Why is The Orville so good?

Disco and Picard are both trying to do Star Trek with a different tone, which I appreciate even if I don’t personally like it. The Orville and Lower Decks both have a tone more in line with Star Trek as it was in the TOS and TNG eras, with an extra layer of humor on top to make it feel fresh again.

Can the original Star Trek tone work today? I think so, and I hope Strange New Worlds tries to be closer to what TOS was than Disco has been. Episodic science fiction still has a place, TV shows that don’t raise the stakes to interstellar destruction each season still have a place.

The Orville concentrates on the characters first and foremost. Even the outside scenarios are explored primarily through how the crew is affected by them, not in some sort of later Trek style of having the event/solution be the focus, and the crew being a part of that. The humor, banter, pranks, etc. are all part of that focus on characters. They actually give each other a hard time; you never saw Barclay giving Geordi a hard time for making a mistake, or anything. Or Riker teasing Worf, or anything like that at all. You saw a little on Voyager between Kim & Paris, but it was more bro stuff, not the way that long-time co-workers tease and joke with each other. Even Enterprise just flirted with it; Trip was the only half-realistic character, and he seemed overly chatty/goofy by comparison with everyone else.
It’s like Star Trek thinks people are going to be so professional in the future that they’re not going to joke around, etc…

But we got it with Gordon and John right out of the gate. And between Mercer and Grayson. And between the two of them, and Gordon & John. And so on, and so forth. And Bortus’ total obliviousness is funny in its own right. I guess what I’m getting at is that a lot of the comedy isn’t just comedy for its own sake; it’s as much to develop the characters and their relationships as anything else.

I think that’s maybe what you’re getting at by “heart”, or that’s how I’d interpret it.

I’m not thinking the actual sci-fi or anything like that is particularly great on The Orville, although I’ll say another endearing thing about it is that they do two things that Trek never did. One, things DO end badly on The Orville, and the characters have to deal with the fallout (again, that character focus), and two, the writers are less heavy handed/obvious with the social commentary, maybe because it’s about the characters’ responses to the issues, rather than explicitly using the episode as a method to preach a point of view to the audience.

Holy crap Bortus and Klyden are funny. “The night is ours!!!”

My favorite Bortus moment is this one though:

To me that’s a perfect example of the humor on the show. You can relate because anyone who has ever been to a work party with cake has seen that play out, why wouldn’t it happen in the future in space? And the way that the ultra-serious alien insists on having a good piece just makes it so much funnier. No laugh track, no rimshot, just played straight and natural and that’s what makes it work.

I would disagree with both of these points. I appeared to me that The Orville was originally intended as a parody, but they found out that this show captured the spirit of the original (not 90’s) Star Trek much better then the Orville was a parody, and started to develop it more as a ‘Star Trek’ type show and only throws in a few lines now and again to be able to claim a parody.

So much this. Like asking the boss if you can bring sodas onto the bridge. Or the gossip between coworkers as they are working. It’s sci-fi, but it also feels very real.

And there was the episode with his and Kelly’s birthdays, where he kept making the point that he didn’t want a joint party. I have a birthday that’s close enough to Christmas that it pretty much always gets subsumed by all the Christmas business, so I know how he feels.

Star Trek can certainly be done with a different tone, and it has been; “Deep Space Nine” was a grittier version, and Lower Decks is a comedy.

Neither Discovery nor Picard work because, to be honest, they just aren’t well written. Picard, and Discovery after season 1, just don’t have enough plot to fill the minutes, and such plot as there is is often incoherent and self-contradicting and lacks consistent, logical character actions, often seeming as if the writers of one episode didn’t watch the previous episodes. Discovery, of course, suffers from its emphasis on Space Christ, while Picard doesn’t really have anything in the way of characters at all.

If you put a different skin on those shows - same stories but you changed the character names and other Star Trek names - they would still be really, really bad. I doubt either would have survived Season 1.

Discovery just kept me feeling like there was a continual sense of things being completely out of control. It took me a while to realise that this wasn’t a sense that the world depicted inside the work was one that was out of control, but rather, the script itself was out of control. I feel like the writing process might have been a bit like that scene in Airplane, where everyone just gets in line to have a go.

What in the name of the Great Material Continuum are you talking about, hu-mon?

Sure, you can’t fault the writers, but you can certainly fault the studio or network that commissioned them, since there’s very clearly a big audience that is indeed clamouring for “more of the same”. The success of The Orville is proof that this demand exists.

Yeah, the phone episode really stuck with me. Part of it is that Scott Grimes is an excellent actor, but the aforementioned “heart” applies to that one.

Orville is good because its not Star Trek and its written by Star Trek fans. Its clearly Star Trek-inspired but its not hemmed in by it. It can grow, organically.

ST Discovery’s second-biggest problem is that it is hemmed in by canon. Making it a prequel series was a bad idea, ENT had already shown the limitation of that concept and it at least had the excuse of being made during the unfortunate turn of the Millenium prequel craze. With ST DISCO, there was absolutely no reason for it to be set in the past, the entire first season could have just as happily been set a decade and a half post Nemesis, which was real-world elapsed time at the start of production. Hell, even the spore drive could have been seen as a logical extension of the super-fast travel technologies brought back by Voyager, they encountered at least 4 such super fast means of propulsion if memory serves, and the Klingon War, as Korean War to the Dominions Wars WW2. Even the Burnham-Sarek connection could have been explained away as her being Sarek’s ward, a survivor of the Cardassian wars (maybe Setlik III, which O Brien fought in).

Its biggest problem is that it was written by a committee.

Picard, has been treated with derision by some, most notably @RickJay, but I think comparing it to ST DISCO is misplaced, while Discovery is abysmal, Picard is merely disappointing, it has some genuinely good bits, the Troi-Rikers episode, the La Siena crew, the flashbacks. And, unlike DIscovery, who have doubled down, Picard producers seem to have understood fans feedback, its season 2 trailer shows a story in the style of episodes like Tapestry and Encounter at Farpoint, Journeys End.

More grimdark Star Trek.

That is not all that far from the truth… except in terms of producers. Watch the credits and count how many producers there are. It’s 20 or 21, depending which episode you’re watching.

Totally unrelated to Quark the Ferengi. It only ran for a month and a half as a satire of sci fi (particularly Star Trek) which is why it was compared to The Orville (which many assumed was satire). Quark wasn’t successful (only 8 episodes including the pilot that had aired the previous year) though it did get an Emmy nomination for costumes in one episode.

Agreed with every word. I much prefer character-led fiction and The Orville really does treat the characters as fully-rounded characters, with faults (sometimes major ones), a sense of humour, real relationships, etc. I ended up liking everybody, not necessarily as a person I’d want to meet, but as a character that’s interesting to watch.

The baby episode was the one that first really drew me in by genuinely taking cultural differences seriously.

Yes. What I loved was that they has they hearing and……the procedure went ahead anyway.

There wasn’t really a season 2 episode that smart, which was a shame; I hope the much delayed Season 3 brings us back to that sort of thing.

FYI, the third season is scheduled to be released on Hulu on March 10.

Yup. Because the humans don’t get to decide what’s moral and what’s not moral. And sometimes parents have to choose the practical decision rather than making a stand that could make their child an outcast, especially if one parent is in favour of that and the other isn’t.

I really have no idea how the creator of Family Guy, which I loathe*, could come up with something so nuanced.

*Had to watch it for work. Had waaay more rape jokes (and at least one actual rape played for laughs) than anything I’d ever watch by choice and seemed to overall be built on hate and an extremely negative view of the world. Nothing like the Orville.