Season 1 of The Orville debuted on September 10, 2017 to 8.56 million viewers, the most-watched series premiere on Fox since Empire in 2015.[1] It was renewed for a second season on November 2 of that year.[2]

According to creator Seth MacFarlane, the first season was a "tonal experiment" in dramatic science fiction television peppered with comedy. In the months following the first season's finale, MacFarlane said that he felt that the seriousness of the second half of the season led to more impactful and enjoyable stories, and it shaped the direction of the show going forward.[3]

The Orville's first season was intended for a limited 13-episode run. However, on November 14, Fox confirmed that it would move the twelfth episode to the second season.[4] While Fox did not comment on its decision, the move is not unusual for the company.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The first season opens in the fall of 2418 to Ed Mercer discovering his wife, Kelly Grayson, in bed with Darulio, which sets off the events of The Orville.

In September 2419, Ed is promoted to Captain of the USS Orville and Kelly assigned as his First Officer.[5] Aided by a crew of talented, if surprisingly normal, officers, they receive missions from the Planetary Union; explore space, planets, and other civilizations; and battle their foe, the Krill. The first season takes place entirely in one quadrant of the galaxy.

Ed and Kelly's relationship fundamentally evolves. Ed is hostile to Kelly at the start, but over time learns to trust her as an officer and as a friend. Kelly is remorseful of her affair but prizes her duties to the ship above all else. In the winter of 2420, Ed and Kelly are forced to work with Darulio to end the Navarian-Bruidian conflict, during which Ed learns that she may have been under the influence of Darulio's powerful sex pheromones, and he slowly begins to forgive her.[6]

Around April, Ed learns that it was Kelly's appeals to Union admiralty that won him the captain's seat. Initially resentful that he was promoted not by the strength of his resume but through backdoor politicking, he accepts that "no man is an island" and that the help of his friends should be welcomed, not spurned.[7] Ed and Kelly briefly date around April or May 2420 but they end their nascent relationship after Ed's ability to command is compromised by his feelings for her.[8]

The relationship of Second Officer Bortus and his mate Klyden is seriously tested. The birth of a female daughter, Topa, sparks a rift between them when Klyden demands her sex be surgically altered to male. After a lengthy tribunal on Moclus, Klyden wins and Topa undergoes the procedure.[9] Bortus and Klyden remain together but they frequently fight, Bortus spends increasingly long hours at work, and Klyden starts obsessively overeating.

Chief of Security Alara Kitan receives her first senior officer position on the Orville with Ed. She begins as an anxious and inexperienced - if capable - young officer, but she is soon thrust into the Captain's chair and earns the Sapphire Star for leadership.[10] In March 2420, Alara controversially runs a dangerous program in the Environmental Simulator to test herself, but Ed spares her from a formal reprimand.[11] Alara matured from a green Chief of Security to a seasoned bridge officer.

Navigator John LaMarr begins his tenure under Captain Mercer as a laid-back officer, but Kelly discovers he is a brilliant officer and begins a private campaign to promote John to Chief Engineer. Ed is skeptical, the Navigator was often responsible for immature jokes and churlish pranks, but is won over when John rescues the Orville from incoming enemy Krill. John is promoted shortly thereafter, much to Lieutenant Yaphit's chagrin.[7]

Doctor Claire Finn requests a transfer to the Orville in September 2419. She treats Science Officer Isaac coldly, irritated the artificial lifeform believes himself to be better than other life. After the Finns and Isaac survive the cannibals of an unnamed moon, Claire warms up to Isaac. Yaphit repeatedly attempts to woo Claire, sometimes to the point of harassment. The two eventually copulate under the influence of Darulio's pheromones, and do not speak again.

The season concludes some time around April or May, 2420.

Trailer[edit | edit source]

Fox produced a nearly-three minute promotional trailer published on May 15, 2017 that functioned as a teaser for both the series premiere, Old Wounds, and the season. The trailer focused on many of the comedic elements of the series through humorous highlights of the first four episodes, as well as some action sequences.


