Though it’s a little late to hit the beginning of the seasons, it’s still a prime time to start a new weekly post where Mr. DAPs and Murray will review the week’s episodes of a couple of prime sci-fi series. This week had Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” and The Orville: New Horizons’ “Shadow Realms” as the two to review. The “two captains” will review and even choose a winner of the week between the series. Here we go!
Mr. Daps: “The Orville in general has solid music. It reminds me of a mix between Star Trek: The Next Generation and Galaxy Quest. This episode of the show continued on with this solid score. It definitely has that grand adventure feel throughout it. Strange New World music is definitely different. It is a modern approach to “Star Trek” that definitely has inspiration peppered in from The Original Series of the franchise. While it was enjoyable, it also doesn’t seem to have its footing.”
Murray: “Orville (OR) had a great orchestral track to ‘Shadow Realms.’ It made me feel like it was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, but a little more mature in the music. It was in the background enough, but you could really hear it be unique. Strange New Worlds’ (SNW) music didn’t really stick out this week. It fit. It was nice, but it wasn’t something that blew me away or gave me much feeling. It did its job, which is not a bad thing, but not a unique thing.”
Special Effects, Makeup, Etc.
Mr. Daps: “Both Strange New World and The Orville: New Horizons really do a fantastic job with the look of their respective shows. The sets are awesome, the digital effects very believable, and the makeup for the most part really does a good job of bringing the stories to life. If we were comparing previous seasons of Orville against Star Trek, I would have to give Star Trek the clear edge. However, New Horizons really has taken a major step forward for special effects for The Orville. For both of these episodes, I found myself really enjoying how the special effects and other elements really bring the stories to life and make them more believable.
In this particular week, I have to say that Star Trek took the edge as there were some moments in The Orville where the special effects were distracting… which in my world is the number one sin for special effects (or soundtracks) to make.”
Murray: “Both episodes this week featured alien species we’ve not seen before. At the same time, it felt similar to other species or other alien creatures we’ve seen before whether in a Star Trek series or another sci-fi series. SNW had a nice way of having some humanoid aliens with ridges on the sides. Again, it is a species we haven’t seen before yet similar to others. It worked, but my one problem was it was too subtle from person to person. It made it hard to tell if they were exactly the same species of alien for me. I’m still in awe of the modeling of the Enterprise, and the other ships are always so superb. It’s a new scale for Trek and I’ve been enjoying it.
OR had some great spider-like creatures that were something reminiscent of B-movies and yet very creepy. It was combined with CGI that really did it’s job making them seem dangerous. The modeling and animation for the creatures was a little too animated and fast to be completely believeable. It ended up taking away from the scenes of heightened fear. But, the transformation of the people into the creatures and their alien ship was some amazing graphics, makeup, and set decoration.”
Mr. Daps: “The story for The Orville was one that could easily have been pulled from Star Trek: The Next Generation or perhaps Star Trek: Voyager. For the most part, a big part of this story is expanding where Orville will be heading in the future. It also sets up what appears to be the “big bad” for The Union, for which Orville is a part of. A side note: there were definitely moments that felt like they were pulled out of Star Trek during this episode but there were also some Star Wars references as well. While amusing, it was also an interesting choice as Orville seems to be taking itself more seriously as a sci-fi series over the comedic approach it took initially.
Strange New Worlds was definitely an interesting episode as well. It definitely did not go where one would expect a Star Trek episode to go, or end like most Star Trek episodes normally would end. One has to wonder what Gene Roddenberry would think of this episode. Mr. Spock has said that “the good of the man outweighs the good of the few or the one.” This episode dug into that from a different perspective and I’m not entirely sure what I thought about that perspective or how dark it ended up being. What this episode did do right was bring up lots of questions, this also could have been a weakness. Some of these questions that came up during the episode really get a person thinking. Others, however, seemed to be questions that would have been better answered for the plot of the episode. This was an episode that was interesting in several different ways and had me thinking about it after. Overall, it was successful. I also liked how it gave more backstory and motivations to this crew of the Enterprise.”
Murray: “OR seemed like a recycled story from ST: Next Gen…at first. I was very surprised by the Act 3 of the episode and its resolution. I also liked how Act 1 was a very different tone and setting the stage for the new season overall. We dive deeper into the lore of their Federation – The Union – and other alien cultures right away. ‘Shadow Realms’ ended amazingly with growing a relationship between two characters and setting up a new alien threat. You could say it’s just the Orville’s version of the Borg, but I don’t mind that. It’s just different enough that it has me intrigued.
SNW’s ‘Lift Us’ had a bit of a twist ending also, but I don’t think it landed as well. It was a little predictable to see that it would end in some tension between the new world and the Federation. Exactly how was still a surprise and a bit of a twist. The other way it didn’t feel like the story landed for me was the set up of motivations of all the aliens. It just wasn’t strong enough for me to see their conclusions in the end. Elder Gamol needed to do more meddling, or there needed some more evidence of meddling on the ship. I would have liked a little more of a hint or mystery unfolding with Alora. I still liked how the ending was somewhat unresolved. It made it quite different than other similar Trek episodes.”
This Week’s Winner
Mr. Daps: “This week I am going back and forth on who should be the winner. I’m giving the edge to Orville. This is solely because I think this episode has broader implications for the future of the show than Strange New World’s episode had this week. Both were enjoyable. I think Star Trek won in terms of effects and Orville for the soundtrack. I would also say that both Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and The Orville: New Horizons did not deliver their most powerful episodes this week. As opposed to other episodes where I’ve found myself more or less satisfied, I found myself nitpicking both series this week. Orville, however, did provide a stronger story and stronger episode.
Murray: “I’m giving the trophy to Orville this week. It was a good mixed tone and had a very surprising ending for me. I liked how it could be a standalone story but did a great job of advancing a lot of the series overall. Mixed with good music and some decent effects (compared to this week’s SNW) it really had a good package for the episode.”