Jonathan Frakes Calls Riker Maneuver From Star Trek: TNG An “A-hole Move” In Reddit AMA

Today veteran Star Trek actor and director Jonathan Frakes joined former Star Trek writer Ken LaZebnik and witer/science consultant Andre Bormanis for a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”). During the online text chat with fans Frakes got honest about his time on Star Trek, his famous “maneuver” and more.

Frakes talks Riker in Reddit AMA

Jonathan Frakes fielded several questions but one of his answers stood out when asked about the famous way he would get in and out of chairs on Star Trek: The Next Generation. From the AMA…

KingRabbit_: Who came up with the Riker maneuver on TNG (by which I mean, extending your left leg over the top of a chair anytime you sat down because you’re just that damn tall and virile)? Be honest, it was you, right? What a power move.

Jonathan Frakes: It happened by chance when we first used 10 Forward…the chairs where low enough to step in ….frankly it’s kind of an asshole move …but I’m glad it found life as a Meme

Of course, the “Riker Maneuver” has become legendary and it has even been parodied on both Star Trek: Lower Decks and most recently on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In the episode “Those Old Scientists” (directed by Frakes) actor Jack Quaid improvised a moment jumping on Captain Pike’s saddle, yelling out “Riker!” In the same AMA Frakes was asked about that moment and said he thought “It was BRILLIANT!!!”

This video has a compilation of some of Frakes’ maneuvers on TNG…

While Jonathan Frakes may think Riker’s chair sitting was an “a-hole move,” in the same AMA he shared his deep respect for the legacy of the character…

AlpineSummit: Commander Riker! You always seemed to have so much fun playing your trombone on set. How much did you enjoy those moments? Also – TNG truly shaped me as a person, what are some little ways your journey in Trek has shaped you?
Frakes: Thanks and I aspire to be as Honorable a man as Riker is

Kataclysm: From what I’ve seen, you’ve been probably one of the most positive advocates for fans of the show meaning you as ‘Riker’ and not yourself. How long did it take for you to really ‘own’ the Star Trek actor mantle?
Frakes: I’m still adjusting to the varying weight of the Mantle…It is a privilege

He also offered up his thanks that as Riker he didn’t have to deal with some of the dialog challenges faced by his co-stars Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton:

Level-3B: Do you have any tips you give to Trek actors to help with the technobabble? Any phrases in particular you had a hard time with?
Frakes: I was lucky that DATA and GEORDI got stuck with most of the technobabble

Frakes shared some of his favorite moments from TNG…

HopeInSpace: What is your most favourite Star Trek quote?
Frakes: Some days you get the bear some days the bear gets you [Riker, TNG: “Data’s Day”]

EverybodyKnowsYouCry: What is your favourite memory from the sets of TNG?
Frakes: Watching Patrick Stewart wrestle with Michael Dorn

The actor and director also offered praise and insight for the newest era of Paramount+ Star Trek shows…

Nassive: What series have you been most proud of as a director, as an actor, and as someone working behind the scenes?
Frakes: The latest…This franchise gets better and better

dancegirl712: What is your personal favorite story arc of Star Trek as a fan?
Frakes: I do love that Worf is now a pacifist

AlsoIHaveAGroupon: From your perspectives, why does a season of a tv show take so long to make now, even as they consist of fewer episodes?
Frakes: The quality of the other work on TV …the expectations of a tech savvy sophisticated multitasking audience …the level of magic that VFX and the AR wall add to the process

The Reddit AMA was organized by Long Island University’s TV Writer’s Studio in Brooklyn, NY where LaZebnik runs the MFA program. Jonathan Frakes and Andre Bormanis have also worked with students as part of the program.

Jonathan Frakes’ “proof” for Reddit AMA

Check out the full AMA for more from Jonathan Frakes, Ken LaZebnik, and Andre Bormanis.


