The Orville S01E01 “Old Wounds” REVIEW

The Orville S01E01 “Old Wounds” REVIEW

0 comments 📅14 December 2017, 12:00

Airing on FOX at 9pm on Thursdays in the UK
Writer: Seth MacFarlane
Director: Jon Favreau

Essential Plot Points:

  • Earth 2418. Ed Mercer finds his wife in bed with an alien.
  • A year later, he’s called in to see Admiral Halsey and told he’s being offered an exploratory vessel, the Orville, as his first time in the big chair. An officer who has gone from the top of his class to multiple disciplinary warnings, Ed is on his last chance. But first, he needs a helmsman. And he knows a guy…
  • Gordon Malloy is the best helmsman in the fleet. He’s also a drunk and a serial penis graffiti artist. Ed finds Gordon in a holodeck sim, fighting an ogre in a Samurai village. Justin, the ogre, is actually rather sweet and supportive.
  • On the way up to the Orville, Gordon gets nervous and drinks. Ed yells at him. Gordon shows off. They almost die and then they see the ship and everything is just fine.

  • Aboard, Ed talks to his crew for the first time. He speaks to his senior officers and we meet the crew:
  • Lt. Alara Kitan-A Security Chief from a high gravity world with boosted strength as a result.
  • Lt. John LaMarr-Navigator, helsman, soda enthusiast.
  • Lt. Commander Bortus-A Moclan, a single gender species.
  • Doctor Claire Finn-Chief Medical Officer who asked for a transfer to the Orville because she worries he might need the help.
  • Isaac- A metallic lifeform who is from a massively racist species with a colossal amount of self-confidence.
  • After the briefing, Malloy and LaMarr chat. Malloy tells LaMarr about the accident that led to him being benched and explains how much he owes Ed. The two men get on.
  • The Orville gets its first mission under Ed’s command, a supply run to a science base on Epsilon 2. The clamps retract, the Orville flies free and off they go.

  • En route, Admiral Halsey sends word, privately, about the First Officer who’s become available and can meet them on site.
    Ed reads it, panics and runs off to make the call.
  • It is, of course, his ex-wife.
  • Halsey is sympathetic but she’s the only option available and, he points, it’s not going to look good for Ed to complain one day into his command…
  • The Orville docks at station 794 to pick her up. She’s sent directly to Ed’s office. She levels with Ed, apologising and asking to transfer in order to ‘atone’.
  • About halfway through the scene, we finally find out her name, Kelly.
  • It turns out Ed was a workaholic and emotionally closed off. Finally, after sniping at one another constantly, Kelly volunteers to transfer off as soon as another XO becomes available.
  • Later, Kelly runs into Gordon and asks if they’re cool. He lies.
  • They arrive at the science station and are greeted by Doctor Aronov. To their surprise, he tells them the supplies he requested are not needed.
  • He admits he lied and asks them to come down to the surface.
  • Ed, Kelly, Alara and Doctor Finn go down to the surface. Kelly asks why they diverted a ship on active duty and he asks them for protection from the Krill. Although no Krill have been sighted in the area…
  • Aronov shows them his research; splicing redwood seeds with Tardigrade DNA to create super trees.

  • But that isn’t why they’ve been called to the research facility. One of the scientists has developed a temporal field that will accelerate the forward pace of time. Entire crops grown in the blink of an eye. Trees matured instantly, Armies reduced to frail elders in a second.
  • The scientists have discovered the most devastating weapon of their generation.
  • Ed does the smart thing; calls Bortus and asks him to send a coded message asking for assistance.
  • And that’s when one of the scientists pulls a gun on them. He signals the Krill, and in the ensuing struggle the scientist who invented the field is knocked into it and aged to death.
  • A Krill ship enters orbit and deploys two shuttles to the surface. Ed and Kelly distract the Krill agent long enough for Alara to punch him in the face with a piece of wall.
  • As the Krill commandos hit the ground, Ed, Kelly and Doctor Aronov pull the Temporal Field accelerator and make a run for the Orville.
  • In orbit, the Orville engages the Krill battleship. On the ground, the away team make a run for the shuttle.

  • In orbit, Gordon asks permission to cut loose and Bortus grants it. Gordon throws the Orville around like a spinning top, diving through and around the Krill ship to dodge their fire.
  • The ground team make it to the shuttle and run for orbit. A single Krill makes it aboard but they knock him out using what amounts to a handbrake turn.
  • The Orville’s deflectors go down and they take a hit. The shuttle is damaged in the debris field and Bortus tells Gordon to line the shuttle bay doors up with the shuttle’s trajectory. It’s an impossible angle. Gordon makes it.
  • The shuttle gets aboard and Ed complements Bortus on his command and asks Isaac to get their one remaining engine online. Yet another crushingly unfunny argument about their marriage ensues, again and the Krill give them a deadline; hand the device over or die.
  • Kelly has Alara put them on hold and tells Ed she has a plan; send them the device, rigged to trigger at a specific intensity…with a Redwood seed on top.

  • They send the device over in a remote-piloted shuttle. The code is transmitted…
  • And a100-year-oldd redwood spontaneously generates in the Krill vessel, ripping it apart.
  • Later, back in dry dock for repairs, Kelly comes to see Ed in his office. Kelly tells him that a friend has just been promoted and she’s offered him her spot on the Orville.
  • Ed, for the first time in the episode, isn’t an unbearable asshole to her at the end of the episode. And then he asks her to stay. They’ve got stuff to do but they’ll figure it out. She accepts.

