Jonathan Frakes Previews “Despite Yourself,” Talks ‘Star Trek Discovery’ And TNG Cast Parallels

Director (and former Star Trek: The Next Generation star) Jonathan Frakes is talking about about helming “Despite Yourself,” this weekend’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

In an interview with the official Star Trek site, Frakes gave this brief description of the episode.

Lorca’s depth of character continues and there’s this wonderful business with L’Rell, Mary Chieffo’s character. It’s beautifully shot, it’s a great story, and there’s lots of loose ends tied up. Lots of questions are answered, and it’s a… cliffhanger. 

I think it’s the best episode of the year. Of course, I’m a little biased. I think it’s going to be very exciting for the fans. Sonequa is amazing. I think she is a magical new face for the franchise. I’m a big fan.

The former Riker also talked about how directing Discovery continues his thread of being involved with all the Star Trek shows following TNG:

I am very proud of having been part of all of these Trek shows. I felt that way back during our show, and then to direct our show and a couple of our movies, and then Voyager and Deep Space, it was great. And even the sort of ill-fated appearance on Enterprise, to have had my hand in all of them, I’m proud to be that guy. So, it felt right doing Discovery.

Jonathan Frakes on set of Star Trek: Discovery (CBS)

Bonding with Discovery cast

Talking to Rotten Tomatoes, Frakes praised Sonequa Martin-Green and talked about how the cast reminded him of the old days on the set of TNG:

She, as the new face of our franchise, of our family if you will, could not have been better chosen. I wished I had Michelle [Yeoh] on my episode too, which I didn’t, but I did get to meet her while I was working there. These women — and Jason [Isaacs], I’ve got to say — are fabulous. It feels so much like being around our [Next Generation] cast in such a positive way. It brought back such great memories. This company is a team, and they love each other and they support each other. They watch each other’s scenes. They go out to dinner together, they hang out together. It’s so familiar to me, from the way we were on Next Gen. It warms my heart.

The former Trek actor also talked about how the cast were curious about his time on the show and wanted his insights in a number of areas, noting:

Well, they asked specific things. We talked about the costumes, we talked about Roddenberry, we talked about the conventions. We talked about the absurdity. We did a little lesson in ship shakes and when you get blasted by phasers and all the things that are somewhat comical, possibly, or that are consistent from Star Trek to Star Trek: Talking to green screens, dealing with aliens, fan situations, how it will change your life, you know, for the better.

Frakes and the interviewer also discussed some spoilery information, which you can read in the full Rotten Tomatoes interview.

Watch Frakes direct Discovery

CBS Also released this video promoting the episode and featuring footage of Jonathan Frakes on set.

Episode 10 of Star Trek: Discovery will be available on CBS All Access on Sunday, January 7th by 8:30 pm ET. It will air in Canada on the Space Channel at 8:00 pm ET the same day and be available on Netflix outside the USA and Canada on Monday, January 8th at 8 am BST.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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Cmd. Bremmon

You know TNG did have some likeable actors. It’s too bad they didn’t put them on the Excelsior or another ship in the more exciting and dynamic 23rd century and threw out the horrid boring TNG environment. Wonder if he is jealous these guys get a serial plot with some better scripts while he had to play holodeck.

VoR

Would have been interesting if Riker took one of the myriad promotions he was offered and TNG became an anthology-like show that bounced between the Enterprise and whatever Riker’s ship would have been.

SanFranDisco

That definitely would have been cool but it never would have been approved by the studio… both due to cost reasons (having to keep two standing sets, hire two sets of actors) and because studio execs back then lacked any kind of vision. Anything new, different, or that challenged a traditional prime time TV show model was too risky. They didn’t think audiences would accept anything but the same traditional style of show (one cast, one setting, single stories, etc).

This is where cable and streaming have had such a huge creative advantage. Networks over the past few years have finally started to catch up.

El Chup

There was plenty of risk in TNG. Your problem is you’re viewing it through the prism of today. TNG came about when sci-fi on TV was not en vogue but was a risk. Had an a typical lead in a bald British man. Had extremely progressive stories for it’s time, distanced itself from TOS for the early part of its run and was the first major show to go into syndication. People forget these things because of how much TV has changed in the thirty years since.

SanFranDisco

There was risk in TNG but not the kind of risk I was referring to. Yes it was a risky genre at the time, yes it was first run syndication. But it was still a traditional episodic hour long drama, with a regulr cast, a primary location set, and 26 episodes per season.

Unlike shows today like Fargo, True Detective, and American Horror Story, with shorter episode counts, fluctuating cast, and different settings and characters every season. That was too different back then to be considered because it challeneged conventional wisdom for advertisers who wanted comfortable and predictive programming, regardless of genre.

