Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas In December!

Since the holidays are rapidly approaching, what better time to take a snarky look at Hallmark's 2017 Xmas ornaments, that came out way back in July?

I had planned on writing this post months ago, but things have been really busy lately here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld and I'm just now getting to it. Hey, hey! No complaining! Are you paying anything for this content? No? Then zip it and enjoy it six months late!

Get comfortable while I waste a bunch of bandwidth unnecessarily mocking Hallmark and their holiday tree trimming offerings for this year!

Airplane! The Movie Sound Ornament
This is actually a pretty cool looking little ornament, especially if you're a fan of the 1980 film. The plane's based on the one in the iconic poster, and honestly I'm surprised it was possible to render it in three dimensions. I'd have thought it was one of those shapes that only works in an illustration.

The ornament features several lines from the movie, including the famous "Don't call me Shirley" joke. Sadly, like many Hallmark sound ornaments, it doesn't use the original Leslie Nielsen dialogue. Heck, they didn't even use a Nielsen sound-alike! Instead it sounds like they grabbed a guy from their Accounting Department and had him hurriedly read the line.

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

Aliens™ P-5000 Powered Work Loader Ornament

Next up is Ellen Ripley in her Power Loader from the awesome 1986 movie ALIENS. Because nothing says "Happy Holidays" like a woman encased in an industrial exosuit fighting a gigantic insectoid alien queen. 

Overall it's pretty well done, and filled with all kinds of fiddly and accurate detail that's likely to snap off first time it falls off the tree. It's not articulated though, so don't let your horrible unruly kids try and bend the arms like it's an action figure.

Sadly, this isn't a sound ornament, so you won't be able to hear Ripley hiss "Get away from her, you BITCH!" during your holiday festivities.

Suggested retail price: $19.95.

Beetlejuice™ You Think I'm Qualified? Sound Ornament

Again, an odd choice for an Xmas ornament, but hey, pop culture, amirite? Nice attention to detail there with the fake grass, just like Adam Maitland used in his model of the town.

This is another sound ornament, and surprisingly it appears they used Michael Keaton's actual dialogue from the movie! Interesting!

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

Hallmark Keepsake Bouncing Bunny Spring Easter Ornament 2017
Um... Looks like someone at the Hallmark Home Office is woefully confused here. Who the hell hangs an Easter ornament on an Xmas tree? 


Suggested retail price: $9.95.

STAR TREK: The Next Generation™ Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data Sound Ornament

Not a bad sculpt of the two characters. Picard's doing his patented "Make it so" gesture with his right hand, which is nice. His face though looks like he's thinking, "Data's still standing uncomfortably close behind me, isn't he?"

It appears the hanging hook is on the chair right above Picard's left shoulder, which is weird.

On the plus side, this ornament features the actual voices of Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, so that's good.

Suggested retail price: $29.95.

Grease® You're the One That I Want Ornament With Music

Ah, what could be better than Xmas and Scientology?

The sound feature plays several bars of You're The One That I Want, but I don't think it's the voices of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. I'm not 100% sure though, as I'm not a big Grease fan. The only grease I like is in my food. HI-yohhhhhhh!

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Skeletor Ornament

This is actually a pretty awesome ornament. It's a very nice sculpt, even if his staff is gonna end up getting broken the minute you try to stuff him back in the box.

Fun Fact: Did you know Skeletor was voiced by character actor Alan Oppenheimer, who was Dr. Rudy Wells on The Six Million Dollar Man?

I have many questions about Skeletor. Does he have purplish skin, or is he wearing some kind of form-fitting unitard? Why's he so buff? Does he spend all his free time in the gym when he's not trying to take over Eternia? Or did he just cast a fitness spell on his body? If he can magic his body into shape, then why doesn't he do something about his face? How the hell can he see with no eyes? Or talk without a tongue? Or movie his mouth without any jaw muscles?

Anyway, the suggested retail price is $19.95.

Noah's Ark Ornament

Ah, at long, long last we finally get an ornament based on the most vile story in the entire Bible (and that's saying something!). 

I'm assuming these animals' partners must all be below deck, since I only see one of each species. Maybe that's why the elephant seems so upset— he's looking for his mate who apparently fell overboard.

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

PEANUTS® A Comfy Christmas For Linus Ornament

Poor Linus! Apparently his fuss-budget sister Lucy cut up his beloved security blanket and used it as a bow for this decorative Xmas wreath. He's now forced to cuddle with a rough, itchy ring of holly for comfort.

Linus is one of those characters who most definitely works best on the printed page. Any time someone tries to make a toy or three dimensional figure of him, they're always done in by his hair. It looks OK when drawn, but in 3D is looks like something's seriously and disturbingly wrong with his head. Like most of his hair fell out due to a contagious skin disease, leaving just a few sparse, lank and greasy strands that can't begin to cover his infected scalp.

