The Orville: Firestorm
November 18, 2017 1:41 PM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Strange happenings occur on the Orville after a crewmember dies during a plasma storm.
posted by Small Dollar (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A pretty good one. While this show isn't exactly an instant classic, there hasn't been a single episode so far that I'd call bad. I wonder if the haters have died down, or if people are still in a froth over the very idea of the show. Whatever they were expecting of a Trek rip-off starring Seth McFarlane, I don't think this show is turning out to be that. It plays kind of like a top-tier Trek fan-film with an occasional groaner joke, and that's fine by me. We may soon reach a point where people are arguing about whether this or Discovery is more faithful to the Trek spirit. (I say this having not seen any of Discovery beyond the pilot, thanks to being too broke to afford that ironically-named All-Access jazz.)

I don't reflexively hate McFarlane like some folks here, but it still felt kind of weird watching him do the wise, paternal captain thing. I think he's fine on this show, but he doesn't exactly have Picard-ian gravitas. Penny Johnson Gerald was really smashing as an evil-sexy psycho, though.

How much you wanna bet they planned this to be a Halloween episode but Fox screwed them with the running order?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:07 PM on November 18, 2017 [8 favorites]

I think they also found their footing better in these later episodes. The jokes feel more situational, better timed and less forced than they were previously. It also helps the characters are better developed now.

This was a fun episode all around.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:35 PM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

he doesn't exactly have Picard-ian gravitas

I think this is going to work for him in the long run, if he gets a long run. He's successfully defused expectations of ever-more-competent Trek captains that will allow them to fight through various dilemmas as if they weren't the 800th crew to face them.
posted by fatbird at 8:57 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Liked but didn't love this episode only because I've never been a fan of holodeck episodes as a thing. That being said, it was nice that the holodeck actually worked perfectly throughout the episode.

Stuff I liked: Robert Picardo as Alara's dad. Alara doing the Picard Maneuver as she came into the Captain's office to show how serious she was. Alara's parents being from a race of super-strong aliens who look down on anyone who relies on physical strength to solve problems.

One final thing: as I've mentioned before, this show has Described Video for the blind/visually impaired. STD does *not*. I deeply appreciate this.
posted by Mogur at 9:41 PM on November 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

I was kind of “meh” about this episode, in particular because the first part of the episode was around “proving” everything was real, so it felt gimmicky, and there was no internal consistency in the simulation- no reason why it was happening, so it made me just not care about that aspect. I’m usually a big Orville fan, but this left me lacking. However, flyboy’s fear of clowns and “There was an alligator. I crushed it” were glorious.
posted by corb at 9:46 AM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The door that opens into nothing was done in ST:TNG, the episode that introduced the Traveller.
posted by scalefree at 12:43 PM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The door that opens into nothing was done in ST:TNG

Yeah, I remembered that scene, although I couldn't have said which episode it was. I assume nobody involved with this episode remembered that bit. They're already walking a fine line with this Trek-but-not-Trek thing, and I'd hope they're above deliberately ripping specific sequences from the old shows. (Although maybe they considered it an "homage".)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:42 PM on November 19, 2017

The hillbillies of the galaxy.

Notice Brannon Braga directed.
posted by wittgenstein at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is already happening in the many Trek circles that I inhabit

It's all over zone chat in Star Trek Online.
posted by mordax at 7:46 PM on November 19, 2017

I liked the whole simulation twist at the end but did the effects at the beginning -- the firestorm and Alara trying to rescue the guy -- seem super low-budget? Like some homage to the original Star Trek?

Also as a non-Trekkie, if I like the Orville, which of the Trek series am I most likely to also enjoy?
posted by Clustercuss at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2017

Molly Hagan! I love her, was so nice to see her in a short cameo. And Robert Picardo.

Felt like this episode really flowed well. Really enjoyed the "evil doctor" bit. Penny Johnson Jerald is the shit.

Anybody else notice the Return of the Jedi call out during the fighting scene? Seemed like it was staged a lot like Luke vs. Darth from Jedi.

I've said this before, but I'm damn glad I didn't listen to the critics and others who hated on this show. It's really enjoyable. Not astoundingly great, but solid and fun - and I really like the cast. They feel like family. Or people I wish were family, anyway.
posted by jzb at 1:09 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

The jokes feel more situational, better timed

Mostly? On the other hand, they interrupted a serious scene in the holodeck with the Malloy/LaMarr scheduling joke. Which was a good joke, a joke that can be made, but the timing was convenient to let the writers avoid figuring out a straight exit to the scene.

But yeah, most of the forced "take my wife, please!" and spousal bickering jokes from the first couple of episodes have died down. They even sort of nicely wrapped those jokes up with a bow in the previous episode.

It does feel like they've had a couple of oddly timed holiday specials that they didn't know they'd still be on the air for - this week's episode would've made a really nice Halloween show, and Cupid's Arrow last week would've made a nice Valentine's episode.

