The Orville has had an incredibly up and down run through its first two seasons and the volatility looks like it isn’t going away anytime soon. Just when it seemed like they may have found some stability with improved ratings and a new streaming platform home, the show took another step backward this week. The Seth MacFarlane-created sitcom was just hit with another production delay and it looks like there is no real timetable for it to return for a third season.
Covid-19 related closings and regulations have put many Hollywood productions on hold or, at best, pushed their release timelines way back. The Orville is just another casualty in an ever-growing list of shows that can’t get put into motion because of rules around workplace numbers and stay-at-home orders. Because it films in Los Angeles, and the state is still very much in lockdown, it’s unclear what the new timeline will be for the show.
This isn’t the first setback The Orville has had in gearing up for a third season. The Season 2 finale aired on April 25, 2019 meaning we are closing in on a full two years since the show left the air. Since then it’s been one thing after another. For starters, prior to the pandemic, the third season was delayed after Fox (where it originally aired) announced they would no longer air the show and it would move to Hulu.
And along with that move to a new platform, MacFarlane also noted that his heavy workload made it tough to fast-track the new season. So the show was already somewhat behind the eight-ball here.
Then there were rumors, independent of production delays, that Seth MacFarlane wanted to walk away from The Orville when rumors swirled that Hulu planned to cancel it after the third season. Those rumors were somewhat debunked though when cast and crew members headed to production around Thanksgiving in what appeared to be the start of filming. But just when it seemed like, at long last, the show was on a positive path, Covid cases once again spiked in the area, and production was delayed.
The Orville fans have a right to be bummed about this most recent news. While the show started off a bit rocky with critics, hitting 30% on the Tomatometer for its first season, things most definitely picked up with Season 2. In an unbelievable turnaround, this time critics were fully on board giving it a rare 100% on the Tomatometer. Viewership, after an amazing debut, stabilized in the three million per episode range over the course of the two seasons and it even earned a Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.
Hulu picking up The Orville also had fans excited that the new platform would give the show some latitude in content, allowing it to lean into MacFarlane’s particular brand of humor. But that’s all on hold now with no clear timeline on when things are able to ramp back up.
With so many starts and stops, there’s always a concern that eventually the key players just decide to call it quits. Here’s to hoping the show has enough in the tank to get past these latest delays and at least give one more season of a show that was headed in such a great direction.