The Orville 'Command Performance' [Season 1 Episode 2] Review

***Spoilers Ahead***

Command Performance

Seth MacFarlane (left), Adrianne Palicki (right); Fox Broadcasting Co.

If the U.S.S Orville was free-falling and had to get rid of something in order to restore balance, they would take their comedy and eject it into the depths of space. While the pilot was enjoyable when it was focusing on action and adventure, the jokes fell a bit flat. The typical MacFarlane humor just doesn't seem to fit well in the Orville universe. Don't get me wrong, there were still some reasonably funny moments, but the series still hasn't found the right balance of comedy and drama. 'Command Performance' ends up erasing this problem as the episode focuses on the action and adventure elements that made the pilot so great.

It's a pretty gutsy move to isolate the two main characters away from the other cast members this early in the game, but The Orville manages to pull it off. Ed and Kelly leave the ship and are captured by another species that imprison them in a futuristic zoo. With those two away, Alara is put in charge and has to deal with the difficulties of being the acting captain. After being pushed to the background in the pilot, Alara gets her moment in the sun in this installment. It was very refreshing to understand her as a character instead of a gimmick. Alara's struggles felt genuine and it became very easy to feel what she was going through. Also, I hope that the series will give other characters the chance to be in the main role for an episode as well (particularly Issac).

Outside of the main plot, Ed & Kelly also had some worthwhile moments. While the love-hate relationship between the two is relatively predictable, they do have impeccable chemistry. I'm not sure when the writers are planning on getting the two back together, but I'm sure it'll happen towards the end of this inaugural season. Coincidently, the concept of being trapped in a zoo isn't exactly original, but the flawless execution is what made it enjoyable.

My main criticism of the pilot was that the series had too many bathroom-oriented and Family Guy-style gags that missed the mark. While 'Command Performance' does end up toning down on the comedy front, it still can't find the right balance of humor and drama. The series still doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy with some drama or a drama with some comedy. Nevertheless, the episode was still fine without relying entirely on laughs. But, I would still prefer to see more self-referential or satirical jokes pop up here and there. Those ones are clever and generally fit the mood of the program.

Ultimately, 'Command Performance' isn't a step-down or a step up from the pilot, it remains firmly in place. The episode does improve in some areas, but the show still has some work to do in others. But, despite some flaws, The Orville is a very enjoyable ride. Each episode feels like a mini-movie and it really does a phenomenal job creating that sci-fi vibe.

Stray Thoughts

  • I've only seen a handful of Futurama episodes. Leave it to the Orville to take a page out of an episode I've actually seen.
  • Between Ed's admiration of Kermit the Frog and MacFarlane's constant muppet references on his animated toons, one can tell that Seth is a muppet buff.
  • Bortus has a female child? Not sure where the show is going with this, but I'm interested. 
  • That reality TV bit was hilarious. 

  Grade: B+

What did you think of 'Command Performance'?


Leave your thoughts on the episode in the comments below. The next episode of The Orville will air this Thursday at 9/8c on Fox.

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