This fall, audiences were treated to two completely different takes on the Star Trek universe with Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville. And one Star Trek: The Next Generation alum has a pretty unique connection to each.
Jonathan Frakes, who played Riker on The Next Generation, recently gave both shows his blessing during an interview with IndieWire. Frakes actually directed episodes of both show's debut seasons, and thus understands that both are trying to accomplish different things.
"Stylistically, your responsibility as an episodic television director [is] when you do a show like The Orville, you want that show to look like Next Generation.” Frakes explained. "And when you go to Canada to do Star Trek: Discovery, they want that show to have the feeling, and look, and vibe of the J.J. [Abrams]-era Star Trek. Much more cinematic, a lot of crane work, and a lot of movement, a lot of dutch angles. On Next Generation, the traditional framing, and the things we became accustomed to as fans of the show, we see in [The Orville] because that’s the look.”
"I was afraid that it was going to be like Family Guy, and it’s not really, but it’s also not really as serious as Next Generation." Frakes revealed. "I think Seth [MacFarlane], and Brannon [Braga], and whoever else is involved in all this, they found a tone that clicks with this audience, either the millennial audience or the old school audience. Everyone is very pleasantly surprised at how well the show has been received. I’m happy to see the homage, and I’m happy to see success for whoever wants to steal good ideas."
Still, there's certainly been a lot of comparing and contrasting between the two shows, especially for Trekkies who are burned by Discovery's distinct style (and its paywall). But as Frakes argued, there's certainly a place in the pop culture consciousness for both.
"The Orville's coming back for a second season, so is Discovery." Frakes added. "There’s room, obviously, in the fans’ hearts for both types of ‘Star Trek.'”
Star Trek: Discovery will return from midseason hiatus on January 7, 2018. The Orville's second season will premiere sometime in 2018.