 

 

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Frakes is just the man! 🙂

So glad to see him both in front of and behind the camera on Trek these days! I wish he would get more involved in the shows and movies again…if we ever see another movie I mean lol.

He truly gets Trek. Hopefully he gets two episodes in SNW’s fourth season. I’d also like to see him get the pilot for Academy, that way it’s his direction that sets the tone for the show.

That would be cool if he directed the pilot to Starfleet Academy. I could get more pumped about it if he was making it.

That would be awesome. But IIRC, Mr Frakes has signed up to direct an entire season of a new SciFi show that is being made so he might be busy for quite a while!

Oh no!!! This is what happens when you don’t seize the opportunity. Way to let him go Paramount ugh

I know right? But I’m happy for Frakes tho. Always happy to see Trek Vets succeed and not get trapped in typecasting.

Couldn’t agree more. They should give this fella the keys to the Trek Kingdom. I’d be very happy!

Yep! I absolutely adore Frakes. He represents the best of Star Trek in the last 35 years and truly one of the best people around. I actually had two brief encounters with him during all the crazy hype over Picard season 3. I went to check out the premiere in Hollywood at the Chinese theater of the first two episodes and just watched some of the stars arrive for the show. I saw about a dozen people but Frakes was the only cast member that actually went up to the crowd and signed autographs and took pictures. That’s not a slight on anyone who didn’t do it of course (and they do it enough all year), it just shows how much he always goes out his way to meet the fans.

And then I briefly bumped into him at the IMAX showing of the final two episodes in L.A. where the entire cast minus Marina Sirtis was there and he was gracious and talked to everyone who stopped him. I only talked to him briefly but the guy is so genuine. The way he is in every interview is how he is in real life. He’s just happy to be associated with Star Trek, loves the fans and he’ll happily keep being a part of it. With all the shows he’s now involved with, he’s not going anywhere.

Thanks for sharing Tiger2. I always like to hear “good stories” of what stars are like away from the set and Frakes seems like a good person! I like to think that is the same reason why Leonard Nimoy is so revered from the TOS cast. Sounds like Genie Francis is a lucky woman and he’s a lucky guy.
After Discovery had such a rocky and controversial start, some disliked the fact when Frakes got onboard to direct some of the episodes and bring a sense of legacy to the new shows. The decision by Kurtzman (or whoever) to bring him into the NuTrek fold was brilliant. Five-plus years later, I like to think most fans are really happy with the fact that he is still heavily involved both behind and in-front of the camera.

100% agreed and totally JEALOUS!!!

He so is! With all do respect to those who came before him and after, I always love it to see a Trek actor who looks fondly on their time on Trek rather than with disdain.

I always heard it was due to back issues and back pain? No?

Thank you. I recall the same stories and have been wondering if I misread something somewhere.

That was the change from the season one/two uniforms to the uniforms used in the remainder of the series. The early uniforms were spandex, so tight that they were causing the actors back pain; Patrick Stewart complained about this.

ooooh, ya I remember that. I wish the extras get the new uniforms too cause IIRC for season 3 and the next year or so they were still in spandex.

When this first became a “thing,” one of the explanations was, “The set was built for people who are 5’4″, and Frakes is 7’15”.”

I definitely recall that story. An old back injury from a moving job he had when he first moved to Hollywood or some such thing. He can own it if he wants to though! Much more fun than … “oh well see, I had this old back injury …”

When it comes to technobabble, i loved the scene where alien computer enhanced Barclay explained how he solved a problem, and Riker pretended he knew what he was talking about:

RIKER: Mister Barclay. Everyone’s still trying to figure out exactly how you did it.
BARCLAY: Well, it just occurred to me that I could set up a frequency harmonic between the deflector and the shield grid using the warp field generator as a power flow anti-attenuator, and that of course naturally created an amplification of the inherent energy output.
RIKER: Uh huh. I see that.

