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Fox Somehow Managed to Get a Star Trek Spoof Show Ready Before CBS Could Figure Out Star Trek: Discovery

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.

Source: io9


  1. I liked (not loved) Ways to die in the west. I don’t watch Family Guy, though.

    I thought this trailer was reasonably funny and was interesting enough to make me want to give the show a shot.

    My main concern is the likelihood that the funniest stuff was in the trailer — if that’s the case, the show is in trouble.

    1. I actually liked Million Ways to Die in the West, too. In truth, I joked in the piece that I’ll just wait on Discovery, but I’ve seen enough of Family Guy and Ted and Million Ways and MacFarlane’s one stint as Oscar host to know that if you give him a chance he will sneak up on you with something so tangential and undisciplined but wildly hilarious that it will have been worth it just as long as you aren’t offended by his casual attitudes toward sex and race. And with Orville once you get past the fairly innocuous jokes and Million Ways-esque riffs on his unsuitability to be playing a leading man I’m betting there will likely be several Rick & Morty-esque episodes which will subvert standard Star Trek storylines in surprising ways. I just don’t think that’s going to really come through in the pilot.

  2. well, I dislike Seth McFarlane, but I like Favreau and Galaxy Quest. I’m also always up for a good Trek spoof. I just hope all the humor wasn’t just in the trailer, which I think is really cute.

    1. While comparisons to Galaxy Quest are understandable, The Orville is no Galaxy Quest. Nor is it trying to be. GQ was more of a subtle spoof with higher end humor — and actually something of an endearing message/moral. The Orville is clearly low brow, slap stick, with no purpose other than to get cheap laughs.

      1. GQ was definitely more sophisticated with its spoofing, but Orville is still similar in the “we’re all just pretending to call this something else even though we know it’s really Star Trek” kind of way.

      2. –> “The first horribly wrong sex joke and I’m out!”

        It’s Seth McFarland. If you’re concerned about inappropriate humor, you probably shouldn’t bother watching.

        OTOH, it IS on Fox, so there might be SOME moderation.

        But seriously, no one should watch Seth’s work if they’re sensitive to sex and potty humor.

      3. You really think they will let him go there, though? He’s just acting in it right? Not writing it, I hope. If he’s writing it too, I’ll skip it.

        But the trailer was really cute though.

      4. Hard to say what Fox will allow in today’s environment. Online sources say McFarlane created the show and wrote the pilot. I could not find any info about how involved he will be in the scripts of later episodes. But, the trailer had McFarlane’s brand of writing/humor all over it.

    1. Yeah, there is a bit of seeing Palicki in this and thinking, “Oh, Bobbi, you can do better.”

      I will have to track down Traumschiff Surprise. I’ve seen all sorts of Star Trek spoofs, professional, amateur or otherwise, but not that one.

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