Speaking at Lexington Comic & Toy Convention earlier this month, director and Star Trek: The Next Generation star Jonathan Frakes broke some news about Star Trek: Discovery. He also revealed what J.J. Abrams told him about Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek pitch, and then to top it of, opined on how The Orville fills a Star Trek void and why Deep Space Nine is better than Voyager and Enterprise. We have highlights from the panel and full video below.
Frakes returning to direct Discovery
Jonathan Frakes directed the 10th episode (“Despite Yourself”) of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery and it turns out he will be returning for the second season, which begins production in April. When asked if he will be directing again for Discovery, Frakes revealed “Yes, I’m about to go back.” He also talked about seeing the first episode written for the second season:
“I just read the first script of the second season and the outline for the second script and it’s on fire now.”
While not definitive, the above comments indicate Frakes will be directing one of the early episodes, possibly even the season two premiere. For the first season Frakes was tapped to kick off the second ‘chapter’ of the season that began the well-regarded Mirror Universe arc. The second season premiere will be picking up on the final moments of the season one finale, with the surprise introduction of the USS Enterprise. The director may have dropped a hint he is the one to pick up that storyline with his comment to the Lexington con crowd about the season one finale, saying “It’s a great cliffhanger, isn’t it?”
Frakes thinks Tarantino Trek could be creative – but not convinced it will happen
When asked about the possible Star Trek movie based on a pitch from Quentin Tarantino, the director of two previous Trek features spoke with a mix of interest and skepticism on the project, and revealed what producer J.J. Abrams told him about it:
I’m fascinated by the possibility of this. I am not convinced that is going to be real and I am not sure that Quentin’s gestalt and what he is known for is quite in the same wheelhouse of what we have known Star Trek to be. But, I am an eternal optimist and I texted with J.J. [Abrams] – my close, personal friend – who I am a big fan of by the way. I know some people aren’t, but I think he is a wonderful storyteller. I think he did a great job, especially with the first Star Trek movie.
I said “What’s up? What’s happening with this?” and I asked him if it is real and so far it is real because they put a writer’s room together and [J.J] said “Quentin said it is going to be wild.” So, that is is as close as I have got to an answer, which is a word we always thought it was going to be anyway.
I feel like he could surprise us and bring it into an R-rated world, or a PG world where Star Trek kind of lives. And it could be incredibly creative. I noticed that Patrick Stewart was smart enough to offer his services as soon as he heard the name Tarantino mentioned. So, I am as curious as you are. I am not sure if it is real and will come to fruition, but I do know there is a writer’s room open and they are working on a story and that J.J. and Quentin have agreed to move forward, so we will see.
How The Orville fills a TNG void
Jonathan Frakes has the unique distinction of being the only director to work on both Star Trek: Discovery and Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville. During his time on stage, the former TNG star talked about how MacFarlane “is full-on Trekkie geek” and was able to talk Fox into making his dream of being a starship captain come true on The Orville. He then noted how MacFarlane set out to make the show feel like The Next Generation:
He clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like Next Gen. So, he hired the cinematographer [Marvin Rush] and the camera operator, and Brannon Braga, who wrote First Contact among other things that are fabulous. Robbie Duncan McNeill, one of our wonderful directors from Voyager, James Conway, who directed a bunch of great Next Gen episodes; he hired me. He filled the room with Next Gen people so that the show would look and feel like it and I think he did it”
Later in the discussion Frakes contrasted the current Star Trek films and TV series with what MacFarlane is doing on The Orville, saying:
“The Star Trek that we have has really found its voice, and Discovery has really found its voice. And The Orville has filled in a void. For a lot of people The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation], and it’s got wild humor in it.”
Why he likes Deep Space Nine over Voyager and Enterprise
Jonathan Frakes knows a thing or two about the series that followed The Next Generation having appeared as an actor in Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise as well as directing multiple episodes of both DS9 and Voyager. When a fan asked him what was his favorite Trek series besides TNG, Frakes pointed to DS9:
“I’m one of the people who really liked Deep Space Nine. I think they took more chances. I loved the people on Voyager, but Voyager always felt like Next Gen ‘lite’ to me. And Enterprise felt like they had gone to the well…you know, that was the fourth series in however many years it was. And again, nothing negative about any of the people on the show…it’s just that the appetite for Star Trek…frankly, I thought that Paramount was so freaking greedy that they created all these shows and watered down how great the essence of what Roddenberry created was.”
“[Deep Space Nine] told wonderful stories and they tried things and there was a lot more use of time travel and flashbacks. The characters weren’t all – because Roddenberry had died by this point they had sort of pulled out of that idea that there would be no conflict, which is a hard way to make drama. There was conflict on that show, people did have issues on that show. I’m working with Ira Behr, who is one of the creators of that show, on this documentary [What We Left Behind] which I think will be out soon. I did a little skit the other day. I know it’s not everybody’s favorite, but I always enjoyed it, and I loved working on the show too.”
Full panel video
You can see Jonathan Frakes’ full panel below, moderated by Joe Lewis of BoneheadHumor.com, courtesy of Lexington Comic & Toy Convention: