Why I miss THE ORVILLE and I don’t miss STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial)

I already miss The Orville.  I know it’s only been gone for a week, but I just faced a Thursday night without that curious combination of sci-fi, quirkiness, high production values, and low-brow humor.  It’ll be nine long months until I see Bortus and Yaphit again…three-quarters of a year before I find out what new practical jokes Gordon and John play on Isaac, whether Alara has to open another “jar of pickles,” and what else Ed and Kelly can find to argue about.  I feel totally invested in these characters, and I can’t wait to watch more of their adventures together.

And then there’s Star Trek: Discovery.

It’s been on hiatus for nearly a month, and as I lament my now-Orvilless Thursday nights, I realize that I haven’t really thought much about Discovery in the past five weeks.  I honestly don’t miss it.

It’s not that Discovery is a bad show.  As I’ve said many times, I enjoy the series and appreciate the work and attention to detail that has gone into it.  I’ll still be watching the final six episodes of season one when the series returns on January 7, but it’s mainly because I want to learn if I’m right about Lorca being from the Mirror Universe and whether Ash Tyler is really a genetically-altered Voq the Klingon.  And frankly, I don’t much care who wins the Federation/Klingon war because—I’m sorry to say—I just don’t feel invested in the whole storyline or the characters.

Why is that?

I mean, I’m a Trekkie!  Why wouldn’t I care about who wins a war with the Klingons that could destroy the United Federation of Planets???  Sure, you can say it’s because they don’t look like “real” Klingons or those don’t really look like Starfleet vessels or 23rd century uniforms.  But it’s still a war.  If there were a war in the Orville universe, you’d better believe I’d be rooting for the Planetary Union over the Krill.  And I’ve only known this Orville universe for three and a half months, nearly as long as I’ve known the Disco-verse (whether or not I consider it canon).

So why do I just not care about what happens on Discovery?  Why am I not invested in the characters and their fates the way I am for The Orville?


Pure and simple banter.  It helps to define the characters in so many ways.  What do they talk about when the ship isn’t in danger, when there’s no spatial anomaly or red alert or Klingon attack?  What do they do when it’s not time for highly dramatic scenes that advance the plot?  What do they say when it’s only the B-story…or even the C-story?

Think back to the very first episode of TOS that aired: “The Man Trap.”  Kirk teases McCoy about being called “plum” by Nancy.  Uhura playfully flirts with Spock on the bridge (see?  JJ Abrams was right after all!).  Rand and Sulu have a friendly back-and-forth about naming plants.  None of these interactions help advance the main plot…this banter is essentially meaningless.  Except it isn’t.  It helps to flesh out what kind of a crew this is, who these people are, what’s important to them, etc.  It’s a whole bunch of little things that add up to big things.

Over the course of TOS, we had countless examples of these playful (and sometime serious) interactions between characters:

  • Spock and McCoy bickering
  • Chekov making his comments about Russia
  • Sulu and Riley discussing fencing
  • Scotty espousing the benefits of scotch
  • Sulu and Chekov confounded by the continual course changes between Vulcan and Altair in “Amok Time”
  • Spock’s complaints about “stone knives and bearskins”
  • (and for a serious one) McCoy’s “Don’t destroy the one named Kirk” speech in “Balance of Terror.”

The list goes on and on…and it continued into TNG.  All of those scenes between Data and Geordi showed us the android trying to be more human and how having a friend was essential to that.  Picard, Riker, Troi, even Worf…all had their banter scenes.  (And don’t get me started on Guinan!)  On DS9, we got even more banter—between Sisko and Dax, Bashir and O’Brien, Quark and Odo, Kira and Odo, Kira and Dax, Sisko and Kira, Jake and Nog, Nog and Rom, Rom and Quark, Bashir and Garak…man, the combinations for banter on that show were nearly infinite!  (Can you imagine that many casual character interactions on Discovery?)  Voyager gave us scenes with Tom and Harry, Tuvok and Neelix, Janeway and Chakotay, Seven and the Doctor.  Enterprise had it, too.

Banter, banter, banter!

Babylon 5 had banter…lots of it—Garibaldi and Londo, Londo and G’Kar, G’Kar and Sheridan, Sheridan and Delenn, Delenn and Lennier, Ivanova and, well, Ivanova sometimes even bantered with herself!  And don’t forget Zathras!  (Actually, everyone forget Zathras.  Very sad life for Zathras.  Probably have very sad death.  But…at least there is symmetry.)

Battlestar Galactica had banter.  Granted, the banter in the original was much more lighthearted.  But even the darker reboot had interlude scenes that weren’t simply “slaves to the plot” (that’s when it’s not really banter but instead just dialog to help advance the story).

Firefly?  Banter.  Farscape?  Banter.  Stargate?  Banter.  Game of Thrones?  Banter.  Think of your favorite show on TV.  Is there banter?

And of course, The Orville is FULL of banter.  Sure, at least a third of it involves various references to some kind of genitalia, but it’s still banter and serves to make our characters fuller, more colorful, better defined, and ultimately more relatable to the us viewers.

And then there’s Star Trek: Discovery.

