News

Seth MacFarlane Shares His Love of Space-Based TV As He Beams Up to The Orville

The creator and star talks about classic Star Trek, new aliens, and taking sci-fi seriously while having fun.

by | September 7, 2017 | Comments

The Orville may look like a Star Trek spoof from the creator of Family Guy and Ted, but Seth MacFarlane takes fun sci-fi seriously.

MacFarlane is a huge fan of episodic sci-fi, particularly Star Trek: The Next Generation, which frequently found humor in the mission-to-mission foibles of its motley crew. But TV doesn’t offer much high-profile space adventure with a lighthearted touch right now, especially with the recent cancellation of Syfy’s Dark MatterThe Expanse on that same network stays true to its literary source material and offers heavy-duty genre drama. Even the highly anticipated CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery is a more grim and gritty war story with lots of phasers and explosions.

Early trailers of The Orville reminded many of beloved 1999 film Galaxy Quest, a comedy starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and the late Alan Rickman about the cast of a Next Generation–like TV series that, through an alien cultural disconnect, gets caught up in an intergalactic war.

MacFarlane has said that the film wasn’t an influence, however.

“The intent of that movie was to be a full-on comedy,” he said during the Television Critic’s Association press tour in August. “As a result, the stakes, in terms of science fiction and the parables of science fiction, weren’t really something that needed to be taken all that seriously.”

Though it also aims for the funny bone, The Orville is something different and more earnest in its space comedy — a brightly colored show about the daily life of a spaceship crew.

Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) gets his last shot at captaining a spaceship when the Orville needs a leader. Only problem is: His ex-wife Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) has been made his first officer. Between Mercer’s one-liners and quirky crew members (one lays an egg in episode 2), The Orville serves up plenty of jokes, yet the missions are life or death, and both Mercer and the show acknowledge the stakes.

The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau directed the pilot, and each week the Orville crew boldly go where great sci-fi shows haven’t gone in a while — and some new places all their own.

MacFarlane, a tad hoarse from a day of filming (that includes acting and producing) and speaking to reporters, talked to Rotten Tomatoes about the show’s unique tone.


Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Was acting always your dream when you started out creating animated shows?

Seth MacFarlane: Not necessarily, no. It never was a foregone conclusion that had to be part of it.

RT: Why did you decide you had to star in The Orville?

MacFarlane: A: because it was just too much fun not to, and B: because I really wanted to straddle the tone that was both funny and earnest. It requires a love for comedy and a love for the genre and the willingness to be openly earnest and sincere in a Maria Von Trapp way.

RT: What were some ideas Jon Favreau had that really helped you realize your vision?

MacFarlane: Jon was all about tone. The pilot needed to set a tone that dealt with both the drama and the comedy. There’s really no other director in town who could’ve handled that as well as Jon. Jon is a master of tone. It was nice to be working with someone who had been through the writing/directing/acting gauntlet.

RT: Is there a workplace comedy aspect to The Orville also?

MacFarlane: There is, yeah. That’s what I always loved about the best days of Star Trek was it felt more like people working in an office than a military crew on a ship.

RT: Is Kelly looking out for Ed more than he ever knows?

MacFarlane: I think so. I think they’re both looking out for each other but certainly in the pilot.

RT: Will he start to clue into that?

MacFarlane: We do deal with that in season 1.

RT: Are the Krill your big bad guy?

MacFarlane: One of them.

RT: But are they like your Klingons who are always out there?

MacFalrane: There’s a very specific element to the Krill that I think makes them very unique that is revealed in our sixth episode. They’re different from the Klingons because of this one thing. I can’t tell you what it is, but you find out. It’s a very specific element to their species that allows us to tell very specific stories.

RT: Did you do the designs for the aliens?

MacFarlane: No, that’s all Howard Berger, our makeup designer.

RT: How did it work? You told him what you wanted and he came to you rather than presenting him sketches?

MacFarlane: Here and there. Most of the time I would say, “Come up with a really cool design and let us build a character around it.” It’s worked both ways.

RT: Did you insist on having a full title sequence to introduce each actor and the characters they play, and even printing the title of the episode on screen?

MacFarlane: Yeah, I miss that, and I think it’s good showmanship — the things that shows used to do to respect the viewer and would say, “Hey, somebody took the time to put on a show and this is that show. It’s not just filling an hour of time between commercials on a network.

RT: Does that cut about a minute out of your show?

MacFarlane: We haven’t really had too many problems. We found that our shows have actually been pretty close to length. We lucked out.


