The Orville hits our screens last year to no little acclaim. It somehow captured the nostalgia for Star Trek that for many Discovery failed to. Many were curious how someone like Seth Macfarlane could pull off a science fiction comedy so obviously based on Star Trek: The Next Generation, both for legal reasons and the fact that comedies don’t always work.
Season 1 was a surprising success, the show seemed more Star Trek than Star Trek. It was an anachronism, whilst shows were heading to modern edgy dark tones Macfarlane took the Orville back to the kind of story telling and aesthetic of the 1990’s.
No season 2 has begun it begs the question whether the show can keep its momentum. Rumours have stated that they are scaling back the humour. This would be a mistake, it is this angle that make the show work and stand out from modern shows, it reflects our nostalgic views of sci fi and gently mocks its pretentions and approaches.
So far, three episodes in the season has been mixed. Episode 1 was forgettable, and Episode 2, Home, seemed off. The moral story was present, in fact it was partially a comment on one of todays addictions however the whole treatment was more like an inflated B-plot and the actual B-plot a more interesting moral dilemma of who to save when you can’t save everyone was a much more intriguing A plot.
Near perfection returned with Episode 3, Home, thanks in part due to an excellent swan song for Alara and two Star Trek alumini guest parts. Robert Picardo and John Billingsley showed everyone how Trek acting is done.
It is still early days, but the Orville needs to be careful, Seth Macfarlanes unique take on the genre needs to be maintained to keep in check the retro feel of the show. There is a reason the shows of the 90’s ran out of steam and whilst nostalgia is great you cannot pin a whole series on it. The Orville needs to maintain the comedy and light touch of season 1 and continue to push our expectations by taking elements of the show in new directions. Whether this will happen remains to be seen.