It is no secret that Seth MacFarlane has taken the fame he found with ‘Family Guy’ and created an empire. However, he has not been able to find his way out of animation on the small screen, while saving the live-action stuff for features. That changed with the premiere of his sci-fi series ‘The Orville.’ If you’re wondering how the polarizing new show did, I have good news! Fox executives should be bursting with pride, as the show premiered to not only soaring demo ratings, it also had over 8 million people tuned in to watch the premiere.
‘The Orville’ was the first scripted broadcast premiere of the fall season, and it would seem that audiences were ready for the change. Viewership totals came out to a staggering 8.6 million people watching the pilot, which seemed to pay homage to ‘Star Trek.’ Surprisingly, the pilot was more action driven and dramatic than the advertising campaign led us to believe.
Fans of MacFarlane surely expected to see his take on sci-fi resemble the ‘American Dad’ episode arc that featured Jeff traveling through space with the ghost of comedian Sinbad and things got weird. The show, however, played out more like a traditional science fiction story, with some risqué humor thrown in to keep things from getting too serious. Serious is not MacFarlane’s thing, obviously.
In addition to the impressive viewing totals, ‘The Orville’ was able to rope in the key 18-49 age demographic. Aside from this mysterious thing called Football, ‘The Orville’ had the highest demo of anything else that aired that night. Furthermore, it matched the demo ratings for ‘This Is Us’ and ‘The Mick’ premieres last year, which were the highest for any new scripted series.
In a move that shouldn’t be too surprising, Fox chose the first two weekends of the NFL’s regular season to give ‘The Orville’ its moment in the sun before moving it to what will be its normal slot on Thursdays following ‘Gotham.’ While there normally wouldn’t have been much else happening that night, the 2018 Miss America pageant and the ‘20/20’ special about Hurricane Irma were new. These shows could have played a part in ‘The Orville’s’ successful premier. It will be very interesting to see where things go in the future without special programming surrounding the show.
In ‘The Orville,’ MacFarlane stars as Ed Mercer, the newly selected captain of an exploratory spacecraft leading a crew of mostly level-headed humans and aliens that manage to get into some dangerous and weird situations while trying to stay alive long enough to make it to the next one. The cast also includes Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, and Mark Jackson, with well-known recurring stars like Chad L. Coleman, Norm Macdonald, and Victor Garber.
If you missed the premiere, you can catch the next episode Sunday night on Fox, with its Thursday night shift starting on September 21.