Seth McFarlane has done some great things over his career. Family Guy and American Dad spring to mind first, but let’s not overlook The Orville. Is the Star Trek styled show becoming more Star Trek than the Federation itself?
Parody or not?
Based in the 25th century, the show revolves around the adventures of the USS Orville. The ship is an exploratory vessel that is part of the Planetary Union. Which itself is made up of a galactic alliance of planets, including Earth. Sounding familiar yet? When The Orville first hit our screens in 2017, it wasn’t quite sure what it was. Was The Orville a pure parody of Star Trek? Or maybe a sci-fi comedy with a hint of drama pinched from Gene Rodenberry himself? Season One certainly gears towards the former.
The core crew of the ship are made up of Captain Ed Mercer (played by McFarlane), a navigator, helmsman and second officer. The latter is Commander Bortus, an alien from the planet Moclus, where the primary gender is male. The ships doctor is played by Penny Johnson Jerald. She had a recurring role in Deep Space Nine as the love interest of Captain Sisko. As you can see, the Star Trek themes are running deep. Pardon the pun. But there’s more. The original Star Trek series had a Vulcan science officer, and Next Generation had android commander Data serving on the bridge. The Orville doesn’t disappoint with science officer Issac. He’s an artificial non-biological being from Kaylon-1. He, just like Data before him, wants to learn about human behaviour. Although, unlike Data, Issac believes his race is superior to humans.
Family Guy in space?
Season One does have you thinking The Orville is one great big Star Trek parody. There are the obvious character comparisons, along with ‘the federation’ and Orville’s mission. But it is genuinely funny. There are some laugh-out-loud moments that are reminiscent of Family Guy. The odd crude joke here and there, along with some modern-day quips. But there are also glimpses of it trying to be a serious bone fide science fiction show.
The relationship-building between Mercer and his crew slowly grows, along with the addition of his ex-wife to the crew. Adrianne Palicki does a great job of playing the now-defunct Mrs Mercer, and the two of them play off some brilliant lines together. That aside, it’s pretty much pure comedy through all the episodes. One of the highlights was when an entire episode was dedicated to Bortus returning to his home planet to wee. Ok, so his species only do it once a year, but a whole episode? Genius.
As we progress into season two we start to see the show settle into itself a bit more. The episodes are more focused on character development with the stories reflecting that. Don’t get me wrong, there are still the in-your-face jokes, but fewer of them.
We see more themes of exploration, new species and relationships. Sounding more like Trek? You’d be right. There has been much discussion about the new series of Star Trek not keeping with the feeling of series gone by. By that, I mean there is a departure from the optimistic and exploratory themes that made the originals so popular. Discovery in particular has received criticism on fan forums for being too dark and violent, and for being too focused on one character. Season Two of the Orville definitely moves in the territory that Discovery in particular has left. It also drops the parody by a warp factor and ups the power of stories.
The two-parter ‘Identity’ episode is a prime example. It’s based around Isaac, who after deactivating, is taken back to his homeworld. Once there, the crew discover humanoid remains and large-scale weapons. After hijackings and battles, all ends well. It’s an example of how McFarlane proves he’s more than capable of writing some serious science fiction. Some of sillier humour has been dropped, but there are still a few 21st-century references thrown in for good measure.
Bringing in new fans
The first series received negative feedback from critics for being too silly, but that consensus is slowly beginning to shift. This may partly have to do with the online criticisms the new Star Trek series has had. As I mentioned earlier, fans of what’s described as ‘proper trek’ are not happy. Social media is awash with people bemoaning the loss of what Star Trek is meant to be – hope, optimism and exploring the human condition.
The second season of the Orville definitely brings those elements to the fore in its storylines. So, we have the obvious Trek fans jumping ship for something more nostalgic. But what about ordinary sci-fans? The ratings and critic reviews would suggest that support is growing from that fan base too. You only have to read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The jump in ratings from season one to two is clear as day. It goes to show that Seth McFarlane is steering his ship through the tonal wonkiness of season one, through to some top quality sci-fi. This lends itself to genuine excitement about what season three will bring. It’s in production at the moment so it’s looking like we could see it drop by the end of 2021.
There is something about the music of science fiction that makes it even more special. This is certainly true of Star Trek. The theme music is iconic and has the ability to make the hairs on your neck stand up. The Orville also has a pretty good soundtrack. Those opening credits scream TNG. The graphics of the ship powering up combined with the big orchestra is a definite doff of the cap. That’s no bad thing, though. If only they had used this for the intro of Star Trek: Enterprise. Ahem. More on that another day.
