I’m not all that sure how I feel about The Orville, three episodes into its first season. It’s a fun—and funny—show, and I’ve enjoyed the first three episodes quite a lot. I’ve also spent a little too much time wondering at the derivative nature of the show. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t quite what I got.
Here’s the thing. I adored Galaxy Quest, probably because it managed to skewer Star Trek: The Original Series in a way that felt like love and yet still retain its individuality and bring plenty of original and unique content to the screen. In other words, it had something all its own, outside of the show it was parodying.
The Orville hasn’t done that. There’s nothing really original about The Orville and sometimes the show feels like it actually belongs in the universe it’s trying so hard to spoof. I can’t actually tell, because although it’s funny in places, it doesn’t really feel like parody.
On the other hand, I’m still watching, and I plan to keep watching, because there’s promise there. I like it. But my favorite episodes of Star Trek (any incarnation you want to imagine) have always tended to be the humorous ones, and the same goes for most of my other science fiction favorites like Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. Humor gets me almost every time.
That’s what The Orville feels like, instead of a straight up parody. It feels like a humorous episode of a Star Trek series that hasn’t yet been added to the universe but is coming soon. In other words, a little too close to the source material to really let me love it.
If you want to watch (and I recommend you do give it a try).
Other: FOX’s website for The Orville. (Might be free viewing available.)