Initially — and perhaps still — best known as the creator of the long-running animated powerhouse Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane has come a long way career-wise since the days when Peter Griffin’s adventures were canceled by FOX then later brought back by popular demand. He’s created multiple other animated series for FOX, written, directed, and appeared in several high-profile films, hosted awards shows, released music albums, and generally succeeded in crafting a personal show business empire. One thing MacFarlane hasn’t yet done is star in a live-action TV series, but that accomplishment is soon to be added to his long list of accolades.
Reportedly, MacFarlane is set to create, executive produce, and star in an as-yet-untitled sci-fi dramedy series for 20th Century Fox TV, where he has been under an overall creative deal for many years. Naturally, the series will air on FOX itself, and has already been granted a 13-episode first season order. At this point, the network clearly trusts MacFarlane to deliver content it considers worth airing, which makes sense given just how well most of his ventures for the network have performed.
According to Deadline, the actual plot of the untitled series takes place 300 years in the future, and chronicles the journeys of the Orville, a technologically outdated ship from Earth’s interstellar exploratory fleet. One assumes MacFarlane’s character will serve as leader of the vessel’s mismatched crew, although that has yet to be clarified. The Orville’s crew are said to face challenges from both within and without their own ranks, and will reportedly “boldly go where no comedic drama has gone before.” What exactly that means in a practical sense is anyone’s guess at this early stage.
Having served as the vocal backbone for his various animated projects, it seems like a logical progression for MacFarlane to ply his TV trade in front of the camera, especially since he has been experimenting more and more with live action work in the last few years. That said: it remains to be seen whether the man behind lovably foul-mouthed bear Ted has the chops to hold up his end of the drama half of the term dramedy. Whether one appreciates his style of comedy or not, MacFarlane has more than proven himself as a comedic presence capable of drawing in audiences, but hasn’t really been tested on the dramatic side.
Additionally, one wonders how far into the realm of hard sci-fi this series will delve. MacFarlane — producer of FOX’s well-received 2014 update of Cosmos — is a noted space junkie and sci-fi devotee, so while his usual modus operandi would suggest a wacky and irreverent rapid fire comedic style, it’ll be interesting to see just how scientifically accurate The Orville’s galactic travels end up being.
Seth MacFarlane’s untitled sci-fi dramedy series is slated to air on FOX during the 2017-2018 season.