The Orville
Genre
Created bySeth MacFarlane
Starring
Theme music composerBruce Broughton[4]
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26
Production
Executive producers
Running time
  • 43–45 minutes (season 1)
  • 48 minutes (season 2)
Production companies
DistributorDisney Media Distribution (2019–present)
Release
Original networkFox
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Audio format5.1 surround sound
Original releaseSeptember 10, 2017 (2017-09-10) –
present (present)
External links
Website

The Orville is an American science fiction comedy-drama[1][2][3] television series created by and starring Seth MacFarlane as series protagonist Ed Mercer, an officer in the Planetary Union's line of exploratory space vessels in the 25th century.

Inspired by several science-fiction sources, but mainly the original Star Trek as well as its Next Generation successor, both of which it heavily parodies and pays homage to, the show follows the crew of the starship USS Orville on their episodic adventures.[5][6] Two seasons were aired on Fox in 2017–2018 and 2018–2019, and the third season is due to be released on Hulu.[7] In Canada, the series was made available on February 23, 2021 on Disney+ under the Star brand, whose account holders can filter out more adult content for child audiences.[8] The Orville is a joint production by Fuzzy Door Productions and 20th Television.

Season one received generally negative reviews from critics, while season two was better-received. The show had relatively successful ratings on Fox, becoming the broadcaster's highest-rated Thursday show as well as Fox's "most-viewed debut drama" since 2015.

Premise

The Orville is set on the titular spacecraft: USS Orville (ECV-197), a mid-level exploratory vessel in the Planetary Union, a 25th-century interstellar alliance of Earth and many other planets. The show consists of adventures encountered by the ship's crew, usually involving planet exploration and visits to various parts of the galaxy.

Cast and characters

Main

Series creator, star, and co-producer Seth MacFarlane in 2012
Series creator, star, and co-producer Seth MacFarlane in 2012

Recurring

Guest stars

Episodes

Series overview of The Orville
SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
First releasedLast releasedNetwork
112September 10, 2017 (2017-09-10)December 7, 2017 (2017-12-07)Fox
214December 30, 2018 (2018-12-30)April 25, 2019 (2019-04-25)
311[44]TBATBAHulu

Season 1 (2017)

Main article: The Orville (season 1)

The Orville's season 1 episodes
No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
11"Old Wounds"Jon FavreauSeth MacFarlaneSeptember 10, 2017 (2017-09-10)1LAB018.56[45]
22"Command Performance"Robert Duncan McNeillSeth MacFarlaneSeptember 17, 2017 (2017-09-17)1LAB036.63[46]
33"About a Girl"Brannon BragaSeth MacFarlaneSeptember 21, 2017 (2017-09-21)1LAB044.05[47]
44"If the Stars Should Appear"James L. ConwaySeth MacFarlaneSeptember 28, 2017 (2017-09-28)1LAB023.70[48]
55"Pria"Jonathan FrakesSeth MacFarlaneOctober 5, 2017 (2017-10-05)1LAB053.43[49]
66"Krill"Jon CassarDavid A. GoodmanOctober 12, 2017 (2017-10-12)1LAB063.37[50]
77"Majority Rule"Tucker GatesSeth MacFarlaneOctober 26, 2017 (2017-10-26)1LAB074.18[51]
88"Into the Fold"Brannon BragaBrannon Braga & Andre BormanisNovember 2, 2017 (2017-11-02)1LAB083.83[52]
99"Cupid's Dagger"Jamie BabbitLiz HeldensNovember 9, 2017 (2017-11-09)1LAB093.69[53]
1010"Firestorm"Brannon BragaCherry ChevapravatdumrongNovember 16, 2017 (2017-11-16)1LAB103.32[54]
1111"New Dimensions"Kelly CroninSeth MacFarlaneNovember 30, 2017 (2017-11-30)1LAB113.63[55]
1212"Mad Idolatry"Brannon BragaSeth MacFarlaneDecember 7, 2017 (2017-12-07)1LAB133.54[56]

Season 2 (2018–19)

