In a series of blog posts, I will place important source material that may be used later but is not currently in use. Material directly relating to The Orville and Star Trek goes here.
Production of The Orville
- Showbiz Junkies asks executive producers Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, and Jason Clark how the show draws inspiration from Star Trek without crossing a line:
- Goodman: "That's a really good question and it's something we talk about all the time, but the thing about it is, Seth created - when people see the pilot - they are going to see this is original. Even though there are influences like every television show on television is influenced by shows that came before it, this show - however much it was influenced by those shows - is its own thing. We created a world that is its own world. The characters are not rip-offs. The characters are original. Again, influenced by the audiences expectations of what they expect when they go into watch a sci-fi television show. But it's original, and certainly the core of it, the core relationships, which is what drives the storytelling, are cleary original. We've never seen a captain and the first officer who are exes, and that relationship is played as real but as funny as we can make it."
- Braga: "It's less a spoof than a loving tribute to the sort of storytelling of shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek did so well, which is stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Parables of sorts."
- CineMovie tells Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki that "the first impression we get when we see the trailer and the clips is Star Trek."
- MacFarlane: "This is a show that draws from a lot of different sci-fi elements. I think every show that takes place on a spaceship, every movie that takes place on a spaceship, to some degree owes their existence to Star Wars or Star Trek, which - you know - developed a lot of its tropes from 1930s sci-fi. You're all kind of existing in the same world. For me, there was this thing that Star Trek used to do, this space in science fiction that was very hopeful, very aspirational; it created a world you want to live in. About 15, 20 years ago they've decided to go in a different direction, shake it up and do something different, and it worked for them, but it left this space open to be occupied. There's really been nothing like that in 20 years where a casual sci-fi show that's just about people spending their day-to-day lives on a spaceship. That's the inspiration that comes from that show more than anything. The nature of our characters, who they are and what drives them, is all completely new. The tone is something I think nobody has seen before. It's a combination of the familiar and the comfortable, and the uncharted."
- JoBlo TV asks Brannon Braga and David A. Goodman: "How much are we going to see tributes or homage to the original Star Trek?"
- Braga: "The whole ethos and aesthetic of the show is - I don't know if homage is the right word."
- Goodman: "It's not."
- Braga: "It's part of its DNA but so is The Twilight Zone and so is other, many other shows. But it definitely depicts an optimistic, inclusive future that certainly shares that with Star Trek. We're careful, actually, if anything not do things that Star Trek has done. You know, keep our show original."
- Various reporters ask Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki what science fiction comedies influenced the show.
- MacFarlane: "The thing I like about the show is, Star Trek elements aside, I don't think a science fiction show of this type has been attempted before. Shows like M*A*S*H have walked that line between comedy and drama beautifully. If we can have that kind of balance that would be a major victory, but it's hard. I think we come pretty damn close, but that's for audiences to decide."
- At the Television Critics Association presentation, SyFy Wire asked Seth Macfarlane: "Trek is the key inspiration for the series, right?"
- MacFarlane: "There are many different places that I draw from when I kind of think about this. I mean, there’s The Twilight Zone. There’s Star Trek. I hold a lot of these different franchises in very, very high regard. And, you know, I kind of miss the forward thinking, aspirational, optimistic place in science fiction that Star Trek used to occupy. I think they’ve chosen to go in a different direction, which has worked very well for them in recent years, but what has happened is that it’s left open a space that has been relatively unoccupied for a while in the genre. In the same way that when James Bond kind of moved into a different area than classic James Bond, Iron Man came along and sort of filled that void. So for me, it’s a space that’s waiting to be filled in this day and age when we’re getting a lot of dystopian science fiction, a lot of which is great and very entertaining, but it can’t all be The Hunger Games. It can’t all be the nightmare scenario. I think there’s some space for the aspirational blueprint of what we could do if we get our shit together, and that’s something that’s been missing for me for a while."
- Star Trek: Voyager alums Robert Duncan McNeill (and director of Command Performance), Garret Wang, and Tim Russ discuss The Orville.
- McNeill: "Yeah, I think everybody's very cautious about the legalities of a spaceship that looks a lot like other spaceships. Seth's show Orville is so good. I directed an episode that got moved up to the second spot. Jon Favreau directed the pilot and the next episode will be mine, and I think Brannon directed the third one. Frakes did one. So there's a lot of Star Trek - again, I have to be cautious and I don't want to get anyone in trouble. There's no reason anyone should be in trouble, and this is Seth's, these are Seth's characters, this is a world that Seth has imagined very specifically. But he's a Star Trek fan..."
- Wang: "...huge Star Trek fan."
