"The Orville" Season Two Talkback (Spoilers)

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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Ja'loja"

Next Gen would often do episodes where there wasn't a sci-fi mission or high-concept premise per se, but it was a more leisurely paced episode designed to having the characters navigate their personal lives. Granted, it never happened in a premiere, but since that show was all about the cliffhangers from Season 4 onward, I get why it didn't.

I don't ship Dan and Alara. But I like that she gave him a shot. He said something very interesting to me. That most species did not find his species attractive due to their big heads. I cannot think of a single Star Trek species that was ever that self-aware. And I like the idea this show's version of say, the Ferengi in goofball ugliness, don't actually think themselves God's gift to women. Still he's a bit of a whiner, although I do think her critique of his bad poetry could have been more constructive. Granted it WAS constructive, but maybe too much so. Maybe it actually should have been less. She didn't point out anything she liked which was not very nice. It was NOT a terrible poem at all even if it was a total cliche. I would not rave over it like Malloy did, but he poured his heart out, which is what you are supposed to do in a poem. She's acting like a literary critic when what he wanted to hear is that she understood his pain. And she could have made the points she did while still pointing out that the poem effectively did that at least. It wasn't great. But it wasn't terrible either, and definitely gave me a better feeling for Dan, whether it was a cliche or not.

I enjoyed Claire's subplot with her misbehaving son, but I felt there were several things wrong with the plot. I really dislike the notion that Isaac saved the day. Not merely because she had been second-guessing her instincts as a parent, but because Isaac is clearly thought of as male so it had that subtext too. Plus, face it, Isaac's "solution" wasn't actually robot clever. It's something any desperate but cunning parent would have seized upon when hearing the parents' and teacher's grades didn't match. Most mothers I know would have immediately flipped out at that incongruity the instant Isaac mentioned it. If there is one thing parents are good at, it's clinging on to any reason as to why their rotten kids don't actually suck. Claire should have figured that problem out herself.

For the record, I like the notion of showing imperfect human kids and parents, and bad influences amongst kid friendships. DS9 did that with Nog and Jake Sisko, but that was almost a cop-out because Nog was a different species, and they played a lot of that as culture shock, which is not what most of bad kids getting other kids in trouble is. Besides it took the admittedly refreshing (if exasperatingly positive) notion that Nog wasn't actually a bad influence on Jake, and that Jake was a good influence on him instead. Sometimes I just want to see future parents deal with real problems.

For the record, "drive-bys" are pathetic. We haven't "All been there." That being said, neither Amanda or Cassius were blameless in that fight. I totally agree with Cassius that it's not his responsibility to feel jealous and offended on her behalf if he doesn't feel that way. But that privilege works both ways. If she wants to be pissed instead herself, she's actually allowed to be without being told to calm down and act like she's being unreasonable. She was being unreasonable when she was trying to provoke a negative reaction from him. He was being unreasonable when he acted like HER negative reaction was silly.

Mercer said something that proves the episode was written Seth MacFarlane. He said that all women who date evolved men want to the man to be part dope sometimes, at least once a day. I think that is a foolish opinion because neither Mercer nor MacFarlane has actually met every woman, and I don't picture either person as the type of guy who pursues women for their awesome personalities. I mean, if you always go after women who look like Adrienne Padalicki (or Eliza Dushku for that matter), yeah, chances are they are gonna want you to sit down and shut up. And you'll do it. But that's not every woman. That's not even every hot woman. Every person on Earth is different and that includes all women. But even if I'm wrong and MacFarlane is right, even if that's true, that's not something an evolved guy should ever feed into. Otherwise, he's not actually evolved. It bothers me that Ed's advice works at the end seeing as it was so terrible.

Speaking of which there is no better description of Malloy than to point out that he was once dumped by his own stalker for being too clingy. Seriously. That's about as hard to fathom as dating two heads who share the same body without the other knowing.

I missed this over the air, and had to catch up OnDemand, which is probably why nothing in it tied to any sort of mythology for the show. People who missed it can tune into this week's episode without having to get caught up on anything. Which is smart. ****.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Primal Urges"

I will acknowledge that the episode was being off-putting on purpose, but it doesn't stop me from being put off.

You're supposed to be a little weirded and creeped out by same sex alien porn, but I don't know why I should be made to feel that way. It's possibly a good thing the show is making me examine my own biases there. Still, the alien rubbing his nipple with one finger was super gross.

To be honest, I thought Bortus' behavior was appalling during the episode. But when he reveals he's been distant ever since Clyden mutilated their daughter, I'm suddenly and shockingly sympathetic.

I was sure Bortus being stabbed was gonna be a fake-out the way all of genre handles that stuff, but I forgot this was a Star Trek-style show. Trek used to actually do that stuff all the time. It's the future so people were rarely ever actually killed off for it.

I found the holograms putting their fingers erotically around Isaac's head to be quite funny, and I laughed at the fact that Dan seemed to be trying to get in on the intimacy too.

