When watching the trailer for The Orville, the upcoming sci-fi dramedy from Family Guy creator and Ted director Seth MacFarlane, it’s impossible to not immediately think of Star Trek (and also Galaxy Quest). Hell, even Orville executive producer Brannon Braga wrote and produced Star Trek series The Next Generation, Voyager, and Enterprise (which he is credited as the creator of), and was a writer on movies Generations and First Contact.
For the 2017 Television Critics Association summer press tour, MacFarlane was asked about the comparison to Trek. Additionally, Fox was asked if they were worried about being sued over the show, especially with CBS having a brand new Trek series making its debut around the same time.
See what they both had to say below.
When asked to define The Orville‘s relationship to Star Trek, MacFarlane said he was inspired by many things in making the show, including the obvious one and also The Twilight Zone, and that even Trek was inspired by various things. He also noted that he misses what older Trek was like:
“Star Trek itself sprang from a lot of different sci-fi tropes that came before it. The idea of a ship, in the naval sense, cruising in space did not originate with that show.”
“I miss the…aspirational place Star Trek used to occupy. They’ve chosen to go in a different direction.”
MacFarlane hopes that The Orville will fill that void for some. He was asked by another critic why he made a show that doesn’t feel like a current sci-fi show, but one that looks and feels like something from the ’90s:
“Because I miss the optimism. I’m tired of being told everything is going to be grim and dystopian”¦I miss the hopeful side of science fiction.”
MacFarlane also said as far as tone is concerned, The Orville and CBS’s new series, Star Trek: Discovery, “could not be more different.” It’s also worth noting that executive producer David Goodman was asked whether there was room in television for two shows like this, to which he replied “I think there is room for two spaceship shows, there’s more than one cop show.”
As for legal troubles, Fox Television Group chairman and CEO Dana Walden was asked if Fox was worried about being sued over the show:
“We’re not really concerned. We obviously have a big legal team. We vet things, so it’s not like we’re just flying by the seat of our pants out here. Seth’s intention is to do something that clearly pays homage to Star Trek, that clearly was inspired a lot by Star Trek. He talks about The Twilight Zone, a show that examines the human condition in the future and looks at the human condition through little morality plays, but I can’t imagine, especially when you see the direction that the Star Trek franchise is moving, that anyone involved would consider it anything other than a compliment. Most shows have some DNA of previous shows. There are very few shows that I’ve worked on that weren’t slight reinventions of something that’s come before it. It is a certain format of storytelling, it’s a certain act structure, there are certain limitations to what we all do in this storytelling form, so I find it to be flattering and I know Seth holds the Star Trek franchise in the highest regard.”
The Orville will premiere on Fox on September 10th.
You can read a lengthy synopsis of the show and watch a trailer right here if interested.