Seth MacFarlane Invokes Gene Roddenberry And Cast Talk Spock At ‘The Orville’ PaleyFest Panel

The cast and crew of The Orville held a panel over the weekend at PaleyFest in Los Angeles. The focus of the panel was to talk about their successful first season, with no real spoilers for the second season, currently in production. However, Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr. Finn) did tease it by saying: “Season two, we are not supposed to say anything here, but we are friends here. Let me tell you. You are going to be so surprised!”

We have more highlights, photos and video of the panel below along with the latest updates on the show.

MacFarlane says he’s not out to win awards, invokes Roddenberry

Speaking about creating the series and his process for writing The Orville, creator Seth MacFarlane told PaleyFest crowd:

This was just a space in sci-fi that had been kind of neglected and there was nothing out there. Everything was serialized and everything was very dark and I kind of just missed that optimistic, hopefully sci-fi that is not necessarily a cautionary tale, but a hopeful blueprint. It just wasn’t there. So, I said “If they are not going to do it, we should just do it ourselves.” And that is where this came from. I don’t set out to do anything specific…I am not out to win awards. I just do things that I would want to watch.

The Orville executive producers David A. Goodman, Brannon Braga and Seth MacFarlane

When asked what was the hardest episode to write in the first season, MacFarlane turned it around by invoking Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to highlight how the The Orville’s format can actually makes things easier for the writers:

I have been comedy for years and I have never had an easier, smoother time writing than I have had on this show. It makes me thing that maybe I was in the wrong business. F—ing Gene Roddenberry once said “The basis of your series is the galaxy, there should be a lot of ideas out there.” And there are. You really don’t run out. It is what I love about it.

There is an episode in season two that actually does not contain a sci-fi plot. It is all just character pieces. That, to me, is what a good sci-fi show should be able to do. Your characters should be so strong, that if you want to do a story that is just pure drama or pure comedy, you should be able to do that.

If we go a number of seasons, it is going to get harder, but at the moment it’s not. The nice thing about that is it tells you that we have done a good job with our characters. There are no two characters who can say the same line of dialog. You can black out the name and look at the line of dialog and know who is saying it.

You can watch the full panel courtesy of The Paley Center below (via Facebook) :

PFLA 2018 | The Orville Cast + Creatives

Hey, The Orville fans! Have FOMO about missing out on the #PaleyFest event with the cast & creative team? Fear no more. Watch the FULL PANEL here on our Facebook page.

Posted by The Paley Center for Media on Saturday, March 17, 2018

Red carpet interviews show love for Spock

A few media outlets were on hand to do interviews on the blue carpet. When asked if they’d like to see a Star Trek or Star Wars character on The Orville both Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson) and Mark Jackson (Isaac) said they’d like to meet a certain half-Vulcan science officer.


I gotta tell ya something, this is a really nerdy thing, but Spock… I just always loved him.


I think Spock would be quite nice to turn up. I think Isaac and Spock would have some interesting conversations.

Jackson also gushed about fellow actor behind the mask Doug Jones:

I think he’s phenomenal, he’s made it [acting through makeup] an art form. I take great inspiration from him.

Okudas give thumbs up to the production design

As part of an Academy of Television event, also held on Saturday, the producers and department heads of the show were on hand to talk The Orville and give a set tour. Star Trek production department alumni, and all around Treksperts Mike and Denise Okuda were there and tweeted out their approval of the bridge design and interface graphics.

Designer shows off concept art

Concept artist Matt Tkocz put a few of his designs for The Orville on Twitter last week. In them you can see a 3D rendering of a shuttlecraft, and then a few different possibilities for the design of the USS Orville.

Cast and crew social media bits: ‘Jeopardy!’ edition

The Orville showed up on an episode of the venerable game show Jeopardy! last week, which Seth MacFarlane took as a sign the show had finally made the big time.

Production on the second season continues, as can be seen from this Instagram post from MacFarlane on location, on a beach in Malibu, CA last Friday.

Today’s location for #TheOrville

A post shared by Seth MacFarlane (@macfarlaneseth) on

The Orville visual effects coordinator Ashley Samour showed off her (unofficial) “Seth Trek” hoodie, from the Television Academy set visit event on Saturday.

If you are looking for licensed The Orville apparel or coffee mugs, there are handful of selections available at the official Fox Shop.

