Jonathan Frakes Tells Fans Not To Worry About ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

This past week Chicago was home to the first stop for Creation’s Star Trek-themed Continuing Voyages Tour. The weekend-long con featured panels involving several prominent Star Trek actors including the cast of The Next Generation. On Saturday, during the reunion panel, Jonathan Frakes let slip a major spoiler for Star Trek: Discovery. During Sunday’s panel alongside Brent Spiner, he was a bit more tight-lipped. Even though he didn’t drop another bombshell on the audience, he did have some sage words of wisdom for the crowd, and there was some bits of fun too including a cameo from Karl Urban.

Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner at Continuing Voyage Chicago 2017

Frakes draws Discovery parallel to launch of TNG

During the Q&A panel, a fan said she was originally hesitant about Star Trek: Discovery until she learned Jonathan Frakes was directing an episode. As she told Frakes, “You wouldn’t let the ship go off the rails”. After Frakes joked about the “mixed metaphor” of that statement, he assured fans Discovery won’t disappoint.

“There are people skeptical about Discovery. Which I was experiencing 30 years ago on The Next Generation, which was how loyal the fans were to Kirk and Spock and Bones. Some are more aggressive than others… and I deserve to let you know they know what they’re doing.”

Frakes definitely has some experience with hardcore Trekkies. As shown in the image below, some fans were very skeptical and vocal about their disapproval of The Next Generation before the show aired in September 1987. One fan even wrote to Paramount as part of a write-up campaign asking the producers to put the show “in another space-time continuum”.

early article before launch of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Urban ribs Spiner’s ‘Resurgence’ as Frakes praises Urban’s McCoy

Coincidentally enough, having Star Trek exist in another space-time continuum was exactly what happened with 2009’s Star Trek reboot directed by J.J. Abrams. Karl Urban, who plays Dr. McCoy in the Kelvin Timeline films, crashed the panel as a way to pay back Brent Spiner for crashing his. He appeared at the mic and in a funny voice mimicking Spiner’s, joked about how his favorite Brent Spiner movie was Independence Day: Resurgence.

“My favorite movie of yours is Independence Day. Independence Day 2 is a masterpiece. Not only is it a disaster movie… but it is also a disaster of a movie.”

Karl Urban steps up to give Brent a ‘compliment’

Frakes later went on to praise Urban’s performance as McCoy. Brent Spiner also pointed out how Frakes said at the time Urban’s performance was his favorite in the 2009 film. He also joked about not being invited to the premiere of the film.

“Jonathan did say those very words [how good Urban was] because he went to the premiere when [2009’s Star Trek] came out and said, ‘Karl Urban was great!’” And I thought… why wasn’t I invited?”

Frakes reiterated his praise during the panel, once again singing Urban’s talents.

“My favorite performance in the film was [Karl Urban’s]… he totally inhabited the spirit of DeForest Kelly.”

Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner at Continuing Voyage Chicago 2017

More from Continuing Voyage Chicago

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Karl Urban wants to see McCoy’s family in Star Trek 4

Nice moment when Jonathan Frakes helped out a fan asking a question at Continuing Voyage Chicago 2017

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Geordi is the new Spock? Surely Data was the analog for the logical alien aboard ship… Geordi was the pilot, essentially, meaning he was more Chekov or Sulu, than Spock. Even Worf as “the new Spock” I could have understood. Odd.

That article has a number of issues. If you notice they also list everyone as “commander”, check out
“Commander Yar”.

Well the show was still in development, so that’s all fair. As I understood, Worf wasn’t even added until late in development. But how in any way is Geordi “The New Spock”??

Yep I’m at a loss about that one.

There’s also “Commander Ryker”, which of course we now know is William T. Riker.

Changes in spelling and minor things like that are completely understandable. I’m simply not getting the comparison of Spock (logical alien) to Geordi (blind navigator).

Data is the logical one and Troi is the half-alien, half-human telepath. Spock is such a cool character that it took TWO people to replace him. :-)

Three, the logic and knowledge recall portion was handled by Data…

That newspaper article was hilarious. Its just like the complaints about Discovery today. A new spinoff is coming to ruin Star Trek forever. The ripoff they were complaining about went down as one of the most beloved parts of the Star Trek franchise, and I have no doubt that Discovery will do the same.

