The Orville reached a rare milestone for a FOX science fiction series: a second season – but that's what fans of the series are getting, starting Sunday night, December 30th.
Series creator Seth MacFarlane has addressed the challenges going into the new season and what they're trying to accomplish. Now that it has survived and thrived from its successful freshman season, here are some questions we have going into tonight's second season premiere.
Will LaMarr and Malloy Mature?
A show like The Orville has an abundance of potential with its robust talented cast. Credit goes to MacFarlane, the cast and crew – which includes a number of sci-fi veterans including those from the Star Trek franchise.
MacFarlane's been able to stay within the traditional sci-fi exploration formula that's made ST work for generations. The characters are also distinctive with McFarlane's idiosyncrasies in his characters seen in his other animated shows, such as Family Guy and American Dad.
We can see an organic growth with most of the main characters like Mercer (MacFarlane), Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), Dr. Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald), Bortus (Peter Macon), Kitan (Halston Sage), and Isaac (Mark Jackson) – as they're more traditional sci-fi characters.
Those like LaMarr (J. Lee) and Malloy (Scott Grimes) don't appear to fit in as well as they're more traditional MacFarlane "low-brow, frat boy" caricatures. While LaMarr faced the challenge and responsibility of accepting a role as a leader, both characters don't feel as developed as they could be – tending to stay within their 20/21st century mindset and "just happen" to be in the story.
The other characters show more that they belong in that universe. While a minor gripe in an otherwise stellar written show, underdeveloped characters can drag the rest of the show down.
My hope is LaMarr and Malloy can exhibit more growth as characters who actually belong in the show's universe, they wouldn't find themselves in such insipid situations like they did like in the episode 'Majority Rule' when LaMarr twerked next to a statue.
I like both characters, but they need to stand out beyond just being comic relief. While the rest of the crew have their own share of problems, it feels more like that they can overcome their problems.
What Kind of Captain Does Mercer Want to Be?
MacFarlane's Mercer appears to draw inspiration from Chris Pine's iteration of James T. Kirk from the Kelvinverse Star Trek films. As he learns to work with his crew and overcome his distrust for his ex-wife and first officer Greyson (for now), he's shown potential to become the leader he needs to be.
Mercer's just a more stubborn and arrogant version of young Kirk. While having Greyson clearly presents a conflict of interest in the show, the Planetary Union conveniently looks the other way as long as they keep producing results. The big question going to season 2 is what happens when Mercer finds out his ex-wife pulled strings for him to get the job as captain – going to Admiral Hasley behind his back. Will Mercer show gratuity to his first officer/ex-wife or will his pride re-establish his distrust of her?
Will the Show Try More to Innovate or Put Their Spin on Existing Stories?
A show like The Orville works because it borrows the more successful elements of shows like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone, but it should also be distinctive enough to lend itself to leave its own mark to their audience than simply ride its coattails of others' successes.
A reason the Star Trek franchise became stale is audiences grew tired of the same predictable formula and bland execution, which explains the dramatic shift in direction of Star Trek: Discovery. The biggest problem The Orville can run into is that it's too much like old Trek or it becomes stale if the show doesn't innovate enough to maintain its audience.
Will FOX Attempt to Expand the Show Like CBS is for Star Trek?
While networks obsess in milking franchises as much as humanly possible, Star Trek has the history and a large enough fanbase to sprout multiple shows. Not sure FOX will attempt such a feat with The Orville and over-extend MacFarlane. Remember: not all of MacFarlane's work is successful (The Cleveland Show, A Million Ways to Die in The West, Ted 2).