The Orville Promo - 01x01 Old Wounds

While the producers publicly praised the May 2017 trailer in the lead-up to Season 1, it came to be a point of contention for the producers of the show who felt that its emphasis on comedy misled audiences into thinking the show was a "typical" MacFarlane project like Family Guy or The Cleveland Show.

"The show was marketed as a hard comedy," MacFarlane reflected just before the Season 2 premiere. "And it really was never that. It was designed to be a sci-fi show that takes place on a spaceship, but with actual people behaving as they actually would.... This was supposed to be like working in an office."[12]

Interpretations and themes[edit | edit source]

The Orville is written as an episodic, semi-serialized television show with allegorical themes. Roughly 30 to 40 percent of each season is serialized content that draws from earlier episodes, such as character arcs and long-running narratives like the Union's battle with the Krill. Most episodes are allegorical and criticize facets of culture, especially of American culture.[13]

Writing and production staff developed the show's storylines episodically. Episodes were constructed to examine fundamental moral themes, to encourage audiences to re-evaluate aspects of culture, or to develop the characters. Every episode touches on many themes, and some episodes can fit multiple interpretive categories.

  • The episodes Command Performance, Firestorm, and New Dimensions focus on themes of self-doubt, leadership, and trust in oneself or in others.
  • Krill and Mad Idolatry look at the confluence and clash of religion and moral progress. The technologically developed Krill are also extremely religious, which motivates them to commit atrocities in the name of Avis, their supreme deity. The people of the multiphasic planet construct a religion around Kelly, but lose faith in gods "naturally" as they evolve as a society. The Krill society is often contrasted against the multiphasic planet species as responding to similar circumstances in radically different ways.
  • If the Stars Should Appear shows the rise of religion and a slide towards tyranny as technology breaks down. An extreme form of religion is enforced on the bio-ship to maintain power in Hamelac's government. The Church of Kelly in Mad Idolatry violently imposes belief in order to maintain control.
  • About a Girl evaluates sexual and gender mores of contemporary society, especially American society, through the eyes of an alien, all-male Moclan society imposing its will on Topa.
  • Majority Rule examines the harms of social media and an emotional, "facts-less" society that punishes anyone who is unlucky enough to fall into its sights.
  • The episodes Into the Fold and Cupid's Dagger are primarily character-developing: the former shows the strength of Doctor Claire Finn, the maturation of Marcus and Ty Finn, and the humanization of an artificial being; the latter fleshes out details of Ed and Kelly's past.

The pilot Old Wounds is an exception to the above. The episode is considered "foundational," the world of the Orville is established for audiences for the first time, and so is neither allegorical nor a character piece.

Production[edit | edit source]

On April, 2016, creator Seth MacFarlane successfully pitched the pilot to Fox, the company ordered 13 episodes to air in the Fall with the possibility of a backorder of 13 more episodes for Spring.[14] He quickly wrote a second script (based on early lists of episode numbers either Command Performance or If the Stars Should Appear) and colleague David A. Goodman helped him with a third, which became About a Girl.[15]

When he completed About a Girl's script, MacFarlane enlisted Goodman and Brannon Braga as executive producers and writers, and assembled a writing staff of Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Wellesley Wild, Liz Heldens, and André Bormanis, which Goodman later described as a team of "half comedy writers and half drama writers."[15]

The first few episodes were more comedic and spiritful than the second half of the season. This was no accident. MacFarlane penned lighthearted scripts to secure funding from Fox. "[T]he early episodes were an experiment to get the response we wanted from the studio," he later recollected while filming of Season 2. "And they’ve given us more time and resources to film more complex scenes."[16]

Editor and associate producer Tom Costantino said in an interview that - as he understands from others - in the early stages of development, MacFarlane and the writing staff worried that audiences would not accept anything less "than Family Guy in space."[17]

While the writing staff developed new scripts, MacFarlane began expanding the team to include other production roles, enlisting the people who would become the heads of various departments: Jon Favreau was signed to direct the pilot episode, Stephen J. Lineweaver as production designer, Marvin V. Rush as cinematographer, Natasha Francis as the visual effects producer, Luke McDonald as visual effects supervisor, Howard Berger as makeup artist, and Joseph Porro as wardrobe designer.[18]

