Seth MacFarlane’s science-fiction series The Orville arrived on Fox with much fanfare in September—namely the brass-heavy sort that, like many elements of the sort-of comedic series, lets slip the heavy influence of Star Trek: The Next Generation on the show. But perhaps nowhere is The Orville’s homage to the crew of the starship Enterprise-D more keenly felt than in the fact that it’s having a choppy first season, as MacFarlane and his team show their true TNG bona fides by delving into concepts and storylines that have been deeply silly at best and inadvisable at worst. The explorational arm of an interplanetary coalition is a perfectly reasonable backdrop for discussions of contemporary hot-buttons like gender identity, but regardless of his personal politics and his retconned reputation as a speaker of truth to power, do you really trust Seth MacFarlane to handle those discussions?
MacFarlane and The Orville will now have more time to earn that trust. Just like The Next Generation before it—and this fall’s actual, official Star Trek spin-off—The Orville has been granted a second season in which to get its shit together. Creatively, at least: Commercially, it’s on firmer ground, netting Fox’s best premiere numbers since Empire in 2015, while last week’s Black Mirror-aping installment topped its veteran timeslot competitor, Scandal, in the 18-to-49 ratings. With the fresh horizons promised by a season two, maybe The Orville can manage to boldly go where another show hasn’t before.