Star Trek: Discovery Vs The Orville. Which Is Better?

Star Trek and Orville just hit mid-season, which seems like the perfect time to discuss the merits of these shows.  The Orville on Fox, which is meant to parody Star Trek, Vs the newest iteration of Star Trek on CBS.

This comparison has to happen, because in Seth Macfarlane’s desire to make a comedy set in space with the looks of Star Trek, he accidentally made a really good Star Trek.  And Star Trek discovery has an interesting, but somewhat non-canon universe.

Star Trek Disco:  It’s not yo’ daddy’s Star Trek

I started watching Star Trek at TNG.  This show is a far cry from the nostalgia of yesteryear, which has many fanboi’s criticizing of the show itself.  As one of these fanboi’s it is also a criticism of mine too, but I’ll take an objective approach to how I view the show.

The plot line for STD, season 1: Klingon Empire and Federation are at war, Fed’s are losing.  The only weapon they have at their disposal is the spore drive, which is basically a biological zero point engine drive (it instantly teleports the ship through time and space for the beginner sci-fi fans).  This all takes place 10 years before Kirk.  the show itself is semi-episodic, leaving room for new characters, creatures, and planets to explore.

The Orville – Boldly goes where TNG has gone before

the Orville mission is identical to TNG.  find new aliens, anomalies, and other weird stuff in space.  Pretty cut and dry.  Episodic.

STD and Orville are Two Halves of a Whole Trek

Here’s where things get dicey in terms of how the shows differ from each other.  If you look at Star Trek from the fanboi approach.  Star Trek Disco is only Star Trek in name only.  Very rarely do we see callbacks to former series.  We see technology that shouldn’t exist at the time.  We have ships designs that make no sense to the era.  So how exactly is this a prequel?  If this were a stand alone series, this would be seen as a great series, but placing this in the O.G. timeline is killing a lot of Trekkie love.

here’s where the hang up is though…

This is not a series for O.G. Trekkies, it’s for the next generation

And if you ask a Trekkie, many will say the visual aspect is good, but it’s missing the “heart” of Trek.  “to boldly go…” seems like barely an afterthought in the show itself.; Nothing feels like canon.  You can see that with a complete remake of the Klingon look and language barrier( To be fair, I have grown to like the Klingon look here, though I know I’m in the minority of voices).  The dialogue however, remains classic Trek for the most part, sans Tilly, whom is the equivalent voice of a millennial voice upon the ship, and is a pretty awesome person in the sometimes oppressive atmosphere of the show.

That’s not to say of course that there isn’t great things about the show.  The characters are well developed, we still get some very human moments in the show.  The ship designs are awesome, and the fights in space are the best we have seen in any Star Trek.  And Mudd is the best of classic villains.  Everything feels somewhat over-dramatic, but not to Kirk levels of absurdity.

Trek is a good, unbalanced show.  They are sacrificing one audience for another.  Whether or not it will pan out remains uncertain.

The Scorecard:

Visuals: Unparalleled. 10/10

Characters: Interesting and well developed 8/10

Storyline:  Could be better, and alienates a whole audience 6/10

Ships: THE KLINGONS HAVE A DEAD BODY SHIP 20/10

CBS Subscription required 0/10

The Orville: The space opera Comedy that isn’t actually a comedy

The Orville struggled for a few episodes, with audiences trying to decide if this is a comedy or not.  After about the 4th episode, It’s generally agreed upon that Orville is TNG peppered with classic Macfarlane humor.  In many ways, he gets so many things right about the show:

The music:  The nostalgic factor is huge, and make me feel actual wonderment every time they say something meaningful or find something interesting.  The Macfarlane orchestra we’ve come to know and love from other series kills it in this show.

The Situations:  From a planet sized ship with religious conservatives heading into the sun (global warming and religion issues at the same time.  Solid choices), to dealing with Transgender issues, to viewing the follies of a systemic voting majority, The Orville takes a look at many of the issues we deal with in our era.  Some cry out SJW PROBS!, but that’s literally what Star Trek (and now the Orville) is all about.

The ship: Is pretty nifty. 10/10 would love to see more designs and spaces in the ship in season 2.

Things that can be improved:

The Aliens:  Are affected by budget, but they are working on about a tenth of what STD budget is (unfortunate initials for star trek)

The Characters: need to be a bit more developed.  There are a few good moments here and there between the captain and his number one, but everyone just feels like a punchline at the moment.

Trekkies old and new dig this show.  Its a prefect blend in terms of philosophy and story line.  It lacks a proper budget.  That will hopefully be fixed in the next season.

Scorecard:

Budget: 1/10

Visuals: barely decent 5/10

Music: perfect: 10/10

storyline: top notch 10/10

Characters:  need more fleshing out 6/10

ships/aliens: ok, needs more to work with 4/10

Verdict: Orville is the heart, Trek is the legs

The Star Trek name will always have an audience.  Even with the snubbing of long time fans, the show keeps me coming back to watch To see What Capt Lorca does next to ensure victory.  It’s not the Star Trek I know, but it is the Sci-Fi show I like to watch.  So what if it’s not conventional Star Trek?  it’s still entertaining T.V.

Now if CBS can get it off their subscription only BS, it will probably get an extra season or two.

The Orville is a love letter to the Trek of old, and that’s totally awesome.  Almost as if it’s a Trek parallel universe.  Orville is a solid compromise for those audience who feel left out of Disco.  I will continue watching it because it scratches that Trekkie itch.