Main article: The Orville (season 2)

The Orville's season 2 episodes
No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
131"Ja'loja"Seth MacFarlaneSeth MacFarlaneDecember 30, 2018 (2018-12-30)2LAB015.68[57]
142"Primal Urges"Kevin HooksWellesley WildJanuary 3, 2019 (2019-01-03)1LAB122.82[58]
153"Home"Jon CassarCherry ChevapravatdumrongJanuary 10, 2019 (2019-01-10)2LAB023.06[59]
164"Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes"Jon CassarBrannon Braga & Andre BormanisJanuary 17, 2019 (2019-01-17)2LAB033.01[60]
175"All the World Is Birthday Cake"Robert Duncan McNeillSeth MacFarlaneJanuary 24, 2019 (2019-01-24)2LAB043.18[61]
186"A Happy Refrain"Seth MacFarlaneSeth MacFarlaneJanuary 31, 2019 (2019-01-31)2LAB053.11[62]
197"Deflectors"Seth MacFarlaneDavid A. GoodmanFebruary 14, 2019 (2019-02-14)2LAB063.07[63]
208"Identity, Part I"Jon CassarBrannon Braga & Andre BormanisFebruary 21, 2019 (2019-02-21)2LAB073.05[64]
219"Identity, Part II"Jon CassarSeth MacFarlaneFebruary 28, 2019 (2019-02-28)2LAB083.15[65]
2210"Blood of Patriots"Rebecca RodriguezSeth MacFarlaneMarch 7, 2019 (2019-03-07)2LAB092.94[66]
2311"Lasting Impressions"Kelly CroninSeth MacFarlaneMarch 21, 2019 (2019-03-21)2LAB102.94[67]
2412"Sanctuary"Jonathan FrakesJoe MenoskyApril 11, 2019 (2019-04-11)2LAB112.59[68]
2513"Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow"Gary RakeJanet LinApril 18, 2019 (2019-04-18)2LAB122.68[69]
2614"The Road Not Taken"Gary RakeDavid A. GoodmanApril 25, 2019 (2019-04-25)2LAB132.97[70]

Season 3 (2021)

Main article: The Orville (season 3)

Production

Development

MacFarlane originally wrote The Orville as a spec script, which was given a 13-episode order by Fox in May 2016, making it the first live-action television series created by MacFarlane.[71] Following the project's greenlight, MacFarlane stated, "I've wanted to do something like this show ever since I was a kid, and the timing finally feels right. [...] I think this is gonna be something special."[72] According to MacFarlane, The Orville was inspired by The Twilight Zone and Star Trek.[73] He was also encouraged to sell the series due to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.[74]

In November 2017, Fox renewed the series for a second season.[75] "Primal Urges", one of the thirteen episodes for season one, was held for the second season due to a gap in broadcast dates caused by the broadcaster's lengthy Christmas programming.[76][77][78]

In December 2018, it was reported that the California Film Commission had approved $15.8 million of tax credits for a potential third season.[79]

Casting

In July 2016, MacFarlane's role was revealed to be Ed Mercer, the captain of the Orville, while Adrianne Palicki had been cast as Kelly Grayson, Ed's ex-wife and the newly appointed first officer of the Orville, and Scott Grimes, who voices Steve Smith on American Dad! (another show created by MacFarlane), was cast as Gordon Malloy, Ed's best friend whom he has assigned to pilot the Orville.[9] In August Peter Macon and J Lee were cast as series regulars.[80][81] In October Halston Sage and Penny Johnson Jerald joined the cast.[82] In December Mark Jackson was cast.[23] In April 2017, Chad L. Coleman was added as a series regular and Larry Joe Campbell was cast in a recurring role.[83]

At San Diego Comic-Con in July 2017, MacFarlane said that Charlize Theron would guest-star in an episode. The two had previously co-starred in A Million Ways to Die in the West.[84] Theron appeared in the series' fifth episode, "Pria".

