Despite its penchant for the occasional fart joke, The Orville is relatively accurate with its science thanks to a team of advisors that includes astrophysicist and nerd icon, Neil deGrasse Tyson. The series might often feature outrageous aliens and unlikely scenarios, but when it comes down to it, its science is mostly intact.
The Orville premiered on Fox in 2017 as a science fiction comedy-drama created by and starring funnyman Seth MacFarlane. The series takes place on a spaceship designed to explore the universe, crewed with a diverse team of humans and aliens. If that sounds familiar, it should: The series acts as a spoof of Star Trek. The show also stars Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee and Mark Jackson. Although critics initially blasted the series (Rotten Tomatoes gave it 22 percent), fans loved it enough to convince Fox to renew The Orville for season 2.
Part of the series' appeal is its scientific accuracy. During the New York Comic Con press room for The Orville, executive producer Jason Clark told Screen Rant and other publications about how the series has a team of scientific advisors, which includes one of the most famous astrophysicists in this time, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
"There is some crossover, in that Andre Bormanis and Seth MacFarlane, who's an incredible part of the Cosmos storytelling team, and then Andre, who's our science advisor, actually advises on both shows. So if we're on The Orville, we say ‘Well, what would that black hole look like?’ We call Andre, and he's meanwhile advising on Cosmos. So, we have the benefit of the Cosmos team to give us advice, right up to Neil, who we also call for advice on our science fiction show. And that's really a great benefit benefit of doing both of them.”
What's most interesting about The Orville is that it balances its often juvenile humor with legitimate social issues, much like the original Star Trek series did. The Orville has tackled gender-related matters, as well as religious topics, the ethics of space travel and morality. Because of this, many Trek fans who are unhappy with the current state of Star Trek (including the recent movies and Star Trek: Discovery) have claimed it as an unofficial Trek show. The series is very aware of this and embraces its Trek inspiration, which includes Star Trek Easter eggs in nearly every episode. Trek actors have also appeared on the series, including Robert Picardo from Voyager. Season 2 will have an episode directed by The Next Generation's Jonathan Frakes, which will feature his TNG co-star Marina Sirtis.
Season 2 of The Orville will continue to boldly go on, at least according to the trailer recently released at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. The series returns to Fox on Sunday, December 30 following a Sunday Night Football game, with subsequent episodes airing on Thursdays. It's likely that the show will never win over critics, but fans will still tune in to watch one of the best Trek shows on the air that isn't actually Trek.
The Orville season 2 premieres December 30 on FOX.