Can The Orville break the U.S. sci-fi comedy TV curse?

Among the many television shows scheduled for the upcoming 2017-18 prime time television season is a brand new program from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.  No, it’s not another animated series like The Cleveland Show or American Dad!  Instead, it’s a science fiction comedy spoof series.  In this new FOX TV series, MacFarlane is the captain of a space ship called The Orville.  Hence … the name of the show.

Better yet, here’s the trailer for the series.

Um… well… er…

Here’s the problem.  Unlike in the U.K., where sci-fi space comedy shows have run for years and years (Red Dwarf, for example), such shows die quick, painful deaths in the US.

And as much as I would love to rally around The Orville, in that I would LOVE to see a true science fiction space comedy spoof in prime-time television, I know that previous attempts to create something like this have failed miserably.

Exhibit A.  In the late 1970’s, NBC aired a sci-fi spoof show called Quark, starring Richard Benjamin as the captain of an intergalactic garbage ship.  This show was a spoof of Star Trek, Star Wars and other space operas of the time, and although the Barnstable Sisters (as clones Betty and Betty) were a nice slice of eye candy, the show had crummy ratings and was not renewed past its initial order.

Exhibit B.  One of UPN’s early TV comedies was the high-concept Homeboys in Outer Space, which spoofed everything from Star Trek to Star Wars to Red Dwarf, and even had cameo appearances by Star Trek‘s James Doohan playing a character named Pippen.  Oh I get it.  Yeah, and what I also got was that this show is frequently listed as one of the worst TV prime time shows of all time.  OF ALL TIME!

Exhibit C.  Even when sci-fi space comedies prosper in foreign countries – Red Dwarf being a great example – American attempts to recreate that same type of show have landed with a resounding plop.  What you’re seeing here is a very lame attempt to create an American version of Red Dwarf, and if you look closely you can see Jane Leeves (Frasier) as the computer-controlling disembodied head Holly.  Urgh.

So we’ve already seen how well prime-time space comedies have done.

Another problem with The Orville is that it’s a live action Seth MacFarlane production.  And unlike Family Guy, MacFarlane’s live-action comedies have died quickly.  If you remember The Winner … or Dads … you were probably one of the tens of people who watched both those shows.  I feel your pain.

And a third problem?  Honestly, how many Fox sci-fi space dramas have gone on to rich and productive and long-lasting runs?  Let’s see, there was Firefly … and before that, there was Space: Above and Beyond … and before that, there was … well … there was … (scratching head) … yeah, there wasn’t.

So it’s a science fiction space opera … produced by Seth MacFarlane … and it’s a comedy … and it’s on FOX …

Yeah, I think The Orville is not wright for this world.  What do you think, blog readers?  Six episodes before this show gets culled?

Besides, if I really want to see a science fiction comedy series, I’ll go find my old VHS copies of Galaxy Quest or Spaceballs… which were much, much funnier than what I’ve seen from The Orville.

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