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YMMV / The Orville

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Whilst it's widely accepted that Ed Mercer is a good man who tries to do his best to resolve conflict whernever he encounters it across the galaxy there is some debate over his way of handling alien cultures. Is he open-minded and eager to guide primitive races to a path of enlightenment, using reason and logic to persuade them to halt traditions that have needlessly oppressed members of their species? Or does Teleya have a point in Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes, that his views are human-centric and he seeks to educate whilst remaining narrow-minded, trying to make other cultures homogeneous to that of the Union?
      • Ed and his crew's history of clashing with the Moclan's culture is seen as support for the latter. The trial in About a Girl not ending in their favor because they made their case based on the human argument of gender equality to a jury of Moclans, whilst Bortus - the only Moclan supporting them - was actually convinced by the idea of letting his child decide their own future rather than making it for them.
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    • At the end of "Cupid's Dagger", Darulio says that he doesn't know if his pheromones were active when he had sex with Kelly, which opens itself to three different interpretations: he's telling the truth and he really does not know, he's lying because he wants to give her the ambiguity she needs to forgive herself, or he's lying because he's come to realize that, by her standards, he raped her and he doesn't want to admit it.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail:
    • A lot of people were skeptical of Seth MacFarlane doing an even semi-serious big-budget sci-fi program; on top of this, the series is in a genre with a historically short lifespan on mainstream network TV on the network that notoriously cancelled the acclaimed Firefly after only a dozen episodes. So far, viewer response has been mostly positive while critical response has been mixed and its debut season ratings were enough to ensure was renewed for a second season.
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    • Once Star Trek: Discovery debuted, a Dueling Shows scenario resulted with some expecting The Orville to fail once "real" Star Trek returned to TV. Instead, it ended up, at first at least, garnering more positive response from viewers than Discovery, and it became the first network show of the 2017-2018 TV season to get a second season renewal (following Discovery being itself renewed, albeit for streaming).
  • Anvilicious:
    • The show is full of Author Tract messages against religion and the religious. It argues this via a series of strawmen with every religion shown being a fictional one that's misguided, evil or both. The only references to real-life religions are selective and exaggerated historical references note  while being thinly-veiled strawmen overall (with some real-life religions being singled out more than others). While it does somewhat fit for a show advertised as a Star Trek spoof, it's still pretty in-your-face given that Star Trek was fairer and occasionally sympathetic on the subjects of theism and religion despite both shows creators having practically the same views note .
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    • Seth's expressions about recreational marijuana use, with pot brownies here considered an acceptable foodstuff.
  • Ass Pull: John's sudden thrust into the Chief Engineer position, that comes up solely as a result of Kelly finding his old aptitude test from the Union Academy moments after their current Chief Engineer leaves in the same episode to design a space station. Befitting the trope's place here under YMMV, there is some debate on whether this is really an asspull or part of planned-out character development paying homage to how Geordi in Star Trek TNG, similarly out of the blue, transformed from the bridge helmsman to chief engineer between seasons with no prior hint of him having any knowledge or interest in engineering. Considering that in modern navies, most engineering officers spend years learning (particularly in nuclear navies), it seems incredible that a bridge helmsman could suddenly switch to leading the engineering section of an FTL starship.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Broken Base: An unusual example of a series breaking another series' fan base, with many Star Trek fans taking issue with fellow fans who consider The Orville to be "real Star Trek" instead of Discovery, the actual current Trek series. Even fans who love both shows have been known to take issue with this.
  • The Cast Showoff: Scott Grimes, who plays Gordon Malloy, has a beautiful singing voice that he gets to show off in Identity and Lasting Impressions.
  • Complete Monster: Kaylon Primary is the leader of the robotic Kaylon race ever since he and his brethren rebelled against their once-cruel masters and wiped them out completely. Primary posts the Kaylon emissary Isaac on the Orville to gather intelligence on other biologicals, having concluded that the Kaylon have exhausted their planet's resources and must create an interplanetary empire and exterminate all biological lifeforms to thrive. Primary has the Orville boarded and commandeered after killing all its security personnel, intending to use the Orville to ensure that Earth will lower its defenses for the Kaylon fleet. Primary forces the bridge staff to play along under threat of killing the rest of their crew one by one, then destroying another Union ship after Captain Mercer tries to warn them and forcing him to watch a helpless ensign being ejected into space. Worried that Isaac might have become too sympathetic to organic beings, Primary orders him to desist before trying to force him to kill Ty Finn or be destroyed himself. When Isaac turns on the Kaylons and kills Primary, the Primary's last words are to spitefully curse Isaac that he will always be alone.
