BEVERLY HILLS — Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, long a Star Trek fan, is finally getting a chance to embrace his inner nerd.
He’s the creator and star of Fox’s The Orville, premiering Sept. 10, as Capt. Ed Mercer, exploring new worlds in space, 400 years in the future. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) plays Kelly Grayson, Mercer’s ex-wife and second in command.
“Star Trek itself sprang from a lot of different sci-fi tropes before it,” though creator Gene Roddenberry crystallized “the idea of ships in the naval sense cruising through space better than anyone else,” MacFarlane told the Television Critics Association Tuesday. “I miss the optimism, I miss the hopeful side of science fiction,” but as Trek and other series go darker, “it’s left open a space that’s been relatively unoccupied in the genre… it can’t all be The Hunger Games, it can’t all be the dystopian scenario.”
The series has been promoted as a comedy spoof, but is, in fact, a drama with occasional funny moments, and its tone varies in different episodes. Fox TV chief Gary Newman says promos have been calibrated to more properly represent the show.
MacFarlane says there are really no Spaceballs or Family Guy-style jokes. “That’s by design. We really do see it as a sci-fi comedic drama. We’re trying to break some new ground here; whether we succeed is up to the viewer.”
The Orville has its own version of Klingons, including a “single-gender” alien who’s indisposed during a crisis when he’s required to safeguard a gestation. Says actor Peter Macon: “It was quite strange to tell people I was laying on an egg in the show.”