THE ORVILLE 2019-1-cvt


In movies and television, the future is only limited by the imagination.

Since there is so much to see at San Diego Comic-Con, and never enough time, each year I try to prepare by reviewing the massive volume of advance materials. Unfortunately, that never happens because instead I spend much of my time scrambling to write and produce a new “AutoMatters & More” column each week.

“​The Orville” at San Diego Comic-Con.

This year I was fortunate to discover The Orville Experience – an “off-site activation.” That is where commercial entities (often movie or T.V. production companies) swoop in to temporarily transform vacant nearby commercial properties (either empty lots or in buildings) into elaborate recreations of scenes from movies and T.V. series.

T​he Orville Experience “off-site activation.”

The Orville Experience was an offsite for “The Orville” T.V. series: a brilliant, optimistic, science fiction “comedic drama” set about 400 years in the future. Seasons one and two were on Fox.

Created by and starring Seth MacFarlane, it is reminiscent of the original, late 1960s “STAR TREK” T.V. series, but with decades-newer, exquisite visual and practical effects; large and elaborate sets; and a magnificent cinematic look. Each week the diverse human and alien crew of the Orville embark upon new adventures as they explore the vast reaches of space and encounter other beings.

B​ortus grows a moustache.

K​anoot, a civilian living aboard the USS Orville. He hosts karaoke in the mess hall.

C​aptain Blavaroch, of the Horbalak space-flight capable species, from the same quadrant as the Planetary Union. Horbalak have a reputation for interstellar smuggling.

K​aylon head. The Kaylon are a race of artificial life forms from a distant planet who regard all biological beings as inferior.
K​aylon head. The Kaylon are a race of artificial life forms from a distant planet who regard all biological beings as inferior.

K​aylon head.

Costumes and props from “The Orville,” and the highly detailed shooting model of the ship itself, were on display at The Orville Experience.

F​ollowing Commander John Lamarr’s advice to “always go with one more zipper than you’re comfortable with,” Lt. Gordon Malloy replicated this jacket to wear on a date.

Orville filming model.

Unlike most modern visual effects-heavy TV shows and movies, The Orville uses motion control technology and a physical model to give the ship tangible warmth and an authentic feel.

Seth MacFarlane and many of the cast members, along with costumed aliens, visited there one afternoon, posing for photos with fans while copies of the hardcover book “The World of the Orville” were distributed.

K​ermit from Captain Ed Mercer’s (Seth MacFarlane’s) office desk.

C​ommander Kelly Grayson puppet. When she accidentally made her presence known on a planet populated by a primitive society, Kelly became a god-like figure .

To create and produce episodes of “The Orville” at such an elevated level requires a tremendous amount of time and resources. To do so for season three in time to meet Fox’s scheduling needs was not possible, so this next season of “The Orville” will move to Hulu – probably in late 2020. That lengthy delay will give Seth the time that he needs to take “The Orville” significantly beyond where it is now.

F​ans of “The Orville” confront an alien.

F​ans in costume visiting “The Orville Experience.”

On Hulu, the length of episodes of “The Orville” will no longer be limited to a one-hour with commercial breaks format on free broadcast T.V. Scenes, shots and storyline material will no longer need to be cut due to insufficient air time. Furthermore, the move from mainstream network T.V. to a streaming service will enable the creative team to venture beyond the more restrictive adult content limitations imposed on T.V. broadcasters, so the stories will have the potential to better reflect the full range of human – and alien – behavior and interactions.

O​rville storyboard showing the Orville and the Union fleet, ready to do battle with the Kaylon fleet.

B​ortus and Klyden, succumbing to extreme nicotine addiction, replicated 500 cigarettes from an unearthed 21st.-century time capsule and proceeded to chain-smoke a large number of them.

M​edical container from Season 2, Episode 14: “The Road Not Taken.”

O​rville concept art: a secret colony of shunned Moclan females taking refuge on an uncharted planet (Season 2, Episode 12: “Sanctuary”).

At The Orville Experience I met Lex Cassar, a Senior Concept Designer who works on futuristic visual design elements for “The Orville.”

L​ex Cassar, kneeling, surrounded by aliens from “The Orville.”

He was there taking photos for visitors who posed with some of the actual prop weapons from the show.

J​an at The Orville Experience.

As did I, Lex initially received his formal training in the industry in Canada, and then moved to the United States to further pursue his career. Whereas my initial field of study was writing and producing for television, his was art.

We also share an interest in automotive design, and our attendance at San Diego Comic-Con has helped further our participation in the entertainment industry.

Lex had travelled from Canada to California for an acting gig but then, about ten years ago while at San Diego Comic-Con, he came upon a booth for California’s world-renowned Art Center College of Design. That led to him taking night classes there, followed by admission into their entertainment design program.

While at Art Center, Lex met and worked alongside several people who are well known and respected in the entertainment industry – among them David Levy. David invited Lex to work with him on a 2014 short science fiction film pilot entitled “PLUG” (watch at, which was set in post-apocalyptic Earth. Lex acted in that film and designed a practical dune buggy for it.

S​cenes from David Levy’s “PLUG.”

P​ractical dune buggy designed by Lex Cassar for David Levy’s short film “PLUG” (2014).

Later, David invited Lex to work with him as an art department intern on Ridley Scott’s 2012 film “Prometheus,” alongside Ben Procter and Steve Messing. Lex was given the opportunity to help design the treaded ATVs seen in the film.

L​ex Cassar helped design the treaded ATVs seen in Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” (2012).

Recently Lex began work on the third season of “The Orville.” To watch past episodes of “The Orville” visit:


Jan Wagner

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