Review: The Orville Ends Its First Season By Exploring Faith In “Mad Idolatry”

Review: “Mad Idolatry” 
The Orville Season 1, Episode 12 – Aired Thursday, December 7

Written by Seth MacFarlane

Directed by Brannon Braga

In its first season finale, Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville explores some of the nuances of faith, reveals its version of Star Trek’s Prime Directive, and brings the relationship between Captain Ed Mercer and Commander Kelly Grayson to a more mature and stable point. The result is an episode that is quieter than one would expect from a finale, and a treatment of religion that is more respectful and less cartoonish than what was seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

By healing the cut on a young girl on a primitive planet Kelly Grayson inadvertently spawns an entire faith, which we get to witness due to the nature of the planet’s orbit, which makes it jump back and forth from our universe to another where time runs a lot faster. With TV’s limitation of 42 minutes to tell a story with this scope, shortcuts have to be made. So, on this planet there is only one religion, which borrows the terminology and imagery of Christianity as a shorthand for the audience. The 14th century version of the Church of Kelly even had a sort of Vatican, with the 21st century version evolving to televangelists. The progression presents an overly-simplistic vision of the growth of a religion from obscurity to prominence to transcending that religion as a sign of maturity. At the same time, in the midst of this simplification, MacFarlane’s script allows some of the characters to have complexity and dimension.

It’s important to point out the terrifyingly huge scope of the material MacFarlane seeks to address in just an hour of television, covering roughly 2,100 years of a planet’s social, technological, and religious development. Pulling it off – for the most part – is no small feat. “Mad Idolatry” manages to avoid some of the major pitfalls that TNG fell into with episodes like “Rightful Heir” and “Who Watches the Watchers?”, but it avoids those issues not by staying away from ideas, but rather by allowing more voices to speak.

When Mercer and crew meet the unnamed planet’s Pope-equivalent, the Valondis of the Church of Kelly, he seems pampered, rich, and satiated with food and drink, even while the people around him are starving. Yet, when Kelly arrives to confront him, it is clear he is a true believer, and he is committed to communicating the truth about Kelly to all the people when he learns who she really is. He believes that “The truth must never be compromised. The people should decide for themselves.”

This episode explores the Planetary Union’s policy of avoiding “cultural contamination” as The Orville’s version of Star Trek’s Prime Directive. Apparently violating this rule can land you in prison. But, just like our Star Trek heroes, Grayson and Mercer ignore the rules and try to fix the damage Kelly has inadvertently done to the society, doubling down after her initial encounter with even more attempts to set things right.

Their attempts provides the context for the best example of nuance in this episode. They approach the problem from the arrogant position of treating the inhabitants of this planet like children. They learn this lesson in hubris after leaving Isaac on the planet for 700 years only to see he (and they) were not needed to solve any problem. The 28th-Century aliens explain, “If it had not been you, our mythology would have found another face. It’s a part of every culture’s evolution. It’s one of the stages of learning.” In other words, their culture was robust enough to learn and grow from challenges on their own, without superior wisdom from the Planetary Union.

The aliens proclaim what MacFarlane has said is his personal faith, “You must have faith in reason, in discovery, and in the endurance of the logical mind.” The idea that religion is a stage that people will eventually grow out of is a sort of atheist condescension, but it’s presented in a more respectful manner than in the aforementioned TNG episodes.

There were also a couple of issues of simplification with how the show dealt with the time-dilating of the unnamed planet. Firstly, while this planet was supposedly evolving in a parallel to our history, the first jump we saw went from what we were told was their Bronze Age to something like the 14th century Middle Ages, which is about 2600 years of development in just 700 years. But what was even weirder was the science behind the planet’s “multiphasic orbit.” We are told this planet orbits similar stars in two universes, but with one universe moving 700 years for every 11 days, the star in their parallel universe will die out in just 250 of our years, give or take. So, by definition, there is no way for these two stars to share the same properties, or at least not for long. It may just be technobabble to allow for their story of time-jumping, but the science should still make some sense. Perhaps Alara summed it up best by saying “Well, that’s trippy.”  

The main area for character development in the finale picked up on where the season started, with the relationship between Ed and Kelly. The gaps in time waiting for the planet to re-emerge gave them an opportunity to rekindle their romance and recognize their feelings. In the end, after seeing how far Ed will go for her, Kelly decides that a relationship won’t work. “You and I together jeopardizes your command.” This is a mature and sensible decision and was handled well. However, for such an important character issue, they could have spent more time on this story as it felt like their new romance was on pause for what was in reality about a month of ship time. 

This was another one of those episodes where the humor was more subdued, and with exception of some mild poop jokes, the juvenile humor quotient was especially minimal. The best humor continues to come from Peter Macon’s deadpan Bortus, “Am I suspected of some misdeed?” and Scott Grimes’ wise-cracking Malloy, “These clothes are going to give me dysentery, I just know it.” MacFarlane and Grimes continue to show excellent comic chemistry, such as their “Let’s pretend I don’t know what that is” “Do you know what that is? “I do not” “So we could just say that” exchange.

“Mad Idolatry” is an episode that doesn’t focus on character, action, or plot, but rather on philosophy and ideas. As such, it’s a very quiet but nice way to end The Orville’s first season. It’s an episode that perhaps tries something more ambitious than it could possibly achieve, but in the process, it addresses serious questions with a decent amount of nuance and respect, and even a little fun too.

Random thoughts:

  • Admiral Ozawa is played in this episode and previously in “The Krill” by Kelly Hu, perhaps best known for her role as Lady Deathstrike in X-Men 2.
  • Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, who played Fadolin in this episode, previously played Juan, an engineer on the USS Horizon, in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Horizon.”
  • This episode features Sports Illustrated model Kyra Santoro as the barely-clad Ensign Turco in John Lamarr’s quarters. This is her first acting role.
  • The crew’s uniforms are looking noticeably pucker-y and bunched at the seams, a sign of wear and use over the course of the season
  • The area on the planet from early in the show looks like the spot where Jason Nesbitt fought the Gorignak in Galaxy Quest, although it’s quite overgrown
  • Ed Mercer receives a letter of reprimand in his permanent file for doctoring a report to protect Grayson.
  • Continuity was maintained with Lamarr’s promotion to Chief Engineer from the previous episode. He takes the helm station only briefly to fill in for Gordon Malloy while he’s on a landing mission.
  • The 28th-Century equivalent society looks like V’Ger’s home planet from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with reflective-gloss space ships. They wear outfits that shine like the Kryptonian costumes from Superman: The Movie.
  • The Moclan game, Latchkum, is pretty bizarre. I may prefer a nice game of Fizzbin.
  • Perhaps one reason the people of this planet revere Kelly as a god is that she is always depicted as right in this show. Here’s another excellent bit of wisdom from Kelly: “These jobs we’ve chosen, they condition you to be okay being by yourself. And after a while you start to think that giving yourself over to someone else is some kind of weakness, even though it’s exactly what you need.” That’s good stuff.
  • Best line: “You’re worth more than you think.”

Clips from  “Mad Idolatry” 

The Orville book coming next month

While you wait for the second season of The Orville you can go inside the making of the show with The World of the Orville by Jeff Bond.


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I though it was smartly done. Of course you have to do a lot of shortcuts to get this to fit somehow…but it was done with a good amount of precision and skill. I have a problem with the spaceships being too clean in terms of textures. In this episode we saw a better texture for the shuttles when it crashed. They need to do some work so that they don’t appear too much CGI. I really dig the ending. It was very emotional and they got me.

