Seth MacFarlane Explains How 'Star Trek' Influenced 'The Orville'

From the time The Orville premiered in 2017, it has been clear that the series is informed by creator Seth MacFarlane’s love of Star Trek. MacFarlane has been a fan since he was a kid, creating fan films in his teenage years. MacFarlane went on to guest star on Star Trek: Enterprise and even staged a Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion on his hit animated show Family Guy. He’s invited Star Trek alumni like Robert Picardo, John Billingsley, Tim Russ, and Marina Sirtis to appear on The Orville, and had Star Trek veterans Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill direct episodes.

Now The Orville is considered a contender for this year’s Emmy Awards. Speaking to Deadline, MacFarlane — who also stars as Capt. Ed Mercer on The Orville - discussed Star Trek’s influence on the FOX series, explaining that there’s no avoiding the comparison if you’re going to travel through space on television.

Star Trek was the first franchise to bring it to a point that reached the mainstream in such a massive way,” MacFarlane says. “In many ways, it does have ownership on this idea of a captain on a bridge of his spaceship instead of a sailing ship. But it’s become the convention. You can’t help but go there if you’re doing this type of show…You just try to start by learning from what your predecessors have figured out and then take it off in its own direction.”

Jonathan Frakes has shared his unique perspective in past interviews. He came up in the Star Trek of the 1990s and now works on both Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and on The Orville. Frakes spoke previously about how the two shows compare.

“The Star Trek that we have has really found its voice, and Discovery has really found its voice," Frakes explained earlier this year. "And The Orville has filled in a void. For a lot of people, The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation], and it’s got wild humor in it.

"[Seth MacFarlane] clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like [The Next Generation]." Frakes added. "So, he hired the cinematographer [Marvin Rush] and the camera operator, and Brannon Braga, who wrote First Contact among other things that are fabulous. Robbie Duncan McNeill, one of our wonderful directors from Voyager, James Conway, who directed a bunch of great Next Gen episodes; he hired me. He filled the room with Next Gen people so that the show would look and feel like it. I think he did it."

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. The Orville airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

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