[ENT] Jammer's Review: "A Night in Sickbay"
- 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.
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...
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.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...