Suggested retail price: $15.95.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer® Won't You Guide My Sleigh Tonight? Ornament With Light

Another ornament based on a beloved story with a sinister and disturbing undercurrent. 

Due to his perceived handicap, Rudolph was shunned by Santa and his insular little North Pole society. Until they found out his disability was actually useful to them, that is. Then all the reindeer loved him!

I would pay good money to see a version of the story where everyone asked Rudolph for his help after months of treating him like sh*t, and he told 'em all to f@ck right off.

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

Season of Miracles Porcelain Star of David Ornament
Yeah, somebody in the Home Office is confused again. Goddamned interns!

Suggested retail price: $15.95.

The Walking Dead Michonne Ornament
Hey everyone, it's an ornament of the coolest— and most criminally underused— character on AMC's his zombie series!

I've always been a bit suspicious of Michonne's sword. It can't possibly be a real Masamune samurai sword, can it? I bet it's probably a decorative sword, from one of those weird gifts shops in the mall. Are those even real swords? Like do they really have sharp blades made of tempered steel? Or would one shatter into a million pieces the first time you tried to cut anything with it?

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

The X-Files™ Scully and Mulder Musical Ornament
It's everyone's favorite alien hunting FBI agents!

It's a good thing Scully's a doctor, so she'll be able to remove that huge metal ring from Mulder's right shoulder. Did the aliens who abducted his sister put that there?

Plays the haunting and creepy X-Files theme song.

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory Sound Ornament

Everyone's favorite psychotic chocolate maker, now in Xmas ornament form!

This is the REAL Willy Wonka too, by the way. Not that disturbing poser from the horrible 2005 Tim Burton version.

Best of all, it sounds like they used actual dialogue from the film.

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

Star Wars™ Imperial Stormtrooper™ Mystery Box Music Ornament

Oh boy, a tiny Star Wars stormtrooper helmet to hang on your Life Day tree!

Ugh, this is a "Surprise Keepsake," meaning it comes in three possible colors (white, black or red), but you won't know which color you're getting until you get the goddamned thing home and open it up. Screw you, Hallmark! Where do you think you are, Japan? They're famous for pulling that sh*t with their toys. 

Don't fall for this horrible, horrible marketing scam. When you're in your local Gold Crown Hallmark Store, feel free to open one of these boxes, take out the ornament and make sure it's the color you want. If not, throw it on the floor and open another, until you find the proper one. And don't pick up the discarded ones either! Leave them for the Hallmark employees to pick up. It's the only way they're gonna learn that we will not put up with this surprise content bullcrap.

Plays the Imperial March.

Suggested retail price: $17.95.

Star Wars™: The Force Awakens™ Luke Skywalker™ Ornament

Huzzah! It's an ornament of Elderly Luke Skywalker, from the final five seconds of 2015's The Force Awakens. remember how much we all loved Luke in the one hundred and twenty frames in which he appeared? What an integral part of the movie he was!

Best of all, even if you're not a Star Wars fan, Old Luke can still come in useful. In a pinch he can double as one of the Three Wise Men if you misplace any from your Nativity set!

Suggested retail price: $17.95.


Star Wars™ Death Star Tree Topper

This is a rarity in the world of Hallmark ornaments, as it was actually released last year! It's very unusual for them to sell an ornament two years in a row. Unheard of even!

Of course when an ornament costs a whopping hundred smackers, it's only natural that you're gonna be left with an entire warehouse full of 'em, and you're gonna have to try and move them the next year. You'd think they'd have learned their lesson and lowered the price a bit though.

Suggested retail price: $99.95!

The Orville Season 1, Episode 11: New Dimensions

This week's The Orville was a very good episode, even if the 2D realm looked a little too much like the backgrounds in TRON.

Actually I was much more impressed with the character development and interactions in this episode than I was with the effects. I especially liked the subplot in which Mercer discovers Kelly helped him become captain of the Orville. This of course shakes his confidence, resulting in some damned good writing as both he and Kelly make legitimate points concerning the situation.

That said, there were some plot oddities, as if felt like we saw the same two or three scenes over and over again. Kelly spoke with Mercer about John at least twice, she spoke with John about assigning him to the science team a couple times, and Mercer and Kelly had the same circular argument in two or three scenes. What is this, Rashomon? I'm assuming the episode must have come up short, so they had to repeat some scenes to fill out the runtime?

This was primarily a John LaMarr-centric episode, and it's about time. His character definitely needed a boost, as so far he was the least developed crew member on the show. Hell, up to now Yaphit was a better developed character! John definitely came off much better this week than he did in his previous spotlight episode, Majority Rules. In that one he seemed like an irresponsible and simpleminded jerk, and one had to wonder how the heck he ever became a bridge officer.

The only downside to John's promotion in this episode is how it'll affect his friendship with Gordon. The two of them make a good comedy team, so I'm afraid to see the show physically break them up. 

John's promotion also seems like some epic trolling on Seth MacFarlane's part, as it feels like he's just daring CBS to sue him at this point. More on that below.

Lastly, this is the penultimate episode of the season, as Fox, in their infinite "wisdom," has cut the show count from thirteen to twelve, so they can air some stupid-ass Xmas special in The Orville's time slot. Be sure and let Fox know what you think of this idiotic decision!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We begin as the Orville crew's throwing a party for Chief Engineer Newton, who's leaving to help design a new space station. Meanwhile, Gordon and John play a practical joke on Yaphit. Somehow they removed a piece of his gelatinous body without him knowing it, and placed it on the buffet. They watch anxiously to see how long it'll take him to notice.

Yaphit leaves the party and reports to Sickbay, where he tells Doctor Finn he's not feeling well. When she asks what's wrong, he says he feels like part of him's missing, but he doesn't know where he could have lost it. He says when a piece of his body's removed, it has a dim bit of self awareness. He says he can sense the piece is in a dark, wet place.

Just then Bortus enters and says he's experiencing "digestive discomfort." Yaphit realizes that Bortus inadvertently ate part of him at the buffet and reaches down his throat with a tentacle to retrieve it. Com-O-Dee!

Cut to Gordon and John in Kelly's office, as she scolds them for their stupid prank. She says Yaphit's furious and is considering filing formal charges against them. She tells them she'll try and smooth things over with him, but she's placing formal reprimands in both their records. As she calls up John LaMarr's file, she notices something odd.

Kelly meets with Mercer and shows him the file. According to Union records, John's actually the second smartest person on the ship, right after Isaac! Wow. That seems unlikely, especially after his antics back in Majority Rule. Kelly says she wants to offer the Chief Engineer position to John. Mercer's skeptical, saying John might have the brains for the job, but definitely not the leadership skills. Which is absolutely true.

Just then the ship's rocked by an unknown force. Mercer and Kelly race to the bridge, where Isaac says the ship's skimmed a "quantum wake," whatever that is. Contact with it has thrown the lower engine ring out of alignment, temporarily stranding them. Mercer orders Isaac to scan the area for anomalies and begin repairs. Kelly suggests that John help Isaac. Mercer reluctantly approves.

Isaac and John scan the ship and detect unusual readings inside an unoccupied crew cabin. When they investigate, they find all the plants in the room are dead. Isaac and John report to the Captain, but have no explanation as to why the quantum wake would kill plants.

Kelly meets with Mercer again, and asks if he's made a decision about the Engineering position. He says he's promoting Yaphit, who has the necessary experience and is next in line. Kelly begs him to reconsider. Mercer says they don't even know if John would want the job, as he doesn't seem all that ambitious. She suggests letting John head the analysis team that's investigating the quantum wake. Mercer agrees and assigns John. Wait... didn't we just see this scene?

Kelly says it's part of her job to assemble the best possible crew for the ship. Mercer says her instincts are usually pretty good, so who knows? John may work out after all. Kelly then sticks her foot in her mouth and says, "Hey, you wouldn't be sitting there if I..." She stops herself mid-sentence, but it's too late.

From her faux pas, Mercer figures out that Kelly must have Admiral Halsey into giving him his own command back in Old Wounds. She says all she did was put in a good word for him because she thought he deserved a chance, and wanted to make up for cheating on him and sending him into a downward spiral.

Mercer's furious with her, and rightly so. Kelly tries to smooth things over by saying he'd have gotten his own command eventually anyway, but Mercer says they'll never know. He dismisses her and broods. He calls Admiral Halsey and asks if it's true. Halsey says yes, Kelly did make a case for him, but that he's more than proved himself worthy the past few months. Halsey says there's no doubt in anyone's mind that Mercer deserves his own command. "Except mine," says Mercer.

Kelly then meets with John, and asks him to explain why he doesn't take advantage of his exceptional smarts, and why he has no ambition. He says he likes to keep his life simple— go to work, come home and drink till he passes out. She tells him she's putting him in charge of the science and engineering teams that are investigating the anomaly. Once again, it feels like we already saw this scene.

On the bridge, Isaac detects a Horbalak smuggler's ship entering the area, and says it's about to run into the anomaly. Mercer hails the ship to warn them, but the Horbalak Captain ignores him. His ship enters the anomaly and somehow becomes two dimensional for a few seconds, before returning to normal. Mercer tries to contact the ship again, but there's no answer.