That alien porn dealer's subtitles made me laugh too. Bortus will definitely NOT tell his friends.

I love that Isaac is right about how messed up Bortus' marriage is, but when he starts talking about who to save based on intelligence, Bortus correctly points out why he is glad he's not actually like Isaac. I mean yeah, Isaac can smugly point out how flawed and weak Bortus is. But just the clinical way he approached that says Bortus is actually better than Isaac.

Somehow I don't picture Captain Picard sarcastically saying "Neat!" upon being told they have a problem.

I loved the runner between Ed and Grayson debating how to say the minister's name correctly. Did we mention time was of the essence, guys?

Decent episode but I dislike how squicked out I felt by the end of it. ***1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Home"

As long as we aren't dealing with alien porn addictions, the show is aces.

For the first 3/5's of the episode I saw a classic "Homecoming" Trek episode familiar to anyone who has watched the sequel series. It was good, and good Star Trek.

And then with the home invasion it's suddenly better than Star Trek.

I think the best thing about The Orville is that it IS relatively new, and even if it takes after Star Trek, the fact that its new makes you wonder where it would differ. Star Trek would never do the home invasion, especially in this specific episode. So if the invader threatens to cut off the daughter's finger, all bets are off. Because Star Trek would never do the home invasion, I'm questioning if the series is about to diverge from Star Trek's sensibility completely as far as maimings and tortures go. And it's prevented at the last second, like good Star Trek should. But I like that I wasn't sure until it happened.

There is something poetic about the series security chief coming from a species of pacifists and intellectuals who hate the military. Even more surprising to learn that Alara is considered mentally disabled among her species. Certainly no-one on The Orville treats her that way, not even Isaac.

I love that the message is Alara telling her father she believes in him and that he can rescue Ed. It's perfect because it's all she ever really wanted from him.

But Ed telling Alara's father that he cares about her as much as he does strikes me as totally presumptuous. He's actually right, but Ed has no way of knowing that.

Roles for Robert Picardo and John Billingsley here, both Star Trek vets.

Did Halston Sage decide to leave the show? If so, the show is learning from Next Gen's mistakes and Tasha Yar's disastrous final episode. This is a goodbye I wanted. And of course the gift is pickles. There is nothing else it could be.

Joke time: I like the new guy calling Kermit the Frog "Sick" and Grayson telling Ed they weren't allowed to ask Yaffet if he was splitting in half. That's a smart and funny joke.

Another Star Trek thing the show does is something I'm not sure even the most but hardcore of Trekkies would recognize. But I'm betting it drives Fox nuts. If Fox has notes for the show it's probably about this one thing. But all four sequel series did not always end every act break on a mindblowing cliffhanger. Sometimes it didn't end on a cliffhanger at ALL, which is amazing in hindsight. The story often simply paused for the commercials. And that has got to be super risky for a network show in 2019. Only Seth MacFarlane's clout could let them get away with doing that over and over again. And I appreciate it. It makes it MUCH more like Star Trek, at least the sequel series.

This was a great episode. I will miss Alara. Denise Crosby and Terry Farrell were robbed. This is how you do it. ****1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Nothing Left On Earth Excepting Fishes"

That was nice. Really. You don't expect a Billy Joel montage at the end of a Krill episode but that's why it was nice.

The stuff between Ed and Talaya was fantastic. I love that she actually liked Raiders, but confuses the Nazis for the good guys. I think I understand why Ed let her go better than Amanda did. It wasn't simply because he wanted better Union / Krill relations. That is a longshot bet. I'm betting deep down he feels super guilty for killing her brother, and believes this makes them square. I am not sure it does. In fact, considering the brother WAS about to commit genocide, I'm not even sure this is a debt actually owed. But I kind of would have liked the series to point out that it's possible Ed only let Tayala go for personal reasons.

My favorite moment was the look Amanda gave Bortus upon him saying that Malloy would fail. That was a look of half-resignation / half "No s-word, Sherlock" and she is struggling with deciding on which she is feeling. That was a cool moment.

Nice episode. And I mean that in the best way. ***1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "All The World Is Birthday Cake"

About thirty years ago (give or I take) I remember watching the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Symbiosis" for the first time. It is a doozy of a fustercluck of the Prime Directive, that makes me think that the Prime Directive is not worth having. By the end of the episode, nobody wins, and the Enterprise goes on its merry way, and we never here from the horrible species encountered in the episode again. It was unfulfilling television, and made me resent the idea that the Enterprise can mess up an entire society just because it feels morally inclined to do so, and never look back at the disastrous fall-out that is obviously going to happen soon. In "Symbiosis" the catastrophe is immediate (the aliens hooked on drugs will realize their dealers have been scamming them within six months after their addiction breaks), and this seems a bit more long term of a problem. But I still don't like either the solution or the episode.