- The trio are distracted by the sudden walk-on of Ethan Phillips, who portrayed Neelix on Voyager. When the conversation returns, McNeill tells an anecdote of Seth filming a fan episode of Star Trek when he was 13.
- At the Television Critics Association presentation, Penny Johnson Jerald is asked by Assignment X, "And what would you most like people to know about THE ORVILLE?"
- Jerald: That it’s not STAR TREK, and that it’s something that STAR TREK fans will definitely appreciate because of that.
- The New Yorker asks Seth MacFarlane:
- "Did you draw on that utopian “Star Trek” vision at all in making 'The Orville'?"
- MacFarlane: "It was important to take a cue from Gene Roddenberry that somehow we’ve gotten past money. Money can’t be a factor. It’s too primitive. I really love that, in 'Star Trek,' reputation becomes the main form of currency in the absence of money. When you think about it, it’s not the warp drive, it’s not the transporter, it’s the replicator. We give a little nod to that in 'The Orville.'"
- "The comparisons between 'The Orville' and 'Discovery,' the new addition to the 'Star Trek' franchise, were inevitable, especially because a number of 'Star Trek' veterans—writers, actors, directors—are now working with you. Some Trekkies are angry. What’s your response?"
- MacFarlane: "I’ve heard that, and yet I’ve also heard fans echo the desire for a “Star Trek” where they turn the lights on, where everybody’s not sitting around in the dark. I don’t know anything about “Discovery.” It looks very dark and very serious, but that’s the trailer—it could turn out to be very optimistic. There should be room for both. But it’s been a blast to work with all these people, to watch Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill walking around the set. It’s in their blood."
- "Did you draw on that utopian “Star Trek” vision at all in making 'The Orville'?"
- Anthony Pascale of TrekMovie asks Brannon Braga:
- "With The Orville, you are creating a new fictional future universe. What can you tell us about the Planetary Union and how much you have mapped out?"
- Braga: "Essentially, we have a ship of exploration with characters that are more recognizable than your typical space opera. And that is where the comedy comes from, along with the neurotic foibles and relationships problems. It is kind of like the anti-Star Trek in a sense that in Roddenberry’s universe people had moved past that kind of stuff, but on The Orville, we are close but not quite."
- "The show uses a lot of the language of Star Trek – like ‘scanning for life signs, captain.’ Is that part of the homage, or a shorthand for telling these kinds of stories?"
- Braga: "There is a language of this type of show. The actual nouns and verbs may vary, but the essential language goes way back to Issac Asimov and Amazing Stories, Jules Verne, Star Trek, Forbidden Planet, Star Wars, Alien movies, and the list goes on. Is there another way to depict a crew? Yeah there are variations. The first Alien was great in that it depicted a sort of funky reality that wasn’t so buttoned-down like in the original Star Trek. The Orville is different with the character dynamics and how there is comedy involved; it is kind of its own thing. But yeah, for the rhythms of this kind of sci-fi show, I like a captain on the bridge with his crew. I think it is a classic, archetypal vibe. And maybe a selfish part of me misses it."
- "There are a lot of technologies shared between Star Trek and The Orville. Although some of the naming is different, you have replicators, warp, tractor beam, communicators and others. But I noticed one you aren’t using – the transporter. Was that just too Trek?"
- Braga: "It is probably the most recognizable technology of Star Trek. We are not out to be Star Trek and we are conscientious of it. The transporter, that is a distinct Roddenberry invention and a brilliant one and we weren’t comfortable doing that. There can be no doubt we are paying tribute to the Star Trek ethos – and others such as The Twilight Zone ethos – but we don’t just want to rip shit off."
- "With The Orville, you are creating a new fictional future universe. What can you tell us about the Planetary Union and how much you have mapped out?"
- Seth MacFarlane to Forbes:
- MacFarlane: "I’m a huge fan [of Star Trek] and always have been. Gene Roddenberry’s philosophy was always very meaningful to me when I was a kid. I always loved that the phasers were set on stun. That was something you really only saw on that show. That there was actually an ethical code, that it wasn’t about just shooting faceless bad guys. It was about respect for life. That was the philosophy of the show, and I swear to God that’s the reason that if I find a spider in my house, I've got to put it outside. I can’t kill it."
- "If you look at the Iron Man franchise, at a certain point, James Bond decided to do something alternative to what James Bond had traditionally done, and it opened the window for somebody else to sort of step in. I feel like that’s sort of what Iron Man did. That Iron Man sort of said, 'Hey, you know, if James Bond is doing something new at this point, why don’t we do James Bond?' In many ways, that’s how I feel about the type of science fiction in this show. Star Trek has chosen to go along a different path or try something different than what they’ve done before, which is great. But it’s also left a wide, open space for the kind of episodic science fiction that they used to do, and I still have a huge appetite for that. I feel like a lot of people, a lot of fans do as well."