In February 2018, Jessica Szohr was cast as a regular for season two,[85] and Chris Johnson was cast in a recurring role.[86] In November 2019, Anne Winters was cast as a regular for season three.[87]

Filming

In August 2016, actor and director Jon Favreau signed on to direct the pilot.[88] Production on the pilot episode began in late 2016, and the rest of the episodes began filming in March 2017.[71] Production wrapped in August,[89] with a total of $56.2 million spent in California.[90] Star Trek veterans Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill, who have directed episodes within the Star Trek franchise, have each directed an episode of The Orville.[91] Four episodes were directed by Brannon Braga, a long-time Star Trek alum who began as an intern on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was producer of Star Trek: Voyager, and co-created Star Trek: Enterprise.

Filming for the second season began in February 2018, and Frakes and McNeill each returned to direct another episode.[92][93] Production for the second season concluded in October 2018,[94] having spent $69.2 million.[95]

In March 2020, production on the series was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.[96]

Seth MacFarlane and Jon Cassar are the directors of season 3.[97]

Visual effects

Studios hired to work on the visual effects of the show include Tippett Studio, CoSA VFX, Pixomondo, Crafty Apes, FuseFX, Eight VFX and Zoic Studios.[98]

Music

The show uses a 75-piece orchestra for the music in each episode, written by several different composers, such as John Debney, Joel McNeely and Bruce Broughton, who wrote the show's theme and composed the score for the pilot. MacFarlane said "We score it like a movie" and "We really put as much into that as we do into the effects."[99] A soundtrack album for season 1 was released by La-La Land Records on January 22, 2019.[100]

Disc 1
No.TitleMusicEpisodeLength
1."The Orville Main Title"Bruce Broughton 1:04
2."Shuttle to the Ship"Bruce Broughton"Old Wounds"1:54
3."She Requested It / Departing for Landing"Bruce Broughton"Old Wounds"1:09
4."Krill Attack / Shuttle Escape"Bruce Broughton"Old Wounds"4:14
5."Emergency Docking"Bruce Broughton"Old Wounds"2:27
6."Kelly Has a Plan / Asking Kelly to Stay"Bruce Broughton"Old Wounds"3:51
7."The Bio-Ship / Exploring the Hull"Joel McNeely"If the Stars Should Appear"2:22
8."Exploring the Bio-Ship"Joel McNeely"If the Stars Should Appear"2:45
9."Finding Alara / Space Battle"Joel McNeely"If the Stars Should Appear"2:53
10."Dorahl / The Roof Opens"Joel McNeely"If the Stars Should Appear"4:05
11."Distress Signal Received / Alara Freaks Out / Explosion"John Debney"Command Performance"5:54
12."Alara Gets the Cold Shoulder / Approaching Calivon"John Debney"Command Performance"3:52
13."Extermination Process Continues / Bortus Hatches His Egg"John Debney"Command Performance"2:39
14."Western Simulation"Joel McNeely"About a Girl"1:01
15."Asteroid Destroyed / Relieved of Duty"Joel McNeely"About a Girl"1:07
16."Arriving on Moclus"Joel McNeely"About a Girl"1:42
17."Trip to the Mountains"Joel McNeely"About a Girl"2:15
18."Tribunal Adjourned / Epilogue"Joel McNeely"About a Girl"3:27
19."Rescuing Pria"John Debney"Pria"3:51
20."Searching Pria's Room / Dark Matter Storm / Navigating the Storm"John Debney"Pria"4:06
21."Approaching the Coordinates / Isaac Saves the Crew"John Debney"Pria"3:19
22."Pria's Theme"John Debney"Pria"1:41
23."Distress Call"Joel McNeely"Krill"1:29
24."Krill Attack the Orville"Joel McNeely"Krill"2:49
25."Bomb Found"Joel McNeely"Krill"4:54
26."Intruder Alert / Preparing the Weapon"Joel McNeely"Krill"2:59
27."Turning on the Lights / New Enemies"Joel McNeely"Krill"2:29
Total length:76:59
Disc 2
No.TitleMusicEpisodeLength
1."Lysella Wakes Up / Looks Like Earth / Rescue Mission"John Debney"Majority Rule"1:39
2."John Gets Arrested / Alara Seems Suspicious"John Debney"Majority Rule"2:05
3."Ed Has a Plan"John Debney"Majority Rule"1:33
4."Bringing Lysella Aboard / Casting the Votes / Their World Can Do Better"John Debney"Majority Rule"6:06
5."Sucked In"Joel McNeely"Into the Fold"2:44
6."Claire Breaks Out"Joel McNeely"Into the Fold"1:26
7."The Fight"Joel McNeely"Into the Fold"1:21
8."Claire Returns to the Wreck"Joel McNeely"Into the Fold"2:11
9."The Attack"Joel McNeely"Into the Fold"1:55
10."Claire Thanks Isaac"Joel McNeely"Into the Fold"1:21
11."Archaeologist Arrives / Claire Visits Yaphit / Claire Kisses Yaphit"John Debney"Cupid's Dagger"3:12
12."Fleets Approach / War Before Peace / Cleared for Duty / Darulio Departs"John Debney"Cupid's Dagger"4:38
13."Plasma Storm / It Was Late Evening"John Debney"Firestorm"3:08
14."Alara Blows off Steam / There Was a Clown"John Debney"Firestorm"3:04
15."Alara Hallucinates / Deserted Ship"John Debney"Firestorm"6:55
16."Cannot End Simulation / Back to Normal"John Debney"Firestorm"4:03
17."Damage Report / What Happened to the Plants?"Andrew Cottee"New Dimensions"2:00
18."Krill Ships Approaching"Andrew Cottee"New Dimensions"2:30
19."Within the Anomaly / Time to Reflect / Quantum Bubble Is Deteriorating"Andrew Cottee"New Dimensions"2:25
20."Engaging Tractor Beam"Andrew Cottee"New Dimensions"2:17
21."Mission Complete / Commander Lamarr"Andrew Cottee"New Dimensions"2:48
22."Investigating an Anomaly"Joel McNeely"Mad Idolatry"1:09
23."Emergency Landing"Joel McNeely"Mad Idolatry"3:41
24."Searching the Planet"Joel McNeely"Mad Idolatry"2:38
25."Walking Through Town"Joel McNeely"Mad Idolatry"2:21
26."Spread the Word"Joel McNeely"Mad Idolatry"1:17
27."Isaac Steps Up / Civilization Restored"Joel McNeely"Mad Idolatry"3:14
28."The Orville End Titles"Bruce Broughton 0:34
Total length:74:58

