Monday, September 11, 2017

MacFarlane's "The Orville" a far cry from FOX's best comedies

Seth MacFarlane is, without a doubt, a valuable talent in present day Hollywood, but that talent is best served when he can be heard without being seen, as his voice work on Family Guy has proven for the bigger part of this century.  In FOX's new series, The Orville, MacFarlane is once again the writer and star as the newly crowned Captain Ed Mercer of the titular spaceship, and the result is, well... disappointing at best.

Borrowing elements from Star Trek and FOX's much superior animated Futurama series, The Orville gets off on the wrong foot from its opening scene, in which Mercer catches his wife in bed with an alien humanoid (a cliche, yes, but an unfunny one? Ugh), a foreshadowing of the marital/post-marital examination that is the underlying theme of this sci-fi sitcom pilot episode.  Right off the bat, we are treated to such juvenile jokes as a pilot maneuvering a spaceship while drinking a beer, the unimaginative introduction of Orville's high command crew (a scientist without charm, a robot with no personality, and an African American character who insists on drinking soda while working), and the eventual inquiry whether or not the new planet will have "bars and strip joints".  TV humor certainly isn't what it used to be.

MacFarlane manages to evoke not a single laugh in a set-up that should've produced several, and the result is an uninspired and unimaginative script that boldly goes where many have gone before (I laughed more during the first 10 minutes of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot than I did in the entire 43 minutes of The Orville's duration).  Not sure what the future holds for this humorless series, but based on its opening episode, I'd be rather surprised if it's still on air by Halloween.

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