This episode here is an interesting concept. At first glance it seems to be a bit anti-abortion, before peeling back the layers and realize it's anitreligion. And you know, the astrology in the episode is so stupid and annoying. Which is why they are raising the allegory they are. I have been known to believe in my share of superstitions. This episode says that to any outside observer they probably appear bug-fudge crazy.

I seem to recall Star Trek sort of skirting around this moral once or twice but they always wussed out and always brought things back to Christ and America being the right answer in the end, at least on The Original Series. Gene Roddenberry had the super annoying tendency to talk about how awful prejudices are, but in the specific allegories he made, using the specific alien stand-ins he did, he was just as prejudiced as anyone else. The aliens gave him plausible deniability for his biases. But the Next Gen Season 1 Ferengi say everything you need to know about how Gene Roddenberry viewed Jews. And they were not the first or last episodes Gene used as a stand-in to knock an entire culture. I may not like this episode of The Orville very much, but I'll give it this: It is ideologically consistent in its message, and not designed to placate Middle America's biases. There is a reason Star Trek has so many conservative fans, despite the politics all seeming progressive. It's because Star Trek refused to actually do anything to truly offend conservatives. Most of the antibigotry stuff they did were easy pickings. "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is genius in the sense that it shows how stupid racial bigotry is. This episode here shows how stupid organized religion is and how it feeds into the bigotry. I can picture a lot of conservative Trekkies accepting the moral that skin color is random to a person's actual character, while recognizing Bele's objections to Loki's second class status before the big reveal. I don't expect The Orville to attract too many conservative fans simply because characters are actually allowed to be gay, rather than placed into a relationship that is gay in allegory only. Star Trek was a franchise that for the most part, refused to take chances and an actual stand on issues that really mattered. To be fair The Original Series DID do those allegories before any other show and it deserves credit for that. In the 60's it was revolutionary. But by the time the sequel series rolled around in the 80's and 90's it was safe and never ruffled any feathers. The Orville is somehow more courageous than The Original Series in that it actually says humanity isn't perfect and it's not just a few bad apples. These kind of problems are systemic to a society, even though the humans on this show evolved the right way. Nobody is a saint on this show. Thank God.

I feel like hiring another female Xelayan as security chief is a bit of a lateral move. I also resented Ed telling the woman she earned her stripes "And then some". I found that quite insulting to Alara.

At first I thought it was refreshing that this show has far looser rules than Star Trek about first contact. Until I realized why the Federation had those rules in place to begin with. It has a lot fewer messes of this nature.

I love that Bortus is the kind of guy who doesn't want to share his birthday. Why does Kelly want to share hers? Weird they still have cartoon gifs in the future. Love that Clydus thought it was funny.

I don't know how anyone could ever notice a single star had disappeared from the sky, let alone for one night, and let alone found an entire religion around it. That was the one thing in the episode that didn't make sense.

I imagine many conservatives will dislike this episode (if they are still watching). I disliked it too, although for entirely different reasons. **.
 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "A Happy Refrain"

This is going to be a pretty in-depth review, even for me. But I have so many feelings about that. It moved me.

Elephant in the room. Seth MacFarlane wrote and directed this masterpiece. This show is his baby in a way Family Guy never was. I swear to God if that numbnuts gets taken down by MeToo, and ruins this great thing everybody has going, I'm going go down to his Hollywood mansion and wring his neck. Scarily the continuation of this show is based entirely on Seth MacFarlane's basic human decency, and about how he actually treats women when he isn't working. Are you frightened yet? Good. You should be.

Couple of Seth-related notes. It must have been pure wish fulfillment on his end to be able to personally direct an orchestra playing "Singin' In The Rain". As far as Hollywood perks go, I am pretty sure MacFarlane just lived his dream. Were I him, there would be very little else I'd ever want to accomplish. What I love about the concert is that they showed it. It's the opposite of Conway Twitty and I think MacFarlane knows which fans gravitate towards which series. I think Family Guy fans (rightly) in my mind hate Conway Twitty. That's the point of him. To annoy the audience. I think MacFarlane (rightly) believes the audience of this show will enjoy the orchestra. And he's right, and that why my fandom runs deep for this show, and is pretty much inch high for Family Guy most weeks. Seth isn't using the orchestra as an ordeal or a punishment. It's a treat. And I'm not sure how many actual Family Guy nerds, the rabid kind anyways, would actually see it that way.

I picture when Seth sat down to write this he was specifically thinking of "In Theory", probably the most appalling Data episode of Next Gen of all. Every other episode is designed to show that Data IS the Tin Man, and has the most heart of all of the Enterprise crew. I think "In Theory" was created to disabuse the audience of that notion. But it was the magic of that notion which is why Data was great. I don't feel the Emotion Chip seen in the movies actually helped things, but it offered ironclad proof that Data wasn't feeling or caring before that. And it's not that I prefer to see Data without emotions. But I liked believing he had them all along and didn't realize it. It's clear the writers disagreed with both me, and every single other person who watched that show. As great as Next Gen is due to the cast and the writing, I don't think the producers actually understood why it was great, which is why when they drifted off onto Voyager and then Enterprise both of those shows sucked. I'm thinking Seth sat down and I thought "I can do better for Data."

And it's the bigger ask when the character is Isaac. Data actually DOES care about other people's feelings, emotions or not, whereas Isaac could give two craps. And MacFarlane insightfully makes that part of the thing. Except by the end it isn't Data sitting alone with his cat, it's Isaac realizing he made a mistake, and that this thing meant more to him than he thought. And I love that notion. Isaac is a pretty terrible person as far as robots go. I do not see him and Claire going the distance. Not my favorite 'ship is what I'm saying. But I'll enjoy watching them try for as long as possible.

At this point I think it's safe to say that The Orville is no longer the comedy space opera. Frankly, despite the fact that the jokes are both broader and dirtier than Next Gen and Deep Space Nine, both of those shows pretty much had this same amount of humor. The DVD set I got for the first season doesn't even mention comedy on the blurb on the back, and it's right not to. No Star Trek DVD sets advertise the jokes either. And TNG and DS9 had some funny ass jokes.

For the record, Bortus' moustache grew on me (pun unintended). It looks weird at first, but he sort of wound up making it work.

And how funny was Yaffit in the simulator? Seriously, dude? Norm MacDonald is the best stud you can do? That little blob is fighting out of his weight class.

Do you know what I especially like about Isaac and Claire? It was set up first. It's been building. It's not some rando ensign we've never heard of and will never see again. If it DOES blow up there will be consequences. Which is another way this show is superior to Star Trek.

The end with the rain on the bridge is also unlike Star Trek, but Malloy says they are the weirdest ship in the fleet. That is not the sort of thing that would happen on the Enterprise. But I can totally picture a looser Federation ship that never gets the plum assignments doing stuff like that. It amazes me Gene Roddenberry wanted everybody on his shows to be as boring as they are. The Orville proves that you don't actually need to make people perfect to say that humanity is good and is headed for a better tomorrow. In fact, I trust MacFarlane's optimism about the subject more than Roddenberry's, just because Roddenberry's philosophy bordered on a religious credo, and an easily disproven one at that. I feel like if humans do make it into the future, that we will always be a little messy with each other. And we won't think any less of each other for it. Conflict and grief is normal. Roddenberry acting that those were things to push down under the surface and ignore, shows the biggest way I dislike Star Trek: I do not believe in the future of humanity being sold by him as long as he has no idea how people work. He should not have put a psychiatrist on the bridge of the Enterprise so long as he believed little kids aren't allowed to grieve their dead mothers. And the lionization of the guy who didn't get that bothers me a lot. Which is another reason I hope The Orville is around for the long haul. I swear to God, MacFarlane, if you eff this up...

The episode destroying In Theory is great. Doing so using a character as devoid of feeling and humanity as Isaac is compared to Data is humbling, and I hope Joe Menosky is taking notes. This is how you do that. It's not as soul-crushing as you are making it. 47 stars.
 

Magmaster12

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This show continues to be really solid with its episodes, it's so weird how we haven't had any bad episodes yet.

When Isaac tried breaking up with Clair I thought it was hilarious, just trying to do everything to be a terrible boyfriend.
 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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When Isaac tried breaking up with Clair I thought it was hilarious, just trying to do everything to be a terrible boyfriend.
The boxers and wife-beater were a nice touch. I actually found the idea that the rest of the crew was mad at Isaac a bit rich. It was Lamarr who told him to do that bit of theater. He could have just advised him to stick with her like a sane person would.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Deflectors"

That was difficult. Very good, but difficult. And the problem is what Ed says at the end. He's not sure how the alliance with people like the Maklans can actually last.

When The Orville started, the Maklans were sort of billed as this Universe's version of the Klingons, sort of honorable warriors, although a bit more prudish. And it strikes me how unlike the Klingons they are in the fact that I have never seen an episode which shows any of their selling points. It's always all about the controversy their culture causes the Orville. And after tonight I kind of realize the precise reason that is true. Unlike the Klingons, they don't HAVE any selling points. They're like if the Federation signed a peace treaty with the Jem'Hadar and tried to pretend for one second beings so uncivilized and cruel could be befriended and tamed.

And here is where the show is like Star Trek again. While I had never seen a decent Jem'Hadar on DS9, Bortus is definitely a decent Maklan. As far as I'm concerned, he's not decent enough, but he's somewhere on the spectrum of not being a terrible person. He chose not to out Lorca when he should have according to custom. But custom dictates that their species are a bunch of monsters. And Bortus passes that very low bar.

The look of disgust he gives Clyden says why they are so unhappy, and always will be. I love Talara laying into Clyden and telling him she'll never forgive him for ruining an innocent man's life because Clyden's a bigot. I almost wish Clyden WAS the killer. Because he is a thoroughly wicked person. I guess maybe I should have always known that since he mutilated his own daughter, but there were legitimate cultural concerns involved in that. At least that's what I thought before. This is just nonsense and ugliness and spite disguised as tradition.

