The Orville is back for its third season and it did something new for its premiere.
When The Orville was launched, it was very much seen by those involved as “Funny Star Trek“. Not an exact quote, but that was the gist. There were gags, spoofs, and just over-the-top stuff that would never fit in Star Trek but would in Seth MacFarlane’s little world. Like when it’s revealed that Bortus, a Moclan, only urinates once a year.
It’s so rare, it’s actually an event that people gather for called the ja’loja. That was the show that MacFarlane wanted. Yet, along the way, it changed. It started focusing on social issues like digital addiction, cultural norms forced on infants, bigotry, and the risks of a society built around social media.
It became very much Star Trek in the way it touched on key, sensitive issues. Just with a humorous twist at some point in the episode. Yet, when the show returned for season three, there was something missing. Something that was interwoven into the fabric of The Orville; MacFarlane’s over-the-top sense of humor.
The Orville has matured for season three
I don’t think we’ve seen the last of MacFarlane’s humor in the Orville, I just don’t think they were going to tackle the subject matter they did in their season three premiere, entitled “Electric Sheep”, with anything but sincerity.
That’s exactly what they did. The episode picks up following the fallout of the attack by the Kaylon and the subsequent double and triple-crossing of Isaac against the crew of the Orville first and then his own people; the Kaylon.
The crew doesn’t trust him, his friends outright hate him and one key conversation causes Isaac to take his own life. The show got heavy, and most of the episode that unfolds is the crew dealing with how they feel about the whole ordeal. Not just his untimely demise, but how they feel about his betrayals.
It was all handled very well, and while there was a charm to the episode at times, there wasn’t over the top, blue-humor, infused hilarity. Truthfully, the lack of such humor was something I found to be the best part of the episode. That this felt like a serious show, with series points to make.
That’s not to say I don’t want to see more humor in the series. It gained its feet due to the comedy, and I do not mind seeing a more serious side of the show. I feel this show can be more than it presented itself as in the past. I think the path to a season four is this more mature version of the show.
Bring a bit of the funny still, of course, but let the sincerity and heart of the show be the driving focus.