Cult Times: ROMANCE IS NOT DEAD (Jonathan Frakes)

Thanks to SciFiFan for this. I’ll post the second article next

The December issue of Cult Times has a Roswell cover,
2 major articles, one small article, and a poster.
Christmas has come early!

One of the two major articles is an interview with
Jonathan Frakes; it follows below. . . enjoy . . .
wish I could show you the pictures. oh my!

ROMANCE IS NOT DEAD
by Ian Spelling

It has the combined staff of our American office
sitting on the edge of the bed (it’s a relaxed kind of
office), but can a series that was sold on the
strength of its romantic overtones win through as a
Sci-Fi
action series? We asked Roswell executive producer
Jonathan Frakes.

Jonathan Frakes never had a doubt about it. The
co-executive producer of Roswell figured that the
freshman series would return for a second season. In
fact, Frakes – who also directed several well-received
first season episodes and guest-starred a couple of
times (as himself) as well – never thought that
Roswell was in serious danger of cancellation, despite
the show’s usually lethal combination of low ratings
and high production costs. “I am an eternal
optimist,”
the ever-genial co-star and director of Star Trek: The
Next Generation says, laughing. “I think they held
off until the end because they were trying to decide
exactly where to put us. But once we moved to Monday I
think it became clear that we were the best thing that
had happened to the WB’s Monday night slot in years.
So I was quite confident that we were going to be a
part of their future.
“We just got the pick-up for the rest of the
second season, which I’m sure you’ve heard about by
now. We are all very happy about it, obviously. So I
think Roswell will be around for a while; that we
will be a part of the TV landscape. I think the move
to Sci-Fi, the addition of [scriptwriter] Ron Moore,
the way that the cast has gelled – just like The Next
Generation cast did years earlier – and the loyalty of
teenage girls to Roswell have all contributed to our
coming back and to, what looks to me like, a promising
future.”
It’s quite true that young females make up a huge
chunk of Roswell’s modest, but steadily growing,
viewing audience. That tidbit makes the changes in the
show all the more intriguing and risky. Though it may
very well be a cliche to say so, girls tend to like
romance and boys usually prefer Sci-Fi. Thus,
Roswell’s late first-season transition from
romance/Sci-Fi show to Sci-Fi/adventure/romance series
was a huge gamble. “The single biggest marching order,
from all of us down in the trenches through the
higher-ups at the studio and the network was, `Do not
lose sight of the relationships, because that is what
sold the show’,” Frakes notes. “So, it’s a matter of
finding the balance. That’s where we are now.
Obviously, some scripts lend themselves to the balance
better and more
efficiently than others.
“I think that the human-alien relationships,
which are personified mostly by Max [Jason Behr] and
Liz [Shiri Appleby], are what drew everybody in. It
certainly intrigued me. By putting Max with Tess
[Emilie de Ravin] – his destiny from the pod days, as
it were – we are breaking up the A-story love team.
We’ve got the comedy team intact, even though they’ve
broken up, too, and that’s Michael [Brendan Fehr] and
Maria [Majandra Delfino]. But I think we need to be
very careful about completely losing our two lead
lovers. We always need to come back to them.”
The day-to-day responsibility of guiding Roswell
falls not to Frakes, but rather to Jason Katims and
former Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager
scribe/producer Ron Moore. Frakes recalls that when it
became clear to all involved that Roswell would follow
the Sci-Fi route, it was he who suggested Moore for
the job. “I put Ron and Jason in the same room,” he
says. “Ron was thrilled. He was looking for a steady
gig. He and his wife are having another baby. People
like steady work. I just needed to know that Ron and
Jason
could collaborate, because they are both used to being
leaders. That was my biggest contribution to the show
probably, besides directing The White Room, perhaps .
. .”
Contrary to what one might assume, Frakes insists
that he was not responsible for placing another piece
into the Roswell puzzle. That piece was Genie Francis,
Frakes’s wife and the actress who portrayed the vision
of the aliens’ mother at the end of the first season.
“You know whose idea that was?” Frakes asks. “That was

[producer-writer] Thania St. John’s idea. She was a
huge Laura [of Luke and Laura from the heyday of the
soap opera General Hospital] fan. She and Toni
Graphia, who’s still with the show, called me and
said, `Do you think Genie would do Roswell?’ I said,
`I think she’d be thrilled’. So they called Genie and
I was so happy she did it. Also, Katie [Heigl] sort of
looks like she could be Genie’s daughter, so it works
great.”
Anyone checking out this season’s episodes on a
regular basis probably has noticed that none of them
features a `directed by Jonathan Frakes’ credit. And,
unfortunately, none of them are likely to. Frakes has
been too busy ramping up the family-oriented Sci-Fi
adventure film Clockstoppers – not to mention hosting
Beyond Reality, acting in two episodes of the cable TV
series The Lot and vacationing with Francis and their
two children – to helm any hours of Roswell. “Right
now, I look at the cuts before they go to the network
and I look at the scripts before they get shot,” notes
Frakes, who has his hat in the ring to direct Star
Trek 10, which is currently being scripted by John
(Gladiator) Logan. “I’m doing what I can. I liked The
End of the World a lot and also Summer of `47. I liked
Summer of `47 because I loved the way the kids looked
in that period. I thought The End of the World worked
because it had what we’ve just been talking about,
which is that balance of Sci-Fi and romance. And I
just read a script that Jason [Katims] wrote, which
will be our Christmas episode. It’s just delicious.
There are good shows coming up. We’ve got a whole arc
for Sheriff Valenti [William Sadler], which should be
very good.
And we’ve also got a couple of episodes in which we’ll
see duplicate versions of our alien kids. That should
be interesting.
“If I think about it, we had the same problem,
the same challenge, on Star Trek, which was to find
good stuff for the other members of the ensemble to
do. I think that Nick Wechsler [as Kyle Valenti] is
underused. He’s a fascinating actor. I love Colin
Hanks
[as Alex]. But we’ve got to keep the leads busy.
Fortunately, they’ve finally put Katie Heigl in some
major stories. I thought she really blossomed last
year and I’m glad to see that she’s getting so much to
do.”
This season’s shows have been nothing if not
eclectic, from the discoveries of Skin and Bones to
the time-tripping aspects of The End of the World and
from the dress-up fun of Summer of `47 to the
skins-shedding shenanigans of Harvest. If there’s been
any complaint,
beyond the shift from romance to Sci-Fi/adventure,
it’s that the show has been revved up to such a degree
that plot lines that might have been explored over the
course of three or four or five episodes are now being
crammed into one or two or three episodes.
It’s quite possible that Katims and company felt
compelled to cram as much into the first 13 episodes
for fear that Roswell might end when that 13th episode
aired, the thinking being that the fans would get
their money’s worth and that many of the questions the
fans
wanted answered about the characters, their history
and so on, would be addressed or at least touched on.
Now that the WB has green lit the back nine, and it’s
a certainty that Roswell will get the chance to finish
out the season, might things slow down a bit? “Katims
can probably speak to this more than I can, but it
probably does give you some room to breathe, so your
arcs aren’t just two episodes but maybe three
episodes,” Frakes replies, bring the conversation to a
conclusion. “It’s a very good question. Let’s say yes.
That would be my instinct. I’m sure everybody’s
breathing a little easier now that we know we’re going
to be around, and that may be reflected in the
storytelling.”