Filming and post-production[edit | edit source]

Filming began on January 13, 2017 at 6:30 AM and ended on August 23.[19] The pilot Old Wounds aired only several weeks later on September 10. Editing of the episodes continued at least through November 20, 2017, when Goodman and MacFarlane admitted that they were still editing the final episode, Mad Idolatry.[20]

At the end of filming Old Wounds, the cast and crew celebrated with a wrap party at MacFarlane's house[21] with music disc-jockeyed by Favreau[22] and drinks and food served by staff dressed as aliens from the show.[23] A second wrap party was held at the end of Season 1 filming. Editors shared outtake montages of each actor, which Mark Jackson (Isaac) said was probably too offensive for public release.[24]

The visual and digital effects teams allotted twelve days for each episode for post-production editing, a schedule they discovered was too tight. Editors and effects artists were simply unable to correct production errors before airing. For example, even though visual and digital effects supervisors Luke McDonald and Brandon Fayette spotted an incorrect call sign on the shuttle in Into the Fold, there was not enough time to re-render the scene, and they were forced to leave the mistake in. Some episodes were edited even as late as the same day they aired.[25]

Season 1 served as a learning experience in time budgeting. The show boasted some 4,000 visual effects shots that season, and the second was expected to double that number; so the second season was broken into thirds, with a month-long hiatus in between to grant post-production teams more editing time.[26]

Episode order[edit | edit source]

The season order of episodes during early production was very different from what aired. Originally, About a Girl was second, If the Stars Should Appear third, and Command Performance fourth.

Starting in early 2017, MacFarlane began changing the order of episodes and, resultantly, the progression of the show's narration was modified. If the Stars Should Appear performed poorly with test audiences and was moved to the fourth slot and Command Performance was made the second episode.[27] However, the change led to continuity problems that had to be corrected.

  • A plot point where Bortus leaves to brood his egg was added to Command Performance to segue neatly to About a Girl's story.
  • New scenes were added, such as Bortus and Klyden arguing in their bedroom at the start of If the Stars Should Appear.

Some incongruous scenes remained.

  • Doctor Claire Finn mentions that Lieutenant Yaphit has wooed her for some time in About a Girl but seems unfamiliar with his motives in If the Stars Should Appear.
  • Isaac needs a definition of the word "dick" in If the Stars Should Appear and mistakenly believes it is a compliment, but Chief of Security Alara Kitan already called the Calivon Zoo administrator a dick in front of Isaac in Command Performance.

An additional episode, Primal Urges, was scheduled as the twelfth episode of the season but Fox moved it to Season 2 for undisclosed reasons.[27] Fox has not commented on the change and the reason remains unknown.

Deleted scenes[edit | edit source]

Editor Tom Costantino confirmed that material was deleted during editing due to time constraints which "was a shame to lose."[28] He recalls the scenes were in an episode such as Pria or New Dimensions.[28]

Reception[edit | edit source]

The most underrated show on TV.— Adam F. Goldberg[29]

General television audiences adored The Orville and ratings were very strong. Seth MacFarlane was delighted by the response of fans to Season 1: "I was waiting to see if people would tolerate actual storytelling and whether they were going to say, 'Shut up, and keep the jokes coming.' I was pleasantly surprised that people were willing to let us be what we wanted to be."[30]

In retrospect, MacFarlane said that the first season was a "tonal experiment" in dramatic science fiction television peppered with comedy. In the months following the first season's finale, MacFarlane said that he felt that the seriousness of the second half of the season led to more impactful and enjoyable stories, and it shaped the direction of the show going forward.[3]

However, professional television critics largely panned the The Orville, and it became one of the most polarized television shows of 2017, with a wide divide between public and professional opinion. According to Rotten Tomatoes, only 23 percent of professional critics gave The Orville a positive review yet 93 percent of general audiences rated it favorably,[31] leading to some to sharply criticize the critics themselves as out of touch with regular viewers and biased.[32]

"Yeah, there's a weird ax to grind that critics kind of have with me," MacFarlane later said.

