Fox has announced a new space-themed series for it’s fall line-up, but this isn’t your mama’s sci-fi. Seth McFarland, creator of the popular “American Dad” and “Family Guy” series, is slated to star in a new comedic space exploration series called “The Orville.”
Fox has ordered 13 of the one-hour episodes, but no exact debut date has been released. The show, created by MacFarlane, will be directed by Jon Favreau. Favreau was the director of Elf, Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens, and The Jungle Book, among other projects. The show is obviously a spoof of other sci-fi favorites, but it promises to bring it’s own unique version of humor and sci-fi to the small screen.
Set in the 25th century, the show follows the adventures of the crew aboard the U.S.S. Orville, a medium sized exploratory ship. In this version of the future, Earth is a member of the Planetary Union, which is described as “a far-reaching, advanced, and mostly peaceful civilization with a fleet of 3000 ships.” (Ring any Starfleet bells???) MacFarlane plays the captain, Officer Ed Mercer. With a less than stellar record, he was not high on the list of potential captains. With his career on the line, he sets out with a hodge-podge crew. He is dismayed to learn that his new first mate is none other than his recently divorced wife, Kelly (played by Adrianne Palicki). The crew explores the universe while learning to work together and deal with interpersonnel issues. The show has a feel of Star Trek meets Galaxy Quest, with a little bit of “The Office” mixed in.
The crew of the Orville will be comprised of several recognizable faces. Scott Grimes (“Justified) Will play the captain’s best friend and pilot, Gordon Malloy. He is a very skilled pilot but has had a rough career due to his strong dislike for authority (Hmmm Tom Paris anyone?) Penny Johnson Gerald (“24”) will be portraying the skilled ship’s doctor. Peter Macon (“Shameless”) is playing a single-sex species alien crew member with amazing bladder capacity. Halston Sage (“Neighbors”) is Alara Kitan, a newly commissioned security officer with hidden skills. Mark Jackson (“That Royal Today”) will be Isaac, a robot-like AI creature with an superiority complex. Comedian Norm Macdonald with be the voice of Yaphit, a seemingly very nice, gelatinous crew member. Not surprisingly, there is a “Family Guy” regular in the bunch. J. Lee will play John LaMarr, a crew member with a knack for comedic relief.
This is MacFarlane’s first live action TV series, and his first time live-acting in a tv series. He has lent his voice to several characters over the years, but this will be his first attempt at live acting. MacFarlane, who has never been shy about his Star Trek obsession, stated, “I’ve wanted to do something like this show ever since I was a kid, and the timing finally feels right. 20th and FOX have been good to me for many years, and of course, Dana and Gary have been fantastic bosses and true pals, so it was a no-brainer to come to them with the project. I think this is gonna be something special.”
Fox appears to be excited about the new project. In a joint statement, Dana Walden and Gary Newman, Chairmen and CEOs of FOX, said “For almost two decades, we’ve enjoyed an incredible collaboration with our partner and friend Seth MacFarlane. He’s one of the smartest, funniest and most talented people we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with – a great guy who’s also had such an impact on both television and popular culture. Seth has one of the most original voices – in every sense of the word – and we’ve been waiting for him to bring us a project as special as this one. It’s classic Seth – fresh and funny, incredibly smart, wickedly subversive and undeniably FOX.”
One interesting twist is that, similar to the original Star Wars and Star Trek methods, much of the space and spacecraft scenes will be shot with models instead of using CGI. An interesting choice, but hopefully it will leave viewers with a feeling of nostalgia rather than just feeling like a B-movie.
We will let you know when more details become available. In the meantime, check out the newly released trailer here: