TrekMovie has been bringing you all the Star Trek: Discovery news from San Diego Comic-Con (and there is more to come) but there is another sci-fi show set in space coming this fall we are keeping our eye on, The Orville. The Fox dramedy was created by Seth MacFarlane and features a number of Star Trek vets in the cast and crew including executive producers Brannon Braga and David A. Goodman, who moderated the panel.
The Orville has a holodeck
Many people have noted that the look of The Orville is a close match for Star Trek: The Next Generation and other 24th century Star Trek shows and this was made even more clear with a Comic-Con clip that kicked off the panel. The clip showed a scene set on what is The Orville’s version of a holodeck with Scott Grimes doing fight training against this giant, scary alien, who has been programmed with a surprisingly relaxed and laid back personality. It’s hard to describe, but it was a funny scene. Later, during the Q&A MacFarlane was asked if the holodeck was used for extracurricular adult activities, and Seth said “the subject isn’t totally ignored.”
Speaking of parallels with the look of Trek, last week MacFarlane shared this image on Twitter of layout for the U.S.S. Orville, which again looks like a master systems display straight out of TNG.
A return to optimist sci-fi
After introductions MacFarlane started off saying he has worked his entire career in comedy but he has always wanted to do sci-fi, and a specific kind of sci-fi saying:
In this day and age of dystopian science fiction where everything is grim and dark and depressing I think there is an appetite – and I think it has been a while – for a show that is aspriational and optimistic and can maybe provide a blueprint for a future we could have if we get our shit together.
Later during the Q&A when asked to compare the show to his other work MacFarlane made it clear the Orville is different:
This show is its own thing. It’s not Family Guy. It’s not American Dad. It’s not Ted. It is something very specific, and hopefully very beautiful.
Penny Johnson predicts Trek fans will embrace Orville
One familiar face to Trek fans in the cast is Penny Johnson Jerald who plays the ship’s doctor on The Orville, and played Kasidy Yates in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She said it felt great to be back in space. Speaking of The Orville she predicted Trek fans will love it saying:
I cannot wait until [the premiere on] September 10th and I can turn on my Twitter feed and hear all of you Star Trek fans just bowled over. I mean you are going to have such a wonderful time.
Red shirts on The Orville
Seth was asked what was the equivalent of “red shirts” (the ill-fated Star Trek crew members who never make it back from away missions) are on The Orville. While the question was presented as a joke, Seth answered fairly seriously saying:
We straddle the line between comedy and drama and that is one of the biggest challenges. It’s like M*A*S*H, if somebody is actually in jeopardy or dies, if you start cracking jokes you are telling the audience there are no real stakes. And in an hour-long show there really has to be stakes.
He went on to say it depends on the specific tone for the episode but that there will be deaths on the show.
Born on the Enterprise
When Seth was asked if his cameos (as Ensign Rivers) on Star Trek: Enterprise had anything to do with the inspiration for doing his own sci-fi show, he basically said it did:
It was always something in the back of my mind. It was actually David (A. Goodman) who got me that gig because he was writing for Enterprise. I remember being at that time in “holy shit” mode. I am standing here with this great team who had been doing that for a decade and a half and I was just enthralled. And with that I knew for sure it was something I wanted to do.
Goodman also noted that MacFarlane’s time on Enterprise was when he met Brannon Braga and they later collaborated on Cosmos and now on The Orville.
Cast member Chad Coleman with executive producer Brannon Braga at The Orville panel at San Diego Comic-Con (Fox)
To coincide with the panel, Fox also released a new trailer for The Orville.
Space Training Center and ‘Join the Orville’ contest
One of the ways Fox was promoting The Orville at Comic-Con was by setting up a “Space Training Center” on a lawn outside the convention center.
Visitors to the camp were asked to pick a position on the ship they are interested in and then they could go into a booth and watch an orientation video.
There was also a gyroscope ride which was part of the “space training.” Seth MacFarlane and some of the cast visited the camp and some even took a ride in the sphere as you can see from the video below.
The training camp was part of a new “Join the Orville” promotional contest to apply to be a member of the crew of the ship. The winner gets a trip to the premiere event and a trip to the year 2417 by being cryopreserved. Of course you can always take the cash equivalent.
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