Anyone watch the premiere?

My take, short version: Meh.

My take, long version: This is Star Trek: The Next Generation with dick jokes.

My wife complained, "This show doesn't know if it wants to be a drama or a comedy." I responded, "No, it knows what it wants: It wants to be Star Trek. They throw in the dick jokes because that's what Seth McFarlane knows how to write." 

It's mostly just regurgitated ST:TNG. Quadrants, helmsmen, warp quantum drive, guns that look and act like phasers, Starfleet The Union, "Shields up!" (why are they ever down?), aliens with funny head makeup, an android sentient robot science officer, a holodeck, and on and on and on. Even the uniforms are similar.

All the tropes are there: People running through corridors, last-minute technobabble that saves the day, phaser battles where we don't miss and the bad guys always do (except when they hit the captain, but he is not seriously impaired), human pilots when computers would be more efficient, etc.

Which would be fine if this was a parody. I loved Galaxy Quest, and would watch a TV version of that. But Orville isn't a parody -- it's just outright theft.

And I still might not mind the theft if this was just funnier. But McFarlane seems to want to be taken seriously as a genuinely heroic character. That still makes dick jokes. 

Bleah. This has a couple more episodes to get WAY better or we're gone.

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One thing The Orville has in common with the Star Trek reboot (movie series): colloquialisms and colloquial dialogue. I can’t decide whether I like that or not. It’s a little distracting hearing characters from the future speak and act exactly like someone from the early 21st century. It doesn’t bug me as much in The Orville as it does in Star Trek. On Star Trek, 20th century entertainment was rarely ever mentioned, but on The Orville they watch 20th century TV.

Last week’s example of colloquialism: karaoke.

I'm of two minds about that.

I sometimes like colloquial speech in period pieces, as sometimes the "thees" and "thous" can muddy how we're supposed to perceive characters. Having blue-collar people in the 16th century talk like blue-collar people of the 21st helps me to understand their position in society. Ditto for highfalutin' talk by the ruling class, which is indication of not only education, but a means they use to set themselves apart and see themselves as above the common rabble.

OTOH, I really enjoyed the Ye Olde Dialogue in The Witch, and have in others as well. When it's accurate, it's kinda cool to get an idea of how people spoke in bygone times. 

But one thing I am pretty sure of: I don't like "future talk." We don't know how people will talk in the future, and guessing usually means some variation of what bad SF comics used to do in the '50s and early '60s, where words like "space" were stuck on the front of things to make them sound futuristic. "The rocket clock says it's time for space dinner!" When writers attempt future slang, no matter how sophisticated the writing, I still hear "space clock." 

Unless the writers are linguists, and come up with a plausible, internally consistent lingo ... but then we'd have to learn that, and I'm not going to. So we come back to "space clock." (Or, in the case of '70s Battlestar Galactica, "fracking" this and "fracking" that.) 

Yeah, I'm fine with shows set in the future using current slang -- or better yet, none at all.

What do y'all think?

I agree with you on just about everything (boring, I know). I generally prefer that slang be kept to a minimum in any time period--even if it's not tin-eared, it tends to date badly. I remember liking The Witch, so I guess the language didn't bother me! I really don't recall the sound of it at all. I should go back and at least sample it, if not re-watch it.

I'm even more dubious about slang and accents in comics. Ennis comics with Irish characters probably needed some accents to establish the setting, and he understood the accents, so they were convincing. I just read the first collection of the Vertigo series Red Thorn, which is set in Scotland. I mentioned in my review that the accents were off-putting: they didn't seem completely natural, so they pulled me out of the story a bit.

But I thought that "fracking" was brilliant. A great way to allow salty language without having to write around it.

I think that a viewer can stipulate that these characters are either speaking in another language or in an ancient version of English without having to force in phony accents or endless subtitles. German soldiers talking to each other don't need to speak in heavily accented broken English. If they have British or American accents it doesn't bother me. The only thing on Star Trek Discovery that bugs me is the Klingons having endless, slow conversations in their language, with subtitles.

As for watching 20th Century shows, maybe some would survive if the fondness was there. I really enjoyed the fact that security chief Garibaldi on Babylon 5 had a large picture of Daffy Duck on his wall. We all need role models.

I was reallyt commenting more on the delivery than specific slang per se, that and the informality and (lack of chain of command) among the officers and crew (now that I'm thinking about it.

Last night's episode had call-backs to many episodes of TOS, but I'm not goping to impress bore you by reciting them all. The early ST:TNG featured TOS call-backs in almost every episode. Again, I prefered The Orville, form the very first episode, to any official Star Trek spin-off there has ever been.

