The Orville - 3.01: Electric Sheep

ctg

weaver of the unseen
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The Orville crew deals with the interpersonal aftermath of the battle against the Kaylon
 
This show has gone from a well intentioned clone of ST:TNG to a fabulous star trek show in its own right. Some strong writing, and big emotional scenes that tackles its themes thoughtfully. I'm not so hot on the humour, but I'm glad they kept that side of things low key.

Standout was the music which was just fantastic and shows the difference a good composer / real orchestra can have on generating atmosphere.

Hulu have obviously given Macfarlane a big budget judging by the visual effects which were numerous and looked great.

The weakest aspect for me was Seth Macfarlane's new girlfriend Alex Winters who lacks the range of her co-stars and kind of fluffed her way through a demanding part - I hope she improves as the show progresses.

Together you have a show that has a whole lot more heart and more authentic, well earned emotion than all the new Star Trek and Star Wars shows put together. The actors look like they're having a real blast and there is sense of joy and optimism that feels like a breath of fresh air amidst a wave of cynicism and entryism that seems to have crept into our other big sci-fi franchises.
 
Just a moment, I just need to turn my brain off... not that it would work in the morning, but since we are watching classical space pr0n I'm not going to try to nitpick them on hard details. I actually quite liked hearing the engines roar, laz0rs going pew-pew and seeing massive fleets. In fact, there are a lot of things that one can love in the Orville. It is a full service SF program.

I'm also quite surprised how much the writing has changed, since I last reviewed this program. It is definitely more serious and better refined than what it was at the end of first and beginning of the second season. The jokes are there, but they aren't used in every thirty seconds.

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Poor Isaac. I know we shouldn't feel sorry for the enemy, but I do. The crew of Orville isn't really forgiving on seeing a Kaylon, even though Isaac tried his best to stay loyal to them and not to his species. Then again, in times, ST's Data was treated in the same way. Isaac claimed that it was fascinating to learn crew behavioural patters, but there is nothing he could do about the emotional responses.

War is an ugly business. It destroys so many things, including relationships, but it also sets things right. Things that needed to be seen in a different light. The engineer lady claimed bitterly, "It's a shame that you cannot feel anything. Because you deserve to feel all the pain in the universe. And if I were you, I'd stay hell out of the mess hall. It makes people sick to look at you."

Even though the machines doesn't have feelings, they can still act as if they get the gist. They disappear and becomes lost items. All because they're not wanted. But that didn't happen in Isaac's case. Instead, he stayed neutral, even though that is much hard place to be ... for humans.

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Love the Kermit and Wright Brother's plane on the desk, but on the serious note, Captain made some serious difficulties on reinstalling an enemy in the bridge. He might not be one, but he most certainly look like one. The war causes the resentment on subject to go deep into the cultural fabric. It is the effect of demonization and the realization that those guys weren't good. And they are not in peace.

The morale should be more important to the command staff than having an enemy on board. So, why is it that Isaac isn't locked in some lab, until he can come up a solution for the Kaylon question? I don't know, but I know a real life story about USS Connecticut, and how the low morale were part of the incident with the underwater mountain. The blade went rightly on the command staff, who had trained their crew to a point that they didn't care about the real stuff.

In fact, in the case, the whole crew, including the command staff, were so fed up that the safety brief, "weren't wanted," even though it should have potentially warned them that they were so off the course that it'd become a hazard. All thanks to a low morale that new skipper had introduced with the endless drills.

In the Orville case, that isn't a thing. The crew is still smiling. Still doing their duties. Sometimes even cracking jokes.

It surprised me that doctor's son turned out to be the tagger. Marcus said, "He kills thousands of people and I get the blame? That's some BS."

The captain just led it to slide. He did not address it, even though he should have been able to see that "the family was in trouble." It was the doctor who tried to mend the relationship by provoking Isaac to openly apologize on what his species had done.

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I like that they have now fighter class vessels on board the Orville and I really think they should have more than one. But I didn't like that fight in the dockyard. It should not have been allowed, because a) high speed chase, b) explosions churning out space junk and c) the risk of collisions with other vessels that weren't informed about the activity.

Personally, in my mind eyes, I could see the Captain getting bollocking in the Admiral's office, because he allowed it despite the protocols.

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The death of a machine. It isn't the first time, when they've committed suicides. Spielberg's AI is probably the best example of it. So that blew away the notion that the machines doesn't have feelings. |They most definitely do. And in the case, the emotions are heavily suppressed by the protocols and rules of the machine itself.

The doctor was most shocked by the event. Her son did not care. But why? I expected him to be cheerful, but instead he was moping around like a regular teen. Doctor I expected to hit the bottle, but she didn't. Instead, she fell into her memories as if she was in shock, but also in acceptance that she'd been in denial. That she'd been angry. That like Isaac, she had been suppressing her feelings.

It wouldn't be the first time. They have do it in their job, because there's no other way. Somethings has to be looked at with cold, hard eyes, instead of feeling full emotions, because the subject is someone's love.

Why the doctor did not cry openly? Why did she wait until she was alone?

I guessed that the resurrection was coming next. But I was surprised, when the Captain got rightly pissed at Charly refusing to aid in the project. He shouted, "We'll have to be better than they are..." and I agree. The humans, in their messed up feelings, have to raise above the average and do what needs to be done for the betterment of the good. In other words, they'll have to be machines instead of humans.

Isn't that ironic?

Marcus, in the aftermath said, "I hated him, but I didn't wanted him to really die."

Oh son, words has power. He turned Charly's head around and thus, Isaac was resurrected. And then he told the machine, "I didn't do it for you."

I especially liked that the Doctor gave proper bollocking to the machine and his silly ideas about the efficiency of the crew, or him being just a machine, when there is clearly a person inside that shell.

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Very lovely episode and a good start to the new season, even if it was super dark in places. I liked it.
 
Welcome back, Orville! It's been more than 3 years, but I'm happy that you weren't permanently lost in space. ;)
I'm also quite surprised how much the writing has changed, since I last reviewed this program. It is definitely more serious and better refined than what it was at the end of first and beginning of the second season. The jokes are there, but they aren't used in every thirty seconds.
I also noticed the emotional shift, but I'm happy they've retained some humor. I think they may have struck the right balance on the dramedy spectrum.
I like that they have now fighter class vessels on board the Orville and I really think they should have more than one. But I didn't like that fight in the dockyard. It should not have been allowed, because a) high speed chase, b) explosions churning out space junk and c) the risk of collisions with other vessels that weren't informed about the activity.
That bothered me, too. I thought that the repair yard was well-rendered, but the fight really detracted from its sense of reality. The main purpose of the scene may have been to establish Charly's special dimensional abilities for Kaylon repairs.
The death of a machine. It isn't the first time, when they've committed suicides. Spielberg's AI is probably the best example of it. So that blew away the notion that the machines doesn't have feelings. |They most definitely do. And in the case, the emotions are heavily suppressed by the protocols and rules of the machine itself.
I still doubt that Isaac is experiencing genuine, flesh-and-blood emotions. His explanation of his decision and Dr. Finn's counter were both simple strings of logic that ended in opposite conclusions. Isaac accepted the doctor's version as superior, and "life" goes on.
 
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Some strong writing, and big emotional scenes that tackles its themes thoughtfully.
Very lovely episode and a good start to the new season, even if it was super dark in places. I liked it.
I also noticed the emotional shift,
I agree with you about the changes in the writing. There have been one or two episodes now that, like this, tackled subjects that would never have been tackled by Star Trek, but they did them exceptionally well. Where I would disagree is that I think there has been a slow and steady change in the writing, over a much longer period, rather than any new sudden development. It's a long time now since there was a joke punchline every minute. Most of them were poor jokes too. It seemed like they thought they could make up in quantity, what they sadly missed in quality.
I think they may have struck the right balance on the dramedy spectrum.
I agree, and when there are any jokes now, they are all quality. To be fair too, most of these characters are much more well established too. We know them better, and we know how they will act and react. Less time is required for character development, and more for story-telling.
Standout was the music
I like your insights into the music. You pointed out the poor quality of the Obi-Wan Kenobi music and how that depreciates that show. Here, the music brings scenes to life. There is a world of difference. It can't surely be solely a matter of cost that they can't spend just a little more time in post-production to achieve a first-class final product on the other show?
I still doubt that Isaac is experiencing genuine, flesh-and-blood emotions.
That's a science fiction Trope isn't it? It was around long before Data got his emotion chip. The android must learn emotions to become a full human, or at least the robot learns 'how to feel love.' Even James T Kirk spent much time teaching 'love' to Rayna the android. It didn't seem like Isaac was experiencing emotion though. He explained it all with logical reasoning. Surely, emotions like love and hate are not logical or intelligent, whether artificial or otherwise? They are unpredictable and consume the person experiencing them, so reducing their ability to function. If we are creating androids as a 'slave workforce' then why give them emotions? If we want androids to be more human than humans, then one needs to ask, what is the point of them? Kaylons, obviously are alien and unknown, but they must still have been originally made by someone or something, and they (or Isaac) seem rather obsessed with efficiency, so that question remains?
 
Kaylons, obviously are alien and unknown, but they must still have been originally made by someone or something, and they (or Isaac) seem rather obsessed with efficiency, so that question remains?
Well, full robots don't care about anything that's not programmed into them. It's just not happening. An android with some sort of emotion might make a judgement between a hopeless case and something that can be salvaged/fixed/aided etc.

In the episode, Isaac felt something for giving tech secrets in his last message. A robot with no emotions would not have done it. So why the message and not just turning off?
 
First I just have to say thank you Seth Macfarlane. It is a rare gem these days to see thoughtful, intelligent, and optimistic stories of any kind let alone Sci FI.

To the question of Issac and the Kaylon's. This is one of those we are more alike than different stories. It's also a story of grief and lose and how its hard and messy and not something that can be negotiated with grace and rational.

Issac spent time with organic lifeforms to study them. He also participated in their rituals, their humor, and their society. No one can truly objectively view/study a thing. eventually no matter how hard you try the things you learn, the things you see will change you. Hopefully for the better and in Issac's case I thing that's true. He ended his own life believing the crew would benefit from his lose. Thanks to Sci Fi magic and plot armor they brought him back, but that signals an amount of emotional intelligence, depth of personality, and frankly warmth that he didn't display in the first or most of the second season. That's growth, that is what all life strives for, whether growth of the individual or of the species.

This really is for me the only Star Trek left. I hate to crap on other creative professionals but with all the IP rights, and budget, and back log of stories Paramount fails to bring us real Star Trek. The funniest thing about the show is that the man who created Family Guy has a better understanding of themes, nuance, pathos, and genre writing than all the massive power an entire film studio can bring to bare.

If that doesn't inspire you to follow your dreams, swing to the God D@mn fences, and put your work out there I don't know what will.
 
Well, full robots don't care about anything that's not programmed into them. It's just not happening. An android with some sort of emotion might make a judgement between a hopeless case and something that can be salvaged/fixed/aided etc.
My point was that an Artificial Intelligence is more than a programable machine; it would be capable of learning and becoming more than it's original programming. The question is only whether it would decide that emotion was something worthwhile learning. I can see clear advantages of understanding, feeling and showing emotions. They allow empathy with others, and the ability to 'walk in someone else's shoes' would make for better diplomacy, and would make one a better teacher, mentor, coach, carer or nurse. However, Isaac has previously shown none of those abilities. He just records everything, he says that he finds his analysis interesting, but did he ever learn anything from that analysis? Also, he seems obsessed with efficiency, and being tempered by, or limited by, what other people think and feel about what you do, that would reduce your efficiency to get things completed. It might result in a better product, but that's another argument.

Isaac felt something for giving tech secrets in his last message. A robot with no emotions would not have done it. So why the message and not just turning off?
Well then, maybe he has finally learned why emotions are important. If so, then I guess we will see a change in him going forward.
 
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I can see clear advantages of understanding, feeling and showing emotions.
Isaac may have become capable of understanding and mimicking human emotions, but I question whether even an AI-driven robot can feel emotions in the same way as living beings feel them.
 
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I question whether even an AI-driven robot can feel emotions in the same way as living beings feel them.
I would question how a machine could pass the Turing Test (engage in a conversation with a human without being detected as a machine) unless it can understand, reflect and mimic human emotions, but I would agree with you that whether they need to, or can ever, "feel" those emotions in the "same way as living beings" is a metaphysical question. As such, I can neither answer that, or think I know enough about psychology or spirituality to give an accurate answer to that. However, I'm not sure I could ever write it off with 100% confidence, especially if given unlimited time and alien technology to work with.

Isaac never has to encounter such recognition problems as his appearance will always mark him down as a machine. I never quite understood his relationship with Doctor Claire Finn, or thought it was very thoroughly explored. It was played out mostly for the laughs. If it had been better explored back then, then I don't think we would still have these questions now.
 
However, I'm not sure I could ever write it off with 100% confidence, especially if given unlimited time and alien technology to work with.
Why would you need alien tech? We already can fool people to believe that a machine has feelings, like it is with the example of Boston Dynamic's dancing spot videos. The viewer gets the connection even if the machine is going through a script. You can go online and find some pretty sophisticated talk bots. If you're not told about them being AI's, it's your Turing Test. But if you're clever, you can see past the ruse and determine that you're talking with an Ai.
 
whether they need to, or can ever, "feel" those emotions in the "same way as living beings" is a metaphysical question
True, which takes the question out of the empirical world and into the realm of belief. Might I suggest moving on to something more solvable, such as how many robots can dance on the head of a pin? :D
 

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