That’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard about Discovery since I first heard about Discovery! I think the show will carve out it’s own place in Trek lore but will be embraced by the fandom within three seasons, much like TNG. My hope is that CBS gives it the time to grow and allow it to become a “loved” part of the franchise.

Those of us who were around in 1987 still remember. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Who knows, maybe in 30 years when another Trek series debuts, they will use a quote from Ahmed like they did in that article from an angry fan when TNG was announced. lol

LOL, that’s an absolute roasting dude. Red rag to a bull time

My thoughts exactly.

The comparison isn’t apt. TNG took place in the Star Trek chronology after TOS so it was free in many ways that Discovery is not. The people who decided to set Discovery 10 years before Kirk’s command of the Enterprise chose to place upon themselves requirements due to where the show sits in the timeline. But visually the show runners appear to be ignoring these elements of Star Trek canon. That is the source of a large segment of complaints. A ship in the trailer looks like the Franklin, almost spot-on identical, and yet the Franklin was from the Kelvin timeline and 190 years prior to the time of Discovery; the insignia also breaks canon as that insignia was only for Enterprise crew prior to the conclusion of Kirk’s 5-year mission; and the entire look of the ships inside and out defies the prime timeline of the TOS era. At the moment Discovery begins NCC-1701 is in operation under Captain Pike with Spock as first officer, and yet the two ships don’t look like they belong in the same universe at all. It is quite possible to adapt, due to improved budget and improved technology today (as opposed to the original series) while maintaining a suitably similar aesthetic. Rogue One did it excellently. You can run ANH right after it and the visual fit is perfect, even though Rogue One is at the same time cutting edge visually. But Discovery seems to have tossed all concerns regarding visual authenticity, fidelity, visual canon, out the window. Many of us who were watching on September 8, 1966 were excited to hear about this new show and that it would take place just prior to TOS, in large part because that suggested we would get a similar colorful aesthetic. When we saw the trailer, our hearts sank. The visuals to me are a major issue that show all over every square inch of Discovery’s trailer with one single exception, the excellent phaser design. Expand from the phaser outward (except for the stupid chevron on it) and you’ll fix the show.

The Franklin also exists in prime as well. The timeline doesn’t diverge until the Kelvin therefore both designs are prime

People seem to lose sight og the fact that Franklin & Kelvin were Prime ships and both look perfectly fine within these new visuals.

Yes, TUP. I’m surprised by just how many people haven’t figured that out, actually.

Yes but as we know Kelvin ships have a different appearance, and the age of the Kelvin places it almost two centuries prior to the time of Discovery. The ships for both of these reasons should not look similar.

@Zoe: What are you talking about? What we saw of the USS Kelvin took place less than 25 years before the time of Discovery, not 2 centuries.

I was referring to the USS Franklin in the Kelvin timeline, not to the USS Kelvin. The Franklin is from 2145-2155. The USS Enterprise NCC-1701 undertook its mission with Kirk starting in 2265, so over 100 years apart (not 190 though). A different era. And of course, a different universe. The prime universe versus Kelvin universe ships we have seen all differ considerably especially the interiors.

@Zoe — really? The show is broken because it doesn’t look like 1966 TOS sets? I’ve been watching TOS nearly as long as you have, and this fan is excited by what he sees.

@Cadet I really don’t understand the insistence of some fans that Discovery must look like it was produced on a 1966 TV budget.

I specifically said I do not expect Discovery to look as if it was produced on a 1966 TV budget. Budget is beside the point. Color is not a budgetary issues. And as I stated, Rogue One looks very cutting edge yet aesthetically remains true to ANH and in fact, the two movies can be run back to back and they fit together perfectly visually.

Yeah, but Rogue One and every movie after Episode III was designed with a retro-jumky look and for a galaxy far away. They aren’t supposed to look super advanced, but rather slightly fallen down and lived in. That aesthetic is easy to reproduce even 40 years later as all you have to do is make it look junky, fallen down, and built out of spare parts from old small household appliances. When designing the cutting edge of technology hundreds of years in our future it would look dumb to have Christmas Tree lights and computers that sound like a cross between an old dot matrix printer and the robot from Lost in Space. Update the visuals to be modern but keep the capabilities and story points intact (which is what they are aiming for) and you have a modern version of the TOS.

