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"It is a future where humanity has got its shit together enough where it can turn its eyes outwards towards space."

Brannon Braga, Writer[[source]]

The Orville is an American television series airing on Fox. It centers around the adventures of Captain Ed Mercer and his crew as they explore space, battle enemies, and deal with their personal lives.

While many, including The Orville's own cast, consider the show to be genre-less,[2] most consider the series to be allegorical science fiction with comedic elements, intended to be "a return to classical storytelling" where stories parody or criticize real-world events.[3] The inability to fit neatly into a particular genre frustrated television critics, many of whom said the show did not know whether it wanted to be a comedy or science fiction.

Prior to launch, the show was billed as utopian science fiction and an homage to past science fiction television shows, particularly the series Star Trek and the Twilight Zone.[4] Unlike the majority of those shows, The Orville often relies upon comedic elements to create a lighthearted, personable atmosphere; and the show's main characters are less "paragons of virtue" as they are portrayals of normal individuals in a highly-advanced age of space exploration.

The series was renewed for a second season on November 2, 2017.

The Universe of The Orville Edit

NewYorkCity

New York City in the year 2418.

For information relating to the chronology of events, see: Timeline.
For information on the book, see: The World of the Orville.
400 years in the future, humanity has evolved to the point of space exploration, and has developed intricate relationships with other space-faring species. Along with other highly advanced civilizations, Earth has created a federated Planetary Union for the purposes of exploration, scientific development, colonization of new worlds, and defense.

Space Edit

In the early 25th century, the Union has divided the Milky Way galaxy into quadrants that are currently unnamed. The Union has colonized only one of these.[5] Union ships chart space as they explore, so the edge of explored space is synonymous with the frontier, the edge of charted space.

Species Edit

The Union is comprised of at least three member species, Humans, Xelayans, and Moclans, and possibly many more species seen in the rooms and hallways of Union ships. All Union species boast similar levels of technology, and work together to achieve common goals. However, not all Union species share the same values. The Moclans are highly interested in war, and their primary industry is the manufacture of advanced weaponry. The Xelayans, despite their tremendous physical strength, loathe conflict and praise scientific advancement and the arts.

The-orville-1x06-plano-critico-600x400

Teleya, a Krill school teacher.

The primary antagonist of the Union is the Krill. The Krill view all other life as soulless and condemned to be destroyed by their god, Avis. Thus the Krill are in a nearly perpetual state of conflict with other species. Currently, the Union actively avoids an official declaration of war with the Krill.

There are at least two species with levels of technology far surpassing that of other space-faring civilizations: the Kaylon and the Calivon. The Kaylon are an android species capable of enduring millions of years, and currently contemplate joining the Union. The Calivon are a small humanoid species who view any species with less-advanced technology as inherently less valuable, on par with a Human's beloved pet dog or cat. Additionally, the species of the multi-phasic planet is assumed to have now surpassed the Union's level of technology.

At the boundary of Union territory lay the Bruidians and Navarians. Both species are in a state of peace with the Union, but are openly hostile to each other. The Navarian-Bruidian conflict lasted many years, but a truce was declared in early 2420.

Colonization Edit

Rana III

The Union colony planet of Rana 3.

Space-faring civilizations are highly interested in colonizing uninhabited worlds. The Planetary Union operates colonies for a variety of reasons, including mining valuable resources and scientific discovery. One notable colony is Epsilon 2, which houses the Epsilon Science Station. The Union established the Station as a world for scientists to be free of the pressure to produce results.

Colonies are highly vulnerable to attack, especially from the Krill, who believe the colonies of other species lay an unjustified claim to resources. Therefore, the Krill actively raid other colonies. Even the Station of Epsilon 2 was raided in September, 2419.

Economy and Resources Edit

Union members, including Earth, have entered a post-scarcity economy, where most resources are no longer hoarded and money is a thing of the past. Commander Kelly Grayson explains that money "became obsolete with the invention of matter synthesis." However, she is careful to note that vices such as greed and ambition have not vanished: "The predominant currency became reputation. The only thing that changed was how we quantify wealth. People still want to be rich, only now rich means being the best at what you do."[6]

Items that cannot be synthesized, such as unique goods, continue to be valuable even in the distant future. In the 29th century, an unidentified Benzian antiques collector bartered with Pria Lavesque for the USS Orville.[7]

Resources continue to be mined, presumably because they cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantity. The Union operates at least two mining colonies on Kastra 4 and Chara 3, and permits the Vega Mining Consortium to mine on frontier planets and celestial bodies. The rare element dysonium remains a highly valuable commodity, used to fuel the quantum drive that enables faster-than-light travel.

