I will admit the first episode of The Orville did not reel me in to the show. It was not bad, but it was not good either. There were definitely a few points that made me chuckle, but overall it felt like the blasé day-to-day life that we know now set in the future.
Now maybe I had my expectations high as a fan of Star Trek and Galaxy Quest, but this is definitely something a little bit different. The problem is that I am not sure that it is as good as either of those, which is almost what you have to be at this point. You can be different, but space exploration has been done by a couple of shows and you have to somehow bring something new to the table. I am still not sure that The Orville has completely given me that, but the third episode has shown me that it has more to offer than originally thought. Now the first episode is alright, the second episode a little painful in my opinion, and then the third episode you have an episode that kept me engaged and interested the entire time. At this point the general verdict is we are going to keep watching, but it is on thin ice. (Potential spoilers for the first three episodes of The Orville.)
Week in Geek, episode 1, recorded 8/22/17. News since last recording (in this case, the trial run episode on Comparative Opinions!), including: the events in Charlottesville; movie and TV news including Galaxy Quest, the Joker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, James Bond, and Jessica Jones; and the end of Mass Effect.
That all looks really good right up until you think about it being on CBS All Access. CBS has been notorious for not playing well with others online, so outside of CBS All Access, I doubt it will be accessible anywhere in America. If I recall, it’ll be available streaming in other countries.
What this means? Well, for one thing, they’d better be ready for all the news reports about how it’s a heavily torrented TV show. And what it means for us is that we’ll probably just be waiting until it’s available to buy as a season after the fact… sadness!
Still, it looks great. It reminded me a bit of Mass Effect Andromeda, which more than anything means they’re both really current effects and visuals in similar sorts of space exploration stories. They both look gorgeous.
But then, there’s another show coming that had a trailer drop.
Sneaking this show out as competition for Star Trek: Discovery like this, and on a normal network like Fox, should be interesting. They’re both around 13 episodes (sounds like Discovery got bumped up to 15).
Star Trek parody can be great, though – Galaxy Quest proved that. With The Orville be anywhere near as good as Galaxy Quest? That remains to be seen. But we may give this one a watch and see!
I recently finished reading Redshirts, by John Scalzi. It’s actually the first Scalzi I’ve read, but I kept hearing how good he is. As a Star Trek fan, the premise of Redshirts just seemed too good to pass up, so it seemed like the perfect place to start.
Redshirts is the story of those nameless crew members on a spaceship who, on away missions down to planets or space stations, die. It’s a parody of this phenomenon that happened a lot in Star Trek – especially the original series. It’s also a much larger meta tale, but I can get into that more below…
The long and short of it is, I’m glad I read this! Is it the best parody of Star Trek ever? No, Galaxy Quest still takes that cake. Is its commentary on lazy storytelling biting and awesome? Yes, yes it is. Hidden in this story about the hapless, no-name characters doomed to die to add a bit of drama to a scene is a commentary on how relying heavily on this trope is not good storytelling, is not fair to your characters or your audience. You should have to earn character deaths, make those characters real and meaningful. Because in real life, that’s what people are.
The book closes beautifully with, as the cover says, three codas. After arguing that in storytelling you should have to earn your emotional payoffs, and that your characters should be more than bit players, he goes back and gives us a perspective from three characters, telling us what happened to them because of the plot. This is Scalzi, after telling us about earning an emotional payoff, showing us how it’s done. These, in many ways, take this story from a fun comedy parody with a bit of a message into a deep, impactful story that’s worth far more to the reader.
So that’s my spoiler-free review and thoughts on the book. As a writer, or reader, or TV viewer, or TV criticizer, or a Star Trek fan… I would say for sure read this book. And if you somehow read the novel and skipped the codas, my goodness, go back and read the codas. Go now, I’ll wait. Oh, and if you’re curious still or want to move on to some spoilers… let’s do that below!
I’m already sick of this week, I definitely want a do over. First we got the news that David Bowie had returned home (I choose to believe this, it’s better than thinking otherwise) and now we’ve woken up to a world without Alan Rickman.
Most American audiences were first introduced to Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’ dastardly yet incredibly charming enemy in Die Hard. Fun fact: the iconic scene where they run into each other and Gruber pretends to be American wasn’t originally in the script; it was added after Rickman continually walked around set imitating an American accent. John McTiernan decided it was such a great accent he came up with a scene to use it in.
For a lot of people of my generation, though, our first experience with Alan Rickman was in the Harry Potter movies. Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Severus Snape was perfect; I’ve never tried to picture anyone else in the role, because honestly no one else would have been able to play it. He was one of the few actors who knew the fate and details of his character before the books were finished, and after reading the seventh book I could see why. Watching every movie, you can see the way that he occasionally looks at Harry – angry that he looks like James, but protective of him because of his lasting love for Lily. The one movie change I was always okay with was the way they handled Snape’s memories in the last movie. Watching him hold Lily and sob still makes me cry, and I’ve seen that movie more times than I can count.
Being only 11 at the time the Harry Potter movies started coming out, I experienced a maturing as I grew up watching the series. My fancies shifted from the two main characters, Harry and Ron, to Snape (never Cedric Diggory). I was incredibly interested in film even then, and so I started to look up every movie that Alan Rickman had been in, and watched as many as I could find at Blockbuster (blast from the past there).
That is how I found Sense and Sensibility, which changed my life. It introduced me to Jane Austen. It introduced me to the idea that you may not know what you really want, and sometimes getting what you want is not what you need. Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Colonel Brandon was inspired. It was nuanced, it was subtle, it was romantic, it was one of those performances that can make you fall 100% in love with a fictional character.
He brought Colonel Brandon to life in a way the book just didn’t for me. He made the audience realize that passion isn’t always loud or over the top; sometimes passion is quiet and understated, but that doesn’t make it any less real or deep. Reading the book, you feel like Marianne would have been happy with Willoughby; watching the movie you realize she’s far better off with the soft, slow-burning passion of Colonel Brandon. For me, that was an awakening. I was quite similar to Marianne when I was young, and watching Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon made me realize what I really wanted in my life and what kind of love I needed to find to be happy.
I was lucky enough when I studied abroad in Dublin to see Alan Rickman in Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman onstage at the Abbey Theatre. Seeing him live…that voice. It’s amazing in films, but in person it was indescribably beautiful. I never realized how much of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would be, but I’m incredibly happy that I have that memory to cherish for the rest of my life.
Alan Rickman with Fiona Shaw and Lindsay Duncan in John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 2010
This has been a rough week. I have some choice words for cancer, they maybe rhyme with duck and too, but I won’t repeat them here. Instead, I’ll just watch Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, Dogma if I can find it on demand, and heck even Galaxy Quest today, and plan on binge watching Harry Potter all weekend. Maybe I’ll do a tweet along, especially if I do it with wine (or try making my own butterbeer?)