Take Me to the Pilots '17: Fox's 'The Orville'

'The Orville' (Fox)

The space-set series marks MacFarlane's first live-action TV role following years of voiceover work on Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. In the series, he plays the commanding officer aboard a spaceship whose first officer happens to be his ex-wife wife (Adrianne Palicki).


[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: The Orville (Fox)
The Pitch: "So my idea is …" "Whatever you want, Seth."
Quick Response: [Fox made multiple The Orville episodes available to critics pre-press tour, but this reaction is only based on the pilot, because that's what Take Me to the Pilots is.] In just a week or two I'll be reviewing The Orville, and the purpose of that actual review will be to tackle what Seth MacFarlane's new show really is, but when it comes to gut reaction, my immediate response and probably the response of many/most viewers will relate to what it isn't — specifically, that the show isn't at all what it's being sold as. It happens that it's easier to sell The Orville as a rollicking comedy filled with Seth MacFarlane one-liners, goofy aliens and sci-fi gags, rather than as a very earnest homage to the original Star Trek in which an hourlong runtime allows for some character-driven comedy, but also a lot of sincerity. It's not Galaxy Quest, and I have to admit that it took the better part of the pilot before I was even vaguely settled into the rhythms of the show, which is either my fault or the show's fault or Fox marketing's fault, something I'll try to decide before I write a real review. The retro-futuristic effects are fine, the production design is top-notch, and the humor is mostly lazy, with a few exceptions. MacFarlane does many things spectacularly well, but I don't find him a very interesting leading man — and he's definitely meant to be that here. His character also comes across as more of a dick, and as more of a dick more consistently, than MacFarlane or the show realizes. Scott Grimes and Adrianne Palicki have the most screentime of anybody in the supporting cast and both are fine, with Grimes having the more fully realized role. It's funny/odd to see Halston Sage buried in makeup as an alien security officer. And the joke with the Norm Macdonald-voiced goo, a central piece of early trailers, is that character's only appearance in the pilot. More on The Orville very soon, since it has an early premiere!
Desire to Watch Again: Desire? Limited. Not enough in the pilot works to fill me with active desire for more. Curiosity, though? High. The Orville is trying something interesting and maybe strange and after one episode I definitely can't say that I like what it's trying, but I can't really say that I don't like it either.

Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Me, Myself and I'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: Fox's 'The Gifted'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: ABC's 'Ten Days in the Valley'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'S.W.A.T.'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: Fox's 'LA to Vegas'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'SEAL Team'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: The CW's 'Dynasty'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: ABC's 'The Good Doctor'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Wisdom of the Crowd'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: The CW's 'Valor'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: ABC's 'The Mayor'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: Fox's 'Ghosted'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: NBC's 'The Brave'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Young Sheldon'
All of my 2016 Take Me to the Pilots Entries