Where now for Star Trek?
You and whose army?
Jonathan Frakes
selected from Starburst Special #41

The actor/director/producer expects a little wait until Star Trek X...
By Judy Sloane

Don’t expect to go again where no man has gone before – before 2001! According to actor/director, Jonathan Frakes, who created the role of Captain Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the next movie sequel won’t follow too closely on the heels of last year’s Insurrection.

“I was naturally disappointed that Insurrection didn’t do as well as First Contact. Frankly, I think it came too soon – I think two years is too quick” says Frakes. Following Insurrection’s less than stellar box office performance, the general opinion of critics and audiences alike seemed to be that Star Trek was better when the premise was darker.

“I think that’s what we’ve learned,” says Frakes, roaring with laughter. “Bring back the Borg! But I liked how different Insurrection was from First Contact. Do you know what the most successful Star Trek film was? It was the one with the whales [The Voyage Home] which is what we were trying to emulate with Insurrection.

"We were trying to show, in a less than covert way, that we were on Earth, which I think appealed to the Star Trek audience. They could relate to their heroes being in San Francisco [in The Voyage Home] The planet Ba’ku [in Insurrection] was clearly Earth. I liked the romance and the comedy in Insurrection, but I think First Contact was a better Horror movie and maybe a better Science Fiction movie."

Between his stints with Star Trek, Frakes has no problem finding work that interests him. Currently he is executive producer for the WB’s new Science Fiction series Roswell, which is very loosely based on the infamous incident where aliens supposedly crash landed in New Mexico in 1947.

“I was dying to get into an hour show that was not about spaceships,” admits Frakes, “so this was the easiest step for the industry to accept me taking. I spent 10 years in a spaceship, so it is nice for me to have characters who have pockets in their pants and drive cars. I came on board as the executive producer and director and, because I had to reshoot the ending of Insurrection, they put David Nutter on the pilot – he was the perfect guy because he was on The X-Files.”

Roswell spotlights the three teenage aliens attending high school in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1999. So what’s the connection with the 1947 crash? Frakes explains, “It will be revealed as the season goes along that they were actually pods that opened up 19 years ago. We’ll cover where these kids actually came from and how they were taken into foster homes and were finally adopted – that’s all going to be dealt with in the first 10 or 12 episodes.”

With all the major networks under fire for the lack of ethnic diversity in their programmes this season, Frakes proudly returns his thoughts to Star Trek. “We never had a problem with diversity – I was in the minority in my show as a human being and as a white guy! It was never an issue on Star Trek.

"Star Trek was Gene Roddenberry’s vision – he really believed that the universe was [made up of] all different colours and races. To credit Roddenberry, the show was about relationships first, and Science Fiction second. That sounds like a bit of a cliché, but I think it’s true. I think the main reason people liked the original Star Trek is because they liked seeing Bones, Kirk and Spock take the piss out of each other. The same is true with our show – I think they like to see Captain Picard, Riker and Troi play with Data, and if it happens to take place on another planet, that’s great. I think Roddenberry’s great line about Star Trek being a ‘Wagon Train of Space’ is well taken.”

And although it doesn’t look like the ‘Wagon Train’ will roll again for a couple of years, Frakes states emphatically, “There will be another movie, and I hope to direct it because directing is the best job in the world, and to direct your dysfunctional family members is an even better job!”

Star Trek photos copyright: Paramount. Feature © Visual Imagination 1999. Not for reproduction

Read the full set of Star Trek interviews (Patrick Stewart, Rick Berman, Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran and Andrew Robinson) plus our round-up of the future plans for Starfleet and a Season Five guide to Voyager, by getting this
Starburst Special from our online stores VI Direct

Return to the Starburst Special #41 contents page.
Starburst footer