Enterprise “A Night in Sickbay” (part 8 of 8)

Deleted Scene #1:

I’m not sure exactly when in the episode this takes place. (Just when I actually need the stupid time counter, it’s nowhere to be found.) Archer is in Sickbay, having trouble sleeping. So he reaches up to the wall communicator and pages Trip. Cut to Trip’s quarters, where he’s sound asleep.

He gets out of bed—he, too, is wearing his blue skivvies—and answers the wall. Archer apologizes (wow!) for waking him and asks him to come to Sickbay. Since these are deleted scenes, they aren’t scored, and we’re forced to watch in silence as Archer looks grumpy for a while, and pounds on his pillow.

Trip enters Sickbay, now in his uniform, and checks out Porthos. He steps over to Archer’s bed, which is all surrounded by curtains and chiffon, like a four poster bed in an antebellum plantation. Once Trip is inside the curtains, Archer unloads the burning question on his mind: “How long’s it been since you’ve been intimate with a woman?”

Trip, as you’d expect, is completely flummoxed by this. I think he’s mentally coming up with a list of all the ways this question is completely and utterly inappropriate. So Archer immediately changes the subject and starts talking about the faulty plasma injector. By which he means, his penis.

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It seems Archer is actually trying to come up with ways to weasel out of having to take any responsibility at all. He suggests just repairing the malfunctioning injector, but Trip has no idea how long that would take, and if they try to cruise around on the remaining injectors, one may blow and they won’t be able to reach warp speed. In other words: just suck it up and apologize, dude.

Archer tells Trip to head back to sleep, but it appears Trip has a pointless anecdote to share about his childhood in Florida. He explains he had a teacher who once accused him of stealing a pencil, and wouldn’t let L’il Trip go on a “field trip to Pensacola” unless he apologized. He should have considered himself a very lucky boy, and let that be the end of that.

But the whole point of this yarn is for Trip to share words of wisdom that his mother once told him: “It’s okay to apologize when you shouldn’t have to, just as long as you don’t mean it.” Does he really believe Archer shouldn’t have to apologize? There’s no way. I can only assume Trip has no idea what happened on the planet’s surface.

But he is right in one respect: when Archer eventually apologizes, he absolutely will not mean it.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Like what my momma used to say, ‘Beans, beans,
the musical fruit…'”

Deleted Scene #2:

Archer steps onto the bridge, and there’s one last useless caption that tells us it’s 4:26 am. He’s surprised to find T’Pol here, and she whispers/groans that she was just syncing their clocks up to the Kreetassan’s capital city. (I’m guessing this is right after the whole “lips, lisp, list” exchange that I will soon be purging from my mind.)

Hoshi’s there, and Archer asks her to join him in his ready room. On the way, Hoshi flashes a scared look at T’Pol, almost like she’s getting called into the principal’s office.

Archer has looked over the list of Kreetassan demands, and asks about a “little expression that gets repeated” at the end of the apology ritual. Hoshi says it’s “a couplet from one of their oldest political documents”. Archer says he’s having a little trouble with the pronunciation, and since Hoshi is supposed to be the ship’s linguistics expert, he asks for her help. End scene.

I can’t imagine what the point of filming that was, much less including it on the DVD. Maybe they were trying to prove that the tertiary cast actually could be useful at times, or maybe it was to better set up the ridiculous ritual at the end. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t care less, because I’m all done with this shitastic episode.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Show me your pussy! I mean… No, actually, I do want you to show me your pussy.”

Oh, no. It’s still not over. Just imagine my horror upon looking at the last disc of the set, which contains all the bonus features, and discovering an 11-minute behind the scenes look at this episode.

Caption contributed by Albert

They hate me. They really, really hate me.

Inside “A Night in Sickbay”:

Well, I’ll say this much for the featurette: I’ll be able to get through it very quickly. Despite being an 11-minute behind the scenes look at “A Night in Sickbay”, it gives us no insight whatsoever into what may be the most reviled episode in the history of the Star Trek franchise.

Whereas on the season 2 Voyager set, Brannon Braga at least had enough self-deprecation to admit how horrible “Threshold” was, on this DVD all we get is the standard featurette pap: everybody did a fantastic job, so-and-so makes everybody laugh, they have so much fun on the set, blah blah blah. Of course, this is all part and parcel of the disturbing insularity that Berman and Braga exhibited as their time on Trek was coming to an end. I guess when people are gunning for your job, the last thing you want to do is give them more ammunition.

At the start, we get some moderately informative pap from Scott Bakula, who describes how the motivation for this episode was to save money with a “ship show”, as he calls it, and an “elevator show”, after the tendency of characters in sitcoms to get trapped in elevators. I think they’re commonly called “bottle shows” by Trek fans.

