Frakes is, of course, the actor behind everyone’s favorite Space Uncle, Commander William Riker, on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He’s also a prolific “Trek” director. In addition to his work directing dozens of episodes of “The Next Generation” and other “Star Trek” shows, he helmed two of the “Next Generation” feature films — the well-regarded “Star Trek: First Contact” and the lesser but largely harmless “Star Trek: Insurrection.” If there’s anyone who can diagnose what went wrong with “Nemesis,” it’s the man who, honestly, should’ve been the first choice to direct it considering his years of experience and proven track record.
In the invaluable two-volume oral history book “The Fifty-Year Mission” by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, Frakes gets candid about “Nemesis.” As he notes, the production seemingly had everything: a respected screenwriter, a rising star (baby Tom Hardy!) as the villainous Shinzon, a crew audiences loved to pieces. Everything except respect for the characters:
“With ‘Nemesis’ it was as if the Fates stepped in. We had John Logan, who’s an A-list writer. We had what was a great company back together again. Tom Hardy was a brilliant guest star. My take on it, though, was that there was not enough of the family. It was a little too much of Shinzon and not enough of Picard and Data. The first weekend people came to see Bones, Kirk, and Spock, or Picard and Data, you know what I mean? The story of ‘Nemesis’ was very much a story about the obsession of Shinzon, Tom Hardy’s character. The front end of the movie with the wedding of Riker and Troi, and which was so charming, just got cut to bits. We originally had [returning actors] Whoopi [Goldberg] and Wil Wheaton and all of these Easter eggs in there, and Brent [Spiner] sang. It was a big deal that got cut up to nothing.”
And then there’s director Stuart Baird.