Star Trek: The Next Generation alum Jonathan Frakes won't be returning to direct another episode of The Orville in the show's third season. Frakes directed a season two episode in which he reunited with former Next Generation co-star Marina Sirtis. Speaking to ComicBook.com, Frakes says he's not involved with The Orville's third season, to his disappointment, as creator Seth MacFarlane and producing director John Cassar will be directing all of the Season Three episodes of the show. "I'm not involved with the third season," Frakes says. "They made a decision to have Seth and John Cassar, who's the producing director, direct all the episodes of the third season of that show, much to my chagrin, but that's the way it goes."
But Frakes says he still hopes to make an appearance on the show at some point. "I keep waiting for a phone call. I am available. I've got a beard," Frakes says. "I would just like to be, just like I hoped and dreamed of being on [The Big Bang Theory], there's certain things, the absurdity factor, like the Pez dispensers and the garden gnomes, certain benchmarks we all want to reach."
"He really went for it in terms of people from Next Gen," Frakes says of how MacFarlane staffed The Orville, referring to Star Trek veterans like Brannon Braga and Marvin Rush. "And I think, if I'm not mistaken, the audience was surprised that Orville was as serious as it was. I mean, it's wonderfully funny, but it's no Family Guy, certainly. I think Seth's a wonderful storyteller and he loves him some Star Trek and he really wanted to be the captain of a spaceship and God knows he made Fox enough money that he can be. And now that he's on Hulu, he has more freedom to play and not be limited by time, not be limited by censors, so I think he's in the best of all possible worlds at the moment."
The move was first announced in July at The Orville's San Diego Comic-Con panel. MacFarlane said in a statement released concurrently that “The Orville has been a labor of love for me, and there are two companies which have supported that vision in a big way: 20th Century Fox Television, where I’ve had a deal since the start of my career, and FOX Broadcasting Company, now FOX Entertainment, which has been my broadcast home for over 20 years. My friends at the network understood what I was trying to do with this series, and they’ve done a spectacular job of marketing, launching and programming it for these past two seasons. But as the show has evolved and become more ambitious production-wise, I determined that I would not be able to deliver episodes until 2020, which would be challenging for the network. So we began to discuss how best to support the third season in a way that worked for the show. It’s exactly this kind of willingness to accommodate a show’s creative needs that’s made me want to stick around for so long. I am hugely indebted to Charlie Collier and FOX Entertainment for their generosity and look forward to developing future projects there. And to my new friends at Hulu, I look forward to our new partnership exploring the galaxy together."
The Orville Season Three is expected to debut on Hulu in late 2020.