From worst to best:
Unseen (As of Yet):
For episode 1 critique – click here
Due to unpopular demand, I’m going ahead with episode 2 joke critiques and other observations for The Orville.
Time to explain the Laughometer
Make sense? O on the left, full guffaw on the right. Chortles and full laughs in between.
Here’s a promo scene to start us off:
Let’s take a closer look at episode 2, “Command Performance”
20th/21st century reference #1… at the 7 second mark!
Bortas, the straight man, tries to understand Mercer’s relationship with Kermit the frog. This works! 3 full chortles. One point though – Mercer says Kermit “always keeps his cool in a crisis…” – I’m not sure if that’s part of a joke but it took a moment for me to realize that’s not even remotely true:
And the audience breathes a sigh of relief. Mercer makes a couple of bad egg jokes. The real puzzler is, how could he not know the basic details of his second officer’s species?
Bortas leaves and now Mercer wants to eat eggs. This joke works. 3 Chortles. Doing better than episode one so far!
Really? I mean I get that the Orville is crewed by “everymen” but come on. 0 chortles, 2 head shakes.
This is not a joke note, but to me the ship looks perfectly fine when Commander Grayson comments otherwise. A little plasma venting into space would have fixed that scene.
A viewer question: why is it “weird” that the other ship scans the Orville? In space etiquette is that a rude thing to do? Or wouldn’t it just be standard procedure whenever two spaceships meet? If it wasn’t by now, it should be after the end of this episode.
20th Century reference tally: 2. Also, barely amusing. 1 chortle.
Two butt jokes in 3 minutes! 1 chortle. I will note at this point though that I am so glad this show has video transmission and not holograms.
Because Grayson is going to visit with her ex-parents-in-law, she decides to replicate a cannabis edible for herself. One half a chortle, I guess? Maybe there’s a payoff down the line with this?
Okay, remember in the last episode when I said I’m waiting for Isaac to show his superior intelligence? Here’s a scene that leaves me still waiting. The captain told him to scan the ship. Did he do it? Was there any unusual result? He never gave the captain a report of any kind. Seems important, especially since the other vehicle scanning them was declared “weird.”
I like this. 1.4 laughs.
And then she barfed. That’s fine, serves the story. 2 chortles, because the sound effect was good.
The two commanding officers were kidnapped, leaving Alara in command, which she isn’t suited for. I like this line and this kind of humour. The timing wasn’t spot on but a full 3 chortles. Also Alara has eyebrows this episode, did you notice?
20th Century reference tally: 3
20th Century reference tally: 4!
Captain Ed “Top of His Class” Mercer tries to force open some doors with his shoulder. 0 chortles.
Even the aliens are blue collar North Americans.
I’ll say it again – great design and makeup on this show!
Isaac uses his superior intellect to analyze and use the alien technology to project a holographic image over the ship. As he should. And now the Planetary Union has ship holographic technology which they will remember to use in subsequent episodes when it would be very useful…right?
20th Century reference tally: 5
I’m surprised they didn’t go for a scene where Mercer goes to the bathroom to take a pee and the aliens are watching him and he can’t go because he’s got a shy bladder.
Hands up if the domestic bickering on this show is something you look forward to.
Good. 3 full chortles.
The “euthanasia sweep” from the super advanced species is a few lasers that don’t even target the living creatures. STUPID! How about sucking out all the air, or poison gas that floods the entire apartment, or a disintegration wall, or incinerating temperatures?
Elvis Presley’s last words. 20th Century reference tally: 6!
20th Century reference tally: 7
Reality television joke: 1 chortle.
Bortas’ egg hatches – and it’s a female. IMPOSSIBLE?!?!
Summing up, there was no payoff to the pot brownie.
At some point I’d like to do a little more analysis on Mercer compared with other douchey/unqualified command officers in space. Interested?
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Hi, I’m Toren, a Star Trek nerd.
Despite the sour taste that Seth McFarlane’s projects tend to leave in my mouth-brain, it turns out that I care about this show. I didn’t expect to like it based on the trailers, but despite the sophomoric humour — which I feel does not fit in with this clearly Star Trek homology and weakens the overall experience — there is a lot about The Orville that makes it worth watching.
Let’s explore, shall we? Episode 1: “Old Wounds”
In this episode Captain Mercer (Seth McFarlane) walks in on his wife Kelly (Adrienne Palicki) having sex with an alien. He is upset about this and goes into a downward spiral for a year until his now ex-wife (spoiler) arranges for his command of a vessel on which she will serve as second-in-command, in a perverse manipulation both on a personal and professional level.
Ejaculation joke! Rating: 0.5 chortles. I found the “chirp” sound that follows to be better, at a rating of 1.0 chuckles.
Not a joke – but a character observation about Captain Mercer. Sure, I get it. – he’s upset, so he doesn’t want to talk at the moment. But it’s apparent in this pilot that he has no interest working through his relationship. Which is just the kind of guy he is. Does this make him a sympathetic character? Sure, his wife “cheated” on him, but does he ever try to do the right thing? Stay tuned…
The visuals in this show are very good for the most part. Kudos to the design department!
