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While science fiction has once again become a pretty popular genre across the TV landscape, an abundance of modern sci-fi series go extremely heavy on serialized arcs and ever-expanding mythologies for viewers to theorize over obsessively. Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane is taking his new show The Orville down the old school route with episodes dedicated to standalone adventures, and when CinemaBlend and other outlets spoke with MacFarlane at San Diego Comic-Con about the series, he explained to us why The Orville is quite a one-of-a-kind project.
The Orville is obviously going to have a lot in common with Star Trek in its off-Earth setting and the character dynamics of its diverse crew. (Co-star Penny Johnson Jerald, of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fame, shared with us some other comparisons between the two shows.) It even bears a passing resemblance to Firefly in that manner. But the way Seth MacFarlane and the rest of the cast and crew were talking, The Orville features what sounds like it'll be a signature tone that's able to balance the weird and wonderful of sci-fi, the high-stakes tension of drama, and the high-concept absurdity of comedy. It's perhaps comparable to the tone of his answer, as MacFarlane went from braggadociously calling The Orville unlike anything else to humbly admitting audiences are the true judges here.
Interestingly enough, Seth MacFarlane and the show's producers (as well as some of the other stars) pointed out that the excellent first trailer that Fox put out there was not very representative of the project as a whole. While the promo did nail the scope and wonder of being in space, it also went for broke on comedic moments, and The Orville will apparently strike much more of a dramatic tone, with the comedy being birthed from the characters' relationships and personal stories; MacFarlane's Captain Ed Mercer and Adrianne Palicki's First Officer Kelly Grayson used to be married, for example.
With a cast that also includes American Dad's Scott Grimes, Walking Dead vet Chad L. Coleman, Shameless' Peter Macon, How to Rock's Halston Sage and more, The Orville could very easily just take place on the titular spaceship and focus on the uncomfortable situations that occur within. But Seth MacFarlane is a sci-fi fanatic, and when I asked about the show's world-building, he gave this extremely exciting answer.
The trailer featured a brief appearance from Yaphit, a gelatinous creature voiced by Norm Macdonald, and while it was a small-scale appearance, that's exactly the kind of weird shit I want to see from The Orville as it kicks off. Especially if some of it is more thought-provoking than outright comedic. So if those first eleven episodes are as interesting as Seth MacFarlane made them out to be, that could lead to a lot of weird-looking aliens showing up in primetime, and TV can never have enough of those.
Science fiction fans across the country will find out just how different The Orville really is when it makes its space-faring debut on Fox on Sunday, September 10, at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you're in need of an update on what shows are hitting primetime in the coming months, head to our summer premiere schedule and our fall TV schedule.