Marketing

On May 15, 2017, the Fox Broadcasting Company released the first trailer of The Orville as part of their upcoming slate of television series including the X-Men series The Gifted and the supernatural sitcom Ghosted.[101][102] To promote the series, Fox organized a panel at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con on July 22 featuring cast members Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, Mark Jackson and Chad Coleman, and producers David A. Goodman and Brannon Braga. In addition, Fox established an Orville Space Training Station at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Law with a "Cryopreservation program" for fans.[103][104]

On July 22, 2018, Fox released the trailer for the second season of The Orville at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.[105] To promote the series, Fox sponsored a series of Orville-themed pedi-cabs for people attending the San Diego Comic Con. In addition, Goodman moderated a Q&A panel on July 21 at the Comic Con alongside cast members MacFarlane, Palicki, Jerald, Scott Grimes, Braga and Jon Cassar.[106][107]

Release

New episodes aired Thursdays on Fox during the 2017–18 season.[72][108] On November 2, 2017, Fox renewed the series for a second season,[75] which premiered on December 30, 2018.[109][110] Fox renewed the series for a third season that was originally scheduled to be released on Hulu late in 2020.[111]

The Orville is available in the United States on the Fox website as well as the Hulu, Amazon Prime, and iTunes streaming platforms. In Canada, The Orville aired on Citytv (former home of Star Trek series Star Trek: The Next Generation to Star Trek: Enterprise). The third season will air in Canada on Disney+ via the Star content hub.[112][113] In the United Kingdom, the series is available on Fox's streaming service. In Australia, The Orville is available on the television channel SBS Viceland and streams on SBS On Demand.[114] In New Zealand, the series is available on the free TVNZ OnDemand streaming service.[115]