Deep Space Nine did an elevator episode, by the way. I mean, an actual elevator episode called “The Forsaken” where Odo gets stuck in a turbolift with Lwaxana Troi. And then the turbolift got unstuck, and Odo descended to the next level of Hell. I think it involved being trapped in a parody of Snakes on a Plane.

Rick Berman comes on for a bit to say absolutely nothing of interest, and reference The Odd Couple. His writing partner on this episode, by the way, is nowhere to be found. Imagine that.

Caption contributed by Albert

“We’re all very pleased. This episode turned out exactly as
shitty as we hoped.”

Bakula describes Archer’s behavior as “a little over the line” in this episode. Yes, that’s a fair assessment. Also, 9/11 was a little bit of a bummer.

Ronald B. Moore, the visual effects guy (no relation to Ronald D. Moore, former Trek writer and producer of the new BSG), talks about the CGI bat. We get previously unseen footage of Linda Park grabbing an imaginary Bat-Thing, before the effects were added.

Bakula calls it a “magical little episode”. Oh, yes, I’m sure there was magic involved. Black magic, perhaps.

Then comes the only allusion to the backlash this episode received when it first aired. It starts with John Billingsley talking about what he thinks the episode tried to say: “Gee, you know, all these people on the ship are probably pretty horny! How do you think they deal with that?”

But because they “put that into the captain”, fans “got a little upset about that, because the captain is supposed to be strong, and rock-ribbed, and isn’t going to be easily swayed by these feelings of sexual tension.” And that’s the only indication in this entire featurette that maybe, just maybe, some viewers were somewhat unhappy with the way the episode turned out.

I wish I could list all the reasons Billingsley is wrong (starting with the fact that all of the other Trek captains have been swayed by feelings of “sexual tension”, and they didn’t turn into whiney little babies over it), but I’m so very tired.

No surprise, Bakula really enjoyed this episode. And why wouldn’t he? He’s in every scene, he has lots of words to say, and he gets to make out with a chick 20 years younger than him. This is definitely an actor’s kind of episode. It’s not so much a viewer’s kind of episode.

He also mentions how Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner came down to visit the set while they were filming Star Trek: Nemesis. No doubt they exchanged a lot of advice on how to take an enormously successful franchise and run it into the ground.

And that’s pretty much all we learn from this featurette.

Caption contributed by Albert

Well, they actually couldn’t get Spiner and Stewart to visit the set, but Bakula was able to pose with their waxen likenesses.

All throughout this episode, I really tried to picture another Trek captain doing what Archer does here. And I just couldn’t do it. For that matter, I can’t imagine any other show making their central character out to be this much of a selfish idiot.

And in the case of Captain Archer, the character was already on pretty shaky ground. Frankly, “A Night in Sickbay” was just the final straw. A very large and stupid straw, but the final straw nonetheless.

Having said all that, it would be ridiculous to blame the cancellation of Enterprise on the quality of one single episode. As we all know, quality doesn’t always translate to high ratings—even the vastly superior Deep Space Nine lost a lot of viewers over its seven-season run.

But let’s face it: when the ratings are slipping, crappy episodes like “A Night in Sickbay” sure don’t help the situation. On the whole, Enterprise deserved to be put out of its misery, and it was clearly heading in that direction by the second season. But I have to wonder if this one episode didn’t hasten the inevitable cancellation.

I’ll surely be talking about that more in the next installment of the Worst of Trek, coming soon! Not too soon, however. After this episode, It may be some time before I can even think about Enterprise again.

Multi-Part Article: Enterprise "A Night in Sickbay"
TV Show: Enterprise

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  • I cannot believe I’m the first comment…ok…let’s dig into this..

    “because the new crew matched the ethnic makeup of the TOS crew almost exactly, with just a few roles gender-swapped. I won’t go through the full comparison, because you can easily do that yourself” A black man at the Helm and an Asian Woman in Communications in the final cast don’t count?

    #1 – “the Enterprise was content to travel aimlessly” = exploration. Just like in TOS and TNG, even Voyager was forced to explore on it’s way back to Earth. If you want to criticize a series for this how about DS9 or, as I call it, “Truck Stop in Space”.

    #2 – “This show was only interested in making life as easy and comfortable for the main characters as possible” – yeah when T’Pol and Trip’s baby died or Trip lost his sister – no big deal right?

    #3 – “What’s the point of exploring strange new worlds when you can just pull up everything you need to know from a Vulcan database?” – they did lots of exploring including into the Expanse – where Vulcans feared to tread.

    #4 – “there were no meaningful differences between this show and the three that came before it.” which implies the previous two series were copies as well making Enterprises “sin” hardly unique and they did have the same mission as TOS and TNG after all.

    #5 – This doesn’t even make sense. Going by this logic TNG was just going to be a knock off of TNG and we shouldn’t have watched it either.

