Old Wounds (S1E1)

Old Wounds (S1E1)


There were four things that we discussed when residents and medical students watched the pilot episode of FOX’s new comedy, The Orville. First, what parallels would the producers choose to incorporate from the original Star Trek (we’ll also reference any of the many spin-offs when it suits us)? To the extent that the crew of the starship Enterprise was ripe with psychiatric themes, it stands to reason that any parallel themes of The Orville would be optimal discussion points. Along this line, this week’s episode set “the players.” We were introduced to the cast of characters who will demonstrate universal themes of the human condition: take 1 part person(s), 1 part close quarters, and fold in an external threat and see what rises. The pilot episode therefore introduces the same dynamic as Gene Roddenberry’s original series, Jaws (1975), 90% of zombie films since George A. Romero created The Night of the Living Dead (1968) and all alien encounters including The Twilight Zone original and The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street (1960).

Point number two: one external (turned internal) threat introduced was infidelity and divorce. For CDC statistics related to divorce, click here.

Third, the concerns of aging come to mind when we learn of the time ray, especially as we watch the death of the crew member who is tossed into it. The ray’s effects can be seen as a metaphor for the very television show we are watching. By its decisions to parallel the Star Trek universe and its narrative structure, The Orville is fundamentally asking whether an old style of television (it should be noted, MacFarlane has a demonstrated affection for classic space TV, i.e. Cosmos) can be useful and successful today. At the end of the episode, we learn that (spoiler alert) aging can be constructive when the time ray grows a mighty tree and destroys the enemy ship. This leads us to wonder if space opera, as originally envisioned by Roddenberry fifty-one years ago and now reimagined by the producers, can be framed in Erikson’s stage of generativity vs stagnation.

What also bears watching is the final point of this week’s blog: our helmsman, Gordon, may be afflicted with Alcohol Use Disorder. Gordon perhaps fulfilled a DSM criterion by having put himself in a situation while drinking that increased his chances of getting hurt.

Anthony Tobia, MD, Daniel Weiner, MD, Copyright © 2017 Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. All rights reserved.

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