Review: ‘The Orville’s Chances of Renewal Unlikely

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Seth MacFarlane, best known for his animated sitcoms, somehow convinced FOX to give him a ‘Star Trek’ spinoff, which is about as good as you might expect.

“The Orville” reeks of grisly death. This show getting a second season would be a miracle.

I admire Seth MacFarlane for getting FOX to finance his own version of “Star Trek,” but MacFarlane should still put forward some effort to give the show some personality. Two weeks in, there seems to be little progress on this front.

MacFarlane plays Ed Mercer, who leads a crew on a small spaceship called the Orville along with his ex-wife Kelly, played by Adrianne Palicki. The rest of the crew is filled in by Mercer’s best friend Gordon (Scott Grimes), some aliens and a robot. The Orville’s crew, like the rest of the show, feels like well-trodden ground. Instead of being a spiritual successor to “Star Trek,” or even a parody, “The Orville” feels more like a “Star Trek” rip-off with spotty “Family Guy” humor.

There is more drama than comedy in “The Orville,” which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, MacFarlane’s comedic style still shows its face occasionally and leads to out of place jokes and awkward moments. “The Orville” is the most watchable when it sticks to sci-fi adventure and drama. Once the comedy starts, the show flies off the rails.

The cast generally does a good job. MacFarlane does a decent job as Mercer. Halston Sage shines as Lt. Alara Kitan, a Xelayan alien. The stories themselves are decent. If the presentation and writing improve, “The Orville” could become a good sci-fi show.

From the pricey special effects to FOX’s track record with one season wonders, I do not expect “The Orville” to see a second season. Despite the show being bad, I think time could be what “The Orville” needs to formulate an identity. Time to develop its own unique feel and characters. Time to settle into the proper mix of comedy and drama.

But I do not expect that time to come.

If you want to watch “The Orville” before an impatient network executive pulls the plug, the show airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX.

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