If you’ve ever watched a single episode of any one of Seth MacFarlane’s animated shows, from Family Guy to American Dad to the now-defunct Cleveland Show, it should come as no surprise that his appreciation for pop culture—and particularly, sci-fi entertainment—runs deep, which makes his newest network TV endeavor The Orville something of a dream come true for the multi-hyphenate MacFarlane, who is ready to venture into new territories this fall.
Set to premiere on Sunday, September 10th on FOX (the pilot was directed by Jon Favreau), The Orville is an hour-long sci-fi dramedy created by MacFarlane (who also co-stars), and features a talented ensemble including Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Chad L. Coleman, J. Lee, Mark Jackson and more. During the 2017 Comic-Con, Daily Dead briefly chatted with MacFarlane at a roundtable interview about the tone of the show, his desire to pay homage to the original Star Trek series, and what fans can expect from the series this fall.
So, how long have you wanted to do this type of sci-fi show?
Seth MacFarlane: I think my fans know me very well. This is really the show that I came out to Hollywood to make, more than anything I've ever done. So a long time. I love comedy. I love sci-fi. And to try and exist in both worlds is a challenge, but to do it in an hour-long format is an absolute joy and I had this aspiration to do this hopeful, optimistic sci-fi that hasn't really been done in 15 or 20 years.
Star Trek did it for a long time and they evolved into something different, so that left open this space for that thing that we all used to love so much. And that's what I'm trying to recapture with The Orville, while at the same time putting a brand-new spin on it with some different ingredients.
I think first and foremost, I would love for people to rediscover the feeling of having fun when they're watching TV. I think there are shows out there nowadays that absolutely are able to do that. I don't think there are as many as there used to be, though. I'd love for people to feel something familiar and comfortable that they haven't felt in a while from a TV show of this type, while at the same time, experiencing something even grander.
This show is being billed as a comedy and a drama with science fiction elements. So on a scale of Family Guy to Cosmos, where does this show fall then?
Seth MacFarlane: It's somewhere in the middle, probably leaning a little more towards Cosmos. But it's somewhere in the middle. It's very different than Family Guy, I’ll put it that way. But tonally, it's its own beast.
What kind of planets and world building are we going to get to see within the show and what were some of your inspirations behind what we're going to see?
Seth MacFarlane: I've never seen a group of designers who have to work with a television budget manage to create such high production value. The set designs on the show, the costumes, the makeup, is like nothing you have seen on TV. It really is unprecedented. And this team has just blown everyone away. You walk onto these sets and look at these prosthetics and you go, "This is artistry." It's too good for TV. It should be in a movie.
The majority of the show is on the ship, but when we go off it, we go big. The place that you want to be if you do it right on a show like this is on your spaceship. That's the comfortable place. That's where the people live and work every day, and if you do your job right with the characters, you should be able to tell a million stories that take place on the ship and you never have to leave.
I know there’s probably not a lot you can say right now, but can you discuss some of the characters we’ll see on The Orville?
Seth MacFarlane: It's so hard not to give stuff away, but we have a character aboard who is a member of a single-gender species, it's all male, and there are two ways you could go with that. You can treat that as a gag or you can delve into what the real-life politics and consequences of that would be. And we do the latter. These characters are set up for a reason. They are the way that they are for a reason.
These are characters that allow us to tell legitimate sci-fi stories that improve the moment of comedy, but at the same time, we are an episodic show so each episode has its own beginning, and it's not serialized. But we do take the job seriously of telling actual sci-fi stories that have relevance to our world today.
In case you missed it, check out our Comic-Con 2017 coverage hub for all of our news and features from San Diego.