You’ll have to excuse my indulgence since this is not topical news, but I happened to come across Time Travel Through the Bible with Jonathan Frakes from 1990 when he was known as Riker on Star Trek: Next Generation. I was surprised to see this series as I had known the actor tended towards paranormal shows but not ones on The Bible. Mr. Frakes takes a very straightforward, Bible Believing approach that, while not preachy, seems to be for Christian audiences only. I tried to find out if he was a Bible Believing Christian or if this was just an early paying gig, but thus far I couldn’t find anything substantial. There’s no harm on exploring Biblical times–this is more of a classroom teaching series for teens who may not know enough to question The Bible as a history book. Gene Roddenberry, as an atheist, probably wouldn’t care much for the stint and I prefer to see Star Trek characters, in and out of their roles, promoting modern science versus superstition.
While trying to find information on Riker’s background I perused through his filmography and didn’t realize how much the man was involved with paranormal shows: Paranormal Borderline, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, Roswell (okay, to be fair it is a fictional series), and Alien Autopsy.
The first obvious blight on his career is the intelligence-insulting Alien Autopsy later proved to be a hoax—because the guy who did it confessed! I remember watching that show thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding if people are going to believe this.” What was most disheartening about the autopsy video was to see SFX guru Stan Winston appearing to seemingly approve the video as authentic. Apparently he was misquoted or taken out of context and went on record saying it was a hoax as did other SFX artists.
The second blight comes from the show Paranormal Borderlinewhich aired on Fox and it was discovered that the show’s producers actually faked footage of a Yeti. From Answers.comvia Wikipedia: “The “Snowwalker” footage, as it is known, purportedly shows a yeti as it is crossing through a valley in the Himalayas, walking in front of a Belgian couple who are traversing the area on skis.”
Frakes has some talent as an actor and director so he seems to willfully choose these silly projects and risk embarrassment. Just because you played a fictional character who boldly went where no person had gone before, doesn’t mean you have to base your career on promoting unverifiable alien stories and paranormal encounters. Star Trek should be about humanism and promoting scientific inquiry. What a disservice Frakes has been to the spirit of the show. William Shatner may act like an ass on occasion, but certainly he seems to embrace Roddenberry’s vision more than Frakes. For a better contrast, compare Frakes with Sir Patrick Stewart’s filmography. Shakespeare, classical literature, Dickens and X-men (X-men are good mutants who promote peace–yes, I know this one is weak, achem).
While I shouldn’t take this too seriously, I do think we should expect more from actors who were part of Gene Roddenberry’s legacy. Star Trek was and is exciting because we are moving forward into exploration, not backwards into superstitious nonsense.