Season 1 of The Orville debuted on September 10, 2017 to 8.56 million viewers, the most-watched series premiere on Fox since Empire in 2015.[1] It was renewed for a second season on November 2 of that year.[2]

According to creator Seth MacFarlane, the first season was a "tonal experiment" in dramatic science fiction television peppered with comedy. In the months following the first season's finale, MacFarlane said that he felt that the seriousness of the second half of the season led to more impactful and enjoyable stories, and it shaped the direction of the show going forward.[3]

The Orville's first season was intended for a limited 13-episode run. However, on November 14, Fox confirmed that it would move the twelfth episode to the second season.[4] While Fox did not comment on its decision, the move is not unusual for the company.

Summary Edit

The first season opens in the fall of 2418 to Ed Mercer discovering his wife, Kelly Grayson, in bed with Darulio, which sets off the events of The Orville.

In September, 2419, Ed is promoted to Captain of the USS Orville and Kelly assigned as his First Officer.[5] Aided by a crew of talented, if surprisingly normal, officers, they receive missions from the Planetary Union; explore space, planets, and other civilizations; and battle their foe, the Krill.

Ed and Kelly's relationship fundamentally evolves. Ed is initially hostile to Kelly, but learns to trust her as an officer and as a friend. Kelly is remorseful of her affair but prizes her duties to the ship above all else. In the winter of 2420, Ed and Kelly are forced to work with Darulio to end the Navarian-Bruidian conflict, during which Ed learns that she may have been under the influence of Darulio's powerful sex pheromones, and he slowly begins to forgive her.[6]

Around April, Ed learns that it was Kelly's appeals to Union admiralty that won him the captain's seat. Initially resentful that he was promoted not by the strength of his resume but by backdoor politicking, he accepts that "no man is an island" and that the help of his friends should be welcomed, not spurned.[7] Ed and Kelly briefly date around April or May, 2420, but they end their nascent relationship after Ed's ability to command is compromised by his feelings for her.[8]

The relationship of Second Officer Bortus and his mate Klyden is seriously tested. The birth of a female daughter, Topa, sparks a rift between them when Klyden demands her sex be surgically altered to male. After a lengthy Tribunal on Moclus, Klyden wins and Topa undergoes the procedure.[9] Bortus and Klyden remain together but they frequently fight, Bortus spends increasingly long hours at work, and Klyden starts obsessively overeating.

Chief of Security Alara Kitan receives her first senior officer position on the Orville with Ed. She starts an anxious and inexperienced - if capable - young officer, but she is soon thrust into the Captain's chair and wins the Sapphire Star for leadership.[10] In March 2420, Alara controversially runs a dangerous program in the Environmental Simulator to test herself, but Ed spares her from a formal reprimand.[11] Alara matured from a green Chief of Security to a seasoned Bridge officer.

Navigator John LaMarr begins his tenure under Captain Mercer as a laid-back officer, but Kelly discovers he is a brilliant officer and begins a private campaign to promote John to Chief Engineer. Ed is skeptical, the Navigator was often responsible for immature jokes and churlish pranks, but is won over when John rescues the Orville from incoming enemy Krill. John is promoted shortly thereafter, much to Lieutenant Yaphit's chagrin.[7]

The season concludes some time around April or May, 2420.

Trailer Edit

Fox produced a nearly-three minute promotional trailer published on May 15, 2017 that functioned as a teaser for both the series premiere, Old Wounds, and the season. The trailer focused on many of the comedic elements of the series through humorous highlights of the first four episodes, as well as some action sequences.

The Orville Promo - 01x01 Old Wounds

The Orville Promo - 01x01 Old Wounds

Interpretations and themes Edit

The Orville is written as an episodic, semi-serialized television show with allegorical themes. Roughly 30 to 40 percent of each season is serialized content that draws from earlier episodes, such as character arcs and long-running narratives like the Union's battle with the Krill. Most episodes are allegorical and criticize facets of culture, especially of American culture.[12]

Writing and production staff developed the show's storylines episodically. Episodes were constructed to examine fundamental moral themes or character development, or to encourage the audience to re-evaluate certain aspects of culture. Every episode touches on many themes, and some episodes can fit multiple interpretive categories.

