Interview: Tom Costantino And David Goodman On How ‘The Orville’ Season 3 Will Be A “Barn Burner”

It has been a while since we have done an update on our adopted show, The Orville. To help us out, TrekMovie reached out to two members of The Orville team: senior editor and co-producer Tom Costantino, and executive producer and writer David Goodman. The pair gave an update on the paused production, how the move to Hulu impacts season 3, and much more.

Working on production restart plan

Last year at At SDCC, it was announced that The Orville would be moving to Hulu for its third season. No date was set, but the original plan was to premiere by the end of 2020, with episodes dropping weekly. The 11-episode third season went into production last October, but due to the Hollywood shutdown, production had to be halted, and still remains on hold. The delay in production will likely impact that late 2020 target, but no definitive decisions have been made.

According to Goodman and Costantino, they were around halfway through shooting the season when they shut down, but that doesn’t mean half the episodes are in the can; the show was being filmed using “cross-boarding,” meaning that scenes from various episodes were filmed (based on specifics like locations, actors, etc.), as opposed to shooting each episode one at a time. The Orville creator Seth MacFarlane and executive producer Jon Cassar are sharing directing duties, dividing up the eleven episodes between them.

Last month as a guest on The Tonight Show, MacFarlane talked about how the show shut down in the middle of filming an episode, and joked that when it eventually airs you will see actors go from one scene to the next suddenly having gained 20 pounds and new beards. Goodman assured TrekMovie that that MacFarlane was joking, adding “I have no doubt this cast will be in shape when we get back to work.”

EXCLUSIVE: A behind-the-scenes look at The Orville season three in production (Photo: Tom Costantino)

The team is currently developing a plan to restart production, but as of this week, they still don’t know when. Costantino tells TrekMovie, “Everybody hopes at some point soonish, but who knows?” Even though restrictions on film and television production in Los Angeles are being lifted soon, there are still many logistics to be worked out. Goodman points out there are a lot of things to consider as they move forward:

“There are lots of conversations going on at this moment, but nobody has made a hard decision on return to work. We want to get back to work as soon as we can, but we want to do it safely. And whatever strictures are in place, we don’t want them to get in the way of the show we want to make.”

Goodman reports that the writers had mostly finished writing all the scripts before production started, and as of now, there are no plans to make any changes. And just like on Star Trek: Discovery, the post-production team is working remotely. Costantino explains how that process has evolved:

“We are able to function. We are able to get things into the pipeline to clear up time. It is a lot of engineering. We are doing everything we can, but eventually, we will have to wait for more footage, but this is a valuable time to get things going…Everybody is learning in real time. It is interesting. I am learning a lot. Everything feels like that scene in Apollo 13: ‘We’ve got to find a way to make this fit into the hole for this…using nothing but that.’ And you make it happen.”

Tom Costantino with other members of The Orville post-production team

The same show, but bigger (and longer)

Moving the show from broadcasting on the Fox Network to streaming on Hulu is a pretty big deal.  However, Goodman says the move isn’t really resulting in a fundamental change for The Orville, except one thing:

“It hasn’t changed. What being on Hulu does is allows more freedom. The way Seth runs the show, we take the idea where it takes us. We talk about the episode we want and show we want to do and we write it, and then we produce it. And what Hulu allows us is, once it is produced, we don’t have to be as worried about length. So, there will be a variety of lengths. It allows us to leave some stuff in that we would have had to cut if we were on a network.”

Costantino, who is currently editing the new episodes, confirms that the run times are longer, coming in at “60 minutes plus” each so far.

And even though being on a streaming platform would allow for the show to move in a more adult direction with more mature content and language, Goodman says they are still mostly sticking with the way they have written the show all along:

“We want people who watched this show in the first two seasons to see the same show. Maybe it’s evolving into a third season, but not changing people’s expectations of what the show is. Maybe occasionally we will use a word we couldn’t use on the network, but in general, this is the show the fans will recognize and like.”

