Last week FOX launched the new series The Orville. The series is set in the year 2418 and stars Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) as Ed Mercer, a promising officer whose career derailed after he caught his wife Kelly (Adrianne Palicki, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Friday Night Lights) in bed with a blue alien. It’s been about a year since the divorce, and Mercer finally gets his first and last chance to prove he is worthy of captaining a ship, the Orville. When assembling his crew, Mercer hires best friend Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes, ER, American Dad ) as his helmsman, but Malloy isn’t one to stick to the rule book. The rest of the crew is comprised of folks from an assortment of human and alien species, races, and sexes. For fans of Star Trek, these characters have very familiar archetypes but with a slightly more comedic twist. Worf-like second officer Lt. Commander Bortus (Peter Macon, Shameless, Bosch) is from a species that is all male; Data-like science officer Isaac (Mark Jackson) is from a mechanical species known for being racist toward biological creatures; top physician Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald, 24, Castle) chose her position because she felt she’d be needed the most with this crew; young security officer Alara Kitan (Halston Sage, Crisis, How To Rock) hails from a planet with higher gravity, so she has increased strength and abilities; and navigator John LaMarr (J. Lee) is chill and just wants to be able to drink his soda while doing his job. The only person on his crew that Mercer didn’t get to choose was his first officer, and he is both shocked and dismayed to learn that his ex-wife Kelly was assigned to the position, which leads to some humorously awkward moments both on the bridge and during excursions.
All of the original FOX promos made this series appear to be a Galaxy Quest-like parody, but instead it turned out to be more of a straightforward show akin to Star Trek Enterprise, with a little added humor. Once I got used to this unexpected tone, I really enjoyed the premiere for the show that we got, but it still felt a little torn as to which identity it wants – a serious homage or a comedy. It feels like it will be more of the former than the latter. The special effects were impressive, the cast is great, and I really liked the dynamics of this crew. I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures await the Orville in future episodes.
If you missed last week’s premiere you can download it for free on Vudu or iTunes, and it’s probably also available On Demand or on the FOX app/website.
On tonight’s episode, “Command Performance,” when Ed and Kelly are tricked by a hologram of a ship in distress and find themselves prisoners in a replica of their former home, Alara must step up in her first command of the Orville and attempt a heroic rescue. Meanwhile, Bortus and Klyden receive some happy yet unexpected news.
Check out the second part of the premiere tonight on FOX at 8/7c.
I’ll also be watching/recording The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, Fear the Walking Dead, The Great Food Truck Race, The Strain, The Last Ship, The Deuce, Vice Principals, and Episodes.