- An audience member at the New York Comic Con asked Seth MacFarlane if it was difficult to get The Orville "off the ground" with Star Trek: Discovery coming out the same time.
- MacFarlane: "[Fox] didn't [give me problems], and it didn't worry us for two reasons. One, because of the comedic element; and two, at a certain point, there have been so many TV shows like SeaQuest and Babylon 5 and Buck Rogers, these shows that, like, both owe their existence to Star Trek. It did create a way of doing things in the same way that Family Guy created a way of doing sitcoms or The Honeymooners did a way of doing sitcomes. It didn't worry us enormously also because it became very clear initially that Discovery was doing something very different, that they were going in a different direction, and they were leaning a little more toward the tone of the recent movies than in the direction of classic Star Trek. So there was kind of a little void there that had yet to be filled. I was a big Star Trek fan growing up, and I loved the optimism, I loved the hopefulness - everything from the look to the music. Everything just felt very warm and inviting, and it's a tone that I hadn't really seen in a while and I kind of wanted it back.(Applause.) If they had been moving in the same direction it would have been a little dicier, but they chose to do something different. There was a nice little space there that was left to be occupied, so we weren't worried about treading on the same ground as them."
- Too long to re-type: the Planetary Union Network interviews Jonathan Frakes who speaks extensively about the relationship.
- At the New York Comic Con, David A. Goodman and Brannon Braga are asked why Trek fans find The Orville best follows Gene Roddenberry's vision.
- Goodman: There's no getting around that there's some Star Trek inspiration in this show. There's no getting around that Seth wanted an uplifting show that presented a positive view of the future, which is what Roddenberry said about his original show. So they share that philosophy. The difference for us is Seth is very much aware - and this makes it more like Star Trek in a certain way than anything else - he's making a show for everybody. That's what gets lost in the discussion of Star Trek fans liking or not liking the show is the original Star Trek is a show that millions of people watched all over the world. There is a subset of people, like me, who are super passionate Star Trek fans. I've written three Star Trek books. I'm a big fan. But we represent a really small, tiny part of the audience who watch that show, and Seth wanted to do a show that was for everybody. And I think that may be closer to the reason we were making that connection. This is a show that I don't need to know the backstory of this universe to jump into it.
- Braga: And I don't need to watch every episode to swing into the story. It's more classic storytelling.
- At the New York Comic Con, a reporter asked Scott Grimes and Adrianne Palicki the same question asked of Braga and Goodman above.
- Palicki: [Inaudible] ...not necessarily agree with that, but I think it definitely, there's something about it that's optimistic, you know, kind of like a nod to the old school Star Trek where I think now so many futuristic sci-fi shows end up being really dark and grim and the future looks very, you know, minimal and sad. This is an optimistic nod to a great 80s show.
- Grimes: And it's written by the people who love this optimistic, all the Star Trek. If the fans are liking it, it's written by the fans: Seth, Brannon, and David. You know, that's why I would think that people would like it, because it's kind of an homage to that.
- Mike Reyes of Cinema Blend asks Penny Johnson Jerald how she feels about competing with Star Trek: Discovery:
- Jerald: I don't think it makes a difference. . . . I think there's more than enough room for more than one science fiction kid on the block, and they're different. To be perfectly honest, I have not watched Discovery, I was ignorant of the fact that it was even coming out. I thought it was another movie coming out. And I'm glad about that, because we have our own niche, and I think we're filling that. I wish them well, however, because I'm from the Star Trek family, but I think there's room enough for everybody.
- A comment by Scott Grimes to Vulture Hound: "Obviously, [The Orville] stands on the shoulders of Star Trek and Star Wars; we're all big fans."
- Comments by Brannon Braga to the Planetary Union Network:
- Braga: Well, it's not that I brought anything with me from my 15 years on Star Trek, I'm just carrying it forward. Because it's kind of a story concept that can go on forever, because anything you can dream up you can do. In the years since I'd done Star Trek I had really come to miss it; and though I don't think I'd have done Star Trek again, I missed the episodic storytelling. This was just what the doctor ordered for me in that it had that Star Trek type of standalone science fiction metaphorical storytelling, but it was also its own thing and it had that sort of humor we could never really do on Star Trek and the characters just seemed more grounded and naturalistic. It was really just the right thing. I was nervous, I won't lie. I hadn't done a show like this in 10 years and I'm like, 'Am I going to be rusty? Do I know how to make a show like this?' It's never easy but it certainly was comfortable, and I've really been enjoying it.
