10 Things to Know About "The Orville"by IMDb-Contributing-Writers | last updated - 6 months ago
The cast and crew of Seth MacFarlane's new sci-fi series, "The Orville," have a lot of connections to "Star Trek." And they're having a lot of fun in space as Season 1 kicks into gear. — Sharon Knolle
1. Captain Kirk Never Had to Deal With This
In mid-September at PaleyFest's panel with the cast and crew of "The Orville," we learned more about the maiden voyage of Seth MacFarlane's homage to classic science-fiction shows like "Star Trek." "The Orville" features the "Family Guy" creator's famous humor with a surprisingly heartfelt love of all things galactic.
Besides having a hard-drinking, screw-up navigator and his ex-wife, Kelly (Adrianne Palicki), as his first mate, MacFarlane's Capt. Ed Mercer has a lot more headaches to deal with than just attacks from random aliens.
Palicki says the relationship is "tempestuous," but Ed doesn't know just how much Kelly still has his back. (Even if he thinks her dagger is still in it.)
2. You Never Know Who Will Show Up
Having his own sci-fi show is a dream come true for ultimate "Star Trek" fan Seth MacFarlane. But don't expect a William Shatner cameo anytime soon in a repeat of the 2013 Oscars.
"Obviously, I love him," MacFarlane says of the original James T. Kirk, "but no plans to have him on." As for the guests we can expect? "I always like that to be a surprise. We do pepper the show with a fair number of guest stars," he says.
We can also expect plenty of Krill. "They are our primary villain. There is an element to the Krill that I think is sort of untried in a show of this type," MacFarlane says. "In Episode 6, we find out something about them that makes them their own brand new thing. It's a type of villain [the audience hasn't] seen before."
MacFarlane also teased an "unlikely relationship between two of the main characters in Episode 8."
3. Ties Are Tested
Adrianne Palicki stars as Kelly Grayson, Capt. Ed Mercer's ex-wife, who we met in the pilot while she was cheating on Ed with a blue alien. A year later, it's a rocky working relationship when she volunteers to be his first mate after no one else is available.
As Palicki told TVLine, her greatest strength is "taming Ed. She's his better half and he knows it, and that's frustrating for him."
Why stick around if he's so bitter about the break-up? "Her love for Ed is her biggest quirk, because she can only be herself with him, in a weird way," she says.
4. "Star Trek" Connections Abound
David A. Goodman, the show's executive producer, tells us: "We had a lot of 'Star Trek' alumni behind the scenes: I worked on 'Star Trek Enterprise,' and producer Brannon Braga worked on that and also "Star Trek: Voyager' and "Star Trek: The Next Generation.'"
"Star Trek: The Next Generation" star Jonathan Frakes directed an episode, and Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris on "Voyager") also directed one.
5. Scott Grimes Was Previously on 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' ... Or Was He?
If you look up Scott Grimes' credits, you'll see one for a 1989 episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Except his appearance as a pal of Wil Wheaton's was cut completely out of the show.
"Now, all you see in one barroom scene is the back of my head," says Grimes, saying he still got a $0.11 royalty out of the appearance.
We'll see a lot more of him on "The Orville," where he plays navigator Gordon Malloy. "Gordon is the comedic guy who takes a dramatic situation and says something to lighten the moment," says Grimes, adding we'll eventually find out more about what drives Gordon to drink. "But I'm in no rush to have Gordon peak in the first 13 eps."
As for joining pal MacFarlane's show, he says, "It's like playing a giant, expensive video game."
6. Dr. Finn is 'The Only Adult on Board'
Before "24" and "Castle," Penny Johnson Jerald played Kasidy Yates Sisko, wife of Captain Sisko on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
"I think she's truly the only adult on board," Johnson Jerald says. "I tend to get those kind of roles, like on 'Castle.' In her case, this is an adult who gets to go out and play with them. I get to shoot guns and I get to fight, so this is more exciting."
She says of "The Orville": "I think Trek fans will not be disappointed. It's not a 'Star Trek' parody. It's another opportunity to get your sci-fi on."
7. Set the Set to Warp Speed?
Halston Sage says that getting into makeup as super-strong alien Alara is time-consuming, but she doesn't mind. "Wearing the prosthetics helped get into that mode and feel more serious and strong." And she can feel like a real alien on the extensive set of the ship that gives the show its name: "What I was so amazed by once we got on our set was how realistic our sets were. We actually built a spaceship on the soundstage. It's fully functional. We had a staircase. You could walk down the hall and be in sick bay. You can turn left and be in someone's quarters. You go upstairs and you're on the bridge."
8. Brace Yourselves For Bortus' Backstory
Peter Macon is unrecognizable as alien Bortus — even to himself! "I look at myself in the mirror, and I can't tell where Bortos begins and I end," he says, explaining the that original description of the gruff alien was "exterior of lava rock."
We'll get a lot more of Bortus' backstory in Episode 3, which leads to a huge revelation in Episode 12. "There'll be a big payoff," Macon says, "but I don't know if we're going to be comfortable with it. I can't wait for my relatives to watch it. They're gonna be speechless."
And after saying that "anything can happen" on this show, he let slip that, like "Star Trek," the crew might find themselves in a Wild West setting. Will we see Bortus in a Stetson?
9. There's a Picard Connection
Mark Jackson, who is making his U.S. TV debut in "The Orville," is mostly known for his work in the London theatre. He even trained at the same school as Patrick Stewart, he says.
Jackson plays the Orville's human-hating robot Isaac and, luckily, his costume is a breeze. "I'm really lucky with costume. It is easy to whip off and whip on. Come lunch, I can just hang around my trailer in my pants, so it's fantastic. I don't have to get in two hours beforehand. I think I have the shortest call time out of the whole crew, really."
His favorite sci-fi robot? "Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, who was voiced by the great Alan Rickman. He's really sad and depressed all day."
10. Spoiler Alert: The Guy in Red May Stick Around
J. Lee, who's worked with Seth MacFarlane on "The Cleveland Show" and "Family Guy," was thrilled to board "The Orville." He plays John LaMarr, a crew member he describes as "a very accomplished helmsman. He was part of the Orville crew before Ed got his assignment on the ship."
Although Lee admits he's not much of a sci-fi fan, he does know that being a "redshirt" in space is always bad news. "Since our engineer uniforms are orange, that's kind of close to red. But I'm good. I got paid 13 times for 13 episodes. Spoiler alert: I'm still in the show!"