‘The Orville’ Beams Up ‘Trek’ Guests & Writers, & a Country Superstar

Dolly Parton on "The Orville"

Hulu Dolly Parton poses on he set of "The Orville."

Worlds collided during the July 21, 2022, episode of “The Orville,” which featured the involvement of four “Star Trek” guest stars, two veteran “Star Trek” writers, and one of the most legendary figures in country and pop music. The episode in question was titled “Midnight Blue,” and it featured “Trek” guest stars Seth MacFarlane, Lisa Banes, Scott Grimes, and Penny Johnson Jerald, was written by the tandem of Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis, and included a cameo appearance by Dolly Parton as… Dolly Parton.

The episode centered on the regular characters Topa (Imani Pullum), Bortus (Peter Macon), and Kelly (Adrianne Palicki), as well as a returnee from season one of the show. Rena Owen once again played Heveena, the female Moclan writer with a fondness for Dolly Parton. Heveena likes to listen to Parton songs, notably “9 to 5,” and she’s got a wall full of Parton photos and sketches. Fans also heard a bit of “Jolene.” Later, Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) invites Haveena to the simulator, where she meets and converses with Parton in what proves to be an important conversation.

The Latest Episode of ‘The Orville’ Featured Two ‘Trek’ Guest Stars & Dolly Parton 


The “Star Trek” connections begin with MacFarlane, a lifelong “Trek” fan who, according to Memory Alpha, played the character Rivers in the “Enterprise” episodes “The Forgotten” and “Affliction.” He is the co-creator, co-executive producer, and star of “The Orville.” Lisa Banes made her second posthumous appearance on the show. As previously reported by Heavy, Banes recurred as the character Speria Balask and was honored during the pandemic-delayed season-three opener, “Gently Falling Rain,” with a title card that read, “In Memory of Lisa Banes, 1955-2021.” Banes, according to the New York Times, was 65 years old when she died on June 14, 2021, 10 days after she was struck and critically injured by a scooter in New York City. According to Memory Alpha, Banes guest-starred in the third-season “Deep Space Nine” episode, “Equilibrium,” which premiered in 1994. She played a character named Dr. Renhol. Additionally, “The Orville” counts among its regular cast Scott Grimes and Penny Johnson Jerald. According to Memory Alpha, he went uncredited as the character Eric in the “TNG” episode “Evolution,” while she, per the site, recurred on “Deep Space Nine” as Kasidy Yates.

“Midnight Blue” writers Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis are no strangers to “Star Trek” fans. Braga, according to Memory Alpha, wrote and produced “The Next Generation,” “Voyager,” and “Enterprise,” as well as co-rote the features “Generations” and “First Contact.” Bormanis, according to the same site, served as a science consultant on “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” and “Voyager,” as a story editor and producer on “Enterprise,” and as a technical advisor on the film “Insurrection.” According to IMDB, he works on “The Orville” as a supervising producer, science consultant, and screenwriter.

Braga Got His Start on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ & Now Writes, Produces, & Occasionally Directs ‘The Orville’

Parton, on July 21, 2022, posted a photo of herself on the “Orville” set and wrote, “What an honor to be on ‘The Orville’ with Seth MacFarlane and Rena Owen. I might be as old as yesterday, but with all this new technology they make me look as new as tomorrow! I really hope the fans enjoy it as much as I enjoyed being a part of it.”

Fans were caught totally by surprise by Parton’s appearance, based on the reaction to her post on Facebook. Brit Larkin wrote, “Omg, so excited to see this! I loved just hearing Dolly on it!” Sam O’Rama noted, “As this episode unfolded, I thought, ‘I hope Dolly shows up in the series at some point… As soon as Keylani said she was to go to the simulator, I was like… It’s gonna be Dolly! So excited!”

Eric M. Mack wrote, “I have to say, this was a truly great episode. It’s nice that in the previous season, Captain Mercer mentioned Dolly Parton and her music during their encounter with Moclans’ female-only colony of refugees. To get Dolly Parton (one of the friendliest individuals in the world ) to Guest Star as well as sort of ‘poke fun’ of the manner in which this encounter takes place (in that) genuine(ly) funny and kind way of hers, shows the writers either collaborated with Dolly Parton on her dialogue or knew exactly the words to pull off a perfect scene. KUDOS.” And, Hiller Thomas commented, “You seemed so genuine and warm… I loved that scene soooooo much, TBH. Heveena dropping to her knees was hilarious, and everything after you give the quick explanation of how you are there felt like you were just spending time with someone who could use another perspective and it just felt so genuine.”

“The Orville,” currently in its third season, streams on Hulu.