Two things –
1. The Union now has the transporter. Isaac was on the planet for 700 years watching the people, the culture and the science. He would be watching the transporter as it was developed along with all the other parts of their science.
He would be totally familiar with how it was made and how it works, and would record it all. That information is now available to the Union technicians. So, can we expect to see the transporter in use in season 2?
2. I wonder if we will even have a season 2. With Disney in the final stages of acquiring the television rights from Fox, would the bean counters at the mouse factory allow it to continue seeing that its ratings have not been stellar? You tell me.

FOX the network is not being included in any potential sale.

@Ian — correct. FOX Has ordered a second season of the show. If they cancel it at this point, they would have to pay a lot to shut it down. If Disney does acquire FOX studios before this series goes into production, they will be obligated to produce the series, or pay significant penalties. Considering there is a significant audience for ORVILLE — at least 6+ Million viewers in the US alone, the likelihood of a healthy syndicated life is pretty good, at least enough to warrant a second season (however many episodes), even if the network numbers are as low as the first season just finished. However, I would expect serious budget cuts next season due to poor live ratings. Given that reality — yes, I’d expect to see transporters which is a much cheaper effect than shuttles flying around every time they go somewhere.


It used to be shows we’re striving for that magic 100 episode level to guarantee healthy syndication. My question is in the era of discs and streaming how important is syndication? I guess it is still somewhat of a thing but my guess is not very.

Big deal. In 2 more months, these people will show up in a monolith and take humanity to Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite.

Or…a catastrophic war will produce a dead planet popping into our universe, with its people having fled to another stellar system in their parallel World. We could even tie it to the advent of transporter technology somehow, keeping that dreadful invention away from Orville.

As much as I despise the look and maneuvering of the shuttle, I hope they never use the transporter, which is too much of a story crutch. You could easily say that it is still in the process of being approved by some Union science committee that will take a few years longer than the show runs. Kind of like the Elliot Magnin SUPERMAN novel where Supes recalls coming up with a cure for cancer, only to find the FDA withholding and fully suppressing it because it causes some kind of minor health concern in mice.

kmart, I hate the shuttles too. I finally realized what they remind me of: a child’s sneaker.

It’d be nice to see shuttles with design elements more like the Orville, which is bee-you-tee-ful.

Marja and kmart,

I don’t think the shuttles’ forms bothers me half as much as their backing in docking gymnastics which seems needlessly complicated for what should be a simple plug and play event.

It’s like they took the worst aspect of TMP ship exterior design, the travel pod having to back in, but managed to emphasize its clunkiness, and then keep using shots that make it seem ungainly in an aesthetically challenged way. I’d rather see shots of the crew inside than another of the thing backing into one of these carpo- umm, docking ports.


You’ve fingered exactly what bugs me so about it, and I agree with you that they should just stick with the crews’ views from inside out.

Shuttle trips in the Orville are becoming as ill-fated as shuttle trips on mid-series Voyager. :-)

I know The Orville ain’t TNG but I’m really enjoying it. For me, this feels like a realistic depiction of life on a “regular ol” starship, where not every crew person is a genius, people have bad days and hangovers and make mistakes and tell bad jokes. I like the humor because we have it in our office, too: the smart aleck, the person who has funny banter, the deadpan. For television entertainment, I like this take on a sci fi exploration show.

@StevenPDX — right, because that was Roddenberry’s vision of the future — starships filled with regular on’ crew, warping around the Galaxy in the most advanced and powerful technology ever invented, just trying to get by, all while dealing with some of the most complicated problems ever faced by sentient beings.

If MacFarlane stuck to this being a parody of TNG, I might agree with you, but he hasn’t and this show fails miserably in that regard. In the alternative, I would expect only the best and brightest, not some ex-frat boys just trying to get through their day job after partying too much the night before.

But they did say in the first episode, that they have many Starships in Orville and not enough Captains. So, it’s not far fetch that the crew isn’t the best at everything either…the Orville isn’t exactly the flagship of the Union. It’s one of them, maybe even the last of the lineup. I think Orville is a more a mix of many scifi shows, that span from Lost in Space to TNG, with a strong influence of Star Trek.

@andre — not having enough experienced captains is not the same thing as having enough qualified crew. In the end, it all depends on what kind of show you want to entertain you. As long as ORVILLE is a parody, I’m happy to accept THE OFFICE in space. Once they start taking themselves as seriously as they have in the last half of the season, I’m not interested in watching a bunch of goof-ups slogging their way through warmed-over, ripped-off TNG stories. And what does ORVILLE have to do with LOST IN SPACE? This is pure TNG — from the on-camera to the off.


“I’m not interested in watching a bunch of goof-ups slogging their way through warmed-over, ripped-off TNG stories.”

And yet you are doing it.

Curious Cadet,

Re: what does ORVILLE have to do with LOST IN SPACE?

LOST IN SPACE’s first season was the exact flip of what you are talking about for the Orville and thus, is a good mirror to hold up for what you describe. LIS started off deadly serious then ended up ridiculously silly camp.

agreed, andre, and that’s what makes it fun. Mercer gets dressed down by Union Command sometimes. Seems authentic. A B+ crew in an A+++ universe.

I’ve never worked in a place where people except maybe new Juniors to some small degree would have let their personal life/personality affect their work so much. This is over the top.

PDX, I like it, it’s a weird mix, but this episode got it closer to rights. The captain and the first officer have lonely positions. Maybe we’ll see them get together to play board games. But not latchka. That was funny as hell. I LOL’d.

OK, I’m just going to come out and say it: In my considered opinion, this was a better first season than the one that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had. Seth MacFarlane and his team actually managed to pull this off, and I can’t wait to see where they go in season two.

I would agree that this is a stronger first season than season one of TNG. But I would still argue that the more The Orville tries to be both an epic space adventure and a raunchy office comedy, it will not succeed at doing either of them very well.

To be fair: it’s not that hard, to beat TNGs first Season :-D

It’s what TNG would have been without the history of Trek behind it, both in terms of cultural importance and legacy.

And without the canon.

@FLB — nah, TNG would have never taken itself so lightly or cavalierly, have been written so badly, or cast so poorly …

I agree. You can even put part of season 2 of TNG. Those first two seasons were quite eclectic and all over the place. I would say insecure, all the way around from writing to acting.

I finally started watching The Orville. I hate to say it…but I like it better than Discovery. I’m not comparing, I’m just more excited to start the next episode of Orville. As it turns out I don’t care so much about Star Trek being good. I want it the way that I remember it and other than The Orville being a comedy…it’s Star Trek the way I remember it.

Well said. I’ve been going through all the Star Trek Series on Am.Prime and The Orville fits better with those shows than the dark Discovery does.

@I’mPaul – totally agree. I love this show, its spirit is so refreshing and simple – aiming mostly to entertain. And I’m really enjoying the characters. Surprised at how well it turned out, but happy it did!

“As it turns out I don’t care so much about Star Trek being good. I want it the way that I remember it and other than The Orville being a comedy…it’s Star Trek the way I remember it.”

The most honest (and clarifying) explanation for this show’s appeal that I’ve seen so far. Thanks.

@I’mPaul — “As it turns out I don’t care so much about Star Trek being good. I want it the way that I remember it and other than The Orville being a comedy…it’s Star Trek the way I remember it.”

This is exactly why Star Trek will never have the same kind of broad appeal as Star Wars and other big budget, successful franchises.

I enjoyed this episode. As they finish the season, I think they’re starting to hit their stride. Bring on Season 2!

It’s Voyager’s “Blink of an Eye,” but with a storyline about the dangers of religion added to the high concept premise. MacFarlane again is not up to the task of doing justice to his morality play, giving us yet another trite story with simplistic takes on religious fervor, ending with a fairly unambiguous take on enlightenment only coming with the acceptance of scientific thought. The idea is fine to do, and even being a “Blink of an Eye” rip-off (Really, Brannon? You directed this for crying out loud), the nature of the story is almost enough of a distraction from how overly-simple this take on it is. But things like the religious leader getting murdered after a rushed discussion about the impact of Kelly’s reveal are… well, cartoonish. The character work for Ed and Kelly is predictable but more mature than how they started out, which is gratifying.

