TNG at ECCC


Audience members in panel room 4A were packed in tight when Star Trek: TNG actors Jonathan Frakes (Riker) and Brent Spiner (Data) came on stage. Both actors seemed exuberant and excited to be there. They both appeared entirely comfortable speaking to packed convention rooms and neither of them seemed bored or like they were going through the motions. Instead, they were boisterous and frankly, a lot funnier than I thought they would be.

The panel began with several minutes of Brent Spiner entertaining the audience with his uncanny impression of Patrick Stewart. The panel was moderated by a local Seattle DJ, B.J. Shea, who had also done the previous day’s panel with Frakes and had been requested again. B.J. asked the two what questions they would most liked to be asked. Spiner jokingly talked about wanting to be asked more about his CD. At one point, Jonathan Frakes humourously described fellow TNG co-star Wil Wheaton as the female Felicia Day, but “not as cute.” Unfortunately, the conversation then took a weird turn revolving around a colonoscopy, which lead to the audience demanding a move to the Q&A portion.

When asked how the cast of TNG were able to keep such a close-knit, family atmosphere without the rivalries seen in certain other, unnamed, shows, Spiner and Frakes were quick to point out that at the beginning of TNG the biggest stars were Wil Wheaton (Stand by me) and LeVar Burton (Roots), and neither of them were the main stars of TNG; it was more of an ensemble series, which helped to keep egos in check. Spiner added that they joked around a lot on set and pretty much laughed through their working days on Star Trek.


One questioner asked Brent Spiner what was it like to be directed by Jonathan Frakes in First Contact. Spiner replied “painful.” But all kidding aside, it was clear from their enthusiasm that First Contact was a personal favourite for the two actors and that all the actors had a particular soft spot for First Contact, which is perhaps another reason why it is also a fan favourite.

Another questioner asked the actors what it was like to be reunited with the Star Trek: TNG cast for the Family Guy TNG reunion episode, Not All Dogs Go to Heaven. However, the actors revealed that the voices were recorded separately so it wasn’t an actual reunion.

One member of the audience requested that Brent Spiner sing Data’s Life Forms song from Star Trek: Generations. Unfortunately, Spiner did not know the lyrics to it, which I must admit to finding surprising. I would’ve thought more people would have asked him that question since it is a memorable Data moment. One person shouted out that he should google the lyrics, but no joy.

When the subject came around to the TNG casts’ final Star Trek movie, Nemesis, Jonathan Frakes proclaimed “Data is not dead.” He then followed up by pointing out that “nobody dies on Star Trek.”

But all too quickly the Frakes and Spiner Star Trek panel was over, the actors were leaving and the fans were gearing up for the Buffy panel.