I’ll admit, I’m a little biased when it comes to this show. I was recently invited to a VIP Presser for San Diego Comicons The Orville Experience, where I met some amazing people, including the co-producer, Tom Costantino, who talked to me and everyone else who came in, like old high school buddies.
It was an unbelievable, well, experience, to see all the props and mock ups from the show. I was also lucky enough to talk to other people who worked on the show, such as the costume designer who not only creates amazing designs from nothing, but uses her psychology degree to make back stories as to why the people she’s dressing, would wear what they do.
These people were not just creators hired to do a job. They are people care about the content. They cared about what the visitors had to say.
In short, they care.
Right now, caring about anything seems to be in short supply. The news is filled with stories of downright evil and it seems the good guys are losing ground every day.
Star Trek Discovery is a great show in its own right and as a nerd, I’ll admit, I wanted to hate it, because that’s what nerds do. If it doesn’t fit into our own fan-fictioned heads, it sucks! After five episodes, I found myself really enjoying it for what it was. It was just a different version of the Star Trek I grew up with.
Different isn’t always bad, it just sometimes takes a while to get used to.
While ST:D is fun sci-fi, is it what we need right now? Escapism is needed and as much fun that I’ve had watching it, I can’t help but think, I need a future that isn’t filled with back stabbing and plot twists. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, especially as a father with three kids who I worry about every day, I need something….positive.
Even Star Wars just seems to be a bit……well, more serious than I remember. Again, while fun, I’m hard pressed to find people cheering when they watched Last Jedi.
The Expanse, Other Life, Killjoys. I could go on, but I think you know where I’m headed with this.
Enter The Orville.
While most people I know blew off the show because it looked like “Family Guy in space”, I won’t blame them. It was marketed as more of a comedy to hook people in, but for those of us who watched, we were rewarded with a show that not only had a lighthearted look at the future, but deep down, it had what the kids call “all the feelz”.
In just two seasons, The Orville has tackled stories of gender, family, sex and parenting. It hasn’t tried to ride the fine line of not offending people like some shows do. It gives us reasons to care because like I said before, the creators care.
People tend to underestimate the talent of Seth MacFarlane. They just assume he’s the guy who writes a crude cartoon on FOX. Those people are missing out on something extraordinary because from what I’ve seen on talk shows and social media, Seth MacFarlane may be one of the smartest and most talented writers in Hollywood’s history.
I realize there are other writers helping. I don’t think Mr. MacFarlane sits in a room with a lone light bulb hanging over him as he furiously writes fart jokes and space operas, but he has a big hand in this show and to his followers, its obvious.
I asked the costume designer about a slight change in wardrobe. The emblem that the crew wears on their jacket went from being very colorful to silver. When I asked why, she said, “That was Seth’s idea. He has a vision for the show and changed it.”.
Now that might not seem like a big idea to you, but the fact he cares about a small button on a jacket while some writers in other markets are pushed around by their networks, it tells you, Seth wants this to succeed, not just be a middle of the road sci-fi show.
In an episode from season 2, Bortis, an alien on the ship, begins to get addicted to porn from using the holographic room. Now, we all knew this was probably happening on the Enterprise, but it was never discussed and as a nerd, it was the very first thing I thought I’d do if I ever had the chance.
Face it, we all did.
As the show went on, I could see my wife getting a little bothered by the episode. She grew up in a highly religious home (while I grew up finding my dads Playboys in our basement), so I didn’t blame her, but, she continued to watch. The episode was so well written and the characters so well rounded, it was one of the best episodes of sci-fi I’ve ever witnessed. Were their jokes? Of course, because let’s face it, as humans, even in the most serious of events, we have the need to laugh. To lighten things up. To sometimes distance ourselves from the problem.
Most people know me as “#selfiedad, the guy who went viral by mocking my daughters selfies on her facebook. We’re very close, but as she put it one time, “We’re not a very huggy family”. A while ago, she moved out to a city about 40 minutes away.
In another episode of The Orville, because of a medical problem, the security officer Alara needed to go back to her home planet, where her family still lived. As she visited, we see a family that love each other, but have problems showing it. so later in the episode, after a brutal twist in the story that I still think about, Alara decides to stay with her family on the planet and leaves the Orville.
Alara was a member of the ship we had come to know and love and the final scenes of her leaving her friends was very touching. How touching?
I balled my eyes out.
As she left, I saw my daughter leaving home.
Will every episode touch you this way? Probably not. What it will do though, is give you a family that cares and you care about.
The Orville is colorful and hopeful. It shows Earth as a beautiful, green planet while majestic looking ships fly around in space, exploring the universe, giving us hope for a better tomorrow.
One of the things I love about the characters is they aren’t afraid to show their emotions. In Star Trek, we saw how sometimes the crew had to trick a species into seeing what was wrong with their culture. In The Orville, I’ve seen the captain tell an alien species, ” Dude, you have been a colossal dick all day – shut the hell up.”.
Maybe I’m just tired of being nice and hoping evil just goes away, but in my opinion, Captain Mercer is the Captain we need right now. A captain who knows what he wants, but questions the way he gets there. He second guesses himself in certain situations but that’s whats great about the character! I’m not the guy who says something and stands by it to the death. I question myself constantly. In fact, I wonder about people who don’t.
That’s the difference I love.
While most shows give you the crew that is the most highly trained group in the universe, the fun in The Orville is, the crew is more like us. They make mistakes at work. They worry about the things we do. I’m not saying no other tv show has done this, but the way The Orville’s actors come across, they just seem more real. There’s a sense of……“relaxation” in the characters. The feel of being serious and militaristic all the time is less felt, so it makes the crew members a little more relatable, since we all aren’t in the military. They act like we probably do at work, which instantly makes the show more enjoyable.
So in a World filled with endless news cycles of problems, it’s nice to sit back, an hour a week and see, not only imperfect characters trying to work in space, while during one episode, nursing a hangover, but forgetting about the countries problems for a moment and think, “Man, I’d love to work on that ship.”