The Orville

Last updated on 20 September 2017

The Orville is an American science fiction drama[1] created by and starring Seth MacFarlane that premiered on September 10, 2017, with new episodes to air Thursdays on Fox during the 2017–18 season.[2][3] Seth 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. An homage to the television series Star Trek, the series depicts the interactions of Mercer, Grayson and the crew of the Orville as they embark on various diplomatic and exploratory missions.[4]

The Orville logo.svg
The Orville logo.svg


The Orville is set on the titular U.S.S. Orville (ECV-197), a mid-level exploratory vessel 400 years in the future.

Cast and characters


  • Seth MacFarlane as Ed Mercer, the captain of the Orville.[5][6][7] Mercer was an up and coming officer, believed to be on the fast track to commanding his own heavy cruiser by age 40. However, a year before the pilot, he caught his wife Kelly in bed with an alien. Since then, he was cited for becoming lax in his duties, including six instances of reporting to duty while hungover, but was informed that due to the size of the fleet and the retirement of the former captain, the Orville, a mid-level exploratory ship, was in need of a new commanding officer.[6]
  • Adrianne Palicki as Commander Kelly Grayson, the first officer of the Orville and Ed Mercer's ex-wife.[5][7] The two divorced when Mercer caught Kelly in bed with an alien. They decide to put their differences aside, to work together as a team and stay as friends.[8] Unbeknownst to Captain Mercer, Kelly personally went to Admiral Halsey to plead her case to give her ex-husband a command, stating that despite some personal setbacks, he deserved his own command. She requested that this be kept from him when assigned the Orville.[6]
  • Penny Johnson Jerald[7] as Dr. Claire Finn, as the Chief Medical Officer on the Orville, holding the rank of Lt. Commander. A physician of exceptional credentials, she has expertise in molecular surgery, DNA engineering, psychiatry, which could have afforded her the privilege of choosing to serve on the heavy cruiser of her choice. She instead chose the mid-level exploratory vessel because, as she explains to Mercer in the pilot, she prefers to request her transfers based on where she feels she is needed, as she feels more stimulated by such assignments. When she tells Mercer she felt he could use her help on his first command, he interprets this as lack of confidence on her part in his competence, though she denies this.[6]
  • Scott Grimes as Lt. Gordon Malloy, the helmsman of the Orville and Mercer's best friend.[5][7] Considered the best helmsman in the fleet, he was relegated to desk duty after an attempt to impress a girl resulted in him shearing the door off a cargo bay during a precarious shuttle docking, losing cargo in the process. He was specifically requested by Mercer despite some hesitation by Admiral Halsey, who harbors concern over Malloy's history of crude and juvenile pranks.[6]
  • Peter Macon[7] as Lt. Commander Bortus, the second officer aboard the U.S.S. Orville. Bortus is a Moclan, a single-gender species who exhibits a degree of stoic formality. For example, Bortus disapproves of the bridge crew discussing Mercer and Grayson's breakup after Mercer leaves the bridge in the pilot episode.[6] Among the pecularities of the Moclans are that they only urinate once a year.[6] Moclans reproduce through the laying of eggs, which are incubated for 21 days. Bortus and his partner, Klyden, become parents in the series' second episode, when Bortus lays an egg.[9]
  • Halston Sage[7] as Lt. Alara Kitan, the Orville's 23-year-old Chief of Security. She is a member of the Xelayan race, which inhabits a high gravity planet, granting her greater-than-human strength.[6]
  • J. Lee as Lt. John LaMarr,[7] the navigator of the Orville. He and Malloy strike up an immediate friendship in the pilot, based on their ironic view that they are both "jerks".[6]
  • Mark Jackson[10][7] as the voice of Isaac, the Orville's Science and Engineering Officer. A member of the artificial, non-biological race from Kaylon-1 that views biological lifeforms, including humans are inferior, Isaac tells Mercer in the pilot that the Union's Admiralty offered a posting to any Kaylon willing to accept it, as an effort of initiating relations between the two powers. Isaac accepting the offer because he saw it as a way to study human behavior. During the course of his time with the crew, he comes to observe and understand aspects of human behavior, such as sarcasm and slang.[4][6]


Guest stars

  • Victor Garber as Admiral Halsey, Mercer's superior and an old friend of Grayson's father.
  • Brian George as Dr. Aronov, the leader of the Episilon II science station.
  • Holland Taylor as Jeannie Mercer, Capt. Mercer's mother.
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Ben Mercer, Capt. Mercer's father who has diverticulitis.
  • Ron Canada as Admiral Tucker, an admiral who ordered Lt. Alara to abandon a captured Capt. Mercer and Cmdr. Grayson.
  • Robert Knepper as Hamelac
  • Charlize Theron as Pria Lavesque


