The Orville: If the Stars Should Appear
September 29, 2017 6:30 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

While on a routine stellar mapping mission on the edge of explored space, the Orville finds an enormous derelict spaceship which is drifting on a collision course with a star. Captain Mercer takes a team over to the ship to investigate. While aboard the derelict, the Orville is called away to assist a union ship which is under attack by a Krill warship.
posted by fimbulvetr (23 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Liam Nielsen!!!
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 1:58 PM on September 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also, this show makes me happy. It is not deep, nor particularly clever. But it hits the right spots of happy sf.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 2:02 PM on September 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

I didn't realized as a kid how creepy The Sound of Music is.

Different era.

The show is definitely getting a bang out of its CG budget. That ship pushed some of my scifi awe buttons satisfactorily. Neat bit of writing to presage that with "exploring space is boring."

Bit weird that the captain and first officer are on away missions all the time, together. This was kind of a big thing in TNG where they wouldn't risk both Picard and Riker on away missions at the same time. Which is also a bit weird (sending bridge crew instead of landing specialists, like, marines) but I guess it's more of a throwback to the age of sail exploration rather than borrowing strictly from a militaristic naval background.

I liked this episode, it was very TNGey and Dr. Claire Finn is really growing on me as a complex and likeable character. Felt a lot like Bones (but black/systemically-disadvantaged instead of a throwback racist) but with Crusher's bedside manner skills.
posted by porpoise at 6:53 PM on September 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

So far, this is more authentically Trek than the actual new Trek show.

I doubt it'll ever reach the heights of TNG - it nails the feel-good bits of that show, but
the campy framing limits its potential for drama. But it's a damn good pastiche.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:02 PM on September 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

So this is the first episode of this show I've managed to see, and I do have to ask if all the episodes so far have been like this one? I remember reading somewhere they have a backlog of old TNG stories they're working through and it certainly felt like that was true.

And then, welded on to a serviceable story, dialogue I found excruciating. "What is this dick of which you speak" and "nice name just kidding no" stuff. Are the writers 13?

To me this show is trapped in a quantum fissure, phasing between two timelines, one ok and one dreadful. Which is the real Orville? What are the other episodes like? And can we get the good one to make with the inverse polaron beam and restore the proper timeline?
posted by traveler_ at 10:07 PM on September 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

While Episodes 1 & 3 felt like they followed more TNG scripts, 2 & 4 had blatant TOS lifts -- "The Cage" in 2, and "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" for this episode.

Though the ending felt to simple. What, the theocrat is going to give up power just like that? Everything will be just fine when they get the ship fixed?

That said, I do find myself enjoying this Star Trek with the serial numbered lightly filed show in general.
posted by fings at 10:16 PM on September 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, this show makes me happy. It is not deep, nor particularly clever. But it hits the right spots of happy sf.

I agree and I continue to be amazed by how fun it is. I expected so much less from Seth.

It's probably considered heresy to say this but so far I'm liking Orville a lot more than ST: Discovery because the first two episodes of Discovery were pretty dark and depressing to me.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:19 PM on September 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've been trying to crystalize my feelings about this show, and I've settled for "Trek Lite," so far.

It's a very similar product as (television) Trek (OST/TNG) only sweetened with cyclamate* instead of HFCS. It lacks the calories (depth/thought) of Trek (such as it is), and (the juvenile humour and other non-progressive/regressive blindspots) doesn't quite taste the same.

It also comes in exciting and shiny new packaging!

On the other hand, ST:Discovery feels almost like the HFCS of TV Trek was replaced with artisanal minimally processed cane sugar (darker and possibly more complex in flavour). Waiting to see if they keep using it, or switch to even darker - but cheaper - blackstrap molasses (in one direction), or go with more available less costly commercially refined sugar.

*cyclamate posses a non-trivial reasonable level of risk of promoting bladder cancer (especially in rats - saccharin also promotes bladder cancer in rats, but via a mechanism not applicable in humans)
posted by porpoise at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Very good, very fun episode. And only the fourth one in. Not quite what I was expecting - definitely a MacFarlane show, but not quite as mocking as I was expecting.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:03 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I admit it - after forming a terrible first impression of it, now I find I'm kind of loving this show. It's clearly taking place in a universe adjacent to John Ford's How Much for Just The Planet? (Somewhere out there, a depressed Vulcan is spilling strawberry milkshake into her ship's computer, which slowly turns homicidal...)
posted by invincible summer at 8:04 PM on September 30, 2017

Porpoise, I have been trying to write a comment that basically exactly mirrors your sentiment, but couldn't manage to coherently order my thoughts. I guess what I was missing was nutritional science?

The Orville is basically "What if Star Trek, but snarky unenlightened assholes?" and Discovery is... we don't really know yet, because the first two episodes seem more like a prologue and the series proper can either run with the darker serialized tone or go to a lighter more traditional Trek. Which is exactly what you said. Basically, I just want you to know I get what you mean and I'm right there with you.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:57 PM on September 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

snarky unenlightened assholes

Better, and more succinctly, than I could have put it.
posted by porpoise at 10:29 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

If they do a mirror-universe episode (The Wilbur?) I suspect the crew will be all happy, goody-goody dipshits.
posted by fings at 9:16 AM on October 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

I know this show's whole thing is basically TNG already but holy shit the reveal of the inside of the ship was the most TNG thing I've seen in a long time, and I just watched the series finale this weekend. Spending a huge amount of money and effort on this awesome ship, the music swelling, and then the big reveal of... Rolling hills of Southern California! A fucking Log Cabin! I loved it. And so far the show just about gets the tone right. Still too many jokes from 1995, and the divorce stuff is also really boring. (Rocky Road? Wtf. They didn't even punch that up. It should have been a caramel frappachino and binge-watching Law and Order if they're really going for the stay at home mom in his 30s thing.) BUT I can't lie. They really are making a functional TNG pastiche. I don't even hate Seth Mcfarlane. Its like he is working so hard at being an Actor his snark is dialed down. He must be super nervous. I've always hated him but something about realizing he has a funky Stallone eye and is comfortable giving the action moments to women makes me re-think my opposition to his animated work.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:50 PM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

If they can ditch the by-the-numbers relationship angst and the frigging dick jokes - there are other ways to be funny! TOS did it! - then this show will be the Trek I wanted all along, and I won't even need Disco to pivot to something that isn't drowning in the treacle of dark 21st century SF tropes.

