The second season for Seth MacFarlane’s Fox sci-fi series, “The Orville,” launched Sunday, and series star Scott Grimes is again beginning to hear the comparisons to the 1999 Tim Allen feature film “Galaxy Quest.”
Although the network program contains some humor — much of it provided by Grimes — the series is far closer to “Star Trek” than to the movie that poked fun at the space exploration TV show genre.
“The ‘Galaxy Quest’ reference comes up a lot and it is really weird to me,” Grimes says. “I get why people say that, but ‘Galaxy Quest’ is more like a fish-out-of-water story. I knew we were going to get that because of the look and the tone.
‘But, I feel like we are closer to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ where there is some thoughtful science fiction but also (room to) be a little goofy and witty.”
The thoughtful approach to science fiction with MacFarlane’s brand of humor is set 400 years in the future where The U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship staffed by humans and aliens, faces the wonders and dangers of outer space while also dealing with problems of everyday life. In the second season, the crew will meet never-before-seen aliens and face old adversaries.
Along with Grimes and MacFarlane, the cast includes Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson, Chad L. Coleman and Jessica Szohr.
Grimes knows it has been a long time between the end of the first season and the launch of the second, but there’s a reason. He’s watched the meticulous work MacFarlane puts into making every episode as strong as possible.
Grimes has seen this approach before, as he worked on MacFarlane’s “American Dad!” and “Family Guy.” The part of Lt. Gordon Malloy was written by MacFarlane with Grimes in mind. As has been the case with many of the roles Grimes has worked on since beginning his television acting career as a young teen with the TV movie “A Doctor’s Story,” his character provides levity to lighten the most dramatic situations. The best example of this kind of role was Dr. Archie Moore on “ER.”
“Dr. Moore on ‘ER’ is one of the best times I ever had playing a role where I could inject comedy into a serious situation,” Grimes says. “I think it prepared me to do ‘The Orville.’ I wouldn’t have done it as well without that opportunity to ride this line that is real and funny but not annoying or exaggerated.
“I think that is my place in this business, and I am happy to play it the rest of my life if people want me to do it.”
The Massachusetts native’s past credits also include “Party of Five,” “Band of Brothers,” “Goode Behavior,” “Republic of Dole” and two “Critters” feature films.
“The Orville” is not the only time Grimes has boldly gone into space. He worked on an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where he and friend Wil Wheaton worked together in a sequence on the ship’s holodeck. The scene was cut, but Grimes still got credit for the role.
“If you watch the episode, there’s a scene with Whoopi Goldberg in the barroom where she passes by me and you can see the back of my left red ear,” Grimes says with a laugh.
Grimes loves working in TV and film, but his real passion is for music. He co-wrote and performed the soft rock single “Sunset Blvd,” which spent several weeks on the Billboard charts. He has released three solo albums and has done a musical tour of the United Kingdom with Russell Crowe’s band Indoor Garden Party.
Getting to be in front of a live audience is more of a creative rush for Grimes than being on a set. He’s got nothing against acting, but it is a process that allows a performer multiple opportunities to get a scene right before the audience sees it. A live performance is immediate.
“The music thing for me has always been that I love being on a stage and getting that immediate reaction, good or bad,” Grimes says. “Feeling what an audience is feeling and helping make it a better time for them. It’s like a party.
“It is also what I feel that I am best at. I think that I’m myself in the roles I am playing when I am acting so I am comfortable. But, I am really, really myself on a music stage because those audiences can see right through you.”