Both producers were enthusiastic when talking about the scale of season three. Costantino tells TrekMovie, “We have some new stuff in store. It will still be the show you love but there will be more, and bigger and better, and still the same.” Goodman added:

“This season is a barn burner. Our biggest episode last year, “Identity, Part 2,” would be considered one of the smaller episodes of season three. We’re going all the way. This season looks big, great stories. I am really excited about it. And that’s genuine. We are doing amazing stuff this year.”

David Goodman on The Orville bridge set (Photo: David Goodman)

Still episodic, but paying off for regular fans

The Orville‘s first two seasons followed a similar formula as the show’s inspiration Star Trek: The Next Generation, in terms of each episode standing on its own and not relying on serialization. This won’t be changing. “We are not serialized, we are never serialized. The whole point of the show is you can turn it on and be up to speed right away,” says Goodman.

But Goodman also makes clear that long-term fans will still be rewarded: “If you are a fan of the show, you are going to see things that are payoffs for being a fan.” He gave some more details on how that plays out in the new season:

“This season, without being serialized, we are going to be paying off some great character stuff that has been set up in the first two seasons. In that sense, the show ends up having more depth in the world. Our world is getting filled out, both on a personal level and also the galactic political level. We are really filling in the world this season and learning more about our characters and the worlds they come from.”

One of the major storylines in season two dealt with Isaac and the Kaylon, the robot race that tried to wipe out all organic life. When pressed on if they will be following up, Goodman quipped, “Certainly we set up a conflict with the Kaylon, and we would be remiss if we didn’t pay it off.”

The Orville actors Jessica Szohr, Chad Coleman and Peter Macon at a season 3 table read (Photo: Tom Costantino)

New actress and a Trek artist join the team for season 3

In addition to the move to Hulu, the third season of The Orville will involve a few changes. Actress Anne Winters (Tyrant, 13 Reasons Why) has joined the cast as a regular, playing a character named Charly Burke. The Orville has seen its share of Star Trek veterans as guest stars, but neither producer would confirm the pattern will continue in season three, except for Costantino saying, “It’s definitely on the wish list.”

Behind the scenes, Star Trek veteran Doug Drexler has joined The Orville art department. Regarding this new hire, Tom tells TrekMovie, “We have an amazing art department and Doug has only enhanced it even further. He’s bringing a little more grounding to some of the technologies.” As for the writers’ room, Goodman says it remains mostly the same, including Trek vets Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis. (Joe Menosky, who joined for season two, has moved on to a new project.) They have added Emmy-winner Dan O’Shannon (Modern Family, Better Off Ted) and Andi Bushell (Agent Carter).

Anne Winters has joined The Orville for season 3

Not comparing themselves to new Star Trek

Even though The Orville is a clear homage to Star Trek: The Next Generation and employs a number of Star Trek vets behind the scenes, the producers don’t see themselves in competition with any of the new CBS Star Trek series. Like many on the team including MacFarlane himself, both Costantino and Goodman are Trek fans at heart themselves. “We don’t compare ourselves to [the new Star Trek shows]. I am not interested in that. I love Star Trek and all forms of Star Trek,” says Costantino. Goodman adds:

“We certainly watch those shows, but it doesn’t influence us. We are doing a very different show than they are. The Orville is very different from Discovery, it is very different than Picard. I can’t wait to see the Pike show [Star Trek: Strange New Worlds]. I am so excited for it. That cast is great. But we are not commenting on them, one way or another, because we are just doing a different show. Everybody knows where we draw a lot of our inspiration from, and the kind of show we want to do. It’s like if you were writing for Law and Order and somebody asks you if you are influenced by The Wire. I don’t think so. They are police genre shows, but they are completely different. And that is how I look at The Orville and the new Star Trek shows.”

Hoping for more, but prepared just in case

With any show, you never know what the future holds, or if there will even be a future; Hulu has yet to commit to a fourth season of The Orville.  Goodman assures that in case season three is the end, the show will end with a satisfying finale:

“Since we are not serialized, we always do a season finale that feels like if it is our last episode, that is great. If you look at our two season finales, if those were our last episodes, in both cases you would feel they worked as a last episode. And that is always what we do, make people feel like they got to the end of the season and you have a finality to the end of the season. But we didn’t in any way close off any possibility to another season.”

