Seth Macfarlane's The Orville Could Be TV's Next Great Sci-Fi Comedy

Seth Macfarlane's TV efforts haven't been the most plentiful in the past 18 years, but their overall success is impossible to deny or ignore. Rather than remaining in the same animated realm as Family Guy and American Dad, Macfarlane branched out in a huge way for his next effort, the upcoming series The Orville, which looks to add a healthy dose of sci-fi comedy to Fox's primetime lineup, And if this trailer is a good indication of what audiences will get, this could easily be TV's next great hallmark for that genre crossroads. Check it out!

Granted, there isn't all that much about The Orville that will speak to people who downright hate Seth Macfarlane's sense of humor, since that tone is pretty well established throughout the trailer. (Though, for what it's worth, there's a complete dearth of woman-trashing jokes about rape, so no one will be mistaking this with Family Guy.) Still, it's a delightful mix of silliness, cringe-worthy moments, and farce, topped with an abundance of science fiction tropes and commonalities.

In the trailer, we first meet Seth Macfarlane's eager beaver Ed Mercer as he's getting a promotion to be the captain of an exploratory vessel, the U.S.S. Orville. (Shout out to Legends of Tomorrow's Victor Garber as the unappreciative supervisor delivering the promotion.) Ed isn't exactly an ideal choice to captain anything, particularly when he's paired with a crew that don't exactly have the biggest build-up of faith in following his commands. Well, I guess the robot, er, artificial life-form Isaac (Mark Jackson) has to obey commands. Maybe.

the orville isaac robot

First officer of the Orville is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. vet Adrianne Palicki as Kelly Grayson, who also happens to be Ed's ex-wife, because obviously. Ed's best friend Gordon Malloy, played by American Dad's Scott Grimes, is also the helmsman for the ship, which is probably a good thing on days when he's not busy drinking. Castle vet Penny Johnson Jerald plays the highly accomplished physician Dr. Claire Finn, who is clearly outclassing most of the rest. Rounding out the cast is the single-sex alien Bortus (Peter Macon), the newbie alien security officer Alara (Halston Sage) and J. Lee as jokey navigator John LaMarr. And then there's Norm Macdonald voicing a yellow blob named Yaphit. (Already my favorite character.)

The pilot, which this trailer was taken from, was directed by Jon Favreau, and it looks beautiful in this capsulized form. Sometimes comedy works best when paired with shoddy looking effects and sets, but it's hard to knock the production value seen here. After all, the joke of Alara knocking down the wall+door wouldn't have worked as well if it was a cheap-o drywall piece.

All in all, I quite loved The Orville's trailer, as it had shades of Red Dwarf and Other Space, as well as Seth Macfarlane's nitpicky observational humor wading in the moments between some big action beats. It'll probably take some effort for it to break into our favorite sci-fi comedies of all time, but it's got a shot, if people tune in and Fox continues supporting it the way it's kept Family Guy going.

The Orville is already set to debut this fall on Fox on Thursday nights after Gotham, though no specific schedule dates have been set just yet. To see everything else hitting the small screen in the near future, head over to our summer TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.