  • Critical Dissonance: In Season 1 the audience and the critics were extremely divided. On Rotten Tomatoes, the critical approval rating, which was largely based on the pilot episode began at 18% vs the Season 1 audience approval rating of 94%. Metacritic also showed a simlar split. It gained a user rating of 7.9 out of 10 on IMDb. As the first season progressed the Rotten Tomatoes critic score improved to a still-weak 31%, while others doubled down and plastered the show on various "Worst of 2017" lists.
    • For Season 2 the critics who stuck around were impressed by the show's progression, enough to give Season 2 a 100% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This is one of the most dramatic positive season-to-season jumps for any show.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Alara rapidly became a fan favourite character, helped by two of the best episodes of the season being centered around her.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Ed/Alara grew in the fandom following Episode 4, based upon a single line of dialogue by Alara.
    • Many felt Ed had more chemistry with Pria than he had with Kelly in the entirety of their relationship.
    • Kelly and Cassius actually was a fairly popular relationship before Ship Sinking.
  • Fanfic Fuel: That Bad Future timeline is just screaming an open invitation to write out what happened there.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • When it was announced that Hunter would return to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Season 5 but not Bobbi, many fans suspected that Adrianne Palicki's role on this show was keeping her from doing it.
    • With Star Trek: Discovery, over the perception that the latter diverges too far from the franchise's roots, and that Orville feels more like what Star Trek should be. Part of the rivalry also extends to the two shows' levels of accessibility. Discovery is exclusive to CBS All-Access, while Orville is free to watch on your local Fox TV station.
    • Averted for everyone outside the USA, where Discovery is on Netflix. Except for Canada, where Discovery is actually broadcast on the Space cable network and is also on a separate streaming service called Crave TV.
    • Fans of Firefly have voiced their opinions on YouTube and Facebook that they aren't too fond of this series. FOX bothering to do another space series, and giving it more chances to thrive, when they didn't give the same chances to Firefly seems to sting a bit, even though more than a decade of changing TV tastes has passed since the cancellation of Firefly and Firefly didn't have the benefit of piggybacking off of Star Trek's familiarity and nostalgia. In addition, The Orville had the benefit of being produced and starring the man behind one of its most popular and long-running series, who was already powerful enough with Fox to get them to produce and air a science documentary series - in prime time.
  • Friendly Fandoms: A Downplayed Trope example as while the above Fandom Rivalry / Broken Base with Star Trek: Discovery is real, the fact so many fans are discussing and comparing each episode of the show indicates Star Trek fans are watching both with general consensus being there's no law saying one can't be a fan of both shows. Illustrated by the fact a number of Trek fan sites publish reviews of both shows and are just as willing to give Orville praise when it earns it as Discovery.
  • Growing the Beard: The Orville's early episodes are rough if you're not fond of toilet humor, to say nothing of "Cupid's Dagger" in late season one. But right around then the show starts to dramatically track upwards in watchability: among other things, Ed and the other male cast members start acting a little less like frat boys and more like professional officers (at least when they're on duty), and the series starts exploring the Krill more instead of leaving them an Always Chaotic Evil antagonist leading to a rapprochement between them and the Union in season two while revealing that the Kaylon — y'know, Isaac's people — are an even greater threat. Seth MacFarlane himself said he intentionally toned down the show's sitcom aspects for season two.
  • He Really Can Act: For those who know Robert Picardo as the normally stoic EMH from Star Trek: Voyager, his performance in "Home" demonstrates he's perfectly capable of doing emotional scenes as well.
    • This even applies to series lead Seth MacFarlane himself. Those expecting him to fratboy it up and do nothing but joke and pop culture reference his way along found themselves surprised to see Seth put some genuine gravitas and nuance into his performance as Captain Mercer during the show's many non-comedic moments.
  • Humor Dissonance: Mercer admits that Grayson's Bond One-Liner "You got wood" after destroying a spaceship with a rapidly growing tree is better than his own "Happy Arbor Day," which several fans stated they found the other way around. Granted, it's implied that the holiday has become very obscure even among humans by this time, as the only one to get the joke immediately is a recently-rescued botanist. Also, Grayson's joke is more international as "Arbor Day" is relatively meaningless outside the US.