The show has improved, I seethe a little less every time Seth MacFarlane’s giant head appears on camera, the characters are taking baby steps towards being multi-dimensional, and while I still say it’s 90’s Trek with serial numbers scratched off, it’s becoming a pleasant-ish diversion. That’s something, anyway!

@Ian — I was frankly bored. VOY did this much better. The pacing, acting, writing, directing, all was extremely poor. For the first time I actually was relaxed and enjoying some of the early banter and rare charmingly funny jokes as Macfarlane looks for something to do. This is where his talents lie. But then it just derailed. Without a responsible show runner in charge, the ideas are just recycled Star Trek storylines — in some cases rejected ones — which are allowed to pass unedited directly to the screen, seemingly without any of the staunch vetting even VOY ideas apparently received in the writers room. At least they aren’t compromising their dramatic storyline with extended unnecessary humor sequences, but what’s replaced them was just deadly dull.

I think the worst part of this episode was the message that, we shouldn’t worry that the world is falling apart over religious intolerance and worship of a supernatural being, but that it will work itself out after centuries of violence and bloodshed. Cool. Good to know. MacFarlane should give this episode away for free to all those who find themselves victims of fundamentalist religious ideologies throughout the world, and assure them that their sacrifice is all part of a natural progression that will work itself out over the next millennium. Good stuff. And for those who do have faith in religion, they should find this episode justifiably insulting. That’ll help build an audience for sure …

As a Christian myself and a big Star Trek and Orville fan, episodes like this are a little annoying. I’m not insulted or anything like that. Being a believer means you have doubts occasionally. I just wish science fiction was a little more accepting and inclusive when it comes to faith. We can build other cultures and create religions based around them (Klingon, Bajoran, etc.) but Christianity or Earth religions are wrong? Feels a bit too heavy-handed. This episode didn’t rock my faith at all, but I’m hoping we can get more high-quality episodes like this in Season 2.

It pointed out the true, obvious fact that all sorts of lousy human business is done in religion’s name.

As are charities, hospitals, orphanages, scientific research, and all manner of good human business. (And yeah, that varies by religion since, unlike the perception in episodes like this, they aren’t remotely the same).

It’s a one-sided view of history, pointing out the collective flaws of all religions (If you combine the misdeeds of all political parties through history, from Republican and Democrat to Nazi and Maoist, you can get a pretty hefty list of misdeeds… would you enjoy being lumped all together and as, say, a Democrat being labeled as ‘as bad as a Nazi’ because you also belong to *a* political party?) and ignoring the reality of all the non-extremist good done in the name of those same religions.

I would suggest that you consider being challenged more often rather than have your faith be coddled all of the time

They showed plenty of flaws in Bajoran fundamentalism as well, so I don’t think there was a bias against existing faith systems so much as ALL faith systems. Personally, while I don’t have faith in ANY religious system (though there are aspects of some eastern beliefs and some scientific concepts that I can occasionally include in my worldview), I think anything that disseminates this kind of perspective is a good thing, and will help filter down into the massmind to dilute the dogmatic teachings that take up a lot of mindspace in most cultures peoples, after they are indoctrinated in childhood.

Can’t disagree with anything you said!

” with exception of some mild poop jokes, the juvenile humor quotient was especially minimal ”

…Oh so THIS is ” Just like TNG and is PROPER Star Trek ? ”


I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying.

Best illustration of the importance of the Prime Directive that I’ve ever seen. ‘Who watches the watchers’ came close but this is better!

Except that I would argue that the 28th-Century aliens at the end made the case that their culture was resilient enough to take any “cultural contamination in stride. They actually argue that Kelly’s presence made very little difference in the growth and development of their culture. The episode ends up arguing that the Prime Directive is actually a bit paternalistic. No?

I would definitely agree with your take on how that played out in the episode. Since we can’t re-run history in real life, though, whether it’s true or not is anyone’s guess.

I enjoyed the show (despite misgivings and disappointments detailed below), but NOT Braga’s direction. Right when Kelly says she knows how to keep out of sight of the natives, he cuts to a long shot of her standing out bold as day on the top of the hill. It is pretty much the opposite of what I think of as film direction, which takes its inspiration from the script … something you’d think a writer would know. Honestly, the eps he has directed have sunk or sailed on the writing, and he has hurt each of them with his pedestrian and/or downright foolish direction.

This story’s premise sidesteps ‘future shock’ in a big way, indicating Isaac would just integrate into the culture. Just as likely he’d have been a driving force for warships to be waiting for ORVILLE the next time around in the orbit, or they’d have become Borg, which is what my wife was guessing when she saw the revised version of the planet.

Instead this kind of takes the Spock-to-Valeris bit in TUC about the universe unfolding as it should, regardless of how she sees things as at a turning point. This is a dangerous notion in the mind’s of some, akin to the leave-her-to-heaven approach, which is what lets Hitlers get and keep footholds in everything from local businesses to big governments.

I really thought it would have been better to see the future of the world as a nuclear pyre … in fact, before Isaac decided to go down there, I thought they were going to actually get to see armageddon start with the nukes flying. Just because the Union made it to this enlightened level doesn’t mean everybody will, and a season-ender would be the right place to remind folks of that.

Letting Kelly (and Ed for that matter) off the hook for their errors, regardless of the millions who died as a result of the initial contact, just because the planet seems to have turned out all right in the end is just a strange, possibly unforgivable way to end season 1 to me. My wife decided she is going to have to watch all of s1 (she was in other room during most of it, so she heard about half of it but only saw a few) to come up with an informed opinion. I guess the show is going to succeed in being something to talk about, so that’s a plus.

Something tells me that the debate over the “great man” theory of history is not going to be settled on a Trek website, particularly on a thread devoted to The Orville.. 😊

The Season Finale finished with some of the lowest ratings of the season.

With a 0.9 rating in the key demo, and just 3.5M viewers. That’s a pretty poor showing for a Season Finale, for a series that started with more than double the ratings, and occasionally scored much higher. Given FOX early pickup of the series so MacFarlane could start writing scripts before he gets busy with his other commitments next year, FOX has its work cut out for it to build a bigger second audience in order to justify such an expensive show. Budget cuts are almost inevitable.


Ep. 1, L+SD — 2.7, 8.5M PILOT
Ep. 2, L+SD — 2.2, 6.6M
Ep. 3, L+SD — 1.1, 4M MOVE TO THURSDAY
Ep. 4, L+SD — 1.1, 3.7M
Ep. 5, L+SD — 0.9, 3.4M
Ep. 6, L+SD — 1.0, 3.3M
Ep. 1, L+SD — 0.6, 2.2M REPEAT
Ep. 7, L+SD — 1.2, 4.1M
Ep. 8, L+SD — 1.0, 3.8M 2ND SEASON PICKUP
Ep. 9, L+SD — 1.0, 3.6M
Ep. 10, L+SD — 0.9, 3.3M
Ep. 6, L+SD — 0.4, 1.5M REPEAT
Ep. 11, L+SD — 0.9, 3.6M
Ep. 12, L+SD — 0.9, 3.5M FINALE

Reminds me a bit of Voyager’s “Blink of an Eye”, concept-wise. (Spaceship crew witnesses a civilization’s development in fast forward, while having accidentally influenced the direction of said development.)

The irony of a TV recycling ideas from another TV show which in itself is famous for recycling plot ideas from another TV series!

VOY did borrow a lot of elements from TNG! Haha!

