There’s rarely anything that Star Trek fans like to do more than talk (and argue) about Star Trek, but there’s one thing that an increasing number of them do agree on: Seth MacFarlane’s love letter to Trek, The Orville, has turned out to be surprisingly great.
Family Guy creator MacFarlane first debuted his sci-fi comedy series to a dubious audience back in 2017, and after a wobbly start it gained a faithful fan base. MacFarlane had written himself a plum lead role as the 25th century captain an exploratory space vessel with a diverse crew, and the series has often played with ‘story of the week’ standalone episodes that are more akin to The Next Generation’s glory days than the likes of Star Trek: Discovery, which seemed more interested in sticking with season-long arcs.
Indeed, both shows have their merits but they’re very different, and while Discovery has launched a third season on CBS in recent weeks, The Orville has been missing from our screens since April 2019 for several reasons. First, the series was snapped up by Hulu after Fox was acquired by Disney, allowing MacFarlane and his team to plough more time and energy into future storytelling – but having finally begun production on Season 3 in October of last year, filming was halted as the industry shut down in the early months of 2020, with Season 3 around halfway to completion.
Due to enhanced safety guidelines, finishing Season 3 is likely to take the cast and crew around five months, and its new batch of eleven extended episodes may not even begin streaming until the end of 2021. The reliable TrekMovie says that filming is set to resume in December, however, all being well.
“This is a work of deep passion for Seth, and it’s a really great season,” The Orville’s executive producer, Brannon Braga, told the site. “I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone on the show that isn’t eager to get back to work, as long as it is safe.”
He continued: “The shot delay is simply COVID, but it’s also taking longer to film because it’s so much more ambitious even in its scope, in comparison to the first two seasons. And that’s partly because it’s on Hulu, and we can expand the scope and increase the length of the episodes, and all the reasons Seth wanted to take it to a streaming service. This season is the best one. I can’t wait for people to see it.”
The Orville stars MacFarlane as Captain Ed Mercer, Adrianne Palicki as Commander Kelly Grayson, Penny Johnson Jerald as Doctor Claire Finn, Scott Grimes as Lieutenant Gordon Malloy, Peter Macon as Lieutenant Commander Bortus and Mark Jackson as Isaac.
Hulu has not confirmed an official release date for The Orville Season 3 yet, nor has the streamer revealed if it will renew the series for a fourth season.