The crew of the USS Orville will soon be waking from development cryosleep, a Deadline exclusive reveals. Seth MacFarlane’s Star Trek parody series is finally moving forward with work on Season 3 after the coronavirus pandemic set off two years’ worth of delays: one in March 2020 and another in January. Filming only lasted four months the first time and one month the second, as executives were forced to reinstate a full lockdown after variants of the original COVID-19 strain began circulating early this year. Production has since resumed in February.
Like most of Hollywood in the last two years, updates on The Orville Season 3 are hopelessly scarce. As the industry struggles to maintain the status quo during an active pandemic, progress seems uncertain and to some extent, unlikely. While some studios got off easy, others — including homegrown family businesses — weren’t spared from bankruptcy. Many were forced to shutter, often for good.
High-profile properties like those developed by Disney recovered quickly, but smaller productions like The Orville continue to flounder. Even after moving from Fox to Hulu, and being assigned a more consequential budget, the show still failed to survive the pandemic unscathed, compromising production on Season 3. But after months of radio silence, we finally have a response.
Jordan Helman, head of scripted originals over at Hulu, offers fans an auspicious update. The beleaguered executive reported having seen cuts of The Orville Season 3 and they’re looking good. “The past year and a half has been complicated on a variety of levels as it pertains to production,” he tells Deadline. “I can’t share a launch date, but we’re really excited about what we’ve seen thus far.”
Not only that but a fourth season is currently being considered. MacFarlane had previously shared about The Orville on Instagram, insisting a Season 3 is expeditiously being worked on. Despite rumors, he isn’t leaving the show. He didn’t provide a guesstimate, but Helman now claims the premiere is in the offing.
The Orville is a science fiction comedy about the life and times of Ed Mercer, the blundering, yet well-meaning, captain of the USS Orville, a mid-level exploratory starship serving under the Planetary Union, a delightfully shameless parody of the United Federation of Planets from Star Trek. Set in the 25th century, the series chronicles the USS Orville’s numerous jaunts across the galaxy in search of new planets, exotic species, and sporadic universe-hopping adventures. Season 3 will reportedly feature more action as well as serial storytelling.
Unlike Star Trek, which is more philosophical than comedic and ultimately a more somber take on the possibility of interstellar travel, The Orville is a sitcom in space with the occasional dramatic element. It has both hard sci-fi and everyday life subplots, almost like a goofier Grey’s Anatomy and House but futuristic and with spacemen. The show is built to be episodic, with each segment equally fresh and tackling entirely new MacGuffins. The first season did poorly but received a boost come Season 2. The Orville was moved from Fox to Hulu for Season 3.
Creator Seth MacFarlane, who also stars in The Orville as Captain Ed Mercer, credits both Star Trek and The Twilight Zone as his primary influences. Trek alums Jonathan Frakes (William Riker in The Next Generation) and Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris in Voyager) directed episodes in Seasons 1 and 2, while The Mandalorian’s Jon Favreau directed the pilot. There’s definitely no shortage of science fiction talent where cast and crew are concerned. MacFarlane and Jon Cassar are in charge of directing Season 3 of The Orville.
The Orville is Seth MacFarlane’s live-action debut as a writer, having worked on cartoons, notably Family Guy since 1999, for 25 years. Season 3 of The Orville is currently in post-production.