@AdAstra — in this case it’s the quality and transparency of the job they did. Moreover, it’s that it’s being overseen by the exact same show runner as the shows they’re borrowing from. Sadly, it’s no longer even attempting to be a parody where borrowing those ideas would be perfectly acceptable. They’ve been increasingly stepping up to make this a high-minded sci-fi drama, but rather than push the envelope to explore new concepts, or borrowed concepts differently, they just sort of unevenly microwave some leftovers they themselves whipped up three decades ago.

For the origin of this plotline, read “Dragons’ Egg” and its’ sequel “Starquake” by Robert L. Forward.

Although it’s the best Star Trek in decades, take note that as McFarlane continues to introduce late-stage-Roddenberry liberal ideology – (free sex, anti-theology/papacy, anti-money, superfluous co-captain for diversity) the ratings get lower and lower…

Roddenberry was a liberal at all stages. And since TNG–in all its paternalistic, liberal-humanist glory–was the most universally popular Trek series the world is ever likely to see, your argument readily disproves itself. Not that I suppose you even care.

And yet when a trek reboot was dreamed up it was TOS that was rebooted. Not TNG. This is not a jab at TNG. I liked the show and appreciate that it brought Trek back for a time. But I’d say TOS still resonates more than TNG ever will.

Speaking of “anti-papacy,” how is the tenure of Francis sitting with you these days? (In spite of his atheism I’m guessing that Roddenberry would have been rather fond of him.)

I think you lost him. Not so much what you said but what exactly it is that you’re referencing. That said, I suspect that you are right.

I suggested that he didn’t care about his argument being so obviously flawed because he didn’t make it in good faith in the first place. He just wanted to throw a stink bomb at his political opponents, not to have a reasoned discussion about the issues raised by this episode or how Trek handled similar themes in the past. Based on prior experience, that’s just who he is.

That was early stage Roddenberry liberal ideology. Did you ever actually WATCH Star Trek?

I can’t help but wonder what this show could be with a better top staff. There are so many annoying issues. Most of the supporting cast got one episode each, then reverted back to delivering punchlines and plotlines. As for those punchlines, YIKES! They’re not for the family on a show that really should be. Glory holes? The lighting is still a blazing mess. Isaac is a terrible character, no matter what he does. There’s just nothing to him. The make-up looks like the worst of 80’s tv offered up in HD. These are all fixable problems. I just hope someone is aiming for a fix.

@CmdrR — better than Brannon Braga!? Surely you jest. I can’t see any way the budget on this series gets slashed next season after the ratings sank to finish under 1.0. So that’s either going to make things better or worse. For my opinion, I think they’d be far better off embracing the parody. But if they insist on making a warmed-over TNG 2.0, then they need writers doing something other than recycling previously seen Trek stories, actors cast for their dramatic abilities, and directors with a vision of something other than making their day on budget — oh and sets that look like a functioning starship, and not a parody of TNG, as a Hilton hotel in space.

It was a decent finale, with just enough issues that kept it from being anything like great. Once again the treatment of the subject is so broad as to qualify as satire, yet the characters take it all-so-seriously when they aren’t cracking poop jokes. The simplistic depiction of the Church of Kelly in particular, with its pointed references to Catholicism, took me right out of the story. Much better was the resolution of the relationship between Mercer and Grayson, which despite the stakes on the planet just felt much more real to me. Some points, too, for the genuine sense-of-wonder in the final scenes depicting the planet’s fate. I’m not yet sold on The Orville by any means (and certainly don’t consider it the second coming of “real” Trek as some seem to), but it’s definitely improved with age. I’ll be back next year.

I think this was the best Orville episode yet. Whoever thought Seth McFarlane, and not STD would carry the flame, the spirit, of Trek?
Actually I was always touched my McFarlane’s testimonial to Roddenberry when he introduced Him into TV’s Hall of Fame. I watched it again, and you can clearly see how his take on Trek became the Orville. He is pulling it off, and I am impressed by his accomplishment.

“Whoever thought Seth McFarlane, and not STD would carry the flame, the spirit, of Trek?”

I wouldn’t have thought it, and still don’t.


I find myself feeling the same way. I watched the first few episodes of DSC, and found myself sympathizing with those who have criticized it as not feeling like Star Trek. It really didn’t feel like Star Trek to me, either. It felt like a show riding the coat-tails of “The Expanse” rather than a show blazing its own trail————a show trapped in a cage of its own making. Whereas The Orville, though far from a perfect show yet, feels fresh and inspiring. I literally have no idea, week-to-week, what to expect. And, I find the characters in The Orville soooo much more relatable and likeable. After watching a few episodes of DSC, I didn’t want to spend any more time with any of the protagonists, except maybe Saru. I actually found myself relating more to the Klingons, and rooting for them to kill the whiny, annoying good guys, whom I found whiny and annoying. And this was especially surprising, given what I’d read about the rewriting of the Klingons prior to the show’s release.

I read and agree with much here. I’d rather have a job on the Orville rather than Discovery. The characters on Orville are just overall more interesting and seem more fun. That’s the comedic element of the show manefesting, however. And the overall tone of STD is far more gloomy. Not that it makes for a bad show but The Expanse seems to have captured that feel better than STD. Having seen Expanse and the front 9 of STD, I can honestly say I’d rather see the next season of Expanse before the final 6 STD episodes.

Again, I’m a trek fan and hoping it gets better and I’m curious to see where the show goes. So I’m going to be an idiot and pony up for one more month of CBSAA come mid January. Much to my chagrin.

Several times this review accuses TNG’s “Who Watches the Watchers” of being “disrespectful,” but not once does it provide any evidence to back up the claim. “Who Watches the Watchers” is a brilliant episode that rings true. In my experience, there has been no shortage of people as obstinate as the relevant alien character is portrayed in “Who Watches the Watchers.” Further, Picard is a veritable model of patience and empathy in how he relates to, and tries to meet minds with, the alien who obstinately believes that “The Picard” is a god. I don’t see anything disrespectful about “Who Watches the Watchers,” which takes nothing away from this Orville episode, either.

While “Who Watches the Watchers” was never a favorite of mine, I think it handled the subject of belief vs. superstition with at least a little more subtlety and respect than this episode of The Orville did. That said, I very much appreciated the suggestion that Kelly was just a placeholder in this drama, and that if religious strife handn’t specifically taken place as the result of her actions it would have happened anyway as part of this society’s normal social development. That may or may not be true, and doesn’t necessarily absolve her of responsibility in any case, but it is a point well worth considering.

Michael Hall

I do think that belief in deities is hard-wired into humans, and can only be overcome by a combination of information about the natural world and deductive reasoning skills. When your culture’s scientists are able to figure out where the Sun goes at night, you no longer have any reason to believe that a dragon is gobbling it up. The part that I’m not entirely sure about is whether the US will ever evolve beyond religion. The founding of this country by religious extremists has had a lasting influence. Here’s an interesting chart showing the relation between national per-capita income and religious belief by nation. The US is an obvious outlier in the trend:

This one is from the Washington Post, showing income vs. religiosity:

comment image&w=1484&op=resize&opt=1&filter=antialias&t=20170517

@Cygnus-X1 and @Michael Hall

I’ll have to re-watch “Who Watches the Watchers?” but I remember finishing that episode and being turned off by the arrogance of the view that belief in the supernatural – belief in phenomena untestable by science – was foolish, childish, and dangerous. I get that some people actually do believe that religion is harmful, and I’m delighted for intelligent discussion of the question, but that episode felt arrogant and scold-y to me. The use of the term “superstition” to refer to all religious belief is one of the key giveaways to that kind of arrogance. Again, maybe I’ll have to rewatch the episode, but “Who Watches the Watchers” seemed to have very little of the “belief vs. superstition” that Michael Hall describes, and more of a “belief IS superstition” vibe.

