The Orville

"New Dimensions"

2.5 stars

Air date: 11/30/2017
Written by Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Kelly Cronin

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"New Dimensions" is a split-tiered story chronicling a day at the office aboard a Union starship, merged with a TNG-era tech story that sets the record for technobabble on this series (although it's certainly not record-setting when compared to TNG or Voyager). It's like a workplace drama/comedy mixed with middlebrow sci-fi. The narrative shifts can at times be jarring, albeit not nearly as jarring as some of the early comedy/drama tonal clashes seen on this series.

Let's start with the workplace drama, which is of considerably more consequence. Part of what this episode does is offer a take on how the workings of ship-wide personnel are conducted. Chief Engineer Newton (Larry Joe Campbell) has taken another job posting, leaving the Orville engineering post open. In reviewing LaMarr's personnel file while logging a reprimand in his record for pulling a prank (which resulted in a piece of Yaphit being eaten by Bortus), Grayson discovers LaMarr is actually quite brilliant according to his entrance exam scores, despite all evidence in his behavior to the contrary. She recommends to Mercer that LaMarr be considered for the chief's job, something LaMarr doesn't even want. Mercer is understandably skeptical; this is the same guy who nearly got lobotomized for pulling a dumb prank in "Majority Rule." And yet he's apparently really smart. (Maybe John is "book smart" rather than "common-sense smart.")

I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, LaMarr is probably the most underdeveloped regular character on the ensemble, and most of his material has been juvenile and inconsequential. So it's good to finally give him some sort of focus where he's not being an idiot. On the other hand, I have a hard time buying the explanation of why he has gone to such lengths to bury his intelligence, which is explained away as "people don't like a know-it-all" and "I just want to go home and have a beer after work rather than worrying about being a leader or role model." And even in this episode, John comes across as a simple man rather than a thoughtful one. I would've liked some useful dialogue to sell this idea that John has actual reasons for being an underachiever. It doesn't help that J Lee's performances have been uniformly lacking on this series, including in this episode.

I get that the Union fleet is not Starfleet and is filled with Average Joes, but the idea that being liked and being smart are mutually exclusive is amateurish. This feels like material trying to cover for the retconning of a character rather than a smartly drawn arc. That being said, I appreciate this for its future potential despite its contrived nature.

Meanwhile, Yaphit comes across as an insubordinate jerk when he learns LaMarr is being considered for the chief job. If John's lack of leadership experience and ambition serve as strikes against him, Yaphit's hostile unprofessionalism are even more overstated, making him seem even more undeserving. MacFarlane and his writers would be well-served by toning down the character histrionics.

To add to the whole man-child theme, we've got Mercer discovering the deal Grayson made with Admiral Halsey back in "Old Wounds" that gave him command of the Orville — and reacting like a big baby. Mercer instantly loses all self-confidence, which is an overreaction on the level of Alara's total shutdown over a momentary hesitation in "Firestorm," only less forgivable given the character's experience and leadership position. Why is it the characters on this show (with the exception of Grayson, who seems to be the only adult) go into a tizzy over issues they should be mature enough to handle sanely? I mean, Seth MacFarlane is 43 years old, and yet Mercer can't reconcile that every career is built on some combination of merit and luck, and instead needs to pout because someone extended him a favor? The saving grace here is how at the end Mercer admits he was acting like a "whiny bitch" and shows some (belated) thoughtfulness and self-awareness in working out these issues — but in the meantime we get another series of shrill arguments where Mercer goes on self-important rants and Grayson tries to talk him off the ledge. Haven't we seen enough of this between these two?

The sci-fi plot is okay. It's nothing to write home about, but I appreciate the series' effort to engage its sci-fi concepts, if only superficially. Sure, the rendering of the pocket of two-dimensional space looks like a massive circuit board out of Tron, but it's colorful. The show really tries selling the wonder of this realm with the score, but the writers don't really do much with the actual idea beyond using it to hide from some Krill bad guys and half-heartedly theorizing it might house an entire civilization. The technobabble here is much heavier compared to previous Orville episodes, and the problem-solving is not nearly as convincing as the halcyon TNG days (and I couldn't figure out why being flattened into 2D didn't instantly destroy the ship), but this was fine.

I realize this is sounding more negative than perhaps I'm intending. Maybe that's because I'm sensing unrealized potential here. I appreciate The Orville is putting in the effort to service its characters (we end here with LaMarr promoted to chief engineer, which should hopefully improve the character in the long run, and even Yaphit is eventually allowed to be a team player). This series has come along and is far more legitimate than when it premiered. The tone has been moderated and for the most part is acceptable, give or take some of the shoehorned-in dude-bro humor. And I like the small things that expand the canvas around the margins, like with the recurring appearance of Elevator Guy, seen here exclusively not in elevators.

But I also think this show could and should better execute the things it sets out to do — by considering sci-fi with deeper meaning, earning character payoffs rather than inventing them suddenly, scaling back the more childish inclinations, and so forth. I like where we end up after "New Dimensions," but the ride getting there is a bumpy one.

