'The Orville' Premieres To 8.6 Million Viewers

The new live-action series from Family Guy and Ted creator Seth MacFarlane had a strong preview debut following its NFL lead-in on Sunday.

Despite negative reviews, The Orville reached 8.6 million viewers for a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49, a demo rating that ties the dramedy series with the highest-rated launches this time a year ago: the September premiere of NBC's This Is Us (itself aided by a lead-in from hit singing competition The Voice) and Fox's own comedy The Mick.

The sci-fi dramedy also bested Fox's semi-animated comedy Son Of Zorn, which hit the network with a 2.4 debut following an NFL boost last September. As reported by Deadline, The Orville is also the highest-rated broadcast hourlong series debut in men 18-34 since Fox's Gotham on September 22, 2014, with the exclusion of post Super Bowl lead-outs.

Inspired by Star Trek with a comedic twist, The Orville comes from Family Guy and American Dad mastermind Seth MacFarlane, a noted Trekkie. Set 400 years in the future, the series follows the cosmic adventures of the USS Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship. The ships' crew consists of both humans and aliens and together they will encounter new life, new adventures, and new threats in the uncharted regions of outer space.

According to MacFarlane, The Orville isn't a Star Trek parody, and instead fills a space "that has been relatively unoccupied for a while in the genre."

"For me, it's a space that's kind of waiting to be filled in this day and age when we're getting a lot of dystopian science fiction," MacFarlane said during the summer TCA press tour. "This is sort of an attempt to fill that void in that genre."

"We really do see it as a sci-fi comedic drama," MacFarlane said. "We allow ourselves room for levity in ways that a traditional hour long sci-fi doesn’t. We’re trying to break some new ground here. Whether or not we’ve succeeded is up to the viewers.”

The Orville stars MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, and Mark Jackson. The Orville will air the second part of its two-night premiere on Sunday, Sept. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET LIVE to All Time Zones), immediately following NFL ON FOX doubleheaders and The O.T. The Orville will then move to its regular time slot, airing Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Fox, following Gotham in its new time slot.

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