Attention CASTLE Fans: Set your phasers to Fun! Because tonight’s episode, appropriately titled “The FInal Frontier” finds the dynamic duo that are Castle and Beckett transported to the often outlandish, always entertaining world of science fiction convention, when a body is found… in shall we say permanent status. Cooler still, the episode is directed by a man who knows a thing or two about the setting, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION second-in-command Jonathan Frakes. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with the talented director/artist formerly known as Commander Riker to get up to [warp] speed on what audiences can expect from tonight’s love letter to the fandom. See for yourself, after the jump.
Was trying your hand at directing two decades ago while still starring on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION part of your master plan all this time?
Jonathan Frakes: It certainly looks that way now. Next to marrying Genie [Francis], it’s the best decision I’ve made. I’m so thankful to have learned another craft because as I’m sure you know, being on STAR TREK is a double-edged sword. With the exception of Patrick [Stewart] and Bill [Shatner] who have clearly gone on and had wonderful successes in other shows, a lot of us our pigeon-hold and typecast, so I’m very thankful. Plus, I’m a better director than I was an actor anyway so I’m very thankful to have made this transition.
It would appear that tonight’s convention-set episode is the perfect marriage of director and subject matter. Was this planned, or simply a happy accident?
CASTLE executive producer Rob Bowman, who was one of our favorite directors on TNG called and said they have juggled the schedule of the episodes so that when my directing slot came up I would be able to direct this one which is essentially about a murder at a STAR TREK-type convention. So it was a well-planned, pre-planned, cleverly-planned by Mr. Marlowe and Mr. Bowman.
As a director, what did you bring to the episode from your decades spent attending conventions?
Well, during prep for the episode I was able to work with [Alfred] Sole, the production designer and Luke [Reichle], the costume designer in terms of the bridge, which is not unlike the Enterprise yet its own entity for a number of reasons, one of which is licensing! Also, in terms of the costuming, I don’t know if you remember Galaxy Quest [Editor’s Note: Remember it? We worship it!] but one of the things that was so great about that movie is there is a certain element to the fandom where the costumes are not tailored and the prosthetics are not glued down perfectly and I was very conscious to show, that much like all the conventions I’ve appeared at, nothing can be too perfect.
The “Fan convention” episode has become somewhat standard amongst broadcast procedurals. How much care was taken in terms of crafting an episode that poked fun at the kooky element of the fandom while still ensuring you’re treating the fandom with the utmost respect?
One of the strongest elements of this particular episode — which came down directly from the top — was that we were not there to poke fun at the fandom. I still do conventions because fans are so fabulous and if you take that callous mean-spirited approach that is making fun of the fans than you have to stop going. The reason we are where we are today is because of our fans and as I’ve said many times there are so many worse things to be obsessed with.
This episode is overflowing with fantastic guest stars (Including: STAR TREK’s Armin Shimerman, EUREKA’s Ed Quinn, TRUE BLOOD’s Christina Moore, ALPHAS’ Erin Way and ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Chris McKenna) What was it like reuniting with your fellow STAR TREK alum Armin Shimerman?
I’ve stayed very close with both Armin and his wife so I was thrilled he was available. There is a wonderful scene between himself, Nathan and Stana in his mad scientist-type lair which we actually shot in this old, abandoned chocolate factory built in 1989 that we discovered in downtown Los Angeles.
One of the things that I’m almost curious about as a fan of the show is the discussion surrounding each episode’s murderer. How much of a challenge is it to allude to the killer, yet not tip off the audience too early into an episode?
That is one of the great challenges of this show. You want to run up some red herrings so that the audience thinks that someone else is the murderer early on, and hold back on the real guilty party as long as possible. And I think we do that very successfully in this episode, otherwise all that you’re left with is a second and third act in which people are being interviewed for a murder they didn’t commit!
As a two-time director of the series, what do you attribute CASTLE’s success to?
There’s no secret really, the chemistry between Nathan and Stana is palpable. Nathan’s fantastic and Stana — I worked with her on a TV movie with Noah Wyle and what surprised me most is her comedic timing. I think the comedy and the chemistry is what makes the show so successful.
Does this episode including anything for those who tune into the show for to watch Castle and Beckett’s relationship develop, versus the more procedural aspect of the show?
Let me just say this, stay tuned for the last scene in the show. They take their relationship to what you may call a new level!
Is it safe to assume that involves some sort of costume!
And finally, imagine for a moment I’m your agent giving you carte blanche to direct any show on television. What are you choosing?
HOMELAND. If you can get me a HOMELAND, or a BOSS, or a DOWTON ABBEY! But in the meantime I’m up in Vancouver directing FALLING SKIES which I’m very excited about.
New episodes of CASTLE airs Mondays at 10PM on ABC (CTV in Canada) and stars Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Molly C. Quinn, Jon Huertas, Tamala Jones, Seamus Dever and Penny Johnson. Catch up with past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv.