Jonathan Frakes on How 'Star Trek: Discovery' & 'The Orville' Fill Different Voids

Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville both made their debut last season, giving audiences two unique takes on the Star Trek world. And according to Star Trek: The Next Generation's Jonathan Frakes, who directed episodes of both series' debut seasons, there's a pretty big positive out of that.

During a recent panel at Lexington Comic and Toy Convention, Frakes was asked about the two Trek-inspired shows, both of which are gearing up for their second seasons. As he argued, both clearly hold their own separate stakes in the Trek world, something that fans have resonated with in different ways.

“The Star Trek that we have has really found its voice, and Discovery has really found its voice." Frakes explained. "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."

Frakes has previously spoken about those tonal and aesthetic differences, and how he saw them both firsthand while directing.

"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 during an interview late last year. "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.”

That particular aesthetic comparison between The Orville and Star Trek: The Next Generation has been felt by some viewers, something that Frakes says extended behind-the-scenes of the series as well.

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"[Seth MacFarlane] clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like [The Next Generation]. 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. I think he did it."

Season two of The Orville is currently in production, and will arrive sometime later this year. Season two of Star Trek: Discovery will begin production in April, and does not currently have a release date.