Fox might have its own Star Trek show on the air before CBS does. Feels like we should stop to talk about that.
To be clear, Fox isn’t technically making its own Star Trek show. They can’t do that without getting sued by Paramount and/or CBS. What they can do, however, is make a Star Trek-like show starring Seth MacFarlane and directed by Jon Favreau. More accurately, they can let MacFarlane, a lifelong Star Trek fan and one-time Enterprise crew member, do a Family Guy meets Galaxy Quest thing with The Orville in which he plays an under-qualified Starfleet-esque officer forced to co-captain a spaceship with his ex-wife (Adrianne Palicki). Hilarity, as they say, ensues.
Well, not so much if you aren’t already a fan of MacFarlane’s brand of comedy, be it from his animated TV shows, Ted or Million Ways to Die in the West. Heck, even if you do already like him the trailer for the pilot is criminally short on laughs. It’s not for a lack of trying. This hour-long sci-fi dramedy leans heavy on the comedy and even has Legends of Tomorrow‘s Victor Garber around for a jokey cameo, but it all falls a bit flat, not dissimilar in that way to NBC’s failed superhero sitcom Powerless. Check for yourself:
Give Fox credit for making something genuinely new, something which reminds us of various other things (Star Trek, Galaxy Quest) but is not itself based on pre-existing IP. That at least qualifies as a brave-ish choice in today’s reboot/revival-happy landscape. They gave MacFarlane an instant 13-episode order back when he first pitched this to them last summer, and will now pair Orville with Gotham on Thursday nights in the Fall. Maybe it will get better after the pilot.
The larger question is why has Seth MacFarlane been able to move forward with his Star Trek spoof drama free while CBS has turned into the gang that couldn’t shoot straight with Star Trek: Discovery, a show which still has no release date? As io9‘s Katharine Trendacosta forcefully broke down last month in her run down of Discovery’s long road getting from there to we still don’t know where:
CBS has burned through so much good will at this point that they’ve done the impossible and managed to make Star Trek fans unenthusiastic. The recent story about how little they offered The Next Generation’s Michael Dorn to play Worf’s ancestor is not helping, either. It’s hard to imagine Trek fans paying for All Access to see the show—not with the way CBS rushed the show into production, lost a showrunner because of it, and then still delayed it over and over again.
At one point, Discovery was supposed to premiere in January. Then it got pushed back to May. Now it’s been pushed back to …. well, we have no idea. We might learn more later today during CBS’s Upfronts presentation. Les Moonves has promised the first genuine clip from the show, [UPDATE] and he wasn’t lying. Head here for my reaction to the Discovery trailer.
Still, it seems fairly damning that Fox was able to get its shit together and create a Star Trek spoof in time for a fall 2017 premiere while CBS has crapped the bed with Discovery thus far. Obviously, the counterargument is, well, Orville doesn’t actually look all that great, and maybe Discovery would look just as blah if it hadn’t been delayed in order to get everything right. To which I say, touche. However, CBS’s feet-dragging now means impatient Star Trek fans might have to turn to a Seth MacFarlane spoof to get their fix, or at the very least Discovery will have to run concurrent to a Star Trek spoof before CBS took so long to figure everything out.
What about you? Where do you stand on Orville? Is it the funniest show of this or any generation and I deserve to be drawn and quartered for my insolence? Or is it just, ya know, kind of okay? Or are you with me and find the trailer to be painfully unfunny? Hash it all out in the comments.