Penny Johnson Jerald, left, Mark Jackson, Seth MacFarlane, Peter Macon, Scott Grimes, Adrianne Palicki, J. Lee and Halston Sage in “The Orville.”
SALT LAKE CITY — Maybe it’s because it was created by Seth MacFarlane, the man behind popular comedies such as “Family Guy,” but it seemed like his new Fox show “The Orville” would be funny.
Unfortunately, it just isn’t.
In trailers, “The Orville” is portrayed as a Star Trek parody. It’s set in an idealistic future where a fleet of discovery space vessels are run by an interplanetary military organization, but Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) is not the ideal leader. After he caught his wife, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), cheating on him a year before, he’s fallen apart and his career has gone downhill. But he’s been given one last chance with his promotion to captain of the U.S.S. Orville.
The setup for Ed’s character suggests that he will be an unorthodox captain, almost an antihero. Viewers are given to expect he will likely make a lot of mistakes, maybe almost get fired before making up for it with his grit and spirit. This idea is only increased when he insists on hiring his loose cannon friend Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) as his helmsman. But in the following episodes, this setup is almost completely dropped and Ed is mostly portrayed as a competent, normal captain and Gordon as a successful, talented spaceship pilot.
Part of the show’s problem is its focus. Midway through the first episode, Ed’s ex-wife is hired as his first officer — apparently at her own request — and the show devolves into…