    #6 – “harder and harder to do a TNG-style show with self-contained episodes that still feels fresh and original.” – well there was that season-long arc you just mentioned and a slew of 3 part episodes.

    #7 – Basically their talent dried up?

    “were little more than empty shells” – compared to who? All the characters in TOS not in the Big Three? The Doctor in TNG?

    “how stupid and ridiculous the plots got, and no matter how much of it relied on pointless technobabble” – are you talking about the three dozen holodeck issues and Welsey Crushers last second miracle fixes in TNG?

    “the decision to make her Seven of Nine Part II, complete with a skin tight catsuit, truly did her no favors” – why did Marina Sirtis should more cleavage than a Hooters waitress or the miniskirts in TOS? Sex Appeal in Trek is nothing new.

    The only criticisms I really agree on were unneeded “decontamination gel”, extremely lame teasers, and the theme song (which I always fast forward through). I would even have included the Vulcan massage therapy – designed mainly to put T’Pol is pajamas and show a little skin. Personally I would have did a ethnic cliche and made it Hoshi with Asian acupressure (and tiny pajamas) but Jolene Blalock wasn’t hideous.

    “They’ve given her the most hideous wig you could put on a woman. It makes her look like a straight up dyke.” – she looks like Portia De Rossi to you? Really?

    Archer wasn’t perfect but over time we learned to deal with aliens better and they with us – he wasn’t supposed to be perfect out of the gate. Part of the show way about growing and changing.

    Considering the show itself I didn’t think it was worse than…

    DS9 boldly going – to just sit there – talk about abandoned the Trek premise (what does Trek mean anyway, hm…)
    TOS with its absolutely ham handed politics and goofy third season.
    TNG with holodeck issues, Wesley, and nothing but very bad movies including a pair of Star Trek V level disasters.
    Voyager – “Threshold”, dear God. And Chakotay having nothing to do except for his Instant Romance with 7 of 9 toward the end.

    Enterprise dared to explore…season long arcs, multiple part stories, and Jeffery Combs and Gary Graham are always great to see. There were a few bad episodes in Season 1 and 2 but TNG didn’t exactly soar out of the gate either. A different Archer – not so well known from other sci-fi series – and a quicker leap to the Xindi arc would have helped immensely.

    • Pirola Vanni

      “Archer wasn’t perfect”

      Haha! You slay me!
      If this recap doesn’t convince you of the total pricknessdorknessuseless of this character, nothing will.
      And at least Portia De Rossi has a likeable body, while Jolene Blalock seems a barbie doll 50% flesh 50% plastic.
      God-awful show, thankfully dead forever.

      • Archer was flawed – and look at Janeway and Mr Libido – are they perfect? Archer should have be done by a different actor and Blalock sexied up a bit – Google her, she’s hot! She was hot in the Mirror, Mirror episode too.

        • happydude86

           There is a difference between having a noble, yet flawed hero (Kirk) and being a self-absorbed, psychopathic manchild (Archer).

        • Soli

          Good protagonists should have flaws. The important quality is to make their flaws a part of an overall positive whole — example, Kirk. Yes, he was a slut, but he was also noble, selfless, passionate and brave.

          A different actor would not have changed the awful writing that went into Archer — the whining, the self-absorption, the stupid decisions, the bigotry, etc.

    • Monoceros4

      Someone actually tries to defend this garbage? Why?

      Ooh, Jeffrey Combs is in it! Look, I like “Re-Animator” as much as anyone, but just because he pops up in some shit Star Trek spinoff doesn’t mean the spinoff is any fucking good.

      • Someone actually tries to defend this garbage? Why?

        Lots of Trek wasn’t any better than Enterprise. Try watching the first year of TNG.

        •  Problem with that is, TNG got better (much better in fact). In contrast Enterprise only got better after Berman & Braga killed off the whole of Star Trek. Basically they only tried to make the show worthwhile after the show had effectively died, and even then they tried to make it impossible for Manny Coto to try by giving him time-travelling space Nazis to work with.

          As regards the points in your original post:
          1) Exploration is the opposite of wandering aimlessly, unless your name is Roderick Purdeigh (http://wiki.lspace.org/wiki/Roderick_Purdeigh). When you explore you have a goal, and either have some knowledge of how to get to your destination, or some plan to get that knowledge. It also involves planning and preparing for the journey as best as possible. Enterprise showed none of the proper prequisites for exploration. Hell they didn’t even manage the prequisites for a nice wander in the woods.