To sum up, if you love Star Trek of years gone by, then you will love The Orville. Kudos to Mr McFarlane for keeping the dream alive.
That’s why The Orville is becoming more Star Trek than Star Trek itself. What do you think, do we have a point? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out what we know about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds HERE.
Read IMDb information on The Orville HERE.
Loki Episode 6 – Review
Episode six of Loki from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus. It’s time for the series finale. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
More to come
The post-credit scene showed that a second series has already been ordered, meaning this finale is essentially the end of Part One. Thank goodness it is. Because if this was the denouement of the entire Loki story then there’s a good chance it would go down in television infamy as one of the more unusual series endings.
Introducing the big bad
We pick up from Sylvie and Loki’s defeat of The Alioth as they look at the citadel upon the rock at the end of time. They make their way to the entrance, and upon being invited in they’re met by Miss Minutes. It’s been widely predicted that ‘she’ would be an agitator in this series. And at last her role has been revealed. She is an emissary of Kang The Conquerer, embedded within the TVA.
She offers Loki the earth, almost literally, as she tries to coax him to betray Sylvie. Her offers of infinity stones, defeating Thanos etc. Happily, Loki rejects all the trinkets that she offers. Instead, he and Sylvie head into the lift where they meet ‘He Who Remains’ aka Kang The Conquerer. A 31st-century scientist and the true timekeeper.
Sylvie attempts to kill him but he quickly demonstrates some of his powers by dodging and weaving her before she gives in and the three of them sit down for a very long discussion. To sum up what was a lengthy and occasionally fairly tedious scene. He Who Remains (HWR) asks Loki and Sylvie to kill him and take over the role of controlling the timeline. Loki is extremely reticent but Sylvie, angry at what HWR’s meddling has done to her life, is desperate to do so.
Meanwhile, back at TVA HQ, Renslayer is informed by Miss Minutes of HWR’s plan. Showing her dual role and playing on Renslayer’s desperation to keep the TVA active and relevant.
Loki and Sylvie get into a physical fight over what to do with HWR. With Loki recognising how the timeline will fragment with branches springing up all over the place. But Sylvie is consumed by her rage and eventually overpowers Loki, sending him back to the TVA and then kills He Who Remains.
Setting up season two
Loki finds Mobius and tries to explain what has happened. But then discovers the terrible effects of what Sylvie has done by apparently killing HWR. Mobius has no idea who Loki is. This situation is then made worse when Loki looks out to see a statue of He Who Remains adorning TVA HQ. Loki realises that he is in a different timeline branch. One where HWR or Kang is in control of everything. Sylvie has been manipulated into apparently killing him which has enabled him to increase his power further.
Jonathan Majors was masterful as He Who Remains. Which is what you’d expect from someone with a Masters in acting from Yale. He was flamboyant, powerful and mesmerising, which is exactly what you want from a major villain. He will be back in AntMan 3 as Kang The Conquerer and is set to be the key villain in the next phase of the MCU post-Endgame and Thanos.
I have been extremely positive about this series, as I think it has been the strongest and most cohesive of the Marvel series so far this year. But I can’t disagree with anyone who felt short-changed by this finale. My 11-year-old son was pretty vocal in his disappointment the moment the credits rolled, and he was absolutely right. He is one of the most obsessive Marvel fans around and if he was underwhelmed, I feel pretty sure he was reflecting the majority view. Nothing I’ve seen online since has dissuaded me from that either.
Phase 4 groundwork
It seemed that the finale was essentially an exercise in introducing He Who Remains or Kang to our screens ahead of AntMan 3. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it meant that the focus shifted away from being the climax of this series. Instead of being a prologue for the next phase of the MCU, which does seem a peculiar decision.
There are those who feel that the series original premise of Loki and Mobius teaming up to find Variants dotted around time and space was dropped after the first two episodes. Instead, it was replaced with a love story between Sylvie and Loki and a voyage of discovery with Mobius reduced to a bit part for the rest of the series.
But, the cliffhanger at the end of the series as Loki returns to the TVA does give me hope that Series Two will be an even better follow up.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10
Thank you for reading our review of Loki episode six. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our Loki episode five review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Loki HERE.
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