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The Orville - Season One Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published October 17th 2018
The Orville is a funny and more honest version of Star Trek
The Orville Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane stars in this Star Trek inspired science fiction show

Star Trek has been entertaining people for over 50 years. It has had a huge cultural impact and has developed a passionate fan following. The show has always had a serious tone. It was a space opera about discovery, politics, diversity, race, science, technology, morality, and war and peace.

The Orville is a Star Trek-inspired science fiction show that has the same premise and a similar look and feel to Star Trek but with more jokes. The Orville was created by and stars self-confessed "Trekkie" fan Seth MacFarlane. It premiered in the US on Fox on Sunday, September 10 2017. On the 24 September 2018, it became available for streaming in Australia via SBS on Demand. It is also available for purchase through iTunes.

The Orville Seth MacFarlane
The Planetary Union exploratory vessel USS Orville

The Orville is set in the 25th century. The Earth and a number of other alien worlds have banded together to form an interstellar alliance that they call the Planetary Union. Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) was an up and coming officer within the Union until he discovered his wife Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), another officer within the Union, in bed with an alien.

Following a painful divorce, Mercer is offered command of the Orville which is described as a mid-level exploratory space vessel. Mercer is happy to take on the assignment and is eager to prove himself. But unbeknown to him his ex-wife is going to be joining him on the ship - she's been assigned as his First Officer!


The Orville has divided fans and critics. When it first premiered the reaction from critics was largely negative, with comments ranging from 'the show never achieves lift-off' to 'the humour feels disjointed' and some people even claimed that it was a Star Trek rip off. The Orville currently has a score of 36 from critics on Metacritic based largely on unfavourable reviews.

However, don't let that put you off. The Orville has been a HUGE hit with fans who think that Seth MacFarlane's show has captured the spirit of Star Trek much better than the actual new Trek show that also came out in 2017 called Star Trek Discovery. The Orville currently has an 8.2 user ranking on Metacritic based on a large number of positive reviews from viewers. The first episode of the show "Old Wounds" drew in 8.56 million viewers. The show averaged between 3 and 4 million viewers per episode over the course of the first season. It was renewed for a second season which is scheduled to premiere on December 30 2018 on Fox in the US.

The Orville has also been a huge hit with Star Trek actors and other celebrities. Star Trek Deep Space Nine actress Penny Johnson Jerald is a regular on the show as the Orville's Chief Medical Officer Dr Claire Finn. Jerald played freighter captain Kasidy Yates on Deep Space Nine.

The Orville Seth MacFarlane
The Orville will appeal to Star Trek fans

A number of other Star Trek actors have appeared on the show in either acting roles or have worked behind the scenes. A number of the most notable ones include: Robert Picardo (The Doctor), Brannon Braga, Jonathan Frakes (Commander William T. Riker), Robert Duncan McNeil (Tom Paris) and Marvin V. Rush.

The thing I liked most about the Orville was how flawed and very human each of the characters were. The world the characters live in really feels like it could be our world in the future. When the men and women serving on board the Orville are not being serious on the job, they're cracking bad jokes or watching episodes of Seinfeld on the bridge or singing Celine Dion karaoke in the mess hall.

The show is also really progressive. I was really impressed by the casting choice for Dr Claire Finn. It is so rare to see women in their fifties appear in roles like that in Hollywood. But that's not all there is to love - Dr Claire Finn is also a single mother! She never had the opportunity to find a life partner, so she decided to get IVF and have babies on her own.

Well done, Mr MacFarlane. Well done. That is very Trek.

The Orville was a wonderful homage to Star Trek and a great original show. It is fresh and modern and science fiction done right.
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Why? The Orville is an American science fiction comedy drama show created by and starring Seth MacFarlane. It is influenced by Star Trek and The Twilight Zone and has been called a Love Letter to Star Trek Fans by critics.
Where: Season one of the Orville is currently streaming on SBS Demand
Cost: Digital download is $26 - $29.99 from iTunes
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