Reception

Critical response

Critical response of The Orville
SeasonRotten TomatoesMetacritic
130% (53 reviews)[116]36 (21 reviews)[117]
2100% (14 reviews)[118]N/A

Season 1

On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has an approval rating of 30%, with an average rating of 5.22/10 based on 53 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "An odd jumble of campiness and sincerity, homage, and satire, The Orville never quite achieves liftoff."[116] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 36 out of 100, based on 21 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[117]

Liz Miller writing for IndieWire compared the series to Star Trek, calling it a rip-off and "bankrupt: creatively, morally, and ethically." She criticized the lack of creativity, the blatant imitation, and was surprised that the show is "uninterested in being a comedy".[91]

Kevin Yeoman of Screen Rant suggested, "The show might have stood a better chance with a different actor in the captain's chair, one better suited to navigating the inexplicable tonal shifts and maybe earn the audience's patience and empathy in the process."[119]

Tim Surette at TV Guide says, "The truth is, The Orville was never going to win over critics because it's a throwback and goes against everything modern television is. It's not that The Orville doesn't know what it wants it to be, as critics assume, it's that it wants to be a little bit of everything".[120]

Season 2

On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season has an approval rating of 100%, with an average rating of 7.6/10 based on 14 reviews. The website's critic consensus states: "Fun, focused, and surprisingly thoughtful, The Orville's second season makes good use of its talented crew."[118]

Nick Wanserki of The A.V. Club praised the season's first episode "Ja'loja" for its character-driven drama and focus on low-stakes plots which built upon the first season's efforts to develop the crew of the Orville into a group of people that the audience cared about.[121] Liz Miller of IndieWire awarded The Orville a B rating, expressing hope that the series could evolve into a character-driven "dramedy" set in space, which she described as something unique that could make the show worth watching.[122] Ryan Britt of Den of Geek praised the second season for playing to its strengths as a sitcom and addressing the "wonkiness" of the first season.[123]

Kevin Yeoman of Screen Rant opined that the series "had found its footing and maybe its identity in telling smaller, more character-driven stories, that better serve its sometimes confounding mix of sincerity and irreverence."[124]

Will Harris of The Verge similarly noted that the two-part episode "Identity" demonstrated the series' ability to downplay its humor and "hold its own with any of the more traditional science fiction properties out there."[125]

Audience response

In the October 15, 2017 episode of The Angry Joe Show, "The Orville Mid-Season Angry Review", host Joe Vargas noted the gulf between the response to the series among critics and viewers, contrasting the Rotten Tomatoes' 19% approval rating from professional critics to the 91% viewer approval rating. Vargas compared this to Star Trek: Discovery, which received an 83% rating from critics but a fairly low audience score of 54%,[126] and stated "Star Trek fans—at least the ones that watch my show—like The Orville way more than they like Star Trek: Discovery".[127] Tim Surette of TV Guide also wrote about the critic-to-viewer Rotten Tomatoes rating, noting the balance had shifted to 21/93, and that its Metacritic score was 36% approval from critics, and 82% from viewers. As a critic himself, Surette notes that, as a throwback, The Orville is an anomaly in modern television, and found showrunner David A. Goodman's admission that MacFarlane wants to vary between serious or dramatic and lighter or comedic episodes a potentially dangerous or risky strategy, but concedes that the show's viewers appear to like it for that reason.[120]

Ratings

After its premiere on Sunday, September 10, 2017, the show moved to Thursday nights at 9 p.m. In its first broadcast in the new time slot, The Orville became Fox's highest rated Thursday 9 p.m. broadcast in two years.[128] After taking into account DVR and VOD, The Orville was Fox's most-viewed drama debut since the premiere of Empire in 2015.[128]

