The Orville is an American science fiction comedy-drama series created by and starring Seth MacFarlane that premiered on Sunday, September 10, 2017. New episodes aired Thursdays on Fox during the 2017–18 season. MacFarlane stars as Ed Mercer, an officer in the Planetary Union's line of exploratory space vessels whose career took a downturn following his divorce, and who is given the titular ship as his first command, only to discover that his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), has been assigned to be his First Officer. Inspired by the television series Star Trek, the series tells the story of Mercer, Grayson, and the crew of the Orville as they embark on various diplomatic and exploratory missions. On November 2, 2017, Fox renewed the series for a second season, which is expected to premiere late in the 2018–19 season.
|Created by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Theme music composer||Bruce Broughton|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||12 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Original release||September 10, 2017 – present|
The Orville is set on the titular U.S.S. Orville (ECV-197), a mid-level exploratory space vessel in the Planetary Union, a 25th-century interstellar alliance of Earth and many other planets.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.
|1||"Old Wounds"||Jon Favreau||Seth MacFarlane||September 10, 2017||1LAB01||8.56|
|25th-century Union command officer Ed Mercer divorces his wife, Kelly Grayson, after catching her cheating on him. A year later, he accepts a position as Captain of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level research vessel, and learns to his dismay that his ex-wife has been assigned as his First Officer. During the Orville's first mission, the hostile alien Krill captain (Joel Swetow) attempts to steal a device that accelerates time, which has both beneficial and dangerous applications. Mercer and Grayson rig the device to destroy itself and the Krill vessel.|
|2||"Command Performance"||Robert Duncan McNeill||Seth MacFarlane||September 17, 2017||1LAB03||6.63|
|The technologically advanced Calivon imprison Mercer and Grayson in a replica of their former home as a zoo exhibit. Alara is left in command of the Orville, as Bortus has laid an egg and must incubate it. Alara is unsure of herself, but gains confidence with the help of Claire's mentorship. Mercer and Grayson wonder if they could have made their relationship work, but finally conclude that they were never compatible for a long-term romantic relationship, despite their strong camaraderie. Admiral Tucker orders Alara to return to Earth instead of approaching the powerful Calivon; Alara violates these orders and rescues Mercer and Grayson, along with an alien child, by trading an archive of Earth's reality television for them. Mercer presents Alara with a medal of honor and believes he and Grayson can prevent her from being punished for insubordination. A female offspring hatches from Bortus' egg, stunning him and Klyden, as Moclan females are extremely rare.|
|3||"About a Girl"||Brannon Braga||Seth MacFarlane||September 21, 2017||1LAB04||4.05|
|When Doctor Finn refuses Bortus and Klyden's request to have their daughter undergo sex reassignment surgery, which is standard practice for Moclans on the very rare occasions when a female is born, the parents petition Mercer to order the procedure. Mercer refuses, as he (and the rest of the crew) object to performing such a procedure on a healthy infant, so Bortus and Klyden arrange to have the procedure performed on a Moclan vessel. Gordon and John change Bortus' mind by showing him Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but Klyden still wants to proceed, revealing that he was born female. The case is arbitrated on the Moclan planet, Moclus, where Grayson represents Bortus; she casts doubt on the idea of male superiority by demonstrating that Alara is physically strong and Gordon is stupid. Mercer locates a female Moclan of advanced years, Heveena, who testifies that she lived a happy and fulfilling life in seclusion, and reveals that under the pseudonym "Gondus Elden," she has become an esteemed novelist on Moclus. But Klyden and the tribunal are unconvinced, and the baby undergoes the surgery. Despite their disagreement, Bortus and Klyden are committed to one another and to giving their son, Topa, a good life.|
|4||"If the Stars Should Appear"||James L. Conway||Seth MacFarlane||September 28, 2017||1LAB02||3.70|
|The Orville encounters an immense, 2000-year-old derelict ship drifting into a star. Mercer, Grayson, Kitan, Finn, and Isaac enter, discovering an artificial biosphere and a civilization of 3 million who worship an entity called Dorahl, and do not know they are on a ship. Grayson is held prisoner by their theocratic dictator Hamelac, who imposes a death penalty on "Reformers" who believe anything exists beyond the known world. While Bortus takes the Orville to save a colony ship from a Krill attack, Grayson's crewmates rescue her and lead a group of Reformers to the alien ship's bridge. An ancient recording from Captain Jahavus Dorahl (played by Liam Neeson) reveals that it was a generation ship disabled by an ion storm. Isaac initiates repairs and opens the hull's window, enabling the populace to see stars for the first time, moving even Hamelac. Mercer makes arrangements for the Union to train the people to operate their ship. Meanwhile, Klyden is frustrated that Bortus' duties leave him little time for family.|
|5||"Pria"||Jonathan Frakes||Seth MacFarlane||October 5, 2017||1LAB05||3.43|
|The Orville saves Captain Pria Lavesque from her imperiled mining ship. The beautiful Pria charms Mercer and others of the crew, eventually sleeping with Mercer, his first romance since Grayson. Grayson is suspicious of Pria, whose supposed employer doesn't check out, and enlists Kitan to investigate; they find a mysterious device in her quarters, but Mercer reprimands them. Pria saves the Orville from a "dark matter storm," but later hijacks the ship, using the device. She is a time-traveling 29th-century artifact dealer; history records the storm destroyed the Orville, which she transports to the future via a wormhole for her client, a collector. Isaac transfers his consciousness to the ship's computer and reclaims control, enabling Malloy to return the Orville to its own time. Mercer orders the wormhole's destruction, despite Pria's admonition that it will retroactively erase their meeting and Mercer's emotional growth; Pria vanishes. Meanwhile, Malloy decorates Isaac like a Mr. Potato Head and encourages him to retaliate with his own practical joke, a concept unfamiliar to Isaac. Isaac anesthetizes Malloy and amputates his leg, forcing Dr. Finn to regenerate it; Malloy and the crew are outraged, but Malloy later admits that it was a great prank.|
|6||"Krill"||Jon Cassar||David A. Goodman||October 12, 2017||1LAB06||3.37|
|After recovering a Krill shuttle intact, Mercer and Malloy are ordered to pose as Krill soldiers in order to board one of their vessels and get a copy of the Ankhana, a sacred religious text. They are forced to change priorities when they learn that the Krill plan to detonate a powerful bomb over a remote Union colony. Rather than destroy the bomb, and therefore the ship, they exploit the Krill's natural weakness to sunlight to eliminate all the crew members, with the exception of a classroom full of children and their teacher Teleya, who warns Mercer that his actions will only reinforce the Krill's hatred for the Union.|
|7||"Majority Rule"||Tucker Gates||Seth MacFarlane||October 26, 2017||1LAB07||4.18|
|An undercover team led by Grayson lands on Sargas 4, an Earth-like planet with a culture similar to that of 21st-century human civilization, to locate two missing anthropologists. There, LaMarr is arrested after a video of him dancing with a beloved statue receives more than a million "down" votes, and must convince the public to pardon him or be subjected to "treatment" for his actions. Alara and Claire locate one of the missing, but find him in an irreversible lobotomized state. With LaMarr facing a final vote to determine his guilt, Mercer brings one of the planet's inhabitants, Lysella, aboard the Orville after she witnesses Alara's true appearance, and she explains about the "Master Feed", which Isaac is able to hack and upload doctored images of John, narrowly swinging the vote in his favor by generating sympathy for John, such as uploading images of John as a fat child or videos of him as a soldier reuniting with his dog. Now free, John and the others return to the ship and depart. The next day, Lysella decides against taking part in a public vote, contemplating the advice the Orville crew gave her about the difference between opinion and knowledge.|
|8||"Into the Fold"||Brannon Braga||Brannon Braga & André Bormanis||November 2, 2017||1LAB08||3.83|
|While traveling to a recreational planet in a shuttle, Isaac, Finn, and her sons Marcus and Ty fall into a spatial fold, and crash on a planet a thousand light-years away from their original location, devastated by famine and disease, and populated by cannibals. Finn is separated from the other three when the shuttle breaks in half while she is in the back carrying out repairs, and is captured by a survivalist named Drogen. While she works to escape, Isaac, who is unfamiliar with the care of human children, is forced to protect her sons while he tries to fix the shuttle's communication systems in order to send a distress signal. Ty becomes ill with the planet's indigenous disease. After Finn kills Drogen and reunites with the others, Isaac and Marcus hold off a large attack by the cannibals long enough for the Orville to rescue them. After Finn cures Ty's infection, Isaac tells her that, for all the faults he sees in the children, he still thinks of them fondly.|
|9||"Cupid's Dagger"||Jamie Babbit||Liz Heldens||November 9, 2017||1LAB09||3.69|
|The Orville is dispatched to mediate talks between two alien species, the Navarians and the Bruidians, who have been at a centuries-old stalemate over which race lays proper claim over the planet Lapovius. Also assigned to the matter is Darulio (Rob Lowe), the Retepsian whose affair with Grayson a year prior ended her marriage to Mercer, to scan an ancient artifact from the planet for DNA to reveal which species was the original inhabitant. Unbeknownst to the crew, Darulio secretes a sex pheromone as part of his mating cycle, which affects the crew resulting in trysts between Darulio and Grayson, Darulio and Mercer, and Finn and Yaphit. This incapacitates the affected officers, resulting in the Navarian and Bruidian delegates canceling the mediation, and a full-scale battle in orbit around the planet. The crisis is resolved when Darulio and Alara expose the ambassadors to a modified version of the pheromone, resulting in a temporary infatuation that prompts a ceasefire. DNA test results from the artifact reveal that the planet's inhabitants were common ancestors to both species, legitimizing a mutual claim to the planet. When Grayson asks Darulio if he was in heat a year ago, he only answers "maybe".|
