Interview: John Billingsley On The Joy Of Phlox, Sexuality on ‘Star Trek: Enterprise,’ And Why The Show Won’t Be Back

John Billingsley interview part 2 - TrekMoive

This Saturday is the big TREKtalks2 fundraiser livestream event featuring hours of panels with Star Trek celebrities from in front and behind the camera. Participants include Anson Mount, Scott Bakula, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor, Brannon Braga, John de Lancie, Doug Drexler, Dan Curry, Mike and Denise Okuda, Dave Blass, Cirroc Lofton, Dr. Erin Macdonald, Robert Picardo, Naren Shankar, Armin Shimerman, Anthony Montgomery, Kitty Swink, Wil Wheaton, Rod Roddenberry, Dr. Mohamed Noor, and Andre Bormanis, all there to help raise money for the Hollywood Food Coalition

John Billingsley (Enterprise‘s Dr. Phlox) serves on the board of the Hollywood Food Coalition and both spearheads and cohost the event. We spoke to him earlier this week about his work with the organization and got some details about what to expect at TREKtalks.  In the second part of our interview, Billingsley speaks frankly about the joys of working on the show, the tonal shift in season 3, the challenges of being on UPN, the pressure on the cast to sex things up, and more.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Star Trek shows often work in what’s happening today. Had Enterprise come out at a different time instead of around 9/11, do you think the tone of the show, and especially those later seasons, would have been different?

Yeah.  One thing that happened is, Manny Coto was brought on, who subsequently went on to write for 24. And he wrote some of my very favorite episodes. But Manny, who I’ve worked with on a number of occasions, has a different sensibility, certainly, than I do, and I think probably a somewhat different sensibility than some of the Star Trek creators. So some of the third season was, in my opinion, given the nature of what happened on 9/11, leaning towards a philosophy that didn’t strike me necessarily as the Star Trek philosophy. And I say this with all due respect and deference to Manny; again, I think he wrote some of the best shows we did.

There was an episode [“Anomaly”] in which the question of whether or not it was legitimate for our captain to throw somebody into space because they weren’t coughing up the goods—it was presented as a moral dilemma fair, but it was very much the same moral dilemma that kind of undercut 24. And it was very much in our consciousness at the time, do the ends justify the means? Is it okay to waterboard somebody? Candidly, as a leftist, I was uncomfortable by aspects of season 3. And I say that with all due respect for Manny’s enormous talents.

We needed the tension of a serialized show. I think the show, particularly in the second season, was kind of drifty in that respect-I know Strange New Worlds works very well with standalone episodes. I didn’t think we were doing terribly well with standalone episodes, so I appreciated the tension of the chase and the urgency of the third season. But my problem was “the giant, horrible lizard creatures have attacked Earth and slaughtered us and we will go get them and we will kill them and it doesn’t matter nothing’s gonna stop us.” And then we invaded Iraq.

The third season Enterprise episode “Anomaly”

I was always more interested in more of the joy and confusion of exploration versus the killing of an enemy.

Exactly. I will say, and this has been pointed out to me, that at the end of the third season, it was revealed that the Xindi, too, were being manipulated. And you could argue that there was a—I won’t say anti-capitalist viewpoint, but certainly, an anti-colonialist viewpoint being expressed, which is always the thing that I’ve appreciated about Manny. He’s an extremely smart guy, he had an episode that was clearly taking on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And from an atheist point of view, say, a pox on both of your houses to the extent that religion interferes with your capacity to actually get along.

I tend to kind of have complicated feelings about the third season.  I think the fourth kind of found that sweet spot. My feeling about the show is—and you said it—is that it’s both joyful and confusing. The first ship, the first crew. I liked the fact that the weapons malfunction, I liked the fact that we were afraid to transport, I liked the fact that there was a sense of “Should we go, should we stay? What do we do?” I kind of felt they got away from that too quickly.

If Enterprise were being made today, do you think Phlox would have had husbands as well as wives?

I tried to play it with enough of a raised eyebrow to suggest just that. That was very much my goal. I frequently call myself the first polyamorous Star Trek character. I always thought that the husbands got together, the wives got together, the husbands and the wives, the husbands and the wives and the sisters and the brothers. I mean, it was an interesting culture in that they were cheek to jowl. So they had to have very strict rules about touching non-sexually, you don’t go around slapping people in the back on Denobula. Very strict courtship rules. but when the courtship was successfully effectuated, nobody gets it on like the Denobulans!

Did that ever come up as something people talked about and then said couldn’t happen? Was it ever discussed?

Bob Picardo is a dear friend, and I make fun of him all the time. Bob Picardo lurked behind the shrubbery to pop up and say “How about I sing opera?” That wasn’t necessarily as available to us [on Enterprise] as actors. For instance, we were under an edict: No actor was going to learn how to direct on our show.