David Goodman on The Orville set with Seth MacFarlane and EP Brannon Braga (Photo: David Goodman)

Keep up on The Orville with Tom and David

You can keep up with both Tom Costantino and David Goodman on Twitter. Tom regularly posts about The Orville, with David chiming in on the show periodically as well. Tom was posting some images while season 3 was still shooting, including a glimpse at the score being recorded.

Goodman mostly posts about The Orville as the series airs. A couple from when season 2 was airing are below, including one featuring a some familiar Star Trek faces.

Keep up with all The Orville news on TrekMovie.

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The Orville is on Hulu now. I would watch season 3 on Hulu. Hulu has some other really good shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Solar Opposites. Netflix is a little bit better but Hulu is not bad.

There is a lot going on in the world of Star Trek recently. From Picard to Strange New Worlds. It’s nice to know what The Orville crew are doing these days.

Maybe Hulu is a good thing for the show. Hopefully we get later it in 2020 and not 2021.

Hmm… could watch Netflix Lost in Space with some semi-hard sci fi where explorers deal with the unknown… could watch Star Wars Mandalorian with bounty hunters on a frontier with the unknown in the middle of a fight between good and evil… could watch some Marvel TV shows with action/adventure/excitement and situational comedy or I could watch a semi-comedy/semi-drama(???) where the future is blandness, free energy and all the aliens learning from how great we are on par with a show that was tired like a decade ago. Which will I pay to watch????

Netflix has The Umbrella Academy. The Mandalorian is on Disney+. Disney also has the Marvel TV shows. Star Trek is at CBS. The Orville is on Hulu.

Streaming has everything you want.

Don’t forget The Expanse on Amazon Prime. Arguably the best current sci-fi series.

You are right, thanks for the recommendation. Forgot still on but with Amazon. Good hard sci-fi is amazing.

The Expanse is amazing. Love that show.

I need to check out The Expanse. Perhaps it will fill the void left in me from what we’ve seen from Kurtzman-Trek thus far.

IMO The Expanse is very good, in fact it has won a lot of awards and is well worth watching – BUT be warned it is set in a future where humans have colonized the solar system and they are on the brink of planetary war. If you are looking for a utopian vision of the future, this may not be for you, but if you are looking for great science fiction and one that examines humanity, then you should definitely check it out. And who knows how everything will turn out!

Classic Trek had miners having to live in not so perfect conditions to get dilithium crystals while the Klingon Empire was getting away with invading peaceful worlds. Even powerful Constitution class starships met their doom pretty frequently. The Babel conference revealed even Federation allies had disagreements. A future where humans are trying to colonize the galaxy and are on the brink of constant war. Yet some how this action/adventure and having to learn and overcome challenges was enjoyable to watch (for some).
There is no way The Expanse with its semi-hard science fiction should scare away Trek fans, they can handle it even though no holodeck, transporters, phasers on stun or magic mushrooms. I’m just sad we can’t really build those 1g acceleration engines without some major nuclear explosions off a pusher plate.

Since this thread is on The Orville, I just want people to know The Expanse is NOT a light science fiction comedy/drama. I too think most fans of Star Trek will like it, probably quite a bit.

You are right, I know. Just, I don’t know. Makes me : (

I would not categorize Orville’s season 2 as light comedy drama. It was straight sci-fi drama. They all but dropped the comedy from it. Which, IMHO, was a gigantic mistake.

The Orville’s comedic drama label is in many ways connected to TOS. When I was a kid, even though there were some serious episodes The Trouble with Tribbles, Piece of the Action, Assignment Earth and others made for lighter fare and were by far my favorites. Now of course, not so much.