This episode of The Orville was just as arrogant, it was just gentler about it. And I’m all about gentleness and kindness when it comes to issues on which we strongly disagree.

Denes House

What is the difference between belief in the supernatural and superstition? It seems like a difference of degree more than anything else. A superstition is a belief that entails a simple supernatural explanation for some phenomenon or set of phenomena, while a “belief” is a more complicated, more rationally justified practice in basically the same thing. For centuries, Scandinavians, for example, believed that the Winter darkness was caused by a dragon gobbling up the Sun. They built an entire “belief” system on that belief, involving certain behaviors aimed a pacifying the dragon and whatnot. Would you call that a “belief” or a superstition?

Denes House
Likewise, the ancient Greeks had various “beliefs” associated with various gods. When people went to war, the cause of it was the god, Ares, stirring their passions (the recent WONDER WOMAN movie actually made great use of this premise). When people fell in love, the cause of it was Eros (Cupid for the Romans) literally shooting an arrow into their hearts. These beliefs weren’t thought of by the Greeks as analogies——it wasn’t as though Eros was shooting an arrow into your heart; Eros was shooting an arrow into your heart. Over the past 4000-5000 years, the Hebrew god, Yahweh, has been the cause of various phenomena for Jews and Christians. Just as it was for the Scandinavians and the Greeks, for Jews and Christians it’s not as though Yahweh is punishing the wicked, the immoral and the depraved when bad things happen to people; Yahweh is punishing them. It’s not as though Yahweh created the universe; Yahweh did create the universe, just as the Hindu god Brahma created the universe for Hindus (on a much longer time scale). What makes all of the aforesaid beliefs different from superstitions? They’re all invented explanations, fueled by emotions, totally devoid of evidence, relying on supernatural causes to explain natural phenomena. Referring to one’s own supernatural beliefs as “belief” while calling the rest “superstition” would seem to be nothing more than egoistic pride. Naturally one’s own “beliefs” are more sophisticated and intellectually elevated over the mere superstitions of other cultures.

I would guess is the poster has an issue with the negative connotation of the word “superstition”. My guess is they feel calling their deeply seeded belief system a superstition belittles them. Even if you think the cold definition of the word applies, and it might, it doesn’t sit well with believers.


Well, I’m sure that’s how they feel. That’s the egoistic pride that I mentioned. But it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with “Who Watches the Watchers.”

I disagree. Consider that when the country was founded it was darn near impossible NOT to find someone who thanked God or Providence every time they had a meal or crops that didn’t go bad. That was just the general inclination of humans at the time.


Re: I disagree

Not to overgeneralize, but I’m fairly certain the Native Americans outnumbered those God-thanking immigrants and most of the natives thanked their hunted prey itself.


The natives did indeed outnumber the newcomers. But they were just as God fearing as the new arrivals were. Only in different ways.


Re: just as God fearing

Non sequitur, your assertion was “God-thanking”. One can fearlessly, and many humans do, thank a God.

Picard talks about how ‘rational’ the people are because they’ve ‘abandoned’ belief in the supernatural, which is ‘an achievement’ that he refuses to take away from them. He claims that to allow a return to belief in the supernatural is ‘returning to dark ages of superstition, ignorance, and fear.’ Much like ENT: Chosen Realm, it chooses not to air grievances with a particular faith, but suggests that the very concept of having faith is a backwards and contemptible thing. That is pretty disrespectful.

I enjoyed this episode. The writing is solid, and the clunkiness so common in the first third or so of the season is all but gone. It’s nice to see the show making clear progress. The show has also made progress in how Mercer, LaMarr and Malloy are portrayed. Their incredible foolishness has been reigned in so that they don’t act out of character nearly as often. Further, the LaMarr character has actually been given a motive (his overachiever/underachiever complex) to explain his less-than-entirely-professional behavior. This episode had some good laughs——particularly stemming from the latchkum premise. And it had some good character moments between Kelly and Mercer. And, most importantly, it was enjoyable to watch. My only big complaint is that it doesn’t make any sense for the aliens to speak English nor to look human. Even if the away team have some sort of universal translators, the assumption that the translators could translate the crew’s English into the aliens’ native tongue is too fantastical not to take me out of the moment. But, since there have been so many Trek episodes (probably in every series) to have committed the same sin, I suppose that we have to let it slide at this point. Though, it would be nice to get a more satisfying explanation for why all of the aliens in this show speak English.


I agree with you, The show’s progressed nicely.

You are right about the language thing. I suppose it could easily be waved away by dropping some technoo-bable excuse based on their demonstrated ability to create holo-disguises, i.e. the holo-head would be just their own duplicated but displaying the appropriate linguistic muscle movements as they did when they were disguised as Krill, but then why’d they have to steal clothes instead of just scan them? However, I’ve often wondered about a show pursuing a future were civilization has managed to keep the early learning abilities, such as the ability to easily pick up a spoken language, switched on for life.

This happened on TOS all the time. So much so that I pay it no mind any more. In fact, I almost prefer it at this point to the forehead appliance of the week.

Actually I do have one other complaint.

Twelve episodes is an awfully short season. I’m not one of these oh, but in order for each episode to be good, they have to cut the season to less than half of what used to be standard types. I’m not buying the new way. I’m sure that these shows can find ways to produce more than 12 or 13 episodes in an entire year. I like the show and I don’t like the prospect of waiting 9 months for the next episode. Back in the day, you waited over the Summer, and that was more than long enough to whet your appetite and make your heart grow plenty fonder. And they still managed to turn out great 26-episode seasons of shows. Waiting 9 months for the next season feels like the show has been discontinued. By the time Season 2 airs, I’ll have moved on to other shows, and then have to become re-acquainted with The Orville. There’s gotta be a better way.


Re: one other complaint.

For FOX 13 IS a season, but you seem to acknowledge that. They only vary towards ordering more if it is a tremendous hit. Look at their comparable treatment of their return of the X-FILES.

Also, it is my understanding that Seth is trying to do the FX while not exclusively, but as including the best of the old ways of doing it. That’s got to slow things down as it has to look comparable to modern CGI, which it can and for my money in some circumstances it bests, but it must be time consuming to achieve? I suppose it all boils down to that they could have churned it out as fast as they did 60s TV SF but would its modern audiences have bothered to stay with those compromises if they did?

I think the reason Seth was happy with the apparent episode short is because he knew the pilot movie would be cut into 2 episodes for syndication, rounding the 1st season out to the new 13 standard.

Now what really puzzles me is DISCOVERY’s 9 and I’d like to know your musings in light of that as to why you feel THE ORVILLE got the raw season deal?


I can’t offer any opinions regarding the way that Fox or other networks do business. If it really would require compromises to the FX or anything else to have a more substantial season, then I’d rather just have the 13. But, sheesh… it’s such a sharp decline in content from how TV used to be. It’s almost shocking that people have just taken it in stride as the new normal. I guess there’s a sort of unspoken agreement between the audience and the TV content producers: we won’t be as loyal as we used to be, and you can have a much more laid-back production schedule.


Re: unspoken agreement

Actually, I was expecting something like this for some time once the Saturday morning network children producers of my youth started padding their seasons with reruns and prime time started paring back from 30 some odd episodes to 20 some. I believe animated STAR TREK had a season of only 15 episodes so they’ve been prepping youngsters to be comfortable with this for decades.

I agree that I do not like the short season. I’m really not sure why it’s done. It’s not a FOX thing. Only a handful of their shows are getting the short season treatment. 24 was 24 episodes. Gotham is what, 22? As is The Gifted, The Simpson’s, Family Guy, Last Man on Earth, and a host of others. Cable and streaming is where short season shows are in droves. Not so much networks. The cost might contribute but was Pitch really that expensive a show? Also TNG, DS9 and such all managed to maintain a decent level of effect work while still churning out 22 (or so) episodes per season. So I honestly don’t know exactly why Fox is pulling this on some of their shows. I can only surmise that it’s because cable and streaming are doing it so they decided to start copying that format for some shows.

I finally got around to watching this episode and what a chore it was to watch. I liked the premise of the episode (although it wasn’t very original) but the pacing was incredibly slow! I vowed to give this show a chance by watching the first season. The show still doesn’t know what it wants to be. The entire season has been unbalanced. You can tell Braga was Directing… all the BG music was almost a copy-paste from TNG. In fact, you can basically call this a TNG 2.0 episode. Swap out the characters with the Enterprise D crew and you wouldn’t tell the difference between the two. I think that is why this episode is incredibly weak in my opinion. It doesn’t stand on it’s own… it is a clear clone on Next Gen. I am glad som of the characters have matured but MacFarlane still sticks out as the weakest of the cast members. If he can somehow kill off his character and have Grayson promoted, they show would vastly improve. MacFarlane’s scripts are the weakest of the seadon even if the ideas are good. It’s poor execution.
I really wish the would have designed a better looking shuttlecraft, it is by far even uglier than some of TNG’s shuttles. The sets look very generic compared to the CGI of the actual orville ship. I did like the location shots… much better thn the shoddy sets they have when away from the ship.
My overall thoughts on the full season is that it still doesn’t have a direction it wants to go, it tries to be an homage to TNG but instead, it comes off as a parody at times and a clone at others. If MacFarlane wasn’t where he is with FOX execs, the show would never have greenlit a second season.
As far as I go, I will pass on watching the second season. I just could not get into the show. I found it difficult to maintain my interest for a whole episode. I found myself surfing the internet at the same time. Some of th episodes were actually quite boring. Good Luck to them for their next season. Hopefully they will learn from their mistakes… but I won’t tune in to find out.

@Captain Ransom — I agree with many of your comments. But I have to disagree on one — I will definitely be back to see what if anything they learned from the first season. Given that ORVILLE was entirely written around this time last year, there was no opportunity to change the scripts based on live ratings, audience and critical feedback. Now, after 12 episodes, they have a significant amount of feedback for what works and what doesn’t. So I’m extremely curious to see if MacFarlane pushes ahead on the course he’s set, given his realative success in building a regular audience of over 6 million viewers, live ratings be damned, or if they will make changes to improve their live ratings, and/or critical content.

There’s really three ways to go:

1) Change nothing because it’s exactly the show MacFarlane wants to make
2) Become a more dramatic and serious show with better original writing and some re-cast acting
3) Become a more comedic and obvious parody of TNG which it’s clearly ripping-off

My personal feeling is that FOX is going to encourage number 3, as many MacFarlane/FAMILY GUY fans tuned out when it began to take itself so seriously. The disinfranchised TNG fans appear to be embracing this series to the tune of around 3 million viewers (which is just about right). My feeling is they will continue to watch, even with the sophomoric humor, but MacFarlanes fans won’t watch if it skews too much toward the TNG spectrum.

On the other hand, if it becomes more serious and sets a higher bar, it may draw in more Trek fans willing to give it a shot. I know I would. Unfortunately, that means MacFarlane has to get out of his own way, and focus on writing and producing. Perhaps MacFarlane’s solution with Kelly will to be to promote her to Capatain, and step up to playing an admiral. And that’s where I see that idea dying on the vine — Macfarlane is clearly enjoying his cosplay adventure as the star of a dramatic show he has complete control over. It’s his childhood fantasy, and it’s doing well enough in the ratings he doesn’t have to change a thing. I’m actually not sure he’s capable of raising the bar, even if he wanted to.

So yes, I’m very interested to see what if anything changes, and will be back to witness it!

To be fair, there are first season lessons for the Discovery producers as well, as they themselves have acknowledged.

@Captain Ransom, you’re right – the shuttles look awful. I’m not sure what they were going for with the design, but I think they are ugly, and the models they use are low-quality CGI. And I’m generally very happy with the look of the show otherwise.

I’m sorry, but I still think that despite the final contact with the planet’s inhabitants, where they let Kelly off the hook, that she and the captain really needed to be court-martialed, found guilty, and sent to prison. They were both incompetent and insensitive to the idea of non-interference, and it led to the deaths of millions over the course of several centuries. That’s the bad part.

The good part is that this show is getting better over time as it ditches the anachronistic FAMILY GUY-style humor and 21st-Century pop culture references and becomes more thoughtful. The idea of a planet aging 700 years in eleven days, while done in other SF series, was handled well. Though I did wonder about all the English speakers on the planet. Yes, perhaps the Orville crew has universal translators, but how do the inhabitants of the planet understand the Orville crew?

It’s kind of coincidental, also, that the ship arrived in the very narrow window where the society would advance from its primitive origins to a futuristic society. It seems the Orville crew should stick around to see what kind of technology might be developed there in another 11 days/700 years.

So far THE ORVILLE is a show with a lot of potential if the writers will just start thinking through the consequences of their story ideas and not count on us forgiving characters for incompetence just because they’re the series leads.

@Dave Creek — your criticisms have been thoroughly addressed by full-throated defenders of ORVILLE as being irrelevant given that ORVILLE is an obvious parody of similar sci-fi shows (namely TNG), and in that respect don’t need to apply the same basic logical reasoning that we would expect from those programs.

And therein lies the problem with ORVILLE. Is it a parody, or is it a serious drama? Or is it something in between as the producers are so fond of comparing it to MASH. But even MASH was logically thought out, even if at times the narrative bordered on the absurd. There were consequences to the characters actions and they tended to adhere to basic logic.

But that’s the question about ORVILLE. Will they learn from their mistakes and retool the show accordingly? Or do they not see any of these faults as mistakes, and see the marginal ratings as confirmation they’re doing the right thing?

DISCOVERY has many issues to address following its first season fallout in front of an audience. But it knows what it wants to be, and now begins the task of honing that message, something the producers have AKNOWLEDGED. ORVILLE, on the other hand, does not seem to be so reflective. The Producers have been on the denfense since day one, and have a certain righteousness about what they’re doing. Given that, does a guy like Seth MacFarlane even care what the fans of his show think? Does Braga? So far it would seem none of them have learned from the mistakes of TNG-era Trek, nor do they care. They’re all making scads of money doing the same gig they were doing 30 years ago, but not even as well — so why should they care? After all, it’s not really Trek, so why bother? It’s hard work to make a series like Trek that addresses the concerns you raise, one that endures the decades. And ORVILLE doesn’t really seem like it will have much of a life 10 years from now.

To be fair, TNG had plenty of its own internal logic flaws. But at least it seemed like they were trying, and cared.

I don’t think ORVILLE gets a pass on logic or stupidity just for being parody, so the first part is it needs to skate by on something else, which is for me and a few others, some kind of weird charm. But your point about TNG folk caring about their product, while true, didn’t make the show better in a lot of cases, because they were still always running up against Berman, who I think would have happily mainstreamed all of those shows into oblivion. If Berman and Piller had placated Snodgrass, they’d’ve had a better series, and if they’d listened more often to Moore, I think they’d’ve had a better SET of series. They didn’t listen to Behr at first (TNG s3) and where would DS9 have wound up if he hadn’t come in, at a point when I guess they had to listen to him?



I really saw Seth’s religious skepticism and respect for science in this episode. Huge respect for him getting this on TV. I know other examples of reason over religion have aired but in today’s political climate, it feels riskier. Carl Sagan would approve – not as much as he approved of Seth’s (and Braga’s) producing of the COSMOS reboot, but I think he would still like it ;)

I think, and it feels through all the articles, that you have mastered your subject from end to end.

Those starship sets look so cheesy.