Previous episode: Firestorm
Next episode: Mad Idolatry

◄ Season Index

49 comments on this review

SlackerInc
Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 9:12pm (UTC -6)
Back to fine form with a good episode.

The elevator/brunch alien cracks me up, and has the potential to become a breakout character. The bloody tissues were a great sight gag. And good character development for John and the captain.

If I’m picky, I can gripe that the supposedly two-dimensional space seemed to allow some objects to slide over others.

Hope the show is still getting solid Nielsen ratings. I’m a little frustrated because Nielsen had periodically sent me diaries to fill out, maybe once a year or so over the past few years; but last week they finally called me to have the actual electronic Nielsen box installed. However, I moved to another state in August and they couldn’t do it at my new address. So I could have been a boost to their numbers. Oh well.

Trek fan
Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 9:28pm (UTC -6)
I also liked this one better after last week's exaggerated dumpster dive into the old "rookie crewman anxieties" through its unconvincing plot device. Here we find a somewhat interesting concept -- 2D aliens -- presented somewhat half-baked, but at least it's a straightforward hook rather than a high concept cheat. As for the character stuff, Norm MacDonald's Yaphet is really growing on me as a surprisingly sympathetic character, and I appreciate that the show is at least *working* on John LaMarr even if his character still feels like the least sharply drawn to me. Not really sure why being chief navigator (or whatever he is, he still sits at the front of the bridge) is considered a "dumber" job than chief engineer, and the intelligence note in his file seems like an odd character twist to me, but it's interesting to see him with some stuff to do in this story. I probably can't go higher on this one than 2 or 2 1/2 stars, as there aren't really any inspired gags like Bortus eating glass last week, and the whole prank on Yaphet thing feels a bit ambiguous -- the story can't seem to decide if we should really laugh at it (as the sickbay scene with Bortus invites) or feel bad about it as LaMarr does. That mutes the humor a bit. But it's pleasant enough fare and an improvement, for me at least, over last week's shock-value reset plot.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 10:28pm (UTC -6)
That was nice overall. There isn't much I disliked about the episode - which is great after three episodes with notable flaws in execution. On the other hand, there wasn't really much truly gripping about the episode either.

The supposed "A plot" of the show - the anomaly/gateway into the two-dimensional universe - was pretty boring. It basically existed for one reason and one reason alone however, which was to provide some actual character development into LeMarr. Up until this point he just seemed to be Malloy's sidekick, except in Majority Rule, where he was an idiot. Here it is established that this was all an act, and he's actually very intelligent. More importantly, despite his own lack of confidence in his leadership skills, he actually has "the right stuff."

The "B plot" was once again revolving around Mercer/Grayson - and similar to the A plot, the focus was on lack of confidence - in this case Mercer doubting himself when he finds out Grayson put in a good word for him. I like that the crew of the Orville isn't so sure of itself, but given Kitan has also had two episodes centering around her command insecurities, I really hope the writers stop going back to the well here.

In the end, I think my feelings on this episode hinge on how much The Orville makes sure to not press the "reset button" at the end of each episode. This could mark the transition into a new season, with a more confident crew more assured in their roles, and something like a character arc starting for LaMarr. On the other hand, if the conclusion of this episode has no consequences on the next episode, it will be very disappointing. Will The Orville be DS9 or Voyager? Time will tell, but I am concerned already that the trailer for next week showed LaMarr back on the bridge in his old seat. Maybe they produced these episodes out of order, and we won't have this issue going forward.
J.B.
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 1:59am (UTC -6)
That was deeply dull. I'm glad to see LeMarr getting more development but I don't find the actor engaging and it felt like the 2D storyline was really only there to service his character when it could have been a fascinating sci-fi concept on its own. A shame they barely did anything with it (pretty visuals aside). And from the very beginning, every scene with Mercer and Grayson bickering has been an utter black hole of interest. Occasionally with weaker episodes of this show, the jokes have made up for dramatic weaknesses but after three episodes of writers other than MacFarlane, he's back to his old tricks of making every gag seem out of place and forced.

Here's hoping the finale delivers.
Norvo
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 3:02am (UTC -6)
Just noticed the admiral that put Ed in command of the Orville is named Halsey. Admiral Halsey... For some reason, the thought Seth McFarlane possibly made an effort to reference a character from a catchy Paul McCartney & Wings song just makes me smile. And wonder when Uncle Albert will show up.
Lore
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 5:49am (UTC -6)
Lightweight episode which could have been a lot deeper. I've never been much of a fan of the unexamined "post-scarcity we don't work for money anymore, we work for reputation" in Trek. Here was an opportunity to go into that but the whole thing was a cop out. LaMarr was happy in his job, but since the Commander thinks he should be Chief Engineer he just accepts that? That doesn't seem like the actions of the smartest guy on the ship. I wanted to see more analysis of the purpose of work in a post-scarcity world. Trek still has yet to give us that. Maybe because their know their utopian vision will fall apart as soon as it is scrutinized.
ALongtimeTrekkie
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 6:09am (UTC -6)
This episode brought down the quality of the series for me, because there was just too much bickering, sarcasm, and unprofessional behavior among the senior staff.