The Orville command shirt in black


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I love The Orville and it’s been so refreshing having moralilty stories with social commentary, jokes and generally a light and colourful feel available to watch in 2018, where the rest of television series seem to follow the trend of being dark and gritty for no reason and thoughtless clutching-at-straws story telling. And not a lens flare in sight! I hope this wonderful series makes 7 seasons. I would pay hand over fist for the box set. I love all Star Trek series up until Voyager. Enterprise I can tolerate but when a franchise visually reboots and undoes the hard-work of other productions that came before to try to bring everything together, I find it disrespectful. There’s so much about Discovery I like… but Orville ticks so many more boxes for me – beautiful score, beautiful shots of ships, exploring new planets and a up-beat positive energy. Forgive me, but after a long day at work, I like to watch something that leaves me up-lifted. I watch The Walking Dead, love it, hell – even an apocalyptic zombie show leaves me with more of a warm and fuzzy faith in mankind…

I totally agree, Glenn. I understand it’s cool now to be dystopian, and somehow “dark” is considered better. I think it always takes a lot more courage to 1) go against the popular trend; and 2) to be positive instead of negative.
As Spock said in Wrath of Khan, “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy that to create.”
Thank you Seth, for courageously filling the dark void that passes for science fiction on TV these days with light.

Very well put, Glenn. This show always leaves me feeling good at the end of every episode – that’s not an easy thing to find these days. And the cast and team behind it are top-notch, imo.

I like the show too, Glenn. I’ve said before it works much better when it is lighter. I like dark and gritty as much as the next guy. But there is room for Orville at the table too.

“The basis of your series is the galaxy, there should be a lot of ideas out there.”

Yes, there should a lot of ideas out there. Mayeve even enough to make an original show rather than a copy/paste version of another show… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My thoughts exactly — if there are so many ideas out there, why did they insist on rehashing every idea Star Trek had already done?

Like you rehashing the comment above you?

LOL! You got the point ewrwe :)

There are legitimate criticisms to be made about The Orville, but lack of originality is not one of them. The style and tone of the show are as original as one could reasonably ask for. To criticize The Orville for covering premises, themes and tropes that have been employed in past works is like criticizing GOODFELLAS for being “another mafia movie” or BIRDMAN as “another movie about a man wrestling with his own ego” or INGLORIOUS BASTERDS as “another movie about how the Nazis were bad” or DSC as “another TV show about people on a spaceship.” Truly original dramatic works are few and far between. One might even argue that there hasn’t been any such thing since the plays of the Ancient Greeks. What’s important is whether a new work adds value to whatever premise, theme or trope it employs. And The Orville clearly passes that test. Love it or hate it, there’s nothing else quite like this dramady sci-fi TV show.

Excellent point. There’s nothing new under the Sun, as the old, much-used saying goes. Originality is much over-rated. What counts is can you make interesting music with the same seven notes and the same octaves that we all have to use. I love this show. I hope we’ll see more exploration and less warring. War is much too with us these days. I’d like to see a theme where the earliest space explorers, the First Ones, billions of years more advanced than us and almost god-like, now numbering in the hundreds-of-trillions in population, have simply quarantined any up-coming species from becoming a space-faring society until they’ve cleaned up their own planet-destroying, warring ways, and work undercover to help this happen for such unfortunate species trapped in war. As a consequence, such an advanced race has given rise to all of the myths of gods and goddesses throughout the Galaxy, gradually morphing into the ETs, as the society they are helping, advances in their own understanding of what is going on. They don’t have a Prime Directive, but understand that the more-primitive society has to learn the lessons themselves, so-long as they don’t go too far off the rails into utterly catastrophic failure and self-annihilation.

@kitbashcanon — there’s a big difference between being limited to 7 notes (12 really in Western music but who’s counting) and composing a beautiful new song, and taking those same 7 notes and using them to sound like another popular song written by somebody else because they like it so much. And that’s what ORVILLE is doing, like it or not. And to add insult to injury, they’re bragging about it — which invites the criticism.

Cygnus, that was perfectly said. Thumbs up.

I’ve seen the failed pilot, and I really dig Gal Gadot, but maybe that should have given the Adrianne Palicki version of Wonder Woman another shot. Wow! She looks great up there.

Ok, I just looked her up in that bad wig they gave her for the role. Never mind.

They just needed to TOTALLY re-write the script. That script was not Wonder Woman at all.

Apparently we’re back to an era where there are two simultaneous new Star Trek (or Star Trek-like) TV programs in production, and running in the same year.

How fun!

There was a brief era in the ’90s where you had DS9 and either TNG/VOY, and Babylon 5, and Tek Wars.

Before TNG overlapping with DS9/B5, there was SPACE RANGERS living alongside TNG briefly (hey, there was one good episode with BANSHEES, and decent camaraderie in all of them) too.

Right now I think I’m most interested in the Ron Moore show for Apple that is about an alternate contemporary where the Russians never quit doing their Socialist shtick and the cold war kept going … ideally that will be a near-literal adaptation of Ben Bova’s late 70s novel MILLENNIUM, which is something I spent a decade wishing and praying to get a chance to do myself as a film.

Kmart, do you watch The Man In The High Castle on Amazon Prime? According to your last comment, that show may be something you’d be interested in. Very good show.

Yep, very much enjoyed both seasons (watched it all twice through already), though the novel never really did it for me.

wasn’t Space; Above and Beyond and also Dark Skies playing about that same time in the 90s?

More recently we had BSG and Stargate Atlantis going at the same time.

Plus “Lost in Space” and “Galaxy Quest” are coming, too… :-)

How CBS allows this unashamed copy to exist is beyond me. It’s copyright infringement.

All you got to do is look back to the Galactica vs Star Wars suit to realize there’s always a defense pointing out how much the earlier version ripped from something else (in that instance, one of the contested elements was about how much Star Wars ripped from other sources, including the known info about R2 being based somewhat on SILENT RUNNING’s little drones (RUNNING being, like GALACTICA, a Universal property.) With Trek, you can always say

TOS ripped several key things from FORBIDDEN PLANET … there’s a cut scene from FP that is essentially just a good Kirk/McCoy scene, and THE BEDFORD INCIDENT had a scene with the young officer being pushed too hard by his CO that is mirrored in CORBOMITE, and CORBOMITE’s earlier drafts also had a higher-ranking guy on the ship observing Kirk’s approach to command critically, which was also a component in BEDFORD, which had an ex-Nazi, now NATO Commodore, U-boat skipper advising Capt. Finlander, played by Richard Widmark.


It’s almost incredible that 20th Century Fox would sue over Battlestar Galactica, given that STAR WARS lifted as much, if not more from TOS and other sci-fi, as even George Lucas has admitted. SW’s proton torpedoes vs. TOS’s photon torpedoes is not just a coincidence. And SW obviously didn’t invent faster-than-light travel, either. Though, I’m curious as to whether Lucas got it from TOS’s warp speed, or from an even older sci-fi variation on that concept. “The Cage” had time warp, which was later changed to warp speed in series, possibly owing to the “folding space” conceit in Dune (1965).

Speaking of folding space and copyright infringement, I don’t hear James saying the Estate of Frank Herbert should sue CBS and DSC for ripping off Dune for the spore drive…

Good point about Dune. David Gerrold famously ripped off Heinlens flat cats too.

What is infringing, James? Almost everything in The Orville can trace to more than just Star Trek. CBS would have a really hard time making such a claim stick.

It’s a carbon copy of TNG. I’ve heard that CBS put their foot down over plans for the Orville to have a transporter.

not having a convenient beamout is a huge saving grace, I hate that easy out with a passion

Heard where? Actual source, please.

That said, I’m glad it doesn’t have one.

I’d argue that it’s not a carbon copy of TNG at all, other than it’s on a brightly-lit starship in a relatively advanced future (with an adversary that starts with a K). So far, I haven’t heard anyone droning on about humanity’s having evolved (which was a constant TNG refrain for a few seasons).

And it doesn’t really feel anything like the Trek universe, which is a pretty surprising accomplishment. It feels a little more like early TOS, in the sense that it’s quickly establishing this universe.

I honestly still think that if they just cut the fill light on the ORVILLE interiors by 50%, that the dread TNG look would be drastically curtailed, to the point that maybe even I could overlook it. But there’s a real trend toward being able to see into the shadows for the last couple of decades, instead of letting the shadow area of an image retain its mystery.

This isn’t just because of shooting on digital; if you look at contemporary filmstocks, they have a lot more latitude, so even shot-on-film stuff has this tendency to look more video-esque and less dramatic/cinematic. You really have to pursue a contrastier look, and when folks try these days, it is usually not on set, but in post, by pressing buttons, which does not achieve the same effect at all IMO. And ORVILLE’s alert scenes have the silly red light running around on a chaser overhead, making it look more like a casino or disco, but it doesn’t improve the sense of mood significantly, just adds to the business.

All you have to do is look at bridge scenes on DAY OF THE DOVE (Scotty telling Spock to “ship out, freak!”) after the power is cut (or parts of BALANCE OF TERROR) to see how limiting the ambient light and increasing contrast really makes a scene come alive. And you CAN achieve this even in a lighting situation like ORVILLE’s … look at TFF with its TNG-like bridge, all very mellow. But when they go on alert status, it transforms into a different-looking environment, making things seem more urgent (in a way that looked better than TNG going on alert), which is a way visuals can support the drama. (And you can compare TFF with TUC, where the very same bridge — after a battleship paint job — ALWAYS looks like things are in crisis, and how little change comes when the red alert turns on — it doesn’t up the action as much. It still looks sharp, though, except for those dumb stereo sliders on the helm.)

Back on your point, I think it would feel more like early TOS with moodier lighting. Not saying they need to rub vaseline on the lens when shooting a female, but a little bit of mystery/spooky feel when confronting the unknown would support the drama. The everyday quality of the visuals perhaps stresses the office-feel too much … but if they did a show where a guy was stuck in a spacesuit for an hour (GRAVITY on TV, anybody?), you could probably play light/dark contrasts really well.

