He’s also really fun to get drunk with.Seth MacFarlane, on Jonathan Frakes[1]

Jonathan Scott Frakes is an American actor and director. He directed the episodes Pria and Sanctuary on The Orville.

Frakes is best known for playing Commander William T. Riker in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent films.

Background[edit | edit source]

Frakes also hosted the television series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. In June 2011, Frakes narrated the History Channel documentary Lee and Grant. He was also the voice actor of David Xanatos in the Disney television series Gargoyles.

Frakes directed and also starred in Star Trek: First Contact as well as Star Trek: Insurrection. He also directed episodes of several Star Trek television series. He is the author of the novel The Abductors: Conspiracy

Shortly after directing Pria for The Orville, Frakes directed an episode of Star Trek: Discovery.[2]

The Orville[edit | edit source]

Jonathan Frakes sitting in the First Officer's chair alongside Adrianne Palicki (Commander Kelly Grayson).

I call it Star Trek with comedy.— Jonathan Frakes, on The Orville[3]

In the director's chair, Frakes adopted the traditional framing and shots of Star Trek: The Next Generation, spurning the cinematic approach to modern Star Trek: crane work, moving cameras, and liberal use of dutch angles.[4] On the other hand, he wanted to fans to distinguish The Orville from Star Trek of the 1990s. Reflecting in an October 2018 interview, Frakes said, "When our show came on the scene, fans thought we wanted to replace Kirk, Spock, and Bones. The audience was skeptical. ‘Skeptical’ is generous."[5]

Before he first arrived on set, Frakes was nervous that The Orville would look and feel too much like Family Guy (a separate Seth MacFarlane show) but was pleasantly surprised to find the set captured the spirit of classic science fiction television.[4] He noted that it felt like he had "gone back in time" to the set of The Next Generation, citing the work of production designer Marvin Rush - also a Star Trek alum - and MacFarlane in particular.[2]

Season 1[edit | edit source]

Frakes directed Pria in Season 1, starring Charlize Theron in the titular role.

Season 2[edit | edit source]

On June 26, 2018, it was reported that Frakes would return to the director's chair for an episode in the second season.[6] Frakes directed the Season 2 episode Sanctuary.

Season 3[edit | edit source]

Frakes confirmed that he was not invited back to the director's chair for Season 3, as MacFarlane and director Jon Cassar would direct all of the episodes. However, Frakes publicly suggested appearing on The Orville as a character, "perhaps in full alien regalia,"[7] multiple times. "I keep waiting for a phone call," he said. "I am available. I've got the beard."[8]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Frakes also directed the first-season Star Trek Discovery episode "Despite Yourself", making him the first person to direct episodes of both shows. Coincidentally, both episodes deal with the topic of time travel.
  • Editor and associate producer Tom Costantino shares an anecdote that during a preparation meeting, an anonymous production crew member asked Frakes with no context: "Can you please do it?" After a moment's silence, Frakes called out "red alert!"[9]
  • He participated in The Orville's Season 2 charity golf tournament.[9]
  • When asked if he ever thinks about a cameo on The Orville, Frakes replied:

Every day! First of all, I am the most vain person in the world. ... It is a little more complicated on those shows, for obvious reasons. I think I have a better shot at it on The Orville because of the tone with Seth’s approach. That kind of wink or Hitchcock-ian thing, even a walk-by or the guy brushing his teeth. ... Even just walking across in the hallway or the bartender or Penny [Johnson Jerald]'s assistant in sickbay. There is an opportunity there.[10]

  • During production, Frakes sometimes joined production designer and Star Trek alum Marvin V. Rush at the crafts services table to reminisce about Star Trek.[10]
  • After MacFarlane tweeted that Frakes is "really fun to get drunk with," Frakes responded that MacFarlane was both joking and referring to a story between the two of them. "That is all I am going to say on that subject," he said. "That is an area where I could really get into trouble with. [laughs] But, wouldn’t you take that as a compliment, coming from Seth?"[10]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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