If you call it anything, don’t call The Orville a Star Trek parody — the cast will set you straight inside a minute.

Blasting onto Fox this Sunday, the hour-long comedy/drama will put Seth MacFarlane in the captain’s chair as he pilots a series that promises to be more than its campy promos suggest.

“There’s going to be a lot of comparisons to Star Trek, but this is an ode to Star Trek,” actor Mark Johnson told us at San Diego Comic-Con. While parodies poke fun at their source material, The Orville will pay deference to its progenitor. 

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Early reviews have sought to identify exactly what genre MacFarlane and Co. have created and, for many, standard delineations are proving to be inadequate. Possessing the wit of a half-hour sitcom and — as we will hopefully see as the series progresses — the heft of an hourlong drama, Fox’s newbie will certainly have to fight for a spot at the cool kids’ table.

“There’s a certain kind of aspirational, hopeful, optimistic that hasn’t been done in 15, 20 years. Star Trek did it for a long time, but then they kind of evolved into something different, so it left open that space, that thing that we all used to love so much,” MacFarlane explained. “That’s what I’m trying to recapture while at the same time putting a brand new spin on it.” 

The actor is attempting to boldly go, and he’s planning to do so by keeping important issues from merely becoming the punch lines to the galaxy’s cheapest jokes. Do we have an alien from a single-sex species? Yes, we do? Ok, now we’re going to explore exactly how that social structure works instead of creating a circle jerk around a masturbation joke for 13 episodes. 

“When I initially auditioned for it, I thought it was going to be a sitcom. It’s not that at all,” mused Chad L. Coleman (Klyden), a veteran of such sci-fi goliaths as The Walking Dead and The Expanse. “It’s a very rich, story-driven, relationship-driven homage to the drama. Everything is in there.”

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Despite the laughs doled out in the trailers (below), life on MacFarlane’s exploratory vessel doesn’t always go quite to plan. There’s sadness and darkness baked in with the humor, according to Peter Macon (Bortus). 

Fox clearly has faith in the production. With practical sets realistic enough to have more than one cast member reaching for the Dramamine and makeup effects worthy of the big screen, the studio appears to be backing MacFarlane’s track record. Find out if the series is worth it when The Orville premieres this Sunday at 8/7c.

Will you tune in? Sound off in the comments below! Stay up to date with all things binge-worthy via the BuddyTV Facebook page. 

(Image and video courtesy of FOX)

Vanessa Frith

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV