Jonathan Frakes Returning To ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ Talks Tarantino, DS9, and The Orville

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?”

Jonathan Frakes on set of episode 10 of Discovery

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.”

Jonathan Frakes on the set of The Orville

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 NineVoyager, 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.”

Jonathan Frakes as Thomas Riker (Will Riker’s transporter duplicate) on Deep Space Nine

Full panel video

You can see Jonathan Frakes’ full panel below, moderated by Joe Lewis of, courtesy of Lexington Comic & Toy Convention:

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I’d like to see Tarantino making a PG-13 rated Trek movie. I’d also love to see someone else someday making an R-Rated Trek movie. But Tarantino making an R-Rated movie is too much of a risk IMHO.

He probably wouldn’t be able to restrain himself on blood and guts. If he’s at the helm, he should try to make it PG-13… That way, he’d be forced to cut back on his trademark features which don’t fit the world of Star Trek.

But yeah, I’d like to see someone else to do an R-Rated Trek, someone who’s a little bit mindful about those issues. Guillermo Del Toro would be wonderful…

Why not 15 certificate?

Is there a 15 certificate in the US? A lot of what is classified R in the states gets a 15 in the UK.

No, there is none. There are PG-13, R-Rated (17+) and NC-17 (18+).
The 15 certificate only exists in some European countries including the UK and Ireland as well as in New Zealand and Australia.
There is 14 in most Canadian territories and a more tolerant 13+ rating in Quebec which is given to most R-Rated movies there.

Hollywood producers have to decide between PG-13 and R-Rated. R-Rated could involve lots of Tarantino’s trademark over-the-top violence, which I hope Tarantino will not use that much for Trek. I’d feel better if he has to make it PG-13.

But again, I’d like to see an R-Rated Trek in the vein of Alien, Blade Runner, Matrix or Shape of Water at some point, just not from Quentin.

They can just shoot a hard-R, then release pg-13 theatrical, with a director’s cut on homevid down the line (and perhaps even a limited theatrical reissue) to assuage QT. Easy fix, just a matter of contracts. Didn’t Warner do this already with one or two of their lame superhero flicks?

I don’t think Star Trek needs to be blatantly ‘r rated’ to be different. The Star Trek films have always been tame up to this point. So I think as long as Tarantino recognises his limits with the material, he could do a good job.

As a reminder, Tarantino has done TV work that would have qualified as PG or PG-13 without too much trouble.

Frakes: he’s a complete Legend, isn’t he?

They should have asked him if they’re ever gonna make another TNG movie

That’s not really up to him, is it? I mean I’m sure he’d say yes if they offered…

@Marcelo Teson — that doesn’t stop them from asking everybody else does it?

Not a chance, sadly. But strange things happen.

They brought back X Files mini series so it is possible, but very unlikely I guess…

@Frakes — “He clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like Next Gen. So, … He filled the room with Next Gen people so that the show would look and feel like it and I think he did it”” …”For a lot of people The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation]”

Well, I think that pretty much settles it as to what the ORVILLE is and isn’t trying to be.

It’s a faaaake!

No. It’s a Fraaakes!

This is the main reason I’ll never watch it.

Re-watching TNG has become almost difficult as of late. It feels so soft and insulated now. I’ll always be a massive fan, but I think the TNG ‘flavor’ has had its time. Trek has evolved beyond it. And that’s why I can’t quite get into The Orville.

@Arathorn – TNG feels like a 80’s relic now. I couldn’t stomach rewatching that show now.

I could barely stomach TNG 30 years ago, it was so dull and adventureless compared to Star Trek. Thanks to Discovery, there is a new Trek at the bottom of the heap.

Below VOYAGER and ENT? I mean, the last half of DSC s1 was sludge, but it got so ridiculous that it didn’t smell like toxic sludge, more like a detour into LOST IN SPACE with FLASH GORDON art direction.

The weird part for me is TOS can be rewatched and it still feels relevant today. TNG just feels dated more than anything else. It just is not re-watchable.

I have to disagree about the dated comment. Some of it does feel dated, but the stuff they did that was great is still great. So many TOS episodes feel quite silly now and very 1960s, certainly a product of their time. Like TNG, episodes that were great are still great.

I find the TOS-dated notion to be more indicative of contemporary folks not being willing to look at another era’s issues (and perhaps not even being capable of looking at them with an eye toward that time period’s considerations.)

TNG just seemed superficial so much of the time with its treatment that being bad in its execution was a much larger factor than wondering if/when it would become outdated; if all you can say is ‘drugs are bad’ then you belong on an afternoon special, not the followup to a near-classic. And I’m saying that about SYMBIOSIS, which I actually ranked higher than most because at least it went out on a downer ending that had more resonance than just about anything else I can remember from that dismal s1 (if not for MEASURE OF A MAN and Q WHO, I’d rank s2 even lower, but then again, I think TNG got as good as it was going to get in s3, and that is in spite of Piller wrecking the initial concept for HIGH GROUND and chasing off Snodgrass.)

MWZ, I will give you there are some elements of TOS that date it and just don’t work. And yes, there were some dog episodes. But overall the show still works today. Myself, I’d rather rewatch one of the cruddy TOS eps than a mediocre TNG ep. But that’s just me.

…it’s on fire now

I don’t want fire. I want Earl Grey tea!
Nah, just kidding. I’m excited for S2. Just hoping that there will be more of a “flow” to the series. Less cramped-feeling episodes and suchlike. But we will see – only time will tell.

“…it’s on fire now”

Emperor Georgiou singing hysterically: “Saru, Saru, Saru is on fire… we don’t need no water, let the Kelpian be prepared…”

Okay, that was tasteless. Try again…

“…it’s on fire now”

Lorca: “Burnham all!”

Space Police: “There’s a 10-31 in progress. Starship Discovery must be intercepted at all costs.”

Not having your first-year show go through three generations in one short season again will always help a Season 2.

Frakes has become some kind of Star Trek ambassador as of late. He’s still involved with the show, but he has a very realistic perspective on things past and present (and future). He’s neither sugarcoating things nor does he push any agenda. And having met him in person, he’s just a nice human being.

That’s good to hear. He seems like a down to Earth sort of guy in interviews.

Well, at a Trek convention in Minneapolis, he never looked up while doing autographs. Which I thought was kind of rude.

Anthony Thompson,

Re: autographs

Was this recently?

Cant wait for Frakes to drop some Season 2 spoilers! lol

Mr Frakes deserves his chance to return. His effort was probably the best of the whole season.

I agree with Mr. Frakes. I like DS9 the best. Also, Riker IS my favorite Captain, so… it kinda makes sense that I’d agree with him.

I have a hunch about the start of the 2nd season, but the timing may not fit. We know that Spock went into PonFar at some point during the original five year mission (Amok Time), and that calling happens every seven years …I think you know where I’m going with this: Discovery is on it’s way to Vulcan, and the ‘Emergency Distress Call’ from the Enterprise has prompted an impromptu rendezvous with the two ships… Will Capt. Pike ask Discovery to transport Spock to Vulcan? This could be a situation where as; Spock and the viewers will be the only people who truly know why Spock needs to get to Vulcan- considering the way Spock insisted that Vulcan’s do not share this with “Off-worlders”.
Again, if the timing is correct, Discovery may need to get Spock to Vulcan in a hop, skip, and a literal ‘Jump’.
I’d love to hear what other theories are out there. I’ve heard a few, but they just don’t mesh well enough to think about them seriously. The moment I saw the re-imagined Enterprise show up undamaged, yet broadcasting an emergency distress call, I thought: Spock is on fire. Now it seems, Frakes is using that description.

I like the theory, Dribbles, original. But it still doesn’t prevent me from wishing they would just leave main TOS characters out of Discovery. Imo, the waters are muddy enough with the time period they’ve set the show in.

Isn’t Discovery set in 2257 at this point, and Amok Time took place in 2267? That’s 10 years, unless Discovery skipped ahead a few years, after the end of the “war”.

It would be 2255

Good theory. Best so far.

The problem with that story is that they’ve already stated we won’t see Spock in person. As much as I’d like to see a family reunion between him and Michael, it probably won’t happen. No, I guess the “emergency” will involve a new threat setting up the ongoing story arc for season two.

I bet it’s going to be a new threat from another quadrant or galaxy the Big E has encountered and DISCO is the only ship fast enough to explore that threat first-hand at its source. Sort of like the Xindi threat.

I doubt your pon farr theory simply because Spock, in TOS, says, “I had hoped I would be spared this.” Of course, that statement could be parsed.

is it even a question that ds9 is better than those other 2? i even prefer it to tng… tng is great when it takes chances… most of the time though it was just really solid safe story telling… the best eps are the chances ones… inner light… yesterdays enterprise… best of both world’s and the followup to that, family… ds9 was reversed… as each season went by it was more risky, different… there’s nothing like it in the trek universe… especially all the characters… like 25-30 regular and recurring ones… if you haven’t seen it jump on board… problem is you gotta get through the first 2 seasons before they really get going… but there’s still a lot of good stuff before that… there are some handy dandy reference guides to tell you which ones to skip or not… it’s totally worth it and gets very addictive… once sisko goes bald and worf joins the show it’s an amazing ride

I dunno. DS9 had its moments and certainly loads of great characters but all in all, only a handful of episodes and the two Dominion arcs stand out. There was A LOT of wasted screen time and fillers… most of the Ferengi comedies come to mind.

DS9 was best when they harked back to TOS: Tribbles, Klingons, Mirror stuff…

VOY on the other hand, they may have wasted lots of potential by denying the show a proper story arc, but the show had lots of VERY cool “out there in space” episodes, especially during seasons 3-5…

I’d wish to see both shows in HD at some point, but if I had to decide, I’d actually prefer VOY on Blu-Ray…

I loved DS9, except for the Ferengi comedy hours.

I found DS9 to be the best post TOS show. But the Ferengi centered episodes were among the weakest.

I wonder. STD “on fire”.

Makes me think of episode AMOK TIME. If Vulcans have to mate every 7 years, was there a precursor ‘episode’ to Spock’s condition in Amok Time? When did that take place? Is that the SOS the ENT is sending out. He needs to Spore Jump to Vulcan?

Just wondering.

In AMOK he says he has been able to hold off the effects previously, so this is the first time it is seizing hold of him, presumably delayed due to half-human aspect.

The photo caption calls him “Thomas Ryker” in TNG. For the record, it’s *Will* Ryker!!!!

What’s wrong with the caption? He was playing his transporter duplicate, which was not Will Ryker in that scene.

Riker, Thomas, transporter duplicate, first introduced as a LT and “twin” of Will Riker in TNG, showing Will a lot of opportunities he himself had passed by.

Dude it literally tells you its a duplicate of Will Riker in the caption. I mean, seriously.

“it’s just that the appetite for Star Trek…frankly, I thought that Paramount was so freaking greedy that they created all these shows…”

I never got that point, not back then in 2005, and certainly not now in 2018! They wasted 12 years without any new televised Trek based on that infamous franchise fatigue theory… franchise fatigue!

Oh, the irony! The years between 2005 and 2016 were the years when LOTS of huge cinematic and TV franchises took off to begin with… the MCU, the Arrowverse, the Whoniverse, the Wizarding World, the return of Star Wars, Game of Thrones (already planning 5 spin-offs)… you name it.

Star Trek missed a huge opportunity going on hiatus for such as long period. Sorry, but from a 2018 POV, four TV shows from 1987 – 2005 is hardly too much.
The Arrowverse alone, which is only a tiny fragment of the larger DC multiverse, has five shows (including Constantine) and it’s up against a line-up of other DC shows (Black Lightning, Gotham, Krypton), the recent memory of Smallville, and loads of countless Marvel shows… It’s also competing with what… up to 7 CBMs a year on the big screen, plus 3-4 animated DC movies a year!

So nope, don’t tell me, 5 TV shows over 40 years with a maximum of two at the same time, was too much Trek! It never was! The quality was arguably responsible, but never the quantity…

The Constantine show advertised on CWSeed… Is that new or is it just a repeat of the one season NBC show?

Ah ha, so that’s the formula.
TNG + stupid characters = The Orville.

“Stupid characters” means characters who are supposed to be the best at what they do…and instead cause a lot of problems. Case in point: Dry-humping a statue, against their commander’s orders. This is what the crew on Tripping The Rift would do.

My headcannon is that all the aliens are from the future and all the humans are from today.

It’s definitely purile in places and Seth MacFarlane is not the comedy genius that he thinks he is- but I don’t wish them any harm. I think that in a decade most people won’t remember The Orville very much.

Yeah, well, you can go on making internet comments and MacFarlane will go on counting his hundred of millions while his shows air several times a day around the world.

I’m not sure what your post even means. And,I doubt that the Orville will be airing several times a day around the world. It might well be streamed quite a bit. Also, I think you’re over-estimating McFarlane’s wealth, but I guess if rich guys swimming in their money is your thing, embrace it.

Discovery is where you’ll find the “Stupid Characters”. The Orville is at least aware of how silly it is. Discovery tries to pretend it’s a serious morality play after 15 episodes of the most illogical and stupid decisions. Case in point: Going on an away mission and taking the time to have sex with your boyfriend after turning your captain over to be tortured. Or letting a known enemy agent wander freely about your ship during wartime after he murders your ship’s chief medical officer. Or giving command of what’s supposedly the most important ship in the fleet to a genocidal dictator from another universe that knows literally nothing about Starfleet protocol or the ongoing war. Discovery is 100% check your brain at the door, which is really the opposite of what Sci-fi and especially Star Trek is supposed to be.

good points. Orville can get away with such behavior like dry-humping a statue BECAUSE they are not a “top shelf” crew. In one epi, Seth said in exasperation “I gotta get a better crew”. Their motto should be what that admiral told Seth on awarding him command of a star ship: “you were nobody’s first choice” “there are three-thousand starships we have to staff” or something like that. A tee-shirt should be made: “Orville; You were nobody’s first choice”. Wear it with pride. I only watched it because it’s free. I ended up really liking it. Haven’t seen STD yet. I’ll get around to it, although my taste for Space War was satisfied with DS9 over twenty years ago. I’m now more along the lines of Dr. Greer has to say about the actual situation in the Cosmos: sort of like the Galactic Community quarantines warring planets, keeping them from getting into inter-stellar space, until they clean up their act, and help them to do so.

Don’t turn to DSC for a ‘good’ example of space war, that aspect is largely absent or offscreen, and what is there, is wholly lacking in EVERYTHING that was awesome about DS9’s war eps. I’m just about to finish up a rewatch of about 2/3rds of DS9 (I just don’t have any patience for trill shows and there are a lot of standalone eps that are either failures or bores that I don’t bother with), and stuff like SIEGE OF AR-558 is still terrifically well done storytelling.

Agreed, excellent points.

Sherm, when you say that Orville is aware of how silly it is truer words could not be said. Orville knows exactly what it is. SDT does not seem to know what they want to do. It feels like they wrote themselves into a corner and then realized they didn’t have enough season to get themselves out of it. So they found some very very illogical and ridiculous solution. At least when Orville does that it’s fine because the show is light hearted to begin with. STD is trying to be deadly serious. And failing.

Tyler was monitored by security, and Saru sensed no threat. As for having sex? While I agree it was pointless, It’s very ‘human’ to have intercourse in odd places and odd times. Apparently we haven’t changed in that area, but I think it needs more of exactly what you say it lacks, although I disagree that it is brainless. It’s thought provoking and visually astounding IMO.

Except… They are certainly NOT the best at what they do. This is not the flagship of the Union. It is not a highly regarded placement. It is a small not very noteworthy vessel. That is part of the point of the show.

Star trek Enterprise was very good in my opinion for the first two and a half seasons than got goofy . Which was a shame.

In some ways I agree. It was boring and too quickly gave up on its own premise. But it was consistent. The Xindi storyline was awful.


Funny. We see things differently. I did like Enterprise overall but it wasn’t until the 3rd season did it really start to hit its stride. Although it still suffered with Bakula in the lead.

Interesting. I thought it hit its stride in season 3 and got better in Season 4. Not sure what made it ‘goofy.’

I agreed with him on Orville. I thought voyager was better than ds9. I like enterprise too. Heck, I like em all. It’s all a matter of personal preference by each fan. I am currently running through ds9

Mr. Drew,

I am Joe Lewis and I moderated the panel. Just letting you know and saying Hi!

Nice to hear someone be complementary of both The Orville and ST Discovery. I have yet to watch more than one episode of The Orville but do plan on checking out more shows as we wait for Discovery season 2. In the meantime, awesome to see Frakes coming back up to Toronto to direct as the Discovery cast and crew obviously thought he was great. (of course he will probably have to sign a NDA this time haha) As for DS9, yeah I have to agree with his assessment. Not only was it on a different creative plain compared to the other shows, it also tried a serial story arc which was foreign to most Trek fans. I for one didn’t bother to watch it until after it went into syndication and I have to admit, I was very pleasantly surprised!

And Orville is as BORING as Next Gen

Bottom line: Frakes loves everything if he thinks there’s a pay cheque in it.

(slow clap)

He compares two shows that he directed with each other, and declares one of them better than the other, saying Voyager was TNG-lite. That’s not exactly loving everything with a paycheck attached. You’ll rarely hear anyone in show business totally rip a show or movie, they all know how difficult it is to produce something good.

You kiddin me? I used to rate Frakes as he seemed to have a handle on just how good TNG was. From the casting of Stewart to the fact the show seemed to have some real heart to it. I’ve since realised though he dishes out praise where it clearly isn’t warranted. The Orville is bilge. Simple as.

Fifth and final TNG movie with Q as the big guest. Inexcusable that sombody isn’t making this happen.

$300 million domestic, mark my words.

By the way, Jonathan Frakes lives in a lovely neighbourhood in Calabasas in Calafornia, I looked around it on the Google Street View (lovely technology we have access to nowadays!). I am so very jealous of him on that front. But admittedly he does deserve his lifestyle as he has worked hard for it.