  • The episodes Command Performance, Firestorm, and New Dimensions focus on themes of self-doubt, leadership, and trust in oneself or in others.
  • Krill and Mad Idolatry look at the confluence and clash of religion and moral progress. The technologically developed Krill are also extremely religious, which motivates them to commit atrocities in the name of Avis, their supreme deity. The people of the multiphasic planet construct a religion around Kelly, but lose faith in gods "naturally" as they evolve as a society. The Krill society is often contrasted against the multiphasic planet species as responding to similar circumstances in radically different ways.
  • If the Stars Should Appear shows the rise of religion and a slide towards tyranny as technology breaks down. An extreme form of religion is enforced on the Dorahl bioship to maintain power in Hamelac's government. The Church of Kelly in Mad Idolatry violently imposes belief in order to maintain control.
  • About a Girl evaluates sexual and gender mores of contemporary society, especially American society, through the eyes of an alien, all-male Moclan society imposing its will on Topa.
  • Majority Rule examines the harms of social media and an emotional, "facts-less" society that punishes anyone who is unlucky enough to fall into its sights.
  • The episodes Into the Fold and Cupid's Dagger are primarily character-developing: the former shows the strength of Doctor Claire Finn, the maturation of Marcus and Ty Finn, and the humanization of an artificial being; the latter fleshes out details of Ed and Kelly's past.

However, the pilot, Old Wounds, is considered "ground-laying," in that the world of the Orville is established for audiences for the first time, and therefore focuses less on metaphorical or ethical themes.


On April, 2016, creator Seth MacFarlane successfully pitched the pilot to Fox, the company ordered 13 episodes to air in the Fall with the possibility of a backorder of 13 more episodes for Spring.[13] He quickly wrote a second script (probably Command Performance or If the Stars Should Appear) and colleague David A. Goodman helped him with a third (what became About a Girl).[14]

When he completed About a Girl's script, MacFarlane enlisted Goodman and Brannon Braga as executive producers and writers, and assembled a writing staff of Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Wellesley Wild, Liz Heldens, and André Bormanis, which Goodman later described as a team of "half comedy writers and half drama writers."[14]

While the writing staff developed new scripts, MacFarlane began expanding the team to include other production roles, enlisting the people who would become the heads of various departments: Jon Favreau was signed to direct the pilot episode, Stephen J. Lineweaver as production designer, Marvin V. Rush as cinematographer, Natasha Francis as the visual effects producer, Luke McDonald as visual effects supervisor, Howard Berger as makeup artist, and Joseph Porro as wardrobe designer.[15]

Filming and post-production Edit

Filming began on January 13, 2017 at 6:30 AM and ended August 23.[16] The pilot Old Wounds aired only several weeks later on September 10. Editing of the episodes continued at least through November 20, 2017, when Goodman and MacFarlane admitted that they were still editing the final episode, Mad Idolatry.[17]

The visual and digital effects teams allotted twelve days for each episode for post-production editing, a schedule they discovered was too tight. The show boasted some 4,000 visual effects shots during the first season, and the second season was expected to double that number.[18] The second season was broken into thirds, with a month-long hiatus in between to grant the teams more editing time. Some episodes were edited even as late as the same day they aired.[19]

The season order during early production was very different from what aired. Originally, About a Girl was second, If the Stars Should Appear third, and Command Performance fourth, and the twelfth episode was Primal Urges.[20] If the Stars Should Appear performed poorly with test audiences and was moved to the fourth slot.[20] A plot point where Bortus leaves to brood his egg was added to Command Performance, which segued neatly to About a Girl's story. New scenes were added to adjust for continuity, such as Bortus and Klyden arguing in their bedroom at the start of If the Stars Should Appear. However, some incongruous scenes remained. For example, Doctor Claire Finn mentions that Lieutenant Yaphit has wooed her for some time in About a Girl but seems unfamiliar with his motives in If the Stars Should Appear. Fox moved Primal Urges to the second season in November, 2017 for unknown reasons.

