11.15.2017

Television: The Orville, "Majority Rule"

You remember that episode of ST:TNG where Wesley is sentenced to death while visiting a foreign planet because he didn't Keep Off the Grass? Yeah, this is that episode.

Except instead an inept away team goes looking for a couple missing anthropologists on a planet where everything is determined by popular vote. Literally. Everyone wears a badge with a green "up" arrow and a red "down" arrow and basically goes through life being defined by how many Likes and Dislikes they have. As a person. And apparently there is a threshold wherein, if you reach a certain number of down votes, you are "corrected" by basically having your brain scrambled.

How could this ever go wrong?

Look, Star Trek (the chassis upon which The Orville is constructed) has a long, strong history of social commentary. And it's never been particularly subtle. So this isn't either. But . . . While I'm moderately entertained, I'm wondering what it says—either about me or the show—that I only watch The Orville when I'm looking for mindless entertainment. Like, at least it's entertaining, I guess? But some of the novelty is wearing off for me, and I find myself looking elsewhere while the episodes stack up on my DVR.

Besides the on-the-noseness of it all, I'm annoyed that every reference made is to 20th and 21st century television and culture. They watch Seinfeld, they talk about American Idol and mention Justin Bieber. REALLY? Did culture just stop when and where we now live and that's all the future has to go on? They have NOTHING ELSE? Nothing older, nothing more current? I suppose that would require the writing team to, you know, actually come up with stuff rather than grab the low-hanging fruit.

Maybe that's what I'm really railing against here. Laziness. They don't have the cleverness to be more subtle or to build a world populated by new cultural references. Well, sure, they give the Krill a religion, and they gave Bortus' people a poet, but apparently humans stopped short at Taylor Swift and have been coasting on that for hundreds of years.

Sigh. Whatever. It's an okay show. I'll keep in on my DVR for the rare occasions I may actually feel like watching it.