Jonathan Frakes may be one of the key players in the Star Trek world, both in front of and behind the camera, but he's done (and continues to do) plenty of work beyond that franchise. While Frakes confirmed to CinemaBlend that he will be directing episodes for Strange New Worlds Season 3, he'll also be busy with another project, as he's on board to direct a potential TV series. Frakes has signed on to direct a new sci-fi show, and the commitment could keep him away from Starfleet for a while.
The Star Trek: First Contact director will be at the helm for Deathlands, a ten-part series adapted from the novel and audiobook by James Axler and Jack Adrian. Deadline reported that the William Riker actor will direct the entire series and that Mark A. Altman will serve as showrunner. Altman, Jeff Garzik, and Thomas P. Vitale will serve as executive producers. The series comes from NextCypher Productions.
Deathlands is set to the backdrop of a re-imagined world set a hundred years after nuclear strikes between the United States and the Soviet Union. It will feature survivors emerging in a post-apocalyptic society that is full of mutated beings. The main character, Ryan Cawthor, is thrown into the mix and travels the Deathlands via teleportation technology. Jonathan Frakes had this to say about the story and why he felt compelled to join as a director:
Filming will take place during the spring in Bulgaria, which will presumably tie up Jonathan Frakes' schedule for a chunk of the year. This would presumably keep him from committing to any upcoming Star Trek shows he hasn't already agreed to be a part of. Though we're not currently aware of anything beyond his directorial duties on Strange New Worlds Season 3.
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At present, Star Trek: Picard is finished and Jonathan Frakes ended Season 3 with an award-worthy performance as Riker. Considering that and the fact that there's currently no follow-up in the works, one can assume he might not be needed as an actor on the set of any Starfleet-centric series in the near future. That's a somewhat disappointing notion for me, as a fan of Frakes' work as Riker. But, again, we never know for sure what may be going on behind the scenes and what the actor's work schedule is.
Also, while Deadlands will take him away from the franchise for a time, I wouldn't expect Jonathan Frakes to cease his ongoing directing work for Star Trek entirely. He's had directing credits in every new live-action series thus far, so one would imagine he'll also direct an episode or two of the upcoming Starfleet Academy series. It's also possible that there are other unannounced spinoffs on the way that he could possibly be involved in, including some of the ideas I've thought Paramount should pursue. Regardless of what happens there, it's great to see the actor/director continuing to work consistently in the industry and taking on fresh material.
There's no word yet on when or if Deadlands will land a network or streaming platform, but some of Jonathan Frakes best work as a director is currently available to stream with a Paramount+ subscription. Check out some of his best-directed episodes of Star Trek, as well as some of his best performances.