Mercer, Kelly, Alara and Doctor Finn take a shuttle over to the Horbalak ship, and find the Captain dead of cardiac arrest. Alara discovers he was smuggling Krill plasma rifles. Mercer says the Krill will likely be rendezvousing with the Horbalak ship soon, and they need to repair their engine so they can leave the area pronto.

Back on the Orville, Kelly tries to apologize to Mercer. He says because of her, he's going to second guess every command decision he makes from now on. She reminds him that he helped Gordon get his navigator post, so what's the difference? She says the entire crew and even the admirals all believe in him. He says that may be true, but he may not have gotten a chance in the first place without a handout from his ex-wife. Wow. Another duplicate scene.

Yaphit then enters Mercer's office, furious that he chose John to lead the science team instead of him. He reminds Mercer he's much more experienced than John, and was next in line for a promotion. He then accuses Mercer of being racist toward gelatinous life forms and slithers out.

Meanwhile, John's unsure of how to command the science team. Gordon suggest breaking the ice with a lame trick involving gumdrops. John tries it the trick with the team, but it's a huge disaster, especially when Yaphit snipes at him. He angrily tells the team to get to work. John then notices something odd about the readings, and contacts Mercer.

In the conference room, John explains that the anomaly is actually a doorway that leads to a bizarre two dimensional universe, one that contains width and length, but absolutely no height. Doctor Finn says that would explain the Horbalak's death, as no lifeform could survive going from 3D to 2D and back again.

Bortus calls from the bridge, announcing that three Krill destroyers are rapidly approaching. Isaac says it'll take at least another hour to repair the engines, which will leave them sitting ducks for the enemy Krill. John gets an idea— he says it might be possible to generate a quantum bubble around the Orville, enter the 2D realm and hang out there until the Krill get bored and fly away. The bubble should protect them and keep them three dimensional. Mercer tells him to go for it.

John goes to Engineering to work on generating the quantum bubble. Unfortunately the field strength's not high enough. Yaphit offers a suggestion as to how to increase it, and John praises his smarts, saying it just might work. Hey, he may turn out to be a good leader after all! John tells Mercer they're ready, and he generates a bubble around the Orville. The ship then slips through the doorway into the 2D realm a second before the Krill ships arrive.

Inside the realm, the crew's amazed by what they see— a vast, two dimensional world that looks a lot like the backgrounds from the movie TRON. They see thousands of energy pulses moving along the surface, and Isaac says they may be 2D lifeforms. Gordon says the bubble's stable, so Mercer orders the ship to wait inside until the Krill leave.

While they wait, Kelly talks with Mercer about their recent tiff. She says he's being a "prideful ass" about her recommending him, and that nobody goes through life without a little help from others. This is true. He says he realizes she's right, but he has to work things out for himself. This is also true.

Just then the ship's rocked again, as the quantum bubble begins destabilizing and threatens to flatten them all. Mercer orders Gordon to return them to normal space, but unfortunately the doorway into the anomaly has closed up for some reason. Even worse, all the engines are now completely dead. They're now trapped in the 2D realm, with a faulty quantum bubble that's going to collapse in twenty one minutes.

John says he may have another idea. Sensors show a fluctuation four thousand kilometers away that might be another portal back into normal space. He suggests using a shuttle to tow the ship over to it. The only problem is the shuttle will have to leave the boundary of the quantum bubble, meaning it— and anyone inside— will be flattened. John says he should be able to rig up a bubble inside the shuttle, so the interior remains 3D while the exterior is 2D (ouch, my head hurts!). Mercer tells him to make it so, er, I mean get to work.

In Engineering, John helps the team prep the shuttle. He overhears them badmouthing Yaphit, blaming him for their current situation. John finally steps up as a leader, saying he won't tolerate anyone belittling another member of the team, as it was his decision to enter the 2D realm. The team members look shocked and get to work.

Mercer and John volunteer to enter the shuttle and tow the ship out. As soon as the shuttle passes the bubble's boundary, it flattens into two dimensions. Luckily the field inside somehow holds, keeping the men in 3D. The effect's a bit jarring though, causing John to vomit several times. Mercer tells John that if they get out of this alive, he'll happily give him the Chief Engineer spot.

The field inside the shuttle begins fluctuating, causing the men great physical distress. John revs up the shuttle to full speed, to get them out before it collapses completely. Amazingly, the shuttle successfully tows the ship out of the anomaly and back into 3D space.

Later on Mercer apologizes to Kelly for being an ass, and thanks her for helping him get his command. John enters Engineering, and Yaphit actually congratulates him. John tells his team if they can increase engine efficiency by 97%, they can knock off early and get drunk. His crew cheers and gets to work.