For the record, Klingon culture is plenty effed up on its own. But it's not as extreme as this. While losing honor gets your house and lands stripped from you, and DOES follow your family past and present, you aren't put in prison (for the most part). You and your family are now in the bottom caste of Klingon society, but your life isn't over. In fact, for a Klingon like Worf, who has assimilated in a ton of different alien cultures on the Enterprise, it's ultimately no big deal, and merely a matter of pride. This is far more insidious and disgusting.

I no longer find Maklans fascinating. They're just disgusting. And I feel bad for Bortus who seems to be the one guy with a shred of conscience, but not a big enough one to actually go anything about it. I predict bad things are in store for Bortus. Something has got to give here. The alliance between the Union and Maklan is NOT sustainable as long as this crap goes on.

That was a tough episode to watch. ***1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Identity, Part 1"

I wish I could say I was shocked, but I'm not. The Kalons and Isaac being the Big Bads of the series is what would happen if TNG's Descent actually held up to scrutiny, and had real stakes. Say what you will about Brannon Braga, this was a h*lluva do-over. Evil Data done right.

But while I am not shocked, I'm mad at myself for not putting it together sooner. Isaac's entire demeanor during the series has not been that of a being that valued other people and thought they had worth. Spock and Data had no emotions either, but they both knew how to observe the social niceties. The fact that Isaac refused to do even that much should have told me right away he was sinister.

When he threw the picture away I was like "This guy sucks." And then the reveal of the bodies shows exactly how much.

So much fun to hear Scott Grimes' actual singing voice. I already knew he was amazing, but I've never heard him sing not using his Steve Smith lilt. He's definitely even better when he sounds like himself.

The Kalons had an interesting idea. That Earth's teetering back and forth between Democracy and tyranny means the Galactic Alliance might not be permanent. And that's a legit concern I've never seen brought up on Star Trek before. Also interesting that they correctly note that Isaac has been abused by the crew because they think he is less than them. I understand where their jokes come from, but those kinds of jokes aren't made of Mercer or Finn. It's because he's a robot and I like that the Kalons, as evil as they are, correctly called it out for what it was.

I have a feeling The Orville is a passion project for Seth MacFarlane, designed not only as a loving tribute for Star Trek: The Next Generation, but as a way to fix that show's most glaring mistakes (of which Descent was one of them). I want this show renewed because so far it is superior to Next Gen in almost every respect.

Amazing episode. 5 stars.
 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Identity: Part 2"

That was the best episode of Star Trek I never saw. I am going to declare something now. The Orville is the best current show on television. I realize what a controversial statement that will be, but as far as I go, I fully believe it. I believed that about DS9 while it was on the air too, and the episode and the show give me the exact same vibe. The "gotta know" vibe.

I didn't realize until after Next Gen and DS9 went off the air how rare the "Gotta Know" vibe actually is. I thought I would get it all the time when I watched other shows, but I really haven't, even shows I love like Haven, Farscape, and 12 Monkeys. When Next Gen did "The Best Of Both Worlds" I had to know. When they did "Descent" I had to know. Although in hindsight, I wish I didn't. DS9 seemed to make me have to know with every single multi-parter and cliffhanger. Outside of Star Trek, I have gotten the "Gotta know" vibe about four or five times. First was the cliffhanger to Buffy Season 6. Second was every week of the JLU Cadmus arc, specifically the last five episodes (although the waits for Injustice For All and Twilight were hard too), third was the 6th Harry Potter book, and THAT my friends, was an agonizing wait. And fourth was the first two season finales to Lost. The "Gotta Know" means I am obsessing over the show (or in Harry Potter's case the book) all throughout the week, or the summer, or worse, the years. I gotta know how it turns out. That was last week.

If I'm being honest, I looked forward to both parts of the fourth season finale of Doctor Who and the 50th Anniversary Special a ton too, but maybe not quite at that level.

And I knew last week that this was going to be the make or break episode of the series. I could sense that. I actually am glad my cynicism about Isaac was misplaced, but I knew going in this would redefine the reason I watched the show.

And it did everything right, or at least everything Star Trek. And it didn't follow Star Trek completely, which is good. Because the Star Trek tropes The Orville ignores (and it especially ignored them this episode) were Gene Roddenberry's ridiculous notion that there should be no conflict on the ship and no spaceship battles. It's like the dude handicapped the best reasons to watch sci-fi from his own franchise. I imagine how amazing Next Gen could have been with those specific writers and actors if Gene hadn't purposefully worsened the show under an idiotic belief in human superiority. And that's what it boiled down to. We got SOME of that freedom on DS9, which is hated by certain segments of Trekdom for showing a war. They rightly believe it's a message Gene never would have sanctioned or okayed. But that's fine with me. Because it was amazing television which is all that matters.