- Braga (paraphrase): After watching the episode "Family" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seth MacFarlane realized that episodic science fiction has the potential to allow writers to tell any sort of story.
- Braga is asked how he feels about fans comparing the two franchises.
- Braga: I'm happy about it. You know that's a very flattering thing to say. The shows at their best were great shows, and we can only aspire to find the gold nuggets. Stories are like sifting for gold: they're hard to come by and you want every one to be special. Comparisons were inevitable. It's no secret that Seth's a huge Star Trek fan, and this was a huge passion project for him. I think that shows, too. I think everyone who has worked on it has put their all into it, and I've always been a believer in if it's fun to make, it's fun to watch.
- Braga (paraphrase): I was careful not to mention Star Trek while on set to ensure The Orville was original.
- Seth MacFarlane at a panel talk to Google.
- MacFarlane: Star Trek, obviously, its model of a spaceship as opposed to a sailing ship is something that emerged from the 1930s, 1940s. There were other shows that did that but they were the ones that put a memorable stamp on it. So the tricky thing is anything you do that deals with a crew on a spaceship traveling through space, you're working in that territory. Star Trek and Star Wars have trodden those paths so heavily, it is a challenge. My solution was not to try and twist myself into a pretzel trying to do something so exotic and new; I just kind of embraced - alright, this is the bridge of a ship, let's start there, what can we do that's new from that standpoint? A lot of it was tone, like the thing about putting the two command chairs next to each other, the Captain and the ex-wife, instantly turns this into, now you're getting into Cheers territory, and that I haven't seen. But it's a fun challenge to try and find, I mean, the idea of an all-male species of Bortus. I haven't seen that before. The idea of the Krill being a technologically advanced species that still clings to their religion very, very heavily this way is something I haven't seen before. It's trying to find new ways. Look, the basis of your series is the universe, so you should never run out of ideas if you're doing your job right.
- Scott Grimes: Stop comparing it to anything you’ve ever seen. It’s fresh and new. It looks similar to other things, but watch it and you’ll see that it is not the same at all. It’s from the mind of a man that is nothing but original, and he’s bringing you the most original television you’ve ever seen. He’s giving you what HBO gave you, but now he’s bringing this to network.
- Jonathan Frakes : Stylistically, your responsibility as an episodic television director [is] when you do a show like ‘The Orville,’ you want that show to look like 'Next Generation.'" And when you go to Canada to do ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ they want that show to have the feeling, and look, and vibe of the J.J. [Abrams]-era ‘Star Trek.’ Much more cinematic, a lot of crane work, and a lot of movement, a lot of dutch angles. On ‘Next Generation,’ the traditional framing, and the things we became accustomed to as fans of the show, we see in [‘The Orville’] because that’s the look.
"When it came to “The Orville, I was afraid that it was going to be like ‘Family Guy,’ and it’s not really, but it’s also not really as serious as ‘Next Generation.’ I think Seth [MacFarlane], and Brannon [Braga], and whoever else is involved in all this, they found a tone that clicks with this audience, either the millennial audience or the old school audience. Everyone is very pleasantly surprised at how well the show has been received. I’m happy to see the homage, and I’m happy to see success for whoever wants to steal good ideas.
"It was a very conscious, and I think quite successful, homage. ‘Orville’s’ coming back for a second season, so is ‘Discovery.’ There’s room, obviously, in the fans’ hearts for both types of ‘Star Trek.'"
- Jonathan Frakes: "The Star Trek that we have has really found its voice, and Discovery has really found its voice. And The Orville has filled in a void. For a lot of people The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation], and it’s got wild humor in it.
"Stylistically, your responsibility as an episodic television director [is] when you do a show like The Orville, you want that show to look like Next Generation. And when you go to Canada to do Star Trek: Discovery, they want that show to have the feeling, and look, and vibe of the J.J. [Abrams]-era Star Trek. Much more cinematic, a lot of crane work, and a lot of movement, a lot of dutch angles. On Next Generation, the traditional framing, and the things we became accustomed to as fans of the show, we see in [The Orville] because that’s the look.
"[Seth MacFarlane] clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like [The Next Generation]. So, he hired the cinematographer [Marvin Rush] and the camera operator, and Brannon Braga, who wrote First Contact among other things that are fabulous. Robbie Duncan McNeill, one of our wonderful directors from Voyager, James Conway, who directed a bunch of great Next Gen episodes; he hired me. He filled the room with Next Gen people so that the show would look and feel like it. I think he did it."