I realize this is not TNG. The Orville crew don't have to be such a well-oiled machine. Yes, the Orville is comedy. It should be given license for joke-cracking and goofiness.

However, if it's going to be an homage to TNG -- and if it is going to have staying power -- it needs to keep us firmly believing in a certain quality of ability and implementation of order among the characters. That Yaphit was even being considered for a commander position, when he has a history of sexually harassing the doctor and being generally a jerk, is ludicrous. (So yes, it makes sense that he was eventually not chosen.) Contrary to the poster above, I don't find Yaphit to be an increasingly well-developed character. In this episode he didn't show vulnerability or wisdom. He just complained about not getting the job. We never saw him admit that maybe LaMarr was better-suited to it. A simple scene with Yaphit congratulating LaMarr would have gone a long way toward making the whole team feel more likeable.

I still prefer The Orville to DSC. But they seem to be converging to a middle-quality asymptote as Star Trek shows go, the Orville from above, and DSC from below.
anonymous
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 7:02am (UTC -6)
Excellent episode overall, but I'm getting pretty tired of the baggage between Mercer and Grayson. It's way too prominent in too many episodes.
PerryP
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 8:38am (UTC -6)
Pretty good episode. They keep on refining their characters as the show progresses. The baggage between Mercer and Grayson is now put to rest. There may be more for all the wrong reasons but it won't be pronounced like an A pilot which can drive people nuts. The visuals get an A+ on entering the 3rd dimension realm. I would like to see a video game like Donkey Kong or PacMan but that's pretty far off. I'm going with @Trek fan's review but my rating of 3.25 🌠 out of 4. Who takes John's old place at the helm? Are there dual roles in this universe? There a lot of unanswered questions on character development and that's something to be desired. At least the Trill is not following the hot trail.
philadlj
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 10:13am (UTC -6)
Throughout Ed's crisis of confidence, we kept saying "OMG stop being a whiny little bitch and get over it!"

By the end of the episode, Ed says "I've been a whiny little bitch, but I'm over it."

Good job, Orville!

Also liked the idea that John is actually quite a bright fellow, but CHOOSES not to employ that intelligence in favor of a more comfortable existence.

That being said, glad he got the opportunity to show himself (as well as others) the leadership potential, and look forward to him as the new chief engineer (though I wonder who will replace him at the navigator post? Elevator music guy?)

Kelly came off as a little pushy and meddle-y after looking through John's file and discovering, essentially, his hidden genius, but I actually thought that was appropriate for an XO; as she herself says, it's her job to field the best possible crew for her captain...which segues nicely into her motivation for getting Ed a command - he IS a good captain, it's just that no one, including Ed, was giving him a chance.

Not sure it will happen, but it would be nice to see the "Plant Guy" in action!
wolfstar
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 11:28am (UTC -6)
3 stars - I enjoyed this a lot. I liked that the sci-fi plot took a back seat to character work and thoughtfulness; this was by far the best Ed/Kelly character work all season, as the script was sincere (Macfarlane's best since episode 3) and treated them as two mature adults. I also like Yaphit's characterization (his first serious characterization instead of him being a one-note visual gag/sex pest) - there were still laughs, but he was written as a dimensioned character with professional skills, aspirations and thoughts/feelings, someone we could actually take at last halfway seriously. In theory I'm also there for the LaMarr character work, but J Lee didn't really pull it off - his acting isn't stepping up to the game, I thought he was weaker here than in episode 7, which he wasn't especially strong in either. The explanation for why he apparently hid his intelligence was also too pat and didn't seem context appropriate - OK, he concealed his smartness in the working-class community he grew up in, but what about after he left home and joined the Union fleet? How did he get to the position he's in - why would he continue to play dumb in a professional environment where other smart professional people are his peers?

Good supporting use of Isaac and I liked that Kelly played a meaningful role. An ongoing nitpick is that Bortus continues to just be used as comic relief - yeah, he's great at it (in a similar way to Michael Dorn), but the character and actor can offer so much more than this. So I'd love more meaningful action for Bortus on an episode-to-episode basis and ideally at least one more meaty Bortus ep in season 2.

