I’m going to be writing at length about “The Orville” someday. No idea when. Not soon. But someday. No space between the words. I’ve yet to write at length about any television show on here. But someday.
This week’s episode directly ties in to the Season One episode where the show steps up to the next level and plants its feet, no longer worried about how Seth MacFarlene can’t carry a show and instead is going to be a loud social commentary show. Louder than “TOS” or “TNG.” And, of course, homaging both those shows.
Seth MacFarlene’s face is this show. But his voice is “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” Ted. MacFarlene pioneered the “liberal white guy makes racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist/who knows what else jokes ironically but it’s okay because he doesn’t really mean them and he’s really cool and he also goes after bad guys” thing. And he hasn’t just been far from woke, he’s been throwing Marky Mark-shaped objects at it.
But then there’s “Orville.” And “Orville” is the best work most of the people involved will ever do. Including guys like Jonathan Frakes, who directed two good Star Trek action/adventure movies, but has never done anything like “Orville.”
It’s a special show.
But it’s not MacFarlene Prime. He’s not reaching the (mostly white) guys (and girls) he’s been targeting for years. “Family Guy” would mock “Orville.” It’d probably be funny. “American Dad” would have one good Roger joke about it, a misfired Klaus one, and some terrible Stan ones. But Stewie and Brian could roast it, sure.
I noticed somewhere earlier this season, when MacFarlene went in hard on a social justice episode, it was completely clear he knew where he went wrong with those other shows. He knew it was damaging, harmful material.
“Orville” can’t make up for it. And it’s not all harmful material. Fuck Nazis. Buck Fush. You might not feel good about yourself but you’ll laugh. Because they’re good jokes. MacFarlene can write a good joke. He can run a show with well-executed jokes.
He can also run a show with so much more.
But the… “everybody’s Human” humanity he’s found and loudly promotes on “Orville?” He needs to put up or shut up with the Voice.