The audience ratings for The Orville: New Horizons on IMDb certainly reflect this dating period. The first two episodes earned only 7.5 and 7.3 out of 10 stars, while episodes in the second half of the season averaged 8.75 and episode 9 (“Domino”) became the season’s benchmark with 9.4. Redditor u/1401rivasjakara said so much by posting in r/Orville“At first I hated New Horizons. I lacked humor and feared that it was heading towards the all-too-common sci-fi storyline of more action, less thought. But as a longtime fan of the original STNG and ST series, I now see that they want to bring that vibe back and I love it.”
Commentator u/hxmxx yearned for more comedy in season 4 and admitted that “the shift was a nasty one, but I’m so grateful it happened.” Seth Macfarlane said Hollywood Reporter that the abrupt change in tone gave him and the rest of the writers the opportunity to heighten the show’s socio-political commentary—one of the many elements that tie The Orville to Star Trek. “Instead of watching the news and yelling at the TV, it’s nice to channel some of that into storytelling,” he said. “For me, there’s simply no better genre than science fiction to do this, because you can really find ways to engage that don’t just preach to the audience and proselytize.”
The Orville seems to have found its place, although that place can be a little tender due to all the hitting it has taken this season. There’s no word yet on whether there will be a season 4 for The Orville, but if it does, it’s likely that it will be more like season 3 than the previous two.