The Orville
The Orville Wiki has a collection of images and media related to A Happy Refrain.

If a relationship has any chance of working, it has to matter to both people more than anything else in their lives.Claire Finn
A Happy Refrain is the sixth episode of the second season of The Orville. Doctor Claire Finn's personal life takes an unexpected turn and Helmsman Gordon Malloy makes an unusual grooming suggestion to Second Officer Bortus.

A Happy Refrain was written and directed by Seth MacFarlane who later said he wanted to tell "a classic Hollywood love story that ended with Singing in the Rain."[1] Music was composed by Andrew Cottee.

Almost immediately upon airing, the episode was embraced by fans as one of the most stirring and beloved of the show. It currently holds a rating of 8.4 on IMDB, one of the best of The Orville until that point,[2] and was watched live by 3.105 million American households.[3]

Trailer Edit

20th Century Fox aired a 20-second trailer for A Happy Refrain at the conclusion of All the World is Birthday Cake.

The Orville 'A Happy Refrain'

The Orville 'A Happy Refrain'


Act 1 Edit

Reviewing a draft of her paper on nanosynthesis in Xelayan tissue regeneration in her office, Doctor Claire Finn requests Isaac to review it for technical errors. Second Officer Bortus enters with a request of his own: stimulate hair follicles on his face so he can grow a mustache. After Claire quickly treats Bortus, Isaac scans the paper and corrects "numerous errors." Before he leaves, he notices Claire has styled her hair.

Act 2 Edit

The USS Orville is en route to hear the Planetary Union Symphony perform. Bortus takes his post on the Bridge and the crew is stunned by his new mustache, which they learn was Helmsman Gordon Malloy's idea. Claire enters and invites everyone to attend her son Ty's piano recital that evening.

Night arrives and Ty performs splendidly. At the reception, Claire chats with Isaac, who is also Ty's piano instructor. "You should be very proud of him," he says. Later, Claire visits First Officer Kelly Grayson for romance advice over chardonnay. She admits she has developed feelings for the Kaylon and Kelly tells her to pursue him but warns: "Just make sure you don't get hurt."

Claire finds Isaac working in the Science Lab and asks him out to the symphony on Friday. He accepts, finding the date an opportunity to study biological lifeforms in a new way.

Isaac asks Malloy and Chief Engineer John LaMarr for dating advice and they recommend wearing "snazzy" clothes. As soon as Isaac leaves, the two rush to the Bridge to tell Captain Ed Mercer. The bridge crew gossips and speculate whether romance will be possible.

Isaac rings Claire in her quarters that Friday night and they leave for the concert.

Act 3 Edit

The Union Symphony performs a stirring arrangement of the song "Singing in the Rain." After Claire and Isaac share a meal in the Environmental Simulator. Isaac programmed the simulation to mirror Claire's favorite restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. He reveals that he reviewed every file about Claire before their date, and she finds him lacking spontaneity. After a stilted conversation, she retires for the night.

Act 4 Edit

The next day, the bridge crew grills Isaac for details about his date. He reports that Claire found him "not spontaneous enough" and they suggest doing something thoughtful yet surprising for her. Grayson grills Claire for her account, and the doctor confesses that they did not connect emotionally during their date.

Isaac brings a chocolate cake to Claire in her quarters at 3:14 a.m.; his idea of thoughtful and spontaneous. She is shocked and breaks up with him. Isaac finds Malloy, LaMarr, and Ensign Turco bowling in the simulator for help and LaMarr gets an idea.

Isaac sends an anonymous message to Claire directing her to the Simulator. It is the simulation of her favorite restaurant, only this time Isaac has programmed himself to look - and feel - Human.

Act 5 Edit

Isaac tells Claire that LaMarr suggested Ihe create a simulation that would allow them to kiss. In addition, he deleted all data about her background. She is charmed and the two quickly bond over dinner. She runs a program of her own quarters and the two sleep together.

Meeting with Grayson and Chief of Security Talla Keyali, Claire beams: "A machine who knows nothing of love, only logic, figured out a way to say I'm trying. Let me try." Isaac however wants to end the relationship because he collected enough data for his analysis. LaMarr suggests that Isaac makes himself unappealing so that she will want to end things.

Isaac speaks misogynistically to Claire to irritate her. She learns that he wants to conclude the relationship. Heartbroken and angry, she agrees.