It’s not that the show features no banter whatsoever.  There was the opening scene on the desert planet in the pilot episode between Captain Georgiou and Commander Burnham.  There’s the banter between Burnham and Tilly.  There are even a couple of tender moments between Stamets and his doctor boyfriend.  Oh, and remember that Burnham and Tyler are beginning to develop a “thing” for each other (a bit of flirtatious banter there, too).

But how much of that Discovery banter is simply “slave-to-the-plot dialog” meant to advance the storyline?  A good example was Lorca’s intimate scene(s) with Admiral Cornwell.  While some of their conversation initially felt like comfortable chit-chat between old friends and helped to better define their characters’ relationship, things evolved into a major and disturbing plot point when Cornwell discovered those scars on Lorca’s back and then he pulled a phaser from under his pillow and pointed it at her.

Think hard.  Aside from Burnham and Tilly, do you recall any true banter between the other characters on Discovery?  (Okay, there was the brief Lorca/Tyler phaser target practice scene.  But that was a rare exception and certainly not the rule.)

Is this lack of banter because all roads on Discovery (or most of them) lead to Michael Burnham, and Burnham doesn’t seem to “do” banter…except with Tilly?   And because Burnham only opens up to Tilly and the show revolves around Brunham (or at least it’s supposed to), that seems to be the only banter we regularly get.  But that combinationeventually becomes as repetitive as having cheeseburgers for every meal.

And hey, just because Burnham is the central character doesn’t mean that other characters can only be defined by how they interact with her.  Sure, Seth MacFarlane is the star of The Orville, but interactions with him aren’t the only scenes that flesh out the other characters.  Just the opposite, in fact!  Look at Bortus.  He’s had scenes, both serious and comical, with every cast member—scenes that have helped viewers learn who this stoic and intense alien is on the inside.

But compare that to another stoic and intense alien on Discovery.  How much do we really know about Saru?   His people can sense death, he likes blueberries, he runs fast, he doesn’t trust Burnham, and he doubts himself.  That’s pretty much it.  As a character, Bortus (and his culture) is much more fleshed out and relatable, even though he’s never once cracked a single joke on this somewhat-comedic show (maybe especially because of that).

What about Saru?  Does he hang out socially with anyone on the ship?  I haven’t seen it; have you?   Who gets to share his blueberries?  Does he even have a sense of humor?  Do they tell “knock, knock” jokes on his planet?  “Knock, knock!”  “Who’s there?”  “Death.”  “RUN!!!!!” Maybe his people find that hilarious.

I’ve been hearing through the grapevine that the second season of Discovery will be vastly different than the first.  Alex Kurtzman has already indicated that season one will wrap up the Klingon war and that season two will deal with the aftermath.  Maybe that will give the crew of the USS Discovery a chance to, y’know, DISCOVER things.  And maybe that will open up the door to more opportunities for banter…because if I’m going to watch the series, I really do want to care about these characters.

In my opinion, Star Trek should be mainly about the characters, and banter is a big part of that.  All the previous Star Trek series have lovingly defined their characters using (among other things) banter, and so does The Orville.  Perhaps that’s the reason The Orville feels so much more like Star Trek than Discovery

62 thoughts on “Why I miss THE ORVILLE and I don’t miss STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial)”

  1. Sounds like my predictions about this show were spot on. Although I never encouraged anyone to boycott (nor would I), I felt this would be a major sticking point for my personal enjoyment. I am glad I chose not to invest myself into it.

    1. By the time I cancel my subscription at the end of February, CBS Interactive will have received about $30-$36 of my money…not much of an investment, but not enough return on my money to justify continued investment until the show returns in another year. As for investing my time, like I said, I actually did enjoy the show. I just didn’t love it like I do most Star Trek, and I don’t really miss it right now.

      1. The analysis you’ve offered of Discovery is facile and misinformed – to a degree I’m wondering if you’ve actually been following the series. There’s plenty of “banter” on Discovery, especially snark from Lorca and Stamets. There’s Lorca and well – everyone.There’s a wonderful dynamic being established between Saru and Burnham.
        There are also elements to how dialogue is formulated that relate to dramatic structures The Orville doesn’t address or does weakly: Character development and story/plot structure. Though some of this could be attributed to the serial vs. episodic approach.
        There’s also humor laced throughout every episode, especially the episode featuring the rebooted Harry Mudd character.
        And neither TOS or TNG were ever all that “light”. While Discovery may be the darkest offering in the franchise, it’s very much in the tradition of that storied franchise. Much more so than The Orville, which is obviously intended to be a comic homage to ST. At it’s best The Orville is “Star Trek: Lite”.

        1. I don’t find much humor in Discovery, and folks seem to use the second Mudd episode as a way of saying, “Look! Humor!” the same way conservatives bring up the “You can keep your own doctor” as a way of saying that Obama lied. Yeah? Well, name another lie he told. And don’t just say, “Oh, there were a whole bunch.” Name one specifically. The thing about Discovery is that most episodes have no humor at all with the exception of the brief banters between Burnham and Tilly…and I acknowledged those as the rare exception. Lorca doesn’t make jokes or lighthearted comments unless you’re going back to the the Mudd episodes or his two “just friends/friends-with-benefits” scenes with Cornwell. Most times, Lorca is just totally intense. Which is fine. His character has been defined as that. He doesn’t need to banter. Picard didn’t really banter much in the first season of TNG either (the writers purposefully “mellowed” his character in season two and beyond).

          But the rest of the crew…

          Saru doesn’t do banter beyond the first few minutes of the first episode. His blueberry scene was as close as he got. Most times, his dialog with Burnham isn’t banter but rather soulfully intense…which is still fine to a point. But we haven’t really seen Saru let his head tentacles down, have we? Stamet’s banter is, again, limited. He was primarily banterish, again, in the second Mudd episode. He also had a brief lover’s banter in front of the mirror, mirror with Dr. McDreamy. But that was basically it. Tyler is trying to do banter, but again, his was primarily in the second Mudd episode. And again, his banter–like Tilly’s–is limited to Burnham. And trying to engage her in banter is like trying to sell condoms to the Pope. As for the rest of the bridge crew–Captain America, the metal-eyebrow chick, and the African-American (Canadian? do I just call her “black woman” or is that politically incorrect?) navigator haven’t had anything to say that doesn’t involve responding to Lorca’s commands. Banter? None that I could see.

          Look, Sean, I understand that you don’t agree with me. That’s what healthy debate is all about. I share my opinions; you share yours. But make no mistake, I have watched each episode of Discovery twice before writing my blog editorial/reviews. I know what the scenes have been. And at least in my experience, with the rare exceptions I stated here and in the blog entry, I’ve seen little banter in Discovery. And consequently, I feel little to nothing for the characters. Orville has a great deal of banter, and I feel very invested in and committed to those characters. Is that the reason? Correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation, but neither are they mutually exclusive, Sean.

          1. Many would interpret what you term “banter” (esp. as done on “The Orville”) as “pointless blather”.

            I’m not really following you on the Obama remark unless your making some presumption about who I am. I voted for him twice (and didn’t vote for the current resident of the WH). I personally think the “keep your doctor” thing was an honest mistake and give him credit for having the spine to acknowledge it. But it doesn’t seem particularly relevant.

            Jason Isaacs is a master of delivering a snarky line, and I can’t really comprehend why you’re missing how often the writers take advantage of that fact. Anthony Rapp is also great with snark as well and, again, not sure how that’s going over your head either.

            I frankly perfer dialogue that heightens plot elements or serves to progress the story line. I’ll note either one of those elements are particularly a focus of “The Orville”.

            I feel invested in the characters on DISCO not because of any light banter between them (or your exaggerated perception of the lack thereof). But rather because of the complex character development and story arcs crafted for each. Though again, this may in part be more an inherent feature of the serial approach to the series. I would argue we’re seeing more sophisticated character development than we have on any ST show to date.

            For example, Burnham’s failure at doing well with (your vaunted) banter is directly related to the story arc of her having been rejected by Vulcan society (including her adoptive father) and essentially having to learn how to be human. Once again, kind of surprised a regular viewer and ST fan couldn’t follow that aspect of the show.

            On TOS the characters never really seemed to be much impacted by their experiences and they still told great stories. That may be McFarlands’ intent with “The Orville” (and that’s fine).

            And all shows featuring recurring yet tangential characters, so once again that comment just seems pointless.

            Maybe you have seen every episode as you claim. But I frankly can’t help wondering if you’re one of this minority of fans who began viewing with a jaundiced eye only to (surprise!) have your presumptions realized…

            I’m not trying to coerce you into liking DISCO anymore than you do. To each his/her own. But these comparisons are pointless since the shows are so very different. Even more so when the critique given (in my opinion) demonstrates a lack of intellectual integrity.

            Running down DISCO doesn’t make “The Orville” any more than the fluff it appears it’s intended to be.

          2. Well, first off, the Obama lying comment wasn’t implying anything about your political leanings, Sean. It’s simply that, when I see a conservative pundit on CNN calling out Obama for lying, it’s always that “You can keep your doctor” example. There’s never another example given because, frankly, there isn’t one. Oh, I’m sure Obama probably lied about something or other in eight years in office, but darned if your typical Obama-hater on the street can name one lie other than the “keep your doctor” one.

            So I’m not calling you an Obama-hater, but I am pointing out that you haven’t yet provided concrete examples of any kind of banter (like quoting something or providing a specific scene) that I haven’t already cited. You talk about Lorca’s and Stamets’ snark, but snark isn’t necessarily banter. It’s snark. When Scotty tastes the Therigan derivative in “The Tholian Web” and asks, “Does it make a good mix with scotch?” he’s not being snarky.

            You’ve called for “intellectual integrity,” (whatever the heck that means), and yet I’ve been very specific while you’ve failed to provide specifics and instead stick to broad-brush generalities:

            “I can’t really comprehend why you’re missing how often the writers take advantage of that fact. Anthony Rapp is also great with snark as well and, again, not sure how that’s going over your head either.”

            Perhaps the answer is that I’m not missing anything and rather that you’re simply imagining something you think is there (hope is there, so you can win this debate). And the fact that you can’t provide a specific example only strengthens my argument. Take out the second Mudd episode, the desert scene in the first episode, and the Tilly/Burnham banter (which I’ve acknowledged), the pajama banter in front of the mirror-mirror, and the Lorca/Tyler shooting range banter. Those are my only examples during the course of nine full episodes. That makes the banter rare–ultra rare. If you’ve got more, then list them…assuming you’ve watched the episodes. If you haven’t, then maybe now would be a good time to binge before Discovery returns from hiatus.

