There’s no doubt — “Star Trek” has seen a revival in recent years with more willingness from Paramount (or Paramount+) executives to “go where no television executive has gone before.” We’ve seen the top brass venture into comedy with “Lower Decks” and “Prodigy.” But there was one situation-comedy (sitcom) that was pitched that we haven’t seen … at least not yet.
From “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Lt. Commander Deanna Troi from the same series) pitched a comedy called the Rikers in Space.
And they seem serious.
Meet the Rikers
“It’s ‘Star Trek’ meets Galaxy Space,” Sirtis says. “Don’t you want to see it?”
One can almost hear the movie voice, “Imagine a world where a Betazoid female meets a human male ….” Sure, that Betazoid woman was a half-human and that human man was a bit of a philanderer, but it sounds delightful.
Sirtis and Frakes explain, “Data would be the uncle” and Sirtis wants little dogs to follow the Rikers around, including a dog named Worf. They’d spend 30 minutes each week getting into hilarious situations.
Although Sirtis jokingly says disparaging things about working with child actors, the two discuss having children. They agree to a couple of kids so they can take acting breaks, working maybe two to three days per week.
Onscreen Romance, Offscreen Deep Friendship
During interviews and conventions, Sirtis often takes Frakes’ arm. Their friendship looks easy and fun, built on many decades of working together.
Frakes and Sirtis obviously share a friendship that extends past “Star Trek.” Although Frakes is married to actress Genie Francis, and has been since 1988, he calls Sirtis his second wife. Sirtis married Michael Lamper in 1992, meeting him on a Star Trek set. Lamper passed away in 2019, and Sirtis credits her “Star Trek” friends for helping her through her husband’s death.
Their onscreen relationship was more turbulent.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” started with Troi and Riker being “Imzadi.” They were in a romantic relationship, but decided to pause their affair for their careers. Despite breaking up on a small ship, they continued to be friends. Over the years, the two had romances with other characters. In this video from Geek World Radio, Frakes and the audience joke that many women in the series got “Rikered.”
Troi and Worf even had a brief relationship in season seven. That relationship sticks in Frakes’ craw. But Riker must be all right with the ended relationship because he and Troi’s son was named partially after Worf in “Picard” according to TrekMovie.
Both Sirtis and Frakes bring up that they wanted their characters to marry each other sooner, but had to wait until it was “in the script.” Finally, they got their break. In the “Nemesis script, they had plenty of wedding,” Sirtis says.
“We had a wonderful bath scene from Insurrection,” Frakes says with a mischievous grin. The two laugh at that, indicating by the end of the shoot they were wrinkly. (Frakes directed the movie “Insurrection.”)
But they had more than the moment. In “Insurrection” they also had scenes (such as this deleted scene), where they flirted. Of course, “Picard” has revisited their relationship where they seem to be a happy couple who have been through trials and tribulations.
Frakes in particular seems eager to learn more about what happened with the Rikers. In TrekMovie, Frakes says, “I’m hoping that there will be more Riker/Troi family. Lulu [Wilson] was spectacular as our daughter.”
Deep Friendship Among the ‘Next Generation’ Actors
Frakes and Sirtis are good friends; however, it’s not just them. The entire crew really cares about each other.
Sirtis says that directors hated days that all the actors were on the cast together — on the bridge or in the meeting rooms — because they loved being with each other. The consequence is the entire cast became rowdy. They were so out of control, according to the actors, they chased off at least one director — desperate for more decorum.
Both Sirtis and Frakes agree that there will never be a book about “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” because there was no strife; everyone got along.
Frakes adds, “We stood up for each other at weddings and we’re godparents to each other’s kids. Yeah, we’re close.”
More of a Future for Riker and Troi?
Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis reflect why “Star Trek” endures. In a Space video, Spiner jokes it’s really him that keeps people coming back to “Star Trek.” Sirtis says she thinks it’s because “Star Trek” has good stories. Both seem to agree, people love to think about the future.
Either way, “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” definitely endures.
Frakes will continue to direct for “Discovery” and “Strange New Worlds.” It’s obvious to “Star Trek” fans, the stories of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” aren’t over either. “Lower Decks” and “Picard” promise to revisit them, including the Rikers and their relationship.
As Paramount+ continues to determine its content, there may yet be room for the Rikers in Space — a fun romp with actors who adore each other. One can only assume good stories will be included.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to think many fans want to see it. Wouldn’t you?
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