Thoughts:
• The best part of this episode was undoubtably Mercer's crisis of confidence, and Kelly's attempts to convince him he was a good captain. 


As expected, Kelly's good deed from Old Wounds blew up in her face, as Mercer inadvertently discovered she'd put in a good word with Admiral Halsey to get him the captaincy of the Orville. This of course enrages Mercer, who assumed he'd gotten the job on his own merits. It also makes him start second guessing every command decision he makes.

I especially loved this exchange between the two of them:

Kelly: "Can I be honest with you?"
Mercer: "Of course."
Kelly: "I want you and I to be okay. But you were being a prideful ass."
Mercer: "What are we, in a Jane Austen novel? I'm a 'prideful ass?' Why? Because I want to be self-reliant? Because I want to feel like I got where I am alone?"
Kelly: "I don't know if your two-dimensional perception leaves any room for this concept, but nobody does anything alone. We all have people who help us along the way. Sometimes we know about it, sometimes we don't. But it doesn't take a damn thing away from you."

That's an amazing bit of writing there from Seth MacFarlane. The best part about it is I can definitely see both points. I totally understand why Mercer would want to feel he got the captain seat by himself. What man wouldn't? But Kelly's right as well. We all rely on other people to get where we are. It's a pretty interesting conversation.

Who knew the guy who created Family Guy was capable of such depth?

• Fun Fact: Actor J Lee, who plays John LaMarr, actually started out as a receptionist!

Lee was born in St. Louis, and after graduating from Indiana University in 2005, he headed for LA with $200 to his name. Shortly after arriving, he got a job as the receptionist at the Family Guy production office! Over time he became good friends with Seth MacFarlane, who invited him to karaoke nights with the writing staff.

MacFarlane later began using him as a voice actor on American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. Lee than decided he was becoming "too comfortable" in MacFarlane's empire (?) and went out on his own, struggling to write and produce his own projects.

MacFarlane later rehired him, this time as a writer for The Cleveland Show. When The Orville came around, MacFarlane offered him the part of John LaMarr, and the rest is history.

• Gordon and John's practical joke involved removing a piece of Yaphit's gelatinous body and placing it on the buffet, where they hoped someone would eat it. The episode very deliberately blurs over just how the hell they accomplished that.

I guess maybe they somehow sneaked up behind him and sliced off a little piece of him? One would think he'd feel that happening. I like to think I'd feel it if someone cut a piece off of my ass! Does this mean Yaphit can't feel anything?


And how would they sneak up on him in the first place? Yaphit doesn't have any eyes. He can obviously still see or sense his surroundings somehow though, since he never bumps into any doors or anything. I assume he has some sort of rudimentary optical cells inside his body, or maybe every part of him can just sense his surroundings somehow. If that's true, then there's no way Gordon and John would have been able to approach him from any direction without him "seeing" them.


As I said, the episode wisely skips over the mechanics of just how they managed to pull off this particular prank.


• Chief Newton, we hardly knew ye! I guess this is the last time we'll ever see him on the show.

• I don't have anything to say about this disturbing image, other than that Moclans must have a reeeeeeally strong anti-gag reflex.

• After the Orville scrapes against the anomaly, the lower engine quits working. This means they can't go to quantum speed until they can get it fixed. This also leaves them sitting ducks as three Krill ships rapidly approach.


OK, I get that they can't engage the quantum drive without all three engines, but why does everyone act like the ship's incapable of any motion whatsoever? Surely they could have used the two functioning engines to limp away at low speed and get away from the Krill. Heck, back in the pilot episode the Orville managed to make it back to a starbase after TWO of the engines were completely destroyed!


Sometimes I think Seth MacFarlane's so busy he forgets what he's already established.


• When Kelly's discussing John's braininess in her office, take a good look at the framed artwork on the wall behind her head.

It's the Escape album cover from Journey!

Apparently Kelly's a huge Journey fan, as unlikely as that seems in the 25th Century. Back in Cupid's Dagger we saw her singing Any Way You Want It, and now she's decorating her office with the group's album art!


By the way, I'm compelled to point out that Any Way You Want It doesn't appear on their Escape album— it's from Captured. Maybe she just likes the Escape cover art a lot.


• Once again, the prosthetic makeup in this episode is amazing. It's so nice to see aliens who actually look alien, rather than like humans with bumpy foreheads (sorry, TNG!)

• Over on the various Trek series, the characters often mention the fact that the Federation no longer uses money in the 24th Century. Unfortunately they're pretty vague as to just how this works. How does the Federation's economy work? If there's no money, do people still have jobs? I doubt it, as no one in their right mind would work without some kind of compensation. Without jobs, who's sweeping up the trash?