            Dialog that advances the plot is a given on any show. Orville has it, The Blacklist has it, even Once Upon a Time has it. And so does Discovery. But for me, the banter that helps flesh out the characters isn’t there (most of the time) on Discovery. So all we have is the plot. And the plot isn’t bad, mind you. That isn’t my complaint. But I really just don’t care about the Discovery characters. I don’t miss them. But I do miss the Orville crew. And that was the point of the blog…not to say that the Orville is the better show. They’re very different.

            And by the way, I still miss DS9! That was, perhaps, the Trek series closest to this one in terms of ongoing serialized story-line line during wartime. But that series had banter, too–Quark and Odo, Sisko and Dax, Bashir and O’Brien, Jake and Nog, etc. Of course, DS9 also had 26 episodes per season to Discovery’s 15…and most of DS9’s first season sucked (despite the banter!). But I still missed those characters when the show wasn’t on…and I still miss them now. I seek out DS9 novels. I’m not really seeking out Discovery novels (and I’ve been told they’re not selling particularly well in bookstores, although I acknowledge that’s an unconfirmed rumor).

            As for being in “the minority of fans who began viewing with a jaundiced eye only to (surprise!) have your presumptions realized…” no, that wasn’t me. I watched with a totally open mind. In fact, I was kinda rooting for the series to do well because I feared that the alternative could spell final doom for the aging franchise. CBS has never produced a Star Trek TV series, and to be honest, the network executives don’t really embrace much science fiction. Even Supergirl was quickly shifted over to the CW after just one season on the main network. If CBS starts suspecting that Star Trek might now finally be dead, Jim, they’re not really incentivized to create more iterations of the long-running series.

            Also, I was rooting for Discovery because one of the dads in my son’s school works for one of the show’s directors. I like this dad, and I’ve been getting some interesting inside info from him. If the show is canceled, well, we won’t have nearly as much to chat about at school events! 🙂

            But just because I was rooting for Discovery and really wanted to like it, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be honest when I write my editorials reviews. I don’t think the show sucks, but neither am I convinced it’s all that great. And hey, The Orville has its problems, too. And it’s not that one show is objectively better than the other. As the blog said, it’s simply that I’m missing The Orville and not missing Discovery. That’s just my truth, Sean.

        1. Many shows have banter. Some of the best and some of the worst. But when a show doesn’t have banter, it’s much more challenging to get the audience to invest in the characters themselves. It’a not impossible, just more challenging…at least in my opinion.

  2. Didn’t think about it, but you’re perfectly right, I think! 🙂 Nine more months? Is that even official? God, seems like a hell of a long time to me…

    1. Do the math. The new fall season is usually September. The Orville starts filming again in February, which means new episodes won’t be ready this season. Fox could bring it back during the summer, but the show is too much of a hit to “bury” it there. So that leaves next September. Nine months, Olaf. 🙂

  3. Well given that I gave up on Disco after episode 6, I can’t argue with you there, not missing it one iota, and yes, after only getting around to watching the last episode of The Orville last night, I already miss it.

    I would go further than what you say though about banter and say that the show doesn’t have a heart. Banter can help give a show a heart, banter can help with that, but banter between arseholes (I prefer that to the gender specific derogatory term used by the Orville crew) still leaves you with a shitty show; conversely a show does not need banter to have heart, I look forward to watching Studio Ghibli’s latest film The Red Turtle which goes beyond just having no banter, it has no words at all. The director of that made a short no-words movie called Father and Daughter and that also has heart which appears on youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fR5L-XA6ug. Also see this short which does have some talking, but it gets you invested in the characters and the plot and wants you wanting more after just a few short minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6_wwKiyFvI

    You describe yourself only wanting to watch more disco to prove/disprove your theories, I think that gets to the point. That Disco only goes to your head, and not to your heart. If a series of shorts can get to your heart within TEN MINUTES, and disco can’t in NINE HOURS, then I think that says all you need to know about Disco.

    1. As my friend Mojo once said, “I knew in the first minute of watching the pilot of ‘The West Wing’ that this was going to be incredible. And it was.” Discovery didn’t do that, but neither did The Orville. You can’t always catch lightning in a bottle. That said, The Orville worked hard to get me invested in the show. I think Discovery just assumed I’d be invested and didn’t work as hard to create that connection.

  4. I don’t think adding banter would be enough to turn STD into ‘classic trek’, it’s just too fundementally different from any trek before it.

    I miss Orville so much. Why couldn’t we have had a 24 episode season? WHYYYYYYYY! I’m going to go cry in the corner now.

    1. The Orville could have crashed and burned, and it was a very expensive show. Fox wasn’t about to put in a 20 or 22 or 26-episode order sight-unseen. And remember that Fox Studios wasn’t exactly rolling in cash…which is kinda why they just sold themselves to Disney.

