Fox's sci-fi adventure series The Orville has been renewed for a third season. The news comes a fortnight after the finale of season 2, where the show’s viewership managed to slightly climb after its two lowest-rated episodes.
The brainchild of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, The Orville takes place 400 years in the future and follows the crew of the titular starship, a mid-tier vessel of the Planetary Union, as they explore the galaxy. Starring MacFarlane as the ship’s captain Ed Mercer, the core characters are made up of the ship’s mildly dysfunctional command staff of humans, aliens and inorganic life forms. Most episodes feature interactions with newly-discovered alien civilizations or issues brought about due to the differing morality of already contacted ones, with the crew always struggling to do what they believe to be right. This allows the show to address contemporary social issues through a genre medium, in much the same way that sci-fi of the past often did.
As reported by TV Line, The Orville has been renewed for its third season on Fox. The renewal comes as a slight surprise given that the show’s ratings have been steadily dropping throughout the current season, making it Fox’s lowest-rated show to be returning, although ranked ahead of the cancelled Lethal Weapon, The Gifted and Proven Innocent, and Gotham, which was brought to a planned end.
When first aired in 2017, The Orville began strong, but swiftly lost viewers following its premiere, with viewership down to less than half by its third episode. The ratings continued to decline, although neither as much or as sharply, making its renewal announcement two-thirds of the way through season 1 another surprise decision.
Although networks cancelling shows is a regular occurrence, Fox is particularly notorious for the practice, due to its shows often having vocal and passionate fanbases that aren’t quite big enough for the network to justify keeping them on the air. This was even directly alluded to in the fourth season premiere of Family Guy, where family patriarch Peter fires off a litany of over two dozen of the network’s shows to have received the axe during its three-year hiatus. The Orville’s ratings were hindered by its initial marketing that focused heavily on the show’s comedic aspects, strongly suggesting it to be a direct parody of Star Trek rather than the homage MacFarlane envisioned it as. This led to many early viewers feeling as though they had been misled on the show, resulting in the steep drop off of viewers. Now that the humor of The Orville has been dialed back, and the show has been accepted as its own thing by those still watching it, it will, much like its dauntless crew, continue to survive despite the odds for now.
Source: TV Line