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Tag Archive: Penny Johnson Jerald


Review by C.J. Bunce

Twenty years ago the last episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered, and for its anniversary a crowdfunding project funded a feature-length retrospective on the series.  Deep Space Nine: What We Left Behind will be familiar to any fan of Deep Space Nine who has delved into the special features found in the DVD sets or online via YouTube.  It’s full of those reminiscences, albeit updated, diehard fans have viewed countless times in interviews with cast and crew and via panels at the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.  But the unique feature for this new documentary is a reunion of writers from the series who sit down and block out what a possible next episode of the series might include.

Deep Space Nine showrunner and executive producer Ira Steven Behr leads the documentary, hitting the high points of his seven years creating Deep Space Nine, intercutting new and old interviews with key and supporting cast members, a few members of the production staff, co-creator Rick Berman and the man representing the business side of production, Kerry McCluggage, former chairman of Paramount Television Group.  Deep Space Nine: What We Left Behind does not look closely at the production from a design, costumes, props, music, or technical standpoint, but is almost exclusively focused on the writers and actors, and why the crew thinks its show was different from competing programs in the 1990s (although some art production familiar faces including Herman Zimmerman, Michael and Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler make brief appearances).

The writers room reunion of Behr, Ronald D. Moore, René Echevarria, Hans Beimler, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe talking through a spec script idea for a new 20th anniversary reunion episode is a great guide for anyone wanting a glimpse at the process of developing a television show.  Backed by a cartoon art/Ken Burns-esque multimedia mock-up of characters and sets by artists Magdalena Marinova, Kai De Mello-Folsom, and Luke Snailham, it’s a better presentation format than watching more talking heads.  The result feels quite like a Brannon Braga or Ronald D. Moore series finale episode (see Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “All Good Things…” and Star Trek Voyager’s “Endgame”), complete with a time jump and appearances by grown-up regular players, in this case Jake Sisko and Molly O’Brien.  Vedek Kira?  Captain Nog?  With some make-up and new costumes, the writers’ episode creation would have actually made a fine final episode to the series, providing some resolution to the fate of Avery Brooks′ Captain Sisko.

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Look for a more cinematic, episodic second season of The Orville coming your way, beginning tonight on Fox.  All the crew members are back, Seth MacFarlane as Captain Ed Mercer, Adrianne Palicki as Commander Grayson, Penny Johnson Jerald as Doctor Claire Finn, Scott Grimes as Lieutenant Gordon Malloy, Peter Macon as Lieutenant Commander Bortus, Halston Sage as Lieutenant Alara Kitan, J. Lee as Lieutenant Commander John LaMarr, and Mark Jackson as Isaac.

These series was nominated for and won several awards for its first season, including Best Original Score for Television from the International Film Music Critics Association for the music by Bruce Broughton, John Debney, Joel McNeely, and Andrew Cottee, and a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Television Series.

You’re going to want to set your DVR to record the before and after shows tonight and throughout the season to avoid missing episodes getting bumped by football coverage.

Here is the latest preview for season two of The Orville:

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Our San Diego Comic-Con coverage continues with Fox’s television series The Orville, which had both a panel and signing this year, along with featuring The Orville shuttle-themed PediCabs to cart visitors around the Gaslamp District and waterfront.  We have the panel video below, as well as the preview shown at the panel for Season 2.  Series star and executive producer Seth MacFarlane said fans can look forward to a Season 2 where “Every episode feels like a movie.”

Thanks to The Orville concept artist Lex Cassar, we (I and my wife, author and borg.com TV reviewer Elizabeth C. Bunce) had one of our best experiences at meeting the crew of a show.  Seeing that the standby line for The Orville signing had no hope of making it to the Fox booth (events often can run long and subsequent events get behind at SDCC), Cassar came out to hand out some of the SDCC-exclusive Planetary Union pins to those at the back of the line–a very kind and classy gesture to those standing for an hour and half.  Seeing me and Elizabeth in the Orville uniforms she created for the Con, he came back with a screen-used resin phaser for us to pose with.  He went back to the booth and brought back Jason Roberts, unit production manager, who brought Bortus’s egg from the series, plus another hero resin light-up phaser and light-up scanners, and we were able to get more photos with the crew and these great props (gorgeously detailed, realistic, and heavy!).

The Orville production crew and borg.com staff with screen-used props at San Diego Comic-Con.

Despite not getting the lottery for the signing, we got up close and Seth MacFarlane (Capt. Ed Mercer) said we looked great, Scott Grimes (Lt. Gordon Malloy) gave me a fist bump and had a quick chat with Elizabeth regarding the comfort of the uniform, J. Lee (Lt. Cmdr. John LaMarr) gave us a thumbs-up, and Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr. Claire Finn) blew kisses from the balcony.  Peter Macon (Lt. Cmdr. Bortus) chatted it up with everyone at the Fox booth.

Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki signing at the Fox Booth at Comic-Con.

Emmy-winning producer and The Orville executive producer and director Jon Cassar (and 24 series executive producer and director of Continuum and The Dead Zone among other things) and producer and film editor Tom Costantino were especially gracious and gave us some of the Union logo pins and a Union hat after The Orville interview show.