      1. I don’t have a definitive answer, but the FAN in me is hoping for many more episodes next year. The EMPLOYEE in me is like, “ARE YOU MASOCHISTIC? 12 almost killed us…”

  5. I’d guess that we are at least 1 season too early in expecting most of Discovery’s Federation characters to emit bonhomie. My goodness, their Starfleet has been thrashed by the cloak-equipped Klingons in most of this war. Many of the characters we are following are badly wounded, physically and/or psychologically (ex-Cmdr Burnham, Capt. Lorca, Lt. Tyler, Adm. Cornwell, almost certainly Lt. Stammets). Hopefully, victory and the end of the war will allow these characters to once again become explorers and scientists. Maybe they can emerge from war, like Capt. Erick Minard has from his experiences in another Trek story that I’ve come to really like, as somber and philosophical. We’ll see in season 2.

    1. Hey, M*A*S*H took place in the middle of a war zone with bombs exploding, blood everywhere, and lots of soldiers dying before our eyes…and they still had banter! 🙂

  6. They’ve abandoned recognizable canon, so the concern about the universe and its events is tenuous at best. So all you have left is the characters and they’ve given you no reason to care about them, to know them.

    So there we are.

    1. I assume you mean Orville and not Discovery. Hopefully, Disney will keep you on, Gabe. I know two people from Fox who just scrambled before facing an inevitable downsizing. One’s a producer and the other was working developing theme park rides.

        1. Fuzzy Door doesn’t produce “The Orville” in a vacuum, though. As I understand it, 20th Century Fox Television (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney) is also a producer…and the producer that supplies the money that Seth’s production company uses to pay its employees. Do I have that right?

          1. Yeah. But it’s gonna take a while for the changes to roll in and I haven’t heard anything to indicate Orville season 2 will be affected in any way.

          2. Yeah, I think season 2 is business as usual. The Fox Network doesn’t change formats to reality TV until 2019 at the latest. Until then, they need all the hits they can get. But if you’re enjoying Gotham and Lucifer (as I am), well, enjoy them while you still can.

      1. Plus my presence SAVES the production money as I relieve the shot load that would otherwise be assigned to outside vendors at greater cost

          1. I don’t…totally see your logic. Our stages are on the West LA lot. In House VFX needs to be close to the stages. Decentralizing the production would be for no logical reason and at a decent cost. In fact while Orville is on hiatus, I’ve signed onto a major feature film at FOX between now and April. Again, not on FOX’s payroll but On The Lot. Can’t say what movie, but its one that was feared to have its coarse severely altered by Disney and is proceeding as planned. I don’t feel like you’re really internal enough to the Goings On of such matters to really have an Informed Opinion in this regard.

          2. You capitalize some Unexpected words there, Gabe. 🙂

            No, I don’t have any inside info on what’ll be happening at Fox now that Disney is in charge. Two of the three people I knew at Fox just got the hell out of Dodge when they heard the Disney takeover news. There’s just a lot of unknowns in all of this. With luck, you’ll be fine and will keep working on the lot in Century City and The Orville will get a season three and beyond (although my personal prediction is Orville transitions from network TV to Disney’s new subscription service…much like All Access but with more content to justify the $6-$10/month subscription).

            At the very least, I doubt there will be any significant changes for at least another year or so.

        1. I think I’d still miss the show even if it went into hiatus next week. It’s just a really fun show to watch…and I think it’s been getting quite a bit better in the last 4-5 episodes. They’re figuring out the kinks…just as TNG and DS9 did in their first seasons. Most of the episodes in season one of those two shows were borderline painful (“Planet of the Joggers” comes to mind). But by the end of TNG’s first season, you had episodes like “Conspiracy” and for DS9 “Duet” and “In the Hands of the Prophets.” Growing pains, but The Orville is growing up fast! 🙂

  7. Same here. I don’t miss DISCOVERY. I just want to know why Lorca has those scars on his back and was Tyler sexually assaulted. Thursday night seems empty without ORVILLE!!!

    1. Well, Lorca got them in the Mirror Universe (where he’s from), and Tyler wasn’t really sexually assaulted. His memories of his former life as Voq (where he and L’Rell had a romantic fling before he went into sleep agent mode) are resurfacing and trying to overcome the mental reprogramming that the Klingon house that specializes in espionage put into his brain. He perceives the love-making as a rape, but there will be a scene within the next few episodes where his memory suddenly starts correcting itself, and instead of seeing himself as an unwitting Ash Tyler in those flashbacks, he suddenly sees his true form as Voq…and it’ll be quite traumatic as he desperately tries to hold onto his Tyler identity while it slips away.

      At least, that’s my prediction. We’ll know more in a month or so.

  8. Well, if you haven’t bought that up……I think I’d have forgot about Discovery entirely until it return. 😀

  9. Also TBH, I don’t like the low-brow humour of The Orville and I find the dialogue too erm, how should I put it, it feels like I watch a sock-puppet show meant for Bush or Trump, but I still like the show, a sock-puppet show with heart still beats the heartless mess we get with Disco.

    Oh, and partly one of the reasons with The Orville why we miss it so much lies with not having seeing the last episode of the season yet… apparently they made 13 episodes for season 1, but because of scheduling, going into the holiday season they booted the 13th episode to season 2. Maybe that explains Patrick Stewart, we have images of him appearing in the Orville, but we haven’t seen him yet… I can’t wait.