Two-dimensional lifeforms are of course a lift from a TNG episode; I wasn't crazy about the corny dayglo execution here, but they at least really sold the awe factor and made it look nice, if not that credible. I appreciated the unapologetic mathness of the tech dialogue and the obvious thought that had gone into the quantum physics concept, even if the execution was slightly too cartoonish for my taste. So yeah, an ep that reminded me of TNG and TOS in good ways, that delivered meaningful character work on at least two fronts (LaMarr's promotion, Ed and Kelly's new understanding and increased trust/respect, plus taking Yaphit a little more seriously) and that had gags that were largely funny and worked in context. It's a high 3.
Tom Chambers
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
Norvo, you may be right about 'Admiral Halsey' being a Mcfarlane shout-out to a McCartney/Wings song. But (just checking) you do realize that Admiral Halsey was a real person, yes? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Halsey_Jr.
PerryP
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Nelson ratings on The Orville: https://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/the-orville-season-one-ratings/ That's pretty good for a first season. I can't seem to find STD ratings.
Lynos
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 5:08pm (UTC -6)
Some good character development, but I have to say that in the case of Lammar it was hard to suspend disbieleif. Senior staff is only checking their chief navigator's personal file now? And I didn't really buy Lammar's explanation for hiding his IQ.
I wonder if this character twist was a decision that was decided half-way through the season or if it was something that was there from the beginning. I suspect the former, but who knows. Also, I don't think the actor sells it. The transformation was just too quick.

The 2-D world reminded me of a video game. It was very Pacmanish. But it did ooze a sense of wonder, so they pulled it off in that regard.

Not sure how much I like the fact everyone on this show speak and joke and reference like a 2017 human. If anything, it makes me appreicate more the dialogue in TNG. Those people really sounded like guys from the 24th century while still being relatable.

Decent episode. But I liked the previous two better.

Best gag: the bloody noses.
Tom Chambers
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
Norvo, my apologies, I should have refrained from commenting. McFarlane's 'Admiral Halsey' shout-out is ultimately just a matter of trivia. I suppose the more relevant question is, not whether you knew, but did Seth McFarlane know? It doesn't matter at all to anybody except naval history buffs.
Norvo
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 5:58pm (UTC -6)
@Tom Chambers: apology accepted but unnecessary, really. I learned something new which added to my appreciation of the track, nothing wrong with that.

Getting back to the episode: it was very subtle, but the Orville paid homage (or stole) from TNG by promoting the pilot of the ship to chief engineer. It took Geordi LaForge over 26 episodes to get there and he didn't even have a Norm MacDonald voiced CGI blob alien pulling the race card.
navamske
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 6:18pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode. I appreciated the reference to "Flatland," and the one to Doctor Who's "phone booth."

I thought Commander Grayson's explanation of how their society evolved from the universal currency's being money to its being one's reputation was better than any explanation I've heard on Star Trek.

Does everybody know that Dann, the guy who likes to refinish furniture and thinks he's funny, is Cleveland, from "Family Guy" and "The Cleveland Show"?

I don't think Seth MacFarlane is a bad actor at all. And when we heard the jazz music at the beginning, I was hoping he was going to sing. He has a beautiful voice.
Troy
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 6:46pm (UTC -6)
This episode started off so well. And it ended OK.

But the techno-babble solutions offered by LeMarr to save the ship reminded me that "The Orville" is more like "Voyager" and less like "TNG".

I also would have appreciated a clue that LeMarr is intellectually gifted in a previous episode than to present this information in the same episode in which he is promoted to Chief Engineer.

This is step one in the USS Orville's process to mirror the crew of the USS Enterprise D. Next Kitan must be killed and replaced by Bortus and then Dr Flynn will need to leave the Orville for a year and then return.
SlackerInc
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 6:51pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, I really liked Seth’s concert with Sara Bareilles.

I can pretty much guarantee you that the high IQ revelation is a retcon they didn’t foresee earlier in the season.

Interesting about the Nielsen ratings (I’m once again lamenting that I lost my chance to have a box). Anyone have a theory on why the numbers jumped up for 1.7 and then declined?

Lore, can you expand on why you don’t buy the idea of a post-scarcity economy?

Lynos, What makes you so sure TNG characters talks like the 24th century? I suspect people at that time will use a lot of slang or neologisms that would sound completely incomprehensible to us now.
John Jay Witte
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
After last week's episode, I found myself really enjoying this episode. Sure it had the patented "Person is placed in charge and has to earn the trust of his teammates" story, but I felt like the execution was well handled. Even though it came out of left field, it felt surprisingly organic to the show.

I also liked the subplot involving Ed finding out about Kelly's efforts to get him the command of the Orville. Once again, I enjoyed how the episode built off the history of the show over the past few episodes and also built on the history of Ed and Kelly's past relationship.

And even still, I liked the who two dimensional universe plot too. Sure, it has been done before in all iterations of Star Trek, but it also felt surprisingly fresh and different. I know that the show is stretching the plausibility of the ship being functional in any way after passing through 2 dimensional space, but I'm willing to roll with it.

Lastly, and this is the weirdest part of all, I thought the crude humor worked for me throughout the episode. After watching all of the episodes, it seems like sometimes the show either is too crude or barely crude at all. I know that the show has struggled to find the right balance. The show has billed itself as an irreverent take on Star Trek, so it needs to be irreverent.

I know you could argue that Majority Rule and About a Girl are better, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that this one is my favorite, because it features a more straight ahead story and doesn't rest on any serious themes to help carry it through. It's really a shame the season is almost over because I think they're starting to figure things out.