But what was nice about television is that if the audience shows up week after week, you can't ignore that. They're there. So there has been a little bit of a shift in which there has been an acknowledgement that people are getting something out of this. I'm always grateful to the audience when that happens.[33]

Eventually, MacFarlane felt that the response of critics was due to poor marketing by Fox in the lead-up to the show, especially the May 2017 trailer. Advertising "just wasn’t indicative of what the show was. You were seeing basically every gag in the pilot rattled off, one after another, when in reality they were fairly sparse and the focus was more on the story. I think that didn’t do us any favors, at least as far as the show was received by critics. I think a lot of them felt misled and that made them real cranky."[34]

Irrespective of professional critics, The Orville proved to be one of the most beloved science fiction shows on the air. "Season 1 of every show, you're kind of just figuring it out, right?," actress Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson) surmised. "We were all so happy that it worked so well in the first place."[35]

Catch Up on Season One recap[edit | edit source]

On July 29, 2018, 20th Century Fox released a recap video of Season 1 called Catch Up on Season One, published in preparation for Season 2. The short video shows highlights from across the season.


Catch Up on Season One

List of episodes[edit | edit source]

Count Season Episode ID Code Title Airdate Rating[36] Notes
001 01 01 S01E01 1LAB01 Old Wounds Sept. 10, 2017 2.73/8.56 Pilot.
Commander Ed Mercer gets promoted to captain of a ship, the USS Orville. Mercer's ex-wife is assigned as his First Officer. The Krill attempt to steal powerful Union technology.
002 01 02 S01E02 1LAB04 Command Performance Sept. 14, 2017 2.17/6.63 Third series production, fourth-produced episode overall.
When Mercer and Grayson are trapped in a replica of their old apartment, inexperienced Alara Kitan is placed in the captain's chair.
003 01 03 S01E03 1LAB02 About a Girl Sept. 21, 2017 1.1/4.05 First series production.
The Orville visits Bortus's planet. Bortus and Klyden make a controversial request that sends the crew into a tailspin.
004 01 04 S01E04 1LAB03 If the Stars Should Appear Sept. 28, 2017 1.05/3.7 Second series production.
The crew intercept a bio-ship about to drift into a star.
005 01 05 S01E05 1LAB05 Pria Oct. 5, 2017 0.91/3.43
The Orville saves the attractive Pria Lavesque, but Kelly Grayson is suspicious of her motives.
006 01 06 S01E06 1LAB06 Krill Oct. 12, 2017 0.99/3.37
Gordon Malloy and Mercer infiltrate a Krill destroyer to obtain a copy of the Krill holy text.
007 01 07 S01E07 1LAB07 Majority Rule Oct. 26, 2017 1.21/4.18
A landing party explore a parallel Earth at the dawn of the 21st-century level of culture and technology, which exercises an extreme form of democracy.
008 01 08 S01E08 1LAB08 Into the Fold Nov. 2, 2017 1/3.83
The Finns and Isaac are stranded on an unknown moon.
009 01 09 S01E09 1LAB09 Cupid's Dagger Nov. 9, 2017 1.04/3.69
Darulio returns to cause havok during tense war negotiations
010 01 10 S01E10 1LAB10 Firestorm Nov. 16, 2017 0.93/3.32
A crew member dies, forcing Alara Kitan to question whether she is fit for command.
011 01 11 S01E11 1LAB11 New Dimensions Nov. 30, 2017 0.9/3.63
The ship is crippled by a spatial anomaly. Meanwhile, Mercer must decide who to promote to Chief Engineer.
012 01 12 S01E12 1LAB13 Mad Idolatry Dec. 7, 2017 1.2/4.2 Season 1 finale. Thirteenth produced episode after Primal Urges.
The crew discovers a planet from another universe. Ed and Kelly consider getting back together.

Awards[edit | edit source]

Perhaps the most notable achievement of the first season was a successful bid for a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Television Series. To win, The Orville had to pass significant competition from critically acclaimed science-fiction heavy hitters like Doctor Who, Star Trek: Discovery, and The Expanse.