  • Later, Kelly goes to see Admiral Halsey. She thanks him for trusting her. It turns out Kelly pleaded with him to get the command spot. Not that he will ever, ever know that…


The producers of The Orville have talked at length about how the show is a new genre. It’s an interesting idea but, based on this first episode, it’s not entirely accurate. Instead, The Orville, as it is right now, is a hopeful, Star Trek-esque science fiction series chopshopped onto an early ‘90s sitcom.

Vast amounts of it do not work. Every time Ed and Kelly argue about their marriage, which is about once an act, the episode stops dead. Almost every time Ed interacts with a female member of his crew, he’s an asshole. He accuses Doctor Finn of spying on him, implies Alara has been promoted above her abilities and uses life or death situations to humiliate Kelly. He’s supposed to be a likable, down on his look guy. A fundamentally decent man who missed his Dare to Be Great moment and has never recovered. Instead he’s a sexist incompetent trash bag of a human who shouldn’t be in charge of a Segway let alone a starship.

For almost the entire running time, the series struggles with itself as Ed and Kelly sniping at one another is balanced by some fun crew moments and a surprisingly competentplot. There’s some moments of real sweetness here, especially in the Chekov/Sulu esque friendship between LaMarr and Malloy and a welcome cameo from Victor Garber.

But it’s the closing moments, when Ed and Kelly get on the same page at last, where the show really soars. A really well put together action sequence leads to a series of moments between the two where we don’t just see who they really are but what the show really is. Not just a cover version of Star Trek with dirty lyrics but a different, interesting exploration of how normal people would fill the impossibly big shoes of Starfleet’s heroes. It’s messy, untidy but it never stops trying and that’s endearing, even under the nonsense you have to wade through to get there.

The Orville has had terrible word on release, and it’s partially deserved. The show’s opening episode is full of lazy, nasty jokes and a lead character who’s a tenth as likable as he thinks he is. But as the ending shows Ed, and his ship, and his show, have potential. Here’s hoping they get a chance to shine.

The Good:

  • The effects are just glorious. They manage to show off how pretty the Orville is and there’s a lovely beauty pass that shows us the inside of the bridge from the outside.
  • The music is lovely. Very Star Trek without being a pastiche.
  • The idea that the Fleet is so big Ed gets a ship almost by default is one of the best gags in the episode.
  • JUSTIN THE DEATH OGRE! More of him please!
  • ‘He’s drawn a lot of penises on a lot of things.’

  • ‘So it’s an anti banana ray?’
    ‘It’s really interesting.’
    ‘We need no longer fear the banana.’
    ‘Does it work on all fruit?’
    ‘What about salads?’-The Ed/Kelly interplay here is just LOVELY. It’s the first time they’ve not just sniped at each other all episode and suddenly you get this really smart, really impatient, pair of navy brats messing with someone other than each other and it’s GREAT.
  • ‘God there’s no way we’re gonna be out by 5 today is there?’
  • ‘Alara, you wanna open this jar of pickles of rme?’
  • ‘Sir since I pulled that off can I PLEASE wear shorts to work?’
    ‘I already said no.’
  • ‘State of the art weaponry on this ship and we’re using glue.’
    ‘Favourite part of being a fleet officer? The arts and crafts.’ – SEE?! THIS! THIS is great! The pair of them doing George and Mildred in Space, not so much!

The Bad:

  • Ejaculatory eyebrows. Oh. OH GOD.
  • Every single female character is either belittled or killed. It’s not (quite) Gotham levels but the moment where Ed meets his command staff and basically insults every single female member of his crew is utterly charmless and mean.
  • The show’s pacing is AWFUL. Every single time Ed and Kelly bicker about their relationship it grinds to a halt.
  • Likewise, Gordon’s ‘Don’t mind me, I’m squalid!’ routine leads to a string of jokes that positively clank as they hit the floor.
  • So are the Krill actual Jem’Hadar prosthetics painted white? Because they sure as hell look like they are.

And The Random:

  • Seth MacFarlane is best known for Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad. He’s also behind the Ted movies and A Million Ways To Die In The West.
  • Jon Favreau started out acting but found his true calling as a director. He’s best known for his work on Iron Man and Iron Man 2 but Elf, Zathura, Chef and Cowboys & Aliens are all essential viewing too. Plus he’s a regular guest in the MCU as Happy Hogan. Badges, people, BADGES.
  • Adrianne Palicki got her start, along with a wave of other actors and actresses, in Friday Night Lights. Since then she’s played Sam’s doomed girlfriend Jessica in Supernatural, Lady Jaye in GI Joe: Retaliation and Bobbi Morse in Agents of SHIELD. She’s also written a comic, along with her brother Eric. No Angel is published by Black Mask Studios.

  • Penny Johnson Jerald is best known for her work as Captain Kasidy Yates on Deep Space Nine. She’s also bee a regular on 24, ER, and October Road. Most recently she played Captain Victoria Gates on Castle.
  • Scott Grimes is another ER alumni. He’s also appeared in Crimson Tide, the first two Critters movies and was Sergeant 1st Class Donald Malarkey in Band of Brothers.

  • Peter Macon has appeared in Nash Bridges, Law & Order, Supernatural, Dexter and others.

  • J Lee has written for The Cleveland Show amongst others and contributed voices to every one of MacFarlane’s TV shows to date.

  • Halston Sage has appeared in movies like Scouts Guide to the Apocalypse, the excellent Paper Towns and Neighbours. She’s also appeared in TV shows like How To Rock and Crisis.

Review by Alasdair Stuart

Read all of our The Orville reviews

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first one to write a comment

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.