DataMat

No internet to distract us back in those times. No social media (was it even a ‘concept’ then?), no smartphones or ipads, no catch up TV. Even when I was a pre-teen kid of the early 00’s I remember wanting to be at home at a ‘specific’ time to catch my favourite programme, or I would miss it.
Nowadays, no worries, just record it and watch it whenever!

Marja

I think we were able to set our VHS recorders on a timer. I seem to recall this.

Lyle

Yeah, and I also recall times when an NFL game or some other inconsequential thing would cause TNG to start late and I’d end up missing the last 15 minutes of an episode! I wasn’t savvy enough to set my VCR to record extra time, unfortunately.

Marja

I love “Fargo”
And I loved the FIRST season of “True Detective”

So far I’m loving DISCO!

Tiger2

Sorry you didn’t like it but I’m happy the show was set away from TOS. It expanded the universe and made TNG a popular show with an all new fan base.

Putting it next to Kirk show would just bring in the same comparison and not for the better as Discovery and the KT films proves.

Phil

TNG was a logical progression of TOS. As societies grow and develop, they move away from a frontier mentality to a more urbanized one. The 24th century Federation would look different then the 23rd, just like the US today doesn’t resemble its 19th century counterpart.

DataMat

Would you say Trump is progression? Growing pains perhaps…

Marja

Politics is a pendulum.

There have been outrageous lies in every period of US politics.

Not that I’m accusing the President. No, no.

Andrew SD

Disparaging comments about Star Trek: The Next Generation is heresy and is punishable by being banished to the Delta Quadrant, which no one wants so watch it.

Muse

Haha, I grew up loving TNG but I found it hasn’t aged that well. I kind of stalled halfway through a rewatch last year because, to be honest, I was finding it so dull. Marina Sirtis can call DS9 Deep Sleep 9 all she wants, but I think she’s projecting. Don’t get me started on Voyager and Enterprise though haha.

DataMat

You miss the point. TNG is great for kids and teens. It is great end of day ‘appointment’ tv. You have simply grown old and moved on probably. TNG is innocent escapism and the characters are what keeps you returning for reruns. It feels like a family you never (I never) had!

jonboc

Kids would fall asleep watching the stale-adventure-less episodes of TNG. Give young kids some remastered TOS if you want to keep them occupied. Engage their vivid imaginations. Bright colors, bombastic music, fights with Greek Gods, salt vampires and doomsday planet killers. You can set them in front of some flute playing and tea sipping Trek, surrounded by soft pastels…but you better give them a pillow! lol

Tiger2

You’re clearly not on Reddit. Most people there are in college and watching TNG for the first time. You guys sound out of touch as if no one watches the show anymore and yet its the most binged Trek show according to Star Trek.com according to a poll at 33%. Second is DS9 at 21%. TOS is tied with Voyager at 19%. Sadly Enterprise is last at 8%.

That poll was taken two weeks ago.

So apparently the tea sipping Trek is still the most popular for a lot of folks by a mile. Sorry but its true, some of you guys have just grown old if you honestly think anyone under 30 is watching TOS as much as you do.

Tiger2
CAPT.MC

I think the 5th threw the 7th season suck on tng after Roddenberry died. but the first 4 and a half seasons was pretty good.

albatrosity

It’s really nice hearing a cast getting along so well. It seems really hit or miss with Trek series.

DIGINON

Besides TNG, the DS9 cast still seems to be friends, as are many of the Voyager cast. Allegedly, there was some rivalry between Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan. I don’t know if those two have since buried the hatchet. I haven’t heard anything about the ENT cast not getting along. So that basically leaves the TOS supporting cast having a beef with Shatner and the Mulgrew/Ryan thing. Seems like quite a good hit to miss ratio to me.

Captain Danno

I seem to recall Bakula saying in Shatner’s Captains documentary that he didn’t think the Enterprise cast gelled all that well. As I recall he and Shatner commiserated over similar experiences.

Curious Cadet

@Capt. Danno — I had not heard that but my direct experience on that show would support that statement. I’m sure Bakula did not include himself in that statement, but he was a large part of the problem. A nice guy, but didnt listen to anyone else. He was horribly miscast IMO.

Gary 8.5

I have heard enterprise cast members speak very kindly of Scott Bakula.

