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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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).
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.”
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.
— Tom Costantino (@TomCostantino) February 12, 2020
— Tom Costantino (@TomCostantino) February 21, 2020
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.
— David Goodman (@DavidAGoodman) April 12, 2019
All right, secrets out. Great days at #theorville watching @RobertPicardo and @JBillingsley60 work with @SethMacFarlane and our cast under the direction of @joncassar with a script by @cherrycheva. And I got this photo! pic.twitter.com/b73WuzEXwO
— David Goodman (@DavidAGoodman) January 11, 2019
Keep up with all The Orville news on TrekMovie.