Seth MacFarlane Explains Why He Took 'The Orville' in a Surprisingly Serious Direction

When FOX announced it had greenlit a sci-fi comedy from Seth MacFarlane, some fans didn’t know what to expect. Some knew that MacFarlane was a fan of sci-fi and of Star Trek in particular. They may have seen his guest appearance on Star Trek: Enterprise or the episode of Family Guy where he reunited the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. But how would that love of sci-fi and Star Trek translate into a show from the creator best known for Family Guy’s rapid-fire cutaway comedy? The end result is The Orville, an hourlong show that wears its love for Star Trek on its sleeve and may be more serious than anyone expected from MacFarlane.

The Orville is now considered a contender for the Emmy Awards. MacFarlane told Deadline that the original plan for the show was to be more of a comedy, but that may have been a subconscious cover story to make the show he really wanted to create.

“When we began this, it was designed to be a little bit more of a hybrid, straddling the line pretty evenly between comedy and drama,” MacFarlane said. “I have been a big sci-fi fan since I was a kid. I think secretly that was the show I wanted to do, but I figured there’s no way in hell anyone would swallow that from me.”

MacFarlane thinks going with the darker tone for The Orville was the right decision. “With an hourlong show, in order to sustain it, you have to have real stakes,” he said. “That was my fear at the beginning. If people aren’t with us on that side of it, we’re probably not going to last very long. But they were, so we really leaned into that.”

The second season of The Orville featured the series’ first two-part episode, “Identity.” The story involved the Kaylon, a race of synthetic beings, attempting to invade Earth as a first step towards wiping out all organic life in the galaxy. The episodes altered the status quo of The Orville’s universe by forcing an alliance between enemies, with the Planetary Union requesting aid from the Krill. The episodes carry shades of the Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter “The Best of Both Worlds,” as well as the longer arc involving the changing relationship between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

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

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