Non-Union species seem to continue vestiges of money. For example, the Horbalak are notorious for stealing valuable supplies and re-selling them to other species.[6] The Vega Mining Consortium negotiates for mining rights on non-Union planets.[7]

DevelopmentEdit

Seth Macfarlane Slider

Creator Seth MacFarlane, who also plays Captain Ed Mercer, presented a script of Old Wounds to Fox in April, 2016. He took a lead role in virtually all departments of production.

"This is his baby. This is his child. He's wanted to do this for years." Joseph Porro, Wardrob Designer, on creator Seth MacFarlane[[source]]
Prior to development, Seth MacFarlane became interested in an episodic science fiction television series much like Star Trek of the 1960s through early 2000s. For several years MacFarlane spoke off-and-on with Brannon Braga, a producer on the old Star Trek shows The Next Generation and Voyager, and David A. Goodman, a veteran of Enterprise, about creating a new show that reproduced the "Trek" style of storytelling and progressive philosophy.[8][9]

Early development Edit

MacFarlane began working on an initial script for an unnamed show in March, 2016, and by April, Fox had picked up his idea as "The Orville" for 13 episodes, originally set some time after the year 2318.[10] MacFarlane quickly wrote a second script (probably Command Performance or If the Stars Should Appear) and Goodman helped him develop ideas for a third episode that became About a Girl.[9]

MacFarlane called the show a childhood dream of his. When he completed About a Girl's script, he quickly enlisted Braga and Goodman as Executive Producers and Writers, and assembled a writing staff of Cherry Cevapravatdumrong, Wellesley WIld, Liz Heldens, and André Bormanis, which Goodman later described as a team of "half comedy writers and half drama writers."[9] Braga elaborates: "There can be no doubt we are paying tribute to the Star Trek ethos – and others such as The Twilight Zone ethos – but we don’t just want to rip shit off."[11]
Brannon Braga WonderCon 2015

Brannon Braga worked extensively with MacFarlane from early on to produce The Orville.

While the writing staff churned out scripts, MacFarlane began expanding the team to 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.[12] Nearly all of them had worked on Star Trek in the 1990s or with MacFarlane on projects like Family Guy.

MacFarlane micromanaged nearly every department from early on. Porro described the process: "This is how The Orville works: I am not the costume designer; Seth is the costume designer. The same is true with production design, special effects, music, scripts, a lot of the directing."[13]

Casting Edit

On July 23, 2016, it was revealed at the San Diego ComicCon that MacFarlane would star in The Orville as the Captain alongside Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, J. Lee, Chad L. Coleman, Halston Sage, Mark Jackson and Penny Johnson Jerald. Later in the year, it was also announced Jon Favreau would be directing the pilot (Old Wounds) and that Charlize Theron would guest star in a future episode.

Writing Edit

The initial stages of writing began in March, 2016, by MacFarlane, and a working script for the pilot was completed was finished at some point by April of that year. Filming would not take place until 2017, which meant that the writers had unusual flexibility to tweak and perfect the scripts until filming began. "I think I’ve done more actual draft writing on the show than I ever had on the animated shows [like Family Guy]," MacFarlane reflected in September, 2017. "Here we had all 13 drafts written before we even started shooting. I was able to go off and write about seven or eight of them. That was a real joy."[14]

The writing staff continued to forge scripts during filming and post-production, finishing the scripts of four episodes of Season 2 before November, when the show was renewed by Fox for a second season.[9]

Goodman described the writing process behind each episode as starting from the question "What are the dramatic elements?," writing the episode, and only then peppering the script with humor.[15] When asked about how he invents the names of characters from alien worlds, MacFarlane says that the names have no real meaning but that he randomly types letters on his keyboard. "If I'm looking for an alien name I go like this," MacFarlane said, while closing his eyes and pretending to type blindly on his keboard. "And try to make something of the jumble of letters that come up on the screen. There's no art to it."[16]

Writers created unique languages for each world visited by the Orville, the most complex of them is likely "Krillain," the language of the Krill. Numerous Krill writings may be found on the walls of the Krill chapel and an entire page of the Anhkana, the Krill holy text.