  • It's the Same, So It Sucks: A lot of reviewers panned the show for being just a Star Trek rip-off. While that is true, that perhaps is why it found popularity as it has the old Star Trek style and format that many fans missed, as opposed to the more action-focused style of Discovery.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Pria Levesque is a time traveller from the 29th century who arranges to be picked up by the Orville by faking a distress call. After arriving on board, Pria quickly gains the crew's trust by saving them from a dark matter storm before bonding with Captain Ed Mercer, who is still recovering from a painful divorce with his ex-wife (now First Officer) Kelly Grayson, and seducing him into a one-night stand. Meanwhile, Pria installs a device in the engine room through which she can remotely take over control of the ship in order to pilot it into a wormhole to the future, selling the Orville off as an antique and forcing the crew to live out the remainder of their lives in an unrecognizeable universe with everyone they know having died hundreds of years ago. When her scheme fails, Pria makes one last attempt to convince Mercer to cooperate before calmly accepting that her current version will be erased from history. Pria is among the cleverest foes the crew of the Orville have faced so far, with few managing to emotionally get under Mercer's skin like she has.
  • Narm: The reveal of the Krill’s god having the name of a car rental place makes for a funny gag the first time. Unfortunately, it also means the show is forever after stuck with the name Avis being a big part of their culture, even in serious scenes. This apparently applies in-universe as well; Kelly was convinced that Gordon was pulling her leg when he told her about it for the better part of two seasons.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Liam Neeson, unlisted in the guest credits, gives a ton of gravitas to the captain of a crippled ship facing a lifetime marooned in space.
    • Similar one-off cameos have involved Jeffrey Tambor and Ted Danson. (Though the latter has now made a couple of appearances.)
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: While some fans find it sweet, others believe that the handling of Kelly and Mercer's relationship has been...less than ideal. Mercer is unwilling to accept his wife's statement that their relationship is over and frequently tries to get back with her despite the fact she's his subordinate. The Will They or Won't They? has caused both of them to leave behind relationships that fans liked more (Mercer/Pria and Kelly/Cassius). It reached its nadir when Mercer tried to date Kelly's past self and blackmail her present self into dating him over it. Fans are ready for them either to hook up and stay hooked up or for Mercer to finally get over it.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Already up against the wall for sleeping with a married woman, the episode "Cupid's Dagger" plants Darulio, the blue alien man whom Kelly cheated on Ed with as a Grade A Jerkass, if not outright evil. His species has pheromones that they secrete while in heat that makes anyone who touches him fall madly in love with him. He touches both Ed and Kelly, sleeps with them, basically committing date rape and is completely unapologetic about it, and spreads it to Yaphit which leads to the Squick mentioned below and nearly driving Claire homicidally insane, though at least that part was unintentional on his part. All of this, and he'd been among other species for years, more than long enough to be able to recognize that other species could view what he did as wrong and understand that strongly negative consequences could happen.
    • Klyden seems to be well on his way there, if not there already. First of all, being the loudest voice in the room asking for Topa's forced gender reassignment (and being a Boomerang Bigot, as we find out). Then, there's stabbing Bortus in his sleep due to his culture's divorce customs. And then there's his actions in "Deflectors," done partly out of jealousy over Locar being Bortus's ex and part out of heterophobic bigotry, which sends the poor bastard to a death sentence. It's getting to the point where you wonder just what Bortus sees in the guy.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: There was one brewing with shipping Ed with Kelly, versus shipping him with Alara. Of course, since Alara and Kelly had some good chemistry of their own, a third and fourth option was also on the table. Sadly, Alara was Put on a Bus without any of this coming to fruition and it looks like Kelly might follow her in Season 4.
  • Shocking Moments: Most of the series consists of Lighter and Softer sci-fi as advertised ... and then the second season's "Identity" (the first two-part episode in the series) comes along and reveals that the entire Kaylon race are not the seemingly benign androids that Isaac was shaping up to be, but rather a race of genocidal Absolute Xenophobes bent on the extermination of organic life, instantly making them a far greater threat than the recurring Obviously Evil Krill.
  • Squick: In what may be one of the most disgusting scenes in the history of television, Claire and Yaphit having slime sex. No amount of Brain Bleach will get that image out of your head once you've seen it.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Bortus gets fed up and chews out Klyden for his misogyny and close-mindedness in "Sanctuary," and it was a long time coming.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: "Pria" ends with a very intriguing setup for future appearances by its title character, a con artist stranded centuries before her time who has genuine affection for the Orville crew but would still be willing to manipulate them in efforts to get home. Unfortunately she's played by big star Charlize Theron and clearly won't be sticking around, so she's eliminated from the setting through especially wonky time travel logic. (Albeit in such a way that a potential return appearance is not off the table.)