Act 6 Edit

The senior staff is upset with Isaac's actions and chide him. Meanwhile, Claire finds recourse in a drink at a simulated bar where Lieutenant Yaphit pesters her. When Isaac comes for Ty's piano lesson, Claire informs him that she found a new instructor and, further, she has no interest in talking to him outside of work.

Later on the Bridge, Isaac makes a calculation error while analyzing the orbital velocity of the Septar binary system. "I've never seen him make a mistake before," Gordon says. "At least, not that kind."

Isaac scans himself using the ship's computer and learns that his sub-routines have adjusted to Claire's presence that now interferes with his programming when she is gone. Ed chuckles, realizing the artificial lifeform has fallen in love. Isaac wants to repair his relationship and Ed recommends he apologize creatively.

Act 7 Edit

The Orville sets a course for Outpost 30. Bortus has shaven his mustache off. Claire arrives thanks to another anonymous message summoning her.

Isaac announces he sent the message. He starts playing an original recording of "Singing in the Rain" and initiates a program to rain on the bridge. He asks Claire to try a relationship with him again. "My internal programs will function more efficiently if you do," he admits. "You're saying you're better with me than without me?" she asks. "Affirmative, Doctor."

She runs to his arms and they kiss. They exit the bridge for the Environmental Simulator and Isaac transforms into a Human along the way.

Production Edit

Mark Jackson Isaac

Howard Berger (far right) and artists make adjustments to Mark Jackson's helmet.

Creator Seth MacFarlane wanted to tell "a classic Hollywood love story that ended with Singing in the Rain."[1] He found Isaac's struggle to "grasp Human culture" to be a "rich source of sci-fi writing," which opens the audience to questions of advancements in technology, sentience, romance and feelings, and rights.[1]

To visualize the character of Isaac, a presumably emotionless and unwaveringly rational being, in a romance, MacFarlane turned to Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady. "What's the version of emotion from someone who can't feel?" he asked.

The best example of that I can think of is Alan J. Lerner's solution to Pygmalion when he was writing the lyrics to My Fair Lady. That song "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" is the solution to a love song that's not a love song.
Henry Higgins was not an emotional character; not in that way.... He was very cold and unfeeling, and it made no sense for this guy to sing a love song, so what [Lerner] latched onto was he had grown used to her presence. I took a little bit of that and applied it to Isaac to determine what it is about him that would fit with his machine mentality but would still acknowledge [Claire's] absence from his life.[1]
MacFarlane finished the script by December 2017. "Mark, Mark, I've got a script for you!" MacFarlane excitedly told actor Mark Jackson (Isaac) at his Christmas party that month. "You're going to love it. We're going to meet Human Isaac."[4]

The cast gathered for a table read on March 20, 2018[5] under the working title of "TBD." The episode title "A Happy Refrain" was suggested by editor and associate producer Tom Costantino during post-production.[6]

Filming Edit

When Mark Jackson (Isaac) learned that he would appear as himself on camera, he plotted out how he would act - not as a Human, but as a Kaylon imitates a Human. "Isaac... doesn't think very highly of Humans. He'd make them in his own image."[7]

Jackson and Penny Johnson Jerald (Claire) initially thought that they would be naked during their sex scene because the production crew told them that they would film with a closed set (typical of scenes involving nudity). Jerald and especially Jackson worked out regularly in preparation, but were disappointed to discover they were filmed only from the neck up. "I worked out for nothing!" Jackson quipped. Once filming concluded, the two went out for donuts.[8]

Jerald later spoke about her kissing and sex scenes with Isaac:

It was so wonderful to rehearse [the scenes] because I find Mark, my friend, absolutely adorable, and I'm thinking, 'I've got to find him more than adorable, I have to make him hot.' ... I know what Mark looks like and you guys know what Isaac looks like. Truly, every day that I saw Mark, I had to look at a part of him to see what was hot about Mark. Mark happens to have - in real life - ruby lips, so I focused on those lips; it was like having grapefruit juice in the morning and that worked for me.[8]
The bowling alley scene is believed to be filmed in Bowlero Mar Vista in Los Angeles, California.[7]

The final scene of rain pouring inside the Bridge was in fact the actors under a green screen to prevent water from damaging the set. A video of filming the scene was published by associate producer and editor Tom Costantino.[9]

Music Edit

On the day the episode aired, composer Andrew Cottee remarked that the music was "a special one to score,"[10] presumably because he arranged "Singing in the Rain" in the rousing symphonic style of The Orville's music.