I said they have to fix the look, meaning the look is broken. I never said the show is broken. My complaint is strictly about the look. In fact, I have a lot of confidence that the writers have done a great job based on everything I have read, and I think Sonequa is a perfect actress for the lead. That said, the look makes no sense.

You don’t seem to understand why the comparison is being made. Move along.

Agreed. TNG was a logical continuation of TOS. Discovery rewrites the history of the series instead of going forward. TNG further developed the look of the starships, the props and everything. Discovery uses designs from all eras and timelines as if time wouldn’t matter in Star Trek. It is sad how many fans rather trust in promotion statements than in their own eyes, and how many already begin to make up bullshit excuses for things that have gone awry in Discovery. It is also sad how critical fans are put down with pseudo reasonings such as “it’s not the 1960s anymore”. The series may have the spirit of Star Trek in it but it has abandoned a continuity of 40 years (unlike it was with TNG).

My only answer to you is… so what?

The point here is that fans are in full outrage mode and unwilling to give it a chance. You clearly can’t see past your own nose, and are thus incapable of even seeing the obvious comparisons. To invoke Godwin’s law, it’s like Hitler disliking being compared to Genghis Khan because “hey i’m just trying to purify the world here, i’m not evil.”

Who said we aren’t giving it a chance? I didn’t. I will watch the premiere hoping against hope that they will somehow deal with things appropriately. Though I can’t imagine how they could pull it off.

A lot of people here–like you– say things like “I’ll check it out!” but the truth is, they’ve already made up their minds. Your qualifier at the end there speaks to that.

Besides, it’s about more than just YOU. There are MANY posters saying the very same kinds of things about Discovery that were said by TOS fans in 1987. And that’s the point. A point you and others seem to be trying to nitpick because you don’t want to be compared to those idiots from the 80s.

TNG took place further in the future than TOS, so it had the freedom to make creative choices without similar constraints. CBS could have placed the new show anywhere in the timeline they wanted. They chose a place so close to TOS that it has an already-established look and feel, with a little bit – 10 years’ worth – of leeway. But they utilized a look completely visually at odds, which some insiders say was selected not because it made sense or for any creative reason at all, but simply because suits directed them to for marketing reasons.

To compare this complaint to those regarding TNG doesn’t fit. Apples and oranges.

TNG wasn’t viewed as the logical continuation of TOS and the movies at all… at first. (A Klingon in Starfleet? Allies? You’ve *got* to be kidding me, right?)

The reality is that – for marketing reasons they contradicted a look consistent with the prime timeline. The suits (not the creative folks) believed that a JJ Abrams’ Kelvin timeline look would bring in more viewers (even though the last movie bombed). The suits thought that the Enterprise insignia would be more familiar to casual viewers, so it was deemed to be the symbol of the show, even though it contradicts canon.

These visual decisions were made specifically for reasons having only to do with marketing despite the fact that these decisions contradict continuity and look all wrong. The suits then mounted a massive PR campaign and enlisted everyone they could think of, to push against those of us pointing out this obvious, egregious and cynical tactic adopted by CBS.

My only response to you is… so what? These may not be the same complaints as in 1987, but they ring just as hollow. Just as the rebuttal then was “well Trek is more than Kirk and Spock!” my rebuttal to you would be “Trek is more than what the sets look like.”

Trek is more than Kirk and Spock. No one could deny the fictional universe is full of potential characters whose stories can be told. So a person could complain about a show that didn’t focus on Kirk and Spock simply because he likes Kirk and Spock, but that person could not deny that the existence of other characters makes perfect sense in the Star Trek universe. However the existence of ships with Discovery’s and the Shenzu’s look, doesn’t make sense in this universe at this point in the timeline. So the logic you’re using doesn’t work.

As I said, I love Sonequa and I have a good feeling about the writers. So I’ll watch. But I really wish they would fix this visual disconnect.

Zoe, the last movie didn’t bomb, but made millions at the box office. Where do you and others get your bullcaca ‘facts’ about Star Trek Beyond from?

Bernd,are you still rejecting this show because they didn’t consult you as to how it was designed? Get over yourself, you’re not the king of this franchise, you don’t own it, and therefore you can’t be boo-boo bitching your head off about any changes to the sets, costumes, props, and ship designs, or the characters. Please stop watching the show and the franchise if you’re going to be such a brat.

In Frakes we trust!

