I predict downvote, but please bear with me -- this is an objective question.

People often criticize the acting on Star Trek, including TNG. Rewatching TNG from the beginning, there are (IMO) a few cast members obviously in the 'bad acting' camp and a few in the 'good acting camp'.

I recognize this is subjective, but for me,
Bad acting (as in not convincing): Gates McFadden, Diana Muldaur, Levar Burton, Wil Wheaton, Marina Sirtis
Good acting: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn and Jonathan Frakes

This may be controversial, but if you look at how Frakes delivers each line differently, with appropriate contextual tone and expression, but not too much, it seems clear he put a lot of thought into every performance.

Question: is there any general acknowledgment (awards, reviews, commentary, etc.) of Jonathan Frakes demonstrating good acting skill on Star Trek? (Or is it just me?)

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    Additional commentary: This really doesn't go here, but I need to make the comment. While TNG was airing, my brother did a market research interview for a few bucks. Apparently someone was considering using Frakes for a shampoo commercial and wanted to research whether this would be well-received. Apparently they never signed him up. – ThePopMachine Jul 22 '15 at 14:44
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    “I’m not really a starship officer, I just play one on TV. But whether I’m in front of the cameras or facing down a Klingon armada, there’s one thing I rely on — the vibrant body and lustrous shine afforded by Neutrogena T-Gel dandruff shampoo. Make it so!” He’s certainly the best thing in this video. – Paul D. Waite Jul 22 '15 at 14:48
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    I wouldn't downvote, but I would probably argue this question belongs on Movies & TV SE, and not on this SE, since it's not about the scifi/fantasy world the show encompasses or the series itself but rather a generic acting question. – BBlake Jul 22 '15 at 14:53
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    Sirtis is actually a great actor (cf. Mass Effect, Gargoyles), the writers just didn't know what to do with her (they had the same problem with Kate Mulgrew on VOY). You try delivering "I'm sorry, I have a headache, no it's not anything to worry about, I'll just go lie down" with a straight face for the 47th time. – Kevin Jul 22 '15 at 15:50
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    I vividly remember his Performance in "Frame of mind". – flq Jul 22 '15 at 19:32

Frakes was honoured with a Life Career Award at the 39th Saturn Awards in 2013.

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From the Press Release:

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films is happy to announce that actor and director JONATHAN FRAKES, whose impressive body of work includes playing Commander William T. Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its big-screen movies as well as directing such series as Castle, NCIS: Los Angeles, Leverage, Roswell, and V, will receive this year’s Life Career Award.

He joins this year’s previously announced special-award recipients Richard Matheson, William Friedkin, and Vince Gilligan and will receive his award in person during the award ceremonies.

He was given the award at least partly for his efforts during TNG's television run.

About the Saturn Awards:

The Saturn Awards is the official award presentation voted by the members of the The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films.

The Saturn Awards is an acknowledgement of fine work. Some of it is ground-breaking, some of it is vastly entertaining, but the bottom line should be that the recognition is well earned.

Frakes is the only TNG  actor to have received a Saturn Award, let alone a Life Career Award. (Patrick Stewart was nominated three times for a Saturn Award, but never won one.)

This particular recognition puts Frakes amongst the likes of individuals such as Ray Bradbury and Gene Roddenberry, and actors Rock Hudson, Ann Robinson, Vincent Price, Lance Henriksen, and Malcolm McDowell — each received a Saturn Award.


Regarding praise for specific instances of Frakes' portrayal of Riker on television, the official Star Trek site very recently posted a retrospective on the Riker-centric episode "Frame of Mind":

The article is quick to point out:

The season-six hour remains a fan favorite, in large part thanks to the powerful performance by Jonathan Frakes, who plays Riker as a man losing his mind in the complex, layered, even trippy dramatic episode.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here


I'm focusing on the awards aspect, since that one is more objectively answerable.

According to IMDB, Frakes has only been nominated for one award based on his acting in Star Trek: a Blockbuster Entertainment Award in the "Favorite Supporting Actor - Science Fiction" category, for his role in Star Trek: First Contact1.

Compared to the rest of the TNG ensemble, Frakes is pretty middle-of-the-road in this regard:

Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, and LeVar Burton all have no Star Trek awards.

1 He lost to Brad Pitt for his role in Twelve Monkeys. Interestingly Patrick Stewart was nominated for "Favorite Actor - Science Fiction", but he lost to Will Smith (Independence Day)

  • OK, but these are based on the films, where he didn't have big roles. Info related to the TV series would be more apt. – ThePopMachine Jul 22 '15 at 15:40
  • @ThePopMachine No, this is everything. So far as I can find, Frakes has zero other awards (nominations or otherwise) for Star Trek work outside of First Contact – Jason Baker Jul 22 '15 at 15:47
  • @ThePopMachine - Jason is correct. IMDB lists all awards and nominations, TV or Film. – JohnP Jul 22 '15 at 16:57

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