Why The Orville shifted to more serious storytelling

Image: Hulu
Image: Hulu /

The latest season of The Orville is in full swing at Hulu, and it has most certainly been worth waiting through the nearly three-year gap since season 2 aired back in early 2019. The Orville: New Horizons is so big and bold it doesn’t even feel right to call it a sci-fi comedy or Star Trek spoof anymore. This show is its own thing, playing off all the science fiction stories that came before while digging into more meaningful storytelling itself. New Horizons takes things to a whole new level, with episodes that regularly clock in at over an hour and special effects good enough to impress a Kaylon.

The Orville is the brainchild of Seth MacFarlane, the creative mind behind Family Guy and various other comedies. You could be forgiven for wondering if The Orville just MacFarlane’s familiar brand of comedy to space, but the series has grown progressively deeper as it’s gone on. According to Scott Grimes, who plays Lieutenant Gordon Malloy, that transition from comedic to more thought-provoking storytelling is one of the things that he enjoys most about The Orville.

“That is the show for me, and how Seth does it without pushing an agenda,” Grimes told Cinema Blend. “It’s just that mirror of here’s something I’m going to tell you. You decide what you think we’re talking about. Sometimes it’s a little bit more in your face for Orville and some of these subjects. If the show would’ve stayed what it was the first season, which was just kind of this tongue-in-cheek thing, we might have gone a couple of years on Fox, but Seth wouldn’t have been satiated. The show wouldn’t have, I don’t think, gone anywhere. It would have just been another American Dad or Family Guy but live-action, and there’s just nowhere to go with that.”

"I am so happy that one, he gets to do the show he wants to do because why would he do that [otherwise]? He doesn’t need to work. He’s doing this because he wants to say something and he’s a great writer."

The Orville: New Horizons has been getting blanket praise from critics and audiences alike, so I’d say the shift from comedic to deeper storytelling has worked out pretty well.

The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil novella is coming in July

Like every other show that was in production when the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, The Orville was forced to adapt. The show’s third season was originally planned to have 11 episodes, but due to various shutdowns, one of those episodes ended up on the cutting room floor. However, it turns out we’ll still be getting that lost Orville episode after all…just not how you’d expect.

Seth MacFarlane announced on Twitter that the cut episode of The Orville: New Horizons is going to be released as a novella, titled The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil. It takes place between the eighth and ninth episodes of New Horizons, and MacFarlane himself wrote the novelization. Here’s the synopsis:

"An original novella set in season three of The Orville—straight from the pen of Seth MacFarlane, creator of the beloved sci-fi TV show! When Captain Ed Mercer and the crew of the U.S.S. Orville come face-to-face with one of humanity’s most vile ideologies, they must solve the moral conundrum of who to hold accountable for evil deeds real… and imagined. Occurring just after episode 308, this is the Orville like you’ve never seen it before."

The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil will be released in E-Book and Audio formats by Disney Books on July 19, which means it will be available the same week that Episode 8 of New Horizons drops. The audiobook will be narrated by Bruce Boxleitner, who appeared as President Alcuzan in the latest episode of The Orville, but is perhaps best known to fans as John Sheridan from Babylon 5.

New episodes of The Orville: New Horizons drop Thursdays on Hulu. The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil is available for preorder.

The Orville: New Horizons is at the top of its game in “Gently Falling Rain”. dark. Next

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels

h/t Comicbook.com