Going into its first season, Fox's The Orville looked like it was going to have a rough time selling itself to the world. With the very first looks showing a sort of "Family Guy in Space" vibe, it certainly felt like an interesting, if uneven, prospect. Then, as Season 1 progressed, something happened: the show turned into more of a Star Trek: The Next Generation love letter, impressing viewers and winning enough attention to garner a second season pick-up. It was tremendous news, but a pretty big question still remained: what would they do for Season 2?
Thankfully, while we were at last month's San Diego Comic-Con, we were able to attend Fox's panel for The Orville, and Seth MacFarlane himself had some interesting remarks on the next season's content. In his own words, this is what we should expect:
[The show will be] more comfortable in its footing, as far as existing in that Goldilocks zone. And you know we didn't know what to expect when we started it, but every episode [in Season 2] feels like a movie. I think you are going to dig it.
Looking back at Season 1, there were definitely jokes that played towards more of the Family Guy spectrum of MacFarlane's material. Though even in those moments, The Orville never took things too far, or amped the humor above levels that a family watching the show couldn't handle. It should also be noted that while the series progressed, there was definitely more attention paid to the serious side of things, with the humor acting as more of an accent. It's an approach that Seth MacFarlane thinks makes The Orville special, as it mixes lighter moments such as pranks pulled on crew members and relationship humor with some of the show's more serious content. When discussing that subject, Macfarlane attributed it to the fact that "life has different tones."
But even with the admittedly less confident approach, the series had some serious vibes inspired by the second series in the Star Trek legacy. And it's something that you can even see in his work as the producer of Neil deGrasse Tyson-hosted event series Cosmos. Ultimately, Seth MacFarlane's love for Star Trek: The Next Generation paid off when it came to The Orville, as that was really what inspired him to create the show in the fashion we see today. He further clarified this point during the panel, as follows:
I was a fan when I was a kid and still am. I think the absence of a version of that kind of show that does what they used to do --something that's optimistic, bright, forward-thinking, episodic. That doesn't really exist right now. And so there's a space that's kind of been opened up for that kind of show to occupy and I missed that kind of storytelling and it was a void that I was trying to fill with this show. The thing that feels new to me about the way we handle this genre, you know I think there's a certain rigidity to most shows that take place on a space ship. There's a certain operatic quality that kind of goes hand in hand with that genre. And I had never really seen a show -- The Next Generation kind of dealt with it to some degree -- a show that really kind of casualizes a lot of what goes on. Because in reality, if you were actually serving on a ship of this type, there'd be downtime where you're just kind of shooting the shit and slacking off. Being casual. That's something I hadn't seen... It was a hybrid that I hadn't seen. And it took us a little bit to kind of find that balance, but I feel like we did.
Humor, heart, and exploration all have a place on The Orville's thematic deck, and it's through the short run of Season 1's 12 episodes that MacFarlane and his crew ultimately found their feet. Watching the first footage of Season 2 from last month's San Diego Comic-Con has definitely helped us draw that conclusion, as that confidence and bravado found in the next round are shown in full force. Take a look for yourself, in the trailer below:
The Orville finally returns in a two-hour event on Sunday, December 30th, courtesy of Fox! Though in the meantime, you can always catch up on Season 1, between televised re-runs, as well as Fox's various digital platforms. Also, if you're wondering when some of your other favorites are coming back this fall, take a look at 2018's fall TV premiere schedule.