Production Edit

For more information on the production of seasons one and two, see main articles: Season 1; Season 2.
With many episode scripts written, the larger Orville crew began to take the writers' ideas and turn them into sets, props, costumes, and more. Preparatory meetings were held with department heads that the crew called 'long lead' meetings, "It was a time for department heads to discuss design and solve creative challenges within an individual episode and for us, as a team to generate solutions," Producer Jason Clark later recalled.[17]

According to Braga, the universe of The Orville is not completely mapped out. Rather, details are developed as each episode is written. "Finely detailed specifics [are] one of those things where we don’t have everything figured out. Very much like other shows I have done, the backstory is invented along the way."[11] Writers frequently modified the script during later stages of production, making minor tweaks to the script and fleshing out ideas, and using material to write new episodes. By November, 2017, writers had completed 16 scripts.[9]

In a table interview on July 23, 2017, between producers Clark and Goodman, Clark explained that the show is episodic yet strives to maintain strong character memory, where character storytelling runs across the entire season or seasons. Goodman continued the thought by contrasting The Orville's storytelling process against classic sci-fi like Star Trek: "The Seth MacFarlane plan means that the interaction of these characters is original. You haven't seen this kind of interaction between characters in this kind of show before, and that's what makes this show really special.[4]

Filming Edit

Filming for the first season began on March 27, 2017, and ended on August 23. 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.[18] Filming for Season 2 has not been announced.

Animation and Modelling Edit

MacFarlane insisted on utilizing physical models of spaceships as much as possible. "There is still something artificial and cartoonish about CGI," MacFarlane remarked.[19] Production relied upon an in-house team of artists and Halon Entertainment to construct actual models of the USS Orville and other vessels. However, space battles and certain effects like explosions were too difficult or expensive to reproduce in real life, and CGI was used for more challenging shots.

Make-Up, Costumes and Wardrobe Edit

Over the course of a year, visual effects artists created roughly 5,000 prosthetic pieces for characters. Items were first drawn by Visual Make-Up Effects Artist Howard Berger for approval from MacFarlane; and then sculpted in clay to form a mold, which allowed the team to fashion synthetic prosthetic. Bortus was especially challenging, taking five months to create.[20] Science Consultant André Bormanis later reflected on the creative process of MacFarlane and Berger:

Seth did a lot of work and brainstorming with Howard Berger, our brilliant makeup designer/artist. Seth had very clear ideas about how the alien species on the show should look, and since he's also an artist, he's very good at visualizing his concepts. He never wanted the look of an alien to be intentionally funny. The idea was always to make our aliens look believable, to have a plausible biological reality.[21]
Application of the prosthetic pieces and make-up is an hours-long process. For example, turning Macon into Bortus took about four hours, which was gradually whittled down to 90 minutes as the artists became more experienced. For Sage, it took between two-to-three hours to become Alara Kitan.[22]

Some costumes were half mechanical and the other half prosthetic and makeup. For example, the costume of Ock'or is in fact a bear suit with an alien head; its enormous mouth is operated by a cable. Kanoot is also mechanical: opening and closing the eyes of his costume by internal cables.[23]

For authenticity, the wardrobe department worked with high-tech fabrics rather than traditional fabrics like wool. Pieces were fashioned in China and then more accurately tailored by an in-house costume department. Tailoring the costumes was especially stressful. From the time the clothes arrived from China, staff had only eight days to create every outfit.[13][24] Because The Orville features 30-40 new background characters each episode, costume turnover was extremely high. For single-episode alien creatures like the Calivon, after each episode, the costumes were destroyed.[13]

Porro observed that MacFarlane was highly interested in particular aspects of costume design: "The thing he really cares about is the uniforms, the badges, the ranking. We went through 50-60 uniform designs," later adding that MacFarlane took a keen interest in the costumes of the Krill and Moclans, "but for the really crazy aliens, he just lets me do them."[13]

