"The Orville" Season Two Talkback (Spoilers)

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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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
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
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.
 

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