At latest count, there have been 12 Star Trek feature films. Six of them featured the cast and characters of “Star Trek: The Original Series,” four of them featured the crew of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and the latest two reintroduced the original characters with new faces. While the latest two films have been financially successful, what you might call more “traditional” Star Trek fans have seen the latest efforts as having distanced themselves from some of the more thematic narrative structures of most of the franchise that came before them.
While a lot of fabulous directors have contributed to the series since it began in 1979 — including names like Robert Wise, Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy, and J.J. Abrams — two of them were directed by Jonathan Frakes. Frakes played Commander William T. Riker, the executive officer aboard the USS Enterprise-D and E, and second-in-command to Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the television episodes and movies featuring the crew of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” His two films in the series were Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection, the second and third “TNG” films, with the former often being singled out as one of the absolute best Star Trek films in the entire series (I, personally, placed it at number 2 of the franchise in my very first piece here at GeekNation).
So, what’s the point of all of this history? Well, writer-director Roberto Orci recently left the director’s chair for the upcoming third new Star Trek film featuring the crew of Captain Kirk, and taking place after the events of last year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. While some people are throwing names like Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish around, Star Trek fans have kicked up an online social media campaign to bring Frakes back to the director’s chair for the latest Star Trek film.
Using the Twitter hashtag #BringInRiker, fans have started to show their support for Frakes to come in and become the director for the new film. It’s not necessarily grossly wishful thinking on fans’ parts either, since in addition to directing two feature-length Star Trek films, Frakes has a rather long history as a director with a total of six feature films under his belt, in addition to an enormous wealth of experience directing television going back to 1990, all the way up to the present day on shows like “NCIS” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Star Trek, of course, began as a franchise on television, and part of the strength of Frakes’ two films in the series was in keeping a familiar tone with what fans had seen before, while also demonstrating an aptitude for action that definitely single out his two entries as being some of the most action-packed of the entire series (at least before the Abrams entries).
Since Frakes is also an actor himself, many of his fellow “TNG” cast members as well as other actors who have worked with him often single him out as being an excellent “actor’s director,” meaning he can speak the language of their craft and garner solid performances from his casts.
Moreover, Frakes also has something that most other people simply can’t lay claim to, and that’s being under the direct tutelage of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. In a piece on TrekMovie highlighting the #BringInRiker campaign, the fan site wrote,
More than any other member of the Trek family, Frakes seemed to be the protégé of Gene Roddenberry (with whom he shared a birthday) and talks with more personal fondness about The Great Bird of the Galaxy than anyone else.
Speaking only for myself as a massive fan of the Star Trek franchise, I can’t think of anyone better.
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