It also says something about how great that franchise was that even with Gene's stupid rules it was still mostly amazing. Gene had some very effed up notions about the future of humanity including little kids not being allowed to grieve for their dead mothers, and the ship's psychiatrist being a bridge officer. But it was still great television most weeks. I can bad-mouth Gene's ultimate philosophies all I want. The structure of the shows he created was actually sound and worked week in and week out.

So we get to The Orville, which actually SHOWED a sick spaceship battle, and Gordon in the Krill fighter, and then the whole thing started to resemble Star Wars. But the show did one of those things DS9 would do. Have some of the series' Big Bads team up with the heroes to fight the Ultimate Evil, and tentatively find reasons to declare peace and friendship. And that's what happened to the Krill this week.

The other big Star Trek thing the episode (and it's something Seth MacFarlane is going to get crap for, guaranteed, but not by me) was having the annoying little kid save the day. And I'll tell you why it worked. Once Isaac says "I won't let them harm you, Ty," that's the entire philosophy of Data and Odo in Star Trek, and other similar characters that have had a similar lapse in judgment. And that's the precise moment you know the Orville will win. What I love about Isaac's betrayal is that it's legit. Lore had practically an emotion induced hold on Data, and Odo's betrayal was a sin of omission he quickly came to regret. Isaac did a very bad thing, and I love that he made himself an outcast with his entire species to make up for it. That is classic Star Trek. DS9 used to rock the alien outcasts too.

How great was it when Yaffet promised to keep Ty safe? That character has come SO far in my book.

I also really loved that Mercer made absolutely sure that Isaac wasn't programmed with an off switch if he continued aboard the Orville. That's also another Star Trek thing that would only occur to the best of captains. But yeah, Mercer recognizes that an off-switch is how this all started.

It's a bit appalling the Kalon are using "Roots" to justify genocide. It's like they don't get that book at all.

It is a bit galling to me that the person to instill the "Gotta Know" vibe again after all these years is Seth MacFarlane, a producer I actively dislike as a person and human being. And I've said it before and I'll say it again about that creep. If he gets taken out by MeToo and ruins their amazing thing we have going right now, I'll personally head to L.A. to knock his lights out. I'm not kidding. This show is amazing and the way science fiction should be told. *.
 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Blood Of Patriots"

I figured Orin was guilty immediately simply because the Krill were SOOOOO freaking sure. That was a level of confidence that alarmed me.

I admittedly did not predict his "daughter" being an unrelated evil alien, but I knew Tala was in trouble the second she turned her back on her anyways. Not a good move.

Good episode but I don't have much to say other than I wish Isaac were in it more. ***1/2.
 

Magmaster12

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Disney is using the show in their promos for new acquisitions so hopefully, this means it'll get renewed for another season, probably on Hulu or FX though since the Fox Network wants to cut corners.
 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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There has been no hint or discussion the show is changing networks so let's not start that rumor. I agree that it's a good sign it will get renewed though.

The Orville "Lasting Impressions"

A classic Star Trek scenario is a man falling in love with a hologram. And on this show it's problematic. Because the characters are more grounded and recognizable to modern audiences than the somewhat aloof and measured Star Trek characters, they have to be a bit self-aware that the scenario is probably only romantic to the guy himself. Everyone else thinks it's creepy. And it's tough to show but I think the episode found the right balance and instead of being an example of the show using a modern problem such as porn addiction to make fun of sci-fi tropes, it's just as earnest as Star Trek itself, except the other characters are able to recognize that in reality, Riker is just as damaged as Barclay.

Good to see Tim Russ again. This and Supergirl last season prove the Star Trek actor isn't dead, but Voyager gave him quite the dry spell due to typecasting. It would tickle me if he got a tenth of the comeback George Takei did years later.

My favorite part of was the argument over whether or not she's real. Personally, I think it's possible for a hologram to be a person. Vic Fontaine and the EMH both qualified on Star Trek. But both of those characters knew what they were and what their role actually was. This girl didn't. And I liked Ed forcefully saying that self-perception isn't reality and that the truth actually matters. And dang it, that's a good moral. I don't know if it's a Star Trek moral but it's definitely a real-world one that is true.

And because of Star Trek, I didn't even find the scenario as bizarre as Malloy's crewmates. I even accepted the idea that because it came from her, this was more than a simulation and she was a version of a real person. Until he deletes Greg. An action of no actual moral importance that feels like the most ethical violation ever. Basically Grayson nailed it that the second he did that, the entire selling point of this coming from her went out the window and it's suddenly just a masturbative fantasy of his. And I like that they went there.

I liked learning Gordon had singing lessons as a kid, but they are fooling themselves if they think that actually explains Scott Grimes amazing voice. I understand Seth MacFarlane is the great singer he is due to years of voice lessons and practice. You can hear the effort he put into every number he belts out and nails. Grimes is something entirely different. The dude has raw talent and nothing that can be learned from a voice coach. It was a nice explanation for the show that I didn't buy from Grimes for a second.