3.5 stars out of 4 for me.
PerryP
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 7:18pm (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc Thursday night football tend to skew the Nielsen ratings. There was one football night that people refused to watch on a kneeling incident story that week and I think the Cowboys played that game, not so sure. It was a huge boast to The Orville rating.

I think jammer is going to upped the score on this one episode as crude humor was well-balanced. :)
Myrrinth
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 9:48pm (UTC -6)
(Spoilers, obviously.) I enjoyed this episode. There was definitely a first-season TNG throwback here with the chief engineer replaced by a bridge officer a'la Geordi La Forge. I don't really feel a lot of loss with this character leaving, since he never really felt like part of the "main cast." This leaves the question - who will take Lamarr's place on the bridge?

I think it was interesting to see Lamarr's adjustment to a leadership role with the failed gumdrop idea (you don't get a gumdrop!), and his demonstration of some command qualities when we defended Yaphit to his peers in the shuttle. He grew a lot in this episode.

I thought the two-dimensional space concept was really neat to look at, and the reference to Flatland were a nice touch.

There were a few inconsistencies that I feel held the episode back, notably the sudden "realization" about Lamarr's aptitude scores. I think it's far-fetched that the two senior commanders on a ship would have never read the personnel file on all of the current senior staff they were serving with until now. This is particularly true for Lamarr, who you would think Ed or Kelly would have reviewed after the events of "Majority Rule." Some of the Ed-Kelly scenes in this episode fell flat for me, but the way they wrapped it up (particularly the "Dumbo" reference) worked well.
Tomalak
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 9:54pm (UTC -6)
"I want you and I to be okay."

I cringed at this line. How can you be a TV writer and not know when to use I and when to use me?
Lore
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 9:58pm (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc

There are several reasons I don't buy the post-scarcity idealism in Trek.

1. Even if food and goods can be replicated freely leaving nobody wanting, there is one thing that will always be scarce - land. In The Orville, we've already seen that Ed and Kelly lived in a high-rise apartment. Who decided that? What if they want kids and want a roomier place with a backyard? Sure, you can say there are now more worlds to migrate too, but what if their family is all on Earth and they want to stay close to them?

2. Kelly says we no longer work for money, but for reputation. Isn't that simply making others think more highly of you so that you receive benefits from them? How will that be beneficial in post-scarcity and why will people feel the need to work to achieve that? There have always been people who worked not for money, but for reputation. They have always been the most egoic people in society. Now there are signs the young are starting to see through the myth of nobility of working for reputation, and won't have any part of it.

3. Another thing that is never going to be scarce - services. Say I have a sore back and want a back massage every morning. Who is going to do that, and what for?

Anyway I don't want to make a speech because discussions like these are better in dialogue, but I think there are plenty of objections to the idea.
Lynos
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 3:18am (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc
It's not really what they say on TNG, it's what they don't say. Of course we have no way to actually know how people will speak in the 24th century and most probably it won't be English anyway, or even more likely communication will be mostly telepthatic and not use sounds at all (I'm just riffing here), but for sake of us viewers being able to follow, they do speak English in the 24th century in Star Trek but they use neutral, clean English, no slang, no pop culture references, and no specific accents (except for Picard).

In The Orville, on the contrary, other than Bortos and Issac, everybody has this american drawl, even the aliens such as Yaphet, The Blue Guy from two episodes ago, and Elevator Music Guy. They all sound the same, and I know it's a Seth McPharlane thing, because many characters in Family Guy have the same drawl in their speech, you can have a cut-away to a talking banana and it will sound like a mid-western cowboy. It could also be that many of these voice actors also appear in Orville.

So I personally find it distarcting. Not sure if to call it "unbeleivable" since it's a comedy, but it's distracting.
Nicholas A Sergi
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 6:35am (UTC -6)
Yeah, as a fan of Trek, especially 90's Trek, I like the fact that old stories can be re-purposed for this show, and that the episodes can be both familiar AND new. It's comforting.. that's why I watch. The newest episode (no spoilers) is taking the idea that it's the CHARACTERS who solve problems to get out of anomalies (The Immunity Syndrome) with the two dimensional thing (The Loss) with the responsibilities of being put into command (Parallax) and by combining those three episodes, it feels fresh yet comfortingly familiar. I don't want it to not be what it is now.
Skoozy
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 8:05am (UTC -6)
I didn't like the look of the 2D space. Where was all that light shining up into if there is no 3rd dimension?

I also think the revelation that LaMarr was a genius and his promotion was a bit too speedy for me.

Chief engineer LaMarr. Chief engineer La Forge. Hmmmm...I wonder if he'll start wearing a visor?

I thought it was a decent episode.

3 stars.
Dougie
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
i’m trying to get this to play on foxnow on my apple tv and it just will not do it. keeps giving me a content error right after the fox logo.

SlackerInc
Sun, Dec 3, 2017, 3:51am (UTC -6)
@PerryP: “Thursday night football tend to skew the Nielsen ratings. There was one football night that people refused to watch on a kneeling incident story that week and I think the Cowboys played that game, not so sure. It was a huge boast to The Orville rating.”

Interesting theory, but it doesn’t really square with the data on NFL viewership. The week “Orville” got that big number, the Thursday night NFL game (an admittedly blah Dolphins-Ravens matchup, although I don’t recall any particular controversy on that one) had 11.4 million viewers. But the following week, when the Bills were playing the Jets, TNF’s viewership was cut almost in half, to 5.8 million. Yet “Orville’s” viewership also dropped by 300,000! I can’t make heads nor tails of it. (And the trend the past couple weeks has not been great: although this week they actually added 300,000 viewers from the week before, they skewed a lot older so the number in the 18-49 demo, which is all that really matters, actually went down.)

@Lore: “1. Even if food and goods can be replicated freely leaving nobody wanting, there is one thing that will always be scarce - land.”

That’s true (although the entire population of Earth could stand comfortably side by side within the city limits of Los Angeles). I suppose there could be a lottery system for land. It also might be that with holodecks and transporters, people don’t really care that much where they live as long as the interior is nice (which it would be thanks to replicators).

“2. Kelly says we no longer work for money, but for reputation. Isn't that simply making others think more highly of you so that you receive benefits from them? How will that be beneficial in post-scarcity and why will people feel the need to work to achieve that?”

I think it’s beneficial just for one’s ego, as you intimated. For some people it wouldn’t be, and they probably wouldn’t work. This is not portrayed in any Trek I’ve seen, but it would be interesting to see it.

“3. Another thing that is never going to be scarce - services. Say I have a sore back and want a back massage every morning. Who is going to do that, and what for?”

That one seems easy to me: robots. Or specifically in the Star Trek world, since Data is said to be so rare: holographic masseurs/masseuses. Just head down to the holodeck (or if you have a mobile emitter, just use a voice command wherever you already are) and enjoy!

@Lynos: “It's not really what they say on TNG, it's what they don't say. Of course we have no way to actually know how people will speak in the 24th century and most probably it won't be English anyway, or even more likely communication will be mostly telepthatic and not use sounds at all (I'm just riffing here), but for sake of us viewers being able to follow, they do speak English in the 24th century in Star Trek but they use neutral, clean English, no slang, no pop culture references, and no specific accents (except for Picard).”

So did you object to the TOS accents of Chekhov, McCoy, and Scotty?

I get what you’re saying, but here’s the thing: either approach comes down to “We don’t know how people will actually talk at that time, so this is just kind of a 20th/21st century translation and you can fill in the blanks in your mind if you like”. Sort of like the universal translator but within our own language across time.

The TNG approach is to “translate” into flat, unaccented, non-slangy English. But I think it’s also legitimate to use current-day slangy American English, and have that be a marker for “whatever the 24th-century version of this way of speaking is, that’s how they are actually talking”. I actually like that approach better, because with the TNG style, you can be lulled into thinking future people have just discarded all slang and inflection and I don’t think that’s the case. McFarlane’s approach also preserves more character to each, well, character.

@Tomalak: “I cringed at this line. How can you be a TV writer and not know when to use I and when to use me?”

I cringed at it too, but I don’t know that TV writers should use their own command of grammar to make all the characters they write use perfect grammar as that wouldn’t be realistic. Most people would probably use “I” rather than “me” there, which BTW means it’s entirely possible this will be the standard by the 24th century (just like how it’s pretty rare nowadays for anyone to use the predicate nominative “It is I” instead of “It’s me”).

@Skoozy: “I didn't like the look of the 2D space. Where was all that light shining up into if there is no 3rd dimension?”

And like I said, how was the ship (and other objects in the dimension) going OVER the flat shapes? It should be more like a maze, as in Pac-Man or something. Oh well.
Lynos
Sun, Dec 3, 2017, 10:21am (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc

I was comparing Orville to TNG more than to TOS. But no, the accents in TOs didn't bother me.
It's more about the all-american speech, how everybody sound the same even if they're aliens, than about accents.

I guess it's when some of the aliens talk like that, that I find it especially distracting. Prime example was Darulio from Cupid's Dagger. It felt kind of lazy in an otherwise stellar episode. (also, it's not just about speech, there's body language involved as well. In short, there was nothing alien about him other than his blue face).
Tyler
Sun, Dec 3, 2017, 5:25pm (UTC -6)
@Lore
"1. there is one thing that will always be scarce - land. In The Orville, we've already seen that Ed and Kelly lived in a high-rise apartment. Who decided that?"
They likely coordinate with their government to obtain housing.

"What if they want kids and want a roomier place with a backyard? Sure, you can say there are now more worlds to migrate too, but what if their family is all on Earth and they want to stay close to them?"
Similarly, I'm sure that the government would have a process for determining moving . I imagine that one of the primary factors in determining who lives where would be based on need. There are likely structures in place to deal with conflicts.