Reception Edit

General television audiences adored The Orville and ratings were very strong. Seth MacFarlane was delighted by the response of fans to Season 1: "I was waiting to see if people would tolerate actual storytelling and whether they were going to say, 'Shut up, and keep the jokes coming.' I was pleasantly surprised that people were willing to let us be what we wanted to be."[21]

In retrospect, MacFarlane said that the first season was a "tonal experiment" in dramatic science fiction television peppered with comedy. In the months following the first season's finale, MacFarlane said that he felt that the seriousness of the second half of the season led to more impactful and enjoyable stories, and it shaped the direction of the show going forward.[3]

However, professional television critics largely panned the The Orville, and it became one of the most polarized television shows of 2017, with a wide divide between public and professional opinion. According to Rotten Tomatoes, only 23 percent of professional critics gave The Orville a positive review yet 93 percent of general audiences rated it favorably,[22] leading to some to sharply criticize the critics themselves as out of touch with regular viewers and biased.[23]

List of episodesEdit

Count Season Episode ID Code Title Airdate Rating[24] Notes
001 01 01 S01E01 1LAB01 Old Wounds Sept. 10, 2017 2.73/8.56 Pilot.
Commander Ed Mercer gets promoted to captain of a ship, the USS Orville. Mercer's ex-wife is assigned as his First Officer. The Krill attempt to steal powerful Union technology.
002 01 02 S01E02 1LAB04 Command Performance Sept. 14, 2017 2.17/6.63 Third series production, fourth-produced episode overall.
When Mercer and Grayson are trapped in a replica of their old apartment, inexperienced Alara Kitan is placed in the captain's chair.
003 01 03 S01E03 1LAB02 About a Girl Sept. 21, 2017 1.1/4.05 First series production.
The Orville visits Bortus's planet. Bortus and Klyden make a controversial request that sends the crew into a tailspin.
004 01 04 S01E04 1LAB03 If the Stars Should Appear Sept. 28, 2017 1.05/3.7 Second series production.
The crew intercept a bioship about to drift into a star.
005 01 05 S01E05 1LAB05 Pria Oct. 5, 2017 0.91/3.43
The Orville saves the attractive Pria Lavesque, but Kelly Grayson is suspicious of her motives.
006 01 06 S01E06 1LAB06 Krill Oct. 12, 2017 0.99/3.37
Gordon Malloy and Mercer infiltrate a Krill destroyer to obtain a copy of the Krill holy text.
007 01 07 S01E07 1LAB07 Majority Rule Oct. 26, 2017 1.21/4.18
A landing party explore a parallel Earth at the dawn of the 21st-century level of culture and technology, which exercises an extreme form of democracy.
008 01 08 S01E08 1LAB08 Into the Fold Nov. 2, 2017 1/3.83
The Finns and Isaac are stranded on an unknown moon.
009 01 09 S01E09 1LAB09 Cupid's Dagger Nov. 9, 2017 1.04/3.69
Darulio returns to cause havok during tense war negotiations
010 01 10 S01E10 1LAB10 Firestorm Nov. 16, 2017 0.93/3.32
A crew member dies, forcing Alara Kitan to question whether she is fit for command.
011 01 11 S01E11 1LAB11 New Dimensions Nov. 30, 2017 0.9/3.63
The ship is crippled by a spatial anomaly. Meanwhile, Mercer must decide who to promote to Chief Engineer.
012 01 12 S01E12 1LAB12 Mad Idolatry Dec. 7, 2017 1.2/4.2 Season 1 finale.
The crew discovers a planet from another universe. Ed and Kelly consider getting back together.

Awards Edit

In addition to the list below, Fox unsuccessfully submitted the following to the Emmy Awards for nomination consideration: The Orville for best drama series; Seth MacFarlane for best actor; Adrianne Palicki and Penny Johnson Jerald for best supporting actress; Chad L. Coleman, Scott Grimes, and Peter Macon for best supporting actor; and Rob Lowe for best guest actor.[25]

Year Award Category Nominees Result
2018 International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best Original Score for Television Bruce Broughton, John Debney, Joel McNeely, Andrew Cottee Won
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series The Orville Won
Best Actor on Television Seth MacFarlane Nominated
Best Actress on Television Adrianne Palicki Nominated
Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Awards Best Special Make-up Effects - Television and New Media Series Howard Berger, Tami Lane, Garrett Immel Nominated
Publicists Guild Awards Television Erin Moody Nominated
Broadcast Digital Awards Best Television Acquisition The Orville Nominated