          2) a) we didn’t know either. It’s kind of hard to get any emotional connection to an off-screen character who is barely mentioned. b) this deals with the sister as the baby was too late to have an effect on Trip, but the effect her death should have is quickly and easily dealt with. He’s over her inside of a year in series terms. To put that in perspective I had an uncle I barely knew (due to his mental illnesses) who died 12 years ago. I still get cut up thinking about him. That is grief, what Trip had was essentially panty rash, tough to suffer at the time but quick to relieve with a bit of Sudocream.

          3) But the vast majority of their exploration was where Vulcans  were a significant prescence (this is actually understandable and sensible work by the Vulcans, you don’t send babies out on a motorway to play). The only new thing they did (which the Vulcans never managed) was to find an asteroid with high mineral content of value. The Vulcans explored the nebula and withdrew with good cause (there were serious health issues, not to mention hostility from strong species) so no that was not entirely new.

          4) Well it was significantly different from DS9, mainly because the DS9 crew were adventurous and confident enough to do something new. However Enterprise followed the Voyager/season 1 TNG formula of copying it’s inspiration/predecessor and draining everything good out of any concept used before before recycling it as an incipid episode. And the few new things they tried failed hard (look at the video at http://sfdebris.com/videos/startrek/e101.asp, for a dissection of the epic fail of their concept of hull plating).

          5) TNG tried something new, it gave a new dynamic to the Star Trek phenomenon. The parts of TNG which have the least value (seasons 1, 2 &, to a lesser extent, 7) fail because they try to ape something else, without giving it new urgency or originality, and they are largely not worth watching (still some episodes from each season are good, a lot more than can be said for any of Enterprise).

          6) a) most of Enterprise was self-contained episodes. Even the season-long arc you keep harping on about (which was horribly done by the way) there were a lot of episodes which barely affected more than one or two episodes after it. And to look at when a good show does story arcs; DS9 had 2 seven season arcs (The Sisko, Emmisary to the prophets, exploring the Gamma Quadrant), a six season arc (pre-Pah Wraiths Dukat), 2 4 season ones (the Dominion war, Klingon-Federation relations). All of these were well done, properly linked and strongly executed (though I never liked the way the Emmisary thread ended, spiritual stuff and I don’t mix). Your season long “arc” came from nowhere, wandered aimlessly, and ended in the same nowhere from whence it started.

          7) Berman & Braga, no talent (never did).
              The actors, either good actors playing shitty parts (Bakula, Park); shitty actors playing shitty parts (Blalok, Anthony Montgomery) or actors I’m not sure on playing shitty parts (Trineer, Keating).
              The plots were just horrific, some you’d reject for a 1950’s B movie plot.
              The characterisation was worse, Reed a gun fetishising homosexual, Trip a redneck know-nothing (he couldn’t even do simple algebra), T’Pol a stuck-up frigid prude, Sato scared of her shadow, and Duchess Archer a homeless madman Starfleet fished out of a dumpster the night before launch.

          I could go on. But fanboys rarely listen to the valid complaints aimed at the object of their obsessions.

    • TOS/TNG forever

      “why did Marina Sirtis should more cleavage than a Hooters waitress or the miniskirts in TOS? Sex Appeal in Trek is nothing new.”

      But there was a BIG difference. TOS & TNG had far better episodes than Enterprise, so haven’t scantly clad women there was simply icing on the cake, whereas Enterprise’s cake was awful, so the icing was all the show ended up going for it.

  • Mookles

    I only recently stumbled across this site, and have to say that the above review is one of the wittiest things I’ve read in aeons. It’s comedic genius, and very incisive. It’s not generally a good sign in an ongoing television show when you wish the characters would die horribly at the end of each episode.

  • Snuggles McSquishbottom

    Your commentaries are sharp and incisive and you’re a terrific writer. It would be nice if some others could critique your points without being snide, but such is the wonderful world of oneupsmanship. I really admire your site. Keep up the commendable travails!

  • LOLerSkates

    I laughed so freaking hard!  I couldn’t have summed it up any better myself.  I just started Enterprise because I figured, as a huge Trek fan….I’ll have to watch the crappiest series at some point…..why not now?!  Thanks for the laughs!

    • packman_jon

       Actually, the mirror episodes from the last season aren’t that bad.  Mostly because (a) T’Pol and Trip’s midriff and (b) the horrible opening is replaced (with a Terran Empire twist!)

      • Soli

        T’Pol and Trip only have one midriff between them?

  • Kyle

    One thing I was thinking about when it came to Porthos is just where did the captain expect his dog, who as T’Pol pointed out doesn’t know how to use a toilet, was expected to do his business on a hermetically sealed starship in deep space with no grass for a dozen light years in any direction. That’s not even taking into account the reality of what too much cheese can do to a dog.