There is actually the reverse example of that in the episode ‘Rascals’ (the one where Picard and company become kids again) and the Ferengis had captured the Enterprise. I love how he’s on the bridge just extolling the most dense technobabble possible explaining the ship’s computer system to the confused Ferengi trying to keep up and follow along. It’s hilarious!

Ha that was funny too but IIRC that technobabble was fake. Still hard to memorize I’m sure!

it was indeed fake…. no way the Enterprise D computer is controlled by three primary main processing cores, cross-linked with a redundant melacortz ramistat, fourteen kiloquad interface modules. The core element is based on an FTL nanoprocessor with twenty five bilateral kelilacterals, with twenty of those being slaved into the primary heisenfram terminal. I mean that would just be ridiculous.

HAHAHA, well done!

HAHAHAHAHA!!! That was SUCH an awesome scene! I love that ep. Barclay gets his due! Even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

A lot of folks say that poor Trek writing began with the P+ shows but it didn’t. It began with lazy writers on TNG stuffing their scripts with technobabble. I remember interviews with the various actors at the time all expressing contempt for scripts solving problems non-sensically and for it just being used as ‘filler’.

I liked the technobabble. For me it was cool to see them try to explain how all the Treknology worked, rather than just by magic. I was a kid then, but it ignited my imagination even if it was all just gibberish. I can’t blame the actors for not liking it though.

Soooo….techno-magic?
Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Just saying that I enjoyed how they tried to give their technological plot devices some in-universe validity with the technobabble.

I agree, if you can’t follow the technobabble, the word salad deflates the meaning.

I admit there were times where they took it too far. But most of the time it wasn’t “word salad”. It was intelligent and high minded and frankly went over a lot of peoples’ heads.

The thing is though some of the technobabble could be imaginative and it was more creative than writing some realistic stuff all the time. It might not have made sense for the actors but it did sometimes make sense for the world of Star Trek. In fact I could even go as far as to say that the technobabble made Trek unique and different from the other sci-fi shows. It kind of became a symbol of Trek.

While it started on a small level with TNG, Voyager really took the art of technobabble to another level. At least on TNG the technobabble had some basis in reality (even if it was a very, very small basis), on VOY it was just nonsensical a lot of times.

The techbab was rife on TNG too. I remember utterly enjoying the first Barclay episode, up till Picard pulls a techbab out of thin air at the end to fix the engines or whatever was going wrong. If you are going to rely on that for a plot point or to save the day, then you gotta set it up, and you can’t do that with goofyspeak unless you’ve got somebody like Anthony Burgess writing the weirdness. It’s probably the main reason I gave up on VOYAGER so soon, had had way too much of it on TNG (which is probably why I don’t hold that show in much esteem either, though I probably saw nearly 160 of them all the way through.)

Voyager was the first Star Trek show I watched and I swear I had no idea what they were saying! 😂

I thought I had to be an engineering major or something. It was just way over my head. As I watched it more I started to understand but I agree they did use it a lot to solve problems which I didn’t mind, but it did come off lazy a lot of times too.

Janeway: The plasma burst irradiated the engine nacelles. The inner layer of the warp coils was burned away.

B’Elanna: Which means the warp engines are useless until we can rebuild them.

Chakotay: They’re made from a substance known as verterium cortenide. Do you know where we can find a source?

Neelix: Verterium cortenide. If I’m not mistaken that’s a densified composite material.

B’Elanna: That’s right. It’s composed of polysilicate verterium and monocrystal cortenum.

Every time I see that episode, I wonder how many takes it took to get all of that out perfectly. LOL

LOL yeah. TNG did it great but they got kinda lazy in VOY.

Technobabble isn’t bad writing, it’s clever writing, so long as it stays consistent and it tries to sound real. Heisenberg compensators for example for transporters are technobabble but they sort of make real world sense. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states when you get down to the atomic level you can never know where something is and where it is moving at the same time which would make transporters impossible for yet another reason. So the compensators were invented as a reason to combat that. That CERTAINLY isn’t bad writing. The OG technobabble was warp drive. Should we have excluded that too?