Deleted scene Edit

The Orville Season 2 - Deleted Scene from “A Happy Refrain” -SDCC2019

The Orville Season 2 - Deleted Scene from “A Happy Refrain” -SDCC2019

A humorous golf game between John, Gordon, Isaac, Bortus and Klyden in the Environmental Simulator was cut before the episode aired. Editor and associate producer Tom Costantino later recalled, "It killed me to leave that scene out."[11]

The scene was first revealed at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con and released by the Planetary Union Network.

Notably, Bortus appears without the moustache that he sported throughout A Happy Refrain, indicating that this scene was intended to open the episode; in the final cut, the episode opens with Bortus receiving treatment to grow his mustache, which only shaves by the final scene.

Reception Edit

Viewership Edit

A Happy Refrain quickly became one of the most beloved chapters of the season, holding a rating of 8.4 on IMDB, tied with If the Stars Should Appear and Majority Rule for the third-highest until that point (although later episodes such as Identity, Pt. 2 would smash this record).[2] Ratings for A Happy Refrain were strong. Roughly 3.105 million American households watched the episode live, of which 0.68 million were ages 18-49, the third best performance of the season until that point.[3]

Critical response Edit

Critics responded more mildly to A Happy Refrain than general audiences, giving the episode mixed, but overall positive, reviews. Nick Wanserski of AV Club enjoyed it and found the writing "clever enough" to sustain a budding romance with an android "bereft of sentimentality."[12] On the other hand, Ryan Britt of Den of Geek thought that A Happy Refrain was "a great episode" only for fans of Claire and Isaac.[13] Jammer of Jammer's Reviews gave the episode 2.5 stars, but respected MacFarlane "for having the guts" to write a romance, science-fiction story.[14]

Trivia Edit

  • MGM Jubilee Overture

    MGM Jubilee Overture

    The Planetary Union Symphony performed the beginning of "MGM Jubilee Overture," technically not "Singing in the Rain" as most fans believe.

    If one pauses to read Claire's paper on Xelayan tissue regeneration, it is in fact a copy of the page "Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine" posted on the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering's website,[15] which even retained website instructions like "Click here to read more."
    • Minor spelling errors were added for Isaac to correct.
  • The song playing the bowling alley is "Centerfold" by J. Geils Band.
  • Ty performs "Etudes in E Major Op. 10: III. 'Tristesse'" by Frédéric Chopin.
    • Kai Wener (Ty) is actually a talented child pianist and performed the song himself on camera.[7]
    • When director Jon Cassar reviewed the script in preparation for filming, he worried about how to film Ty playing piano. "Everyone was blown away," he recalled, when they watched Wener effortlessly perform the piece.[16]
  • Most fans believe that the Planetary Union Symphony performs "Singing in the Rain," but this is only partially correct. The true song is called "MGM Jubilee Overture."
    • Later, Isaac plays an original recording of "Singing in the Rain" sung by Gene Kelly.
  • The conductor of the symphony is Mark Graham, head of music preparation for the show.
  • The Orville Season 2 Gag Reel

    The Orville Season 2 Gag Reel

    A composite video with outtakes from this, and other, Season 2 episodes.

    Outtakes and bloopers from this episode were compiled by the show's editors for the Season 2 wrap party and were published by the Planetary Union Network.[17]
  • Many of the flowers in Claire's bouquet are stargazer lillies.
  • Claire says that she is from Baltimore, Maryland. Penny Johnson Jerald, who plays Claire, is from Baltimore.
  • Isaac and Yaphit's voice actors, Mark Jackson and Norm Macdonald, appear as themselves.
  • In the final script, Palovis and Unk are supposed to attend Ty's music recital.[18] It is unclear if they are in the audience on screen.
  • The follicle stimulator used on Bortus' lips to grow a mustache is described in the final script simply as "a small device."[18] The stimulator was actually first seen in the first season on Claire's desk in About a Girl without further explanation.
  • Jackson and Penny Johnson Jerald (Claire) initially thought that they would be naked during their sex scene because the production crew told them that they would film with a closed set (typical of scenes involving nudity). Jerald and especially Jackson worked out regularly in preparation, but were disappointed to discover they were filmed only from the neck up. "I worked out for nothing!" Jackson quipped.[8]
    • Once filming concluded, the two went out for donuts.[8]
  • This episode and Primal Urges are Jackson's favorites.[8]
  • Claire oversees a vaccine shipment to Alamak 3. Alamak is an actual star about 350 light years from Earth better known as Gamma Andromedae.