    “Determining your dog’s dairy product tolerance level may become a
    trial-and-error process, and you may end up giving him too much cheese.
    Here’s what might happen next: Since many dogs are lactose intolerant,
    overfeeding of any dairy product may result in diarrhea, flatulence,
    bloating and other digestive upsets.”www.vetinfo.com/is-it-safe-for-dogs-to-eat-cheese.html

     Now, in case anyone wasn’t keeping score how many times did the captain give Porthos Cheese on the show after being told not to by Phlox. Not to mention that he was always trapped in the captains quarters. No wonder T’Pol was always turning up her Vulcan nose whenever Porthos entered a scene. I don’t want even contemplate the diarrhea. Oh, my heart goes out to those poor bastards in the maintenance crews.

    Anyways great post about a truly awful episode.

    • Soli

      I suppose Porthos could be box-trained.

      And yeah, pretty sure cheese is no good for the doggies. Couldn’t he have given the dog little slices of salami or something.

  • packman_jon

    All this episode makes me think of a Harry S. Plinkitt quote: “Fuck you Rick Berman! You ruined this too?”

  • Allison

    I hate Star Trek. I really, really hate Star Trek. Give me the Stargate SG-1 episode Space Race any day over Trek. That episode was a continuous nightmare, and I watched while sick from a cough medicine that had codeine in it. I tried watching it again without the use of prescribed narcotics, and I almost ran away screaming. This episode feels like Space Race.

    I love Scott Bakula, but this just makes him look bad. So why do I feel the need to watch this episode? Why?! Because I’m self-sadistic. I watched Space Race twice, after all.

    This recap was funny, but the screen caps don’t make Bakula look particularly attractive, and this is a man who is an Adonis without his shirt on. I know, not the effect you were going for.

    Thanks for the laughs, I may have to see this for myself…and bleach my eyes afterward.

    • Soli

      I feel so sorry for Bakula. He must have been overjoyed to be cast as a Starfleet captain… only to get written as a literally insane jackass.

  • Cheshire Cat

    “By the way, does anybody want to know why the Universal Translator wasn’t translating Phlox’s cursing just now?”
    At this time, there was no ship-wide universal translator. It was a portable thing that Hoshi held. Yes, I am a geek for knowing this.

  • Nick

    Somehow this episode was nominated for a Hugo award..

    • BCSWowbagger

      I have always imagined this was pure trolling.

      HUGO GUY 1: “Hey, fellow wealthy sci-fi novelists, we just invented this stupid Short Form category, which means we have to give an award to a TV show instead of just throwing all our gold at this year’s LotR installment. What are the peons doing in TV these days?”
      HUGO GUY 2: “Well, there’s that Whedon guy. He’s got three shows on right now. Firefly’s actually got spaceships!”
      HUGO GUY 3: “What about J. Michael Stracynzki? We loved his stuff.”
      HUGO GUY 1: “Yeah, nobody else did. Isn’t Star Trek doing another series?”
      HUGO GUY 2: “Oh, man. F— those guys. It’s terrible. It’s literally the worst.”
      HUGO GUY 3: “But we can’t nominate a Hugo award for TV and ignore Star Trek. Especially since Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica aren’t even on the air yet. Otherwise we might as well mail Joss the statue for Firefly right now!”
      HUGO GUY 1: “Okay, guys, I have a plan. We’ll nominate Star Trek — not once, but TWICE. Now find me the very worst two episodes those bas–rds have produced. Then the world will finally see that Star Trek has been destroyed and they need to bring back JMS right away!”

      The Hugo committee ultimately nominated not just ANIS, but also the almost-as-insubstantial “Carbon Creek.” The winner, for some reason, was the Buffy episode.

      • Corylea

        The Hugo Awards are nominated by — and voted for by — science fiction FANS. (It’s the Nebula Awards that are given solely by professional SF writers.)

        If you join the World Con as a supporting member — which costs $60 — you can vote for that year’s awards and can nominate for the next year’s.

        • BCSWowbagger

          Yeah, I didn’t know that when I posted this (in 2013), but have since learned.

          So were all the fans drunk? Or trolling in just this way? Because nominating ANIS instead of “First Flight”, “Cease Fire”, or really ANY OTHER EPISODE was just a crime.

          • Corylea

            I have no idea. Maybe this episode was nominated by people who wanted some other series to win, so they were making sure the competition wouldn’t be too strong. 🙂

  • Trekker123415

    Haters gonna hate.

  • JD

    Linda Park was hot.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      What do you mean with “was”? She still IS. ^^ met her at fedcon. ^^

      • JD

        I meant in the show. as winston said its all just Ginger/Mary Ann argument any way.

  • Frances Yozawitz

    I Love Star Trek.& Lost in Space.-E fran4y@gmail.com

  • King Beauregard

    I am slightly more forgiving of this episode, but only slightly, because I’m pretty sure this was an “Archer growing into his role” episode. Like the scene with T’Pol and Archer on the treadmills, the point is that T’Pol is right and Archer is having trouble growing up and accepting it. And the part about “I obviously can’t keep up with you” is T’Pol acknowledging the futility of debating with someone who isn’t interested in debate. The treadmills themselves are metaphor for who’s right — Archer simply can’t beat her.