|10||"Firestorm"||Brannon Braga||Cherry Chevapravatdumrong||November 16, 2017||1LAB10||3.32|
|When Lt. Payne is trapped beneath debris during a plasma storm, Alara's pyrophobia causes her to hesitate, and after he dies, she blames herself. Mercer declines her resignation and suggests she discover the cause of her pyrophobia. She learns from her parents (Robert Picardo and Molly Hagan) that, as an infant, her mother fell asleep cradling her when a fire broke out in the kitchen. Alara's cries woke her up just in time to save them both. Soon, the Orville encounters strange phenomena, including a scary clown, a giant spider that eats Malloy, and murderous versions of Finn and Isaac. It is revealed that Alara is in the holographic simulator, in a program she ordered Isaac to create to simulate any other potential fears she may have, and having Finn erase her short-term memory of having made the request to ensure an authentic reaction to the program. She completes the program, after which Mercer threatens to court martial her for invoking Directive 38 (allowing the Chief of Security to override the captain's clearance) so that no one could abort the simulation early, but decides to let Alara off easy, saying he was impressed by her ability to overcome every obstacle.|
|11||"New Dimensions"||Kelly Cronin||Seth MacFarlane||November 30, 2017||1LAB11||3.63|
|With Lt. Newton leaving the Orville, Mercer must find a new Chief Engineer. Although Yaphit is next in line for the position, Cmdr. Grayson discovers that LaMarr has been hiding intellectual gifts, stemming from wanting to be better accepted as a child growing up in his community. Grayson convinces Mercer to assign LaMarr to lead an engineering team assignment, in order to evaluate him as a candidate, but when Mercer learns that Grayson similarly pushed for Admiral Halsey to consider him for the Orville's captaincy, he becomes wracked with doubt and resentment, despite Grayson's insistence that he was granted his position on merit and Halsey's confirmation that Mercer's performance on the ship has borne this out. Meanwhile, the Orville encounters a thief with a cache of plasma rifles stolen from the Krill, who is killed when he passes into a region of two-dimensional space. To elude the thief's Krill pursuers, the Orville takes refuge in that region. When the protective quantum bubble around the ship begins to fail, LaMarr, initially daunted by being placed in a leadership position, rises to the occasion, and works with Yaphit to help the ship escape the realm, for which LaMarr is made Chief Engineer and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.|
|12||"Mad Idolatry"||Brannon Braga||Seth MacFarlane||December 7, 2017||1LAB13||3.54|
|Grayson leads a shuttle team that crashes on a suddenly appearing planet with a Bronze Age society. After leaving the crew discovers the planet phases in to our universe for a short time every 11 days as 700 years passes on the planet. They discover their first visit has resulted in a religion that worships Kelly Grayson and has grown into a theocracy resembling Earth's middle ages. Admiral Ozawa reprimands Mercer for omitting mention of the contamination, and orders no further contact with the planet. Mercer and Grayson defy this order by returning to the planet to inform the society's religious leader, of the truth, but a subordinate assassinates him. As a result, by the time the planet next appears, its society is comparable to early 21st century Earth, with religious bickering and strife. Resolving to end the suffering, Isaac stays on the planet when it phases out, spending 700 years with them. When the planet emerges again, it has progressed to interstellar space travel, and two of its representatives return Isaac to the Orville where they inform the crew that despite the tumultuous effect of his arrival on the planet, its society developed away from worshiping Cmdr. Grayson naturally and suggested that when they progress millennia ahead, they may study the Union.|
MacFarlane originally wrote The Orville as a spec script, which was given a 13-episode order by Fox on May 4, 2016, making it the first live-action television series created by MacFarlane, as well as his first live-action starring role on television. Following the project's greenlight, MacFarlane stated, "I've wanted to do something like this show ever since I was a kid, and the timing finally feels right. [...] I think this is gonna be something special." According to MacFarlane, The Orville was inspired by The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. He was also encouraged to sell the series due to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.
On November 2, 2017, Fox renewed the series for a second season. On November 15, it was reported that episode thirteen of season one would be held back and instead air during the second season due to a gap in broadcast dates caused by the broadcaster's lengthy Christmas programming.
On July 29, 2016, MacFarlane's role was revealed to be Ed Mercer, the captain of the Orville, while Adrianne Palicki had been cast as Kelly Grayson, Ed's ex-wife and the newly appointed first officer of the Orville, and Scott Grimes, who voices Steve Smith on American Dad! (another show created by MacFarlane), was cast as Gordon Malloy, Ed's best friend whom he hires to pilot the Orville. On August 19, Peter Macon and J Lee were cast as series regulars. On October 31, Halston Sage and Penny Johnson Jerald joined the cast. On December 8, Mark Jackson was cast. On April 3, 2017, Chad L. Coleman was added as a series regular and Larry Joe Campbell was cast in a recurring role.
