The Orville is an American science fiction comedy-drama series created by and starring Seth MacFarlane that premiered on Sunday, September 10, 2017, with new episodes airing 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.
|Created by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Theme music composer||Bruce Broughton|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10 (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 as 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. Ed 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. Ed 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 a huge, 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 comes to the rescue of a mining ship. Grayson is suspicious of their new guest, Pria Lavesque (Charlize Theron), to whom Mercer is clearly attracted. Grayson's concerns are shown to have merit when Pria is discovered to be a time-traveling artifact dealer from the 29th Century. Pria claims to have rescued the Orville from a dark matter storm that would have killed them all, mainly so she could sell the ship to an artifact buyer in her own time. Meanwhile, Malloy's attempt to teach Isaac the concept of practical jokess backfires when Isaac anesthetizes Malloy and amputates Malloy's leg.|
|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 and learns about the "Master Feed", which Isaac is able to hack and upload doctored images of John, narrowly swinging the vote in his favor. Now free, John and the others return to the ship and depart. The next day, Lysella decides against taking part in a public vote.|
|8||"Into the Fold"||Brannon Braga||Brannon Braga & Andre 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 devastated by famine and disease, and populated by cannibals. Finn is separated from the other three and 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|
|Two alien species, the Navarians and the Bruidians, have been at a centuries-old stalemate over which race lays proper claim over the planet Lapovius. The Orville is dispatched to mediate talks between the two, hosting representatives from both species, as well as a forensic archaeologist who will scan an ancient artifact recently discovered on the planet for DNA that may reveal which species was the original inhabitant. The archaeologist turns out to be Darulio (Rob Lowe), the Retepsian whose affair Grayson a year prior ended her marriage to Mercer. Unbeknownst to the crew, the sex pheromone Darulio secretes as part of his mating cycle affect 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 the Navarians and Bruidians, 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|
|During a plasma storm, Lt. Payne becomes trapped under heavy debris from an explosion in Engineering. Alara attempts a rescue but becomes petrified of the fire standing in her way and fails to reach him in time. Alara is overcome with guilt and attempts to resign. Ed denies her request, suggesting instead that Alara attempt to discover the cause of her fear. Alara contacts her parents (Robert Picardo and Molly Hagan), who reveal that, when she was a baby, 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 tarantula that eats Gordon, and both Dr. Finn and Isaac turning evil. It's later revealed that Alara asked Isaac to create a program to simulate any other potential fears she may have. Although she faces a court martial for invoking Directive 38 (allowing the Chief of Security to override the captain's clearance) so that no one could abort the simulation early, Ed decides to let Alara off easy, saying he was impressed by her ability to overcome every obstacle. With renewed confidence, Alara enjoys a peaceful night's sleep for the first time since the accident in Engineering.|
|11||"New Dimensions"||Kelly Cronin||TBA||November 30, 2017||1LAB11||TBD|
|12||"Mad Idolatry"||Seth MacFarlane||TBA||December 7, 2017||1LAB13||TBD|
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.”
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.
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.
On 15 November 2017, it was reported that episode thirteen of season one would be held back and instead air during the second season.
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 21% approval rating, with an average rating of 4.61/10 based on 39 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".
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.
The Orville has performed well in ratings. After its Sunday premiere on September 10, the show moved to Thursday nights at 9 pm. In its first broadcast in the new time slot, The Orville became Fox's highest rated Thursday 9pm 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||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|10||"Firestorm"||November 16, 2017||0.9/3||3.32||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|11||"New Dimensions"||November 30, 2017||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|12||"Mad Idolatry"||December 7, 2017||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|