Seth MacFarlane Keeping The Spirit Of William Shatner’s ‘Star Trek’ Alive With ‘The Orville’ [Opinion]

Seth MacFarlane, the creative genius behind Family Guy, wants to create a new Star Trek for this century. The Orville is not a comedy spoof of the legendary William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy sci-fi classic. The Orville is not even a comedy.

Seth MacFarlane is stepping outside of his comfort zone with The Orville, and right into his sci-fi drama, live action dream project. MacFarlane wants to be the next William Shatner, bringing hope for the future of mankind.

Seth MacFarlane shared his passionate vision for The Orville with TV Insider. Seth MacFarlane wanted The Orville to be live action like Star Trek, not animated like Family Guy.

“In some ways, this is the show that I came to Hollywood to do… I wanted to create a world that felt real.”

The Orville is a brand new sci-fi drama on FOX, and FOX network has spared no expense on the beautiful spaceship set created on two sound stages. Seth MacFarlane’s vision for a twenty-first-century Star Trek is to create a positive vision of the future for this generation.

That is what William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy did for the previous century in Star Trek. It is important to Seth MacFarlane that at this point in time the younger generation, the Family Guy generation, be able to envision a bright future.

The Orville is positively aligned but not hilariously funny like Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy. The Orville is essentially a tribute to Star Trek, celebrating the original Star Trek with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, in all its glory.

Seth MacFarlane is quoted by the AV Club, explaining the need for positive Sci-fi.

“I kind of miss the forward thinking, aspirational, optimistic place in science fiction that Star Trek used to occupy […] [I]t can’t all be The Hunger Games. It can’t all be the nightmare scenario. I think there’s some space for the aspirational blueprint of what [humanity] could do if we get our s**t together, and that’s something that’s been missing for me for a while.”

Seth MacFarlane definitely has a point. Science fiction has often focused on a dark future, even before William Shatner portrayed Captain Kirk in Star Trek. But never has the future seemed bleaker than in the twenty-first-century. The apocalyptic future vision has become so overwhelming many people honestly believe there is a zombie apocalypse ahead. Perhaps it’s time for The Orville to reintroduce the possibility of a happier future.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock on Star Trek
Leonard Nimoy as Spock on Star Trek by Hulton Archive Getty

Star Trek was positive science fiction, offering hope that someday mankind would not only reach the stars but hold leadership roles in exploring and fairly governing the universe. That is the possible future that Seth MacFarlane wants to invoke with The Orville.

Seth MacFarlane is quoted on TV Insider outlining his vision for The Orville as a tribute to Star Trek.

“[The Orville is] a tribute to a type of storytelling that I grew up with that you don’t see a lot of on television anymore. I loved how the creators of those shows explored the important issues—race, religion, politics—through science fiction. Though there’s comedy, this show is, at its heart, a drama.”

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have been iconic in their Star Trek roles for about 50 years. Star Trek reruns have a huge following. Perhaps The Orville will gain the respect of Star Trek fans.

Seth MacFarlane The Orville
Seth MacFarlane promoting 'The Orville' Image by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP Images]

Star Trek’s William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have been greatly admired and will forever be role models. Seth MacFarlane is a huge Star Trek fan.

Sadly, Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville has met with some sharp criticism. None of that criticism has dared to even imply however that Seth MacFarlane isn’t sincere to the bottom of his heart in trying to revive the spirit of Star Trek. A Hollywood Reporter critic complimented MacFarlane’s sincerity.

“I don’t question MacFarlane’s sincerity, nor the sincerity of episodic directors Jon Favreau and Star Trek franchise veterans Robert Duncan McNeil and Brannon Braga… Whether viewers will respond to sincerity and professionalism, but limited mirth and very few thrills, when they’ve been promised Seth MacFarlane hilarity, remains to be seen.”

Can Seth MacFarlane’s fans adjust to his more serious side in The Orville? Will Star Trek fans be impressed by MacFarlane’s sincerest efforts to capture the spirit of Star Trek? Will fans appreciate Seth MacFarlane’s new positive vision for the future?

The Orville has failed to win over most critics, but it seems likely a fan favorite like Seth MacFarlane might have more luck with the public. After 16 seasons of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane deserves at least a chance to prove himself in a more serious genre.

Seth MacFarlane’s goals with The Orville make sense. Star Trek’s William Shatner portrayed a noble human being, not perfect but certainly admirable. The future of mankind was a bright one, in Star Trek. It is a far cry from what is commonly depicted about humanity’s future in most science fiction today. The alternative view is needed, in the face of all the gloomy predictions.

Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville will have a two-night premiere Sunday, September 10, and Sunday, September 17 at 8 p.m. on FOX. Then The Orville‘s time slot will move to Thursdays at 9 p.m. on September 21. Family Guy fans and Star Trek fans should give The Orville the courtesy of viewing.

After all, Seth MacFarlane has given fans so many good laughs. The Orville is his vision, so despite the critics, isn’t it likely that Seth MacFarlane’s genius will wow at least most fans.


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Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville is a loving tribute to Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy, and William Shatner.

[Featured Image by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP Images]