Star Trek: Jonathan Frakes Says Fan Reactions to Discovery, Picard Remind Him of Next Generation

Jonathan Frakes thinks there are similarities to be found in comparing the way fans have reacted to the latest entries in Star Trek canon and the way they reacted when Star Trek: The Next Generation first debuted. Frakes was part of The Next Generation, playing First Officer Cmdr. William Riker of the Starship Enterprise. He learned how to direct while working on that series and has remained a part of the Star Trek family ever since. He returned to the fold as one of the directors working on Star Trek: Discovery and returned to direct and appear in Star Trek: Picard as well. Based on what he's said, it seems like he'll be a part of Star Trek for a long time to come. Frakes appeared on a recent episode of GalaxyCon Live, where he discussed how some fans were opposed to The Next Generation during its early seasons. "The audience were very hardcore Original Series fans," Frakes says. "They were skeptical. They were suspicious. They were generally not terribly interested and completely unfamiliar with the new Star Trek which had a bald English captain with a French name, and an entirely new cast. They wanted their Kirk, Spock, and Bones Star Trek.

"I don't think it wasn't until the second or third year when the show really got good," that fans started to accept Next Generation, as Frakes recalls it. "And remember we did 26 a year, so that is a lot. It was 50, 60 shows in. They realized there was room in their worlds for both shows.

He's sees something similar in how older Star Trek fans were hesitant to accept Star Trek: Discovery when it debuted in 2017. "My friends at Discovery, which I was privileged to be part of and still am, it was a similar vibe when that show came out. They didn't want to find room in their hearts for another Star Trek, which there clearly is, and one of the reasons that was not a factor in the launching of Picard was that the hardcore fans love Picard and were inclined to look forward to the show and look forward to having him and look forward to whatever story because they knew him and they knew who he was. I think the familiarity with all fandom is so important. It's like the canon of these shows… they want a touchpoint. That's exactly what it is. And, it's important, and it clearly worked, because Picard is wonderful."

As for those who keep saying these Trek shows aren't "real" Star Trek, Frakes seems bemused. "But they're watching," he notes. "They're watching to make sure they hate it."


The first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery are now available to stream on CBS All Access. The third season is expected to debut in 2020. Star Trek: Picard Season One is now available to stream on CBS All Access. The show's second season is in pre-production.