Jonathan Frakes, Pseudoscience’s Friend

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 hoaxbecause 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.

13 thoughts on “Jonathan Frakes, Pseudoscience’s Friend

  1. It’s funny to me that the writer of this bash on Frakes promotes science, space exploration and other inquires into the unknown while insinuating that a belief in God is superstitious nonsense. Is not the reality of God an unknown for many…is not the pursuit of finding truth and meaning in life a worthy pursuit?…rather then a digression of exploration. The fact that Jesus lived is documented in history…it is the ultimate exploration to search out the truth…that is if he was who he claimed to be, God’s Son. People with far less evidence to go on are holding out hope of finding aliens someday. If there are such writings, or physical evidences of terrestrial beings having anything to do with this earth or its people, does any of it include traces of them caring, nurturing or feeling anything about/towards us at all? and yet we search for such things…which is more nonsensical? Space is indeed worthy of exploration, and science is often times the eyes into that window…but it is only a tool at best. Space and science cannot be worshiped, so let us not put down what can be…even if you have not explored that far into your own faith, we ought not to degrade the faith of others.

  2. Is it really a question of pseudoscience, or has Frakes merely descended into the “will act for food” part of his career? I can’t think of anything he’s done since the last TNG movie.

  3. I’m with Venessa on this one. I am a capable engineer/scientist and find no problem with embracing my faith as well. It’s a little silly for the writer to have expectations on Mr. Frakes based on his role in a science fiction show. Maybe that is when he was “acting for food” and the Bible video (which I enjoyed and had good sound archeological fact) was in line with his actual beliefs.

  4. Mark, So in addition to the Bible video you agree with appearing on shows where the producer fakes a Yeti? Or someone fakes an alien? I said there “was no harm in exploring the Bible” though as a literal history book you have to be kidding. Especially if you have a scientific background. Time to question what you read a bit more.

    Jonathan Frakes isn’t starving for food, he’s starving for attention. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, he’s just made some bad choices and all actors want to work regardless of money. I simply find many of his choices annoying since he’s part of Star Trek lore. I also know of actors who find work by doing the hard work of producing indie projects and don’t need to depend on hosting gigs for paranormal shows. Even with limited funds these pseudoscience shows were not his only options. As well as, what often actors do is write books (like Shatner).

    His recent work has been different though, guest appearances here and there on TV. I also met a recent Trekkie who likes to see Frakes play his trombone at conventions.

    Patrick Stewart, on the other hand, more classically trained (also from an abusive background which I didn’ know), has done some excellent work after TNG. He may have had more choices as I would honestly say he has more talent though he struggled with typecasting. You’re more likely to see Patrick Stewart in a TV movie based on classical literature than anything pushing the paranormal (unless you count classical literature about ghosts which I’m fine with, it’s fiction).

    Much like Frakes he has also done a lot of animation voiceovers (which is one way to continue working when you might by typecast as a Trekkie star).

    I actually expected to piss off some real “Trekkies” by picking on Frakes but so far haven’t as far as I can see. Star Trek, a fictional show, does contain elements of pseudoscience and definitely has aliens, but the framework again is fiction even as we speculate on it. It’s futurism. Backpeddling to Roswell or The Bible as literal history is a waste of time.

    Nimoy did some weird stuff too so it’s to be expected, just disappointing.

  5. You seem to be saying that because Frakes chose to do something that you don’t like he must be doing Star Trek a disservice. Let Star Trek be Star Trek and let people have their own lives without mixing the two. I can easily turn the tables around and say Frakes did the Bible a disservice by acting on Star Trek, but you wouldn’t like that either, would you?

  6. *yawn*

    Nice try, but who are you to tell actors what they should and shouldn’t participate in?

    Having formally studied middle-eastern archaeology, and visited a number of archaeological sites there, you can rest assured that the Bible is the #1 historical work that is consulted when people (secular, religious or otherwise) want to study ancient Israel and the neighboring lands. And why would these scientists consult the Bible? Because of its accuracy! Too bad the same regard for accuracy can’t be said for the futuristic thinkers who wrote for Star Trek. (I mean, c’mon… Roddenberry’s #1 premise was that eartlings were all at peace in the future. Now you tell me who’s more accurate…)

    I would suggest you at least try to read the Bible before you start bashing it. For starters, it speaks just as much about the future as it does about the past. If you don’t like what it says about the past (nevermind its accuracy), trust me – you’ll hate what it says about the future (and you better pray it’s not accurate about the future!). If it’s wrong – you’ll never notice. If it’s right – let’s just say you’ll have hell to pay. So while I understand your preference that it not be right, let me suggest you consider planning just in case. (and read Blaise Pascal while you’re at it.)

