When FOX’s Star Trek Parody series, The Orville, from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane released its first couple of trailers, my expectations were low… really low. The first episode came out a little over a week ago, and it felt decent, but I wasn’t sure if it was actually decent or if the bar was so low that reality couldn’t have exceeded it (A statement to which Marvel’s Inhumans seems to want to respond to with: “Hold my beer.”). Then again, the second episode wasn’t great, but there were some decent jokes and the story was better than expected. Then there was last night’s episode. What the hell was that? I don’t know if this is a fluke or we can expect more of it to come.
The thing is this, about halfway through the episode, it started to feel less like a show parodying Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more like a show that could legitimately be part of the Star Trek universe, but with a few more laughs than we could ever expect from Kirk, Picard, or Janeway.
The episode focused around Bortus, a key member of the crew and a being from a single-gendered race. When he and his husband have a baby that turns out to be female, we get to follow them, as well as the crew of the ship and Bortus’ home planet on the path to decide whether or not they will forcibly perform gender re-assignment surgery on the baby and all the ethical implications of action or inaction. Where the hell did that come from? I mean, there was a good blend of humor and drama, along with some genuinely heart-felt moment. Also, given the sensitivity of the topic, the end product was remarkably even-handed and not preachy at all.
So, FOX, Macfarlane, you win. I’m in for the rest of the season. Don’t let me down.