In the meantime, you had Roxann [Dawson] and Robbie [McNeill] all over it.

Exactly. And I don’t think that was a reflection on our particular cast. I just think by the time our show was on UPN, a dying network, the ratings were in the toilet. The word from on high was you don’t have the latitude that we might have given you back when we felt the franchise was really healthy. So to a certain extent—and  I don’t want this to sound snotty, because Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] were nothing but gracious to me—but I didn’t ever get the impression that it was like, swing the door open and come on in, let’s hear it. And I was very reticent about it. On “A Night in Sickbay,” when it alluded to my polyamorous background, I did not get on the horn and say, “Hey, can we pull this out a little bit?”  I think I might have mentioned to the director that from my point of view, the boys are getting it on and the girls are getting it on and I’m gonna see if I can figure out how to do that just in the performance. And some people say they got that.

Trip, Phlox, and Feezal in "Stigma" - Star Trek: Enterprise

Trip, Phlox, and Feezal, one of Phlox’s wives, in “Stigma”

You mentioned UPN, which Scott Bakula has been critical of; do you agree with him that the show would have lasted longer or been better had it been somewhere else?

Undeniable. But the thing is, UPN was a dying network. You can look at it from two vantage points: Yes, we probably would have been better in the pre-syndicated universe, which is what the other shows were. But syndication was, as a concept, beginning to fade away. So I don’t know if that was going to be a feasibility. And if UPN could have interested other writers and producers to pitch shows, then they might have been able to get rid of us. They couldn’t get rid of us, they didn’t have anything else … the network was schizophrenic. It didn’t have the support of CBS. I don’t even think it’s a question of blame to go around, the world of television was beginning to change in that era. And we were one of those shows that was on that cusp.

Dominic [Keating] and I went to convention in San Antonio, early on. The show had been going on for six months, maybe. And nobody was there, and it turned out that San Antonio is one of the affiliate stations that was not airing Star Trek on Friday nights, because that’s high school football night. UPN didn’t even have the power to command their affiliate stations to air the product. That’s how weak UPN was.

And there was nowhere else to get it, it wasn’t like you could wait for it to show up on Hulu the next day.

That’s some of it. I don’t think any of this addresses the fact that for the premiere episode, we got, I think, like 10 million. In the second episode, we got 2 million. So people didn’t, on some level, dig it. Whether it was Star Trek fatigue, whether or not people were wanting something that was unique, or whether they felt that we were actually kind of off the reservation too much, I don’t know. But I think the writing on one level was on the wall. The fact that we went four seasons, to me is the miracle. It’s not that I was ashamed we didn’t go seven… I liked the character a lot, don’t get me wrong. And I really liked the other actors and appreciated my time on the show. But yeah, rubber headwear… I don’t know that I’d want to do it again.

Phlox puffs up his face on Enterprise

Phlox goes full Denobulan

We recently heard a story from the actress Kim Rhodes, who was a guest star on Voyager, who said that Brandon and Rick wanted her for T’Pol. Ultimately she was told she was “the wrong body type,” which she knew meant she was too fat. Was the network’s focus on sex appeal something that everyone there was super aware of?

It certainly became readily apparent.  We weren’t the first and we won’t be the last show—I say this as an old fat actor: If you’ve got eight series regulars, eight series regulars are gonna be sexy… I don’t mean to point this at Kim. I love Kim and she’s a wonderful actress. You simply cannot be in this industry without on some level making your peace with the fact that it is a visual industry and there is a deep corruption at the heart of the nature of the way we, as human beings, emphasize physical beauty. And this industry makes its bucks on it.

What do you remember about the cast reacting to all those decontamination room scenes? Were people joking about it?

I was! I was saying “I got blue underpants, when do I get to… you know?” I made a joke one time I think to Chris Black at a party. I said, “Come on, Chris. When am I going to run around in my underpants?” And he said something like “what if you run around without your underpants?” Bring it on. So although Chris left the scene in the third season, there I am strutting my stuff.

T'Pol, Sato, and Reed in the decontamination chamber on Star Trek: Enterprise

T’Pol, Sato, and Reed in the decontamination chamber

One of the things about Enterprise that was challenging for me as a viewer was that it did feel retro in terms of women.

Yes, absolutely.

I felt like there was a lot of Voyager sort of backlash involved. I don’t know if you would agree with that.

I’m not enough of a student to necessarily know what that means, Voyager backlash.