  • Unfortunate Implications: "Cupid's Dagger" drew the ire of both viewers and reviewers for its handling of sexual consent. Darulio is guilty of three known counts of date rape by the end of the episode, which is ignored completely. Many feel that the episode is made worse by its real-world timing, having aired amidst a wide-ranging spate of sexual misconduct scandals that started with Hollywood casting mogul Harvey Weinstein being publicly accused of crimes up to and including rape. This is made worse with the episode's solution essentially being State Sponsored Date Rape to end a war, making many feel as if the writers are still ignorant, willfully or otherwise, about the stigma of Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Captain Mercer's reaction to his wife's adultery struck quite a few viewers as over the top. While certainly bad, the fact he divorced her as well as is clearly devastated by it a year later struck many as Good is Petty. On the other hand, some viewers (particularly those who have been cheated on) are entirely on his side. Both characters seem to both be at fault for their own behavior, as well as mutually hurt. By the end of the first episode, we know he was a workaholic who barely spent any time with his wife, at the same time, even Grayson admits what she did to him was terrible, and her intent to get his career back on track with playing the cronyism card for him behind his back strongly alludes that she sees it as penance. The fact that both characters are willing to work with each other after the initial confrontation seems to help. In any case, much more nuanced than one might expect from the Family Guy Guy. And now an episode with the one she cheated with has called into question whether Grayson was even mentally competent enough at the time to be responsible for her actions, which throws a wrench into the whole issue, although said episode does have her explicitly state that her relationship with Ed was already failing even before she became involved with Darulio, and the episode is ambiguous as to whether her actions were totally against her will.
    • Pria Lavesque wanted to steal the Orville and sell it, but in her original timeline the Orville was destroyed by a Negative Space Wedgie, which means she really did save the life of every single person on the ship. Her motives might not have been altruistic, but the crew treating her like a totally evil villain kind of makes them look like Ungrateful Bastards. Would they have preferred to die a pointless death?
  • Values Dissonance: Derulio, to the point that he's become something of a Base-Breaking Character. The issue of his pheromones has drawn a lot of ire from viewers who point out that knowingly exposing other species to it negates any possibility of consent, on the other hand it was a biologically unpredictable process and one that the Union officers apparently didn't bother doing any research on when he showed up.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • Yaphit's character model is impressive, especially considering he is done on a network TV budget. Not only is he translucent and constantly moving, close observation shows that his surface is covered in fuzz and other bits and pieces he's picked up from sliding across the Orville's deck.
    • The wormhole seen in "Pria" is nothing like what's been seen before on televised sci-fi and is both psychedelic and ominous in its imagery. It's like they mixed the Deep Space Nine wormhole interior with the Gargantua black hole from Interstellar then coloured it while on acid.
    • The two-dimensional space from "New Dimensions", along with the impact that anomaly has, flattening out the ships that get caught in it. Also, the two scene alien from this episode is a remarkable physical effect.
    • The Orville itself is a great-looking ship design, reportedly devised by MacFarlane himself. The ship's beauty is especially evident during the electrical storm sequence in "Firestorm", where the Orville is lit so that every contour of the physical shooting model is visible in beautiful close up. It also manages to avoid the typical Star Trek style "nacelle" design and avoid an overly brutish hard line "rectangle" design.
      • Even more awesome, especially for old school special effects aficionados, is the fact that the Orville is a split between a model miniature (for when the ship is traveling normally through space) and CG (for when the ship is in battle scenes or doing more complex movement). In a day and age where Hollywood has replaced most model effect sequences with CG, it's a breath of fresh air to see that this show treats both the model and CG versions of the ship equally and seamlessly blending together in some scenes.
    • The porn dealer from "Primal Urges" is an especially impressive alien design, with the suit just being slightly augmented by CGI touches that blend in perfectly.
    • The space battle in "Identity, Part 2" is a breathtaking sequence that is incredibly action packed but also carefully choreographed to be easy to follow. It is apparently the largest, longest, and most complex space battle ever created for television and required the development of an entirely new graphics engine to accomplish.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: See entry for The Scrappy. It's hard to figure out just what Bortus sees in Klyden, especially given the stunts that Klyden pulled in the name of tradition. Although speaking of tradition, since Moclan divorce involves heart stabbing Bortus might just not want to go through with the divorce procedure.


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