    Not that I am saying this is a good episode; it makes a strong case for Archer’s unsuitedness for command, and I don’t think that’s what they were going for. A quick way to fix this episode would have been if a human (rather than Porthos) had taken ill and the jerk aliens were mad because that human had, say, vomited on one of their sacred trees. That wouldn’t fix everything, but it would at least point the episode in the right direction; it might have even led to discussion about why those trees are sacred. Or maybe, once or twice when Archer threatened to attack the jerk aliens, he could have clarified to Phlox (or whoever) that he was just venting.

    And, a much better reason for why Archer cares so much about T’Pol’s opinion: because she’s the only person who 1) disagrees with him, 2) doesn’t mind telling him, and 3) is right. And that irritates Archer; she is the nagging voice of truth that is gnawing at him.

    As a fourth point, T’Pol is not at all diplomatic with Archer, and while that doesn’t make her “wrong”, it does make it difficult for him to accept what she’s saying. There’s a fantastic book called “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk”, and rule number one is, you need to acknowledge their emotions and respect that they’re feeling what they’re feeling. Once you’ve done that, you can work on practical resolutions to problems. T’Pol didn’t do that and that doesn’t help, but I am not going to fault her so much because she is not a human and not a diplomat.

    Seriously, get this book:

    http://blog.codinghorror.com/how-to-talk-to-human-beings/

    • Sean

      Archer should already be a mature person. He should already be one just from being a grown up, much less being a Starfleet officer. And much less being a Starfleet officer who is in charge of the first deep space ship of the fleet. He should be a really mature, understanding, and diplomatic person who understands that his dog doesn’t take priority over respecting an alien race.

      The point here is the question, “Does Starfleet have any officers who aren’t whiny five year old brats?” Because if they did, they wouldn’t have sent Archer out on this deep space mission. He wouldn’t have become a captain at all. Hell, he wouldn’t have even been accepted to the academy in the first place.

      • King Beauregard

        I can’t disagree with any of that. Perhaps we need to make a few allowances for interesting TV viewing and obligatory character growth, but an episode shouldn’t make your mouth hang open as you wonder where the ship’s “real” captain is and why they put this guy in his place. As noted, there are ways they could have fixed or at least improved this episode, and they chose not to.

      • Arshin Carnifex

        They had a vague notion that they wanted him to be like Kirk^2, Kirk’s even more roguish ancestor, based on the flawed and erroneous assumption that somehow the earlier in earth space history you went, the more rough, gritty and independent the officers would be. More human, basically.

        As compared to, say, Picard, who is clearly trying to channel Nelson at Trafalgar every moment he’s awake. You can almost hear the harpsichord when he enters a scene.

        I’d argue their logic is stilted and unintentionally elitist. If Picard is the ultimate Novus Homo in Roddenberry’s classless unisex utopia, then they never had any choice but to make his predecessors raging selfish roughneck douchebags. You know, so humanity will have something to evolve AWAY from…

        Edit: I just realized I just unintentionally used “Nelson at Trafalgar” as a descriptor the same way as “Darmok at Tanagra”. hahaha Life imitating art!

      • Draqonelle Liz

        Compare this to the episode “Trouble with Tribbles.” Kirk is humanised. He does that by showing the process where a normally hypercompetant individual is constantly undermined and embarassed by ridiculous circumstances. But that had more going for it then a few dumb prat falls. We actually see how frustrated and reserved and serious Kirk is in the situation. And how all his previous training is not helping him. And the problems are interelated and all escalate. You don’t start with one dopey situation after another. So we see him try to be professional, and slowly and humourously lose his cool. First there is one annoying bureaucrat, now he is in charge of the ship. First there are a few Klingons. Now lots of Klingons. Now all the Klingons and Humans fight. And there is a dumb adorable creature. Now there are thousands… no millions of creatures. Now lets make a twist ending where the Tribbles chase the Klingons. And as it gets more absurd we actually see Kirk triumph using his wits and learning to adapt, overcome his circumstances and a few silly scenes become an enjoyable light hearted experience.

        We see a lot of great episodes with similar themes. When Picard is trapped in an elevator with three children and broken ankle, he adapts and in the end learns to work with them so the silly and humorous scene becomes a cute little character piece. He doesn’t immediately pitch a hissy fit (even though he acts a little ridiculous) and then go chase a llama on the deck or watch Worf pick his nose or anything.