"2. Kelly says we no longer work for money, but for reputation. Isn't that simply making others think more highly of you so that you receive benefits from them? How will that be beneficial in post-scarcity and why will people feel the need to work to achieve that? "
Most Humans seem to have a desire to feel important, to be loved and care for, and to "leave a mark". These can suffice as ample motivation for working. Others feel a desire to explore, to learn, or to teach. Such things can be rooted in evolutionary impulses or societal and cultural forces, and can exist outside a political system rooted in the desire to accumulate property or wealth.

"There have always been people who worked not for money, but for reputation. They have always been the most egoic people in society. "
There are many such individuals examined in Trek even! As you imply, a desire to accomplish and work can exist outside a system that bases power and value on wealth. Social Power still exists in star trek, in the form of reputation, command, knowledge, and skill. If motivation for reputation can exist outside capitalism, why can't others?

"3. Another thing that is never going to be scarce - services. Say I have a sore back and want a back massage every morning. Who is going to do that, and what for? "
I think others have state the obvious answer to this above. Robots, or holograms, or machines do a good amount of the labor that no one desires to do. And that's really what you're really asking, who is going to do the dangerous, unpleasant and terrible things that need to be done. The current answer to this question is the poor. That is because in a society with scarcity, humans themselves become a resource to be exploited and used. In the Federation, such necessities are taken care of by automated systems. A person may invent such a system because they wish to help others or society, or to become famous, or simply because they seek to accomplish something that hasn't been done. There are many examples of this in Trek, like Dr. Zimmerman who made Holograms (EMH) to do basic medical work.
We are actually currently seeing some issues because of advances in automation, with many working people being replaced with machines. This is because humans are not the most efficient resource for most jobs that include repetitive tasks, manual labor, monitoring, etc.. On top of that Humans don't seem to enjoy those jobs, as we have really evolved to be problem solvers, tool-makers, and thinkers.
Those are also the jobs that machines are best able to accomplish, and in a post scarcity world there would be thus little need for humans to do such jobs.

What i'm trying to say is the services that Humans actually enjoy performing are the tasks that humans are evolutionary better designed and equiped to do. Humans aren't normally interested in giving a backrub everyday, but may be interested in solving the logistical or technical problems in creating a tool that many people can use.
SlackerInc
Sun, Dec 3, 2017, 10:19pm (UTC -6)
@Tyler: Well said. That was better than my answer, but I agree 100%. I think we'd both have to agree though that the toughest point of Lore's to answer is about land and housing.
Jack
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 12:18am (UTC -6)
“What if they want kids and want a roomier place with a backyard?”

That’s a suburban, North American concept. In most if the world, families live in apartments and use parks and shared public spaces.

The need for everyone to have their own homes and yards (which are unused most of the time) has led to sprawl, pollution (commuting in a single car) and insane traffic.

I liked the episode. I also don’t think Yaphit was sexually harassing Claire — he propositioned her/asked her out repeatedly, she told him to knock it off or she’d report it and it was done. She took care of herself.
Skoozy
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 2:07am (UTC -6)
I don't see what this episode has to do with scarcity at all. It doesn't actually, but since that's what people seem to want to talk about, I'll add my humble opinion.

A post scarcity world will never exist. This is science fiction were are talking about, not reality. We will never invent a replicator, or warp drive, or most of the other things on Star Trek or The Orville, because they are impossible. Arguing about it is a bit silly.

Lynos
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 3:36am (UTC -6)
Actually, some of the things first featured on Trek already exist in some form in the real world. A cell phone is a version of the communicator, and as for replicators and such, we already have printers that can turn simple digital non-organic information into a 3D physical object.

This is not saying all technology on Trek will be available to us in real life, but they are not batting on zero.
SlackerInc
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 7:51am (UTC -6)
@Jack: "I also don’t think Yaphit was sexually harassing Claire — he propositioned her/asked her out repeatedly, she told him to knock it off or she’d report it and it was done. She took care of herself."

If he wasn't sexually harassing Claire, there would be nothing for her to threaten to report.

"A post scarcity world will never exist. This is science fiction were are talking about, not reality. We will never invent a replicator, or warp drive, or most of the other things on Star Trek or The Orville, because they are impossible. Arguing about it is a bit silly."

First, I think it's never "silly" to chew the fat over an issue explicitly raised on the show we are discussing. Secondly, while we're unlikely to invent replicators or warp drives as depicted, I think it's highly likely, a near certainty, that we will get to a world where there is no more scarcity for material goods. It won't be that such goods are made instantly in a replicator, but they may be mass-produced in fully automated factories, or--as Lynos noted--individually produced in an hour or two by a more advanced version of a 3D printer.
Shannon
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
Good episode, and nice to see the writers continue with the character development (in this case Ed and John) by telling a good story. The jokes and gags were kept to an appropriate minimum, allowing for the story regarding John's unknown high intelligence to be played out. The "sci-fi" part of the show dealing with 2-dimensional space was a bit odd, but I don't take that stuff seriously on this show. It was just a plot setup to get John in the Chief Engineer's chair... One of the better outings of the season, I'd give it 3.5 starts.
Yanks
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
The Captain is a mental pussy. If he can't see that he needed help to make it to the CO's chair, then screw him.