At San Diego Comic-Con in July 2017, MacFarlane said that Charlize Theron would guest-star in an episode. The two had previously co-starred in A Million Ways to Die in the West. The Orville episode 5, titled "Pria", is the one in which Theron guest-starred.
On August 24, 2016, Jon Favreau signed on to direct the pilot. Production on the pilot episode began in late 2016, and the rest of the episodes began filming on March 27, 2017. Production wrapped on August 23, 2017. Star Trek veterans Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill, who have directed episodes within the Star Trek franchise, have each directed an episode of The Orville. Four episodes were directed by Brannon Braga, Producer of Star Trek: Voyager and Co-Creator of Star Trek: Enterprise. Filming for the second season begins in February 2018.
The show uses a 75-piece orchestra for the music in each episode, alongside several different composers. MacFarlane said "We score it like a movie" and "We really put as much into that as we do into the effects."
The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 20% approval rating, with an average rating of 4.57/10 based on 41 critic reviews. The website's consensus reads, "An odd jumble of campiness and sincerity, homage, and satire, The Orville never quite achieves liftoff." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 36 out of 100, based on 21 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Liz Miller writing for IndieWire compared the series to Star Trek, calling it a rip-off and "Creatively, Morally, and Ethically Bankrupt". She criticized the lack of creativity, the blatant imitation, and was surprised that the show is "uninterested in being a comedy".
Tim Surette at TV Guide says, "The truth is, The Orville was never going to win over critics because it's a throwback and goes against everything modern television is. It's not that The Orville doesn't know what it wants it to be, as critics assume, it's that it wants to be a little bit of everything".
Erik Kain of Forbes gave a positive review of the show with the observation that "All the optimism and sincerity and lightheartedness of Star Trek is here, and in many ways it's kind of wonderful. I'm honestly surprised something like this exists." He says the critics were wrong and suggests their opinions are based on disliking MacFarlane and his type of humor.
In the October 15, 2017, episode of The Angry Joe Show, "The Orville Mid-Season Angry Review", host Joe Vargas noted the gulf between the response to the series among critics and viewers, contrasting the Rotten Tomatoes' 19% approval rating from professional critics to the 91% viewer approval rating. Vargas compared this to Star Trek: Discovery, which received an 83% rating from critics, and stated "Star Trek fans – at least the ones that watch my show – like The Orville way more than they like Star Trek: Discovery". Tim Surette of TV Guide also wrote about the critic-to-viewer Rotten Tomatoes rating, noting the balance had shifted to 21/93, and that its Metacritic score was 36% approval from critics, and 82% from viewers. As a critic himself, Surette notes that, as a throwback, The Orville is an anomaly in modern television, and found showrunner David A. Goodman's admission that MacFarlane wants to vary between dramatic and comedic episodes a potentially dangerous strategy, but concedes that the show's viewers appear to like it for that reason.
After its premiere on Sunday, September 10, 2017, the show moved to Thursday nights at 9 p.m. In its first broadcast in the new time slot, The Orville became Fox's highest rated Thursday 9 p.m. broadcast in two years. After taking into account DVR and VOD, The Orville was Fox's most-viewed drama debut since the premiere of Empire in 2015.
|1||"Old Wounds"||September 10, 2017||2.7/9||8.56||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2||"Command Performance"||September 17, 2017||2.2/8||6.63||0.9||2.42||3.1||9.05|
|3||"About a Girl"||September 21, 2017||1.1/4||4.05||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|4||"If the Stars Should Appear"||September 28, 2017||1.1/4||3.70||1.0||3.11||2.1||6.81|
|5||"Pria"||October 5, 2017||0.9/3||3.43||1.2||3.35||2.1||6.79|
|6||"Krill"||October 12, 2017||1.0/4||3.37||1.1||3.32||2.1||6.69|
|7||"Majority Rule"||October 26, 2017||1.2/5||4.18||1.1||3.11||2.3||7.29|
|8||"Into the Fold"||November 2, 2017||1.0/4||3.83||1.0||2.89||2.0||6.72|
|9||"Cupid's Dagger"||November 9, 2017||1.0/4||3.69||1.1||3.01||2.1||6.70|
|10||"Firestorm"||November 16, 2017||0.9/3||3.32||1.0||2.83||1.9||6.13|
|11||"New Dimensions"||November 30, 2017||0.9/3||3.63||1.0||2.86||1.9||6.49|
|12||"Mad Idolatry"||December 7, 2017||0.9/4||3.54||1.0||2.97||1.9||6.53|