I concur, yet just yesterday watched a YouTube video whose author swore up and down how much better and Trek-like the Orville sets are, as compared to those on Discovery. It’s getting positively weird out there.

I really liked this one.

I know people online are comparing Discovery and The Orville, I like both, I don’t see the need to play the comparison game. One is a new take on Trek, one is a sci-fi parody, I like them both for what they are.

That said, I find MacFarlane insufferable, despite being a Family Guy/American Dad fan. I wondered how long he’d go without giving religion a kick-in. Now, I’m not exactly religious, I know his views, he uses his character Brian on FG to keep spouting them but I don’t like being lectured to – from either side. I kind of hoped The Orville would be spared of it, but no, he used it as a platform to push his view that for billions around the world, that they are backward, deluded or wrong. Perhaps he’s got it out of his system and in future, concentrate on making the show enjoyable and funny for everyone.

@THX1138 — it’s never been enjoyable and funny for everyone. What show could be?

You’ve actually kind of crystallized this for me with your comments though — I think MacFarlane will continue to make the same kind of show he has been, unfettered by criticism. While the ratings have been sagging into the season finale, he’s still drawing enough viewers to justify allowing him to continue to make the kind of show he wants to make. Where’s the impetus to change?

Well, yeah of course you are absolutely correct, you can’t please everyone. I mean casting the net as wide as possible, making it as broadly appealing as it can be. :)

I don’t think preaching to billions that they’re deluded morons is a way to win viewers and fans though.

At the end of the day if the production and crew in general are the Star Trek next gen or voyager then it’s authentic any plots or anything on Orville otherwise they would be accused of Plagiarism but since that hasn’t happened then I guess there’s nothing more to say accept they have obviously learnt the production crew with their vast experience

@Jazziin — I think ORVILLE has been tip-toeing ever closer to that thin line between parody and infringement, and as the stories have become more serious, and the series morfs ever closer into being TNG 2.0, I can only imagine that it will draw greater scrutiny from CBS. When it was just a 12 episode goofy parody with dick jokes, there wasn’t much to be concerned with despite the producer’s rhetoric. However, given the direction of the series combined with that rhetoric, I’ll bet that CBS is going to be watching much more closely. The reality is the online competition developing amongst the fans is going to be perceived as having a negative effect on DISCOVERY and CBS will do whatever it takes to ensure its valuable property is not undermined by a competing network and studio.

I’m sorry but there just is no copyright infringement here. If there was then nearly every cop show would be copyright infringement of the first cop show. Or every doctor show is an infringement of the first doctor show. There are no laws against homages.

I am fairly sure that they pay CBS a fee, which will obviate any infringement concerns.

Who cares,

Re: fee

Possibly, or maybe Braga has some sort of no compete clause from his former contracts with Paramount?

What the—??? Just 12 episodes and not even Christmas yet, and we’re already at a “SEASON” finale???

I found this episode very enjoyable, and it resonated with me on a couple of levels. Again, great visuals of the planet and space scenes. I love the way this crew is melding together, into a group I can like and relate to. And an especially somber ending. Even in this Orville universe, the Captain’s chair is a very lonely place, indeed. Very much looking forward to next season.

Didn’t like the episode that much, it was too close to “Blink of an Eye”.

I hope in the second season they will focus on writing a lot more fresh ideas like they did in “Majority Rule” & “Cupid’s Dagger” and disregard rehashing old stories from Trek.

I actually remember every TOS episode but don’t recall the TNG, DS9, or Voyager episodes save for a handful. I’m currently rewatching Voyager but haven’t gotten to Blink of an Eye yet. That was an episode I just didn’t remember.

While the vast majority of the more “serious” episodes have been “meh” at best, this one was pretty darn good. You know, I fully expected the planet to emerge destroyed after the 20th century version. That would have felt exactly like what a trek episode would have done. Good to see a positive spin there. Sadly there just aren’t enough of good dramatic episodes like this one to carry the show. And as good as this little 40 minute drama was, the show still works better when it leans towards the comedy. IMHO, the show would be better served by having perhaps only 20% of the episodes be more dramatic. That way they can save the better concepts for when they do decide to push the serious button.

The season was short. Which is a trend in TV now days that I am no fan of. But that’s the current reality. So be it. When the show returns next season let’s hope they learned some lessons. I agree that some of the best line have been Bortus’ deadpan responses. This is also possibly Seth’s best acting of his career. He’s no Patrick Stewart or even Bill Shatner for that matter. But he’s getting better. I’m also forced to say this show feels more Star Trek-y than Discovery has. Although Discovery it seems was not really meant to follow the formula of any previous Trek series save lifting the story arc concept from DS9. That is not a good or bad thing. I like that they are trying something different, however. My problem is after 9 episodes they really haven’t delivered. Perhaps the final period (or 3rd) will have some really good stuff to make us OK with the front nine. Discovery is the show following the traditional Trek format. For those who prefer that format, this show is more for them. If they can ignore the more comedic elements, that is. Trek rarely had light hearted fare like Orville does. I think that might be why fans remember and appreciate the more amusing moments from those series’. Like TTWT. Or Worf telling LaForge, “Sorry”.

Anyway, seems this series is going to be a short season series for the time being. Sucks having to wait nearly 10 months for the next season. If it had a normal complement of episodes we would be waiting 4 months tops. But will be looking forward to season 2.


It will be interesting to see how Disney’s purchase of FOX affects any of FOX studios properties. It’s not clear to me yet whether Disney will get the entire FOX catalogue, but they will certainly get series in production. Disney has no relationship with MacFarlane, and MacFarlane’s shows have basically run their course of popularity at FOX. ORVILLE’s ratings aren’t that high, and it’s an expensive show to produce. FBC has ordered another season, but Disney could shut it down considering their massive $62 billion investment has to be recouped somehow, and otherwise have no loyalty to MacFarlane, who can be controversial and off-colour, which doesn’t necessarily complement Disney’s image. It’s hard to know what loyalties Disney will have to FOX after the deal, if any. And ORVILLE may not compliment Disney’s existing sci-fi franchises, or perhaps they will find a way to maximize its potential. Either way it will be an interesting wrinkle to follow as it develops.


“Not included in the acquisition: Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and the FS1 sports cable channel.”


He was right that Disney owns the production company itself, however that by itself doesn’t support his delusions that Disney will somehow pull the plug on ‘The Orville’ and cancel the second season.

In the real world, Fox has ordered a second season and the production will begin in February. The second season also received $14.5 million in California’s tax credits.

The Hollywood Reporter said in a recent article that Disney is planning on leasing space on the Fox lot for seven years, and avoid disrupting current productions, such as Fox’s The Orville and The Mick, at the Fox lot in Century City.


Re: delusions

And they are are by no means isolated lost ones at that. I recall there are quite a few Trek fans here that believe the delusions that the first Trek series and ENTERPRISE are the only ones that where cancelled, i.e. all the rest cancelled themselves in some sort of planned exit.


Well, in the worst-case scenario of Disney trying to “tone down” the humor and themes in The Orville, I would expect Seth MacFarlane to halt production, as he did when FOX tried to interfere creatively with Family Guy. MacFarlane had the integrity to stand his ground, and FOX eventually gave in because they knew that he was irreplaceable. Today, MacFarlane is many times wealthier, more successful, more esteemed and better connected than he was during the Family Guy showdown. And I’d guess that The Orville means as much, if not more, to him than Family Guy did. So, in the event that Disney tries to interfere, I’d expect them to fail. Though, they might cause a long delay in production.


Re: Disney tries to interfere

I don’t think Disney is liable to rock the boat especially since the SCRUBS’ creator got his pilot for his SPACED OUT sf comedy pilot for CBS, which reminds me even though LEGENDARY’s licensed to make NETFLIX’s LOST IN SPACE series, doesn’t FOX, and now Disney, still own major rights/interest in that franchise?


