Star Trek: Jonathan Frakes Compares Picard and Discovery

Jonathan Frakes is a longtime veteran of the Star Trek universe. He began as Cmdr. William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He learned to direct on that series and has gone on to direct episodes of that series and others in the Star Trek franchise. He returned for a new generation of Star Trek series when he directed episodes of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. He's still working on Discovery, but he also directed two episodes of Star Trek: Picard, reuniting with his Next Generation co-star Patrick Stewart. Speaking to via Zoom, Frakes compared his work directing Discovery to what it was like working on Picard.

"On the Picard show, it starts with Picard and it grows out from that," Frakes explains. "There's an intimacy to shooting Picard and a pace. The number of characters, he's only got five people on his ship, and he's got this little s***ty freighter that he's driving around in. So again, its the difference in the scope and the tone. Both are wonderful and I think there's room for both. I think there was an appetite for Picard because the hardcore Trekkers know Picard and it was leaked that Data would be on the show and then the wonderful addition of Jeri as Seven of Nine, and Jonathan Del Arco. Those, I think, inspired the fans to want to see Picard.

"When Discovery started, I think it was much like our show [Star Trek: The Next Generation], that the fans were skeptical. 'Do we need another Star Trek? Who are these people?' And eventually, and it didn't take them as long to get 'approval' as it did us, primarily because of Sonequa's appeal, but the story in that first season with Jason and then Anson in the second season, Doug Jones and the company is eccentric, as is the Picard company, but the Picard company is dense. It's only five people."

Frakes' latest Star Trek work was on Discovery's third season. Frakes says the new season will mark a tonal shift for Discovery.


"Discovery has primarily to do with Sonequa's character, as you'll see. At the end of season two, we flash-forwarded I think 930 years. Michael Burnham has found a new core, not to mention a new partner in crime. So again, there's a big tonal shift on that show, less driven by the pain and guilt of her past and more about the magical reunification of the Discovery crew and wherever she went off to," Frakes said. "God knows where she went as the Red Angel. So those two things coming back together is very much the theme, and how grateful everyone is and what's next. It's got a lot of action-adventure and not so much pain."

Star Trek: Discovery Season Three will debut in 2020. Star Trek: Picard Season Two is in pre-production.