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SYFY WIRE The Orville

Seth MacFarlane teases 'The Orville' Season 3 is basically '10 mini-movies' on Hulu

The Orville creator Seth MacFarlane reveals what fans can expect in the show's upcoming episodes. 

By Vanessa Armstrong
Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) in Season 3 Episode 6 of The Orville: New Horizons.

It’s been a long wait, but The Orville: New Horizons — the third season of the Seth MacFarlane-created sci-fi show — is here. 

In the lead up to its premiere, SYFY WIRE had the chance to talk with MacFarlane about what’s in store for fans as well as the crew on the U.S.S. Orville.  “The scope of the show is much more cinematic. As the season progresses that gets more and more the case,” MacFarlane said. “We've actually produced 10 mini-movies over the season for the audience's consumption.”

The ability to make each episode a “mini-movie” was one of the perks of having the show moving over to Hulu after its first two seasons on FOX. The streamer gave the creative team more leeway on things like episode length, for example, and MacFarlane took that freedom to make sure that each episode included moments that reminded us that living in space is really freaking cool. 

“Something that I don't see a lot of in any sci-fi franchise today are those moments of just giddiness,” he said. “That, like, 'isn't it cool that we're in space and we get to do all this stuff?' …I think it was the ‘80s the last time I saw a show or a movie really lean into that and just embrace the Julie Andrews elation of [being in space.]”

A still from The Orville: New Horizons Season 3

“You want to give people chills,” MacFarlane continued. “Those kinds of things are, to my eye, missing in a lot of the genre today. Real moments — moments where the director will stop and let something play out purely to elicit a visceral feeling from the audience.”

And what does MacFarlane think is one of the best awe-inducing moments in sci-fi? “The best example I can think of is in the original Star Wars where Luke is standing on the dune and he's looking out at the two suns and there's that beautiful John Williams symphonic swell — that's a moment,” he shared. “It's a choice to stop everything and just give your audience a moment to feel something. That's just absent now, and it really is a bummer. And it's something that we really tried hard to include in every episode this season where it was possible.”

Grandiose moments in space, however, isn't the core of what The Orville: New Horizons will be about. “At the end of the day, it really is still about the people,” MacFarlane explained. “The visual effects, as spectacular as they are, never become the narrative.” 

That being said, it sounds like there will be a lot of awe-inspiring moments in the show’s third season. And according to The Orville writer David A. Goodman, there will also be a major guest star who will be “pretty spectacular” for fans. 

The cast of Season 3 Episode 4 of The Orville: New Horizons.

And even though Sesaon 3 of The Orville hasn’t finished yet, there’s always the question of whether the show will get a fourth season as well. “The beauty of this genre of sci-fi is just that the possibilities are infinite,” MacFarlane said. “So yeah, if there was a demand for it and a platform that wanted to give us the resources that we had this year to do what we did, yeah absolutely [we would do a fourth season]. There's an infinite number of stories you can tell. I mean, I've never had more fun purely from a writing standpoint in my entire career than I have on the show. This has been the most fun experience as a writer thus far. So yeah, there's lots more to do if there's an audience for it.”

The first episode of The Orville: New Horizons is now streaming on Hulu. Subsequent episodes dropping each Thursday until the season finale on August 4. 

Looking for more sci-fi? Check out Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, and more streaming on Peacock