel the opposite. I think if they went more serious it could be a “light” Trek inspired sci fi show that can use it’s setting to explore interesting issues with some humor.

But they’s absolutely need a better lead.

While I do laugh occasionally, too much of the comedy doesnt work. So if they didnt feel they HAD to shoe horn in the comedy and simply went where it took them organically, they’d be a lot farther ahead.

The best jokes seem to arise naturally from the situations and character relationships. But Seth needs to play stand up comic a bit too much and use lame Family Guy style absurdity.

The Girls Just Wanna Have Fun scene was a good example of something that could easily have been a gag written for anything and shoe horned in to the show.

Ill say though, I only watch for the first few minutes. The holodeck scene and the requisite dick joke made me decide to go to bed. Ill finish it this weekend lol

Writing a drama with comedic elements is really, really hard. Trying to write about social dilemma’s within such a context is even harder. So this show would be better off trying to be funny than to have it both ways. Especially seeing that it fails at both.

“Writing a drama with comedic elements is really, really hard. Trying to write about social dilemma’s within such a context is even harder.”

Exactly. Unless you’re Cohen Brothers, or someone of that talent level, stick to one style you’re good at instead of re-inventing the wheel. People seem to like his humor, so maybe he should stay in that playground.

One out of three have been good for me. That is not a good ratio thus far.

The second episode was better than the first, which I wasn’t impressed with.

This episode fell WAY flat. I’m trans myself, and the very first thing that hit me wrong was the fact that they aren’t changing the baby’s gender, but her sex. They kept saying ‘gender change’ when the culture only recognizes one gender, which is masculine. They changed her sex. You cannot change the gender of a person whose culture ONLY recognizes one gender to begin with. ANY child born to these people will be raised as masculine.

If you cannot differentiate between these two things you really shouldn’t tackle this subject. I found it painful to watch. My gender is what it is. You can’t change someone’s gender inherently by changing their sex. That isn’t how ANY of this works.

Ah, so it’s not even well-done. Not surprised. But still, nice for him to try, I guess.

Honestly they didn’t need to bring gender into it. It had nothing to do with gender. Assuming this culture has different cultural roles, those roles must be filled by men since there are no women. Gender roles are cultural constructs. Sex is a set of biological characteristics.

This episode was solely about sex, sexual dimorphism, and misogyny. They should never have mentioned gender. Especially since they pretty much got it 100% wrong.

There are some things that are cultural constructs, but not all of them are. It’s interesting that some people want to attempt to change their gender because they like either trucks or dolls – that is definitely a cultural construct, however males and females definitely have different traits that no amount at attempts at change can get away from it. For example females are genuinely more nurturing than males are and more emotional. A male can attempt to be more like that, but it isn’t natural and so if you want to talk about pretending to be something that you are not that is exactly what you would be doing if you tried to be another gender. And if you believe that gender is a social construct then why would it even make sense to try to be the opposite of what society constructs? Why not just try to be androgynous?

“It’s interesting that some people want to attempt to change their gender because they like either trucks or dolls”

This feels inherently transphobic to me, but I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you did not intend for it to come across as such.

As a cisgendered gay man, I played with dolls as a child rather than trucks, but I have never considered gender reassignement surgery. I am simply more effeminate than some of my peers.

“Cisgendered” is a non-word. So is “transphobic”. If you expect anybody to care about your “benefit of the doubt”, you shouldn’t go around calling people non-words, trying to apply your invented nonsensical concepts to them.

As toys go, it’s just a marketing ploy anyway – to sell twice as much toys by necessitating separate toy lines for boys and for girls. Note how the best toys are always genderless: wooden building blocks, kites, spinning tops, jump ropes, kick balls, wooden horses with wheels. But they have a major problem: you can’t buy a bentley by mass-selling any of those. It’s kinda hard to corner the market with jump ropes.

That said, we all like to play with dolls sometimes – except that most of us call them “action figures”. :-P

Paul, these are sociological terms from academic spaces. They aren’t illegitimate simply because you don’t like those words.

“Paul, these are sociological terms from academic spaces.”

But that doesn’t make them valid either, particularly given the view of some academics these days, particularly in the humanities, that the role of the academy is more to effect social change than to conduct research.

To be clear, I’m not arguing that the term “transphobic” is illegitimate; clearly some people identify with the gender other than their reproductive one. But I don’t think that hopping on one leg and shouting “but academics!” resolves the question, given the hyper-politicization of the academy. And I’m skeptical of the all-or-nothing “gender is a purely social construct” argument.

Paul they’re definitely words and they definitely have meaning. “Best toys” has to be the most scientific analysis ever. And Richard males aren’t any less emotional than females, not by default. We’ve just grown up in a society that discourages those feelings. How many serial killers are female? But because men “are less emotional” so the narrative goes, they don’t get the care they need to handle their emotions.

The story isn’t perfect but they are using a fairly undefined alien species to tell that story through.

I think by-in-large it did well especially since you gleam more from this than just sex change stigma. There was also a lot to talk about with designer babies and sexism as well. I feel like they were going for a more nebulous message so I’m cutting them some slack.

Ah. I was afraid of this. Dammit. They should have had a trans person work with them on this story.

Sounds like a good idea.

I was going to say, what the odds they consulted a trans person…or Seth just assumed hes an expert on everything lol

I’m gonna need a memo or something to catch up with 2017.

Memo on 2017: Turn back. We effed it all up. ;)

Sex and gender are the same thing, and no matter how hard you try you will always be the sex/gender you were born with. I don’t know why our society is going against basic science and biology, claiming gender is a social construct is just an excuse for people’s delusions.

Exactly and well said

While gender may or may not be a ‘social construct’ gender roles are most certainly. And while talking about gender from a purely biological perspective may sound ok, taking conclusions from that talk and projecting that into social constructs is inherently wrong. You may or may not have a penis, it honestly should not matter and it does not matter. What matters is that we are all humans.

What qualifications do you have to make such a statement? The truth of the matter is that gay and transgender people have existed throughout recorded history, in many different kinds of societies, and only the attitudes towards that fact change, whether you happen to like it or not, so I’d be very careful throwing around words like ‘delusional.’

>>”No matter how hard you try you will always be the sex/gender you were born with.”
>”gay and transgender people have existed throughout recorded history”

@Michael Hall, “gay” is not the same thing as “identifying with the opposite gender”; most gay men are perfectly happy they’re men.

@TM11 Please link to your research.

@ Bert Beukema Anytime someone throws the words “social construct” around you know they’re trying to make up some BS excuse for their behavior. People also consider crime a social construct so does that mean we should all just say F*** it and commit crimes since it’s just a social construct? And who cares about gender roles just because someone does something that’s different from the typical gender roles that doesn’t mean they’re trans. I’m a straight guy who has some qualities that some would consider metro but that doesn’t make me a woman. And you’re right we are all humans and that is what should only matter but try telling that to people who put identity politics over everything else.

@ Michael Hall It’s called common sense, also paying attention in biology class which it seems like people seem to be ignoring these days. And so what if gay and trans people have existed throughout history, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the facts. I don’t care what people decide to do with their lives but when they start trying to force other people to believe in their delusions that’s where I have a problem. Transgenderism is still considered a mental disorder. I once advocated and fought for gay rights since I do believe that everyone should be equal even if I may not agree with their lifestyle, but to see how things have become these days makes me sick. We can’t ignore scientific fact just because people get their feelings hurt by it.

@ Jack Pick up a science or biology textbook.

“Michael Hall It’s called common sense

In others words, you got nuthin’. Thought so, but thanks for the confirmation.


Re: We can’t ignore scientific fact…

You mean like the scientific fact that some humans are born with both sex organs and because people ignorantly believe things are tidier than life really is, that sex can be merely determined by the parents lopping one set of them off? Or that people are also likewise born with extra X and/or Y chromosomes and don’t neatly fit into XX or XY designated classifications?

Life is a lot messier than the tidy little pair of boxes your common sense would have it fit into for all time, it depends on that mess: random change so that things can evolve. The two sexes that you admire so, after all, emerged from asexual reproduction which still goes on in our bodies whose cells depend on it to live and is still a factor in human reproduction in the case of an identical twining.

@Disinvited that’s called a genetic mutation. Genetic mutations also cause some people to be born with tails, does that mean there’s a separate human species for people with tails?

@TM11 – Preach


“I don’t care what people decide to do with their lives but when they start trying to force other people to believe in their delusions that’s where I have a problem.”

So what you’re saying is, they can be transgendered in private, but not in public. That is the definition of inequality.

Interesting that clip of Dr. Finn was blurred on the FOX morning news show here in LA this morning when they were interviewing her. I guess it was too “adult” for the morning coffee audience? Ha!

Tonight…on a very special Orville….Pretentious sap. It screams “look at us, we’re serious…about reworking old thought provoking TNG episodes into “timely” relevant topics.” Seth seemed to occasionally step up his acting a notch, I’ll give it that much.

WOW, pretty serious stuff for a new comedy. We kept hoping it’d get better. :(

It’s not a strict comedy. It’s more of a dramedy in the vein of MASH.

I’d rather see the show go one way or the other. Trying to be a dramedy a la MASH…MacFarlane (for as much as I like a lot of what he has done) is no Alan Alda.

I think it worth pointing out that MASH evolved into the dramady over time. This show is intending to be that right from the start. Although thus far I’d say it is leaning a bit more to the comedy and slightly less serious side. Even though they have had episodes revolving around less comedic topics.

@Kirok — nothing of the sort. It was modeled after the movie which had a strong anti-Vietnam message buried in the comedy. Add to that, they had a cast (in both version) that could pull it off. I totally disagree that the last two episodes lean more toward comedy — both were pointed attempts to be serious drama. To the extent there was comedy, they were mostly flat one-liners that had nothing to do with the story and could have been cut and moved at random. The blob creature “dick” joke was so inappropriate, they had to blur it on the FOX 11 morning news interview with the actor. In the end, to the extent the comedy was so obvious I noticed it, I was taken out of the drama. Otherwise, it played as a tedious, predictable drama, not especially well done. This was not MASH, and I doubt it ever will be.

@Curious Cadet

I’m not saying it was MASH. I’m saying MASH started out as more comedy than drama. Just watch the first season. It’s pretty obvious that is how it was sold. The feature was more serious than the first season ever was. And it had a number of amusing bits it it. I still say Orville is more comedy than drama. Just check out how they got the guys out of the zoo last epeisode. Total joke bit. You don’t resolve your dilemma with a gag if you are trying to be more drama than comedy.

@Kirok — well we’ll have to agree to disagree, as I’ve recently seen the first season of MASH as well. Regardless, there may have been more purely dramatic moments later, but the comedy was always king, and organic to the story. As for the evolution of this show, the Pilot had the most comedy, the 2nd ep, less so, with more forced drama, and the 3rd ep. was the least comedic of all, with poorly executed drama. If that’s not a pattern I don’t know what is. With respect to the 2nd ep., wrapping a drama within a comedy tortilla, does not make it a comedic burrito. The substance contained within the wrapper is what defines it. It had a humorous opening, which elicited a chuckle from me, mainly because of the talent of the actors playing his parents; and it had an intended comedic ending, though I didn’t find anything funny about it — in fact I groaned out loud — it’s unrealistic, and sits right up there with the Beastie Boys being the way Kirk defeated Krall in BEY. Other than that, it was a contrived drama, accentuated by inappropriate score that had the effect of making me feel differently about a scene that might otherwise have been funny.

The thing is, in both comedy and drama if it’s done well the other facets will arrise naturally. MASH as a comedy in a serious setting would lead to naturally officring dramatic moments because it makes sense and the audience can connect to characters they care about.

In the same way a drama can be funny when it’s natural.

In the Orville both the comedy and the drama feel forced.

“This was not MASH, and I doubt it ever will be.”

Completely agree. I think the Orville would be better off going one way or the other.

@Anthony Lewis — well that may be the intent, but it ain’t like MASH, not yet anyway. Frankly what I’m seeing has apparently left the comedy behind in some effort to actually be a serious SciFi drama — only using the comedy as a sales pitch to get it into production. I’d love to see the studio and network notes on these episodes, because I guarantee this is not the series they greenlit, yet they also want to keep MacFarlane happy. As long as the ratings stay high, they ultimately won’t care. But I’m sure they’ve been more than a little worried …

It is not a dramady in the vein of MASH. Perhaps it would LIKE to be SEEN that way, but jeez that is way far off the bat. If I were the creators and writers of MASH I would be severely offended by such a comparison.

All these reviews that are trying so hard to be kind calling it uneven. Uh huh. Missing the mark on the comedy AND drama sides.

I loved it the episode. Thought it was very well done without being preachy. Showed respect for both sides of the argument (while making it clear which side the crew was on). In the end it was more so about spouses overcoming their disagreements in the interest of their children more than anything else.

I’ve seen that the ending upset some people, but eh – it’s a TV show about fake people and space aliens. The “it takes 15 people to write an R&B song” gag was pretty funny as well :)

@CJ — what’s even funnier is that it probably took 15 people to write the “R&B” gag as well …

Ok I’ll admit it–tonight’s episode convinced me to give this show a chance. Without the jokes this would have been right at home as an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Not necessarily a *good* episode, but certainly not one of the worst. It’s the Orville’s first season, so at this point I’m willing to cut the show some slack for tackling advanced subject matter so early in its run.

Scott, I completely agree. Not so sure why the critics piled on this one worse than the first two when for my money it was clearly the best they’ve done so far. Not that it was great, mind you–still a lot of awkwardness in the acting and direction; the Orville sets are pretty cheesy; and the acts just trail off in lieu of ending decisively. But there’s also a whiff of that TNG-era sincerity, and with me that counts for a lot. Even MacFarland’s acting seemed more toned-down and on the mark, and the humor was much more organic to the characters and story. And I would have laughed at the holodeck gag on TNG, so why not here?

Will definitely be back next week, though that sadly looks to be another clunker.

It hasn’t aired yet. How do you know it looks to be another clunker? Do you know something about the next episode nobody else does? Personally, I’m thinking the next episode will be heavy on the comedy to balance this one.

Just going by what I saw in the preview, where once again the humor seemed pretty forced. But I’d be fine with being proven wrong–it’s happened once or twice before, believe me–so we’ll see what we see.

I have absolutely no intention of watching ‘fake Trek’ doing episodes done by Trek multiple times and far, far better at that. It’s like watching a copy of a copy filled with amateur cosplayers reenacting what someone else wrote for actual Trek. Why the hell would anyone want to watch an inferior product done better many times over. Is this some form of flagellation?

Dunno, but the question of self-flagellation has occurred to me many times when reading your posts. You actually often make good points, but they’re almost invariably couched in such deliberate rudeness that they’re a real turnoff even when I agree with them. Why such a vituperative attitude, anyway? Do you really think this subject matter, debating the various merits of a couple of TV space operas, is worth all the sturm und drang?

The most boring show I think I’ve ever seen.

Then don’t watch it. I’m going to. I hope it’s a success and sticks around for the next ten years. The same with Discovery. I hope that’s a success and also sticks around for the next ten years. I see nothing wrong with having both shows around for a long time.

I’m gonna go against the flow here. While I thought the ending could have been better (perhaps Bortus would raise a girl Moclan in exile or something…), I very much appreciate that we’ve had two episodes without a major villain or space battle. I really like that they’re going for story stories. This also gave a much-needed boost to several of the characters. (Isaac and Lt. LaMarr were apparently napping when they were handing out stories; maybe next week.)The major problem I see persisting is the reliance on 2017 jokes that don’t work today and likely won’t work in 400 years. These zingers are not organic to the characters and crater nine times out of ten. MacFarlane also worries me. He’d be a fan-freakin’-tastic recurring villain. As a lead… meh! My two quatloos.

This third episode did what Star Trek forgets to do: tell a story in a way that makes people think. And without explosions.

I haven’t seen the full episode yet, but one of the clips has explosions. So apparently they do think explosions are needed.
What Star Trek are you referring to when you say “Star Trek forgets to tell a story in a way that makes people think”? Because all of the previous Trek shows had episodes that did make you think, and other episodes that didn’t. Some of the movies offered stuff to think about, but all of them had explosions (I’m not 100% sure about TVH). Discovery which by the way hasn’t started airing yet may tell stories that make people think. At least, the producers have stated that intent. So I wouldn’t say that Star Trek forgets to do that.

TVH reprised footage of the E-A blowing, so yeah, it had that explosion.

This was a really good episode that had a message AND a heart AND was tragic as well. The ingrediants of all great TREKS “The Visitor” “Measure of a Man” “City on the Edge of Forever”. Already a better episode than anything Enterprise attempted….

Well that’s…just not true…

Yeah, I mean, Enterprise wasn’t terribly great but… nah.

Clunky. Honestly, it’s exactly what I would expect if you told me Seth MacFarlane thought “The Outcast” was pretty good, so he’d try his hand at writing that again. The courtroom scenes didn’t exactly bring to mind fond memories of “The Measure of a Man” or “The Drumhead,” let’s just leave it at that.

This episode didn’t say anything to me about the human issues of transgenderism or other gender issues. Too much about Moclan physiology and culture was left unaddressed to take very much of a pertinent message away. If females are completely unnecessary for reproduction in that race, then maybe being born female is essentially a birth defect. This says nothing about humanity, wherein two genders are required and equal in a balanced way–or at least should be. To me, this episode’s scenario is more comparable to when babies are born with Down’s Syndrome, bringing up questions like “If we could genetically alter such a child or fetus to “normalize” it and prevent Down’s Syndrome, should we do so?” In Moclan society, being female apparently means nothing, really, except that the one female shown was smaller (maybe weaker, maybe more intelligent, but this is all speculation) and had slightly more prominent breasts, which for all we know, might be vestigial. Again, this is absolutely not comparable to human society. The episode is still valuable in spurring discussion, I suppose, but it doesn’t give enough details to really function as a strong metaphor for human gender issues.

This was my take on it too. Not enough info on the race or culture to make a strong point. Clearly they are able to reproduce without a female sex.

This was a fairly weak framework for a discussion about misogyny which was incorrectly labeled as a ‘transgender’ issue. Trans means ‘across’. If your culture only has one recognized gender, you can’t HAVE a transgender person.

@Kelly Reed — add to that, who is to say being a male, that she would not have still written the great words she did. Add to that, Rudolph was a silly analogy to being a female. While the Moclan’s basically said women were not valuable because they were weak, it has nothing to do with Rudolph having a mutant appendage that turns out to have value in a specific instance. And so the whole thing gets mired in the physical issues. The bottom line is that a persons intellectual bility has no bearing on their brains — this applies to both men and women. For all the arguments presented, this might have been about a gay couple, one who wanted their male child to be a football player to fit in with the other masculine boys and have a better sex life, the other a ballet dancer to express himself creatively.

OMG, I LOVED this episode!

It felt like Star Trek in so many ways. I loved the ending wasn’t what we would expect. I just loved how they tackled the whole thing. What was great about this episode was the fact that an all male species with the Moclan’s was just normal. First episode I realized it was a commentary on being gay obviously but three episodes in and its no longer a ‘commentary’ its just who they are as a species. Its what a show like Star Trek does best.

I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like this show. I thought it would be too ‘broad’ but it feels just right with just enough comedy but not overly silly. I think I’m in fully on board now. I thought it may take half the season to feel this way (how long I was going to give it even if I hated every episode) but I am really enjoying it now. At least for me, the last three episodes improved on the last. I actually can’t wait for the next one now.

I really love this website and check it daily and I don’t normally complain, but this show looks like complete and utter garbage and now it seems to be pandering to the sexual politics brigade. Please guys THIS IS NOT STAR TREK!

Of course it’s not Trek. Why do people still want to compaire to it? It’s it’s own show. I like the show. Thank you for making it clear this is not trek so stop comparing it to it.

Because this is a Star Trek website where people come for Star Trek news.

Personally I enjoy having this space to discuss “The Orville” … MacFarlane has repeatedly said how much Trek has inspired him, and WRT to this show, that, yeah, it’s “not a copy but an homage” … YMMV … but I think it’s entirely appropriate here. And … IT IS A SEPARATE THREAD.

Why are you on the thread discussing “The Orville” if you don’t want to read about it on this site? Do you want to dictate the contents of the site to the owners?

If you don’t like the thread, vote with your feet. Fingers. Whatever. Move on to the “Discovery” thread. Unless you think that’s not Star Trek either.


@Janice Mc — STAR TREK has always dealt with socio-political issues surrounding sex and gender issues. You don’t have to like the show, but the message is absolutely no different from any TREK tackled. In fact most of the story in this episode of ORVILLE was recycled bits from throughout TREK.

You don’t think Trek has ever addressed the subject of sexual politics? What show have you been watching?

I don’t think the word pandering applies here.

It’s not Star Trek. It’s the Orville. But Trek definitely discussed sexual issues.

I thought this was a great episode. The best so far. A nice mix of comedy and drama with some unexpected twists along the way.

i got a kick out of their ‘cutting’ and ‘pushing’ beams

Brian didn’t like that Rudolph convinced the change of heart…I thought it was the funniest part


I actually thought that was pretty darn funny too. And it works in the tone they have set up so far. It’s a serious topic that they are taking on not too seriously. So the joke works for me. If they were being 100% drama such a change of heart for Bortus wouldn’t work at all.

@Kirok — and yet real STAR TREK has dealt with exactly these kinds of issues, and never had to resort to pop-culture jokes, but somehow managed to make it work very effectively. Fascinating.

In twenty years someone watching this will think, what are they talking about? Am I supposed to laugh? To cry? To be angry? What am I watching anyways and where the hell did I find this?

This is probably not A Show for the Ages. Yep. But isn’t that okay? I agree some humor is too anachronistic [contemporary to us], but neither do I want constant references to “ancient Human culture” [i.e., American culture of the present day].

@Curious Cadet

And apart from perhaps two instances, “real” Star Trek was never trying to be a comedy. Similar genre but different tones. There is certainly room for both.

I can count many instances of comedic episodes on DS9 just now. And guess what, those episodes are all better than this. And guess what, you lot all thought they were shit.

Ps: even in a shit TNG episode the line ‘I am not a merry man’ stands out as better comedy than anything this show has done so far. This comes from character establishment, a thing this show does not understand or doesn’t want to deal with. That line was comedy gold because it flowed from the character in a natural way.

Incorrect. DS9 was the best Trek spin off series by far. Apart from Trials and Tribblations when they tried to force entire light hearted episodes they failed. The Ferengi centered shows were meant to be more comedic and they just didn’t work that way. It was more amusing the times they threw an amusing moment in here and there. As opposed to Orville which is quite obviously trying to throw gags in. And thus far, many of them have worked.

@Nick — not only was it not funny to me, it was also bizarre, and demeaned the entire seriousness of the subject at hand. Seriously? A parent trying to determine the fate of their child is swayed by a Rankin and Bass Christmas story built around a promotional jingle written to promote Coca-Cola?

I havent finished it yet..but am I to understand they used another “recent” cultural reference in this 400+ years in the future show?

They really should have gone the Futurama route if they want to keep doing that.

I guess that’s pretty ironic all right. But Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5 didn’t make a secret of his archaic love for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, and (I think) even used it to underline a story point or two. Is this really that different?

Well, it is essentially American culture and norms of 2017 projected onto something supposedly far into the future. As I am not American, it feels decidedly uncomfortable and conservative. It also makes many of these ‘jokes’ fall rather flat. As does murdering a holo-character (the best character in that episode) essentially through backstabbing and then cheering said character; and this is essentially the ‘establishment’ scene for that character. I’m not a snowflake but that whole routine was actually a great setup for a really, really good joke.

LOL, wait, you’re still watching a show you said was a total waste of your time and said would just kill off people’s brain cells for watching? And yes, as usual, the hypocrites can’t take their own advice and stop watching something they deem unwatchable lol.

You’ll be watching every episode Bert, and yet moan about them all just the same. What is with people like you?

I am not watching this show. I watched the first episode and the gleaners from the second. Obviously I have read this review. That character establishment scene was enough for me not to want to watch this show as it rather clearly shows the writing quality on the one hand and the intent on the other. But by all means, do go on wasting your time.

Not much different from Whoopi deciding her life could be different from seeing a like-skinned woman serving on a make believe spaceship that existed primarily to sell color television sets.

I would put in my two cents, but I know if I do I’ll be attacked since most people here fail to comprehend that disagreement does not, in fact, equal hatred.

@Numenosium. Disagreement with what? So far here you’ve told a parent with a transgender child to seek professional help.

I’m not transgendered, but I am gay — and for years I heard people talking about how they disagreed with it.

What’s there to disagree with, exactly? Unless maybe they’re gay and in denial, it has absolutely nothing to do with them.

It doesn’t affect your life in any real way, apart from maybe making you uncomfortable.

I don’t know what it’s like to be transgendered (or straight or a lesbian, for that matter) and it would be easy for me to tell all those people that they’re confused or it’s just a phase — because I don’t think/feel the same way. But how do I know?

That said, (and I’m likely showing my ignorance here), I do have worries about kids making a medical decision, like taking hormones to stop puberty, that locks them into something. And that’s mainly based on memories of my own confusion at that age.

And asking questions isn’t necessarily hatred, and criticism of your views isn’t necessarily an attack.

But saying things, as I’ve heard here, like gay/transgendered people shouldn’t exist or they should have fewer rights than other people, well, that’s the dictionary definition
of bigotry, isn’t it?

This clown disagreeing and getting defensive about it is hilarious. If bigots don’t want to be criticized they shouldn’t be bigots lol

Thst said, we should be able to have a conversation about this stuff.

I thought it was their best episode they’ve aired thus far.

I was thinking about everything from transgender issues to designer babies, parental rights, and sexism.

I thought they did a really good job. On top of that I found adorable humor in Bortus coming to a realization about the fate/unknowable destiny of his child by watching Rudolph resulting in a very touching scene at the end.

Nearly died laughing at the Beyonce joke as well.

For comparison, please remember TNG’s third episode was “Code of Honor,” arguably the most racist Star Trek episode ever. This is not that, thankfully.


This, to me, seemed most like a TNG episode of the first 3. Time and time again that show ripped on other cultures who had values and customs that were different or even abhorrent to humans. Just like what the crew of the Orville did. TNG would preach inclusiveness and tolerance and how wonderfully enlightened humans of the 24th century are. But if it wasn’t showing outright the subtext of TNG was how superior humans were to every other species out there.

That said, while there were jokes that worked there were a number that didn’t. (The fact that each episode has thus far had some gags that worked make the show watchable for me). The big reveal at the end was amazingly predictable. I’m hoping the show will limit the more obviously preachy episodes like this one. I’m of the opinion that sci-if allegories work better when they are less in your face.

The subtext in the morality plays by TNG were not directed inwards but to you, the viewer. There is no inherent superiority complex focused on other alien races. Whenever the show talks about humanity it tries to teach you what it is in the future. The progress that was made and what barbarity we left behind. Whether or not it succeeds at this depends on who views it.


The shows are for the audience. The subtext for the audience to pick up on was more often than not that humans are the greatest species in the entire universe. It was a running theme that showed up in TNG quite often. Although I think it should be noted that TNG was the only Trek series I got that from.

Within fictional narratives there is the internal and the external focus. The internal focus of TNG is not racial superiority at all, I can’t see where you get that from. There are no known instances where this show is actively and with intent proclaiming some sort of Übermensch idea. Yes, it can be preachy sometimes but the preaching is the external focus; a message sent to the viewer. TOS was much more supremacist in it’s depiction of the Federation versus Klingons et al.

Except TOS never had the subtext that humans were superior to every other species in the universe. In fact, we were humbled a number of times.
I really think that the main theme of TNG was how amazingly great the human condition is. Even when comparing us to other species with superior tech, superior strength, superior minds, etc.

That’s the thing – Kirk actually learned something in ERRAND OF MERCY, about himself. Picard theoretically experienced this in Q WHO (the ep which is really all about him getting hot chocolate spilled on him), but he never struck me as a guy who learned lessons, he seemed way too pompous and king-like to be a commander.

TNG seemed to go heavier on the ‘we’re enlightened and here to fix what’s wrong with both of your worlds’ type stuff than TOS, which doesn’t exactly enable your cast to grow from the experience. Contrast that with the original notion for THE HIGH GROUND, which had Romulans enabling a revolting faction on the planet akin to 18th century US to break away from a controlling faction (like 18th century England) that was being supported by the Federation. Now THAT is a show I’d still like to see made — and it would have been a ton better than THE HIGH GROUND we got, which was simplified down to almost ORVILLE like compactness.

Did you watch The Inner Light?

Yeah, but I didn’t particularly like the episode. TAPESTRY, that I liked, but I don’t know that the conclusion changed Picard … I just WISH it had.

Handled like a Family Guy episode. Why am I not surprised…

The ratings this week went down, hopefully it will improve in Live+3.


The Hollywood Reporter: ‘Orville’ Sees Live Draw Dip With Thursday Premiere

“Averaging a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 4 million viewers. That’s a significant drop from the previous two episodes, though both of those posted significant improvements with time-shifting.”

Yowza! That’s a huge drop. Half their audience.

Maybe +3’s move it up but ultimately that doesnt pay the bills anyway.

Well that wasn’t entirely unexpected now wasn’t it? It will drop more as it becomes less and less interesting. And more and more evident that it’s just a copycat and a dull one at that.

@Bert — the final ratings are in (live+same day), and the ORVILLE didn’t change. BUT — the ORVILLE earned lower ratings and had 2 million fewer viewers than a RERUN of THE BIG BANG THEORY!!

That’s pretty bad.

That’s a whopping big drop. After this uneven episode the ratings will likely drop even further next week I feel

@Amulius — it might. But 4 million viewers is still nothing to sneeze at. As long as it stays above 2 million, it should be fine considering who’s producing it. And it has a long way to go to drop below that mark.

But here’s an insider tidbit — evidently FOX is very upset that the ratings dropped so much, mainly because they spent so much money promoting the switch to Thursday, and still lost half their audience. Meanwhile, they spent a fraction of that promoting GOTHAM’S move to Thursday, and lost very little of that audience. So that’s very telling as well.

Why does everybody think this is about sex change? Isn’t it more about parents enforcing their worldview dogma onto their kids before those kids can even understand it? For example, how many babies in the world are irreversibly mutilated every day, just because their parents think that a supernatural entity demands it?

Agreed. I focused on the sex change initially because the terminology is relevant to me and I found the errors jarring and offensive. This episode tried to go in a lot of different directions and it spread itself too thin.

I’m disappointed. I was really looking forward to a good SciFi comedy. I’m losing interest more with each episode. Not sure I’ll stick with it.

Honestly it seemed unrealistic to assume that their Union wouldn’t understand the way a culture works before admitting entrance. It was also surprising how quickly everyone opted to judge an alien culture.

So, meh. Regardless of what message they were trying to send, it’s a ‘blah’ sort of half-assed Sci-Fi to me, so far.

Check back here and see what the reviews and TM denizens think about the writing … if it’s improved, by your lights, then check out the show again.

No need to undergo an hour’s worth if you don’t want to but are still curious.

I bear such wounds myself, but I’m told that there are also health/hygiene issues involved.

Yep. This one bothers me a lot. Some country, maybe Sweden, was talking about a ban on circumcision on anyone under 18 a while back. The response? It’s violating religious freedom and is anti-Semitic.

Not quite as serious as gender reassignment, although badly botched circumcisions have led to cases of boys being raised as girls.

I would think the easy answer to the religious freedoms claim would be to Make circumcism legal when you’re 18 and can decide yourself. Voila.

Yowza! I don’t imagine I much appreciated it at the time, but I can’t imagine undergoing a circumcision at 18.

Hmmm…myself, I thought Seth took this course for his story as a safe route around the Chinese culture’s propensity to kill the first born child if they don’t have a penis?

The episode is about intersex rights, not the transgender issue.

VARIETY: ‘Orville’ Suffers Heavy Drop in Move to Thursdays

While the ORVILLE dropped by 40-50% over it’s Sunday ratings, it still gained in audience from GOTHAM, which is good news in that audiences specifically tuned into watch ORVILLE. However, this drop is directly in line with the audience half-hour fall-off reported by SpoilerTV in which THE ORVILLE began the 8:30 start time with a 3.5 rating (18-49), and 10.24 million viewers. At 9PM, that rating drops to 1.7, with 5.04 million viewers. Almost half the viewers fell-off from the start of the show to the half-hour mark. So those numbers were averaged together to get 2.2 and 6.63 million viewers data for the hour. While those are still great numbers, that half hour fall-off is very telling about the audience interest in the show. I’d love to know what the numbers were at the end of the hour.

Nothing wrong with these numbers. If ORVILLE only ever maintains 3-4 million viewers every episode, it could easily run for years.

That’s quite the ‘glass half full’ observation there. The reality there is that half the sets of eyes who tuned in after football didn’t feel compelled to follow the show to Thursday. Those folks aren’t coming back, and good word of mouth isn’t there. Orville isn’t a cheap show to produce, if a Fox exec decides they can draw comparable viewers with a reality show at a fraction of the cost, Orville either gets canceled or migrates over to SyFy…


Putting doom and gloom aside, TV shows typically loses audience when it moves to another time-slot and without the benefit of football games. One example is ‘The X Files’ revival in 2016 lost more than 40% of its audience when it moved to Monday; it’s not something unheard of.

