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Sun, Jan 13, 2019, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Home

This was fine. Pretty good as far as "saying goodbye to a crewmember" episodes go. I was worried that they were going to rip off (VOY) "Homestead" right down to the line of crewmembers in the hallway to see Alara off (a very lovely moment in Homestead, but it would have been *too* shamless a ripoff here), so I'm glad they picked the low-key route of having each main cast member hug her one by one. Understated and classy.

My problem was, like the commenters above have pointed out, the family scenes were incredibly stilted and the family came off like rich WASPs, not aliens with a distinct culture. The episode had a latter-day VOY / ENT vibe which is not in its favor, since that was Trek at its most stilted. Alara's conflict with her dad worked OK, and so did the hostage crisis. Very nice moment where she tells her dad "you can do it," which resonates with their earlier argument. I mostly enjoyed this story for the novelty value of seeing Robert Picardo and John Billingsley in the same scene, and Billingsley playing a bad guy. (This was an alum-heavy episode overall. Molly Hagan, Alara's mom, played a Vorta on DS9, and Patrick Warburton is instantly recognizable to Seth McFarlane fans.)

The B-plot on the Orville with Warburton's new security officer was incredibly jarring and didn't fit with the rest of the episode. Even though I found the *content* of the A-plot standard, I did appreciate how it played as straightforward drama and encouraged us to take it seriously without digressions into random jokes (aside from the occasional Gordon quip, but that's what he's here for).

As to the rumors of McFarlane and Sage dating, it would be a little icky if their relationship ended and that's the reason she's being written off the show. I can't find any straight answers online; it could be as simple as a scheduling conflict, since they left the door so obviously open for her to return. But honestly, actors are fickle creatures (I say this being an actor and working with many actors over the years) who sometimes make odd choices with their careers. We may be looking at a George Lazenby situation where he chose, completely on his own volition, not to return as Bond, thus throwing away his biggest break. Or Denise Crosby, who felt understandably undervalued on TNG S1 but could've gotten some great episodes if she'd stuck it out. Or maybe Sage knows more than we do, and she's making the right choice. Who knows? I'm fine with Alara leaving and fine with her maybe returning someday.

Not the episode's fault, but I laughed out loud when my local FOX station cut straight from a Wendy's commercial to a shot of a woman's finger about to be cut off. Talk about tonal shifts!
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Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 3:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

Now that was interesting! "Primal Urges" is "Hollow Pursuits" taken to its logical conclusion, and actually treated with a fair amount of compassion. Bortus' monologue in the shuttle was a moment of pathos I truly didn't expect, especially when he acknowledges how hollow and dead his addiction makes him feel. Was the word "porn" even mentioned on Star Trek? Quark ran sex programs in his holosuites, sure, but that took place far offscreen. Kudos to The Orville for not only bringing up the topic of porn addiction, but actually showing it.

That being said, I still struggle with the show's tone. One minute, Bortus is being stabbed in the chest, and the next, Gordon is making masturbation jokes. At this point, the tonal shifts are a feature of the show, rather than a bug. You like them or you don't. It mostly works for me, but during the porn scenes, it led to some cognitive dissonance. I watch the show in a mixed group of Trek / sci-fi fans and non-fans, and most people were laughing simply at the novel sight of rubber-headed aliens acting out porn scenarios. Whereas it seemed the episode wanted us to feel sad for Bortus screwing up his life. I worry that the show undercuts its own intentions by priming us to expect humor, even during dramatic scenes.

@wolfstar, totally agree that Bortus and Klyden blow Stamets and Culber out of the water as far as a same-sex relationship with characters you care about. Stamets / Culber felt like they were ticking a box ("No same-sex couples so far on Trek? Check!"), but Bortus / Klyden have real arguments, moments of affection, etc. Their relationship lives and breathes, instead of being just a tool in the season arc.

The visual effects are just astounding for TV. The final plunge into the sun was genuinely intense, and the score had a strong Wrath of Khan vibe. My group actually rewound the episode (we DVR it) to figure out if the penis monster with the Jabba the Hutt voice was CGI or a puppet. It looks like a combination to me, maybe a suit with CGI filling in the vocal articulation. I almost wish the refugee subplot had been saved for a different episode, since it's such a dark, rich scenario that could've used more exploration than just a component of Bortus' story. I guess the Orville writers are following the TNG rule of combining character-based A-plots with sci-fi B-plots.

Finally, I do love Bortus, but the rest of the cast is starting to feel underdeveloped. Would love to see more LaMarr / Alarra / Finn episodes that give them this kind of depth.
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Mon, Dec 31, 2018, 4:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

Longtime lurker posting here for the first time! I figured the start of Orville S2 would be a good time to jump in. (I will not be watching Discovery S2 since S1 so thoroughly put me off, but I will greatly enjoy watching you fine people tear it apart every week!)

As for "Ja'loja," I loved it! Not everyone's cup of tea, for sure, but if you're a fan of Seth MacFarlane's other shows, you know what to expect. Even on Trek, I always loved these kinds of low-key hangout episodes: VOY's "Someone to Watch Over Me," DS9's "In the Cards." The Orville's sci-fi elements have been pretty weak so far, so I'm glad to see the show lean into its strengths: a laid-back, another-day-at-the-office tone with regular people dealing with regular relationship issues.

I disagree with some of the other posters here; the episode did have a strong thematic throughline of the complexities of dating and romantic relationships (with the exception of the Isaac / Claire subplot). I liked the love triangles being set up among Ed / Kelly / Gordon / Cassius / the new character. LaMarr was fun as a love advisor. The Alara / Dann date was cringeworthy and funny. Probably my favorite small joke was Dann's "I miss you already" text. Too real, Seth. Too real.

I do have to turn off that alarm in the back of my head that goes off whenever the Orville reminds me of a Star Trek episode:

- Bortus' ceremony like Pon Farr from "Amok Time"
- The "your kid is a bad influence" teenage subplot like Jake and Nog in the early DS9 episodes
- Bortus even had a line like "this ceremony is shared with one's closest friends," which is almost word-for-word how Worf refers to his "bachelor party" in "You Are Cordially Invited."

But that's just me and my encyclopedic Trek brain.

Favorite little detail: in the future, the more zippers a jacket has, the cooler it is.
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