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Is THE ORVILLE more “Trek” than STAR TREK: DISCOVERY?…

Posted on September 24th, 2017
Posted on September 24th, 2017

by Coop Cooper

“Star Trek: Discovery” (CBS All-Access, Sundays at 8:30 Central) – One decade before the Kirk/Spock era of “Trek”, First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) finds herself in the middle of a galactic incident when an investigation into a malfunctioning beacon puts her ship, the U.S.S. Shenzhou, into a conflict with the Klingons. Orphaned as a child by a Klingon attack and raised by the Vulcan Ambassador, Sarek (James Frain), Burnham’s rash behavior escalates the conflict, putting her at odds with her captain, Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) that could lead her onto a path to mutiny. At some point Burnham will become first officer on the U.S.S. Discovery under Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) but that doesn’t happen within the first two episodes of the series.

CBS has been accused of displaying open contempt for “Trek” fans. After twelve years of sitting on the property without producing a new “Trek” series, CBS began threatening fans for creating their own “Trek” web series in its absence. In an effort to save face for neglecting the property, CBS hastily threw together a new series, and dumped a lot of money into its creation. However, instead of releasing it on TV, CBS decided to show the pilot on TV, then release the rest of the season on their new online subscription service called CBS All-Access. They were betting that forcing “Trek” fans to shell out extra money would pay off. This further enraged and baffled fans, but it remains to be seen if CBS’s risky gamble pays off or if fans will pirate the episodes instead.

The show’s creators further confounded fans by saying the xenophobic, war-mongering Klingons of this series will represent President Trump and his voters. There was also an on-set incident in which Jason Isaacs was scolded for ad-libbing the line “For God’s sake” because the writer claimed that Christianity and other religions would be obsolete in the future, therefore the word ‘god’ should never be uttered on the show. CBS claimed the writer erred and ‘god’ can indeed be used, but other than that, it doesn’t appear that CBS seems very concerned how many “Stark Trek” fans they may be offending.

As for the show, it looks slick, edgy, the characters are solid and the first two episodes end with a bang. In short, it starts off well and I’m interested to see where it is heading, but I’m not blown away enough to feel invested in it yet. If only those surrounding the show would stop making ridiculous PR and marketing mistakes… one of which was scheduling the pilot before an NFL game that ran long, pre-empting the show and thus cutting off the last fifteen minutes for anyone who recorded it on DVR. C’mon CBS, at least act like you care.

Rating: 3 out of 5

“The Orville” (FOX, Thursdays at 8:00 Central) – “Family Guy”, “American Dad” and “Ted” creator, Seth MacFarlane, stars as Ed Mercer, a promising officer in a Starfleet-like organization with his career on the rise… until he catches his wife (Adrianne Palicki) cheating on him with a blue alien. Afterwards he becomes a bitter, lazy underachiever, but when happenstance puts him in charge of the a new starship named The Orville with a capable crew of misfits and aliens, he feels his luck has changed for the better, until he discovers his ex-wife is his new second-in-command.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is an absurd, crude, slapstick comedy. “The Orville” is a clever and reverently respectful “Star Trek” clone with comedic moments. It accurately channels “The Next Generation” era of Trek so well, it invokes a sense of nostalgia for Trek shows like “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager”. Yes, it’s tone is mostly light and comedic but it doesn’t overdo it. It also has a lot in common with the Trek-clone comedy film “Galaxy Quest” which was recently headed for a TV series reboot, but never materialized.

“The Orville” is a surprisingly enjoyable consolation prize that should attract even jaded Trek fans with how well it emulates the feel and culture of the franchise. In many ways, it’s a more faithful “Trek” than “Star Trek: Discovery”. You can tell from the writing and attention to detail that this was a labor of love for the fans. Hopefully it will catch on.

Rating: 3 and ½ out of 5 stars

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