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[ENT] Jammer's Review: "A Night in Sickbay"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven t seen the episode yet, be glad -- I mean, beware. In brief: This one s really a dog. I said
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 18, 2002
      Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven't seen the
      episode yet, be glad -- I mean, beware.

      In brief: This one's really a dog. I said "dog." Get it? Porthos? Dog? Ha! I
      kill me. But I should've killed me *before* this episode aired. Okay, better
      stop now before the "in brief" becomes too long to be considered brief.
      "Long." I said "long." Hee hee. I bet Archer would really like to be
      "briefed" by T'Pol. While in his "briefs." And only his "briefs." And only
      staying "briefly" in his "briefs" before he's no longer in his "briefs." Heh
      heh heh heh heh...

      Plot description: When Porthos, the captain's dog, falls ill, Archer spends
      a night in sickbay with the dog and Doctor Phlox.

      Enterprise: "A Night in Sickbay"

      Airdate: 10/16/2002 (USA)
      Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
      Directed by David Straiton

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      Rating out of 4: *

      "You know, this isn't some guinea pig you're working on here. This is
      Porthos, my beagle, my pal. And from what you're telling me, the closest
      thing your people have to pets are furry little things that go well with

      "Perhaps you're right, captain. Perhaps I'm insensitive to the bond between
      you and your subservient quadruped. I'll leave the procedure up to you. But
      whatever your decision, make it quickly."

      -- Archer (absurd nonsense), Phlox (perfect response)

      Ah, here we are at last, the bona fide uber-loser, an episode bereft of ...
      well, anything and everything resembling content.

      Okay, it's not bereft of dumbness. There's plenty of that, since this is
      easily the dumbest concept for an episode of Star Trek since Voyager's
      holodeck was hijacked by the residents of Fair Haven (see "Spirit Folk," or,
      on second thought, don't).

      Evidently, the writers are not treating this as season two of a series, but
      rather season nine (or later) of an aging dinosaur. An episode all about the
      captain's goddamned dog you'd think would be reserved as desperate sitcom
      fodder for the latter seasons, not brought to light as episode #5 in season
      two. You'd be wrong, but you could think it. Whatever.

      "A Night in Sickbay" succeeds not only in being unfunny, pathetic, and dull,
      but also manages to elevate character assassination and embarrassing
      nonsense to a kind of grand efficiency. It manages to make a mockery of
      Archer, T'Pol, Phlox, and an entire unknown alien culture in a shade under
      45 minutes plus commercials. You could count Porthos in that list as well
      (who has his pituitary gland replaced with that of a lizard's), except for
      the fact that ... well, he's a freaking *DOG*, for crying out loud. In other
      words, NOT A CHARACTER. On a series where Ensign Mayweather's biggest
      contribution in remembered history is to be presumed dead in last week's
      "Dead Stop," who in the world gives a care about Archer's stupid beagle?
      Hint: Not me. (Note: You are forbidden to argue in favor of this episode on
      the grounds that you are a dog lover. Dog lovers may certainly argue, but
      they may not make the fact they are dog lovers the principal basis of their
      argument. So, nyaaah.)

      Here is the plot (I mean "plot"): Archer & Co. return from a botched
      diplomatic away mission on an alien world. Archer finds out Porthos
      contracted a disease while on the planet. (Did I mention that Porthos was
      included on the away team? And that I find that to be hopelessly inane?)
      Archer gets real mad, because the aliens should've warned him that Porthos
      might get sick (the inconsiderate bastards). Archer then spends a night in
      sickbay holding vigil over poor little Porthos, who could possibly die if
      Phlox can't find a way to treat him. (Pardon me while I grab a Kleenex.)

      But wait; there's more. While in sickbay, Phlox tries to get to the bottom
      of Archer's foul mood (apart from his sick dog) and commences psychological
      deconstruction. Phlox determines that the captain is suffering from sexual
      tension in regard to T'Pol and is lashing out at her as a result. (That's
      all we need -- sexual-harassment issues aboard the starship Enterprise.

