When The Orville returns for its second season on Dec. 30, it'll be more of the same. Emphasis on more. Not only will Season 2 have more episodes than Season 1 (14 to 12), but the sci-fi series is really pushing what worked in Season 1.
"Season 1 of every show, you're kind of just figuring it out, right?" star Adrianne Palicki told TV Guide. "We were all so happy that it worked so well in the first place. [In Season 2] the journeys are bigger and more intense. This year it genuinely feels like we're making mini-movies per episode, and the quality is a little different."
Seth MacFarlane's sci-fi series was a big question mark for Fox execs and fans alike in Season 1, as its varied storytelling — an homage to the standalone adventures of Star Trek — meant episodes leapt from genre to genre each week. Some were dominated by MacFarlane's trademark humor and involved sexualized cracks about alien anatomy, while others prompted moral and philosophical questions in line with traditional sci-fi. And despite poor reviews from critics who were baffled by the show's constantly shifting tone, Season 2 is sticking with the mystery-bag format.
"That's the thing about the show, even reading [the scripts], I'm like, 'This is what's happening?'" Palicki told TV Guide. "But in the most brilliant way. There's going to be more dramatic episodes, more comedic episodes, more relationship-driven episodes. It's going to delve further into what fans appreciated last year."
Fans pushed The Orville to Fox's fifth-highest-rated show of the season, and behind only the surprise hit 9-1-1 for new shows on the network. While critics didn't like the whiplash of comedy, drama and sci-fi, fans loved it and The Orville has a strong base of dedicated viewers who are enjoying the ride.
While other broadcast shows are happy to tease what's to come, The Orville is notoriously silent as MacFarlane loves keeping details a surprise — even the roles of the two big additions to the cast, Jessica Szohr and Chris Johnson, are still under wraps. What we do know is that Season 2 will start with a new episode that is centered around a once-a-year ceremony of the Moclans, an alien race akin to Star Trek's Klingons. We also know from Season 1 that Moclans have steel bladders and only urinate once a year. Asked if the ceremony involves Moclans peeing, Palicki could only say, "Well, you could put the two together."
The season's second episode will be a carryover from Season 1, which Peter Macon, who plays the Moclan Bortus, previously told us was an extension of the Moclan gender-assignment ritual episode from Season 1. There is also a scene in which the Environmental Simulator — the U.S.S. Orville's version of the holodeck — is used for some non-scientific purposes. Let's just say a spaceship with the right technology could make a lot of lonely men happy.
"There's definitely some interesting things that go on in that simulator," Palicki says with a laugh. "Some mildly disturbing things that happen in that simulator."
The Orville returns for Season 2 on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 8/7c on Fox (after football on the East Coast) and moves to its regular time on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 8/7c.