How could CBS have known any plan for a transporter? CBS couldn’t do squat if The Orville had teleportation ability anyway. Star Trek isn’t the only show to ever have it, James.
So what in The Orville is a “carbon copy” of Star Trek that was exclusively Star Trek’s creation?


MacFarlane said in an interview posted at this site last year that it was his choice not to have a transporter because he felt it would be ripping off Trek. But, then he went ahead with a nearly identical version of the holodeck. That is a legitimate criticism. But, the show in toto is very different from TNG in its tone and style. Yes, the format is very similar. But, TOS didn’t invent it’s format, either, which derives ultimately from the 5-act play. Would you criticize GALAXY QUEST as a carbon copy of Trek? Obviously, they took certain concepts from Trek, and obviously they did very different things with those concepts in terms of tone and style. The same is true of The Orville.

Without Adrianne Palicki on board, I don’t think anyone will ever care for this series.

I’ll play Spock!! SETH!! SETH!!! SETH!!!!!! I have an audition tape on Instagram! CALL ME (he won’t call)!!!

I rewatched the Orville and Discovery pilots this week. Both were better than I remembered, but the Orville pilot was surprisingly polished. I think initially I was too focused on the few jokes (that had already been in the preview) to see the big picture, but it all worked surprisingly well. And the characters and universe were surprisingly well-developed for a pilot. In fact, I’d like to see more of that world-building (ex. the science planet) in future episodes. McFarlane, too, is better than I’d remembered.

I really like the show. I think the jokes mostly work and I like the idea that this isn’t the best ship in the fleet, but it’s not a Bad News Bears ship of losers either — it’s one of 3,000 good ships and everyone aboard is there is good at their jobs (personal foibles aside). The previews/trailers really emphasize just the jokes, but I don’t think the actual episodes do. And the jokes mostly make sense for the characters/situations — they make jokes, but they’re nit jokes themselves. It feels like a workplace in a lot of the same ways TOS did (complete with banter and a few stupid jokes). And that’s a compliment.

I think this could be a really great, even-smarter, show. I’d like to see it get better. I think it could be a little more real without getting entirely dark and dystopian.

And the Discovery pilot? I think it promised a better, more interesting show than we ended up getting. I hope they can muster up more of that energy — and get us some actual world-building.

@Jack — your opinion is yours, can’t argue with how you perceive it. However, I disagree completely that they need to move away from the comedy. I’d be curious for you to binge watch the entire season and get your reaction. What sets ORVILLE apart from Trek — which it is unquestionably trying painfully hard to imitate — is the comedy, specifically Seth MacFarlane’s comedy. But they have steadily moved away from what could give the show it’s unique identity, and allow myself and others to even tolerate MacFarlane in the lead role. But he doesn’t seem to share that vision, and as such drifts ever closer to this being a big budget vanity cos-play opportunity for himself. The more this show takes itself seriously, the more the casting seems inappropriate, and the more the seams start to show. And the more the jokes seem out of place.

FOX is unlikely to ever let the jokes go completely, but so far, in my opinion, this series just doesn’t work without them. The Pilot barely delivered on that concept, and FOX in all likelihood, hoped the show would get better and funnier. But MacFarlane took it the other direction. The ratings were in steady decline over the season, ending in a poor season finale showing. I’d attempt to tie that to the format change, but regardless, FOX can’t argue with the steady time-shift audience, and they can’t afford to lose MacFarlane — so they keep throwing money at this obviously expensive show to keep him happy, hoping he finds his groove, and gains, or at least retains his decent audience for syndication sales, if not first run network. So the second season is going to be very interesting.

The Orville’s combination of comedy, drama and sci-fi is one of the things that gives it a unique tone and feel. It’s also (IMO) the most challenging aspect of the show to execute well——having the characters be funny without snapping the audience’s suspension of disbelief. In earlier episodes especially, the jokes were coming at the expense of the credibility of the characters——If Mercer and Malloy are really this stupid and clueless, there’s no possible way that they could be operating that complicated spaceship, or ever have gotten to their positions, to begin with. That approach to humor on the show was problematic, and I’m glad that they began writing the humor to arise out of plot-related sci-fi conceits and character traits——such as Darulio’s (Rob Low) pheromones and their effects on the crew, Bortis’s strange culture, Isaac’s lack of human social skills, etc… However, the comedy/drama/sci-fi high-wire balancing act of The Orville that is so challenging to do right is one of the things that makes the show so exciting week to week. You really have no idea what to expect from one episode to the next. And how much of a “carbon copy” can a show really be if you have no idea what to expect from it?