FOX has announced that the premiere of The Orville, Seth MacFarlane’s love letter to Star Trek, debuted to one of their biggest viewerships in recent memory. A staple of the network’s creative lineup since Family Guy burst onto the scene post-Super Bowl in 1999, MacFarlane has come a long way rising up the ranks of Hollywood as a producer, filmmaker, director, and overall talent in the past 20 years.
The popularity (and resurrection from cancellation) of Family Guy spurred MacFarlane mania across the industry, affording the creator two animated spinoff shows (American Dad! and The Cleveland Show), three feature-length comedy movies (the two Ted films and A Million Ways to Die in the West), and the reboot of a popular science-fiction documentary series (Cosmos). That kind of goodwill and popularity afforded him the chance to launch The Orville, a Star Trek-esque adventure for the 21st century that clearly comes from a place of passion and long-gesticulating career aspirations.
Those aspirations have temporarily paid off not only for MacFarlane, but the network backing him as well. In a press release, FOX is reporting that The Orville’s Sunday premiere earlier this month is the most-watched pilot episode for the channel since the debut of hip-hop soap opera phenomenon Empire in early 2015, pulling in 12.7 million viewers across all formats in its first week. The opening night audience delivered roughly 3.7 million to that total, the biggest launch since Lucifer’s 3.8 million in January 2016. In addition to those numbers (and plenty more that FOX details in their release), The Orville is also the most streamed new FOX show since the premiere of Scream Queens in the Fall of 2015.
FOX gave The Orville its full support with an extensive marketing campaign, including a bundle of commercials and spots that have been inescapable since the start of the summer. In addition, the show has been given a coveted spot post the network’s football coverage every Sunday, with an airing of encore episodes on the following Tuesday. This kind of opening certainly wasn’t a lightning in a bottle type of situation, but the result of a heavy amount of exposure and a familiar name pushing a project driven by passion.
Opinions seem to be mixed on the actual quality of The Orville, with some saying that the show is a pale imitation of the Star Trek formula and is suffering from an identity crisis. Still, MacFarlane has ambitious ideas for the directions that the series can go, hinting at potential Star Trek cast member cameos and a potential musical episode. Also starring Adrianne Palicki and Scott Grimes, you can make up your mind on The Orville by catching it on FOX every Sunday or online on your various streaming devices.
The Orville continues with ‘About a Girl’ on Thursday @9pm on FOX.
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