The Orville: Command Performance
September 18, 2017 10:41 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The Orville receives a distress call from another Union ship. Surprise, it's a trap, and Ed and Kelly find themselves imprisoned in a replica of their former home. Meanwhile, back on the ship,Bortus is on parental leave in his quarters after laying an egg. Alara is in command for the first time in her career. The crew discovers which system Ed and Kelly are located in, however they are informed by Union Command that system is off limits. Ed and Kelly are written off as lost in the line of duty and the Orville is ordered to return to Earth. Alara defies orders and heads up a rescue mission.
posted by fimbulvetr (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, I laughed at the "Computer, one edible cannabis brownie!".
posted by Mogur at 5:19 PM on September 18

Better, but still - second episode in and we're doing The Cage/The Menagerie? But it managed to find the balance between being awkwardly self-serious and humor a lot better than the pilot had.
posted by Kyol at 6:28 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]

This was better than the first episode, partly because MacFarlane was in fewer scenes. He tripped over whatever humor was in that scene where he talks with Bortus about Kermit and the man-egg.

It made a pretty accurate run at a few Star Trek tropes: trapped in an alien prison, disobeying orders, disguising the ship to get past enemy lines. I never understood, in all the numerous times a Starfleet person has been locked in some sort of alien detention, it's always the Starfleet person who immediately works on the escape plan. While the other imprisoned aliens are always like, "There is no escape from here. We've been here for years. You can't get out. There are walls and guards and shit." Just once, I want one of those episodes to end when an alien version Seal Team Six blowing the doors open to rescue their people.
posted by riruro at 7:10 PM on September 18 [3 favorites]

I continue to be mystified by the criticisms of this show. Let's take a look at one trope that I think is explored to good effect in this episode: the idea of your parents mortifying you by being your parents. There are two examples I can think of in Trek, one where Worf's parents visit the Enterprise and another where Bashir's "ruins" things for him on DS9.

In both Trek examples, the only way we know their behavior is embarrassing is through the reaction of their children. There's nothing in their actions or dialogue that demonstrates it directly; we know because we are literally told by Worf/Bashir that they are being embarrassing. It's the dramatic equivalent of a laugh track.

In this episode of the Orville it is the content of the conversation itself that serves to embarrass the captain, and we are witnesses. If it's funny it's because we've had some version of that conversation ourselves, or have seen our friends having it with their parents. You may or may not find it funny, but it bothered to show its work.

And come on, seeing Bortus naked sitting on his egg?

I think this show is never going to be for you if at a fundamental level you need your starship captain to look to Henry V for inspiration, and not say, Kermit the Frog.
posted by danny the boy at 11:47 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]

I think the core problem with the show (and I say this although I kind of enjoyed it and might well watch again) is that there's not enough newness here.

It's basically doing the show-your-work thing you describe, danny the boy, but that's not new; that's a great thing to do, but it's not surprising anymore. It's expected of high-quality writing now, thanks to shows like The Mindy Project or even Family Guy.

Similarly, the idea that normal people are awkward, and that's a kind of comforting humor, is not new.

Then of course the situations, optimism, technology, and exploratory nature of the core conceit of the show comes straight from Star Trek and its descendants, and nothing innovative has been added there.

So, this show seems kind of automatically generated by a marketing machine -- although I don't think that's necessarily what's happened.

Sometimes the act of combining established artistic elements is new enough, or refreshing enough, or surprising enough, that it's a delight in itself. Unfortunately, the idea of "X, but with awkwardly realistic people" has been done a lot lately, as has "space drama, but with X grafted on" idea, as has "Star Trek, but funny". I personally am very tired, too, of being expected to react to genre clichés winked at as clichés, and am craving something real and substantial. It's time for art that's more than pop culture references.

I think there's still a chance that something interesting could emerge here, though, so I'm not writing it off yet.

To me, it feels like Seth MacFarlane's dream deferred. Maybe he had the idea to do a show like this a long time ago, and in 2001 it would have been charming and surprising. The Man kept him down too long, though.

I just went looking for info on the show's history, and found this quote from Seth MacFarlane: “I've wanted to do something like this show ever since I was a kid, and the timing finally feels right. [...] I think this is gonna be something special.”
posted by amtho at 7:09 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this one got the balance far better than the first. Seems to be getting decent numbers, although Thursdays are a tougher sale.