I really liked the basic plot of this ep. Sure, it's derivative of a hundred things (going back to Asimov's Nightfall, which is, what, more than 75 years old now?) but if you pop out of hyperspace to find a giant millennia-old colony vessel drifting through space, you have my attention. This would have made a cracking TNG or TOS story - the production would have been shonkier, but we wouldn't have the 'but why don't they have any sort of drone tech?' humph which sorta nags at me now - if divested of the Space Bros banter. Or at least, had it dialled back so you can actually believe that quasi-military highly trained crew members would interact that way. (Not knowing that 13:00 was 1pm is not something that sits easily with a character who was a high-flyer until he went super-mopey over the missus; you know what the divorce rate is like among airline pilots and the military, right? And yet they manage to cope with 12/24 hour clocks...)

Yes, it's ST Lite, but it is recognisably ST Something at its heart, which I'm not sure Disco is. One can only dream about what it could have been with recalibrated characters and dialogue, and if it didn't have to search-and-replace Federation with Union, etc, etc, etc.
posted by Devonian at 7:10 PM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is it part of the comedy that the '"eyes" on Isaac the racist bridgebot are set way too high? Or just a design decision that distracts me in every single episode?
posted by xyzzy at 12:54 AM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

2 & 4 had blatant TOS lifts --

Ooo oh oh, please if the writers are checking here, send the good ship Orville back to visit Vaal!
posted by sammyo at 9:12 AM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Revisiting TOS reminds me of a genius RPG campaign idea I saw, where a later period Star Fleet Admiral suspects the legendary James Kirk of embellishing the truth on his reports (as there are so many things that sound like "tall tales": stolen brains, giant space amoebas, etc), so the PCs are tasked with a research/exploration vessel to investigate TOS mission reports.
posted by fings at 11:08 AM on October 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

After this episode, I'm actually looking forward to the next installment. I've watched all the Trek shows (I'm not ponying up for Discovery - I'm cheap), but I grew up with TNG. This is kind of an odd dose of nostalgia not just for TNG, but for the time period of the Trek shows that followed, like DS9 and heck, even Voyager. It feels comfortable and the riffs on the classic stories have been interesting enough to make me wonder, "What's next?"

I definitely could do with a different direction from the typical McFarlane humor, but for as crass as it can be, it is obvious that McFarlane has a sincerity for the material he's playing off of, and it adds a heart to the show that lifts it up over the terrible jokes (a la gelatinous blob forming a phallic looking appendage).

Also, when they shot Kitan, I immediately wondered if they were going for a Tasha Yar type of death (I STILL REMEMBER THAT MOMENT.)
posted by Atreides at 2:21 PM on October 3, 2017

I think the reason I can live with the occasional dick joke is that most of the jokes are played pretty straight, in a way that would be almost believable with the culture clash between the various species. The lecherous blob is really starting to grate, though.

Still, I can live with it in the background since the overall tone is pretty close to what I'd hoped for and Seth looks like he's living his dream (and also let other people shine..he was just sitting there quietly in the background for a lot of the first bridge scene), which may be why it's less ridiculous than some of his other stuff. Maybe at some point Fox will let him drop the most crass of the humor and dial it back a bit.

I do hope they show at least some of the crew gaining competence over time, which would provided some cover for the most jarring jokes to go away. I guess that's another reason why the humor hasn't bugged me too much yet. This is not a ship full of hypercompetent people. It isn't outlandish that they would tend toward a less serious disposition. One would hope they'd eventually gain some respect for the danger surrounding them as they encounter more.

That said, so far it isn't looking like it's going to be a major character development kind of series. That's fine too, but could get stale much sooner.
posted by wierdo at 8:26 AM on October 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wow, the music at about 9 minutes in when they're passing through the doors to get to the interior of the bio-ship was a completely shameless lift of the track "The Cloud" (track 9) from Jerry Goldsmith's score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

This show has some elements and actors I like, but it's just creatively lazy. Seth MacFarlane is a detritivore.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:49 PM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

fings has it right; this episode is 100% a lift from TOS For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky. I wonder if all the folks identifying this episode as TNG nostalgia see it as different from TOS nostalgia. I'm not sure I could articulate the difference. But the plot here is definitely TOS.

Like everyone I continue to be annoyed at the unpleasant mix of adolescent humor and serious nostalgia. It could work, if the jokes were better. I genuinely loved the moment when they blew up the attacking Krill ship and the gunner (John LaMarr, played by J. Lee) got all excited. That was genuinely hilarious, and also real. More like that, less dick jokes, and we're good.

Still wondering about how the producer's son-in-law ended up getting cast as the captain. He's starting to act a little better at least, but still want to punch that face every time it fills my screen.
posted by Nelson at 6:40 AM on October 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

BTW if you want Star Trek but with dick jokes, #spocksdick is pretty good TOS snark. The episode Spock's Brain, only it's about Spock's dick. It's been removed, surgically.
posted by Nelson at 1:28 PM on October 28, 2017

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