Voyager had a female captain who was a very strong character. And the other star was Jeri Ryan as Seven, they had Roxann Dawson as Chief Engineer, so women for the first time in Star Trek really were in charge and quite prominent and pretty much in every main story. And watching Enterprise, I kept wondering, was it “Enough with the women”? T’Pol as the main female character was in the most ridiculous outfit…

Yes. I get it. I know that was one of the things that was a bone of contention. I’m still nowhere near as hip to what I believe Star Trek stands for, and I really appreciate its ethos, but I’m not as hip to the intricacies of the individual series and episodes. I know was that the whole introduction of Jeri Ryan was an attempt to kind of set up the show in the latter half. And it seemed to have worked, to my understanding, which is what I think led to T’Pol, taking nothing away from Jo[lene Blalock]. I think she actually did a very nice job, especially over the arc of four years, really finding a way to kind of get into her much more. I mean, Spock is half human, so he’s got a little bit more room to play. T’Pol had to be, and Jo had to be ,or felt she had to be, more straitjacketed in terms of what kind of emotional range she had within the space she was allowed to move. I think she actually did very nice and nuanced work.

Undeniably, they’ve put her in a va-va-va-voom suit, and they’ve got her running around, you know, half naked all the time. She’s on the cover of Maxim magazine. But again, I’d go back to my earlier point, which is Star Trek is still a television show, every television show and every movie traffics in sexuality and traffics in the exploitation of both women and men. Connor is running around in his underpants all the time, too.

But there’s a difference between sexy, which is TV, and then a certain sexism, which I did feel watching it, you know?

I don’t dispute that. And it was largely a male writing room. As an actor—because I will frequently go back and forth between putting the cultural critic hat on and then putting an actor hat on—what I liked was that my character kind of floated in, had an ironic sensibility, could cock a snoot at all of it, including the sexism and the retro shit, and then wander out again. So I did make a bajillion jokes about like, “Really? We’re gonna go in and oil each other down…”

And I felt badly for Linda a little bit too, because Linda was the character who was the most timid on a certain level. I definitely can see looking at that through a sexist lens. I could also just say that I think, and doubtless this is sexism, if you try to make a guy the one who’s like that, they wouldn’t have done it. So they turned that into the woman’s shrinking role. I was glad they let that go more and more and more. But I don’t know that they ever really quite found a way to bring Linda’s potential strengths to the forefront.

Yeah. And I feel like in the beginning, they pitted T’Pol and Hoshi against each other in weird, unnecessary ways when they were both interesting characters. And Hoshi’s journey, someone being terrified to go on a starship is not a weird point of view.

It’s not a weird point of view but I’m kind of responding to what you said, which I think is very interesting, that if you only have two women on the ship, and if one of them has to be the embodiment of what it is to be terrified, yeah, I can definitely see—and I think you’re right—that that is perhaps unconsciously and perhaps consciously sexist.

T'Pol and Hoshi in Star Trek: Enterprise

T’Pol and Hoshi Sato during a contentious exchange in the Enterprise series premiere

You mentioned Phlox drifting in and out with his fun comments, but you also got a lot of really dramatic, intense stories on that show. Phlox went through a lot of hellish stuff. Which was more interesting to you to play?

The sensibility remains the same, whether or not he’s in a pickle, or whether or not he’s in a scene where he’s more amused by the scene on one level where the captain comes in and says, save my beagle. You want to spend the night here? That’s fine. I enjoyed those scenes a lot. Because I think at his heart, Phlox goes on a suicide mission. I mean, why does this guy say “Sure, I’ll go along. First time you’ve ever gone into space, I have no idea who the crew is…”  A betting man would say probably they’re not going to make it out alive. I think that’s sort of indicative of Phlox’s sensibilities.

There was a little part of me that always felt that in an ideal world, Phlox’s unflappability would’ve been even greater than they allowed it to be. Because I think that’s one of the things he signed off on. We have, Westerners, human beings, we have our own particular relationship to mortality. I didn’t know enough about Denobulan culture so I kind of just invented my own shit that never kind of came out. But my sense is that in Denobulan culture, there’s a line, at which point, it’s gravy from here on. When gravy from there on in, it’s like, eh, so what’s the worst that’s going to happen, I’ll get blown out of the sky. So it goes.

I do think he kept that sense of wonder and excitement. He brought that every time he walked into the room, everybody was reminded the show is about exploration. Like, look at this guy.

And I liked that. Generally speaking, I thought they maintained, for the most part, a legitimate sense of Phlox, the outsider who has curiosity, amusement and fascination. There were times when I thought some of the dilemmas, particularly I think, the one called “The Breach,” I watched that again and it’s better than I remembered it. There were aspects of it, that I felt were somewhat hard for me to swallow down in terms of what I believed about Denobulan culture, that it was an imposition of a Western understanding of what race hatred would mean that wasn’t necessarily easily squared with the way I kind of took to know Denobulans to be but that’s maybe quibbling.

