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Why Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes Feels The Praise For Strange New Worlds Was Bittersweet

 Jonathan Frakes as Captain Riker in Picard.
Jonathan Frakes as Captain Riker in Picard.

Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes has had his hands all over the franchise, figuratively and literally. As a director, he's been behind the camera for nearly every new series that's come around over the years, including the much-beloved Strange New Worlds. That show is far and away the most popular of the new era, especially when it comes to critics, and while Frakes is proud to be a part of that success, he recently admitted that reading all of that praise actually brought about some bittersweet feelings.

Jonathan Frakes spoke with Star Trek Explorer, which StarTrek.com shared online for all to see, and the interview touched upon the latest episode he spearheaded, the Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks crossover "Those Old Scientists," which led to the Riker portrayer opening up about the latest live-action spinoff. Frakes talked about being involved behind the scenes going into the highly anticipated premiere, after having directed in Season 1, and how he felt conflicted reading some of the reviews:

What a treat, that show. I was there when they premiered, and all of a sudden, everybody loved it, the fans and the critics. I was able to experience the joy of that cast seeing their work appreciated and loved. Unfortunately, part of what happened during that time was that the fans and the critics took the same opportunity to say, 'This is the Star Trek we’ve been waiting for.' Either written or unwritten was, 'Not Discovery and not Picard,' if you recall. There was a congratulations and a slap in the same swing, but I was fortunate, as I often am in my timing, to be on Strange New Worlds when all the good stuff happened.

Jonathan Frakes sounds grateful that there were so many people who enjoyed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but still felt somewhat hurt by those whose comments directly or indirectly criticized Discovery and Picard in the same breath. He directed episodes for both of those shows as well by that point and, of course, also reprised his role as Will Riker. The actor confessed at the time he had a lot of anxiety about reprising the beloved role after such a long time away from it, so I can understand the extra sting of potentially reading there were fans who didn't appreciate his return.

Frakes eventually found widespread acclaim for his performance as Riker in Season 3 of Star Trek: Picard and is on the record as a lover of all of the modern Trek shows. In fact, the director was one of the first to criticize the conclusion of Discovery, indicating he would've rather seen it continue past Season 6. It's hardly surprising he'd feel this way about hearing critics talk about the Trek they want to see and the suggestion that other things he was in before were less than.

Right now, production is paused on all upcoming Star Trek shows. Once the strikes are over, however, production should get rolling on Strange New Worlds Season 3 and the anticipated Section 31 movie with Michelle Yeoh. Despite complaints about some projects, and the jettisoning of Prodigy from Paramount+, the overall health of the franchise still appears to be strong. That means there's plenty of time for opinions to change on these previous shows and maybe make Frakes feel a bit less offended by the backhanded compliments people are paying him online and in person about his projects.

Those with a Paramount+ subscription can watch almost every Star Trek show and movie right now. That should be enough to hold most people over until new shows can be produced again, but if not, there's no lack of content on the streamer to check out as well.