Tiger2

Curioius Cadet, where did you hear Bakula was a problem? I have NEVER heard that anywhere, not by any cast members or anyone on the production. All I heard was good things about him. Where is any of that coming from?

albatrosity

I’ve heard from conventions, like Michael Dorn saying how on DS9 the sets were sooo serious compared to TNG, no fun at all, and Voyager had that tension with Mulgrew and a few other cast members I think. ENT seemed like a fun crew, I think, but I haven’t seen Captains so idk

DIGINON

I wouldn’t equate being serious about work with not getting along.

CAPT.MC

they have buried the hatchet. they attend startrek conventions together.

somethoughts

Love Frakes, First Contact director and as Riker

Tiger2

There has to be a Riker cameo somewhere! Make it so!

Frakes directing is exciting. I hope someday to love this show as much as TNG. I don’t think the show will ever be that popular but it has the potential to be a good show.

albatrosity

I don’t think anything will rival TNG’s popularity, ever. No show gets watched by millions of viewers a night anymore. The best we can hope for Disco is that its audience steadily grows like GOT and enters the cultural dialogue on the internet

Tiger2

True. TV has changed so much now (which is why the show is on a streaming site in the first place) its very hard for a show to have the massive popularity outside very few shows today that are ‘must see’ on first viewing.

I think Discovery will be fine but I have a feeling its not going to go the 7 seasons like TNG and the others did for some reason. I feel its not hitting that level of must see but as you said maybe it will grow and build. I’m not saying its not popular (its really hard to know either way) but in all honesty I don’t know anyone actually watching the show. Only people I know watching it are on sites like this vs when TNG and the spin offs were on there were people I knew personally watched it, bought merchandise for it in the stores, etc. Discovery doesn’t feel on that level, at least not yet.

Kirok

@Tiger2

I also personally know no one watching the show. I know two people who have “cut the cord” and get their tv over antenna and internet. One is a trek fan as well and he isn’t even watching it. No way to know if this is unusual or the norm, however.

Trek does not seem to be getting that internet “buzz” other cable and streaming shows have either. Maybe it needs more time but the buzz worthy shows usually took off right out of the gate.

DataMat

Far too many channels, and devices, and streaming providers… the audience is hugely fragmented now.

Marja

I was so pleased that TNG, in its time, entered the zeitgeist. People would say, “Resistance is futile” and the part of me that was the weird 11-y/o Trekkie kid would go, “YAY!”

A LOT of people watched TNG, regular TV watchers, not just SF or Trek geeks.

Marja

Will Riker hasn’t even been born yet. Unless Frakes plays Riker’s great-granddad or something. And, why.

Tiger2

What I mean is its Star Trek. Q bought him to the Delta quadrant to meet Janeway and he showed up on Enterprise via holodeck (please WHATEVER you do Discovery, don’t have Riker showing up on a holodeck). I’m just saying, if anyone wants these characters on the show its not exactly difficult for Trek to figure out a way.

That said I don’t think it will happen, I just like Riker to keep his record of appearing on all the shows. It just feels right. ;)

TomorrowSage

Why would Frakes have met Michelle Yeoh while working on his episode if she doesn’t appear in it? Given that Yeoh’s character has been out of the picture since the first few episodes, she likely wouldn’t be just hanging around the set. Despite Frakes statement that Yeoh is not in this episode, I suspect he may have revealed a small spoiler about someone Discovery encounters in the Mirror Universe.

Marja

One word: flashbacks

Alex

Michelle Yeoh was not on his episode but he met her during work? Could that mean she’ll be back for episode 11? Why else would she be on set!?

DIGINON

She might just have been in Toronto for a completely different reason. Or she might have been there for Discovery. They could bring her character back in a flashback or, assuming they really do (a) mirror universe episode(s), she could still be alive. Lost of possibilities.

Tiger2

She was on the set when they filmed the last episode of the season when After Trek interviewed the cast. I think its been pretty clear she’s going to be in more episodes like the cameo she did in another one (forgot the name of it). My guess she’ll be in at least a few more.

DataMat

Frakes said we get a cliffhanger…

CAPT.MC

whats wrong with her hanging out.

FrostUK

Recently rewatched ENT Season 4 and I’d forgotten Trip and T’pol had a telepathic link (exploded in the episode “Bound”). Seems to me the link between Burnham and Sarek, whilst different, is inspired by this. Just goes to show you, you sit there thinking ‘why did they add this?’ and then you realise its based on something that already exists.

Noticed a few other things picked up from ENT as well. Pretty cool.

Tiger2

Its sort of funny they did the same thing in the current Star Wars film as well. I never had an issue with Burnham and Sarek telepathically linked by distance. As said Enterprise showed it was possible and since they make up Vulcan abilities with every new show and film (‘Katra’ anyone?) anything is possible. Just as long as they don’t contradict something then its fine.