I don’t know – only the one with Remmick seems to be a truly a-hole manuever (and it’s awesome)
– the rest simply seem more efficient

“”The latest…This franchise gets better and better”

Thoughts?

Well that’s not a loaded question at all, is it?

especially for a guy looking to keep working in the franchise – can’t hold it against him. Also – that’s just like, his opinion man

Couldn’t agree more.
You’re welcome.

Agreed. I mean, from his perspective as actor, he had more to work with in Picard season 3 than any of the 4 TNG movies and most of the episodes. I totally get why he said that.

Also, Riker was awesome in that season.

So a tall person sitting down in a chair in a particular way that harms no one is an “asshole move”? Boggles the mind.

What he’s implying is that it’s a deliberate choice by the character to emphasize his size/height, to impress or intimidate.

It’s just Frakes being his usual funny self. But if you do need an explanation, it emphasizes Riker’s Alpha male masculinity.

“Some days you get the bear some days the bear gets you.”

That some kind of Eastern thing?

If you appreciate malapropisms … t’s a ‘revenant’ of things past.

I was making a Lebowski reference.

And the “Riker lean“ didn’t get mentioned. If you’re not aware of this watch an episode and when Riker’s going to go around a corner, he leans into it. I have to be honest I never noticed it until someone pointed it out and now I can’t ‘not’ see it. 😀

too true – Riker would have made a good race car driver – he takes those turns like a boss

I used to make fun of this all the time as a kid. Imitating the “Riker” walk. Kind of almost a John Wayne thing.

I grew up watching TNG and I have to admit sometimes I do the River lean without even realizing it lol

There’s also the “Riker Exit” – quite often while doing that Frakes would go out the door looking the opposite way he was going first. I keep meaning to make a super cut of them.

I adore this man so much. What a humble legend.

Same. Huge fan. Frakes is the “Mayor of Star Trek.”

I feel the same way. The guy is a treasure to the franchise, and seems a genuinely good person. We are lucky to have him.

As I said elsewhere here Frakes was grumpy and did not come off well at all at a Minneapolis convention. When he signed autographs he kept his nose down and didn’t acknowledge fans.

Sounds like he was just having a bad day. It happens.

But he’s an amazing guy overall and if that’s the worst thing can be said about someone whose been doing it over 35 years that’s clearly not a big deal.

I agree. He goes above and beyond with the fans. My only interaction with the man involved a very bad joke on my part, but he laughed anyway … cause that’s the kind of nice guy he is.

Totally dude. I’ve personally never had the privilege in person. But everything I have read about the man suggests the exact opposite. The description I just read sounds much more like Shatner than Frakes.

Frakes is the best!
But I can’t be the only equestrian who watched that scene in “Those Old Scientists” and thought “Why’d he say “Riker”?” b/c that’s HOW you get into a saddle. There is no other way than putting your leg over the back. The whole reason why “the Riker maneuver” is so iconic is b/c it’s out of the ordinary. On a saddle or horse it’s just normal. I still love the scene and everything, but I had to have it explained to me. You’d think Jack, being friends with Tawny who has horses, would have guessed it might be confusing…

Jonathan Frakes is a gift and pure joy!

He was a grump and uncommunicative with fans at a Mpls. Creation convention a number of years ago.

Off day I guess. It happens.

LOVE Jonathan — as Riker, the way he was written in season one of TNG Riker was a bit of a stiff and not that interesting but come season 2 (and the beard) he made the character his own and ver looked back and every season the character just got better. he has such a love for the fans, is so kind, and an incredible director/actor who imbues everything with JOY.

Would love to meet him, shake his hand and just say “THANK YOU!

Also – in “Those Old Scientists” Boimler doing the Riker maneuver for the saddle and actually gleefully saying “Riker!” was AWESOME

Riker could have been a kirk clone or rehash of Decker but he became so much more.

‘You told him about the statue?!!??’