Rating the New Fall Shows: Fox Has Lots of Aliens

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Seth MacFarlane, Penny Johnson Jerald, Adrianne Palicki, Halston Sage, and Brian George in Fox’s ‘The Orville’ (Credit: Fox)

Fox unveiled its new fall schedule on Monday, and it’s notable for what’s not on it: The much-hyped return of… the return of The X-Files. Following last year’s ratings-successful mini-revival, ten new episodes will be made, to air mid-season. Of the three shows Fox will unveil in the fall, the one that will attract the most attention is another brick in the Marvel Comics wall, The Gifted.

As you can see from the trailer, The Gifted is about young mutants. And as with all such entertainment emanating from the X-Men franchise, it follows the obligatory pattern: person discovers he/she has “powers”; she/he is terribly self-conscious about it; he/she flexes those powers to do something good; and she/he pays for her/his heroism by being branded an outcast — or worse — by various authorities. I have some hope that The Gifted will be entertaining because it’s overseen by Matt Nix, the gifted man behind Burn Notice, but nothing I see in the beautiful-young-people-in-agony trailer fills me with confidence.

The Orville is from Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane, and it’s an hour-long cross between sci-fi and a workplace comedy. Set 400 years in the future on a spacecraft exploring the galaxy, the show will feature a mix of humans and aliens working and sleeping together (get ready for a lot of girl-guy-alien sex jokes). MacFarlane co-stars as commander of the spaceship, with Friday Night Lights Adrianne Palicki as his ex-wife, who’s also aboard.

The captain and his ex-wife argue a lot! There’s an alien who urinates only once a year! Funny, right? Only if you haven’t seen five decades of Star Trek parodies.

Ghosted stars Adam Scott, fresh off Big Little Lies, and The Office’s Craig Robinson as two guys trying to save the world from invading aliens. (Fox is super-big on aliens this fall.) Robinson plays an alien skeptic, Scott is a “true believer”: it sounds like The X-Files played for laughs.

I like Robinson and (especially) Scott a lot, so the fact that the network couldn’t seem to find one big laugh from the pilot that the producers to put in this trailer makes me worry. You don’t cast Adam Scott and turn him into a panicky guy who runs from something scary while shouting, “We are frightened!” Maybe it’s The X-Files played for just a few chuckles.

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