All we want for Christmas is for Frakes to direct Star Trek 3

It doesn’t take many episodes of TNG to learn that Riker is a man of action. Frakes played him perfectly that way, he even SITS DOWN in the most direct way possible (click the link if you can’t see the video):

When rumors started flying that Jonathan Frakes himself was banging down doors to direct the movie, and perhaps bring a little sanity into that Q-forsaken Nu Trek universe, my gnomy little ears perked right up.

I make no qualms: I generally dislike Nu Trek.

The crux of my Nu Trek discontent can be summarized in two main low points:

  1. Prime Spock (our Spock) did nothing to undo the damage to the timeline or to get back to his own time, despite having ample opportunity and help.
  2. Strong female characters aren’t well-represented.

PS – if you ask Tony or Dan (the creators of Star Trek: Outpost) about Time Travel in Trek, they’ll both go on for days about the merits of it never. happening. again.

Nu Trek is coming off of J.J. Abrams, who excels at producing awesome heady sci-fi TV shows like Alias, Fringe, and Lost. What’s core to those shows? Strong female characters. Good writing (usually). Humor, timed appropriately to fit the scene. Well-developed story arcs.

J.J.’s other movies are generally well-received. Cloverfield stayed true to a monster/disaster movie with a Blair Witch Project-style twist, plenty of horror mixed with humor, and was packed with hidden content, easter eggs, and mysteries. In short: it was intelligent (like his shows).

To make a good movie is a team effort, but a director is the captain of the ship. They point a direction and the story gets told a certain way (with certain shots, pronunciation, and line changes). J.J.’s got the skills but what went wrong with J.J.’s Trek seems to be no end of internal CBS/Viacom vs Paramount strife over licensing, productization, and ownership. It shouldn’t be surprising that with millions on the line, greed makes good storytelling dicey.

That’s part of the reason fan productions like Star Trek: Axanar and Star Trek: Continues and (if you’ll pardon the self-reference) Star Trek: Outpost are so good – they don’t have the mental weight of serving two separate corporate masters. As an aside, I suspect that Axanar was hearing from Paramount or CBS about stealing the limelight away from Star Trek 3 as they’ve removed the “Star Trek” moniker entirely.

Despite Into Darkness being the second most successful film in the entire series (money-wise) is voted the WORST by Trekkies. To paraphrase Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory:

“It’s a [Star Trek movie]. Like pizza or particle accelerators even the stinky ones, still pretty good.”

Trek is Trek, I say to my semi-Trekkie friends.

They roll their eyes. Even I have a hard time believing it. My longest, bleary-eyed Trek binges don’t include Star Trek: The Final Frontier – but it might happen someday (I’ve seen it a total of twice).

Nu Trek is something worse, though – despite being a huge Cumberbatch fan (c’mon Season 4 Sherlock) I have zero desire to re-watch Into Darkness having seen it in the theater. It’s like a running joke, an eternally unchecked to-do list item. I collect Star Trek ship Hallmark ornaments when there’s a cool one out – I panned over the USS Vengeance this year. When burnt out on TNG or DS9 or TOS or fan productions, I switch genres before I even consider Into Darkness.

When Orci stepped up for Star Trek 3, I was… nervous. Orci angrily lashed out at Trek fans after Into Darkness. Perhaps Orci’s outburst was fair, if the Bad Robot team was catching shade from CBS and Paramount, and also then from fans for stuff CBS/Paramount made them do that he couldn’t talk about. Then he deleted his Twitter account. Then came the news that Shatner was negotiating to be in the next movie, and Orci was one of the people originally pushing to get Shatner in Star Trek 2009, and the way they wanted to do it would have been nothing short of amazing.

In Orci you have an embattled-from-all-angles newish director. The whole story is reminiscent of Captain Maxwell from TNG: The Wounded – and to make matters worse, you have the 50th anniversary of Star Trek coming up in 2016 – which means everybody has to have their act together or the movie won’t happen.

Why is Frakes is the perfect choice for Star Trek 3?

  • Trek Experience: Frakes has already directed two Trek movies, including the #2 rated movie by fans: Star Trek: First Contact (which also happens to be #4 on the “profitability” list). Frakes has extensive Trek directing experience as well as popular shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., NCIS, Falling Skies, and Dollhouse.
  • Strong female characters are a possibility: the two Trek movies Frakes has helmed (First Contact, Insurrection) pass the Bechdel Test. They’re 50/50 on the Mako Mori test. Trek deserves better than have Kirk portrayed as a horny frat boy and Uhura a nagging girlfriend.
  • Historical Perspective: This one is a must. It’s what J.J. didn’t bring to the table, because while he had immense vision, he admittedly wasn’t a Star Trek fan growing up. Frakes has it in spades, and it’ll be important at not only appeasing fans, but getting both CBS and Paramount on-board.

Why is Historical Perspective so vital? Just check out this Trek-themed Audi commercial:

Quinto and Nimoy are playing chess on an iPad, but not just any chess – 3D chess. Nimoy uses only a single, well-timed colorful metaphor when frustrated. Nimoy is singing along to his album he released after Trek in a style that could be called Shatnerian. Nimoy’s entrance joke about his death line from Wrath of Khan. Nimoy’s use of the Vulcan nerve pinch to win the bet. A subtle torch pass with both Spocks uttering “Fascinating”.

You can’t do justice to a long-running franchise like Trek without that Historical Perspective, and that above anything else, is what makes Frakes the best person for the job.

Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!