The Orville is back for its third season on Hulu, and it’s bigger and better than ever. Rechristened The Orville: New Horizons, season 3 boasts episode run times upwards of an hour, thought-provoking writing, and special effects good enough to make other sci-fi shows weep tears of envy. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but the Seth MacFarlane-helmed comedic science fiction drama has become one of the strongest TV series in the genre, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Like the Star Trek shows that inspired it, The Orville features an ensemble cast and goes the extra mile to make sure each one of the starship’s crew members gets their time to shine. J. Lee plays Lt. Cmdr. John LaMarr, the USS Orville’s chief engineering officer and often the one who makes sure everything keeps running smoothly. We were lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with Lee to discuss the The Orville: New Horizons, LaMarr’s love life, making the show’s complex science more digestible for viewers, and more!It’s been nice, you know? The fact that so many fans stuck with us and waited for us. But then also, all the new fans who are just now seeing the show for the first time now that we’re on Hulu and Disney+ overseas. It’s been really nice to see the reach of the show. This season is bigger, the episodes are longer, we all put a lot of work into it, so it’s great to see the final product. It’s amazing to see how much bigger New Horizons feels than previous seasons. Did that make the experience of filming it different at all?
We are very fortunate, because Seth [MacFarlane] is who he is. Even season 1, the ship they built…it took me six months to figure out how to stop getting lost on this set. We shot on multiple stages. The production team went above and beyond. So we sort of got introduced to the show with all the bells and whistles, and this is just a step up…It’s a challenging show to shoot, but when you’re on that ship you feel like you’re on the Orville and you’re in space. One of the latest episodes, “Twice in a Lifetime,” featured such a thorough take on Einsteinian time travel that even The Martian author Andy Weir shouted out The Orville for its scientific accuracy. LaMarr is often one of the people on the crew who has to explain those dense scientific concepts to everyone else. How into the science are you personally? Do you ever have to do extra research to pull off those scenes?