The interviewer noted that James L. Conway directed an episode of The Orville, which is somewhat like a "parody homage" to Star Trek, and asked if his work on Star Trek led to his job as director of The Orville.
- Conway: "Yeah, that's why I was there. Brannon Braga was also one of the show writers with Seth, and he, of course, was an executive producer of Voyager, Enterprise, and [Deep Space Nine], and he was Rick [Berman's] partner for many years. They reached out to me to direct episode two of the show. Marvin Rush, who was the DP on all the different Star Trek shows - I did the Enterprise pilot, Marvin was my DP on that - he came on to be the DP for Orville. So he and I fashioned this show on stage... and it was because of my Star Trek past that they hired me."
- "The Orville Producers Interview (Comic Con) " https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlkcnkKzzH8
- "Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki Talk Influence Behind The Orville" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drSx2i6DwwY
- "THE ORVILLE Exclusive Seth MacFarlane & Cast Interviews - #SDCC 2017" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh3afonXb6g
- "SDCC 2017: The Orville - Adrianne Palicki, Seth McFarlane" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq4WTbZm-_0
- "SETH MACFARLANE WANTS TO RECLAIM SCI-FI WITH THE ORVILLE" http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/seth-macfarlane-wants-to-reclaim-sci-fi-with-the-orville
- "Voyager (Part 2 of 2) at the 2017 Star Trek Convention" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDNmV6zM38s
- "THE ORVILLE: Actress Penny Johnson Jerald plays doctor in space – Exclusive Interview" https://www.assignmentx.com/2017/the-orville-actress-penny-johnson-jerald-plays-doctor-in-space-exclusive-interview/
- Seth MacFarlane Discusses “The Orville,” “Star Trek,” and the Struggle to Make Science Fiction Funny https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/seth-macfarlane-discusses-the-orville-star-trek-and-the-struggle-to-make-science-fiction-funny
- "Interview: Brannon Braga On How ‘The Orville’ Pays Tribute To Star Trek While Setting A New Course" https://trekmovie.com/2017/09/14/interview-brannon-braga-on-how-the-orville-pays-tribute-to-star-trek-while-setting-a-new-course/
- "Interview: Seth MacFarlane On The Orville's Unique Tone, 'Star Trek' Roots https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2017/09/16/seth-macfarlane-on-the-orville-going-boldly-where-no-tv-show-has-gone-before/#70814d805357
- "NYCC 2017 - The Orville Panel" https://youtu.be/EI6Mz3YVWa4
- "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Jonathan Frakes (05)" https://planetaryunionnetwork.podbean.com/e/planetary-union-network-the-orville-fan-podcast-05/
- "NYCC 2017: Brannon Braga & David A. Goodman - The Orville" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avyq9Be5GJE
- "NYCC 2017: Adrianne Palicki & Scott Grimes - The Orville" https://youtu.be/r9gwp4UO_-I
- "How The Orville's Penny Johnson Jerald Feels About Competing With Star Trek: Discovery" https://www.cinemablend.com/television/1722250/how-the-orvilles-penny-johnson-jerald-feels-about-competing-with-star-trek-discovery
- "“I’VE NEVER ACTUALLY TOUCHED BOOBS BEFORE” – SCOTT GRIMES (THE VH INTERVIEW)" http://vulturehound.co.uk/2017/12/ive-never-actually-touched-boobs-before-scott-grimes-the-vh-interview/
- "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Brannon Braga (08) https://planetaryunionnetwork.podbean.com/e/planetary-union-network-the-orville-fan-podcast-08/
- "Seth MacFarlane and behind-the-scenes creative team: "The Orville" | Talks at Google" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N54eNGRDH8
- "THE ORVILLE: Scott Grimes beams up for Season 1 of new space trek – Exclusive Interview" https://www.assignmentx.com/2017/the-orville-scott-grimes-beams-up-for-season-1-of-new-space-trek-exclusive-interview/
- "From ‘The Orville’ to ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Librarians’ Director Jonathan Frakes Has Found Massive Range Within the Realm of Sci-Fi" http://www.indiewire.com/2017/12/jonathan-frakes-director-interview-star-trek-orville-librarians-1201910085/
- "Jonathan Frakes on How 'Star Trek: Discovery' & 'The Orville' Fill Different Voids" http://comicbook.com/startrek/2018/03/29/star-trek-discovery-the-orville-jonathan-frakes/
- "Supplemental 10: Interview with James L. Conway" http://spocklight.podbean.com/e/supplemental-10-interview-with-james-l-conway/