C.J. Bunce and Elizabeth C. Bunce at San Diego Comic-Con (photo by SDCC official staff photographer).

All a great payoff for Elizabeth’s time in interpreting and deconstructing the costumes with only photographs in The World of the Orville book as a guide, sourcing fabrics, creating patterns and sewing the final uniforms!  Comic-Con cosplay is in part about feedback to the studios. It’s also about showing your support for what you like–the driving theme of borg.com, too.  We loved Season 1 and want to see more of it, and want these creators to know.

The real McCoy–an Orville screen-used resin phaser.

So check out the new trailer for Season 2, plus footage from The Orville panel, followed by the interview at the Fox booth at the show:

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The Orville is exactly what you have been waiting for.  Not a flat sci-fi parody as the advance press characterized it, it’s more of a take on workplace situational shows like The Office and Office Space, recreating those daily grind obstacles that all of us face, only in a future, outerspace workplace.  The result is a visually gorgeous show that takes itself seriously more than it tries to mock anything that came before it.  Unlike Galaxy Quest, a fun and beloved parody it has been compared to, The Orville takes off into a new direction altogether.  The Orville expands on elements from across all sci-fi, like space battle sequences and planet flyovers using Star Wars-inspired camera angles (including real model ships, not just CGI), completely new and unique aliens (the only thing close to these can be found in Doctor Who), and a fantastic, triumphant musical score from Bruce Broughton that is every bit what you’d expect from the composer of music for Silverado, Tombstone, Lost in Space, Gunsmoke, Dallas, Logan’s Run, and Buck Rogers.

Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy, Star Trek Enterprise) plays Ed Mercer, the newly appointed captain of the USS Orville.  Ed is a once-ambitious officer in a future space force called the Union, who has taken some backward steps resulting from a marriage gone wrong to his new second-in-command, Commander Kelly Grayson, played by Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Supernatural, John Wick).  Although the characters’ past together is grim, the writers quickly address the closeness they once had in a bit of comedy banter over a quantum device that speeds up time and in a classic MacGyver moment involving a seed and a hot glue gun.  The chemistry they will need for the rest of the series is present from the start.  The rest of the cast is a mix of straight man and comic relief, and the writers don’t hesitate to drift them into pure drama when the story calls for it.  Scott Grimes (Band of Brothers, Crimson Tide, Star Trek: The Next Generation) plays Helmsman Malloy, a pilot and old friend of Ed who flies by the seat of his pants.  Peter Macon (The Shield, Supernatural) is Lt. Commander Bortus, a Moclan (with an incredible prosthetic head) who takes his job seriously and represents the best of the Union, along with Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle, Deep Space Nine) as the ship’s doctor.  Mark Jackson is Isaac, an artificial lifeform from Kaylon (who is a character that seems to emerge straight from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), J. Lee (Family Guy) is navigator LaMarr, who seems to fear the change a new captain might bring, and Halston Sage (How to Rock, Crisis, Goosebumps) is security officer Kitan, a Xeleyan who is young and the physically strongest member of the team.

Enough cannot be said about the alien creations.  Bortus and Kitan are perfectly realized.  Isaac looks like a classic retro-inspired android.  A swimming, floral, three-eyed chief botanist (created by Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor Robert Legato) is gorgeous and organic, and best of all, not bipedal, as is the gelatinous Yaphit (voiced by Norm McDonald).  The villains of episode one, the Krill, are as perfect as sci-fi aliens get (they actually take off and land on planets–a strange but welcome novelty for a sci-fi series), and the seething and charismatic Krill captain (played by Joel Swetow) stumbles into the crew politics in one very funny scene.  Even passing background aliens are incredibly detailed compared to aliens of many other sci-fi series.

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The new sci-fi comedy Orville is coming soon from Emmy Award-winning executive producer and actor Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy) and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) premieres Sunday, September 10.  It’s a parody, but has so many creators from Star Trek (like directors Jonathan Frakes, Brannon Braga, and Robert Duncan McNeill) it looks like the real McCoy.  It’s the next science fiction series on our watch list.

This afternoon, Fox showcased the creators and stars at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, including the reveal of a second trailer for the series.  It features more aliens, and more humor.  Panelists MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson, and Chad Coleman, and producers David A. Goodman and Brannon Braga were introduced to the crowd in Room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center.  The big surprise was the news Charlize Theron will make an appearance in the first season.

Seth McFarlane returns to outer space, playing Captain Ed Mercer, newly tapped commander of The Orville, an exploratory vessel 400 years in our future.  Its crew, a mix of alien and human–and better yet, non-humanoid–races, encounters all those trials of space life found only in the lower decks of past sci-fi series.  Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retribution, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is the X.O., Captain Mercer’s ex-wife Kelly Grayson, Scott Grimes (Family Guy, Band of Brothers, Star Trek: The Next Generation) is Ed’s best friend Gordon Molloy, Penny Johnson Jerald (Deep Space Nine, Castle) is Dr. Claire Finn, Peter Macon (Supernatural, The Shield) is Bortus, newcomer Mark Jackson is Isaac, J. Lee (Family Guy) is John Lamarr, Halston Sage (Goosebumps) is Alara Kitan, and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) is the voice of Yaphit.

Check out the official Comic-Con trailer for The Orville:

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