  10. Nobody cared about the Klingon war in STD because we already know how it turned out basically. It either has to be a win or a draw otherwise no TOS, TNG, DS9 or Voyager. While the season finale of Orville had no real surprises it did have our attention.

    1. In Prelude to Axanar, we knew how the war turned out, as well. In fact, the interviewees were discussing everything in flashback ten years. Nevertheless, the short film was compelling and engaging, even though we knew the outcome.

      Also, did you notice that even though Prelude had only one character talking at a time, there was still banter? It was simply banter with the camera and the viewer.

          1. Agreed. Both Prelude and DSC have Starfleet being beaten badly by the enemy at one point in an existential war for the Federation. Since most of us of TOS vintage are used to Starfleet’s cruisers being able (eventually) to defeat a foe, seeing Starfleet in a position similar to the US Navy in the Pacific in 1942 makes for good drama, IMHO. But it is cool to know beforehand that the Federation does win, of course[ ! ].

  11. Part of that is the decision to shorten Seasons, back in the 60’s you had 33 Episodes if you were a 1/2 hour. 22-26 if you were an hour.

    Now a days it’s 13-16 episodes on average…

    The interesting thing about banter, is that it doesn’t require Budget Breaking SPFX. I bet STD could save 1/2 the production budget with the addition of a few Adjectives, and pronouns.

    And make 22 good Episodes.

    As for Sonequa – She is basically playing the same sort of angry character she did on The Walking Dead. And she was far from my favorite on that show… Not surprising that she is playing a similar character now.

    I think i would rather have Daryl or Eugene and his Mullet.

    I was watching DS9 – it was kind of an unimportant episode in the grand scheme of things. It was about Odo, having feelings for Neryss… Which overall was a bit heartbreaking, but not suprising. But what struck me was the subtext between Quark and Odo. On the surface They are adversaries and at the same time they were friends who care for each other.

    Can you get that in 13 Episodes? Not likely.

    1. And yet, The Orville DID manage to bring these characters to life in just 13 (well, 12) episodes! I care about all of them. I could write at least two or three paragraphs about each of the main crew members…many even more than that (I do write a LOT, y’know!). 🙂

      And to be honest, I really got into Daredevil and The Defenders with only 13 episodes to work with. Breaking Bad had me at “hello.” Stranger Things, The Crown, The Handmaiden’s Tale…all of these had short first seasons but fantastically developed characters!

  12. I suppose you could make the argument, for the other side of the coin. (as you have)

    I tend to equate to the way things were in the 70’s. & 80’s If there was Sci-Fi on TV it was usually relegated to Friday nights. And usually you got one season if you were lucky.

    Now with shorter seasons a greater variety. and more viewing options. Overall the winner is the consumer. But TV viewing is still something of an appointment/investment. Any of the shows you mentioned can be Binged in a week or a weekend. ( Shorten the buy in, shorten the level of commitment )

    So The Downside to that is that if STD were to disappear tomorrow… Something is already out there to replace it.

    When Trek went off the air last time. After the initial fan uproar… it wasn’t that big a deal… Because you had SG-1, Atlantis, Andromeda, Xena. etc… on through today… where we have TWD, The Expanse, Star Wars (animated) Doctor Who, which…. here’s something to think about…

    Capaldi while a wonderful actor, (and as it finally turned out a pretty good doctor) was such a radical departure from Matt Smith, and David Tennant… That people just didn’t like him. And the brand as a whole suffered. I think this is one of the Reasons that Clara hung on so long.

    The BBC rather than giving him enough episodes to grow on the viewers, chose to shorten seasons. and skip years.

    Which I suppose is better than cancelling it outright.

    This next season will see another radical change to the show. Will it be for the better?
    Stay Tuned….

  13. You’re creating a problem that doesn’t exist. you complain about there being no banter then you cite all the times there was banter . the problem isnt that there is no banter, its that the banter comes from seemingly miserable people who hate each other most of the time. they dont seem to like each other.

    1. As I said, it’s not that there is no banter, but it’s a very rare thing when it happens. Most of what passes for banter on Discovery is either just Burnham and Tilly (the “true” banter on the show) or else something that is intended to advance the plot in some way. While that still technically qualifies as “banter,” it’s pulling double-duty. Much of the banter on The Orville stands alone—Bortus trying to do karaoke, Gordon suggesting getting a cat for the bridge, Alara not being able to find a date who isn’t intimidated by her strength, etc. None of these scenes served to advance the plot in any way, and yet they’ve helped show us sides to these characters we wouldn’t otherwise have gotten to see. Contrast that to Discovery, and how much have we learned about those characters? Not much. It’s not simply that they’re miserable people; it’s that I don’t know WHY they’re miserable…other than there being a war, and even then, we don’t often see them discussing it beyond reflecting on their latest mission(s).

      1. I’m not going to walk through the scripts to point out specific examples of your prized “banter”. It frankly doesn’t register all that much with me. Yes, you’ve offered specific examples. But I fail to see how these give viewers any true insight into the characters and thus in my opinion fail to “strengthen” your argument. I believe real character development doesn’t happen with “banter”, which you’ve admitted isn’t really integral to the story You make it sound as though writers using most of the dialogue to move a plot and ongoing story line forward is a bad thing.