And generally speaking in terms of the dramatic to the comedic, it was nice to play a character that has that wider range, that’s unusual. So I enjoyed it. I truly did always look forward to getting the script to see whether I was gonna get to do much. I mean, I never was at the point was like, ‘Oh, I hope I’m not in this.’ I always wanted to be in it.

The other thing I confess, it’s just dear to my heart… I’ve gotten to be on the convention circuit for the last 25 years. And so I’ve gotten to know, a goodly number of the folks who are connected to this franchise. And I’m always overwhelmed at how thoughtful and kind and frequently erudite and interesting and well-informed the community of people who worked on all these shows are, and I’m very proud to count many of them as, if not close friends, at least friends that I always welcome seeing.

I think as viewers, we all feel that too.  The actors, the writers, the designers, everybody who works on it, it’s a beautiful, giant community. And I think people really want that in this weird, dark, f—ked-up world that we’re in right now.

I agree. And it’s so arbitrary. It was just an audition for me. I was actually up for Alias. I didn’t get it and that was like, “That’s the end of that pilot season, damn.” And then Star Trek comes up. I go and audition for an alien actor with a slight alien accent and you know, it’s like a job. But when I got it, it’s like, “Oh, I do understand and appreciate the cultural importance of this franchise. And this is going to change my life.”

There are fans who think that the new area of streaming could find a way to bring back Enterprise in some way. Do you see a way that that could happen?

No. Not without radical—I mean, I mean, okay, first solve Trip is dead. Two, the actress who played T’Pol is not coming back to television. She has three children, she’s retired. And Scott [Bakula], I don’t see doing it. Scott’s got another show on now. So just start there. But beyond that, I think you have to have somebody who’s burning to tell the stories and that’s the [Mike] McMahans or whoever. I hear the fans are interested, but you don’t get that to happen without somebody like an Alex Kurtzman saying “I love Enterprise and I want it to continue.” And I don’t see that person emerging.

Like Terry Matalas advocating for The Next Generation.

Exactly. And even then you still have to find a way to pitch the product, somebody’s got to agree to put millions of dollars into making every episode of it. I just don’t think that’s likely. What you talked about earlier, about maybe enough appreciation on some people’s parts for those aspects of the show, that they’d like to bring some of the characters back the way that happened in Picard, that seems more feasible to me.

I’m the only one [from Enterprise] probably still alive. Denobulans are very long-lived, I’m just putting it out there.

Dr. Phlox in the Star Trek: Enterprise series finale

Dr. Phlox in the Enterprise series finale

Where to watch TREKtalks2

TREKtalks2 takes place on Saturday, January 14, 2023. The pre-show begins at 9:45 AM PT and the whole event can be watched on FacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Twitch. You can donate to the Hollywood Food Coalition directly or through the TREKtalks2 page.

Follow John Billingsley on Twitter.

TREKTalks2 on Saturday, January 14, 2023

 


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What a great guy! I feel bad for him that the end-product series did not measure up to the effort and talent he certainly put in.

Given his character would have a very long lifespan, I would have no problem with him showing up in my personal DS9-The Next Generation series concept.

It’s fascinating to hear his reservations about season three.

Not only did I share them, it seemed to me that it was a strategic mistake for a Trek franchise show to go too far down the path of trying to reflect and work through Americans’ post 9/11 rationalizations of torture and other human rights violations.

Even if there was a portion of US Trek fans ready to see that, a good deal of the audience outside the US just turned off at that point. UPN needed the international sales to make the minimum return on investment (as became eventually the CW model for both CBS and WB).

Instead of differentiating the franchise product from every other American drama of that time by no becoming an apologia for appalling actions, season three gave us the one captain of a hero ship whom I can never respect – and then made him the revered first President of the Federation. Yikes!

One thing that he didn’t note was the impact of the writers strike. I always wondered how much that contributed to the unevenness of the first two seasons.

Instead of differentiating the franchise product from every other American drama of that time by no becoming an apologia for appalling actions, season three gave us the one captain of a hero ship whom I can never respect – and then made him the revered first President of the Federation. Yikes!

I could not agree more with this statement!

I’d say in Season 3’s defense that despite the requisite action ending, Archer does actually save the day through diplomacy, talking with the Xindi and convincing them that we aren’t their enemies.

A lot better than how the real-life War on Terror went.

Very nice interview. He’s very thoughtful in his responses.

It’s interesting that he says “The actress who played T’Pol” instead of her name.

I wouldn’t read into that much. He calls her by her nickname earlier on.

I think you’re reading too much into it. He’d called her Jolene before that, and had praised her.

He calls her Jo earlier in the interview.

He refers to her as Jo elsewhere in the interview.

I’m not usually one to ask for comebacks and returns. Frankly, I’d prefer something new to reviving something old (and I say that as someone excited for Picard S3).