      Archer is appalled at this notion, but in perfectly
      scripted/telegraphed/lame self-fulfilling prophecy fashion, he then has
      Freudian slips involving the words "breast" and "lips" when talking with
      T'Pol, in front of Hoshi for added comically hilarious embarrassment, ha ha.
      Later he has a dream where the crew attends a dark and rainy funeral for
      Porthos, which is followed by some Archer/T'Pol action (yes, *that* kind of
      action) that should under no circumstances have been allowed past the first
      story break meeting, lest it actually find its way into a real-life script
      and, God forbid, actually end up filmed and edited and viewed and inevitably
      compared to bad fan fiction.

      This tracks with little of what we've seen before concerning Archer and
      T'Pol's relationship, which has never hinted at *anything* beyond pure
      professionalism and a developing captain/first-officer trust. Look no
      further than, say, "Shadows of P'Jem," where they're tied up together and
      you see absolutely nothing in terms of a sexual component. Nope, the notion
      here is glib sexuality scripted out of nowhere, doubtlessly motivated to
      satisfy UPN demographics, and I don't buy it for a minute.

      Oh well, at least it's only a dream.

      But there's also two iterations here (one real, one dreamt) on the
      Decontamination Chamber Rub-Down Scene [TM], where T'Pol gives Archer a
      rub-down while Archer gives Porthos a rub-down. Eyebrows are raised. You
      know what they say: Sometimes a beagle is just a beagle. But other times...
      (Wnk, wink, nudge, nudge, har-de-har-har!)

      Should I even mention the scene where Archer and Phlox are running around
      sickbay with nets, trying to catch an escaped bat-like creature? It leads to
      Phlox falling down, ha ha, and getting some sort of strange goop spilled on
      him, hee hee. How about the scene where Phlox cuts his toenails, or where he
      (I think) shaves his 8-inch tongue? That Darn Denobulan and his crazy
      hijinks! (Cue canned laughter.)

      It's a testament to John Billingsley's abilities that Phlox manages to
      remain a consistently watchable and affable persona, despite the script's
      best efforts to humiliate him (and everyone else). It's grace under
      pressure, dignity maintained in an atmosphere that warrants none. Consider
      the scene where Porthos' condition takes a turn for the worse and Phlox
      suggests a risky and desperate treatment. Archer, acting like an idiot,
      regards Phlox with an inexplicable confrontational attitude that flies in
      the face of reason (Phlox is obviously brilliant, so why not let him do his
      job to save your dog?). Phlox responds with a calm appeal to logic that is
      absolutely priceless, revealing Archer as the fool he is.

      Any attempt to look seriously at events in this story (not recommended) only
      reveal how badly the writers mangle Archer's character into that of a
      selfish hothead. He says things that are completely based on irrational
      emotion rather than any reasoned thought or consideration. He's angry with
      the alien society because *they* weren't thorough enough in determining the
      risk to Porthos in their environment. Because *they* are arrogant and
      anal-retentive. Because *they* would have the audacity to take offense at
      Porthos urinating on one of their sacred trees. They, they, they. How about
      *you*, John? There's all this reckless anger and overstated ranting and
      raving and selfishness (all because Archer took his *dog* on an *away
      mission*!), and all I'm thinking is: This is the commander of the human
      race's first grand mission into deep space? Grow the hell up, stop being so
      petty, and take some responsibility for your own actions.

      Just ridiculous.

      Not that the aliens are of much help. They're equally annoying, with hokey
      makeup and absurd "customs." The crisis of diplomacy is solved with a ritual
      that employs the corniest aspects of Star Trek alien-society cliche. The
      episode apparently finds offbeat humor in the notion of a chainsaw, I guess
      because chainsaws have never been seen on Trek before (and why would they?).

      All in all, this episode meets the criteria for the what-were-they-thinking
      hall-of-shame show. Porthos had better not be the basis for a story on this
      series again. Ever.

      Tune in next week, folks, for "A Night in the Crapper," when the crew visits
      an alien planet and returns with mass dysentery! I can't wait! No, I mean, I
      *really* can't wait! Vacate the bathroom at once! Har har har har har...

      (Door slams.)


      Next week: A rerun of "Shockwave, Part II," oddly billed by the trailer as
      an episode of "Star Trek: Enterprise," in what is obviously a brilliant new
      UPN marketing strategy. (With any luck, the week off should give me a chance
      to review Tuesday's upcoming 2-disc DVD release of "Star Trek III: The
      Search for Spock.")

      Copyright 2002 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
      Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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