Music Edit

Music is scored by four separate composers, Joel McNeely, John Debney, Bruce Broughton, and Andrew Cottee, and performed by a 75-piece orchestra. The show's theme song was written by Broughton, who was given the freedom by MacFarlane to simply compose a dramatic work and conduct the orchestra, with no other contractual obligations.[25] Shortly after the show's premier, MacFarlane remarked:

We scored it like a movie. I was thrilled with how many people caught that in the pilot on Twitter, so we get a lot of comments about the score, which is always very gratifying. We really put as much into that as we do into the effects.[14]
Composition of an episode's score takes roughly three weeks to complete.[26] For the pilot episode, MacFarlane returned to Broughton. The composer had only composed for feature-length film, and he later recalled the challenge of writing for episodic television:
[T]here were some scenes that were obviously lighthearted and I tried to more or less ignore that and focus on the drama . . . The last thing I wanted to do was step on any comedic lines or timing, and this seemed like a good way to do that.[25]

Critical ReceptionEdit

The Orville received largely negative reviews after the Pilot had aired. Attracting only a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and being dismissed by the majority of critics as a poor imitation of Science Fiction or space related television before it. In spite of this however, The Orville managed to gain some of the highest ratings on the entire network and receive an extremely high approval rating from audiences. Many celebrities including David Anders and Craig Ferguson have expressed over Twitter their support for the series and how much of a disconnect their appears to be between critics and fans in regards to the show's overall quality.

Due to the high ratings and strong audience support Fox renewed The Orville for a second season in November 2017.

Main CastEdit

TriviaEdit

  • The Orville Season 1 was originally meant to be Thirteen Episodes with the finale, Mad Idolatry airing December 14th 2017. However, for unknown reasons Episode 11 was moved and the finale instead slated to air a week earlier, shortening the entire season as a whole.
  • MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson) have confirmed that alcoholic beverages on film were in fact really alcoholic, usually whiskey.[16]

SourcesEdit

  1. https://www.citytv.com/toronto/shows/the-orville/
  2. Scott Grimes at a table interview. 2017.
  3. Brannon Braga in The World of the Orville by Jeff Bond. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 11.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, Jason Clark THE ORVILLE Interview Comic Con HD". Seat42F. YouTube. July 23, 2017.
  5. In the original script, the Union colonized two quadrants.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Episode Eleven: New Dimensions
  7. 7.0 7.1 Episode Five: Pria
  8. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 11.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 8.
  10. Caron, Nathalie. "CHAD L. COLEMAN JOINS SETH MACFARLANE'S SPACE-SET COMEDY SERIES ORVILLE". SyFy Wire. April 3, 2017.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Pascale, Anthony. "Interview: Brannon Braga On How ‘The Orville’ Pays Tribute To Star Trek While Setting A New Course". Trekmovie.com. Sept. 17, 2017.
  12. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 11.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Joseph A. Porro (13)". Planetary Union Network. Dec. 20, 2017.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Kain, Erik. "Interview: Seth MacFarlane On The Orville's Unique Tone, 'Star Trek' Roots". Forbes. Sept. 26, 2017.
  15. David A. Goodman at "Seth MacFarlane and behind-the-scenes creative team: "The Orville" | Talks at Google". Talks at Google. Nov. 16, 2017.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki". The Talk. Nov. 30, 2017.
  17. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 9.
  18. "Brannon Braga & The Orville Cast Full interview 2017 Panel NYC convention". NYC ComicCon. Nov. 20, 2017.
  19. Special video clip played at "Seth MacFarlane and behind-the-scenes creative team: "The Orville" | Talks at Google". Talks at Google. Nov. 16, 2017.
  20. Howard Berger at "Seth MacFarlane and behind-the-scenes creative team: "The Orville" | Talks at Google". Talks at Google. Nov. 16, 2017.
  21. Mahon, Chris. "Aliens and AI: André Bormanis Explores the Science Behind 'The Orville'". Outer Place. Sept. 20, 2017.
  22. ""Orville" Comic Con 2017 panel-like interview". YouTube. July 23, 2017.
  23. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 133.
  24. Joseph Porro at "Seth MacFarlane and behind-the-scenes creative team: "The Orville" | Talks at Google". Talks at Google. Nov. 16, 2017.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 15.
  26. "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.

See alsoEdit