Apparently The Orville's Union doesn't use currency either. But unlike Trek, MacFarlane chooses to explain just how such a moneyless society would work. When Kelly's trying to convince John he should put his smarts to work, they have the following conversation:

Kelly: "Lieutenant, have you ever studied the history of money?"
John: "Not really. I know people used to use it to buy houses, and sandwiches and stuff."
Kelly: "Exactly. It became obsolete with the invention of matter synthesis. The predominant currency became reputation."
John: "Yeah, so?"
Kelly: "My point is, human ambition didn't vanish. The only thing that changed was how we quantify wealth. People still want to be rich, only now rich means being the best at what you do."

Wow. That's... that's actually an amazingly concise and simple explanation as to how a society without money would actually work! People wouldn't need to toil to accumulate wealth, they'd simply work to constantly better themselves!

Why the hell didn't any Star Trek series ever explain it this well? TNG came close in The Neutral Zone when Picard said, "People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions." But that was about it.

• After Mercer puts John in charge of the science team, Yaphit enters his office and files a grievance. OK, I get that Yaphit was upset about being overlooked, but his comments went WAY over the line. Mercer could've charged him with insubordination and been completely justified.

• Something was seriously wrong with Isaac's eyes this week. It didn't happen in every scene, but several times during the episode one of his eyes was higher than the other (you may have to click on the image above to see it). I'm assuming there must have been some problem with his helmet, and that he wasn't trying to simulate raising one eyebrow.

Speaking of the Isaac costume, I've always assumed his eyes were just illuminated circles glued to the inside of a translucent metallic helmet. Apparently not! There are a couple of closeup shots this week in which you can clearly see his eyes are actually half spheres! Weird!

• So far I've been pleasantly surprised to see that the series is treating Yaphit as a regular character. When he first appeared in Old Wounds, I assumed he was just a visual gag who'd never be seen again— especially since a CGI character such as him is probably pretty time-consuming and expensive to render.

MacFarlane must have a soft spot for the little blob though, because he's appeared in almost every episode, and has become a well-defined and integral member of the crew!

The same goes for Dann, the bulbous-headed alien who first appeared in Cupid's Dagger. Again, I figured he was just a one-off character created for a bit, and we'd never see him again. It looks like he's sticking around as well, and may actually be part of John's Engineering team.

Dann of course is played by actor, writer and comedian Mike Henry, who voices many characters over on Family Guy, including Cleveland Brown, Herbert, Bruce and Consuela.

• There were tons of trippy visuals in this episode, particularly when the Horbalak ship enters the anomaly and becomes two dimensional as it flies into it.

Same goes for when the Orville's shuttle left the quantum bubble and became 2D.

I'm not even gonna try and figure out how the exterior of the shuttle was 2D, while the interior remained 3D because it was surrounded by another quantum bubble!

• Still not a fan of the 2D realm, as I think it looks more like an illuminated circuit board or a TRON background than it does an alien universe.

• When I first saw the two dimensional realm, I immediately thought of the book Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott. A few minutes later, Mercer actually mentioned it! He goes on to describe the book to Kelly, saying, "It was a story written in the 1880s, about a two-dimensional society of shapes. The more sides they had, the higher the social status. The triangles were the workman class, the squares were the gentry, the circles were the most respected of all. It was a metaphor for inequality."


Mercer's description actually makes the book sound pretty interesting. Let me save you some time and tell you it's not. I remember being bored stiff by it, and it was a real slog to get through the whole thing. Do yourself a favor and memorize his summary, then skip the actual book.


• When we see the Orville inside the 2D realm, it's a three dimensional object intersecting by a completely flat plane with only width and length. I assume that means the center of the ship is plowing right through dozens of flat cities and neighborhoods. I wonder how many 2D lifeforms the ship inadvertently killed?

• This episode contains a hunk of nonsensical technobabble that'd put TNG to shame. In fact it's such a blatant homage to that show, I burst out laughing when I heard it:

Isaac: "Field stability is now at 68%."
John: "That's still not enough."
Yaphit: "John, what if we couple the quantum phase inducers to the deflector grid? It might beef up the strength of the bubble."
John: "How the hell is that supposed to hold?"
Yaphit: "If we match the deflector amplitude to the quantum wave function, it should compensate for any field instability."
John: "I like when you talk dirty."

If I didn't know better, I'd think that was Geordi LaForge speaking there!


• In order to save the Orville, John suggests using a shuttle to tow it out of the 2D realm. That's a pretty good plan. Unfortunately the shuttle will have to leave the protection of the quantum bubble, which will endanger the life of whoever's piloting it. That's not such a good plan.