I continue to be mystified by the criticisms of this show.
I'm not. I'm pretty sure if the exact same show had anyone but MacFarlane, most people would be "heh, at least it's not another grimdark remake". It wouldn't get a post on the Blue to semi-gloat about early bad reviews (although the AV Club gave it a "watch" on their fall preview), either.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:25 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]

To me, it feels like Seth MacFarlane's dream deferred. Maybe he had the idea to do a show like this a long time ago, and in 2001 it would have been charming and surprising. The Man kept him down too long, though.

Wasn't there a story a few years ago that MacFarlane made a legitimate pitch to CBS to do a new Star Trek TV series?
posted by Servo5678 at 8:41 AM on September 19

The makeup effects are top notch, though. After many seasons of Face/Off I look for seams and at the structure of the facial appliances and cowls. The appliances for Alaria and Borus are applied extremely well, or the seams have been erased post-production. The dialog is hit or miss, but I do love looking at all the different alien designs!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 9:23 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]

Totally fair point about there not being much "newness" amtho.

Something that I noticed in this episode is how all the furniture in the ship mess is from the latest Ikea collection. Kind of gives it that new coffeeshop in the neighborhood you want to like but know will go out of business in 6 months vibe...
posted by danny the boy at 10:17 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]

The biggest criticism I have about the show so far, is the set design and locations... they don't feel spacey to me. It looks like you asked a sitcom set designer to imagine "Friends Space!". It's all cheap tasteful, which really shows up on HD. TNG had the big swoopy arc (tactical station) on the bridge that was its showpiece, and the observation lounge and ten forward had architectural elements that referenced the actual shape of the ship, but there's nothing remarkable about the Orville set. They're just boxy rooms.

And maybe that's actually perfect for the spirit of the show ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by danny the boy at 10:26 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this episode, especially the story lines with Alara and Bortus. Definitely a big improvement on the premier.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:52 AM on September 19

I will watch anything set in space and thus I have to continue watching this but it feels like an off-brand Star Trek substitute. "I Can't Believe It's Not Star Trek" or "Memories of Star Trek"

I'm not a fan of Seth MacFarlane but he has made me laugh a few times over the years, particularly in the early days of Family Guy. I don't like very much of his stuff but this show isn't totally obnoxious or anything it's just kind of mediocre.

But I will watch it as long as they keep making it, because it's set in space.
posted by yonega at 11:19 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]

I thought this episode, while still flawed, was a distinct improvement. The credit, I think, goes to Alara's eyebrows. I suspect they'll go down in history as the Riker's beard of the show.
posted by The Tensor at 12:46 PM on September 19

you might say this show is adequately going where plenty of shows have gone before
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:46 PM on September 19 [15 favorites]

But I will watch it as long as they keep making it, because it's set in space.

That's how I feel about Trailer Park Boys Play Space (NSFW).
posted by juiceCake at 9:39 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]

the idea of your parents mortifying you by being your parents. There are two examples I can think of in Trek, one where Worf's parents visit the Enterprise and another where Bashir's "ruins" things for him on DS9.

Didn't Troi's mother embarrass her a bunch? I know she was on the show... and there was something? about naked weddings? But it was 20 years ago soooo.

But I will watch it as long as they keep making it, because it's set in space.

I couldn't believe how much I missed a Trekish show set on a spaceship/station. The Expanse is better than almost all SF shows set in space but it doesn't scratch the same itch that Trek does. It's a different thing.

And fuck you CBS for your all access thing with the new Trek. I will never subscribe. Never.
posted by Justinian at 2:33 AM on September 20

Still in two minds about watching this, although this fanfare thread makes me feel a bit more likely to than the first one did. Certainly the trailers FOX have been shoving down my throat during American Football games haven't been selling it (watching via Gamepass Europe still gives you US ads).

And fuck you CBS for your all access thing with the new Trek. I will never subscribe. Never.

I think this might be the only time, ever where it's better to be an EU resident if you want to watch a top US show - CBS aren't launching their shitty access thing over here, so Netflix have the rights to the new Trek.

posted by garius at 4:58 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]

I'm not so much upset about some kind of barrier being between me and the new Trek show, but more that it's going to prevent the kind of universal, free access that allows other people across income and class distribution to watch it.

