Note: The fine folks here at Bleeding Cool's Department of Television Excellence have taken it upon themselves to "save" some of your favorite series (like FOX's The Orville) by designing "ultimate" episodes/seasons that will keep them from the water skis and sharks for a little while longer or save them from the fates that befell Game of Thrones and Dexter with their series finales. Consider these the episodes you need, want, and deserve. You're welcome.
The latest "episode" of FOX's The Orville pulled off the unimaginable: getting all major captain protagonists from every Star Trek show to guest star!
That's right, my friends! William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, and Scott Bakula all reprised their "roles" one last time – except they were anything but their Star Trek alter egos.
The episode begins when the Orville finds a mysterious uninhabitable planet not before documented on their star charts. The crew stumble upon a cryogenic pod that holds the original founders of the Planetary Union, preserved and frozen in time. After Lt. Commander John LaMarr figures out how to unfreeze them, the five survivors are naturally shocked to learn how much the Planetary Union has gone through and changed after they were preserved.
Initially, the crew – especially Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) – is elated about what they can learn from the five… that is, until they read the mission logs.
In an amazing "Fifth Wall"-creating-and-breaking, Inception-within-Inception-like moment, each "captain" begins criticizing the crew for all their screw ups and then "Monday morning quarterback" how they would have handled it – better. Imagine that nagging relative who can never give you credit when it's due, but always has a salvo ready to fire off at the first sign of weakness.
Aside from the checklist of "fan requests" MacFarlane had each of them run through, there was a crisis on hand since the Kaylons find the Orville in an elaborate trap where they are enclosed in a bubble that surrounds the planet's orbit.
Seeing the favorites from each Star Trek series at work is like they picked up where they left off… if they got fired from the job and were able to do whatever they wanted without any repercussions.
When eldest member TJ Bascom (Shatner) was laying it onto Ed about his past failings – including when he tried to get it on with his ex-wife's younger self to screw up the timeline – was he channeling "Denny Crane" from his television lawyer days? On top of that, he was hitting on all the female crew members as shamelessly as he did as in Star Trek: The Original Series. Only this time, the 70-year old plus icon doesn't have the charm as he used to.
I wonder if MacFarlane paid Bakula extra when he made his first lines in the episode to be, "Oh, boy!" Bakula played Sam Pride, a former engineer, who keeps messing with Lt. Commander John LaMarr's (J Lee) configurations, not accounting for their contemporary technology and what it can handle.
We know how familiar Stewart is with MacFarlane given their work on American Dad, but it's just weird seeing him on another sci-fi space show and play anyone except Picard… which is what makes this work even that much more!
Also, the bitter back-and-forth with Brooks was a nice nod to the premiere of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Funniest moment? When Jackson Hawk (Brooks) was exchanging stories with Lt. Malloy (Scott Grimes), and Jackson brings up the time he punched a God right in the face, flustering him a bit. Malloy's look of awe was reminiscent of the episode of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon meets up with James Earl Jones and finds out how relatable he actually is. Speaking of which, we learn just how juvenile Hawk actually is when his pranks go too far for Malloy: pretty cruel to fill Yaphit (Norm MacDonald) full of cement and solidifying him.
The most climactic part of the episode finds June Callahan (Mulgrew) and Commander Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) working together to get the deflectors online to drive back the Kaylon. Well… more like June made Kelly do all the work while taking pretty much all of the credit.
The episode was fulfilling on so many levels since the former stars didn't have to be the ones "burdened" by responsibility, but instead took all the time to knock the younger generation down as many pegs as possible. It's like MacFarlane read up on all the past criticisms of Trek and had the faces of the franchise spit back out at them, especially calling out all the haters of Discovery. I wish more shows addressed trolls head on like this.
Ultimately, the five worn out their welcome and the crew of the Orville trap them in the simulator to freeze them up again to unleash on the next unfortunately crew that stumbles upon them.
I can't imagine what Jonathan Frakes was thinking as he was directing the episode.