The Orville and the Star Trek
I read a post recently claiming that the New Star Trek shows (Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, specifically) were all trash and that the Orville's newest season was absolutely fantastic. I couldn't believe it. It was almost as if the author of that post hadn't even seen SNW, yet. He claimed that fans were severely disappointed with the newest offerings of Star Trek and that they were flocking to the Orville by the thousands. And again, I couldn't believe it. Everyone knows (or, at least, I think everyone knows) that there's been a long-standing rivalry between Star Trek fans and Star Wars fans, and that's ok: one's a Sci-Fi show and the other one is a Space Opera. It's easy to see why some would like one and not the other. It makes sense. But to suggest that there isn't room on our plates for two Sci-Fi shows just just baffles me. There is plenty of room for people to love both Star Trek and the Orville, and, for the most part, they should. The first two seasons of the Orville were very, very good and were served up at a time when fans actually were desperately clamoring for good Sci-Fi shows, especially Sci-Fi shows based in space. The third season hasn't quite hit the high marks of the first, in my opinion, but it's still very solid: a good show. And while I believe that the first season of Discovery left a lot to be desired, as the seasons have progressed, they've found their footing and really developed. Of course, I know someone who has the exact opposite opinion, and that's okay, too. Because the entire series is still pretty solid. It's not a serialized show, and that's not cool with some people. But once you realize that the entire Season is basically one long story arc, you get used to it, and it makes more sense. The show was built for binging. As was Picard, which is more of a deep intellectual exercise, as it explores deeper issues of right and wrong and doesn't try to present a clear answer. It leaves it up to you decide: is sentient restricted to biologicals or isn't it? Is the road not taken something to be explored? feared? ignored? It's up to you to decide. Strange New Worlds takes a entirely different tack, and for the most part, so does the Orville. While both shows have themes that run throughout their respective seasons, they're also both, largely episodic shows. SNW more than the Orville in its' third season. Each episode of SNW stands alone, not just from other shows in the series, but from other shows in the franchise. You can jump in anywhere and get a pretty good understanding of what's going on within the first few minutes. The Orville has the same basic premise, but I think that SNW is pulling it off in a much better way. And, SNW has themes and character arcs from the older shows that largely reflect those already established. Characters behave pretty close to how you'd expect them to behave based on what we've seen in older shows. That's not to say that the Orville doesn't benefit from not having a large established canon, it does, and it seems to be working hard on keeping the technobabble and historical canon to a minimum.
There is totally room in our daily lives for more Sci-Fi, and both the New Star Trek shows and the Orville have their place.