Now, if I meet someone randomly working at a restaurant, airport, or walking around a street, or waiting at the DMV, I know that there's a chance I can talk about Trek or Roseanne or even a show I've never seen, but heard my contemporaries discuss, even if the person has almost nothing else in common with me. Popular culture, specifically widely-seen forms of television, are kind of like our time's version of the Bible - there are stories that all, or most, or many, people know and can talk about, and we can commiserate about character's bad choices or rejoice in some beautiful ending or whatever. Trek was especially good for that because, if you met someone else who appreciated it, you knew you probably shared some important values.

Making it unattainable for some people -- and kids! Kids whose parents or caregivers maybe don't care one whit about those kinds of stories -- cuts them off from an important part of our culture.
posted by amtho at 5:34 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]

Plus, I'm glossing over the fact that I, as a kid, wouldn't have been allowed to watch Trek if it had any kind of barrier. We didn't have cable, and my horizons were controlled to the extent that I wasn't even allowed to make friends with certain people unless my parents approved. My whole life would have been different if Trek had been even a tiny bit harder to access.
posted by amtho at 5:37 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]

Justinian: But it was 20 years ago soooo.

25 years, actually.

"Cost of Living"
TNG, Episode 5x20
Production number: 40275-220
First aired: 20 April 1992

We're coming up on the 30th anniversary of the first TNG broadcast (September 28, 1987).
posted by hanov3r at 9:19 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]

It looks like STD will be on Netflix in the US too.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:04 AM on September 20

under_petticoat_rule: where did you hear that? Most stories posted in the last week consistently said it was CBS's service only in the US and Canada; Netflix everywhere else.
posted by NormieP at 11:31 AM on September 20

Oh? I have placed my torch and pitchfork temporarily back in storage.
posted by Justinian at 11:32 AM on September 20

After a quick search, NormieP seems correct and it will be on Netflix only outside the US.

I have retrieved the torch and pitchfork.
posted by Justinian at 11:33 AM on September 20 [3 favorites]

Yikes, I guess my source was old.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:14 PM on September 20

On a completely unrelated note is there a way to trick Netflix into thinking you arent in the USA? Asking for a friend.
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on September 20

Yes, there are ways.
posted by hanov3r at 2:47 PM on September 20

STD is on Space in Canada as well, which is a cable broadcast company. Outside of a couple of people I don't anyone personally who has cable TV anymore because Netflix. None of them would bother paying for CBS's streaming service.

Both Voyager and Enterprise suffered under executive meddling because they were the apex shows of the network. STD should just be Netflix world wide. I wouldn't be surprised if it is after the first season.
posted by juiceCake at 5:36 PM on September 20

I don't think this show is that bad. It certainly isn't must watch TV, but I have liked both episodes enough so far. I do hope that they put an end to the stupid ex wife jokes soon, though. A couple of them are funny, but most of them are straight up terrible. And let's be honest, the show would be way funnier without MacFarlane in it. Like the jokes about his parents were pretty funny, but then his stupid awkward reaction pretty much ruined it.

Oh and real talk, eggs freak me out. I couldn't even eat them in any form until I was in my 20s, and even now if I start thinking about what an egg is I will lose my appetite. So the whole egg story line? Complete gross out for me.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:21 AM on September 21

The sincere bits were more effectively sincere but the funny bits still weren't funny. MacFarlane needs to watch some Stargate SG-1 or Firefly, stat.
posted by rednikki at 10:18 PM on September 22

This episode was directed by Robert Duncan McNeill.

It still feels like Junior Varsity Star Trek to me, and that's considering I think a lot of Star Trek is pretty dreadful.

The best parts were when MacFarlane wasn't onscreen. I feel bad for Adrianne Palicki.

It was better than the first episode, but all it really did was remind me of shows that did it better. This show needs to get a lot better, fast.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:49 PM on September 23

I liked this episode much better than the first; as everyone says, they got the balance between humor and seriousness better. It felt to me like my friends putting on a Trek play at summer camp or something. We love the show, but can't contain a bit of snarky humor at the ridiculousness of it sometimes.

The casting power is so uneven. Penny Johnson and Adrianne Palicki are both such great actors they kind of upstage everyone else. And as awful as I find casting the producers-son-in-law on the show, I admit MacFarlane and Palicki play well together.
posted by Nelson at 9:11 AM on October 18

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