And while Thursday ratings were not good, it wasn’t catastrophic for Fox.

Per Deadline:

“That has to hurt for Fox, who have made the show a high priority. However, at the same time, The Orville did rise 10% among the 18-49 from its lead-in. Also, Live + 3 viewing for the MacFarlane series’ September 17 airing saw The Orville snag a 2.8/9. Proving to be the first non-sport show to beat the Emmys since 1997, that’s a chest beater for Fox.”

@Paul — I wouldn’t agree necessarily. That’s why I’ve been saying since I found out ORVILLE would be moving from Sunday’s to Thursdays following its premiere episodes that it would take more than the normal 3-4 episodes to normalize and find it’s audience. I suspect that FOX actually aired this clunker of an episode where they did in order to bury it in the changeover. Normally, a studio and network would air a stronger episode this early while trying to build an audience.

That said, consider this — last night’s ORVILLE was up against repeats. Also, while the Live+3 data continues to show ORVILLE gains, when the time-shifted viewers are counted in, we’re still in the early stages of the show defining itself for audiences. If many of those viewers were the Seth MacFarlane fans expecting FAMILY GUY in space, or more of what they got in the pilot — I would absolutely expect those numbers to be high at first. In fact ORVILLE held it’s ground with a 2.8 in Live+3 following both. However, the 2nd episode started to show its true nature, dropping most of the comedy after the first 10 minutes. And the viewer fall-off may reflect that — it lost almost half it’s audience at the half-hour. The 3rd episode is by far the least funny episode, with the jokes they attempted falling generally flat. It bored me. And worse yet, I just didn’t care.

So those remaining DVR viewers may have a surprise waiting for them, if they’ve been sticking with the show expecting more of what they saw in the pilot. If the audience followed to Thursday on their DVRs, then I would expect another big fall-off next Thursday, especially if it faces any new competition. By the 5th or 6th episode the ratings will probably level out, and where it goes then will depend entirely on whether they’ve found their niche or not.

Another interesting point about the ORVILLE’s ratings: It would appear in the demographic breakdown, that the audience breakdown for both Sunday, and Thursday, indicate a higher percentage of viewers in the 25-54 demo than the 18-49. Which suggests, it’s likely attracting older TNG fans rather than prime younger viewers. And it’s a significant percentage — .5 (18-49)/1.5 (25-54); and 1.96 vs. 3.15. The 18-49 rating stayed the same for both GOTHAM and ORVILLE on Sunday, suggesting most of Gotham’s crowd stayed tuned.

Yikes. I wonder when their first opportunity to revamp the direction of the show would be.

I loved the episode. Yes, I felt the tonal shift in the court room was a bit rough, but all in all, it felt like a solid episode of “Trek.”

Using the Rudolph story works. To an alien species everything of Earth would be new and viewed differently.

@Adam E — I have to disagree. It’s a simple minded allegory on Earth, and it would be just as simplistic to an alien seeing it for the first time. Especially one who quotes the most revered philosopher of their world. But it works, because it was a simplistic presentation of a serious matter, which failed more than it succeeded.

To an alien species that just arrived on earth, you would be correct. But to use Rudolph to make the point is dumbing is way down. 400 years into the future, I’m sure no one would think of using Rudolph as any kind of an example for anything. It’s something that could be comedic but it misses the beat.

The more I watch this thing the less funny it is and the more awkward and cringe-worthy it becomes. It’s bad.

I gave this show a chance…….IT SUCKED! Wasn’t funny OR good Sci-Fi, will be cancelled thank god.

I didn’t expect Hollywood to pull this crap on a silly (gag-driven) show like this.

I didn’t either. I enjoyed the first two episodes, but this 3rd one has left me feeling very conflicted and I don’t like the way I am feeling. I think it’s wrong to alter a baby in any way unless it’s needed to save the baby’s life. So I would be against circumcision as well. I don’t understand why this ‘comedy’ trek spoof had to even go here. I feel bad for the baby, who didn’t have a choice and the episode is not sitting well for me at all. I am supportive of trans people and trans issues, and I feel people have the right to be who they are and express themselves accordingly. I wish McFarlane would have just not gone there, they might lose a fan over this one.

tone of show still bothers me enormously, but I actually managed to enjoy this one.

It’s an interesting episode but they take a really interesting idea — a single sex species is a normal thing — and kind if turn it into “society has eliminated all women.”

Kind of like that TNG episode to me always seemed like it was showing a society where lesbians had taken over and eliminated the natural order (what the rouside is saying, not me)

So they both almost seem like anti-gay/anti-transgender — even though I think they’re trying to show straight/cisgender folks what it would feel like to be gay or transgender. I’m getting a headache.

Also, why in an all-male society without gender roles would a woman raised in seclusion start wearing dresses and jewellery?

I get that it’s meant to say something, but what is it?

My verdict: surprisingly good. Which was a first for THE ORVILLE.

The humor, once again, felt forced and detracted from the pacing of the plot. There were too many anachronisms (Marr knows who Beyonce was, but not the capital of the US, in a show where New York is shown to still be an Alpha city? C’mon.) And the penis joke in the beginning shows you can take Seth out of Family Guy, but not Family Guy out of Seth. But…there was less of it. And I think this show ultimately needs to go in the direction of either a comedy or a drama. It’s just not clicking as a “dramedy” a la MASH or ALL IN THE FAMILY.

Still, the underlying dilemma of this episode was thought-provoking, and this is the first episode of the Orville that — if you squint and don’t look at the corona — might not have been out of place on TNG. I would have preferred it if the episode hadn’t so openly sided with Bortas over Klyden, and had one character openly advocated for Klyden’s views. I had hoped that was where they were going with Captain Mercer and his “third leg” hypothetical.

I also think they went too far in the direction of “Bortas is a thoroughly sexist society, where the females are rare and sequestered off somewhere,” rather than “Bortas is a society where the idea of gender doesn’t exist.” It’s as if the Bortans became hyper-Ferengi (and frankly, the entire “Moogie” character arc in DS9 left me cringing; it’s exhibit A in the case against the “DS9 is the best Trek series” zealots). The ENT episode “Cogenitor” handled this setup in a much more mature and realistic way, with Trip taking the position that the entire Orville crew took here, and with no one filling the shoes of Archer, who viewed the cogenitor as a social norm for whatever-the-species was.

But…at least this was the first episode of Orville that at least inspired me to write a critique beyond “yuck.” I suppose that’s progress, and we’ll see where they go from here.

Yup. Seth continues to be the biggest issue. His acting. His style of comedy.