Credits Edit

Main Cast Edit

Crew Edit

Executive Producers Edit

Co-executive Producers Edit

Co-producers Edit

Supervising Producer Edit

Associate Producer Edit

Line Producer Edit

Consultant Edit

Science Consultant Edit

Cinematographers Edit

Editors Edit

  • Tom Costantino (Old Wounds, If the Stars Should Appear through Into the Fold, New Dimensions, Mad Idolatry)
  • Shonnard Hedges (About a Girl, If the Stars Should Appear, Majority Rule, Firestorm through Mad Idolatry)
  • Scott Powell (Command Performance, Krill, Cupid's Dagger through Mad Idolatry)
  • Bart Rachmill (Cupid's Dagger)

Casting by Edit

Production Designer Edit

Art Directors Edit

Set Decorators Edit

Costume Designer Edit

Makeup Department Edit

Makeup and Special Make-up effects Edit
Hair Department Edit
Concept Artist Edit
Contact Lens Painter Edit

Production Management Edit

Unit Production Managers Edit
Production Supervisor Edit
Post-production Supervisor Edit

First Assistant Directors Edit

Second Assistant Directors Edit

Second Second Assistant Directors Edit

See also Edit


  1. "The Orville: Season One Ratings". Online. (Last accessed Dec. 6, 2017).
  2. Nellie Andreeva. "'The Orville' Renewed For Season 2 By Fox". Deadline. Nov. 2, 2017. Online.
  3. 3.0 3.1 SyFy Wire. "Seth MacFarlane And Orville Cast On Season 2: Evolution And Expansion | SDCC 2018 | SYFY WIRE". YouTube. July 23, 2018.
  4. Tim Surette. "The Orville's Season Will be Cut Short". TVGuide. Nov. 14, 2017. Online.
  5. Episode 1: Old Wounds
  6. Episode 9: Cupid's Dagger
  7. 7.0 7.1 Episode 11: New Dimensions
  8. Episode 12: Mad Idolatry
  9. Episode 3: About a Girl
  10. Episode 2: Command Performance
  11. Episode 10: Firestorm
  12. Goldman, Michael. "Space Farce : The Exploratory Workflow of ‘The Orville’". CineMontage. Aug. 17, 2018.
  13. "SDCC2017 The Orville, EP's David. A Goodman, Jason Clark, & Brannon Braga Interview". FanboyNation. July 25, 2017.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 8.
  15. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 11.
  16. @planetary_union. "Happy Independence Day U.S. fans! Today’s @TheOrville behind the scenes photo is a little different than you’re used to. This is part of the call sheet from the 1st day of shooting for Season 1! #TheOrville #PUNcast #bts #FoxStudios #Television #PilotEpisode". Twitter. July 4, 2018.
  17. "Brannon Braga & The Orville Cast Full interview 2017 Panel NYC convention". NYC ComicCon. Nov. 20, 2017.
  18. Goldman, Michael. "Space Farce : The Exploratory Workflow of ‘The Orville’". CineMontage. Aug. 17, 2018.
  19. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ The Visual Effects Team". Planetary Union Network. May 23, 2018.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Jason Roberts (The Orville Unit Production Manager)". Planetary Union Network. April 19, 2018.
  21. "Seth MacFarlane And Orville Cast On Season 2: Evolution And Expansion | SDCC 2018 | SYFY WIRE". SyFy Wire. July 23, 2018.
  22. "The Orville: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed Aug. 23, 2018.
  23. Kain, Erik. "The Critics Must Be Crazy: Seth MacFarlane's 'The Orville' Captures The Spirit Of 'Star Trek'". Forbes. Sept. 10, 2017.
  24. "The Orville: Season One Ratings". Online. (Last accessed Dec. 6, 2017). (First figure is the 18-49 demographic; second is the overall number of viewers.)
  25. Beachum, Chris. "Emmys 2018 exclusive: 20th Century Fox Television categories for ‘This Is Us,’ ‘Modern Family,’ ‘The Orville,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and more". GoldDerby. May 14, 2018.