On a side note: I was completely unware that such a thing as a "fear of clowns" even existed until I married my wife. I've encountered it in others several time in the past 15 years or so, so I guess it's a real thing. Huh. Who would have guessed? It's certainly never anything we're seen on Star Trek before.

Speaking of chain of command, one of the off-putting things to me about Orville is not the dick jokes necessarily, but that the captain is delivering them. Several times I've felt like his off-color jokes or references amounted to abuse, since he outranks the others and they can't respond freely. Would you like to be Worf the alien single-sex guy and put up with all those jokes and impertinent questions from your commander? A better scenario would be more like F-Troop, where the jokes are made by the non-coms, and the guy in charge is simply too dim to catch them.

Oh well, it's a comedy. I guess. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

On a side note: I was completely unware that such a thing as a "fear of clowns" even existed until I married my wife. I've encountered it in others several time in the past 15 years or so, so I guess it's a real thing. Huh. Who would have guessed? It's certainly never anything we're seen on Star Trek before.

Likewise, I never heard of "fear of clowns" for my entire life, but it now seems to be a thing. It surfaced recently on Legends of Tomorrow because Mick had it.

That bugged me too, although only because this series seems more of a straight sci-fi series with comedic aspects rather than an actual all-out comedy.  I've watched several episodes with a friend who is really into it.  I find it hit and miss.  Clearly McFarlane loves the original Star Trek and relishes doing this homage (or rip-off, take yer pick) with his style of comedic(k) bits and social commentary.  A more satirical take might work better, particularly if the cliches and anachronisms were acknowledged.  Gotta add that my all-time favorite sci-fi comedy series was the BBC Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Captain Comics said:

Speaking of chain of command, one of the off-putting things to me about Orville is not the dick jokes necessarily, but that the captain is delivering them. Several times I've felt like his off-color jokes or references amounted to abuse, since he outranks the others and they can't respond freely. Would you like to be Worf the alien single-sex guy and put up with all those jokes and impertinent questions from your commander? A better scenario would be more like F-Troop, where the jokes are made by the non-coms, and the guy in charge is simply too dim to catch them.

Oh well, it's a comedy. I guess. 

Part of the appeal of The Orville (for me) is that it evokes a sense of nostalgia for Star Trek: The Next Generation, but more than that, I think it’s what ST:TNG would be like if it had continued until today (not including the “dick jokes,” of course). Last night’s episode presented the Orville traversing a two-dimensional space that was visually truly imaginative. I am a fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Think of an episode of ST:TNG with MST3K riffs except that the riffs are actually delivered by the cast, and that’s what The Orville is to me.

I don’t watch much TV so I only got around to seeing any episodes until a few days ago — I ended up watching the season’s last five.  They were a pleasant way to waste time.  I get the sense that by these episodes they had worked some of the bugs out.

With very little tweaking these are average Next Generation episodes and what’s wrong with that.  The characters, although derivative, are fun.  I could see wasting some more time with Season 2.

I thought the episodes with the doctor and her two kids and Isaac stranded on a zombie planet, and the quantum “flat world” adventure were well done.

Here’s a weird theory:  CBS and Paramount haven’t sued because the existence of this series gets them off the hook of producing an “old style” Star Trek series themselves.  And in a way it is free advertising.  If the humor gets too coarse that calculus may change, but for now it keeps some of the (us) fanboys (and gals) off their backs.  I know, a weird theory, but why else haven’t they sued?

I think the coarse humor has been significantly toned down since the first couple of episodes. It's really an almost straight Star Trek show now and I'm glad it's coming back for a second season.

Why hasn't CBS and Paramount sued over The Orville?

Maybe because it isn't all that easy to sue. As somebody around here was wont to say (although not frequently enough to make it a frequently used phrase), "You can always sue. Whether you have a case is another matter. Whether you can prove that case is yet another matter. And whether you can win is still another matter. But you can always sue.

I expect any attempt by CBS and Paramount to sue Fox and Universal over The Orville would turn into a minefield. I'm sure Seth MacFarlane would assert he's doing a parody of Star Trek, and parody has been afforded high protection by the nine wise men and women on our nation's highest court. 

I also expect that CBS and Paramount wouldn't want a lawsuit to upend the various business relationships -- past, present, and future -- between all relevant parties. On a cost-benefit basis, that would seem to me to be a reason to leave well enough alone. 

But what do I know? I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

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