Honestly I like Disco Trek and Orville for different reasons. I don't ever expect that I'll get the same sort sense of dawning awareness in the Orville as I have a few times in Disco Trek (you know, that "ooooh so _that's_ what that plot line was leading up to oh man oh man oh man" feeling), but that's OK - I don't expect it to, either. It's doing what it does competently and well enough to get me to watch.
posted by Kyol at 6:10 AM on November 22, 2017

I was also kinda meh on this episode. "The solution was inside you the whole time!" was the message.

However, I can't fault a couple of things it did well: First, it was creepy, and even though I had a constant awareness that "none of this is really happening, because the show has more episodes left this season," I thought it was all pretty effective, and I bought that the holo-crew was as weirded-out as they ought. Second, I like that Alara was getting some backstory (Hello Emergency Paternal Hologram) and was dealing with some of the issues we've seen: I seriously doubt her relationship issues could be as simple as we've so far been lead to believe, and of course we did see her go for the xeno-tequila when she found herself in the hotseat with an initially insoluble problem. (Losing the Captain is unfortunate, but losing the Captain and the XO is just careless.)

I also liked that they showed a person in the holodeck space as viewed from an outside observer, so you can see the thing people have speculated about for decades but never before demonstrated: the treadmill effect of the floor in the holodeck, and all the other details of physical space management. Now we can move on to other important speculations, like what happens to all the sweat, bile, and other bodily fluids and excretions that get left on the holodeck after a vigorous session?
posted by Sunburnt at 12:46 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sunburnt: The holodeck janitor; which is just a scheduled program that creates some cleaning robots who mop the place down. Some people crack the software to have it simulate a cleaning staff, or enchanted mops, or other suitably whimsical sanitation methods. It's not recommended, as there are enough warranty issues with the damn thing as it is.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:01 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Where did the alligator come from?"

"I do not know. But it has been successfully crushed."

Directive 58 (or whatever it was) makes no sense. The "No going barefoot in engineering" rule is fine though.

I appreciate MacFarlane's willingness to step back and let the show be about other characters. The supporting cast on this show is great.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:44 PM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

For those looking for ways in which this show differs from Trek, apparently the Orville doesn't have intraship beaming, which would have been handy at the beginning when Alara is running to engineering.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:08 AM on November 24, 2017

The lack of transporters in general makes me interested. So many plot devices gone, so many scene transitions that need to be handled differently! I like it.
posted by Mogur at 6:10 PM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking they had to make some very specific eliminations to try and stay out of trouble with Paramount's lawyers. So, no transporters, no prime directive, no com badges. I may be wrong, but I don't remember people on Orville talking to the computer and having it answer, either.

Come to think of it, it's kind of surprising there's no lawsuit yet. I mean, this show is just obviously a full-on Trek wannabe and everybody knows it. They could try to stay out of trouble by claiming it's a "parody," but a lot of the time it plays more like a serious show with some jokes. Spaceballs it ain't.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:42 PM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ursula Hitler:
At the start of Fox’s day at TCA, critics bluntly asked Fox TV Group chairman/CEO Dana Walden if she’s worried they’ll be sued. ...

“We’re not really concerned,” Walden said. “We obviously have a big legal team. We vet things, so it’s not like we’re just flying by the seat of our pants out here. Seth’s intention is to do something that clearly pays homage to Star Trek, that clearly was inspired a lot by Star Trek.”
Which I believe translates as: "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough."
posted by Grimgrin at 4:39 PM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wish CBS would sue Fox over this, because any lawyer for Fox worth his billable hours would be able to flip it around by forcing Rick Berman to admit, under oath, that he ripped off Babylon 5 to make Deep Space Nine.

In fact, subjecting Berman to an intense 12 hour long deposition (like Bill Gates in '98) where he would have to account for all the crap he did when he was in charge of Trek, would be closure the fans need.
posted by riruro at 9:00 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Anybody else notice the Return of the Jedi call out during the fighting scene? Seemed like it was staged a lot like Luke vs. Darth from Jedi.

I was thinking ESB, it struck me as a very deliberate homage to a very specific shot.

They did a pretty good job making this genuinely tense and creepy despite the fact that you know there's no way everything wouldn't turn out OK in the end. I thought the holodeck reveal was really well done, too.

So, yeah. Six seasons and a movie, please. Make it so.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:18 AM on November 27, 2017

Going after The Orville would likely leave CBS open to a bunch of counter-lawsuits and general chaos on TV, because let's not pretend TV in general (particularly sitcoms and procedurals or the 12nd reheated Trump joke on late night) is that original. There's even that pesky B5 vs DS9 precedent.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:06 AM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Between the crushed alligator and the third duelist, Bortus made the episode for me.

Clustercuss, I also thought the rescue of Harrison Payne (Pain?) from under the obviously styrofoam rubble was an oddly TOS-ish homage.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:07 AM on December 3, 2017

I came to the thread late as I'm only now discovering this series, but I'd just like to formally wonder how long McFarlane must have waited for the chance to utter a line like, "We want the clown alive."

With the deadpan "watch out for pies" comment a very close second. I wonder how many takes were necessary to get through that scene with a straight face.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:27 PM on December 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

how long McFarlane must have waited for the chance to utter a line like, "We want the clown alive."

Dunno, that sounds exactly something Stan Smith would say.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:59 AM on December 12, 2017

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