Perfect is the enemy of good. I doubt any Star Trek episode is perfect with the social issues. I think I made the mistake of reading too many of the comments here.

According to TV by the numbers the ORVILLE’s 2nd episode gained 27% or a 2.8 rating in 18-49, tying its previous live +3 2.8 18-49 rating for the premiere. It gained 1.7 million viewers for a total of 8.4 million live +3.

However, the premiere gained 30% from its live +same day ratings scoring a whopping 11.3 million, up from 8.6 million.

No matter how you slice it, there was much less interest in the second episode than the first.

Who gave birth to this girl child? How do single-gender species of men have children?

They lay eggs. It’s unclear how the process otherwise works.

I don’t get the comments below? That’s because my takeaway from Episode #3 had nothing to do with the current transgender issue—-and everything to do with their promotion of that long discarded, old school fear that if the gay guy population ever exploded, we could be living on a planet of the homos, by the homos and for the homos——like the Moclans from Moclan have done and still do.

Of course, Moclan ornithologists should be credited for coming up with a way to keep their species reproducing without those things Donald Trump likes to grab.

I’m sorry but this episode was trash. If this was a show about earthlings and ONLY earthlings this story would have worked pretty well. But since it is about an entire race of beings on a completely different planet it just doesn’t work. The examples of us viewing a cleft lip vs them viewing a gender does in fact hold up in something like this and should have ended there. Leave these kind of things to other, more qualified writers/directors and drama shows.

Took me a couple of attempts but I got through it. I thought it was easy to watch over the first two episodes. However, maybe because Im used to it.

I respect the effort to tackle a real world issue but it was really a silly simpleton approach though thats in keeping with the rest of the premise as Star Trek Lite. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing).

I thought the argument about circumcision was off the mark. It might have made more sense to flip that around and reveal that they no longer do it at all since there is really no reason to. Its pretty barbaric. And the religious argument could then fall aside next to the moral argument. They could have touched on female circumcision vas well.

The Rudolph thing was just dumb but in keeping with Seth’s humour.

The worst part of the episode was the forced gags. Bad comedy, out of place. Undermines the drama. And Seth. Terrible actor. His ‘What!”, almost spittake reaction to everything is tiresome.


Ep. 1, Live +SD — 2.7, 8.6 million/Live +3 — 3.5, 11.3 million (30% gain)
Ep. 2, Live +SD — 2.2, 6.6 million*/Live +3 — 2.8, 8.4 million (27% gain)
Ep. 3, Live +SD — 1.1, 4 million/Live +3 —
1.3, 4.9 million (24% gain)**

*Ep. 2 Live ratings showed a major drop of 1.8 ratings points, and 5.2 million viewers at the half hour mark, down from the 3.5, 10.2 million where it began the hour. 2.2, 6.6 million reflects the average for the hour.

**Ep. 3 projects a continuing 3% drop in DVR viewers (L+3 ratings)

I agree and disagree with Brian’s main points here.

The Rudolph analogy is unexpected, but to me that’s what makes it kind of brilliant (no pun intended). The moral of the Rudolph story is actually the moral that this Orville episode seeks to impart. And finding such an on-the-nose (again, sorry) allegorical analogue in an old Christmas tale strengthens the theme of the story, imparting a sense of universality to the pertinent aspect of the human condition——being born different from others in your society. The show’s overtly comedic nature makes drawing an analogy about transgender issues from Rudolph, of all things, totally within the bounds of its mission, where it obviously wouldn’t be thus for a more self-serious show.

I didn’t find the attempts at humor during the court proceeding inappropriate——again, given the nature of the show——though neither did they work well comedically. They simply weren’t very good jokes (to me, anyway). I didn’t see the surprise twist coming; but, then, I’m not the sort of viewer that likes to try to anticipate the endings of movies and shows. I really don’t think ahead into the plot much, so the twist came as a surprise to me. Was it a foregone conclusion that there should be Moclan females alive, well, and living unaltered on their planet? No. Moclan females were said to be so rare that only one was born every 75 years. And given that surgically altering them is standard practice, I don’t see any particular reason why there should necessarily be any unaltered Moclan females alive.

My biggest problem with this episode is actually in the lapses of logic during each side’s argumentation. At one point, Kelly simply dismisses a logically valid point by her opponent as “absurd” without explaining why it’s absurd. On the other side, her opponent goes off on a males-vs-females superiority argument, when it’s really irrelevant to his main (and more compelling thesis). I did get the feeling that a PC thumb was being pressed onto the scale, and that, in the end, there was really no choice but for the show to take the side that it does, regardless of the merits. While that position might ultimately prove to be the more meritorious and have the more cogent rhetorical support, it wasn’t demonstrated in this episode. The truth is that the show really has no choice about which position it must advocate, given the penalties for nonconformity with prevailing PC norms. But, that a serious debate can be had about this TV episode must be regarded as a sign of success. They tackled a difficult topic. I’m not sure that they really took any risks with it, but they did make a compelling episode out of it, and they did it in a way that was original and fresh, albeit a bit heavy-handed for my tastes.

P.S. As an example of what I mean by a PC thumb being pressed on the scale, I would cite the scene during the court proceeding wherein it is revealed that the most famous and esteemed writer in Moclan culture is female——the implication being that if she’d been surgically altered at birth, she would not have become such a great writer. Firstly, that implication is not a foregone conclusion. Yes, her life would have been very different had she been altered, but who’s to say that she would not have become a great writer anyway? The same you can never know how a person’s life will turn out argument that is used to support letting the baby remain female can likewise be used by the other side with regard to the Moclan female writer. Who’s to say that she wouldn’t have been a great writer as (ostensibly) a man? Maybe even a better writer? Who’s to say? Nobody is to say, but that line of argument goes against the PC position, so it’s not raised. Secondly, the other side could just as easily have produced witnesses who, like Klyden, were born female, altered at birth, and are extremely grateful for it. Who’s to say that their feelings are wrong? Who’s to say that Klyden is wrong? I see merit to both sides of the debate treated in this episode, which is why I would have liked for the show to have been able to give both sides an equal shake. But, I understand why it can’t.

The entire premise is nonsense. A species without females where males can fulfill the entire reproductive cycle is not a ‘male only species’. It is a hermaphrodite species where individuals can change their biological makeup to support reproduction. Thus the entire definition of ‘male’ is nonsensical to say the least. There is no evolutionary need to have females, let alone females that look like human females with a completely different physique including breasts. Now THAT would have been an interesting tale: what if you were part of an alien hermaphrodite species but had a genetic mishap that mangled your biology into only half of the reproductive cycle. But hey, then you couldn’t have some hack-job script about ‘gender’ and ‘making someone male’. Again, the whole species’ premise is nonsensical.