I love Trouble with Tribbles. Shows you can have fun on the frontier while still having free market traders and the Klingon’s infiltrate the Federation and try to poison an entire world. Situational comedy is the best (great leaders even use it to build up morale). If that was Orville, I’d watch.

The Trouble with Tribbles was the only one that really was pretty completely on the light side. A Piece of the Action comes close, but the other episodes just had comedic moments in them. That doesn’t make the episodes light by any means. Qpid had two really great and amusing moments. Both involving Worf. But I would not call that episode comedic or all that light.

I don’t love The Orville but I appreciate the void it’s trying to fill with optimistic sci-fi and for that reason it feels much more like Star Trek to me than the current CBS Star Trek. I think maybe it’s just not funny enough to grab me with the comedy, and just not smart/intriguing enough to grab me with the sci-fi drama. But I’m rooting for it as a huge TNG fan and I’ll check out the new Hulu season hoping it improves.

That said I don’t think the optimistic view or episodic structure is required for good Star Trek, but it is a part of its core. But I would still be down for serialized darker Star Trek provided it’s actually, you know, good smart character driven stuff, which I feel Discovery and Picard have failed at spectacularly, but The Expanse has completely excelled at. To make a Game of Thrones comparison, The Expanse reminds me more of Seasons 1-4 when the show was fully character driven, and surprising plot stuff still happen but it made sense and was informed my character. Whereas CBS Star Trek so far feels more like GoT Seasons 5-8 where the show started becoming far more plot driven with the characters becoming 2 dimensional and just doing what they had to for the plot to happen, and all that excessive unearned melodrama.

So yes, people who don’t like Kurtzman Trek, but are still interested in good serialized space sci-fi, check out The Expanse. I do not think you will be disappointed.

I only saw the first season of The Expanse. I liked it quite a bit. But for some reason the DVR never recorded the next season. Did it move to streaming right after season 1?

Seasons 1-3 were on SyFy and then they cancelled it. Amazon picked it up after that and Season 4 is currently streaming there along with the previous 3. I believe Season 5 is filming. Hopefully they’ll get to 9 seasons for all 9 books in the series.

Season 5 of The Expanse wrapped before COVID-19 closed things in Toronto.

It’s in post now.

Don’t know why my DVR did not keep recording it after the first season. I watched that first season then forgot about it. Then I heard it had been back but since I didn’t record the old episodes I never bothered to go back to check for ways to catch it.

The Expanse is not Trek-like, but it’s fantastic in my view.

My spouse likes it but finds it pretty grim and won’t binge it. I go back to watch episodes with them in small doses.

Naren Shankar is the EP/showrunner, and you may recall that he started out as a physicist science advisor on TNG. His first script credit as a writer was ‘Face of the Enemy’ which was in my view the really strong Troi episode ever. The Expanse’s ensemble populated with several strong women and diverse characters.

Good to know they wrapped filming. That means we should get the new season sooner than I thought.

And I had forgotten about Shankar’s connection to TNG. I’ve watched some interviews and convention stuff with him and he really knows his stuff. The show would not be the same without him.

I’m intrigued.

I’ve enjoyed The Orville, and I’m glad to know that they are starting to move towards returning to production.

That said, I have no idea where it will show up in Canada. Citytv had it from Fox, but BellMedia’s premium cable Sci-fi channel and OTT service crave would be a natural fit.

Yeah, I too am trying to find out where it will be up here in Toronto. I have yet to see any announcement.

I suspect it may be tricky for them to land a Canadian platform.

Citytv was a good broadcaster fit for the Orville, but they are owned by Rogers. Rogers, being a cable company at its roots, doesn’t have a streamer that would complement Hulu, and that premium cable niche is held by BellMedia’s CTV Sci-fi channel.

The thing is that BellMedia is very committed to the Star Trek franchise. All the series except TAS are on the Sci-fi channel, and they fill the bulk of the weekday evening schedule. OTT service crave has everything Trek. BellMedia is also now the principal owner (with the city of Toronto) and operator of Pinewood Studios Toronto where Discovery is produced.

