The Orville will continue its slightly silly intergalactic voyages for another year, as FOX has renewed Seth MacFarlane’s science fiction dramedy for a second season.
The Orville follows the adventures of Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane), the commanding officer of the titular starship in the 25th century, as he explores space with his colorful crew, which includes a First Officer Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), who is also his ex-wife. The show is a mix of classic Star Trek style science fiction stories with MacFarlane’s signature pop culture and toilet joke humor made famous in Family Guy and Ted.
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While critics have not been kind to the show, it’s been a strong enough ratings performer that FOX is bringing it back for a sophomore run. In the announcement of season two, Fox President Michael Thorn voiced his enthusiasm for MacFarlane and the show.
“Once again Seth has struck a powerful chord with viewers. He has delivered a series full of optimism, drama and his trademark humor. We want to thank him and the rest of the talented cast, as well as the producers and crew, for an incredible first season. We can’t wait to see where The Orville travels in the second.”
While the show’s ratings warrant a renewal, it’s also in FOX’s interest to keep MacFarlane happy. Family Guy has become an institution, a franchise that has made FOX an amazing amount of money for well over a decade, even as MacFarlane has expressed creative exhaustion with the world of Quahog in recent years.
For its part, The Orville has been something of a surprise creatively. What many assumed would be essentially a Star Trek spoof in the spirit of Galaxy Quest, the show has turned out to be a much more straightforward series, telling earnest science fiction stories with an occasional sprinkling of MacFarlane’s trademark humor. It hasn’t worked 100% of the time, but the show has found something approaching a creative voice; it functions as a serviceable update of the kind of stories Star Trek: The Next Generation was attempting to tell two decades ago, and consciously evokes that show’s aesthetic and music. It’s an interesting contrast to Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access’s revival of the actual Star Trek franchise, which ironically features far fewer of the venerable franchise’s tropes and iconography than The Orville.
The Orville is far from a perfect show, but it does have the potential to become a good one, and FOX seems eager to give it that opportunity.