        If they had done this sort of pacing and escalation and gave everything, it would have felt like it had a point even if it was a harmless story about having sexual tension with a shipmate. (Which is not the problem here) And we’d actually see him work his way through his embarassing circumstances, we see him try to be professional but absurd and logically consistant circumstances make the situation more and more ridiculous forcing him to confront his embarassing feelings. It is hard to do when the height of absurdity is the captain with funny hair at the end, and not in-character reactions of likeable characters to weird situation. And why put in a dying puppy and the safety of the crew. If it is about how Archer is in denial about his sexual tension and focusing on his dog… Why does this need to be a whole episode that actually damages your reputation as a professional? Why couldn’t it be a side plot to develop character? If you have to have a plot like this as your main plot, why make it so serious and have stakes that effect the lives of the crew. If it is a silly light hearted adventure, then don’t put the crew at risk by having Archer fail at his job at a crucial juncture. You already did a Trip gets pregnant and a Vacation episode, why can’t you have a Archer is obsessed with his dog plot and don’t have it nearly threaten the crew’s lives and mission. Just have him acting silly but still show he has admirable and unique traits. Show him trying to remain professional but failing showing he is devoted to his crew, or show him try to use convoluted but brilliant problem solving skills to show he is a understated genius, or have him show any charm or honesty when he admits he was wrong tugging at the audience’s heart strings. You can even do all three.
        When Q embarassed Picard or Sisko tore his hair out over his troublemaking son or Will Riker was berated by Lwxana or Kirk and Spock had an embarassing incident in front of a lovely Yeoman, we learned about them at the same time. And seeing them deal with stupid little problems made us like them and what them to figure it out. And if you can’t like a person when they are acting awesome, we are never going to like them acting like an idiot.

        (PS seriously that scene where the Yeoman gives Captain Kirk a backrub is a hundred times funnier then the entire episode. That is how you portray uncomfortably hilarious sexual tension and confusion without an origami bat and CGI tongues)

    • etomlins

      All of a sudden I’m thinking of how much more interesting a show it could have been if they’d embraced Archer’s incompetence. “Enterprise” could have taken a great chance in depicting the growing realization among the crew of the ship that their commanding officer was dangerously unsuited for the job that he was doing–a sort of slow-motion “Caine Mutiny”. But, of course, Brannon and Braga weren’t going to deviate from the essential Trek formula where the captain is a hero who, whatever faults he may admit, still gets proved correct most episodes.

      • King Beauregard

        Heh, if Archer deserved that treatment, I say Janeway deserved it at least twice as much. The murder of Tuvox should have sealed it in her crew’s mind that she’s unfit to command … but of course, they were all complicit as well, so we really had an entire ship full of terrible terrible people.

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          Okay, question: How would you have explained to the wife of Tuvok, his sons, his relatives etc, that their beloved husband, father etc. was gone and he was now merged with a plant and a drifter?

          • King Beauregard

            Logically, of course. Tell them their father had been merged with a plant and a drifter, and much of him is still there but he’s more emotional and he’s different.

            Tuvox didn’t want to die. Janeway killed him. I don’t see any way to pass that off as anything but cold-blooded murder.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            “Oh, yeah, sorry, T’Pel – your husband is more emotional now, he’s different.”
            “How did that happen, Captain Janeway?”
            “Well, he merged with another member of my crew and a plant during a transporter-accident.”
            “And I’m sure, you tried everything to seperate the two of them again, right?”
            “Actually, no – after all, this new being, Tuvix, didn’t want to die. You see – my hands are bound there.”
            “Let me get this straight – you HAD the possibility to safe Tuvok at hand, and you chose not to, because Tuvix didn’t want to die?”
            “Yeah.”
            “So basically you murdered my husband?”
            “No – he is still there. He just is more emotional now. And he has some characteristics of my former chef.”

            Sorry, allowing Tuvix to live would’ve been cold-blooded murder concerning the individuals Tuvok and Neelix. I don’t think, that even the logic-loving vulcans would let that one slide by.

            Sure, the best solution would’ve been: creating two Tuvixes, let one be Tuvix and seperate the other one again into Tuvok and Neelix.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Its basically murder either way, and its arguable that both Tuvok and Neelix were more alive when one as Tuvix than Tuvix is alive as one or the other. The difference is that by letting Tuvix live you are not saving Tuvok or Neelix (which is legally not murder, at least by present day laws; there is no such thing as a duty to help…well, I suppose being in the military might make that different); if you kill Tuvix to save Tuvok and Neelix, you are outright killing one person to save two.

            I suppose if you’re a Vulcan, though…needs of the many.

  • Arshin Carnifex

    Latecomer here, massive TOS and TNG fan. Ground my way through the first 18 eps of Enterprise before I resigned in disgust. Glad to hear I missed the worst of it, but I swear there are not two hams in existence big enough to represent the fists that cobbled together the episodes I have seen. Every single member of the cast seems horribly out of place, the plots are garbage, the dialog is garbage, even the CHOREOGRAPHY is garbage.

