Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi comedy drama The Orville wasn’t a hit with the critics, but its first season saw it become Fox’s most-watched and highest-rated debut since Empire in 2015, with the show officially renewed for a second season in November 2017.
The Orville is set 400 years in the future and follows the crew of the titular starship tackling missions in space, with MacFarlane telling Digital Spy that he was looking to “fill the void” that Star Trek left behind when it evolved from its classic series.
Clearly it worked, but how will MacFarlane continue to develop the show over its second season? Here’s everything we know so far.
The Orville season 2 release date: When’s it coming back?
Initially, it seemed like we wouldn’t be getting any more episodes in 2018 as MacFarlane was quoted as saying there was “too much to do”.
However, he later tweeted that all systems were go for season two to arrive later this year, as well as commenting on the possibility of a Family Guy crossover. “To correct a bit of misreporting: No, there won’t be an Orville/Family Guy crossover, and yes, The Orville season 2 will arrive later this year,” he wrote.
FOX later clarified that the new season would get a midseason launch, with the premiere (written by MacFarlane) airing on December 30 and the remaining episodes going out in 2019. (Production officially began on season two in late February.)
In the UK, the first season didn’t start until December 2017 on FOX, but hopefully the second season will be similar to The Walking Dead‘s UK airing and be broadcast shortly after the US.
The Orville season 2 cast: Who’s in it?
We expect all of the main crew of the USS Orville will be back, so that includes MacFarlane as the ship’s captain Ed Mercer, Adrianne Palicki as first officer and Ed’s ex-wife Kelly Grayson, Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr Claire Finn, Scott Grimes as Lieutenant Gordon Malloy, Peter Macon as Lieutenant Commander Bortus, J Lee as Lieutenant Commander John LaMarr, and Mark Jackson as science and engineering officer Isaac.
Recurring stars including Norm Macdonald as engineer Lieutenant Yaphit, Victor Garber as Admiral Halsey and Chad Coleman as Bortus’s mate Klyden will also feature in season two, as well as Rachael MacFarlane as the voice of the USS Orville’s computer.
The first season also featured some heavyweight guest stars in the form of Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson among others, so expect to see MacFarlane dip into his contacts book for similar big-name stars in the next run of episodes.
It’s possible that one major character could be appearing less frequently, though, with Halston Sage (Lieutenant Alara Kitan) shooting Netflix romantic comedy film The Last Summer at the same time as season two of The Orville was filming.
Sage had previously suggested that season two would see Alara continue “coming in to her own and really finding her place on the Orville” while Robert Picardo, best known for playing The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager, will be reprising his role as Alara’s father.
Possibly filming the void left by Alara will be Gossip Girl star Jessica Szohr will join the crew of the USS Orville as a regular cast member in season two.
She won’t be the only fresh face on board the USS Orville either as she’ll be joined by fellow newcomer Chris Johnson who has a recurring role as new character Cassius.
The Orville season 2 episodes: What can we expect?
Due to scheduling issues, the first season of the show was cut short by one episode to 12, but that ‘lost’ episode – ‘Primal Urges’ – is now expected to air with the second season, with MacFarlane also saying that he expects to do “at least” 14 episodes.
“I’d rather do fewer episodes and have them be better content-wise than do 22 and have them be filler,” he explained at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
Here’s a few nuggets of information that have leaked about the new episodes:
– Episode two of the new season is titled ‘Home’ and will be directed by Jon Cassar.
– Episode 2×03 will be the first to feature both Szohr’s new character Talla and Johnson’s Cassius.
– Episode 2×04 will be helmed by Star Trek: Voyager‘s Robert Duncan McNeil, who also directed season one’s ‘Command Performance’
– Another Trek veteran, The Next Generation‘s Jonathan Frakes, will also return to direct an episode for this season, having previously taken the helm for season one’s ‘Pria’.
MacFarlane has said that he wants to include more science-fiction elements in the new season, citing the season one episode ‘Into the Fold’ – which saw Dr Claire Finn and Isaac trapped on a planet alone – as an example that the show’s universe can succeed with more sci-fi.
“It was a very dark, sombre episode that still lived in that world very successfully. That episode for me in the first season was the real test of how far we can take the genuine science-fiction aspect of it,” he reflected.
One episode, though – possibly the premiere – is said to take place entirely on board the Orville and, according to Scott Grimes, is “not really science fiction” at all. So, basically, expect plenty of variety.
The Orville season 2 trailer: When’s it landing?
The first trailer for The Orville was unveiled by Fox during their upfront presentation in May 2017, but there was no sign of any new footage during this year’s event. We’re banking on Comic-Con International in San Diego as the next possible showcase, in late July.