"I'm surprised," editor and producer Tom Costantino remarked when he learned of the show's nomination.

Me and [producer] Jason Clark were talking, just to be recognized like that, that's sort of crazy. I feel like we're the scrappy non-Star Trek show in some ways.... Just to be recognized after the initial critical drubbing feels really good.[37]

The Orville was announced as winner for Best Science Fiction Television Series on June 30, 2018, in what reporters hesitantly called "a major upset."[38]

Year Award Category Nominees Result
2018 International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best Original Score for Television Bruce Broughton, John Debney, Joel McNeely, Andrew Cottee Won
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series The Orville Won
Best Actor on Television Seth MacFarlane Nominated
Best Actress on Television Adrianne Palicki Nominated
Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Awards Best Special Make-up Effects - Television and New Media Series Howard Berger, Tami Lane, Garrett Immel Nominated
Publicists Guild Awards Television Erin Moody Nominated
Broadcast Digital Awards Best Television Acquisition The Orville Nominated
Young Entertainer Awards Best Recurring Young Actor 11 or Under - Television Series Kai Wener Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Television Series - Recurring Young Actor Kai Wener Nominated

In addition to the list above, Fox unsuccessfully submitted the following to the Emmy Awards for nomination consideration: The Orville for best drama series; Seth MacFarlane for best actor; Adrianne Palicki and Penny Johnson Jerald for best supporting actress; Chad L. Coleman, Scott Grimes, and Peter Macon for best supporting actor; and Rob Lowe for best guest actor.[39]

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

The entire first season soundtrack was released on January 22, 2019 as The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1. The album contains all of the original compositions for the episodes, though it does not include third-party music material.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The original Season 1 finale was to be Identity, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2, but the writers moved the story to Season 2 to allow for more character development.[40]
  • According to Carnage Counts, 46 characters were killed on camera in this season at a rate of 0.087 deaths per minute.[41]

Credits[edit | edit source]

Main Cast[edit | edit source]

Crew[edit | edit source]

Executive Producers[edit | edit source]

Co-executive Producers[edit | edit source]

Co-producers[edit | edit source]

Supervising Producer[edit | edit source]

Associate Producer[edit | edit source]

Line Producer[edit | edit source]

Consultant[edit | edit source]

Science Consultant[edit | edit source]

Cinematographers[edit | edit source]

Editors[edit | edit source]

Casting by[edit | edit source]

Production Designer[edit | edit source]

Series Music[edit | edit source]

Art Directors[edit | edit source]

Set Decorators[edit | edit source]

Costume Designer[edit | edit source]

Makeup Department[edit | edit source]

Makeup and Special Make-up effects[edit | edit source]
Hair Department[edit | edit source]
Concept Artist[edit | edit source]
Contact Lens Painter[edit | edit source]

Production Management[edit | edit source]

Unit Production Managers[edit | edit source]
Production Supervisor[edit | edit source]
Post-production Supervisor[edit | edit source]

First Assistant Directors[edit | edit source]

Second Assistant Directors[edit | edit source]

Second Second Assistant Directors[edit | edit source]

