For Trekkies an Unwelcome Pause
For Sci-fi fans and Trekkies, 2017 has been quite the banner year on TV. We didn’t get just one new show, we got two. Star Trek Discovery has been the talk of the town, and even more surprising has been The Orville, which before the season started was being touted as sort of Family Guy Star Wars episodes stretched out. It turned out that The Orville production staff is absolutely packed with Star Trek The Next Generation alumni, and the resulting product has been way more bang on that most could have expected.
It’s turned out so well for both series, that the current pause is more than a little off putting. Discovery ran it’s first batch of episodes and left us with a bit of a cliff hanger, and is on haitus until 2018. The Orville is worse, it’s first season is over, only 12 episodes, and that’s it. It’s been renewed for season 2, but that is likely fall of 2018. For fans of a show that has been really rocking character development and decent story lines, it’s a bit depressing.
The Orville really has been a surprise. With Seth McFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad, etc) as the ship’s captain and at the helm of the show, many thought it would be more yucks and less serious sci-fi. The first couple of episodes suggested this to be true, but there was a glimmer. If you read the credits, you find Brannon Braga. Braga is perhaps the person with the most connection back to the Roddenberry days of Star Trek. Brage has written, directed, or produced ST:TNG, ST:Voyager, ST:Enterprise, and Star Trek Generations. You will also find Jonathan Frakes directing 1 episode in season 1 – yes, Number One Commander William Ryker is behind the scenes. The Orville has the look, the spirit, and the attitude that made TNG and Voyager into classic Sci-Fi TV shows. Perhaps a bit too much, there have been lawsuits!
The results? Well, as the season has moved forward, the story lines have become more Trekkian in nature. Time travel, inter species relationships, peace making, and most recently accidental first contact have all played in the 12 episodes, and except for some rather intentional yuks, things have been fairly solid and serious. Character development is good without being obnoxious, and the episode called Firestorm has a classic Trek trick of a very odd set of circumstances that cannot make sense, until you get the reveal about 90% of the way through.
The only downside for The Orville in all honesty is that it’s come out in the same season as Star Trek Discovery.
Discovery is a mind blower. It’s big and grand and from an angle that Trek has never done before (not Captain centric), it has amazing visuals and complicated characters, interesting science, and many things that Trek never got to before, including disobedient characters, mutiny, and even gay relationships. It’s first 9 episodes have been, without a doubt, a true revelation that reminds all Trek fans of what we have missed since perhaps the demise of Voyager. The universe here is complex and more than a little evil, and that evil is spread fairly evenly around the table. There is a lot of death in this universe.
So now we have been all pumped up, and we have been dumped. The Orville will barely be a memory by the time season 2 comes around, 10 or 11 months from now. Discovery will thankfully come back for a second part of the season in January, and there is hope that even if the current situation with the Klingons gets resolved, that we can continue to move forward in this new, slightly warped Federation.