David is really the perfect writer for this show.Brannon Braga[1]

David A. Goodman is an executive producer and writer for The Orville, writing the episodes Krill, Deflectors, and The Road Not Taken. Goodman also wrote all of the comic books for the show: New Beginnings, The Word of Avis, Launch Day, Heroes, and Digressions.

Goodman and executive producer Brannon Braga were involved with The Orville from its earliest stages, providing an ear for MacFarlane to discuss ideas for a new science fiction television series. It was Goodman who first urged MacFarlane to create his own science fiction television show.

After Fox bought The Orville for a 13-episode first season, MacFarlane turned to Goodman for help writing About a Girl. When the third script was completed, MacFarlane hired Goodman as executive producer.

Additionally, Goodman is President of the Writers Guild of America West.[2]

Background[edit | edit source]

Goodman is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he earned a BA in 1984.

He began his career with the show Futurama, then in its fourth season, and wrote the episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before." Goodman mentioned in the commentary for the episode that his script got him a job with Star Trek: Enterprise. Goodman is a self-described "huge fan" of the science-fiction series, and strove to make as many references to Star Trek as possible.

Prior to The Orville, Goodman worked extensively with the show's creator Seth MacFarlane: first as a writer and consulting producer for Enterprise, where MacFarlane played the character Rivers in the episodes "The Forgotten" and "Affliction;" and later, as co-executive producer for Family Guy and executive producer for American Dad!, both MacFarlane projects.

The Orville[edit | edit source]

Prior to development, MacFarlane became interested in an episodic science fiction television series much like Star Trek.[3] In fact, since 2000, MacFarlane spoke off-and-on with Goodman and Braga, a producer on the Star Trek shows The Next Generation and Voyager, about creating a new show that reproduced the "Trek" style of storytelling and progressive philosophy.[4]

Goodman has provided several accounts of the early creation of the show with small differences:

  1. In the oldest version of events, found in the forward Goodman wrote for the book The World of the Orville, MacFarlane told Goodman in March 2016 that he was "toying" with an idea for a new show, and Goodman was excited.[4]
  2. However, in a May 2020 interview, Goodman said that MacFarlane had called him in March 2016 after CBS announced it had hired Bryan Fuller to create a new Star Trek show, Discovery. MacFarlane worried that Fuller would write Discovery as gritty, dystopian science fiction.[5] (CBS had turned down an offer from MacFarlane to reboot the Star Trek franchise months prior to Fuller.[6]) Goodman convinced MacFarlane to create his own utopian science-fiction show instead.[5]

MacFarlane began working on an initial script and, by April, Fox had picked up his idea as "The Orville" for 13 episodes. MacFarlane quickly wrote a second script (probably Command Performance or If the Stars Should Appear),[4] then called Goodman. Goodman was shocked that a phone call in mid-March had become a network-backed television in just three weeks later[5] and helped him develop ideas for a third episode that became About a Girl.[4]

After completing About a Girl's script, MacFarlane quickly enlisted Braga and Goodman as executive producers and writers, and assembled a writing staff that Goodman later described as a team of "half comedy writers and half drama writers."[4] Goodman described his writing process as starting an episode's story from its dramatic elements, and only after peppering the script with humor.[7]

Though general audiences loved The Orville, professional critics mostly panned the show. Goodman was deeply upset. He believed critics gave negative reviews because they did not like MacFarlane, whom they take to be immature. "[C]ritics are often so unfair to Seth and I don’t know why," Goodman later recalled. "I think he is a fucking genius, having worked with him now for 18 years. [He] is trying to do something new and ... critics couldn’t even find it in their stone-cold hearts and open up and say 'You know what, the guy is trying something new. I will be interested to see what he does with it.'"[8]

Writing Krill[edit | edit source]

One of Goodman's first contributions was to develop MacFarlane's concept of the Krill into an enemy species motivated by a brutal god. Goodman and MacFarlane had long discussed the idea of an alien race that regarded all other species as non-sentient and valueless during their conversations developing the show.