Storyboard Artist[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Orville:Season One Ratings". Last accessed Dec. 6, 2017.
  2. Nellie Andreeva. "'The Orville' Renewed For Season 2 By Fox". Deadline. Nov. 2, 2017. Online.
  3. 3.0 3.1 SyFy Wire. "Seth MacFarlane And Orville Cast On Season 2: Evolution And Expansion | SDCC 2018 | SYFY WIRE". YouTube. July 23, 2018.
  4. Tim Surette. "The Orville's Season Will be Cut Short". TVGuide. Nov. 14, 2017. Online.
  5. Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  6. Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
  7. 7.0 7.1 Episode 1x11: New Dimensions
  8. Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
  9. Episode 1x03: About a Girl
  10. Episode 1x02: Command Performance
  11. Episode 1x10: Firestorm
  12. "Seth MacFarlane Smoked Weed with His Parents". Jimmy Kimmel Live. Dec. 18, 2018.
  13. Goldman, Michael. "Space Farce : The Exploratory Workflow of ‘The Orville’". CineMontage. Aug. 17, 2018.
  14. "SDCC2017 The Orville, EP's David. A Goodman, Jason Clark, & Brannon Braga Interview". FanboyNation. July 25, 2017.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 8.
  16. Cooney, Jenny. "INTERVIEW: Seth MacFarlane takes us behind the scenes of The Orville". SBS. Sept. 26, 2018.
  17. "Tom Costantino, Co-Producer". Quantum Drive. Sept. 10, 2019.
  18. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 11.
  19. @planetary_union. "Happy Independence Day U.S. fans! Today’s @TheOrville behind the scenes photo is a little different than you’re used to. This is part of the call sheet from the 1st day of shooting for Season 1! #TheOrville #PUNcast #bts #FoxStudios #Television #PilotEpisode". Twitter. July 4, 2018.
  20. "Brannon Braga & The Orville Cast Full interview 2017 Panel NYC convention". NYC ComicCon. Nov. 20, 2017.
  21. Flemmons, Heather W. "Small Town Goes Big Time: Sean Cook". Life in Minnesota. May 11, 2017.
  22. "How Seth MacFarlane Got Charlize Theron To Be On 'The Orville' | SDCC 2017 | Entertainment Weekly". Entertainment Weekly. July 26, 2017.
  23. Orville Wrap Party. Bites and Bashes. Last accessed Oct. 16, 2018.
  24. /u/markjacksonacts. "I’m Mark Jackson and I play AI badass Isaac on The Orville. Ask me questions!". Reddit. Feb. 4, 2019.
  25. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ The Visual Effects Team". Planetary Union Network. May 23, 2018.
  26. Goldman, Michael. "Space Farce : The Exploratory Workflow of ‘The Orville’". CineMontage. Aug. 17, 2018.
  27. 27.0 27.1 "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Jason Roberts (The Orville Unit Production Manager)". Planetary Union Network. April 19, 2018.
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Tom Costantino, Co-Producer". Quantum Drive. Sept. 10, 2019.
  29. [[1]]
  30. "Seth MacFarlane And Orville Cast On Season 2: Evolution And Expansion | SDCC 2018 | SYFY WIRE". SyFy Wire. July 23, 2018.
  31. "The Orville: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed Aug. 23, 2018.
  32. Kain, Erik. "The Critics Must Be Crazy: Seth MacFarlane's 'The Orville' Captures The Spirit Of 'Star Trek'". Forbes. Sept. 10, 2017.
  33. "Seth MacFarlane Drops In To Talk About His Album, "In Full Swing"". BUILD Series. Dec. 18, 2017.
  34. Schwartz, Dana. "Seth MacFarlane teases season 2 of The Orville that's a 'major step up in scope'". Entertainment Weekly. Dec. 27, 2018.
  35. Surette, Tim. "The Orville Is Headed for a 'Bigger' and 'Intense' Season 2". TVGuide. Dec. 23, 2018.
  36. "The Orville: Season One Ratings". Online. (Last accessed Dec. 6, 2017). (First figure is the 18-49 demographic; second is the overall number of viewers.)
  37. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Tom Costantino, Scott Powell, Bart Rachmil & Hillary Wills". Planetary Union Network. March 19, 2018.
  38. Lovett, Jamie. "'The Orville' Wins Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Television Series". Comic Book. June 30, 2018.
  39. Beachum, Chris. "Emmys 2018 exclusive: 20th Century Fox Television categories for ‘This Is Us,’ ‘Modern Family,’ ‘The Orville,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and more". GoldDerby. May 14, 2018.
  40. Trekyards. Mark Jackson Isaac Orville Interview (Issac/Identity PT 1+2) (2019). YouTube. March 9, 2019.
  41. "The Orville Season One (2017) Carnage Count". Carnage Counts. Dec. 1, 2018.
  42. @TomCostantino. "MORE - @theorville that brings me fond memories. RIP Justin 👹@ol.dirty.patrick @planetary_union @foxtv #TheOrville 🚀". Twitter. Nov. 14, 2016.
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