Seth MacFarlane made it big with Family Guy, a not-so-family-friendly animated comedy show, but he also worked to bring Cosmos’ revival to air and is a big fan of Star Trek.  While I can’t back up this claim, it seems as though he asked to make a new Star Trek show (before Discovery took off) and was rebuked for being the crude comedy guy.  His show had a lot of what we love about Star Trek, but he couldn’t sell it without cashing in on his crude comedy background, and as a result, we have The Orville, a clear rip off on Star Trek, but with what my wife describes as Frat Boy comedy overlaying everything.

Despite this, the show tackles serious social issues, such as the expectations of gender, social media and trial by public opinion, and porn addiction.  In the same way classic Star Trek uses strange new worlds to sign a spotlight on our own world’s problems, The Orville does the same thing within a coating of low brow comedy.

…until now.  In Identity, The Orville drops the jokes and just tells a space-based sci-fi story.  I truly think they just want their off-beat comedy to be more.

Title: “Identity”

Directed by Jon Cassar
Written by Brannon Braga & André Bormanis

Cast:

Seth MacFarlane as Capt. Ed Mercer
Adrianne Palicki as Cmdr. Kelly Grayson
Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Claire Finn
Scott Grimes as Lt. Gordon Malloy
Peter Macon as Lt. Cmdr. Bortus
Jessica Szohr as Lt. Talla Keyali
J. Lee as Lt. Cmdr. John LaMarr
Mark Jackson as Isaac
Chad L. Coleman as Klyden
Victor Garber as Admiral Halsey
Graham Hamilton as Kaylon Primary
Mike Henry as Dann
Robert David Grant as Kaylon Secondary
BJ Tanner as Marcus Finn
Kai Wener as Ty Finn
Norm MacDonald as Yaphit (voice)
Jay Whittaker as Kaylon Tertiary
Blesson Yates as Topa

Premise:

Part 1 – When Issac shuts down, the crew head to his home planet to fix him, and uncover a shocking secret that was better off hidden.

Part 2 – The Kaylons take control of the Orville with the intention of destroying all biological lifeforms.

(From IMDB.)

High Point:

You get a sense of ‘something is off’ before the bombshell drop in the first episode, which makes the entire series take a hard left turn.

Low Point:

There is still an attempt at the show’s typical comedy, but it doesn’t work.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The story is predictable and leans into many tropes of the genre.  This is not original for a typical Sci-Fi space story, but it was unique to see it in The Orville.

Effects: 5/6 While it is all television quality CGI, it is expensive television quality CGI.

Acting: 4/6 Everyone is convincing enough, but it would be a surprise if anyone won an award for it.

Production: 5/6 The show is frequently reaching far beyond what a Star Trek/Family Guy knock-off should be reaching and hits the mark more often than it misses.

Story: 4/6 We’ve seen it all before, and it all plays out how you expect, but the story does a good job of bringing you from point A to point Z.  It doesn’t drag except in a few of the required Epic Battles.

Emotional Response: 4/6 While it didn’t generate much stress over the fates of the characters, except maybe Issac, it held interest as to how when each story beat would land.

Overall: 5/6 The comedy works in some episodes, but this episode was not any less for the lack of it.  It is a strong contender for best episode of the series.

In total, “Identity” receives 30/42.