‘The Orville’ proves Hulu is gearing up for war
As we reported earlier this year, Seth MacFarlane-helmed (and glorified Star Trek fan fiction) sci-fi show The Orville was renewed. We thought it would be returning for S3 on Fox – but news at Comic-Con confirmed that Hulu will be officially streaming the space opera series.
The action on The Orville occurs 400 years in the future on the Planetary Union’s USS Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship staffed by humans, machines, and ETs who balance the complications of superluminal travel as well as relationships with their diverse team (sound familiar?).
What started as a Star Trek homage with a couple of jokes thrown in became much more confident in S2. The Orville saw better storytelling, funnier jokes, and fandom support naming the show much closer to the Gene Roddenberry vision of Star Trek than the current tentpole at CBS, Star Trek: Discovery (or ST:D, if you’re nasty).
The Orville averaged 3.16 million live viewers and we’re guessing millions more on catchup and VOD. In the viewing wars, audience figures in the millions are nothing to be sniffed at, but The Orville likely made the hyperspace jump to Hulu for two reasons: 1) greater freedom story-wise, including more adult themes, and 2) the simple fact that Disney is preparing for war against all the big streaming services.
MacFarlane made the announcement at San Diego Comic-Con, revealing The Orville’s third season wouldn’t arrive until 2020. We predict the episodes will be released weekly, for a total of up to thirteen episodes. MacFarlane added that The Orville “has evolved and become more ambitious production-wise”, leading to a production delay.
MacFarlane also gave us further insight into the question on all the fans’ lips: when can we expect a musical episode of The Orville? “I have no idea how that would work” the showrunner replied. “There would have to be a reason for it. It would feel self-indulgent if we do that.” He also claimed a hard science-fiction preference: “Where we can, we try and keep the science real.”
The Orville’s move to Hulu may well be one of the first battles in the streaming war between Disney and Netflix. With Disney now owning Fox and Hulu, Disney will likely shunt high-traffic content to Hulu in a bid to encourage users to flock from Netflix.
Netflix has made some epic missteps in the past year: cancelling One Day at a Time, not renewing Shadowhunters, and losing Friends and The Office. Outside some low-budget made-for-Netflix movies, La Casa de Papel (a.k.a. Money Heist), and Stranger Things, there’s not a lot of peak content to keep us on their platform.
The Orville stars Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, Chad L. Coleman, and Jessica Szohr. It was created and written by MacFarlane, who also executive-produces alongside Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, Jason Clark, and Jon Cassar.
Star Trek: Discovery continues to subvert audience expectations of what a Star Trek show should be, while The Orville is the most Star Trek of all Star Trek shows on TV. We’re excited to see how The Orville’s third season wages its own war in sci-fi history.
As Hulu is USA-only, this will likely not impact viewing The Orville internationally.