I choose this moment to illustrate that Mercer is not qualified to be the captain of a Union ship.
The marbles not minds joke! Not bad, I give this a full 3 chortles – not yet a full laugh.
This line tells us that Mercer is very smart. Right?
3 minutes, 34 seconds in: First dick joke (if you don’t count the forehead ejaculation scene)
The ogre is super friendly. An amusing joke – 1.0 laughs.
To illustrate that helmsman Gordon Malloy is a roguish chap, he tricks the ogre and beheads him. 0.1 laughs.
Malloy also drinks beer while he’s flying a shuttle. The joke falls flat but there is charisma in the delivery.
The music in this show is excellent and kind of catchy. Another positive mark for the show in general.
Lt. Alara is young, inexperienced and super strong. If I was casting this show, I would have cast her even younger, like maybe 13 or 14. I think that would have made the contrast more ripe for comedy, and then the writers (McFarlane) would have to come up with jokes that steer clear of sexism, which I think would be a nice challenge for them/him.
Slightly amusing. 0.1 laughs I guess?
If the entire species is male, then there is no female and there is no male, because there is no gender differentiation. Are they hermaphroditic like banana slugs? If they lay eggs (we are shown later that they do) then rather than male, wouldn’t they all be female just like whiptail lizards?
This one gets 0.0 on the humorometer.
It’s the acting on this joke that gets it 2.0 chuckles.
I note that the doctor has a degree in psychology because Mercer and Commander Grayson really need a qualified counsellor if they are going to work together in a professional relationship on a Union starship. In fact, if any Trekesque series needed a Counsellor Troi, this one does much more so than Star Trek: The Next Generation. What are the policies on crew fraternization on Union ships, and more importantly, the mental fitness of a commander who has an extremely volatile relationship with his second in command? Are we to believe that the Union would send this ship on important missions while the two highest officers have a dysfunctional if not hostile relationship?
A testicle joke! 0.1 chortles.
I want to point out that Isaac is supposed to be “objectively superior” to humans. Sure, it’s his own claim and nobody else’s, but let’s put a pin in this and come back to it in a future show.
Lt. Malloy has a little fun with navigator John Lamarr. 0.0 laughs.
Minor Quibble Department: Am I the only one who thinks that the bridge is too large?
Again, great visual effects on this show. Really nice.
Delivery on this joke is excellent. 2.0 laughs!
Continued (and concluded) in PART TWO – click here!
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Here’s a quick glance at 1983 for players of the Call of Cthulhu adventure “The Shadow Over 1983”
And Now, A Short Story
Every day she winked at him.
Far off, almost indistinct, she shimmered in her radiant beauty. He could not remember the day he first saw her, it had been so very long ago. Now he could only wait out the hours for her next glorious glimmer–for you see, every day, without fail, she shot a look across the heavens for all to see; a beacon of desire and loneliness that you could set your watch to. He was enamoured. He and his brothers.
They circled the sun ever so slowly, a stone’s throw from arrogant Saturn. Venus remained an elusive dot some distance away. He and his friends had seen quite a bit in the past fifteen billion years. They watched Saturn reign in her sparkling rings, they watch tiny ice balls pepper the landscape of a prepubescent Earth before she shrouded herself in her cloak of carbon dioxide. And they remember that fateful day when they were whole, before that unspeakable calamity had ripped them apart, robbed them of their chance to shine with the other breathtaking worlds that calmly danced around their benevolent, yellow, main-sequence mother.
Life was simple back then. But he wouldn’t trade what he had now for all the precious silver specks in the cosmos, not while she remained to flirt across the thin aether. What was she like, they wondered? Was she like their own star, proud and intense, a beautiful yellow gem marking the heavens, or was she different? Maybe she was a great red giant, glowing quietly, patient and giving. It was their dream, all of them, to one day reach into the empty gulfs and somehow answer her call; to take her up on her summons, and bathe in her gentle radiation. But what were the chances of that? What were the odds that some cosmic happenstance would hurl them across the galaxy to her side? Perhaps some of those feisty parasites from their ever-fecund sister, Earth, would be sympathetic to their plight. Perhaps not. Still, they had waited that long, and they had all of the time in the universe to hope, and in the meantime, they subsisted on the daily kisses blown across countless leagues of nebulae and dark gasses by their secret lover.
Naturally, he supposed that he had some special, privileged bond with that sweet, incandescent angel from afar. This feeling was exemplified when, one miraculous day, the solar winds caused an unexpected collision. One of his rocky brethren, through a series of complicated ricochets, smashed into him, jarring him loose from the pack. It happened, these things—not so much anymore (things have settled down since the big bang)—and accidents are inevitable, and when one is presented with the immortal expanse of time that is due all of the heavenly bodies, anything is possible.