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
U.S. viewers
1 "Old Wounds" Jon Favreau Seth MacFarlane September 10, 2017 (2017-09-10) 1LAB01 8.56[12]
25th-century space pilot Ed Mercer divorces his wife Kelly Grayson after he catches her cheating on him. A year later, he accepts a position as Captain of the U.S.S. Orville and finds to his dismay that his ex-wife Kelly will serve as his First Officer. During the Orville's first mission, the hostile alien Krill Captain (Joel Swetow) attempt to steal a device that can accelerate 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 (2017-09-17) 1LAB03 6.63[13]
The technologically advanced Calivon imprison Ed and Kelly 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 Dr. Finn's mentorship. Ed and Kelly 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 Ed, Kelly, and an alien child by trading an archive of Earth's reality television for them. Ed presents Alara with a medal of honor and believe he and Kelly can prevent her from being punished for insubordination. A female offspring hatches from Bortus's egg, stunning him and Klyden as this is thought to be biologically impossible for the single-sex Moclans.
3 "About a Girl"[14] Brannon Braga[15] TBA September 21, 2017 (2017-09-21) 1LAB04 TBD
4 "If the Stars Should Appear"[16] James L. Conway[17] TBA September 28, 2017 (2017-09-28) 1LAB02 TBD
5 "Pria"[18] Jonathan Frakes[19] TBA October 5, 2017 (2017-10-05) 1LAB05 TBD
6 TBA Jon Cassar[20] TBA TBA 1LAB06 TBD
7 TBA Tucker Gates[21] TBA TBA 1LAB07 TBD
8 TBA Seth MacFarlane[22] TBA TBA 1LAB08 TBD
9 TBA Jamie Babbit[23] TBA TBA 1LAB09 TBD
10 TBA Jon Cassar[24] TBA TBA 1LAB10 TBD
11 TBA Kelly Cronin[25] TBA TBA 1LAB11 TBD
12 TBA Kevin Hooks[26] TBA TBA 1LAB12 TBD
13 TBA Seth MacFarlane[27] Mark Jackson[28] TBA 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.[29]

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.”[2]

According to MacFarlane, The Orville was inspired by The Twilight Zone and Star Trek.[30] He was also encouraged to sell the series due to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.[31]


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.[5] On August 19, Peter Macon and J Lee were cast as series regulars.[32][33] On October 31, Halston Sage and Penny Johnson Jerald joined the cast.[34] On December 8, Mark Jackson was cast.[10] On April 3, 2017, Chad L. Coleman was added as a series regular and Larry Joe Campbell was cast in a recurring role.[35]

At San Diego Comic Con, MacFarlane confirmed that Charlize Theron would guest star in an upcoming episode.[36] The two had previously co-starred in A Million Ways to Die in the West.


On August 24, 2016, Jon Favreau signed on to direct the pilot.[37] Production on the pilot episode began in late 2016, and the rest of the episodes began filming on March 27, 2017.[29] Production wrapped on August 23, 2017.[27]

Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill also direct episodes of the show.[38]


Critical response

The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 21% approval rating, with an average rating of 4.61/10 based on 33 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "An odd jumble of campiness and sincerity, homage and satire, The Orville never quite achieves liftoff."[39] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 36 out of 100, based on 20 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[40]

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".[38]

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.[41]


No. Title Air date Rating/share
DVR viewers
Total viewers
1 "Old Wounds" September 10, 2017 2.7/9 8.56[12] TBD TBD TBD TBD
2 "Command Performance" September 17, 2017 2.2/8 6.63[13] TBD TBD TBD TBD
3 "About a Girl" September 21, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
4 "If the Stars Should Appear" September 28, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
5 "Pria" October 5, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD


  1. ^ a b "Shows A-Z – orville, the on fox". the Futon Critic. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Seth MacFarlane to Create, Executive-Produce and Star in New Series". Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  3. ^ Surette, Tim (June 22, 2017). "Here's When The Gifted, The Orville and Other Fox Shows Premiere". Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Martinelli, Marissa (September 8, 2017). "Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville Is More Earnest Star Trek Homage Than 'Family Guy in Space'”". Slate.
  5. ^ a b c d Andreeva, Nellie (July 29, 2016). "Adrianne Palicki Stars In Seth MacFarlane Fox Series, Scott Grimes Co-Stars". United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Old Wounds", The Orville, Season 1, Episode 1. Fox Broadcasting Company. September 10, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Orville on FOX". Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  8. ^ "Inside Look In 360°". YouTube. September 1, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  9. ^ "Command Performance", The Orville, Season 1, Episode 2. Fox Broadcasting Company. September 17, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Mark Jackson Joins Seth MacFarlane's Fox Series 'Orville’'". Deadline. December 8, 2016.
  11. ^ "Rachael MacFarlane (@GirlMacFarlane)". Twitter. August 21, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Porter, Rick (September 13, 2017). "'The Orville' and 'SNF' adjust up, Miss America and '20/20' adjust down: Sunday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Porter, Rick (September 19, 2017). "‘The Orville’ adjusts down,’ ‘Sunday Night Football’ up: Sunday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "(ORV-104) "About a Girl"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  15. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (April 22, 2017). "@BrannonBraga directing on Orville this week-- this guy knows his way around a spaceship" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  16. ^ "(ORV-102) "About a Girl"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  17. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (April 7, 2017). "A million thanks to the brilliant @jameslconway for his epic direction of #Orville episode 2!" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ "(ORV-105) "Pria"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  19. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (May 2, 2017). "@jonathansfrakes directing on Orville this week-- Number One at the helm" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  20. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (May 17, 2017). "The fantastically talented @joncassar directing on @TheOrville this week" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  21. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (June 5, 2017). "Thanks to Tucker Gates for masterfully directing a movie-sized episode of @TheOrville this week" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Kai Wener [@KaiWener] (June 15, 2017). "✨Our Director of the Day🎬@SethMacFarlane ✨ Meet us this Fall @TheOrville on #FoxTV 🙌🏽🌎🚀👽#SethMacFarlane #TheOrville @KaiWener @Tannerboys1" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (June 21, 2017). "The awesomely talented @BabbitJamie directing on @TheOrville this week -- fun days" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  24. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (July 12, 2017). "Can't wait to have the genius of @joncassar back for more!" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  25. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (July 21, 2017). "Thanks to our awesome @TheOrville episode 11 director Kelly Cronin for a great show!" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  26. ^ Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (July 25, 2017). "@KevHooks bringing his brilliance to @TheOrville this week" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  27. ^ a b Seth MacFarlane [@SethMacFarlane] (August 23, 2017). "That is a wrap on season 1 of @TheOrville -- Thanks to our incomparable cast and crew for everything!" (Tweet). Retrieved August 24, 2017 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ Mark Jackson [@MarkJackson] (August 4, 2017). "Can't believe I'm working on the ep13 script of @TheOrville already. Seems like only yesterday I was pulling on that fresh silver spandex..." (Tweet). Retrieved August 4, 2017 – via Twitter.
  29. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (May 4, 2016). "Seth MacFarlane To Create & Star In Fox Sci-Fi Dramedy Series For 2017-18 Season". United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  30. ^ "Seth MacFarlane Talks New Comedy 'Orville'". Access Hollywood YouTube Page. May 17, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  31. ^ "How Seth MacFarlane Got Charlize Theron To Be On 'The Orville'". Entertainment Weekly YouTube Page. July 26, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  32. ^ Petski, Denise (August 19, 2016). "Peter Macon & J Lee Join Seth MacFarlane's Fox Series 'Orville'". United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  33. ^ McLennan, Cindy (August 23, 2016). "Orville: Peter Macon and J Lee Join Seth MacFarlane's New FOX Comedy". TV Series Finale. United States: DreamHost. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  34. ^ Pedersen, Erik (October 31, 2016). "Halston Sage & Penny Johnson Jerald Join Seth MacFarlane's Sci-Fi Dramedy At Fox". United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  35. ^ Petski, Denise (April 3, 2017). "Chad L. Coleman & Larry Joe Campbell Join Seth MacFarlane's Fox Series 'Orville'". Deadline. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
  36. ^ Snierson, Dan (July 21, 2017). "Charlize Theron to guest on Seth MacFarlane's space-set series The Orville". United States: Time Inc. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  37. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 24, 2016). "Jon Favreau To Direct Seth MacFarlane's Space Comedic Drama Series For Fox". United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  38. ^ a b Shannon Miller, Liz (September 8, 2017). "'The Orville' Review: Seth MacFarlane's 'Star Trek' Rip-Off is Creatively, Morally, and Ethically Bankrupt". IndieWire. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  39. ^ "The Orville: Season 1 (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  40. ^ "The Orville - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  41. ^ Kain, Erik (September 10, 2017). "'The Critics Must Be Crazy: Seth MacFarlane's 'The Orville' Captures The Spirit Of 'Star Trek'". Forbes. Retrieved September 10, 2017.

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