Re: …doesn’t FOX, and now Disney, still own major rights/interest in that [LIS] franchise?

Apparently not:

Cygnus-X1 & Curious Cadet,

Apparently, not an obstacle if this author’s right:

@Disinvited — BUFFY is a great franchise for for Disney. As is LOST IN SPACE, but it seems clear that those properties are not work for hires that Disney will own without making new deals. In that respect, the same is true of HARRY POTTER and WB, being based on licensed books. And any major sales usually nullify any exclusive deals which may exist, or at least give the rights holders an option out to renegotiate with the new acquiring company.

But in both cases, they bring much more to the table to expand those franchise catalogues, than continuing to invest in an expensive unknown series like ORVILLE, which ratings continue to sag, and doesn’t quite fit with the Disney brand, not to mention potentially putting them at odds with Paramount and CBS.

@Disnvited — wow, that Cinebland article is so misguided, and just wrong to promote it that way. Spaced Out is about an underachiever given a job on a team by a mercurial Elon Musk type CEO. It’s about the private space sector we see emerging today in the tech industry. It will not compete with ORVILLE in any way shape or form. It is probably making the transition to multicam as more of an office comedy like The Office. The single cam pilot relied too heavily on sfx and eye-popping sets, making it too expensive to produce as a half-hour comedy. I still don’t know how they are retooling it for a studio multicam, other than as I speculated by reducing the scope of the sets and effects.

That’s basically what Zemekis is being asked to do on the Jetsons, basically making it a traditional sitcom based around home and office, without all the pneumatic transport tubes, flying cars, etc. ORVILLE actually has much more to fear from that, especially if it works without the otherwise expensive visuals.

Bottom line is SPACED OUT means nothing as far as Disney rocking the boat, or canceling ORVILLE to save money. There’s absolutely nothing to fear vis a vis a half hour contemporary sitcom themed around the space-tech industry. And it will likely fail. SCRUBS Is a long way away in Bill Lawrence’s career, and he’s not been able to recreate any aspect of that success since. SPACED OUT will not change his losing streak …

@Disinvited — I don’t follow the SPACED OUT reference? It was a failed single cam pilot for NBC, a pretty horrible one, still not sure how they intend to do it as a multi, much less make i bettr … Probably the same way Zemekis intends to do the Jetsons as a multi. But Bill Lawrence is signed to a deal with WBTV which is producing SPACED OUT …

The reality is, if Disney doesn’t want to produce the expensive ORVILLE with declining numbers, with Seth MacFarlane, for whom they owe no allegiance unlike FOX and FBC, the easiest way to get out of it, is to have MacFarlane default on his own contract by walking away due to creative differences.

However, to be fair, little was known about the Disney deal when I first conjectured this, and the reality is, though Trump will likely railroad this deal through for his pal Murdoch (unlike ATT/TW and fake news CNN), the deal is not likely to result in any creative control over ORVILLE in time to shut it down with much savings … we still don’t know what the order is for, or when contractually FBC has to pick up additional episodes. I imagine much will hinge on how ORVILLE performs during its international release, and what kind of interest it gets over the holidays on streaming platforms …

@Disinvited — as I recall Irwin Allen retained ownership of all of his productions for FOX. Regardless, Disney’s BLACK HOLE would make for a fine series concept. They’d need to rename it though, unless that’s part of the mission, to explore black holes. In which case … Cool.

Another thought, considering Disney and Paramount’s conflicting interests in Major Space franchises, and the directors and producers who currently make them, I’d say ORVILLE risks more conflict (to the extent there is any serious conflict) should Disney Continue to produce it as an ernest attempt at TNG 2.0 which MacFarlane seems intent on turning it into …

@Curious Cadet,

Dude, not only you’re getting more desperate & pathetic but you also fail to even grasp basic info about the Disney-Fox deal as Cygnus-X1 just pointed out in his reply to your rant.


@Curious Cadet,

I stand corrected. Disney now owns the production company that produces ‘The Orville’.

With that in mind, there are two points to make:

Disney is not averse on having a more mature and adult-oriented programs/movies. Bob Iger already told the inventor that Disney will continue with the R-Rated ‘Deadpool’ & also mentioned that they will keep Hulu focusing on “adult-oriented entertainment”. ‘The Orville’ is one of those shows that are streaming on Hulu.

The deal itself will take more than a year to be approved,

“The deal can be completed in 12 to 18 months if regulators approve it, Disney said.”

The Orville team will start production on the second season in February!

Now, carry on in your fantasyland coming up with various ways where the show is DOOMED!

Curious Cadet,

Re: Disney has no relationship with MacFarlane

NONE???????!!!! MacFarlane WAS a writer of 2 episodes of Disney’s JUNGLE CUBS, the character Jeff McGarland on Disney’s PHINEAS AND FERB, and the character Manotaur on Disney’s YING YANG YO!.

“The freelance work I did for Disney? There were a couple of situations where I wrote for a show called Jungle Cubs, I wrote a bunch of Ace Ventura: The Animated Series.” — Seth MacFarlane

@Disinvited — ha! I can always count on you to preserve the record! Well played!

Per Deadline: ‘The Orville’ Season 2 Among TV Projects Receiving California Tax Credits

“Season 2 of The Orville came out on top in the incentives with a credit of $14.5 million. That’s the third-largest TV award in the greatly expanded $330 million incentive program”

Awesome, episode! Hope there are more thought provoking ones like this to come.

I really don’t get the love for this episode. There is just to much lack of logic and realistic professionalism of the crew. Data overhearing that girl on a dying planet was much more believable than Kelly’s multi-screw up. You knew the moment she said “They won’t see me” what was coming – her walking around on a well observable area in bright uniform. Then not even taking cover when you clearly heard someone came close.

Still, realistically her encounter with the girl should have had no impact whatsoever. No one saw that the girl was injured, so no one witnessed the “miracle” healing. Who would believe the girl that she was injured and then magically healed. How would that little story spread far enough to create a religion.

The whole relationship issue with Mercer and Kelly is annoying as well. A relationship won’t work, because he cares too much for her and the logical result is to not have a relationship, but keep working together. As if that would change his feelings. At least that illogical decision could be attributed to the characters flaws (and that of the Union for having no protocol in place to prevent the two highest ranks on a shop to be in a relationship or even an ex-couple). Alas, it seems a slightly corrupt system anyway.

That being said, I love the fresh attempt at a trek series, but for me it needs to get smarter with the humor and play jokes not for their own sake. And it definitely needs to get a more consistent character development and stories without gaping plot holes. It’s okay to work with shortcuts, but please, they should look like shortcuts and not like jumping over the river at the end of a dead end.

“The idea that religion is a stage that people will eventually grow out of is a sort of atheist condescension, but it’s presented in a more respectful manner than in the aforementioned TNG episodes.”

I’m afraid I don’t share that perception. Heck, Who Watches the Watchers is one of my wife’s favorites despite its message, but this one had her livid by the end. I didn’t find anything respectful or nuanced about this portrayal- just condescending broad tropes using various phases of various religions throughout history. I think perhaps because this portrayal was more blatant and in-your-face, it came across as more insulting than TNG, which certainly implied the same ‘they’ll grow out of it’ attitude, but without stating it so directly or tying it parallel to modern culture. It said by implication rather than direct statement. And it was part of a consistent Roddenberryan ethos, so it felt more organic to the show. At least, from my perspective.

John and Kelly’s story didn’t work for me either; I knew that the eventual conclusion would be that somehow, this wouldn’t work because he covered for her, because (supposedly) they were in a relationship, even though he clearly would have done the same thing for Malloy, Elara, or anyone else.

Overall, this was (for me) the weakest episode of the season.