And so it was that he was sent forth into empty space, with no time to bid farewell to the rest of the asteroid belt, just spiralling uncontrollably through the frictionless void. Could it be this was the answer to his prayers? Was he, through some mad twist of circumstance, destined now to take the long journey towards the resplendent gleam that shoots out through the dark to warm his stony heart? He tried to collect himself, to get his bearings, to calm down enough to ensure that he wasn’t just fooling himself into false expectations. But no. Gloriously, it did indeed seem that he was heading straight for the object of his affection.
Drunk with anticipation, he almost wanted to shut off his senses, to live off of hope. For he knew that throughout the long trip, countless things could go wrong. A stray comet could slingshot his trajectory and befoul his destiny. He could find himself in the path of a wandering planet, or a hungry white dwarf that would tear him apart particle by particle, oblivious to his perfectly focused desire. He just wanted to sleep, oblivious to the worrisome forces that he could not control, and wake up in her embrace, enraptured until the end of time. Luck had got him this far, but this seemed too important to rely on it any longer. Yet he had no choice, he was as much a pawn of the spatial tides as was the rest of the universe.
Millennia passed, and things were looking good. Every day, as in times past, she winked her lucent wink, voicelessly sang out her brilliant song, each one more full, more potent than the last. Soon, he saw not only her measured beam of hope, but managed to make out, through the gassy maelstroms, her demure, luminous form. It was not long before she danced before him, spilling her radiant light to saturate his welcoming pores. It was all too much.
He was here, at last, by her side. Everything he had hoped, everything he had dreamed, had been handed to him, finally and inexorably. He found that all of the thousands of years he had spent on his journey, planning things to say to win her over, might as well have been only a few seconds, for words were all lost on his tongue. He was, simply, overwhelmed with the moment.
Finally, still tumbling in the heady rapture of her vibrant ambience, he struggled out his destiny.
“O my bright and shimmering beloved…I have finally come. I…I have shot through the light-years at last, to be here, now. For so long have you sparked your signal out to me, and, as I always knew one day it would, the celestial host has seen to it that I made my way to this final point.” Her light cut long shadows into his pocked surface as he tumbled slowly by her side. “Every day your brilliance shone out the question, and I would not deny you my answer, which, though I am small and brittle, I hope will justify the immense warmth in which you have bathed me for so many sublime eons. I have never been so content as I am at this tiny moment—no thought, no circumstance, no hope has brought me such exquisite peace as I know now. I am, finally, yours.”
She edged slowly on her axis, as she had since the dawn of creation. Whorls of superhot gas played across her blinding skin. Sunspots, continent-sized beauty marks, shimmered like drops of oil in an autumn puddle. He sensed that just beyond her horizon, a solar prominence spilled forth like a quick breath, and licked the empty blackness. She seemed to swell, in what he assumed to be a moment of silent passion.
“Asteroid,” she began, “know this: I am but a pulsar. Once I was a star, but eventually I exhausted my supply of hydrogen, and collapsed into a neutron star. In the change, this one spot upon my surface merely became the focus for the constant ejection of accelerated charged particles. As I rotate, these waves of energy sweep uncontrolled across the blanket of space. Vanity of vanities, you have ascribed meaning where there is none.”
Appropriately, at the same time that his molten heart abruptly and painfully cooled into a flaky cinder, he realized that his long course through space had not brought him within reach of her gravitational field—that he was not able to maintain orbit. Had the irony been able to pierce through the all-absorbing sense of loss, he would have laughed. The pull of her immense gravitational mass was not matched by the pull of her siren’s call.
It was no sadder, then, that he was left alone with his broken thoughts to soundlessly drift beyond, into the cold, unforgiving blackness of illimitable space, forced to endure the ceaseless, mocking winks—the systematic, indifferent clock that counted down, with such perfect precision, the rest of time.
It’s, like, the list, that I made, right? For you
I think Early Man will be gone by this weekend 🙁
A Fantastic Woman shows at Tinseltown (Intl Village)
Game Night shows at Metropolis Metrotown.
I, Tonya shows at Tinseltown (Intl Village)
Jumanji screens at Tinseltown
Call Me By Your Name shows at Tinseltown
If none of these suit your fancy I could be talked into re-watching Annihilation and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Written sometime after 1996 in a very small book (transcribed here in 2020):
I remember once when I was very young I was throwing rocks – not just rocks but big fist-sized (mind you my fist be be half the size it is now) stones and maybe jokingly, but I hit a kid – a kid I knew from my neighborhood and he was really hurt, bent over crying hurt. And I felt huge pangs of guilt but even more so fear. Fear for myself and the repercussions of my actions. If my dad beat me up for not washing the dishes, for saying “what” too many times – what could I expect for braining someone? I ran home and I don’t know that I’ve ever believed in God more that day, or at least wanted to believe in some all poerful force that would save me from pain if only I would beg it from Him and make empty promises. But even then I knew it wasn’t enough and so – and I have no idea if this was courage or cowardice – I went to the kids parents and at first they were livid with me but they could see the regret or at the very least fear in my eyes and I begged and pleaded with them not to tell my parents through fountains of heaving sobs – quite real I assure you.
Sometimes you cry so much your glands hurt – your ducts get raw and bitter. This hasn’t happened for a while but I remember the feeling.