We here at Ars have sorely missed the intrepid crew of the USS Orville. Production on the third season of The Orville abruptly halted in March 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the series is finally coming back with a new home on Hulu, a new name (The Orville: New Horizons), and an entertaining new trailer rife with all the space-based action and buoyant good humor in the face of danger that we’ve come to expect from this sci-fi series.
(Spoilers for prior seasons of The Orville below.)
As I’ve written previously, the series is set aboard the USS Orville (ECV-197), an exploratory spaceship in the service of a 25th-century interstellar alliance known as the Planetary Union. Series creator and star Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy), who plays Capt. Ed Mercer, was a huge fan of Star Trek growing up, particularly The Next Generation, so it’s not surprising that The Orville has embraced a similar sensibility. As I wrote in my S2 review, “This is a smart series that combines humor and witty dialogue with cutting-edge science, ethical musings, the occasional literary reference, and genuine heart.”
The first season introduced us to the characters and their fictional world while developing the central relationships. The second season put those relationships to the test, with an ambitious and emotionally powerful two-part finale, in which an alternate timeline is created wherein the Kaylons have conquered half the known galaxy (and annihilated Earth in the process). The two-parter followed the classic trope of how changing a seemingly insignificant detail in the grand scheme of things—Ed and Kelly going on their first date—can have world-altering ramifications. The Orville was destroyed in the process of trying to restore the original timeline, but we had no idea whether that effort was successful.
There will be 11 episodes in the third season, two less than for prior seasons, but each episode will be 12 to 15 minutes longer. All the main cast members are returning, with the addition of new cast member Anne Winters, playing navigator Ensign Charly Burke. S3 also marks one of the final roles of Norm Macdonald who voiced Lt Yaphit, the gelatinous, shapeshifting engineer; Macdonald died last fall after a long battle with cancer.
Per the official premise: “Set 400 years in the future, The Orville: New Horizons finds the crew of the USS Orville continuing their mission of exploration, as they navigate both the mysteries of the universe and the complexities of their own interpersonal relationships.” Hulu dropped the first few minutes of the opening S3 episode in February at the same time the streaming platform announced it was pushing the release of The Orville: New Horizons from March to June, partly to soften the blow for eager fans.
The official trailer gets all literary with an opening reference to the 19th century sonnet “Ozymandias,” by Perche Bysshe Shelley, so at some point we’re probably going to be dealing with themes of the ultimate impermanence of even seemingly dominant empires. And it’s clear that the Kaylons still pose a considerable threat to humanity in general and the crew of the Orville in particular. (“You will surrender or you will die” isn’t exactly mincing words.) Ed still hopes for a better future. But can there ever be a peaceful co-existence, as Kaylon crew member Isaac (Mark Jackson) hopes, if one race wants the other dead?
The Orville: New Horizons debuts on Hulu on June 2, 2022.
Listing image by YouTube/Hulu