The idea was a powerful space empire that believed that if you are not in their bible [the Anhkana], you don’t exist. That was something we all worked together in the writer’s room. We knew who the Krill were going to be before this episode. That was something we decided with Seth early on before even the pilot script, but there was no way to get it across before that episode.[8]

The idea was tabled until the sixth episode, which MacFarlane gave to Goodman to write. Goodman sought to craft the Krill as religious fanatics as an allegory for dangerous religious extremism in our world.[8] When asked about whether the show was finding a balance between dramatic storytelling and comedy, Goodman remarked that shows often take time to find their footing, and The Orville is no exception. "Next Generation took two years, in fact all the Star Trek shows took a while to figure out who they were. For me Deep Space Nine didn’t get good until season four and Voyager as well. All these kinds of shows take a little time to find themselves. If you are saying we are finding it on episode six, I’ll take it."[8]

The Orville comic books[edit | edit source]

Goodman wrote the scripts for Season 1.5, Season 2.5, and Digressions of The Orville, several collections of comic books packaged as two "episodes" of two issues each, with artists David Cabeza and Michael Atiyeh. In an interview in late April 2019, Goodman recalled that he was still "learning the ropes" when he wrote the scripts and adjusting to the different storytelling pace. He said the most fun part about writing was the chance to see Cabeza bring his script "to life."[9]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Goodman is known as the sole writer who will make on-set adjustments to the script.[10]
  • He performs voices for to-be-cast characters during table reads, such as Lieutenant Yaphit.[11] When he performed at a table reading of Home, fans mistakenly assumed Goodman would appear as a character on camera.[12]
  • His favorite episode is The Road Not Taken.[13]
  • Though Goodman worked with David Cabeza, illustrator of the comics, remotely for years, Goodman did not actually see him until both were part of a panel interview in April 26, 2020 at the Mainframe Comic Con.[14]
  • Writing staff on The Orville sometimes play music clips from the Star Trek franchise for Goodman, challenging him to name the episode in which the music appeared. Goodman claims he has gotten every challenge correct.[15]

External links[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

  • "Writing the Orville:" Foreword by Goodman in The World of the Orville, page 8
  • The World of the Orville, pages 12, 21, 38, 56, 72, 79, 87, 141

References[edit | edit source]

  1. [[1]]
  2. Kilday, Gregg. "WGA West Elects David A. Goodman President". Hollywood Reporter. Sept. 18, 2017.
  3. Caron, Nathalie. "CHAD L. COLEMAN JOINS SETH MACFARLANE'S SPACE-SET COMEDY SERIES ORVILLE". SyFy Wire. April 3, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 8.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Writer-Producer and WGA President DAVID A. GOODMAN (The Orville). A ROBSERVATIONS VAM Interview. THE BURNETTWORK. May 7, 2020.
  6. Kain, Erik. "Interview: Seth MacFarlane On The Orville's Unique Tone, 'Star Trek' Roots". Forbes. Sept. 26, 2017.
  7. David A. Goodman at "Seth MacFarlane and behind-the-scenes creative team: "The Orville" | Talks at Google". Talks at Google. Nov. 16, 2017.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Pascale, Anthony. "Interview: David A. Goodman On ‘The Orville’ As Sci-Fi Gateway And How ‘Futurama’ Landed ‘Enterprise’ Job". TrekMovie.com. Oct. 23, 2017.
  9. Spry, Jeff. "EXCLUSIVE: THE ORVILLE'S DAVID GOODMAN ROCKETS INTO DARK HORSE COMICS' TIE-IN SERIES". SyFy Wire. April 28, 2019
  10. "NYCC 2017: Adrianne Palicki & Scott Grimes - The Orville". WithAnAccentTV. Oct. 13, 2017.
  11. "PLANETARY UNION NETWORK: EPISODE 26". Planetary Union Network. Jan. 13, 2019.
  12. Photos compiled by @StJerome. "Hey folks #TheOrville Season 2 tidbits. @jleefilm posted an IGStory with a few pics. Looks like @DavidAGoodman has quotes on his placard. Maybe he's stepping in front of the Cameras? Also a new Alien photo. Last it looks like @cherrycheva is the writer for Ep 202 titled "Home"". Twitter. March 7, 2018.
  13. Sun - Main Stage | NYCC 2019 | SYFY WIRE. SyFy Wire. Oct. 6, 2019.
  14. Mainframe Comic Con | Sunday | Part 2. Chuck Load of Comics. April 26, 2020.
  15. Writer-Producer and WGA President DAVID A. GOODMAN (The Orville). A ROBSERVATIONS VAM Interview. THE BURNETTWORK. May 7, 2020.
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