        That last point would specifically relate to my usage of the term “intellectual integrity”. Your editorial exhibits a tendency to ignore or exaggerate important aspects of the show in your critique. The last point in my previous statement is an example: You seem to fail to recognize the serial approach of DISCO mandates dialogue be devoted to supporting an ongoing story. Whereas The Orville, in its’ episodic approach and its’ emphasis on humor, can more easily fit in this kind of banter since the stories are self-contained within the episode and there’s little effort being made to add dimension to the characters. Your comparisons of Saru and Bortus as “stoic” also demonstrate a lack of consideration. It would be accurate to compare Bortus to TNG’ & DS9’s Worf. But the character of Saru and what little we know of his civilization belie that being a valid comparison. One could actually make the case for the opposite.

        For me intellectual integrity is utilizing facts to support one’s assertions, not distorting them to support one’s presumptions.

        I don’t see it as being employed to flesh out the characters on The Orville as and much as in the context of the humor. Maybe there’s even too banter much on The Orville; perhaps this is why to me the plot points offered in the scripts seem kind of clunky in plot points and heavy-handed in terms of handling metaphors and allegorical elements.

        For me the engagement come from the fleshed out characterizations by cast of talented actors. Whereas this isn’t really a focus on The Orville; the characters for the most part are rather one or two dimensional. So far I don’t see much being done to fill them out. Perhaps some of this is due to my perception of McFarland himself as a weak leading man. I’ve also enjoyed many shows where the characters lacked the “likability” you seem to crave, such as Tony Soprano on “The Soprano’s or Walter White from “Breaking Bad”. Perhaps you’re confusing finding a character engaging with finding a character likable.

        I miss DISCO and anticipate new episodes because I’m absorbed in the ongoing story, the sophisticated plots and complex characters. The lack thereof on The Orville is why I don’t miss or anticipate it’s return as much and if the writing and storytelling in season 2 aren’t stronger I doubt I’ll stick with it.

        These are all of course matters of taste.

        1. Very true on that final point, Sean, which is why I simply stated at the start of the blog that this was just my own feeling as opposed to saying this was the way everyone should feel I miss the characters on The Orville and I don’t miss those on Discovery…and I think the lack of banter is the reason. That’s just my opinion. And it’s not a case of just wanting them to be funny and likable.

          Case in point…

          Let’s stop comparing Discovery to Orville and instead compare Discovery to a more similar show in some ways (and one the creators themselves said they were trying to emulate): Game of Thrones. That show is likewise plotted intricately with multiple storylines stretching across seasons and often even beyond that. And yet, I miss GOT terribly when it isn’t showing new episodes. Those characters are amazingly well fleshed out and complex. And why? Again, I think it’s their banter. And it doesn’t even have to be funny banter like the sardonic quips of Peter Dinklage’s character of Tyrion Lannister. Cersei’s biting insults and arrogant pronouncements to others also count as Banter. Daenerys the Mother of Dragons shows both her strength/wisdom but also her youth and inexperience in many of the conversations she has. Even potentially two-dimensional characters like Brienne of Tarth and her squire Podrick are enlivened for the audience through their moments of banter…along with Brienne’s banter with Jamie Lannister. In fact, the different banter Jamie has with all the various characters with whom he interacts–his sister Cersei, Brienne, his children, his brother, his father, his sell-sword, the High Septon–show so many facets of who this character is.

          Discovery has almost none of that complexity. I find myself watching that show solely for the plot and not for the characters. With GOT, I watch for both.

          And as I said, there’s nothing wrong with Discovery’s characters not interesting me much. Sure, I don’t care about almost any of them (I was kinda sad about Mudd’s mechanical spider-thingie), but I don’t have to in order to enjoy the show. I’ll be honest, I don’t really care about any of the new generation of Star Wars characters either. I was mainly in it for Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, and Ackbar. Now all but one is dead. (R.I.P. Admiral A.) These new characters don’t resonate with me at all (and in this case, a lack of banter isn’t the problem). But I still enjoyed The Last Jedi. I won’t be seeing it over and over again, though. And I won’t really be counting the seconds until episode nine.

          Anyway, feel free to keep enjoying Discovery and not missing The Orville, Sean. My purpose here isn’t to change your mind…only to share my own.

  14. From what I’ve seen, the characters in Star Trek: Discovery, with the possible exception of Saru, aren’t particularly likeable.

    1. Even Saru kinda rubs me the wrong way a little…despite an awesome performance by Doug Jones (not the senator-elect from Alabama…the other Doug Jones). I find Saru kind of standoffish, and I wonder if he socializes at all with the crew. I don’t DISlike Saru. I simply find him to be troubled in a number of significant ways–skittish, pessimistic, lacking in self-confidence, self-pitying, obsessed with and resentful of Burnham—that could conceivably get in the way of his being an effective executive officer.