Tag Cloud

President 2015 San Diego Comic-Con historical drama spy thriller Superheroe discovery game of thrones FOX Starz book politics TCA spider-man breaking bad quibi psycho movie Paramount Network Calendar Family unscripted ratings HBO The Purge Spike Adult Swim ESPN Year in Review Stephen King slashers Song of Ice and Fire technology Pop cinemax USA cancelled TV shows PBS Mary Tyler Moore Ovation facebook Fall TV name the review Warner Bros. Holiday NYCC spain cooking dc zombies YouTube TNT Sneak Peek Creative Arts Emmys Acorn TV Kids & Family Interview versus Paramount werewolf Columbia Pictures Trophy Talk Amazon Prime SXSW 20th Century Fox Country docudrama Christmas IFC TCA 2017 Premiere Dates Tubi DC Universe documentary anime Rocketman Shondaland The Witch Dark Horse Comics The CW DirecTV Comedy Central Discovery Channel Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cars SundanceTV Crunchyroll Comedy Trivia Marvel 24 frames animated Superheroes independent 45 Musicals Star Trek screen actors guild Universal witnail scary movies Valentine's Day Animation Mary poppins comic Mystery Ellie Kemper Cosplay Biopics CBS All Access justice league talk show El Rey jamie lee curtis south america zero dark thirty mutant Bravo Logo crossover hispanic TCM Podcast miniseries Film Festival GIFs FX Amazon Marvel Television TLC Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Food Network Emmy Nominations CBS psychological thriller teaser ABC Family vampires Music Lifetime Disney Plus First Look franchise serial killer universal monsters The Arrangement Trailer Amazon Studios MSNBC festivals Election Vudu spanish language First Reviews boxoffice dragons Hulu Masterpiece OWN Sony Pictures Epix FXX harry potter video Oscars LGBT Rock blockbuster science fiction 2018 WGN Disney Fantasy kids 2020 adventure Certified Fresh directors Awards WarnerMedia Marathons Nominations binge travel Teen X-Men canceled TV shows Peacock New York Comic Con Awards Tour Character Guide Grammys Writers Guild of America Hallmark Lucasfilm free movies Hallmark Christmas movies MCU Netflix NBC Crackle Polls and Games sag awards Apple TV+ television Baby Yoda Toys dceu DC streaming service Brie Larson medical drama Martial Arts Winter TV BBC America Black History Month BET sequel comics indie 21st Century Fox AMC diversity MTV Film Endgame Britbox Pirates VH1 YouTube Red CNN Sundance Now streaming TV renewals DGA SDCC blaxploitation Academy Awards Disney+ Disney Plus renewed TV shows Set visit social media RT21 Pride Month Disney Channel aliens IFC Films zombie Action golden globes E3 cops Quiz Turner Esquire Black Mirror Video Games Thanksgiving Winners ITV batman green book dogs composers joker Photos Netflix Christmas movies Pet Sematary game show Captain marvel Syfy American Society of Cinematographers GLAAD TIFF Best and Worst comiccon Super Bowl Box Office Walt Disney Pictures series RT History what to watch cancelled TV series ghosts Emmys Extras singing competition TruTV Schedule Fox News Pixar Reality cats Horror LGBTQ doctor who nature GoT Cannes elevated horror Classic Film award winner true crime OneApp Nat Geo Drama Rocky Cartoon Network Holidays police drama 71st Emmy Awards Western thriller robots USA Network YouTube Premium HBO Max Heroines Summer Tomatazos Countdown Spring TV A24 sitcom Sundance TV History Amazon Prime Video Lifetime Christmas movies Television Academy ABC Avengers Star Wars movies Arrowverse reboot Musical Infographic Apple TV Plus revenge YA war 2017 Marvel Studios disaster E! Tarantino Red Carpet casting supernatural finale 2016 VICE TCA Winter 2020 Apple Comics on TV Nickelodeon period drama A&E See It Skip It rotten movies we love TV Reality Competition Mudbound Elton John cults Mary Poppins Returns canceled Disney streaming service reviews halloween CW Seed Women's History Month Anna Paquin toy story space Travel Channel tv talk TBS Freeform Spectrum Originals transformers adaptation Ghostbusters children's TV Tumblr political drama 2019 crime thriller Sundance based on movie latino Rom-Com Shudder foreign natural history Pop TV Chernobyl sports christmas movies romance Lionsgate FX on Hulu Turner Classic Movies stand-up comedy Mindy Kaling TV Land hist The Walking Dead cancelled anthology cancelled television Binge Guide 007 spinoff Watching Series mockumentary dramedy crime romantic comedy screenings APB strong female leads Opinion DC Comics Showtime PaleyFest richard e. Grant CMT Funimation theme song BBC biography Sci-Fi National Geographic crime drama Comic Book cartoon