That said, I think if you’re going to bring old Trek stars back, then direct-to-streaming movies and/or miniseries make perfect sense. Small, compact, low to mid-budget. And a three episode ENT reprise is something I wouldn’t mind seeing, and it’s not like it would need to be reimagined from the ground up, nor would need to be a $25million production.

I’m still scratching my head over why modern Trek doesn’t truly embrace streaming with more limited content: miniseries, movies, shorts. I thought Short Treks was a great idea, and should have been expanded upon, not canceled!

I think the reason anthology has never taken off is the different settings would require new sets/costumes for each iteration and that’s a lot of money for the runtime. The other short treks were reusing sets/costumes from DIS.

Personally, I would love all kinds of loosely linked-in-the-universe one-off stories. I’m an avid reader of Treklit, and part of that is that it fills in the gaps.

But I can also see why Paramount pulled back on Short Treks and hasn’t even offered limited series or made-for-streaming movies within the franchise.

It’s all about the amortization of the preproduction costs over enough enough product to get an acceptable return on investment.

I sincerely doubt that we would have ever seen an episodic, visit new planets, format for SNW without the new virtual sets provided by AR walls.

A key question for expanding beyond the series format generally is whether, over time, a sufficient base of Trek sets (both physical and virtual) and props have been created and held onto by CBS in Toronto/Mississauga such that they could be repurposed for made-for-streaming movies and anthology episodes (whether short or longish).

That said, Paramount (like Disney) runs its streamers on its own content.

Also, like Netflix, a big expenditure on something that brings in additional subscribers, can be a worthwhile investment.

Right now, Paramount+ has been expanding content to attract new audiences with things like Wolf Pack (from the EP of Teen Wolf), a Kiefer Sutherland suspense/thriller and A-listers in Yellowstone franchise expansions.

If covering off historic gaps and less prominent legacy characters in Trek was seen as an opportunity to build subscriber numbers, it would be more of a priority. However, given that two years ago, Paramount’s data was telling them that Trek fans watched all the Trek shows, whether they liked them or not, this suggests that they won’t get many new subscriptions on the margins unless they really target some very different kinds of Trek series.

The Voyager pilot episode allegedly cost almost $25 million to make in 1995! Factoring in inflation, that would be almost twice as much in today’s USD. Granted, there were a few unusual circumstances back then that inflated the budget.
However, it seems unlikely that several ENT-revival episodes could be produced for less than $25 million, also taking into account that current Trek prides itself in having (near-) feature level production value. The setup cost is just too high.
As Julius said, most of the Short Treks were made relatively cheaply by reusing existing costumes/props/sets. As soon as you move to a different era (like 22nd century with ENT) that wouldn’t be possible anymore.

“Broken Bow” cost I think in the neighborhood of $14 million. I’m too lazy to back that up, so we’re relying on my morning fog of a memory for that.

I have seen similar numbers mentioned. That would still be close to $25 million in today’s money just for the pilot.

Part of Caretaker’s cost might be that they had to abort it and recast the lead when Bujold quit after a few days.

Yes, definitely. From what I read, they also reshot some scenes with Mulgrew when some higher-ups didn’t like the way her hair looked. So Caretaker is probably somewhat of an outlier.
I found one source saying DS9’s pilot cost $12 million, which again would amount to roughly 25 million today.

I found one source saying DS9’s pilot cost $12 million, which again would amount to roughly 25 million today.

Unlike with Voyager, the DS9 pilot looked slick — the sets were great and SFX was top notch for it’s day. It looked like that level of an investment was put to good use.

The Voyager pilot episode allegedly cost almost $25 million to make in 1995!

Given how mediocre everything looked in the pilot, what the hell did they spend all the money on?

There was a recast and Kate Mulgrew’s hairstyle was changed during production, both necessitating reshoots. But beyond that, I think the money spent is evident.

Are you judging it by today’s standards or trying to compare it to what else was on TV 28 years ago? I remain very impressed by the episode’s production values. The Voyager sets are slick, especially the expansive Engineering. There’s lots of location filming, lots of new aliens, a huge amount of VFX. This franchise employed some of the best craftspeople in the business, I would kill to churn out work as “mediocre” as Caretaker on the regular.

It was also rushed into both preproduction and production. Less quality at higher cost is a predictable outcome in a case like that.

Pilots always cost more, because you have to build the set, etc. It goes way down after that.

All of this. I think they should make an anthology series called Star Treks. Basically full episodes like Short Treks where each episode is completely different, maybe with an occasional 2-3 episode arc for the finale.

What a great interview! I always loved Enterprise, even while it was airing and most Star Trek “fans” were complaining about it. I loved that it was different. Of course there were things that were problematic (like, why after five shows at that point with amazing racial and ethnic diversity in the casts, was the crew of the NX-01 almost entirely white dudes?) I go back and forth these days between feeling cheated that Enterprise didn’t get its seven seasons, to just grateful that it got four. That fourth season was amazing! Additional seasons in that vein wouldn’t been fantastic. I love my Enterprise Blu-rays. I’m showing the show to my partner right now, he’s never seen it. He’s digging it! LLAP!

P.S. That “wouldn’t” above is supposed to be “would’ve.” My bad!

Great interview. Thanks for doing this at TrekMovie.

I won’t ever give up hope on seeing a mini-series to wrap up the 22nd Century, covering the two big landmarks – Romulan war and Birth of the Federation. Anything that would open the door for Enterprise cast members to appear. But yeah, I’ve seen fan champions… just not any with influential writer/producer credits sadly. What’s it been now? Twenty-years? Much longer waiting for them to emerge and we’ll likely have lost the few remaining possible returnees to retirement or ill-heath too.

I take issue with Scott Bakula not being a possibility. Given he’s not part of the Quantum Leap reboot and has recently walked away from the NCIS series. If they got him for a Star Trek: Archer show, surely the rest would all fall into place?

Oh my God I would love a Star Trek: Archer show! It could bring anyone back that wanted to come back. (Yeah, I know Trip is dead. But so was Spock…and so was Dr. Culber…) Maybe the Enterprise finale could be written off as a glitch in Riker and Troi’s holodeck program. Seriously – I know why the storytellers wrote and filmed “These Are The Voyages…” but it was a terribly unkind disservice to the Enterprise characters. They never got a proper sendoff.

I’m always surprised that anyone ever wants to see Bakula as Archer again.

I don’t buy that it was just the writing or direction, but there were episodes where I wasn’t constantly wishing him off the screen.

Only if they recast him

The “Trip is dead” objection is easily overcome in several ways:

1. The final episode was a work of historical fiction on the 24th century holodeck. Even the most faithful work of historical fiction (such as “Thirteen Days”) takes some dramatic liberties, and Trip’s fate could easily have been one of them. (Bolstering this theory, the uniforms in the holodeck were slightly different from those in real life, too.)

2. As a variation on the above, in real life, he might have suffered the injuries we saw, but Phlox might have revived him. Either the holodeck program omitted that detail, or Riker didn’t watch that part.

3. The ENT relaunch books said that Trip faked his death to go undercover among the Romulans.

I’m not aware of Enterprise relaunch books. Are they novels or comic books?

The Enterprise books are novels. They started coming out when the show was still on TV and covered a couple episodes but also new adventures. Then, when the show was canceled, there were novels that covered the Romulan War and the Rise of the Federation. The last book came out in 2016, I think. I don’t know if they planned to write more novels but they stopped in a weird place if they weren’t. There are twenty Enterprise novels.

Anytime he’s been asked, he’s been pretty clear about not wanting to return.

Patrick Stewart was also clear about not wanting to return for a long time.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything definite said about never playing Archer again. Perhaps now’s the opportunity to simply ask?
Not appearing in the new Quantum Leap, yes for sure. He’s keeping his distance out of respect for Dean and that show needing to forge its own path.
Star Trek’s kind of different, with all of the Enterprise cast alive & all but one character’s fate left open – even that with Trip, potentially alterable. There’s just reluctance due to being given the cold shoulder by the franchise, or strangely being asked to audition again in John’s case apparently.

Scott Bakula was probably asked when he was busy with NCIS New Orleans and he wasn’t able to then. He stated in an interview for the TrekTalks 2 telethon he would be open to returning, probably because he isn’t doing anything else right now.

Scott Bakula did not walk away from NCIS New Orleans. It was canceled. Other people have said he is working on a show but all I have heard about was Unbroken, which wasn’t picked up by NBC, and Universal was going to shop it around but have heard nothing on it since July. He did a movie, Divinity, that will show online at the Sundance Film Festival the last week of January. Other than that, nothing has been announced since Scott stated on Instagram in September that he passed on the new Quantum Leap pilot, which filmed in January.

Caught an old episode of Criminal Minds on Disney+ tonight and he was one of the UnSubs. He was excellent!

and he appears in a great ep of ‘lucifer’, season 3

I didn’t really see anything wrong with Hoshi being scared in the first season episode. She was a linguist/ teacher and she walked onto a ship with people hanging on meat hooks being drained of their bodily fluids to feed other people. I would need a change of pants as well. Lol.

Uhura on SNW feels like they basically used Hoshi as a template for that character. And I agree about Hoshi, it was nice to see someone who was really green when it came to space travel and just felt uncomfortable with the entire experience. We never saw a character like that in any of the previous shows. Bones didn’t trust the transporter at times but that was about it. And on Enterprise no one trusted the transporter lol.

