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6 Reasons "The Orville" is the Worst Sci-Fi Show EVER

There's a new show on FOX called The Orville, about a starship in the future exploring the Galaxy and facing conflict. It's also a comedy about a captain of a new ship who's forced to work with his cheating ex-wife as his First Officer. The show is doing well enough to get renewed for a second season by FOX, and some fans have even called Orville a better Star Trek show than Star Trek: Discovery. We here at Geek Twins disagree with all of them. In fact, we don't just think The Orville is not as good as Star Trek: Discovery. We think it's the worst sci-fi show ever made. Here are six reasons why.

Please note: don't tell us we're not "real" Star Trek fans. We're 45 years old. We've been watching Star Trek since the Original Series. Between us, we've seen every episode of every series, and every movie multiple times.


One of the biggest reasons we can say The Orville is the worst sci-fi show ever is that it's completely unoriginal. Yes, there have been terrible TV shows in the science fiction genre before, but even the worst of them have tried to be original in at least some way. The Orville is almost shocking in its unoriginality.

One reviewer described the show best as Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off, and that's so true. Absolutely everything about the show is just a copy of Star Trek. The show doesn't even try to hide its ripping off. Instead of the Federation of Planets, it's the Planetary Union. Instead of a warp drive, it's a quantum drive. The ship has a "simulation chamber" just like a holodeck. The characters are rip-offs like "Isaac" the robotic science officer who is clearly modeled off Data. Even the theme music is Trek-lite.

This isn't even our imagination. According to reports in 2011, the show started as MacFarlane's pitch for a new Star Trek show. When that failed, all he did was do a find-and-replace on his script and show it as is without even trying to be unique or interesting. Any real fan of Star Trek is insulted by The Orville, not praising it.


The derivative feel of the show would at least be tolerable if the show tried to match Star Trek in quality, but it doesn't. The computer graphics are okay, but the sets and costumes look like they were made for a student or fan film instead of a major network. For instance, the bridge looks small and cramped with a lack of style. The lounge has tables with fake woodgrain and seats that probably came from Ikea. The Orville crew uniforms are bland with visible zippers. Exteriors are clearly shot in Southern California without an effort to show true alien environments.

In short (other than the CGI), The Orville looks worse than Star Trek: The Next Generation did in its first season, and that was over 20 years ago.


All this wouldn't be so bad if the show had genuinely good and original science fiction stories to tell, but it doesn't. The second episode where two crew members are kidnapped and taken to an alien zoo is ripped off from the pilot episode of Star Trek's Original Series. Most episodes are the kind of bland alien-of-the-week ideas that fans were complaining about being too repetitive when Star Trek: Enterprise was in its final season. Another episode is a "holodeck gone wrong" story that fans complained about happening too often on Star Trek: Voyager.  It's like Orville just dusted off unused scripts from previous Star Trek series, added some penis jokes, and called it good. In other words, while some people have praised Orville for carrying on the "tradition" of Star Trek, it's more like Orville is continuing all the things the true fans hated about Star Trek. If you're going to copy Star Trek, at least do something new and original with it.

There's also no real attempt to follow the world-development of good science fiction. For example, Alara Kitan is super-strong which is explained because she grew up in a high-gravity environment. Yet high gravity wouldn't produce a thin, wispy woman but a woman built like an NFL linebacker. She would also have major problems moving in a low-gravity world, just like humans struggle to move properly on the Moon.


When Orville was first announced, the commercials made it look like a weekly version of Galaxy Quest, a wacky parody of Star Trek. At the same time, the commercials weren't really that funny. When the show came out, viewers were surprised to discover The Orville wasn't actually supposed to be a comedy at all. Some have described it as a "dramedy," where the humor is just part of an otherwise serious show.

Yet the show doesn't hit the sweet spot for a true dramedy like M.A.S.H. or Ally McBeal. The best dramedies find the humor in truly dramatic situations without sacrificing the emotion involved. The Orville is in a different genre called "crap."

The show has too many goofy and silly elements (like a short, thin woman who's super-strong, and a captain and XO who are divorced) to take the show seriously, but The Orville tries to convey a true sense of drama and seriousness. "Hey, it's constantly saying," this is serious stuff." The jokes aren't that funny, and the drama isn't that interesting. It's like two different shows being awkwardly crammed together: a true successor to Star Trek with genuine science-fiction and a wacky Family Guy-type workplace comedy. You'll have people mourning the death of a character one minute, and someone making a fart-joke the next minute. The show can't decide if it's a comedy or a drama, and it fails at both.


Our next point is The Orville is lazily developed. There obviously wasn't much effort made to give the show a unique background and history. MacFarlane just copied-and-pasted Star Trek and called it done.

A perfect example is how poorly the show handles its humor, most of which seem like jokes that were taken from unused scripts of The Family Guy. For example, in the pilot episode, the captain complains about the alien his wife slept with, calling it a "Smurf." In the year 2100, would they still make references to Smurfs? Until the recent movies, most kids today didn't know who the Smurfs were. A better comparison would be Popeye, who (as of this writing) has no movie, TV series, and whose cartoons aren't in the rotation anymore. Telling a joke to a ten-year-old about Popeye would get blank stares, and that's only a gap of 20 years. I doubt the Smurfs would be relevant 100 years from now.

Clearly, MacFarlane and his writers aren't making much effort to think of jokes that would work in the context of the world they created. They just write stories as if the show was set in 2017 with spaceships flying around.


Normally, the creator of a show wouldn't be a mark against it (unless it's made by Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein). In this case, it absolutely does matter because The Orville is made by Seth MacFarlane. Long before The Orville, Seth McFarlane established himself as a lazy, offensive, unoriginal hack, and he's passed on all those qualities to Orville. His first show The Family Guy was (and remains) a rip-off of The Simpsons with toilet humor stolen from South Park. His next two shows American Dad and The Cleveland Show were just rehashes of Family Guy, so he's reheating garbage there.

Given all that, it's no surprise that The Orville is a lazy, offensive, unoriginal rip-off of Star Trek with toilet humor stolen from South Park.
UPDATE: Added a sixth point.

What do you think about The Orville?

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