Viewership and ratings per season of The Orville
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired TV season Viewership
rank
Avg. viewers
(millions)
18–49
rank
Avg. 18–49
rating
Date Viewers
(millions)
Date Viewers
(millions)
1 Sunday 8:00 pm (1–2)
Thursday 9:00 pm (3–12)
12 September 10, 2017 (2017-09-10) 8.56[45] December 7, 2017 (2017-12-07) 3.54[56] 2017–18 63 6.55 TBD 2.0[129]
2 Sunday 8:00 pm (Premiere)
Thursday 9:00 pm
14 December 30, 2018 (2018-12-30) 5.68[57] April 25, 2019 (2019-04-25) 2.97[70] 2018–19 TBD TBD TBD TBD

Awards and nominations

Award nominations for The Orville
Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2018 International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best Original Score for Television Bruce Broughton, John Debney, Joel McNeely, Andrew Cottee Won [130]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Best Special Make-Up Effects – Television and New Media Series Howard Berger, Tami Lane, Garrett Immel Nominated [131]
Publicists Guild Awards Maxwell Weinberg Publicist Showmanship Television Award Erin Moody Nominated [132]
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series The Orville Won [133]
Best Actor on Television Seth MacFarlane Nominated
Best Actress on Television Adrianne Palicki Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a TV Series – Recurring Young Actor Kai Wener Nominated [134]
Young Entertainer Awards Best Recurring Young Actor 11 & Under – Television Series Kai Wener Nominated
2019 Dragon Awards Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series The Orville Nominated [135]
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series The Orville Nominated [136]
Best Actor on Television Seth MacFarlane Nominated
Best Actress on Television Adrianne Palicki Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Special Visual Effects Luke McDonald, Tommy Tran, Kevin Lingenfelser, Nhat Phong Tran, Brooke Noska, Melissa Delong, Brandon Fayette, Matt Von Brock, Joseph Vincent Pike (for "Identity Part II") Nominated [137]
Hollywood Professional Association Awards Outstanding Visual Effects – Episodic (Over 13 Episodes) Tommy Tran, Kevin Lingenfelser, Joseph Vincent Pike, Brandon Fayette, Brooke Noska (for "Identity Part II") Won [138]
2020 International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best Original Score for Television Bruce Broughton, John Debney, Joel McNeely, Andrew Cottee Nominated [139]

Home media

Season 1 of The Orville was released on DVD on December 11, 2018. Season 2 was released on December 10, 2019.[140]

Other media

Comics

In 2019, Dark Horse Comics released a pair of two-issue comic book miniseries set between the first and second seasons of The Orville, collected as The Orville: Season 1.5. Both miniseries were written by television series executive producer and writer David A. Goodman, illustrated by David Cabeza, and colored by Michael Atiyeh. The first storyline "New Beginnings" deals with Captain Mercer and Lieutenant Gordon responding to a distress call from a lost Union ship while Commander Grayson has to contend with a domestic dispute between Bortus and his spouse over their son's education. The second storyline "The Word of Avis" deals with the Orville crew investigating a Union ship heading into Krill space.[141]

In 2020, Dark Horse Comics reunited the same creative team for The Orville: Season 2.5, beginning with the two-issue miniseries "Launch Day".[142]

Issue Story arc Release date Story Art Colors Collection
#1 "New Beginnings" July 17, 2019 David A. Goodman David Cabez Michael Atiyeh The Orville: Season 1.5—New Beginnings
Release date: February 5, 2020
ISBN 9781506711348
#2 August 14, 2019
#3 "The Word of Avis" September 11, 2019
#4 October 16, 2019
#1 "Launch Day" September 2, 2020 David A. Goodman David Cabez Michael Atiyeh The Orville: Season 2.5—Launch Day
Release date: March 24, 2021
ISBN 9781506711355
#2 October 7, 2020
#3 "Heroes" November 4, 2020
#4 December 2, 2020
#1 "Digressions" May 5, 2021 David A. Goodman David Cabez Michael Atiyeh The Orville: Season 2.5—Digressions
Release date: March 16, 2022
ISBN 9781506711362
#2 June 2, 2021
#3 "Artifacts" October 20, 2021
#4 TBA

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