      Let the hate-mail begin! 🙂

      1. No dissing of the host from this quarter; I’ve simply been surprised and intrigued at the vehemence with which many Trekkies online dislike DSC’s Federation characters. I think I thought of most of them as black-ops military scientists led by a combat veteran on an experimental craft being readied for war. As such, I expected brilliance, eccentricity, and nonconformity to civilian standards to make the characters fit their position in a story of the Federation surprised by war and in the process of losing it. There’s no question that DSC’s characters are in any danger of being confused with TOS’s Enterprise crew, but both Starfleet and the Federation in TOS appear to me much more secure (and better armed against their enemies) than DSC’s Starfleet that was pounded at the Binary star system. It makes sense to me to view DSC as a projection of military history into the far future using Trek’s universe (and I’m fascinated by it), but I must admit that many other fans online aren’t convinced at all that this type of Trek story is legitimate.

  15. Here I sit… I just completed a long and winding serious message and tore it up…. Now I feel better. I still like both shows and still think Discovery is far superior… the writing especially. I’m tired of the so called banter and truly dislike the some of the stories… I won’t repeat those thoughts or add to them… You guys can go back and find my reasons… I will just add a couple more reasons. Cutting off a leg is not funny. Cheating on your spouse is not funny… and having your co-worker also an afternoon snack is definitely not funny. Who writes that stuff…? Here is a line that may even be in the next episode… Crew member: Hey Cap… what do you give a cannibal who’s late for dinner? Cap: I don’t … what you give them… Crew Member: A cold shoulder…. hahahaha… it’s not funny!!! where can I apply for a writing job???

    1. I love cannibal jokes!!!

      Why don’t cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny.

      Why was the cannibal expelled from school? Because he kept buttering up the teacher.

      I saw that this cannibal was absolutely starving…so I gave him a hand.

      Don’t upset a cannibal or you’ll wind up in hot water!

      Why did the cannibal live all alone? He was fed up with people.

      Two cannibals were having their dinner. One said to the other, “Y’know, I really don’t like your friend.” The other one said, “Then just eat the vegetables.”

      Two cannibals were having lunch. One says to the other, “Oh, this meal is delicious. Your wife makes an excellent soup!” The other replies, “Yeah, but I m going to miss her.”

      Two cannibal wives are complaining to each other about their mates. “I just don’t know what to make of my husband!” says the first in frustration. The other replies, “Well, stew is always a good choice.”

      What did the cannibal say to the explorer? “Nice to meat you!”

      A cannibal with a bad stomach virus was getting angrier and angrier. So he threw up his hands in frustration.

      Can I write for “The Orville?” 🙂

  16. I’m not sure that you’re making a fair argument for what you’re feeling. Banter comes from familiarity. In TOS we had banter from the first aired episode because the assumption was that we were joining the crew mid mission. In TNG there’s not much banter in the pilot, or the first few episodes. In DS9 the banter in the beginning is limited to Sisko & Dax, and Odo & Quark because they’re familiar with each other.

    The first episode of DSC is filled with banter and familiarity. Burnham and Saru act almost like siblings at times. Captain Georgiou even jokes that they need to officially log the historic event of Burnham and Saru agreeing. This is because they all know each other well.

    Ep 2 was very tense.

    Ep 3
    -Landry and Burnham in the elevator
    -Saru and the blueberries
    -Burnham and Tilly

    I think if you rewatch the episodes with an eye out for banter you’ll see more than you remember.

    There aren’t enough episodes yet to have formed any real attachments to characters, except maybe for Tilly. Personally, the first Monday without DSC was rough for me.

    1. Again, John, you provide limited examples. I acknowledged the Burnham and Tilly banter. Landry and Burnham in the turbolift wasn’t really banter so much as “slave-to-the-plot” exposition dialogue. And the Saru and the blueberries scenes was, once again, intended more as a plot exposition, although I also acknowledged that one. But my point is that Saru hasn’t any discussions since then with anyone (other than Burnham) that weren’t mission-related updates and/or his orders.

      To demonstrate what I mean by providing more than only limited examples, let’s look at TNG. In the pilot episode, we had Riker calling Data “Pinnochio”, Beverly reminiscing with Jean-Luc, and Data and McCoy’s walking scene. Remember these other lines/scenes from the rest of season one?
      “Swimming is too much like…bathing.”
      “If you prick me… do I not… leak?”
      Data trapped in the Chinese finger puzzle.
      Data: “It was raining in the City by the Bay– a hard rain. Hard enough to wash the slime…” Jean-Luc Picard: “Data!” Data: “Sorry, sir.”
      “Think about it. A blind man teaching an android to paint? That’s got to be worth a couple of pages in someone’s book.”
      “What’s a knock-out like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this?”
      “Data, things are only impossible until they’re not.”
      Data: “Do Klingons observe birthdays, Worf?” Worf: “Klingons are born, live as warriors, and die.” Data: “Then how do you know how old you are?” Worf: “I don’t. Do you know?” Data: “I have no age.”
      “That’s a heck of a sales pitch.”
      Paul Rice: “Tell me about your ship – the Enterprise, isn’t it?” William T. Riker: “o… The name of my ship is the Lollipop.” Paul Rice: “I have no knowledge of that ship.” William T. Riker: “It’s just been commissioned. It’s a good ship.”
      Worf: “Are you okay?” Geordi La Forge: “If I could see, I’d be seeing stars now.”

      That’s just some concrete examples from TNG’s first season. If I did DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise’s first seasons, this response would get VERY long. 🙂

      With Discovery, the list is pretty short.

      1. I only commented on the first three episodes because I’m on phone and a novella is time consuming.

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