Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pilot Review: The Orville


The Orville (FOX)
Premiered September 10 at 8pm

I knew just two things about this show going into it: its status as the first fall broadcast show to premiere and a very negative Facebook post from a good friend and fellow TV watcher from earlier in the day about how the show was an unfunny and unnecessary imitation of “Star Trek.” Unfortunately, I have to agree with him, since I always wonder when new shows premiere what the point is and what audience the show is attempting to attract. With “Star Trek: Discovery” premiering just two weeks after this show’s debut on a new streaming-only network, it seems like an odd time to launch this semi-parody that includes such biting lines as “Happy Arbor Day!” and doesn’t quite know whether it wants to be an adventure series or a comedy. I don’t like “Family Guy” but I thought Seth MacFarlane was a decent Oscars host back in 2012. What he’s done here is not managed to be too offensive but also not managed to be too funny. An ace pilot being well-known for drawing a lot of penises is far from sophisticated, and the excitement about a pizza party for office birthdays was mildly amusing but also not a real winner. In the cast, I was surprised to recognize Penny Johnson Jerald, who I haven’t seen since her much more dramatic role on “24” over a decade ago, as the chief medical officer, and it pains me to see the usually excellent Adrianne Palicki, recently of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” relegated to a far from worthwhile part, even if it’s one of the best to be found on this show. I like space travel, but I’d rather do it with a different crew, probably like the one I’ll meet in a week and a half.

How will it work as a series? FOX is making a big show of airing the first two episodes on Sunday night before moving it to its regularly-scheduled Wednesday timeslot, so clearly they think it’s the show to watch. I think that the childish banter and only meagerly exciting action is what we have to look forward to in whatever will remain of this mediocre show.
How long will it last? Ratings data doesn’t seem to be available as a result of Hurricane Irma, but I’d say that the dismal 35 that this show earned on Metacritic is enough to seal its fate. It is a typical FOX show, and it might do well in its many airings this month, but I still don’t think it will make it beyond season one or even until its proscribed end.

Pilot grade: C