    On the other hand, if Star Trek’s future comes true, we’ll all smile. If it doesn’t come true – no one will notice.

    Good luck.

  7. Yawn (in tired voice), I’m allowed to say whatever the hell I want just like you as a consumer of entertainment. It’s called criticism and simply voicing an opinion. People tell me all the time I shouldn’t have written something or drawn something and they have every right to air their opinion. Nobody is stopping Frakes from doing anything. That is such a tired argument in response to an article criticizing an actor, writer or someone else in a creative profession.

    The other tired argument is that you assume someone criticizing The Bible hasn’t actually read it. I have read it several times, I was raised on it, required to memorize the books of the Bible in order and numerous verses in order to get my allowance as a kid. I had the supposed historical aspects taught to me by believing Dad so I have experienced Biblical Archaeology 101 all the way up to Bible College where I finally left and escaped to art school.

    More of this tired argument is the idea that somehow The Bible is true because it is used as a resource by archaeologists and historians and literary professors, etc. Parts of it are true (like references to ancient sites/cities/etc but much of it is fanciful nonsense. It’s called mythology. It’s a mix of truths and untruths because the truth is stretched and twisted over time, even possibly rewritten. I don’t think any scientist is referencing the Bible on how to part waves, as an example of what I’m mainly getting at. It’s not a reliable book for what really happened.

    If you’ve made a study then you must know how many of these Biblical experts you refer to have critiqued the Bible for errors. I have a bookshelf full of them. If you like to believe in talking animals, people raising from the dead and everlasting punishment, feel free. This is not to mention historical inaccuracies that are being questioned by scholars.

    And OMG, the most tired argument of all–Pascal’s Wager. Gee, never heard that one before. Hopefully God doesn’t spit you out for being lukewarm because Christian faith isn’t the same as insurance.

    However, again, another long comment that ignores the rest of the article about Frakes’ other stints including a show with a faked Yeti and a faked Alien Autopsy. Is this the guy to represent the “truth” of the Bible?

    Star Trek is a utopian piece of fiction (for the most part since there’s plenty of alien conflict). I’ve mainly watched the classic series and I think the pull is away from religious superstition and more towards technology and science to improve our human condition–and to find sexy, green alien women. I think the roles mentioned in the article don’t represent him well or his association with Star Trek.

    He’s free to star in whatever he wants but as with all Trek stars they don’t leave it behind. Frakes is still attending conventions as far as I’ve talked to some local Trekkies. He also didn’t just star in the series, he directed. I just think his earlier project choices, as an observation, were poor choices for someone involved in a show meant to push us forward, not backwards.

  8. I just take issue with how the writer here insinuates that this documentary is “for Christian audiences only”! Oh my gosh! Are you kidding me?!? Christ is for EVERYONE! He never taught just His followers, He taught anyone who was willing to listen. He is still in the business of teaching and healing the hearts of anyone willing to hear and accept Him, through teachers, pastors, and those bold enough to proclaim His Name. Even for those who aren’t sure they want to accept Him as their savior, He still wants to show Himself to you, and become your savior. So this nonsense that this documentary, as well as other Christian material, is for Christian audiences only is BA-LONE-Y!

  9. The Bible is the most physical archaelogical evidence substantiated document of ancient history.
    It has many times over more fact evidence behind it than evolutionary stories (any of the various ones ) that don’t even have enough to be categorized technically as a ‘theory’.

  10. One of the things that affects the article poster’s opinion very heavily is that, “The maker of the alien autopsy confessed it was a hoax”. First of all, even it it was, you had multi-multi-multi-million dollar artists claiming they can’t tell and “couldn’t have done it” or “don’t know how they did certain things”. Secondly, all the “evidence” get so pseudo-investigative it has almost less merit than a hoax, as they often claim all these different claims of area 51 and hangar 18 were coordinated to this end, leading back decades to the saucer crash propaganda. This is retarded. So even if it’s fake, kudos for zeroing in on the thing at the time. Note,m “Or fiction” part. I doubt you’re nearly as intelligent as scientists who were at least interested.

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