How The Orville Changed After Moving From Fox To Hulu

Part "Star Trek," part "Galaxy Quest," and part, well, its own delightfully unique thing altogether, Seth MacFarlane's "The Orville" has managed to establish itself as one of the most hilarious, self-deprecating, and shamelessly nerdy sci-fi parodies currently airing on television. Well, I suppose it'd be more accurate to say that it used to be airing on television. After the conclusion of its second season — the last episode of which released way back in the Before Times of April 2019, thanks to COVID interrupting production industry-wide — the series has officially switched homes from its former stomping grounds on Fox to streaming on Hulu.

While there has been absolutely no acrimony between the two parties since then, either on Fox's side or MacFarlane's, it's readily apparent even ahead of today's season 3 premiere of "The Orville" that the difference between broadcasting on Fox and streaming on Hulu will have noticeable effects on the final product. In a wide-ranging conversation with THR, MacFarlane touched on his experience with moving to a whole new platform between seasons.

"The biggest change is in tone. Not even so much on the page — we really landed on that in season two. We had kind of moved away from the punchline model and really leaned into letting the comedy come out of these characters and their personalities, and just being a real workplace. It's full of jeopardy and things we never have to deal with in our workplaces, but it's still a bunch of people working together, and the personalities have to feel real. So, that's changed."

'You can be indulgent in that way'

Practically speaking, television writers have long had to deal with the built-in constraints of having to make accommodations for network broadcasts. Commercial breaks, studio notes, and all sorts of other logistical nightmares have existed as obstacles and challenges to be overcome by the most talented and determined storytellers out there. In fact, that only makes it even more remarkable when shows like "Better Call Saul" continue to succeed despite these ever-present realities of the medium.

Luckily, Seth MacFarlane has found streaming to be a vastly improved circumstance all-around. As he explains it, taking away the rigid structures inherent in writing episodes of "The Orville" on Fox has done wonders for the writing process. He goes on to say, 

"The biggest difference for me being on Hulu is that I don't have to tell a story that's exactly 43 minutes long every week because I have to make room for a certain number of commercials. That's not how storytelling works — different stories are different lengths, and you start to fall into this cadence where you're shaving scenes down, you're cutting things that don't need to be cut. The best part about being on Hulu is that those moments where you want to linger on an actor's face because it's meaningful and it helps to tell the story? You can do that. You have the time; you can be indulgent in that way."

To once again reference "Star Trek," I would say this is one aspect that "Strange New Worlds" has been particularly adept at, with episodes clocking in anywhere from 46 minutes to 54 minutes. Here's hoping that this translates to even better episodes in the upcoming weeks.

Season 3 of "The Orville" premieres today, June 2, 2022, on Hulu.