Why does someone have to be inside the shuttle in the first place? Can't they pilot the shuttle by remote? Even better, how about extending the bubble a bit in the front to envelope the shuttle?


• Looks like Seth MacFarlane's a fan of Stranger Things! When the quantum bubble starts to malfunction, the crew's momentarily flattened, which causes everyone to get nosebleeds— but oddly enough, only out of one nostril!

Take a close look at the shuttle window next to John here (you may have to click on the image to see it better). There's a frit band around the edge of the glass, just like on a car!

What the hell's frit, I hear you asking? You've probably noticed it on your own car windows, and wondered why it's there. Supposedly the halftone-like frit pattern is etched into the glass to help give the window adhesive something to hold onto. Because knowing is half the battle!

• OK, this is some very, VERY picky nitpicking, but whatever. Once the Orville makes it back into 3D space, Kelly asks Gordon what their position is. He replies "348 mark 914." 

Yeah, that's not the way that works. At least not if the Orville's coordinate system works the same as the one in all the various Trek series. The "number mark number" system refers to the ship's heading, not its position inside the galaxy. It means where it's going, not where it is. I can't think of any way that system could indicate what region of space the ship's in.

As for how the heading system works, imagine the ship is surrounded by two perpendicular circles, each divided into 360 degrees. The horizontal circle indicates the azimuth, and the vertical one the elevation. The heading, or bearing, is given as two numbers separated by a "mark." The first number is the horizontal direction, while the second is the vertical. With me so far?

So a bearing of 0 mark 0 would be straight ahead. "0 mark 30" would mean that again the ship's flying straight ahead, but at an upward angle of 30ยบ.


Since there are only 360 degrees in each circle, Gordon's vertical bearing of 914 is nonsensical and impossible.


See, I told you it was really nitpicky!

• This Week's Incongruous 21st Century (And Earlier!) References:
When discussing how to get the ship out of the 2D realm, the crew has the following conversation:
John: "I think we could create a stable quantum bubble inside the shuttle, and preserve three-dimensional space."
Doctor Finn: "So, the outside would be squashed, but the inside wouldn't."
Mercer: "More space inside than out, like Doctor Who's phone booth."
Kelly: "Or Oscar the Grouch's can."
John: "Or Snoopy's doghouse, yeah."

At the end of the episode, Kelly finally convinces Mercer he's worthy of command, saying, "It's not the feather, Dumbo. It's you." Apparently they still watch Disney movies in the 25th Century.

THIS WEEK'S STAR TREK SWIPES:
Boy, were there some a lot of them, including one so major and blatant I can't believe they got away with it.

On TNG, Data the android had a cat he "hilariously" named "Spot." He got the cat in order to try and understand the bond between humans and animals or something. In this episode, Gordon asks if anyone would object if he got a "bridge cat." He then suggests Isaac get one as well to understand the bond between humans and animals.

In the TNG episode Pen Pals, teen cadet Wesley Crusher was put in of a science team studying an unstable planet. Because the team members were all much older than him, they constantly second guessed him and questioned his decisions. Eventually he learned to put his foot down and order them to carry out his commands, which makes them respect him. In this episode, John's put in charge of a science team, and due to his experience they constantly second guess him and question his decisions. Eventually he learns to put his foot down and orders them to carry out his commands, which makes them respect him.


In the TNG episode In Theory, the Enterprise-D was trapped in a field of dark matter pockets that threatened to destroy the ship. Worf suggested using a shuttle to help guide the starship around the pockets and out of the danger zone. For some reason, Captain Picard volunteered to pilot the shuttle. In this episode, the Orville's trapped in the 3D realm with no engine power. John suggests using a shuttle to tow the ship back into normal space. For some reason, Captain Mercer volunteers to help pilot the shuttle.

And now, I present to you the granddaddy of all Star Trek swipes!

In Season 1 of TNG, Geordi LaForge was the Enterprise-D's helmsman. In Season 2 he was promoted to Chief Engineer. Geordi was also black.

In Season 1 of The Orville, John LaMarr is the ship's helmsman. Near the end of Season 1 it's discovered he's the second smartest person in the entire crew, and he's promoted to Chief Engineer. Like LaForge, John is also black and has a last name starting with "La."


WOW! I honestly don't know what to say about this. It HAS to be intentional on MacFarlane's part. There's no way in hell it could be coincidental. It's almost like he's trolling CBS here, seeing just how far he can push things before they finally threaten him and Fox with a massive lawsuit!

• This Week's Best Lines:
Ed: "Report!"
Bortus: "We've dropped out of quantum drive, Captain!"
Ed: "What the hell just happened?"
Gordon: "No idea. Maybe we hit a squirrel or something."
Isaac: "There is no evidence of any Sciuromorpha Rodentia, or other mid-sized rodent."

Marcus: "We got out of school early because of the bumps. You wanna go to the simulator and play Space Dragons?"
Isaac: "I am currently occupied."
Ty: "What are you doing?"
Isaac: "I am preparing to run a scan on the section of the Orville that came into contact with the anomaly."
Marcus: "Can we help?"
Isaac: "No. You are small and feeble, and you do not possess the necessary intelligence."
John: "Wow. Why don't you just give 'em wedgies and stuff 'em in a locker wile you're at it?"

Mercer: (discussing the dead plants found in the crew quarters) "They've been watered, right? Like, do we have a plant guy?"
Kelly: "Palovis. He's the lizard-looking guy in the science section."
Mercer: "Is that his name? God, I can never remember that guy's name. I see him coming in the hall and he's always like 'Hey, good morning Captain," and I'm always like, "Heyyyy, there he is!"

Gordon: "Hey, would anyone mind if I got a cat?"
John: "What?"
Gordon: "For the bridge. Like a... bridge cat."
Bortus: "What is... a cat?"
Gordon: "Oh, it's an Earth pet. A little furry thing with whiskers. It might warm the place up a little."
Alara: "I think that would be really great."
Isaac: "How would the presence of such a creature improve bridge operations?"
Alara: "It's not about that. Animals are just fun to have around. It's unconditional love, you know?"
Isaac: "I do not. Please. Elaborate."
Gordon: "It's just companionship. You cuddle with it, stroke its fur. Humans bond with animals that way. You should try it sometime. It'll help you understand us."
Kelly: (over intercom) "Grayson to Lt. LaMarr, report to my office."
John: "Great, what did I do now?"
Gordon: "Good luck!"
(Gordon then looks down to see Isaac stroking his forearm)
Isaac: "Are we bonding?"


Blavaroch: "What do you want?"
Mercer: "Your course is about to take you directly into the path of a spatial anomaly we've discovered. We recommend you change your heading immediately."
Blavaroch: "Grahj-kalooga."
Mercer: "Anybody speak Horbalak?"
Isaac: "The direct translation is 'You can shove it up your..."
Mercer: "Okay, got it, got it." 
Isaac: "Do you wish to hear the rest of the translation?"
Mercer: "No, no, I-I get the gist. Listen, what's your name?" 
Blavaroch: Blavaroch. 
Gordon: "God, that generation has so many Blavarochs."

Yaphit: "It's 'cause I'm gelatinous, isn't it? You guys can't handle the thought of a gelatinous person in charge of a department."
Mercer: "Yaphit, that is not it."
Yaphit: "This is so racist, man, you're so friggin' racist."
Mercer: "I am not, I have several gelatinous friends." 
Yaphit: "This is a bunch of crap, man. This is total crap. Permission to return to duty."
Mercer: "Granted."
Yaphit: "You know what? There was less crap in Bortus's colon."

John: "Tell everybody something interesting about yourself." 
Dann: "I love refinishing antique furniture. The texture, the grain. It's like it has a life of its own. Sometimes I can't tell where I end and the wood begins. Also a big brunch guy. Banana walnut pancakes? Mouthgasm!"

Isaac: "Lieutenant, if I may make an observation, you seem ill-suited to perform your assigned duties." 
John: "Yeah, that's what I tried to tell Commander Grayson." 
Isaac: "Then why did she place you in command?" 
John: "She says it's 'cause I'm smart." 
Isaac: "I would be happy to inform her that you are not."

Isaac: "I have no experience processing this kind of data, but I believe we may be looking at a two-dimensional civilization."
Finn: "Two-dimensional life-forms? How is that possible?"
Mercer: "Is there any way we can communicate with them?"
Isaac: "Negative. Our modes of existence are incompatible."
Mercer: "Then get every bit of scanning data you can. Union physicists will be writing papers about this for decades."
Kelly: "Well, if we can't talk to them, at least we can watch."
Gordon: "Wait, so, does that mean that there could be fourth or fifth dimensional people watching us right now?"
Isaac: "It is possible."
Gordon: "But do you think I mean, they wouldn't, like watch us all the time, right?"
Isaac: "I do not know."
Gordon: "I mean, do you think, like, could they see under a blanket, or in the sleeve of a down coat?"
Mercer: "Gordon, I don't know what you're driving at, but I'm gonna go ahead and change the subject."

Mercer: "Excuse my bluntness, but why do you hide your brains?"
John: "The colony where I'm from was brand new, lot of farmers, lot of builders. They didn't trust anyone who was too much of an egghead. You'd be surprised how fast you can alienate people when you're always right. I wanted to be liked, accepted. Just became habit, I guess."
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