  • Ben

    You wrote eight pages of bitching about a single episode of Star Trek? I mean, I am a huge Trekkie with no life that spends far too much time studying memory-alpha.org and memory-beta. I just watched this episode, granted it sucked much like a lot of ENT episodes. M-A’s episode summary sent me here and I couldn’t even get through more than a couple of pages of this rantfest. EIGHT PAGES???? Was this like for a school project or something? And I thought I complained about the JJ Abrams Star Trek movies. Holy crap! I bet you could write volumes about everything that’s wrong with those movies. Perhaps you already have, especially Star Trek: Into Darkness. How long did it take you to compose this rant? This really is the agony booth. Torturous, even my computer is saying “Get a life.” On that note, happy new year!

    /me slowly closes the browser window and walks away…

    • K.Neher

      I actually have a life, I think, or at least I do not spend it with Star Trek 24/7.

      This year I’ve started watching ENT because I’ve tought it sucked back at it’s release… and well… “A night at sickbay” IS worth 6 pages renting. It’s REALLY that shit. I’ve never saw such a crappy, childish episode of any Star Trek series in my life. I had to turn it off twice (the episode that is). I even had a small argument with my mate how shitty the episode was.

      So in the end: It’s absolutely worth 6 pages or more to rant.

  • etomlins

    I think of the context in which “Enterprise” was happening. “Voyager” had been a steaming hot mess, not without its charms but still saddled with unlikable characters and a badly flawed central premise that practically forced the crew and especially the captain to make one stupid decision after another while presenting those decisions as high-minded and heroic. It didn’t help that the show tried to sustain itself in later seasons by drawing again and again from the exhausted well that was the Borg. The last Trek movie at the time had been the thoroughly mediocre “Insurrection”. Star Trek seemed like it was dying so a lot of us were hopeful that “Enterprise” would revive the spirit of the show, forcing it to break out of its rut of telling stories about tired old enemies, holodeck shenanigans, and Q.

    Who knew that the central focus of the *new* show would be a petulant man-child of a captain who spent almost every episode fuming about how the Vulcans didn’t trust him while proving in almost every episode that they were right not to?

  • Alexander Sebastian Schulz

    Hello! I browsed the web for information on this curious episode that I watched for the first time yesterday evening and found your spirited review. Indeed, the episode is a huge mess. But I think I get it now, it’s an homage to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, that’s why the clock shows the time. We shall never forget that it’s night. Shakespeare’s play also had an apology plot, but I can’t quite piece it together now. The king of the forest, Oberon, wanted an apology for something… I forgot. And like the play, the whole episode is ALL about sexual tension. I mean, at the end, Archer cuts up a log, it’s a penis metaphor! See also, the plasma injector, and maybe even Pensacola (Penisacola?) in Florida (shaped like a penis). The diplomatic and sexual tension is overcome at the end. (As Phlox said, just knowing about it, helps.) The problem of this episode is that it is completely out of the show’s context. The concept of this episode didn’t fit into the framework of the show, or the whole Star Trek canon.
    Ah, by the way, since the dog’s urinating triggered the plot, we can conclude that the penis always causes problems.

  • Corylea

    Because I lived in a TV-free household from 1986 until 2013, TOS was the only Trek I’d ever seen until recently. I started watching Enterprise so that I’d understand the backstory before Star Trek: Discovery comes on in May, and I just watched “A Night in Sickbay.”

    Thank you SO much for your analysis of it, because I was screaming “Archer, you IDIOT” at the screen during the entire episode, and it helped to relieve my frustration to read your rant about this episode. 🙂

    Hoo, boy! I understand that Enterprise is supposed to take place during humans’ first foray into space. But can’t they give us “humans are beginners at spaceflight” without making Archer a complete idiot? Are the writers not smart enough to think up more subtle mistakes for him to make, or do they not trust the audience to understand it if they do?

    There have been a few Enterprise episodes I’ve enjoyed — “Breaking the Ice” and “Shuttlepod One” come to mind — but for the most part, it’s painful to watch a Starfleet captain be such an incredible idiot.

    You and I and zillions of other Trek fans can see what Archer should do better than Archer himself does, which leads me to believe that Enterprise takes place in an alternate universe, one in which science fiction doesn’t exist. I mean, think about it — you and I learned some of what a space explorer should do by watching Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, but it seems as if their fictional equivalents don’t exist in Archer’s world, since it looks as if Archer’s never even THOUGHT about space exploration before actually doing it.

    Anyway, I may be late to the party, but I still appreciated your review/rant.

  • billybob

    It concerns me that you seem to not know what Water Polo is…