Bert Beukema
There is no evolutionary need to have females

There’s no evolutionary need for the vast majority of genetic mutations, until one occurs that happens to be adaptive, and thereby influences the evolution of the species. Assuming that Moclans are hermaphrodites, as you said (and not simply asexual), then a female Moclan would be a Moclan lacking male sex organs, and having only the female sex organs that normal Moclans are born with. It’s basically the opposite of a human hermaphrodite. Humans being sexually separated species, a hermaphrodite is an abnormality comprising both sets of sex organs instead of just one, male or female. A Moclan female, therefore, would be an abnormality comprising just one set of sex organs, male or female, instead of both sets. Again, assuming your premise that Moclans are hermaphrodites.

You want risky TV, watch John Oliver’s show on HBO. He took on how conglomerates get forcibly merged to become megaconglomerates, right when that is happening with HBO (and he took shots at the folks who will become his employer’s overseers in the process.) The guy is absolutely fearless, Ralph Nader meets George Carlin in some ways, though let’s hope he doesn’t help screw up any elections the way Nader wound up doing.


Hear, hear.

The biggest problem comes from the entire species of Moclan. They don’t need females, they can reproduce without them. Why do their females look exactly like human females, with breasts and a different physique not befitting the evolutionary scale? So, why in the hell are the females anyway? If they can reproduce it is not a species where all are male, then they are all hermaphrodite: male and female characteristics in a single individual. For that matter, what is a Moclan male anyway? Why do they declare themselves ‘male’? What use is a human gender definition to an alien species that can reproduce without females? Essentially, it all makes absolutely no sense at all.

Bert Beukema

All valid points of logic. In response to your question, however…

what is a Moclan male anyway? Why do they declare themselves ‘male’?

A Moclan male is basically an allegorical device invented by the writers of The Orville for storytelling purposes, such as exploring themes relating to sex/gender issues. If you’re implying that the purpose of this particular allegorical device is too transparent, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you. But, neither does that imply that it can’t be used in an effective way, comedically, dramatically and thematically. I think that, by this point, the show has made it clear that it’s not aiming for rigid adherence to logic and air-tight arguments. This is more of a whimsical style of entertainment that tries to be meaningful along the way. The whole balance between comedy and drama is very interesting to watch unfold, I think. I really can’t think of any other show that has tried what The Orville is trying, in this particular style. And I’m curious as to how the show will evolve with respect to that balance.

The “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” bit was the funniest part of the episode, for me.

One nitpick… MacFarlane’s rationale for not using Trek’s transporter concept seems to have gone out the window, being that they’ve “ripped off” (Seth’s phrase) Trek’s holodeck concept. I don’t see any major difference between nicking the holodeck vs. nicking the transporter.

Transporter is an easy ‘out’ for escapes (though not as easy as the drama-free shootout preceding their liftoff in the first ep with the shuttle), so steering clear of that seems smart to me. I’ll grant them the holodeck in the hope they use it at least as well as RED DWARF used its various VR toys.

@kmart — well ENT wisely started that way, but we all saw how quickly ENT started using the transporter now didn’t we? And Braga was the show runner on that one too. When confronted with the reality of cranking out story after story in a full 22+ episode season, especially after over a decade of relying on the transporter to get them out of ever increasing sticky situations, these lazy writers fold and fall back on the easy way out. I’m sure we’ll see the transporter come along at some point — probably an experimental device that will create the ORVILLE’s version of Tuvix, maybe combining MacFarlane and his ex-wife — wouldn’t that be hysterical!? Or better yet, just swap their sex organs — hi-larious!!

If McFarlane’s character woke up with breasts, he probably wouldn’t ever get out of bed and instead just resign his commission, he’d be having too much fun.

When is the thread for ep4 going up? I really liked that show. Except for the anachronistic dialog and a certain simplicity to the plotting, I found the generation ship story pretty good, just wished they had more time to do it with greater subtlety. And the big ship pullback looked GOOOOOOOD!

Based on preview, am thinking the Theron ep may be locking into an idea I had for an ORVILLE ep … my idea was called THE NORVILLE, so you can guess where I went with it (similar to both LOVE BOAT and TNG eps.)

Oh, and the TMP vger cloud & flyover music used in this ep was really nicely arranged. Total and UTTER ripoff, but at least a high quality ripoff.

A more subtle reading of the episode’s theme…

The debate in the plot is about whether it’s right to force a sex-change operation upon a baby. In real-life, the debate is about whether or not people should have to accept people who’ve had sex-change operations. The moral of this Orville episode could be read as advising people with sexual dysphoria against having themselves surgically altered, and rather to live out their lives as their uniquely born selves (like the Moclan woman). In other words, for a male who feels like a female, to try to be the best feminine male that he can be, rather than undergo extensive medical treatments in perpetuity, in an effort to approximate being a female. A similar reading can be done with regard to the central theme of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (perhaps the best musical ever made, for my money). Born male, Hedwig tries to become a transsexual, but it doesn’t work out. He then tries to live as a transvestite, but finds that unsatisfying. There’s always something missing in his life, something elusive. In the end, Hedwig decides to pick up the pieces of his life and move on, just as he is. And, really, that’s what the Orville crew all wants for the baby. Don’t mess with Mother Nature’s work. Be the best you that you can be.

Trek fans want to have thoughtful science fiction. At least, that’s what they yell. This whole episode makes no sense at all. And i’m not even speaking for the rather lame story, but with regards to the Moclan species. They are an ‘all male’ species we’re told. In fact, they can reproduce this way without any problems. But then we’re told that females exist but are rare (now or have they always been rare). There is no biological or evolutionary reason for females to exist in this species if ‘males’ can fulfill the entire lifecycle.

Thus the question is, what the hell is a Moclan male anyway? The show proposes that Moclan females are essentially a weak / frail version of ‘males’ and look like human females, including breasts (?). It simply makes zero sense. What is their reproductive cycle anyway, besides laying a ludicrously large egg. What is the evolutionary reason for them to lay just one egg; generally species that lay eggs do so in batches for survivability. So much of this simply doesn’t make any sense that it in all likelihood merely started as a joke.

There is no need for a female to exist in a species that can procreate without females. A much better setup would have been that they were hermaphrodites: both male and female. And perhaps their system can change depending on wether a male or female primary biology is needed for reproduction. But hey, that would indeed mean you have to think.

>There is no biological or evolutionary reason for females to exist in this species if ‘males’ can fulfill the entire lifecycle.

Maybe that’s why they are rare – evolution tends to favor one branch over another. The female branch has whittled down over time.

This was actually the first episode of The Orville I thought was really good. Was it perfect in its exploration of sex and gender, parenting rights, individual rights, philosophy, etc? No, not at all. But was thoughtful, and willing to go where a lot of other shows wouldn’t. I cracked a smile watching it, and realized Braga and McFarlane can do the TNG style ethical dilemma episodes pretty decently.