I didn't like the stuff with Clyden and Bortus smoking simply because I've stopped finding the Maklans even the least bit funny. Their culture is horrific, and even if I think Bortus is sometimes okay as a person, I can't enjoy any of their Earth culture shock while the subtext of their entire society is so dark. It bums me out.

Isaac was MIA this episode and a bare presence in the last one, which is totally a Star Trek thing to do. On the occasions Odo revealed his love for Kira and then betrayed the Federation and made up with her, he was a bit player if not completely gone for the couple of weeks after those events as well. Star Trek (and this show) knew we wanted to get to the fall-out of what the character was thinking and going through immediately, and wisely made us wait for it a bit. I think that not only makes the show more addictive, but it also makes sure not to turn the show into something it isn't. Frasier became so much about the tiny little baby steps of Niles and Daphne that it was unrecognizable from its original premise. And whenever the show tried to get back to focusing on Frasier the audience was still a little disappointed since Frasier was NOT a great character in his own right while the Niles and Daphne thing WAS great. But as great as it was, I think it hurt the long term viability of the show. Frasier ran for a long time. But I stopped watching the last few seasons which stepped away from Niles and Daphne, and I might not have done that if the show hadn't foolishly become about them. This show is not about Isaac and Finn, and they are just part of the ensemble. It's important to keep things balanced on the bridge and the show, even if it means we sometimes get frustrated some weeks. I got frustrated during The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine too. But I also watched their entire runs because they knew the precise way to keep me hooked.

This was a good episode I think. ***1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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The Orville "Sanctuary"

Per usual, amazing television.

This episode was very important to me, and I think very needed. I think the Moklans are absolutely disgusting aliens. And the show's biggest problem is that Bortus is a crew member while his entire society is entirely fudged up. Before this week, Bortus was actually a bit wishywashy when it came to the oppression his society was responsible for. He was a very hard character to like, especially since he seemed to tolerate a bigot like Clyden.

This week got rid of all of my concerns. Bortus isn't merely a decent guy for a Moklan. He's a decent guy, period. And I'll tell you the one way he's better than Worf on Star Trek. Worf was an unambiguously terrible father on every level you can think. Bortus is not amazing, simply because Clydun is always undercutting any good he could do for Topah. But he's a dang good father anyways.

I like the episode exploring the political ramifications of the Galactic Alliance always looking the other way from these dirtbags because they needed their weapons first against the Krill, and then the Kalon. It's interesting that the Council is talking about trying not to see other societies from strictly a human's perspective, and that it's intolerant to judge another culture based on our personal beliefs. I think that's a nice Star Trek platitude, but it doesn't hold any water. Tolerance is the defining characteristic of the humans. If they can see something is wrong, that means there actually is. And I liked the politics of the Council trying to figure out of the Maklons are bluffing over the leaving the Union, and the curveball that perhaps they'd get the Krill to ally with THEM, to the reality that just the Krill and Maklon won't cut it against the Kalon. And frankly, the humans on the Council were too worried about the potential of the Maklons leaving the Union. Frankly, if that is the sort of deal-breaker that causes the Maklons to want to leave the Union, I think the issue needs to be forced here and now. Otherwise they will have too much political power, and keep threatening to leave every time they get an unfavorable outcome. Really the safest thing for the stability of the Alliance is to call their bluff. If the Maklons got their way this time, this would happen over and over again. They needed this bit of rancor just to state what is and isn't appropriate for Alliance members.

This was a total Star Trek episode. Marina Sirtis guest starred of course, with appearances by Star Trek staples Ron Canada and Tony Todd. And Joe Menosky wrote it (who knew Mr. 47 was such a Dolly Parton fan?) and Frakes (no first name needed) directed it. It was the perfect Star Trek episode if Star Trek didn't misguidedly frown on spaceship battles.

And it had star power. Victor Garbor, Kelly Hu, Ted Danson. These are not typical actors you can get to guest star on ANY television show, much less in the same episode, and each in small supporting roles. Something tells me this show has caught fire in Hollywood, and now everyone wants to be on it. Next Gen had that same pull for many famous people but the show could never work out the proper schedules with it's most famous fans. It seems The Orville is much more successful in getting huge names for bit parts, if only for perhaps bragging rights.

This is currently my favorite show on television. Nothing else comes close. 5 stars. *.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow"

I did not like that ending at all. I know they were going for a shocking ending the audience doesn't see coming, but it could damage the show. The producers are very lucky I happen to trust them. I do not trust many TV shows. I sincerely hope they don't let me down.

The rest of the episode feels like a Star Trek episode that never got around to being made. It most resembles Next Gen's "Second Chances", which was a pretty revolutionary Star Trek episode at the time, simply for the fact that the Double lived, and went off to have his own adventures at the end. It was the first time ever in sci-fi a Double like that wasn't either killed off or remerged with the original character. As far as I was concerned back in the day, that was the specific episode that blew Star Trek wide open. I don't think the vastly superior Deep Space Nine would have done the daring twists and turns it did if that episode hadn't opened the door.