I like the episode titles of the Discovery, they’re a bit cryptic and remind me of Andromeda’s episode titles.

These three Trek actors seem to be swell fellas all around.

It is amazing how big of a success TNG turned out to be at the time considering the risk it was taking at the time. I’m sure many assumed it was going to fall flat on its face and the first season it almost did. But to end up being probably the most successful Trek out of all of them that is the longest running that ended up making its own films and several spin offs while creating an entire new generation of fans was probably something Paramount itself probably never saw coming.

Who knows, maybe Discovery will do that too?

I would be (pleasantly) surprised if it achieves the same success as TNG in it’s prime. It’s easy to forget but out of all the Trek TV series, only TNG was ever a bonafide hit when on the air. One could even argue that the movies were not even as popular among cinema-goers as TNG was to TV viewers.

I think that was owed in large part to Patrick Stewart and the chemistry among everyone, not to mention the character driven stories they started telling in the third season, which gave each actor an opportunity to shine (which likely helped morale and camaraderie), and really expanded the range and depth of the show. The TNG actors repeatedly say how they keep in touch and are friends for life. It shows in the episodes.

There is NO Comparison, the fans then were objecting to the very idea of someone doing another Star Trek show with a different cast- the fans complaining now are complaining is because Discovery abandons elements of established Star Trek

My husband & I loved all the Star Trek series. We have re-watched Enterprise with Scott Bakula and really enjoyed it. We wish that series would have lasted longer. We’re curious about this new series. But if we like it, that means we’ll have to pay for access. That’s a bummer. Not sure we’ll do that.

Over the last few days, I’ve read that Frakes likes DSC, as well as Nana Visitor, and Roxanne Dawson. Now, being that I’m not very into VOY, I feel like Roxanne’s praise doesn’t hold much weight to me. However, Frakes and Visitor don’t seem like they’d plug something they don’t like. I’m counting The Bearded One’s endorsement as a good sign!

I guess Brent is too cheap to buy a ticket like everyone else?

The continued false equivalency attempts with Discovery are getting on my nerves. It has an ugly ship? “That’s what they said about the Enterprise-D and Voyager.” It doesn’t seem to be embodying Star Trek’s spirit? “That’s what they said about TNG.” and so on and so forth.

News flash, guys. Just because people were resistant to an idea that turned out to be good doesn’t mean that every idea people are resistant to for all of eternity will be equally good. Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t- but comparing it to TNG is meaningless, because there’s no way of telling if it actually WILL be the same situation or not.

The “Enquirer” article (that IS the source, right?) is far, FAR removed from what anyone was actually saying at the time. The article is pure, unadultered… @#$*.

In fact, what Roddenberry did with TNG was attempt to do what he originally wanted to do with “The God Thing” (aka “In Thy Image”)… which was put forth as the pilot for “Star Trek Phase II” (with Kirk and crew) but eventually became “Star Trek The Motion Picture.”

Riker? Decker. Ilia? Troi. Lieutenant Xon? Data. And yes, as written… Picard? “Elder” Kirk.

They even re-used many of the original “Phase II” scripts in TNG. “The Child” is a notable one… in the original script, it was Ilia who gave birth the magical alien baby, but otherwise, the script was almost unaltered.

Geordi was originally a “gimmick.” Riker (Decker) was “young Kirk” while Picard was “seasoned and matured Kirk.” Crusher? Well, there had been talk about having McCoy on board, but bringing his daughter Joanna on as a junior crewmember (Wesley!)

Worf was created at the last minute to fulfil the need for “alien perspective” for the show… and Tasha Yar (originally Natasha Hernandez) was originally created to be “Vasques from Aliens, on the Enterprise.” Pure gimmickry.

Fortunately, enough good people eventually came onto the show… and the actors worked hard enough… to create actual CHARACTERS out of these weird little caricatures Roddenberry proposed.

So… while there was a LOT to be concerned about re: “The Next Generation” initially… the newspaper article referred to above got it ENTIRELY WRONG.

TNG would never have lasted, had Roddenberry not been “shuffled off peacefully” halfway through the second season, and a new production team fully taking over for season 3.

Fortunately, those who did TNG still respected what had come before. They never went out of their way to “cancel out” prior works. That’s where the “Bad Robot” team (JJ’s three movies, AND “Discovery”) differ from every prior incarnation of Trek.