Sometimes I’m overly optimistic, sometimes I am too forgiving, and sometimes, I’m just distracted by the pretty. I’ve been all three with The Orville and would add in some wishful thinking as well. All the bells and whistles of set design and CGI and makeup effects that it contains lulled me into a trance of complacency. “Something that looks so cool can’t be all bad, right?” I thought.
And that’s exactly what is wrong with the show. Seth MacFarlane has put together a superficial homage that ends up being nothing more than a really expensive fan film. His reach has exceeded his grasp in this endeavor. The comedy suffered while he tried for action adventure and complex characters. Despite good intentions, The Orville doesn’t work, and unless the writing improves, I doubt it will be around for long.
This week the audience is handed an idiot plot that gets the captain and first officer captured by alien zookeepers in such a simplistic and manipulative way that maybe the admiral was right in marking them lost beyond recovery. The plucky green lieutenant (Halston Sage), who is unsure of herself, decides to disobey a direct order, and succeeds not only against all odds but also against any logic at all.
Not the least disconcerting of all it has also become apparent that MacFarlane doesn’t have the acting chops to pull off a lead role. Like life imitating art, his co-star (Adrianne Palicki) does all she can to make him look good, but he is too far gone.