Prime Time Space Race: Why We Can't Wait for the Returns of The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery

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It was a riveting development in the television sci-fi landscape in 2017 when The Orville launched in the same month as Star Trek: Discovery. 

The comparisons were bound to arise. Both shows began with spaceships led by human captains with diverse crews. Both shows showed said crews encountering new alien species as well as fighting a central conflict with an aggressive non-human foe.

What probably could not have been predicted was that The Orville would become the darling of the populace, judged to be MORE "Star Trek" than the newest offering from the actual franchise.

Related: Get CBS All Access via Prime Video Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals & Live TV

Star Trek: Discovery, available only on CBS's subscription channel, CBS All Access, was ambitious in its attempt to deliver a long narrative with an edgier and darker bent than previous Trek series had been allowed to show on network cable.

When the dust settled, it was hard to call it a for either show. Star Trek: Discovery had enthralled and frustrated its audience with multiple fake-outs and plot twists.

Close Up on Burnham and Lorca - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

The Orville played heavily to the nostalgia of the Star Trek: The Next Generation crowd and mixed in some of MacFarlane's signature humor as well.

Who can forget Yaphit and Dr. Finn succumbing to alien pheromones on The Orville Season 1 Episode 9? No one's ever going to be able to un-see that.

Dr. Finn on the Prowl - The Orville Season 1 Episode 9

There were problematic elements on both sides of the aisle. There were some excellent standout performances as well. Of course, Star Trek: Discovery offered more opportunities for dramatic speeches.

Related: 11 Rounds of The Orville vs. Star Trek: Discovery -- Who Does It Better?

So what has us so excited for the next chapters of these shows?


Both The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery had strong premiere seasons and left us with amazing potential for further adventures.

Let's keep it simple and break it down in three categories:

Category 1: Wild Cards

Star Trek: Discovery -- Georgiou

Captain Philippa Returns - Star Trek: Discovery

Burnham's mentor and friend, Phillippa Georgiou died tragically on Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 2 but actress Michelle Yeoh returned, reappearing in the Mirror Universe as the Emperor of the Terran Empire.

Escaping to our (Prime) Universe, she brokers a deal for her freedom and then in a tantalizing stinger scene, she's offered a position in Section 31, Starfleet's Black Ops division.

The Orville -- Krill Children

Meeting the Krill Crew - The Orville Season 1 Episode 6

On The Orville Season 1 Episode 6, Mercer and Malloy go undercover on a Krill ship. Shenanigans ensue but the lasting takeaway is that they save the Krill children aboard the ship but kill a lot of adults who would've been the parents. This definitely has the potential to bite them in the proverbial butt.

Related: The Orville Season 2: First Look Reveals "Sweetness"

Category 2: Relationships

The Orville -- Mercer and Grayson

Captain and Ex. O. - The Orville Season 1 Episode 12

The first time we meet Ed Mercer, he's walking in on his wife in bed with her lover, an alien who ejaculates blue liquid out of his face. On The Orville Season 1 Episode 9, it was revealed that Kelly probably wasn't in control of herself due to the roofie-like pheromones she was exposed to.

By the finale, there were suggestions that Mercer and Grayson are reconciling although Grayson insists that a personal relationship would destroy their professional partnership.

Star Trek: Discovery -- Burnham and Spock(!?!)

Ethan Peck as Spock

In the final scene of the finale, the U.S.S. Discovery is hailed by the U.S.S. Enterprise and all the baggage that comes with came crashing down in the fan speculation of what that might mean.

We know that the timeline (according to TOS parameters) has the Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike and some of the casting announced was interesting, such as Rebecca Romijn as Number One, Pike's Ex-O.

Number One - Star Trek: Discovery

However, the Comic-Con reveal that Ethan Peck would be playing Spock, Burnham's adoptive brother, blew up the Internet.

Having seen Michael interact with Sarek on multiple occasions already and having learned on Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 6 that Sarek deep-sixed Burnham's application to the Vulcan Science Academy in favor of Spock, it will be FASCINATING to see how the siblings get along.

Related: Star Trek:Discovery Season 2 Trailer Unveils Spock, Premiere Date

Category 3: Adventure

Star Trek: Discovery -- Enterprising Times

Pike Meets The Discovery - Star Trek: Discovery

See what I did there? We have no idea how long the crews of the Enterprise and the Discovery are going to hang out together but considering the serial nature established in Season One of Star Trek: Discovery, there's a good chance this will drive the Season Two arc.

We know that that the Enterprise enlists the Discovery's assistance with a rescue operation. As Discovery's spore drive isn't likely to be up and running, the "specialness" of the ship lies in its crew and experience. 

The Orville -- So Many Aliens

Yaphit - The Orville Season 1 Episode 5

The advantage The Orville had in the head-to-head comparison is that its episodic nature allowed the crew to meet and interact with a wide range of alien species.

Also, being unhindered by Star Trek lore, they could also include all-new, highly improbable crew members, making the Planetary Union far more diverse employer than the Federation. Yay, Yaphit!

Season Two promises even more encounters with alien species and explorations of new planets. Now, if the crew can avoid getting executed or deified, they'll be ahead of the game. 

The Future Crew - The Orville Season 1 Episode 12

So what's got your warp drive revved up? 

Which characters are you most interested in getting reacquainted with?

With The Orville premiering after FOOTBALL on Dec 30, do you think it'll score a touchdown with its sophomore outing?

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.

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