Watch both, and be happy we have two new Trek shows in existence.

I hope to see a better half from Disco, and a better season 2 for Orville.

 

 

 

 

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah, no thanks. STD sucks as a trek series, and for that reason alone I will not watch. I gave it a shot for 5 episodes, but God, I hate it. I hate the characters, the Klingons, the ship. I may have given it a chance if it didn’t have the star trek name…but as is. It’s got nothing for me.

    Orville OTOH, has the feel of trek. It’s not a parody, it is its own show but it manages to carry, as you said, the heart of the original. Something STD doesn’t. My only complaint about Orville would be that sometimes the humour is too bathroom. But the storylines so far have been damn good, and so has the writing. True Star Trek type storylines.

      • No, it’s not “middling”. It’s an ATROCITY. And please don’t give me the whole “not your daddy’s Star Trek”, because STD appears to be NOBODY’S Star Trek. It is an absolute MESS. Things happen for no good reason.The writing is hap hazard. Everything that’s happened so far has been telegraphed well in advance, so you can see it coming a mile away. There’s obvious plot holes you can drive a Mack truck through. There are NO CHARACTERS. Everyone is just a cardboard cut out so they can be positioned so Michael Burnham can come along and solve what ever problem needs solving, because she’s “the best this or that in Star Fleet”, and yet she’s given you no indication that she’s anything else but INCOMPETENT. Seriously, name one character on the bridge? Name one. You can’t. Because they don’t have names. They aren’t characters. They’re vague references. Black girl. Asian guy. Lisa Left Eye. And Nebula.

        STD is insulting to not only fans of Star Trek, it’s insulting to anyone remotely intelligent. Alex Kurtzman thinks that the audience is stupid. It’s time to stop defending this series. It really is. Many are going to say that we need to support STD because if it fails, then we won’t get another series ever. Star Trek will be back in some form. But the only thing you’re doing by supporting this series is guaranteeing that you’ll be getting more of this BAD version of Star Trek.

        • Harald & Sterling Archer are 100%, no 200%, right!
          STD is bad in many ways… It would have been bad even if it was not called “Star Trek” (in that case, it would have been attacked even more for its plot holes and general … flaws – anyway)

          Orville on the other hand, is -as somebody put it- “Seth’s love letter to Gene Roddenberry”.
          Its the TOS of the 2017.

          I think that the review is a little harsh on the rating for Orville…
          Characters: 6/10 ??? Have you seen Firestorm?
          ships/aliens: 4/10 ??? Much better that STD!

          And how about another category: “Guest Stars!”
          Orville got Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron, Brian Thompson, Robert Picardo to name a few… Hell, thats *way more* Guest Stars ANY Star Trek show had in its 1st season!!!

  2. Discovery has glimmers of potential but the writing is lazy & often nonsensical. The plot & character choices made are so frustrating that I don’t think I’ll be able to stick with it much longer. Half way into the season & none of the crew have really been fleshed out enough to care about. I thought it had found its stride in ep5 but, even the promising Ash (whether the rumours regarding that character turn out to be true or not!) has now been burdened with not much more to do that be part of an entirely unconvincing (not to mention unnecessary) relationship. I also find Discovery is lifted when the focus is on Lorca. Although the intention was to make the central character *not* the captain, Lorca and his questionable outlook/approach, is far more compelling and fresh. TV shows can’t always predict what works or what the audience responds to but they can adapt to it. I would like to believe that those behind Discovery would have the presence of mind going forward to capitalise on what is working and discard what isn’t. Unfortunately I get the impression that they are convinced they know better.

      • TNG’ s 1 season was not the best, but -as a hard core Trekkie- I loved the show from Encounter at Farpoint!
        It had the look and feel of Star Trek and you could “see” its connection to TOS (eve without the dr. McCoy cameo”).

        STD ruined everything from day one!
        And when we where introduced to (that silly thing) the spore drive, it “fell” in the category of joke!

        TNG, NEVER did anything to ruin the “Star Trek theory”… (Even the Holodecks where mentioned in TAS!) and if it had, it would have been OK, since it was a century later.

        STD is ruining the cannon with things that “we” don’t need and “we” don’t know (remember) in the “later” series. How they will get out of this is a big mistery… (imagine if DASH drive was known to Voyager… It could have solved their problem instantly… but (of corse) we never heard them mentioning it even once… how are they going to explain that? – they will not. Hence, STD will always be considered NOT Star Trek in by book…)

  3. I can’t take this article fully serious simply on the fact that half the premise of it is incorrect. “The Orville on Fox, which is meant to parody Star Trek” is incorrect. Fox, in their infinite wisdom, promoted the show as a comedy, but Seth in the SDCC panel specifically made it clear it’s a drama with some comedy thrown in. Now I agree that the first few episodes made it feel like the show had a bipolar multiple personality disorder, but thankfully they learned where to plug in those funny moments to enhance the story instead of take over it. On the other side I fully agree that ST:D is not a Star Trek show as we know it, because other than the names and elements used for nostalgia it isn’t. I do have many of the same concerns listed in the article: tone, tech that’s way too advanced, Klingons, etc. If this show was branded as anything else it would still be a hit, I think. But calling it Star Trek, even Star Trek for a new generation, does it’s lineage a disservice. I propose that the planet sized ship episode is more Star Trek than any episode ST:D has aired, with exception to the first half of the pilot. The rest of the article is pretty spot on, but lastly I’ll also throw in that Orville laying heavy on the 20th and 21st century references takes me out of the moment too often.