From now on, when you look at Seth MacFarlane, keep in mind that you’re looking at a really happy man. And, no, it’s not because he a bazillionaire (he is), or that Family Guy remains such a big part of the pop culture zeitgeist (it does). It’s because this lifelong sci-fi and Star Trek fan is getting the opportunity to put his stamp on the genre with the new series, The Orville.
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The show’s described as “a one-hour, live-action ensemble comedic drama set 400 years in the future that follows the adventures of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory vessel.” This starship consists of a crew featuring a mix of humans and aliens who “face the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of regular people in a workplace...even though some of those people are from other planets, and the workplace is a faster-than-light spaceship.”
We recently grabbed a few minutes with MacFarlane to get his take on The Orville.
FHM: How insane is it to have the opportunity to dip into this kind of universe, given your passion for this whole Star Trek thing?
Seth MacFarlane: "I've never written a sci-fi show. I almost wish I'd been doing it from day one. I've never had a breezier, more enjoyable time writing than I have. It's been a blast. This is really the show that I came out to Hollywood to make, more than anything I've ever done. I love comedy. I love sci-fi. And to try and exist in both worlds is a challenge, but to do it in an hour-long format is an absolute joy and I had this aspiration to do this hopeful, optimistic sci-fi that hasn't really been done in 15 or 20 years."
"Star Trek did it for a long time and they evolved into something different, so that left open this space for that thing that we all used to love so much. And that's what I'm trying to recapture with The Orville, while at the same time putting a brand-new spin on it with some different ingredients. I think first and foremost, I would love for people to rediscover the feeling of having fun when they're watching TV. I think there are shows out there nowadays that absolutely are able to do that. I don't think there are as many as there used to be, though. I'd love for people to feel something familiar and comfortable that they haven't felt in a while from a TV show of this type, while at the same time, experiencing something even grander."
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FHM: What were some of your inspirations from a comedic standpoint to bring to a sci-fi element as well? Do you have some past sci-fi comedies that you sort of draw from?
Seth MacFarlane: "The thing I like that makes me feel good about the show is it's hard to compare it. Take the Star Trek element aside, tonally, it's hard for me to compare it to anything that's been on the air. I don't think a science fiction show of this type that walks this line has been attempted before. I mean, shows like MASH have walked that line between comedy and drama beautifully. If we can have that kind of balance, that would be a major victory for us, but it's hard. I think we've come pretty damn close, but that is for the audience to decide."
FHM: What kind of planets and world building are we going to get to see within the show and what were some of your inspirations behind what we're going to see?
Seth MacFarlane:* "I've never seen a group of designers who have to work with a television budget manage to create such high production value. The set designs on the show, the costumes, the makeup, is like nothing you have seen on TV. It really is unprecedented. And this team has just blown everyone away. You walk onto these sets and look at these prosthetics and you go, 'This is artistry.' It's too good for TV. It should be in a movie."
"The majority of the show is on the ship, but when we go off it, we go big. The place that you want to be if you do it right on a show like this is on your spaceship. That's the comfortable place. That's where the people live and work every day, and if you do your job right with the characters, you should be able to tell a million stories that take place on the ship and you never have to leave."
FHM: You've been the voice of a lot of characters, but now you're putting yourself out there, and you are really going for it. What inspired you to come out of the sound booth and get in front of the camera yourself?
Seth MacFarlane: It's just too much fun not to. Again, I went into this with such a deep love for this genre that it's not hard for me to act like a guy who's really excited to be on the bridge of a starship.
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