We always knew Geordi was going to make it to Engineering.
Jammer
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
Samuel
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 11:16pm (UTC -6)
LaMarr should never have been promoted to engineering. Two words to explain why: majority rule. One more word: statue.
SlackerInc
Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 12:59am (UTC -6)
Jammer, I don’t agree with all your opinions about the episode , but I really have to take my hat off to you for the virtuoso writing. I have read dozens of your reviews (admittedly a small fraction of the total) and this is the best-written one I have seen. Bravo.
PerryP
Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 7:33am (UTC -6)
@Samuel I couldn't agree more on fast track promotion but we have to remember that this takes place in 24th century where we run into perception verses reality. I think Jammer misses the point here and decimated a point from the review on that conclusion alone.

What I see is that people don't want to take risks if they have a great resume. LaMarr probably knows this too well and tried to act subpar in his role. Now he is going to get risky "over-the-top" assignments from the captain and captain assistant which can mean life or death situations. I don't know if he is too happy about the promotion to Chief Engineering.
Ed
Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
Now Picard's self righteous speeches about "we don't use money in the future" are infecting other shows, apparently. :)

Is a ration/command economy desirable even if you are comfortable? I'd want a broadly market-based economy but with a large public sphere that provides a variety of benefits including a guaranteed minimum income, education, infrastructure, job search assistance and health care.

The main space exploration/defense organization would be government owned, but people could use a mixture of private funds and government grants for starting colonies.

My model is more in line with how we see people function in Star Trek and similar almost utopian societies anyway. Where do they get money to drink and gamble at Quark's anyway?
Strikelord
Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc:

"@Jack: "I also don’t think Yaphit was sexually harassing Claire — he propositioned her/asked her out repeatedly, she told him to knock it off or she’d report it and it was done. She took care of herself."

If he wasn't sexually harassing Claire, there would be nothing for her to threaten to report."

I think that it may have been ordinary, run-of-the-mill harassment/annoyance. Asking someone out on a date isn't nearly the same as asking them to engage in sexual activity.

Also, I found Claire's annoyance with Yaphit in this episode a little off-putting--she seemed annoyed with Yaphit and tended to discount his medical issue; she appeared to be willing to dismiss him almost out-of-hand despite Yaphit having a legitimate medical concern.
Pocket University
Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 10:49pm (UTC -6)
@Strikelord The Yaphit/Claire gag is very reminiscent of the boys pestering the school nurse in Urusei Yatsura, though in that case the nurse blowing off legitimate complaints was a bit more understandable since it was literally *every male student* behaving this way.
Yanks
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 7:56am (UTC -6)
I've watched this again.

Aside from the dumb choice of choosing someone that dry humps a public statue on an away mission, I'd much prefer Yaphit as CHENG anyways....pretty cool character.

I got to thinking about the "IQ" thing. IQ does not equate or translate to motivation. This is a poor choice for a very important leadership position.

So, in the previews of next week's episode, we see Lamar back on the bridge in his old spot... I don't remember seeing the old CHENG ever driving/navigating on the bridge.

So, I think we now see why our Captain went off the deep end when his wife crewed around on him... just look at his reaction here... "whiny bitch" certainly applies and his actions demonstrate the mental maturity of a 5 year old. This angle from Seth concerning everything that irks him is growing tiresome.

I thought the "2D" thing in this episode was pretty cool and, I don't believe, has ever been done before?

I'll go 2 stars. While I thought the gist story was OK, the rest brought this episode down.
Dougie
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 9:39pm (UTC -6)
i can’t get through it. i fall asleep. every time. tried 5 times to watch it.

And to be fair, that elevator alien is really *not funny*.
Eric
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 9:49am (UTC -6)
As someone who used to be in the navy, I can't make sense of Lamarr being given the CHENG position. In a navy, you have these things called trades: There's engineers, navigators, people who work in comms/ops, etc.. Now I know that a sci-fi navy might work differently, but the 'trades' idea would be the same. The doctor is trained as a doctor, the navigator would have to go back and retrain if he wanted to become an engineer. Also: Isn't Lamarr a department head already? I don't understand that either: How is that under-achieving, and in getting him to fill the chief engineer position, aren't they losing another department head in the process?
SlackerInc
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -6)
@Strikelord: "I think that it may have been ordinary, run-of-the-mill harassment/annoyance. Asking someone out on a date isn't nearly the same as asking them to engage in sexual activity. "

The United Nations published a guide to sexual harassment:

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/whatissh.pdf

It lists examples. There are some that are in the vein you're referring to, such as "Making sexual comments about a person's body" and "Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history". But there is also: "Repeatedly asking out a person who is not interested". Which is exactly what Yaphit did. We saw him come back and ask again at least a couple times after having been turned down.

So now you know. I'm glad you were able to learn something today that could be very important at your workplace!

@Dougie: If you don't think the elevator alien is funny, I'd be very curious to know what kinds of things you do find funny. Are we talking Adam Sandler comedies? Whoopie cushions? Singing bass trophies?

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