The Orville's Seth MacFarlane Teases Fan-Favorite Romance

The Orville is releasing its third season, its first on Hulu under the title The Orville: New Horizons. The show's first two seasons included a recurring subplot about a possible romance between Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) and his first officer, Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), who is also his ex-wife. The Orville: New Horizons hasn't focused on that romance, leading some fans to wonder if that means their relationship is officially past the romantic phase. MacFarlane,  The Orville's creator and executive producer, says his plans for Ed and Kelly changed after receiving fan feedback. 

"Initially, it was supposed to be a Will They/Won't They thing," MacFarlane tells TV Line. "There are a lot of people who think that this idea of a divorced couple that can co-exist and be friends and work together and have a normal civilized relationship is a lot more profound than two people who we want to fall in love again… So lately I've been playing to that — they have this past and they have this connection with each other, but there's something kind of potent about their ability to work as partners, even given all that."

Speaking to ahead of The Orville: New Horizon's premiere, MacFarlane discussed how being on Hulu helped The Orville evolve. "Certainly on a visual level, the visual effects work this year is, I think, comparable to anything I've seen on TV, particularly as the season goes on," MacFarlane said. "The team just did a hell of a job on all this stuff and I think people are going to be really shocked at the scope of this thing as the season progresses."

"From a storytelling standpoint, it's much better for me because the biggest issue I have with, particularly, the prevalence of streaming programming, there's some talented writers working on network dramas, but the problem is that you have to cut everything down to exactly 43 minutes. That's not how storytelling works. It doesn't. Not every story wants to be the same length and if you have a scene that's playing really great, that's emotional and you take your time with it. and it really makes the audience feel something, you may have to cut something down that really should not be cut down. Now, there's a discipline, at the same time, on the other side of things. You don't want to indulge yourself to the point at which you're boring your audience. But for a show like this, to be able to be cinematic and to take the time to set the mood is something you just can't do on a network because you're just so constrained by that time limit, and that, to me, more than anything else was the most satisfying thing about the move."

The Orville: New Horizons debuts new episodes on Hulu on Thursdays. The Orville's first prose story, the MacFarlane-written novella Sympathy for the Devil, releases on Tuesday. Disney is bringing The Orville to San Diego Comic-Con for a panel on Saturday.