Frakes has directed 30 episodes of various “Star Trek” shows in his career, counting a few episodes of the “Trek”-adjacent series “The Orville.” He had also played the character of William Riker on both “Star Trek: Picard” and “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” so he was very familiar with what each individual show was all about. When he heard that he had been selected to direct a comedic episode, he couldn’t have been more thrilled. Frakes noted that the “Strange New Worlds” showrunners Henry Alonzo Meyers and Akiva Goldsman have dictated that every episode should be “its own movie.”
“Each episode will be its own movie, its own color, its own tone,” he said. He reiterated later:
“When you’re hired as a director on ‘Strange New Worlds,’ you’re told that you’re going to do your episode as a movie. And your movie will be a horror movie, or an action movie, or a period movie, or in this case, it’s a full-on comedy. Which was a thrill for me, I quickly realized.”
It seems that handling each individual episode is just that: Handling an individual episode. While there may be a “house style,” each individual director knows that they’ll be operating on their own terms within the rules of a genre, not a franchise. The genre diversity of “Star Trek” allows for a great deal of directorial creativity, and selecting a director seems to have more to do with a person’s pliability than with their ability to take orders and follow studio notes (although I’m sure the latter certainly helps).
“Strange New Worlds” is about to wrap up its second season on Paramount+.