While this episode isn't as revolutionary, if the next week previews are an indication, it's possible the time travel aspect of it will tie into the mythology of the finale, which Tom Riker did not wind up doing. This also could depend on if the show feels bold enough to do a major Next Gen-style cliffhanger next week, and dare Fox to cancel them with all of those angry fans in tow. That being said, I liked this scenario and episode better. Why?

I felt like Next Gen only did a perfunctory look at what a mess Riker's Double dating Troi would be. It's awkward for Our Riker, but it's not portrayed as psychologically messed up on Troi's end as it actually is. As things get hotter and heavier, Mercer cannot go through with it because he considers past Amanda the runner-up of the woman he is actually in love with. And he's cheating on her. With herself. Which is exactly what Troi was doing to Our Riker. Might I remind you that Troi was supposed to be a psychiatrist? Nex Gen had a very disturbing trend of not just making the psychological needs of the crew be inconsistent with reality to fit into Gene Roddenberry's appallingly detached worldview about mental health, but they actually made the ship's counselor the hottest of hot messes. At least The Orville is able to point out why Mercer sucks for this.

And he does suck. When he tells Old Kelly that he'll decline to go on the date if she herself gives him a second chance, I was like, "This dude is a criminal mastermind in manipulating women." He's doing something completely messed up to his ex, and deliberately making it so that it's actually her own fault. It's an incredibly twisted power move. I'm not surprised to actually see it on a Fuzzy Door show, but I would have liked Our Kelly to point out exactly how he was being unfair and why. I know why she didn't though. She's embarrassed to admit she still has ANY sort of feelings like that for him, which is basically what calling him out for being a sucky ex-husband would entail. The second she complains, he immediately gains the high ground. I thought the whole thing was evil genius on Ed's part. But I think the evil thing is FAR more promiment than the genius in this instance. But it was genius. I think Seth MacFarlane and his writers could probably teach a master class on mistreating women and how to get away with it.

One of the things I love that they took from "Second Chances" was the fact that the Original Kelly is trying to caution the double about the various pitfalls that have ensued in the years they missed, and instead of being grateful for the sage advice, the Double says they think the Original's life actually sucks, and they will personally do anything in their power not to let that happen. Which again is probably why the episode ended the way it did, if the memory wipe didn't actually work.

Confirmation that Finn and Isaac DID break up and remain broken up. Least surprising twist ever.

The Kalons were not messing around this episode. They seem to be similar to the Borg in that they cannot be reasoned with, and you either fight them or run and hide. I thought the ice thing seemed a little too unlikely to work in the real world, but then everybody is being super quiet and still on the bridge, despite the fact that sound doesn't travel in space, and I remembered it was television, and that stuff doesn't seem to matter. Realism in my science fiction would involve silent phaser blasts, and ships exploding without any fireworks whatsoever in the vacuum of space. I'll take the good with the bad as far an unreality in my sci-fi goes.

I would give the episode a super high grade but the ending just plain bugs me. ***1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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The Orville "The Road Not Taken"

I am very glad that was not a cliffhanger. Frankly, since we all knew how it would end from the beginning, that would have been one majorly unsatisfying dangling plot if it were not resolved.

Random thoughts:

I love the idea that if Yaffet loses a piece of himself, there's a possibility some of his memory is in it, and he loses that too.

Isaac is a lot more culpable for the Kalons' actions than we had been led to believe. In reality, he was evil, and simply got cold feet because he cared about Claire and her kids. If not for them, he would have been absolutely fine with the genocide of the entire galaxy. I already had a hard time with the idea of forgiving Isaac, and this just made it a million times harder for me. It it strikes me as narrative malpractice that he has been seen so little since the Kalon attack. Good way to get us excited for season 3, but I am especially uneasy now.

I'm glad Halston Sage is willing to come back for the occasional guest shot after she's left the show. And an alternate timeline gives her something the producers were unwilling to, just so she could come back: A juicy death scene. It strikes me as criminal that we didn't see it. A rare dramatic misstep from this series.

This season has been crushing it week in and week out, and part of me was hoping for a huge Star Trek-style cliffhanger, but because of the Disney merger, everything is up in the air, and that would be ill-advised. To be frank, if the series IS canceled, and that's the last episode, I'll be unhappy, but I'm guessing Seth MacFarlane didn't want to push his luck, for which I do not blame him. It was still more epic and exciting than any non-cliffhanger Next Gen finale from the first two seasons of that show. But it wasn't super great. ***1/2.
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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Good News for Fone Bone and all the other fans: Orville is coming back for a third season and hey might as well share that good news here.

 
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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Good News for Fone Bone and all the other fans: Orville is coming back for a third season and hey might as well share that good news here.

Excellent! Thank you for the update! Post liked.
 

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