Apr 18, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.