Top 5 reasons that I watch Orville over Discovery
1) That paywall.
Like many other households we still have cable. We have not transitioned to a subscription service. We do have Netflix, but not Hulu, Amazon, or any other. While it’s clear that the trend in media is toward portable subscription services, there are still millions of households that have cable and would love to be able to simply push the power button on their remote to watch some good ol’ Trek. CBS, in an effort to compete with companies like those listed above, has lost probably a third to a half of its potential audience for Discovery. And no, no one should “bend over backwards” to pay for “good” science-fiction. It might be worth it for some, but for others, it’s just another crappy subscription for a show that has barely shown that it respects its creator’s vision, or the hundreds of hours of established canon that preceded it.
2) Another Prequel *sigh*
We’ve already had a dismal prequel, and the best thing that came of it was more Jeffery Combs. Quite seriously, the amount of retconning and explication needed for Enterprise to fit the already hearty Star Trek universe was too much for many fans to put up with, or accept. Yes, the Klingons have changed more than once, but the science, along with the fact that the lead character is supposed to have been an adopted half-sister to the most enduring and beloved character in all of Trek, yet we’re just now hearing about her, and the fact that so much of the story completely destroys long established timelines. All of this means that another prequel was likely the worst direction they could have gone in. They should have done something close to 30 or 40 years after Voyager returned home. This is based on nothing more than dozens of opinions I have read online. Prequels, when done correctly can enhance any franchise, and not only garner new fans, but reinvigorate the existing fan base, however, when done poorly, they leave such a sour taste behind that it’s nearly impossible to erase. Just ask Jar Jar Binks.
3) Days of Our Lives “in space”
The acting was fairly on par in Enterprise, but from what I’ve seen of Discovery it is overly dramatic and hammish, while the Orville cast is shaping up to have depth and true chemistry. With the current political and social climate what I (and many others, I suspect) want is to have hope, laughter, and simply a moment or two of escapism. When every scene is a perilous sequence of events that might lead to disaster, none of those wishes are granted. Orville, in my humble opinion, has, thus far, achieved equilibrium of drama and humor. Yes, much of that humor comes directly from the mind of Seth MacFarlane, and has a healthy dose of immaturity, but it is none-the-less humor that can be enjoyed on network television, instead of vulgarity laced dribbling, that I’m almost certain Gene Roddenberry would have loathed.
4) Faux Diversity
Yes, Discovery has a diverse cast, but they’ve not broken any new ground. Touting their cast as noteworthy based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other identity is a transparent pander to the youngest generation of potential viewers. Sisko was a black Captain who had a female first officer; Janeway was a female Captain with an Indigenous American male first officer. George Takei, an Asian-American, from the original series is gay, and there have been numerous storylines about gender issues throughout the Trek canon. So, no, Discovery isn’t breaking any new ground, or shifting any paradigms, it’s merely continuing the tradition that began more than 50 years ago. No extra points for mixing and matching what has already been done. Sorry.
5) Relatable Characters
Ed Mercer may be a heterosexual white male, but he’s flawed, perhaps severely so. He lacks the unencumbered bravery of Kirk, the diplomacy of Picard, the grit of Janeway, the tactical mind of Sisko, and the authenticity of Archer, but he’s human, he’s relatable. The tension on The Orville thus far is more interpersonal than introspective, but it makes for better humor, and it makes for better TV. Also, as Trek has had the Klingons, Borg, Dominion, and Romulans, The Orville has the Krill, but not to a fault. MacFarlane seems to realize that focusing exclusively on the alien species leaves little time to develop the main characters, whereas Discovery seems hell-bent on shoving every nuance of the Klingon nouveau down the throats of anyone watching. Ed fumbles, omits details from reports, says inappropriate things in various situations, has fears, basically he’s flawed enough to be far more believable than a human taught by Vulcans whose arrogance and vitriol are easily the antithesis of everything she is meant to embody.