Yeah. Every character doesn’t have to be “Rambo”. Of all the characters Hoshi was the only one that fit the story. All the rest had military or space experience.

Solid, candid interview. Spot on analysis of UPN. They were cancelled because UPN was a mess but also got 4 seasons they might not have, even on cable, also because it was a mess. It’s also sad to know the “directing school” was closed for this cast.

A few little details getting exaggerated, I think:

Ratings dropped steadily over the course of season 1, though they started at 12 million from Broken Bow and went to 9 million for Fight or Flight. They settled in the 5 million range by the end of the season.

Not sure what San Antonio’s actual deal was when it came to that convention, but in 2002 Enterprise was airing on Wednesdays. If UPN had an affiliate there, Friday night football games wouldn’t have interfered with the show until season 4.

It’s a bit of a grey area as to how much to credit Manny Coto for the Xindi arc. Of course he was being groomed for showrunner in season 3 and clearly contributed a lot to the arc, but Braga was still showrunner and he and Berman are credited with writing or co-writing 5 episodes (including The Xindi and Zero Hour, same as Coto. Probably similar to Voyager season 4 – Braga was seriously pulling his weight in anticipation of running the show soon and he contributed heavily to Seven of Nine’s development, but Jeri Taylor was still in charge.

…and now I wait for a post to get through moderation because I think the word “gro*med” in its harmless original context is getting flagged. I am almost starting to empathize with the TikTok teens who have started saying “unalived” everywhere to avoid censors.

This was a great interview. I’ve heard him say a lot of this stuff over the years but I love his candor.

But I’m sorry, I’m not giving up on my fifth season of Enterprise just yet! I’m still hoping something happens. I would take that over Discovery and Picard any day….well the jury is still out over Picard season 3. ;D

And yeah UPN really sucked as a network. It’s still crazy you couldn’t even get the network in parts of America back then. I wished the show could’ve been in syndication, it probably would’ve did more seasons easily.

To its credit, UPN did try a number of times to find genre sci-fi fare to build off of Voyager. Some, like Legend and Nowhere Man, got decent reviews but lowly ratings. 7 Days and The Sentinel were not great but they lasted longer than most and complemented Voyager’s later pivot to more action-oriented stories. But overall, Voyager was something of an outlier – their most popular show for 4 years, but not enough of its audience carried over into what the network tried to offer them.

But on the other hand, UPN had a habit of throwing anything against the wall to see what stuck. Urban comedies, WWE, blue collar sitcoms, Dilbert, Top Model, Buffy, Veronica Mars… and Star Trek. They desperately needed to find traction and went anywhere to get it, but it turned the lineup into a hodgepodge with no cohesion from night to night, and by season 3 of Enterprise they’d given up on male-oriented sci-fi to pair with it. And it didn’t help that they famously made some awful programming decisions ranging from Homeboys in Outer Space (you just know someone pitched it as a way to bridge Moesha and Voyager) to passing on Malcolm in the Middle.

As for syndication, that’s one place where I think people have rose-tinted glasses about its merits in the 2000s. The number of timeslots in the market had dwindled and there was very little first run drama in syndication post-DS9. That’s in part due to the existence of UPN and the WB who took over once-independent stations too. But I just don’t think Enterprise would have found many good timeslots and enough traction to survive longer than the 4 years it got. Ditto basic cable – Sci-Fi Channel didn’t have a huge budget and Farscape and BSG were the last gasps of similar programming it ever commissioned.

Premium cable is the only place I thought Enterprise could have lasted – Showtime being a Viacom property and behind a paywall where 3 million viewers would have been a hit? I would love to know how seriously that was considered.

To this day I feel so bad I judged this show so quickly. Did not like it being a prequel. I wanted to keep going forward. And d I didn’t Phlox much but I didn’t like anyone much except Trip.

When I finally gave it a chance I ended up loving it. Still not my favorite but a solid show. I wasn’t happy with Discovery being a prequel but I thought OK maybe I will be won over like Enterprise…..nope!! 🙄

It has been and still is the best star trek show. Why we already knew why klingons, why ferengis and vulcans are special we didn’t know why had it been the humans to succesfully bring all those species together. The show answers this question, f.e. how we integrated the Andorians into the partnership with the vulcans.
The show was calm, warm, friendly, confident, happy, optimistic and at all times non violent. THAT is star trek.
I loved how T’pol was played, I loved Phlox and I loved, really loved the intro with the song.
Its a shame that we get no new show (or some new episodes from the old one) with that spirit. Strange New World is near it, but hasn’t hit it right now.

I consider Enterprise to be MY Trek series as it was the first one I watched from beginning to end while it aired. It breaks my heart how the show and its cast are still essentially the ugly ducklings of the franchise.

Trip’s ‘death and resurrection’ could easily be explained in Lower Decks as being some kind of holoprogram malfunction since we were seeing the episode from Riker’s point of view on the Ent-D and it’s more or less the perfect show to fix it. I would consider asking Connor if he wants Trip to be resurrected though as he’s said numerous times that he’s happy that his character had some finality in his arc.

With regards to Jolene. I love T’Pol. I had a project in college devoted to her character. I’d like to believe that if you offer someone enough money that they might come back but I don’t think this would be the case with her which is a shame.

My final thought here is that you can’t really have any kind of revival of Enterprise without Scott Bakula and what John said makes me wonder if Scott even wants to be part of the franchise anymore. I remember that he was quite upset with the final episode of the show so I can understand why he wouldn’t want to be. With that being said, I’d love to see a series with Archer as president of the Federation and do some kind of political show with ship stuff on the side (Captain Sato, or Captain Mayweather?) Something like this wouldn’t necessarily need T’Pol although it would be lovely for her to be a part of it. Family comes first though and I understand where she’s coming from with that.

All in all.. there were quite a number of things in this interview that made me quite sad, both as a person and an Enterprise fan. It’s my favourite Trek out of all of them and will forever be in my heart.

I really liked the novel that brought Trip back. It was pretty cool.

I can imagine that maybe if it was something very low commitment like a TV movie they might have more chance – either to persuade the actor or else to write a story that can be done without her without her absence going on for too long. Another possibility would be if it was something like T’Pol appearing in Strange New Worlds that they could do a re-cast – given she’d be a century older that might be possible to get away with.

But I don’t see anything like a proper revival of the series.

If it was guaranteed to be a one-off guest role, and the money was right, perhaps Jolene would consider popping up on SNW as an aged T’Pol. I realize it will likely never happen, but if the story is right, and the money is right, and she doesn’t have the wear the sexist catsuit … stranger things have happened.

At the TrekTalk2 telethon Scott Bakula said he would be open to returning, or, at least discussing it. I don’t think he is doing very much right now.

Another reason why a high level animated series is the perfect solution.
It would lower the hurdles for Jolene to give a comeback for playing T’Pol!

About Trips death. Its a Holo-Novel …. a bad written one.
So just forget it.

The major thing I would do is either very quickly overwrite it or move on. I’m rather tired of the convoluted efforts to include Spiner after killing off Data (that’s not because I have anything against Spiner or Data). They clearly wouldn’t have made that move if they knew the story was going to carry on, but having made it I wish they’d just leave it be and move on to other stories. Or perhaps give Isa Briones a continuing role if they wanted an android crew member. But not what they have done, which has been a mess.

When I have spoken to John at the conventions or on the cruise, he has always been outgoing and very funny. Its a pleasure to sit with him and talk about ENT. The great thing is that he actually listens to fans and gives a great response to questions or insights on the show. He is some one you can be friends with, joke with, have a drink with (we did on the cruise) have a serious or not serious conversation. He proves it here in these interviews. I enjoy his panels when on stage or on the ship and he always brings the comedy to a high level. JB, keep up the good work(s) and we love you for it.

Trip lives!
We all know that wink was meant for season 5…..

A good interview. And here I thought of the Denobulan marriage thing as being for reproduction, but I was probably confused with Andorians, come to think.

“Candidly, as a leftist, I was uncomfortable by aspects of season 3.”

Well, in the words of Col. Nathan Jessup, you have that luxury. :-)

Isn’t it kind of interesting that some of the most interesting characters on the shows are the Doctors? Would have been interesting to see McCoy, The Doctor, and Phlox in a scene riffing together.

You get a little taste of what it might have been like by watching Halston Sage’s final episode in season 2 of the Orville, where Billingsley and Picardo both play alien physicians!

I could never gel with Enterprise. Even as a teenager, I could see the problems a mile away. The objectification of women that went far beyond anything seen previously, the fact that the two actors of colour in the primary cast were quickly reduced to glorified extras, the constant rehashing of TNG plots, Scott Bakula’s wooden delivery, aimless writing indicative of a show without direction or purpose. The list with that show is endless. It’s the show I go back to the least.

“I could never gel with Enterprise.”

I see what you did there. :-)

If Enterprise ever came back it should be a reimagined/reboot with new actors. The premise was not a bad idea but the execution never really worked. That being said Phlox and Shran were the best characters

Just bring it back as a CG cartoon, like Clone Wars, and set it in Season 5. Boom done

Phlox was one of my favorite characters on ENT, so I’d love to see him turn up on SNW. Since Denobulans are long-lived, perhaps the Enterprise crew runs into him while visiting Denobula. Does anyone know the lifespan of Andorians? Having Shran pop up would just be a treat.