Could Fox be treading dangerous legal ground with Seth MacFarlane’s new series The Orville?
The Orville is clearly inspired by the Star Trek franchise, though the show has a more comedic tone. Now that CBS is reviving the Star Trek franchise with the new Star Trek: Discovery series, could they take exception to The Orville borrowing ideas?
“We’re not really concerned,” Fox Television Group chairman and CEO Dana Walden said during The Orville’s panel at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour (via EW). “We obviously have a big legal team. We vet things, so it’s not like we’re just flying by the seat of our pants out here. Seth’s intention is to do something that clearly pays homage to Star Trek, that clearly was inspired a lot by Star Trek. He talks about The Twilight Zone, a show that examines the human condition in the future and looks at the human condition through little morality plays, but I can’t imagine, especially when you see the direction that the Star Trek franchise is moving, that anyone involved would consider it anything other than a compliment.
“Most shows have some DNA of previous shows,” she continued. “There are very few shows that I’ve worked on that weren’t slight reinventions of something that’s come before it. It is a certain format of storytelling, it’s a certain act structure, there are certain limitations to what we all do in this storytelling form, so I find it to be flattering and I know Seth holds the Star Trek franchise in the highest regard.”
Still, no one could blame Fox if they were worried. CBS has recently issued regulations regarding derivative Star Trek fan creations and even was pursuing legal action against one such project, Axenar. Of course, no one would mistake The Orville for a fan project, but one never knows what a major corporation might take exception to when it comes to their intellectual properties.
From Emmy Award-winning executive producer and creator Seth MacFarlane (FAMILY GUY, “Ted,” “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey”), THE ORVILLE is a live-action, one-hour space adventure series set 400 years in the future that follows The Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship. Its crew, both human and alien, face the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of everyday life.
The Orville premieres on Fox on Sept. 10.