References Edit

  • Isaac mentions that he is reviewing the work of Doctor Aronov, director of the Epsilon Science Station in Old Wounds.
  • John tells Gordon that the helm control of the Orville is not a Porsche.
  • A Happy Refrain has been compared to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode In Theory, which explores a relationship between the android Data and his crewmate Jenna D'Sora.
  • Claire states her feelings for Isaac have been "brewing since the shuttle crash," referring to the events of Into the Fold.
  • When Lieutenant Dann learns Isaac has a date, he says, "Sweet emotion," likely a reference to "Sweet Emotion" by the band Aerosmith.

Episode titles Edit

Title Language Translation
Chantons sous l'Orville French "let us sing under the Orville"
Ein fröhlicher Refrain German "a happy refrain"
Lények az esőben Hungarian "creatures in the rain"
Gli algoritmi dell'amore Italian "the algorithms of love"
恋は雨にのせて (Koi wa ame ni nosete) Japanese "love is on the rain"
Весёленький припев Russian "jolly chorus"
Una alegre canción Spanish "a happy song"
Мелодія щастя Ukranian "melody of happiness"

Mistakes Edit

  • Kelly tells Claire that she does not drink on the job, but she drinks Xelayan blossom whiskey with Ed in Primal Urges.
  • The conductor of the Union Symphony tells the audience that it is the summer, but the episode takes place over December 2420.
  • John's surname on his bowling shirt is spelled Lamarr instead of LaMarr.

Cast Edit

Happy Refrain

Promotional still from the episode.

Names and titles are as they appear in the credits unless otherwise noted.

Main Cast Edit

Recurring Cast Edit

Guest Cast Edit

Uncredited Recurring Cast Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Mindscape 58 | Seth MacFarlane on Using Science Fiction to Explore Humanity". Sean Carroll. Aug. 5, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Episode List. IMDB. Last accessed March 13, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Orville:Season Two Ratings. TV Series Finale. Last accessed March 13, 2019.
  4. Trekyards. Mark Jackson Isaac Orville Interview (Issac/Identity PT 1+2) (2019). YouTube. March 9, 2019.
  5. @aaron_goddard. "Yes, I’ve gone Hollywood and refuse to remove my sunglasses for all photos. But I did remove my pants. You’re welcome." Instagram. March 21, 2018.
  6. /u/editboy1000. "[Spoiler Season 2 Episode 6 “A Happy Refrain]” trailer". Reddit. Jan. 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Mark Jackson (29)". Planetary Union Network. Feb. 2, 2019.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Sun - Main Stage | NYCC 2019 | SYFY WIRE. SyFy Wire. Oct. 6, 2019.
  9. @TomCostantino. "MORE-VILLE stuff from a special @TheOrville. How not to destroy a bridge. @SethMacFarlane @Delaneleahy @markjacksonacts @PennyJJerald @planetary_union #TheOrville". Twitter. Jan. 31, 2019.
  10. @cotteemusic. "US friends- my music's on TV tonight!UK friends- my music's on TV in a fortnight! This was a special one to score- you'll see why.". Twitter. Jan. 30, 2019.
  11. "Tom Costantino, Co-Producer". Quantum Drive. Sept. 10, 2019.
  12. Wanserski, Nick. "Defying the Space Pope, Dr. Claire dates a robot on The Orville". AV Club. Feb. 1, 2019.
  13. Britt, Ryan. "The Orville Season 2 Episode 6 Review: A Happy Refrain". Den of Geek. Feb. 1, 2019.
  14. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "A Happy Refrain". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed May 7, 2019.
  15. Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Last accessed Feb. 3, 2019.
  16. "The Orville Official Fan Podcast w/ Kai Wener and Jon Cassar (32)". Planetary Union Network. Feb. 23, 2019.
  17. THE ORVILLE SEASON 2 GAG REEL. Planetary Union Network. April 30, 2019.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Script shown by editors Tom Costantino and Hillary Wills at The Orville: TV Editorial. Avid at NAB. 2019.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "Episode #2.5". IMDB. Last accessed May 4, 2018.
  20. Goddard's role as a waiter was independently confirmed via his Instagram. @aaron_goddard. "Yes, I’ve gone Hollywood and refuse to remove my sunglasses for all photos. But I did remove my pants. You’re welcome." Instagram. March 21, 2018.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.