So, the more I think about it the more I realize that BellMedia just might possibly have some delicate marketing and relationship issues to navigate if it contracts for The Orville in Canada.

Which leaves us with the possibility that the Canadian rights might be bundled in with global rights for another streamer.

There is no competition. Orville is the Trek we deserve.

Speaking for myself I watched the first season of Orville and I wasn’t impressed, too much of a rip-off of TNG. Some people are going to hate me here but I enjoyed the first season of Discovery more(major flaws and all)

I enjoy the Orville, and the more it strikes out its own path, as it did in season 2, the better.

I can agree Dvorak on preferring Discovery and Picard’s first seasons over the Orville’s, warts and all. The new Trek shows are taking risks which has been part of the franchise from the start.

What I can say is that despite being episodic, the Orville’s production model of writing the whole season first really has made it more coherent than any of the new Trek series – that are conceived to be serials.

There has got to be a learning in that which CBS and SH should take away.

”more it strikes out its own path” I like the sound of that. I might very well check out the second season now.

Dvorak, don’t bother. Season 2 it moved away from its own path to be more like TNG. At least the first season had jokes to separate them.

I didn’t find the humour a plus at all.

It’s sad when your pre-teen finds it cringy, and half the pop-culture references and jokes don’t mean anything to anyone under 35.

So, losing that and really digging into the fabric of their not really Trek-like society was worth watching for me.

The humor wasn’t for everyone it seems. I found that most of the gags landed. The thing is, the humor was what made it NOT TNG. That was their thing. Without it, it’s just a TNG clone. Like just another cop or doctor show. It’s just repetitive. But if someone really loved TNG and missed it then season 2 of Orville was for them. I found that I missed the jokes. Without them, the show was pretty flat.

I think Orvile struck out on it’s own path in season 1. When they tried to mix a lot of comedy in. I thought then they needed to move a little more to the comedy side as THAT was the only thing that differentiated it from TNG. Sadly, in season 2, they all but dropped the comedy and it became a boring TNG clone. Virtually identical. It was OK to watch but having lost the element that made them unique it was a lesser show. I will not subscribe to Hulu for a TNG clone. Hulu just isn’t worth it. I can’t think of anything on that service that is any good.

But TNG was better surely then.
Orville cant be taken seriously..

The Orville is a different flavor of Trek but not real Star Trek.

10x THIS!!!
Seth knows and understands Star Trek. And he has quality people around him, like Brannon Braga.

The “real” Star Trek shows, however, are mostly concerned with other modern shows and think “Hey, how can we make a GoT in space… with familiar characters and names?!”

Looking forward to seeing what the show looks like for S3 although I am not so sure where it will be up here north of the border. I assume on Hulu but will have to check who has the rights (City-TV?). Production values will obviously be improved and I assume the music along with other post production upgrades will be made. Good to see the producers totally separate themselves from Picard, SNW and Discovery but are still excited to see the series on CBSAA. I personally do the same and like both as well. Let’s hope they can open up production again soon – sadly case numbers are starting to rise after the re-openings started and the protests, although important to a lot of people, unfortunately may also adversely impact numbers in about a week or two. Hopefully that doesn’t shut things down again. The fact that they are shooting the season “cross boarding” means they probably have zero episodes in the can. Still hoping we get to see the start of S3 before the end of the year.

Loved the first two seasons, and am very much looking forward to the third.

” Everybody knows where we draw a lot of our inspiration from, and the kind of show we want to do.”

Which is TNG v2 (or v5 if you include Voyager and Enterprise).

” It’s like if you were writing for Law and Order and somebody asks you if you are influenced by The Wire. I don’t think so. They are police genre shows, but they are completely different. And that is how I look at The Orville and the new Star Trek shows.”

But, again, essentially you’re very much a copy of TNG, using a different name.

Sorry, I saw TNG and am rewatching it and I’m just not interested in seeing Brannon Braga and Seth McFarlane doing it all over again with the Orville. In a way, I think it’s kind of insulting.

What about the UK Fans will we get Season 3