The tone of Seth MacFarlane’s new spaceship dramedy THE ORVILLE might confuse fans tuning in to see the new show from the creator of Family Guy, especially considering the Fox promo team has been highlighting the comedic elements of the series.
But MacFarlane told reporters at a 2017 Television Critics Association summer press tour panel for the new series that he sees the series as a hybrid genre.
“We really do see it as a sci-fi comedic drama,” he said. “If this were a half hour it would be cut and dry what this is. Because we’re an hourlong show the story has to come first and it can’t just be gag gag gag gag gag. There has to be some reality to where the comedy comes from.”
And while it might sound like The Orville would share DNA with space spoofs like Spaceballs or Galaxy Quest, MacFarlane said the series is more like early Star Trek.
“If you break down where the jokes come from…there really isn’t anything that exists in the Spaceballs and Family Guy realm. …Nothing ever goes into that Mel Brooks realm, and that’s by design.”
The future as seen in The Orville is not the dystopian one that pop culture has propagated over the past decade, and that’s a purposeful decision.
“I’m tired of being told everything is grim and dystopian and people are going to be murdered for food. I miss the hopeful side of science fiction,” MacFarlane said. “Now things are just very grim.”
The Orville instead channels early Star Trek, which should not conflict with the CBS All Access Discovery.
“I think they’ve chosen to go in a different direction in recent years … In a lot of ways, [it’s like how] James Bond moved in a different way from classic James Bond and then Iron Man came along — it can’t all be The Hunger Games; it can’t all be dystopian,” MacFarlane said.
Plus, there’s no reason there can’t be two similar shows on TV at the same time.
“I think there’s room for two shows on a spaceship,” said executive producer David A. Goodman. “There are more than two cop shows. I don’t see us competing with them.”
The Orville premieres Sunday, Sept. 10 on Fox.