How The Orville's Penny Johnson Jerald Feels About Competing With Star Trek: Discovery

The Orville Penny Johnson Jerald Dr. Claire Finn smiles at the Captain

Penny Johnson Jerald has built up a hell of a resume as a veteran TV actor, with shows such as 24, The Larry Sanders Show, and even Castle all playing important parts in her body of work. But for Star Trek fans, she's most notably known for playing Kasidy Yates Sisko on Deep Space Nine. This is a fact that wasn't lost on anyone from the Trek fandom who also watches The Orville on Fox, which of course means that Jerald would most definitely have an opinion on her Fox show running around the same time as Star Trek: Discovery is unfurling on CBS All Access.

As a matter of fact, we know she has an opinion on the matter, as she told us how she felt during a recent interview to promote The Orville. So how does Penny Johnson Jerald feel about competing with the Star Trek franchise? Well, she had this to say on the matter:

I don't think it makes a difference. . . . I think there's more than enough room for more than one science fiction kid on the block, and they're different. To be perfectly honest, I have not watched Discovery, I was ignorant of the fact that it was even coming out. I thought it was another movie coming out. And I'm glad about that, because we have our own niche, and I think we're filling that. I wish them well, however, because I'm from the Star Trek family, but I think there's room enough for everybody.

While some may try to pit the two shows against each other, Penny Johnson Jerald isn't interested in playing that game at all. As The Orville's Dr. Claire Finn, she gets to play a role different from the law-breaking romantic interest to Avery Brooks' law-abiding space station overseer. Besides, with Star Trek: Discovery running on CBS All Access, folks can either not watch the show or watch it any time they want. Even if one were to watch the new Trek show live, its Sunday night release dates wouldn't get in the way of The Orville's regular Thursday night voyage.

While both are ship-faring sci-fi series, one show seems rooted in the classic Trek tradition and the other is more akin to the J.J. Abrams-originated Kelvin Timeline saga, which is a fact not lost on Jerald's evaluation of the two shows on the market. So, of course, Penny Johnson Jerald does still prefer her current base of operations in the grand scheme of things, and for some extremely logical reasons, as she explained below:

[The Orville] is more accessible. That's an important issue too, because we have people that don't have access to this paid programming. I love the fact that [The Orville] is on a great channel, a great network that the whole family can sit around. Mind you, they'll probably have to hold some ears a little bit with what we do.

It's hard for fans of the Star Trek series to get their hands on Discovery unless they really want to subscribe to CBS All Access in order to do so. Even if they do subscribe, there's a chance that the show's more TV-MA approach to the world of The Federation might turn them off (or prevent them from indulging) if they're looking for a Star Trek they can watch with the family. This gives the recently renewed The Orville two distinct advantages: the show airs on Fox and basically adopted the Star Trek: The Next Generation model of Trek storytelling, with some mildly inappropriate humor scattered throughout.

So far, both The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery have proven that their first seasons are far from amateur. At the same time, however, both shows are still feeling out their approaches. Should a rivalry between the projects actually show itself, the further development of both shows will be an interesting parallel to watch out for. As far as Fox's far-out dramedy is concerned, this just means that having someone like Penny Johnson Jerald on board is an invaluable advantage, as she bridges the gap between Trek's past and Orville's future.

The Orville airs on Fox, Thursday Nights at 9 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery drop on CBS All Access every Sunday, at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.