Podcast, Supplemental: John Billingsley Talks Phlox (And More) On All Access Star Trek

All Access Star Trek podcast supplemental with John Billingsley - TrekMovie

Anthony’s busy with the Picard premiere, so in lieu of a regular episode of the podcast, here’s Laurie’s interview with John Billingsley, Enterprise‘s Dr. Phlox. The interview was done to help promote TREKtalks2, a yearly fundraiser for the Hollywood Food Coalition that brings Star Trek celebs from both in front of and behind the camera together for a marathon of panels and discussions.

In addition to discussing the event, Laurie and John talked extensively about Star Trek: Enterprise, covering the character of Phlox, whether the show was sexist or just sexy (or both), the chance of Phlox appearing on current Star Trek shows, the perils of being on UPN during a tumultuous time in TV, and the season John wasn’t a big fan of, along with the joys of becoming part of the eternal world of Star Trek.

Just a heads up: There’s swearing in here, and we have left it as is, neither bleeping nor deleting.


Watch TREKtalks2 and donate to the Hollywood Food Coalition at TrekGeeks

The Hollywood Food Coalition

Scott Bakula Explains How ‘Enterprise’ Could Have Run 7 Seasons; Says He’s Open To Returning To Star Trek

David Livingston’s ‘Still Lives’ project on Instagram

‘Supernatural’ Actress Kim Rhodes Was Rejected As T’Pol On ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ For “Wrong Body Type”

John Billingsley and Robert Picardo on The Orville

Let us know what you think of the episode in the comments, and please give us a review on Apple.

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John Billingsley’s work with the Hollywood Food Coalition and the way that he talks about it is the best application of the Star Trek ethos to solving real world problems that I’ve heard. Thanks for sharing it with us.

That’s how I feel too. He speaks of it with such passion and he is right about the importance of connecting the dots. I am inspired by him!

Poor Billingsley — to have this drop right as the Picard premier happens — many fans are not going to notice this.

Great guy!!!

We put up a written version of it (heavily trimmed) a couple of weeks ago when the event was about to happen! So it got out there. This is just the raw audio.

Cool — thanks! And GREAT JOB on this!

Thank you!

Many thanks for this Laurie. A brilliant interview and IMO the best and most in depth look at Enterprise, that Trek movie has ever done! Billingsley came across as a very intelligent, knowledgeable guy and I could have listened to him for hours. You also did a great job giving him room to speak.

For the record I’ve always been a fan of Enterprise and I appreciated your comment as to how good the show looks. I re-watched the entire series during lockdown and I was also struck by the HD visuals, which still look beautiful today. I often wonder what might have been had they gotten that 5th season compete with NX-01 getting a secondary hull as nicely canonised in Picard S2, when the young Jean-Luc was playing with a model in his fathers study.

Can’t wait for you and Tony’s Picard S3 review next week.

Thank you so much, Scott! I think John Billingsley would laugh about “giving him room to speak” since he made fun of the way he gave me SO many answers about each question. Ha! But thank you. I loved talking to him and could’ve kept going indefinitely myself. He was delightful. I have never been a huge Enterprise person so I was really struck by how beautiful it all looks when I was brushing up on Phlox episodes.

Thanks again Laurie. I personally think Enterprise is terribly underrated but I get the criticisms levelled at it by the fans.

I really appreciate Laurie sharing the raw audio. Billingsley seems such and interesting and authentic person.

I’m afraid I would be an equally long answering interviewee if asked for a retrospective.

Here’s what leapt out at me.

9/11 had such a profound impact on the show just as it was about ‘grow its beard.’ I don’t think we can talk about the show’s success or not without taking that on directly.

It’s helpful that cast members like Billingsley are honest about that and discuss what that meant to them. It helps me see their perspective as artists trying to make sense of the trauma their society had experienced and the human rights violations undertaken in response to it.

It’s unfortunate though that they don’t see how off-putting that was for fans outside the United States or American fans looking for Trek to provide an aspirational, moral centre in the face of public focus on ‘‘extraordinary rendition’ and ‘enhanced interrogation.”

Billingsley clearly has an activist moral centre, but it seems he still doesn’t have the distance to see how the broader audience would have viewed that.

Enterprise could have made TOS’ choice to present moral allegories where the hero captain promotes human rights during a time of social conflict. Instead the EPs tried to make sense of their ‘exceptional’ aspirational country society making patently immoral choices. It’s as if Kirk were shown supporting discrimination during the civil rights movement.

As context, my spouse and I effectively stopped watching new American dramas for about a half decade. My spouse has an absolute red line on any entertainment that attempts to justify or condone torture. They hold fast to the belief that torture isn’t an effective way to gain actionable intelligence, and will not give views or dollars to any entertainment that implicitly accepts otherwise. (Whether to allow our now teen kids to watch Enterprise has been a debate as parents.)

We’d hoped Enterprise would be an exception. We were disappointed.

Instead of Enterprise providing a counterpoint, it was just another American drama struggling to make sense of heroic leaders making immoral choices under duress.

For those of us who already largely disliked Archer as a captain (whether the performance, direction or his performance) there was no way he could bring us along into his moral dilemmas the way Sisko did in DS9. Perhaps with a different actor and different writing in a show where we were already deeply invested, those of us outside US society might have been brought along. Instead, it was a reason to turn off the television.

All to say that, when one talks about Enterprise being underrated, one has to take into account how divisive were the creative decisions to explore the moral questions raised by the US response to 9/11 and put a hero captain on the wrong side of them.

It’s also fair to say that, with the 2010s popularity of grimdark 40K stories, it’s fairly easy to see why Trek struggled as a franchise and why it’s just seems to be hitting its aspirational stride again now.

I’m going to disagree with you on this and say that John Billingsley DID understand that and was quite troubled by it. He felt it was off-putting to everyone and didn’t fit in with Star Trek principles. I think that’s exactly what he was saying about it, but also trying to respect Manny Coto as a writer and producer.

Ok, I can appreciate that interpretation.

That said, I find it hard to square politeness to Coto while retaining a certain underlying chippyness that the show wasn’t given the respect it was due by audiences.

Again, I didn’t get that at all. He didn’t really say anything about respect, but pointed out that the ratings dropped, which is true. I don’t mean to sound so defensive, but I don’t believe that is how he feels or what he expressed.

I just wanted to thank you again for the high sound quality on every one of your podcasts, even the raw audio like this one. It makes it a pleasurable Saturday listen.

It seems very basic for a podcast, but I find so many have gratingly poor sound. It makes listening more work than I’m up for.

Thank you so much! The sound on this one bothers me as it was done over Zoom without the specific intention of using it for a podcast; we have better tools we use for the podcast itself.I’m glad it didn’t get in the way of you enjoying the interview!

I listened to the whole thing as well. This was great and I always love listening to John Billingsley. He always shoots straight! Thanks for the interview.

Thanks! I can say with complete certainty that he is the only person I’ve ever interviewed who talked about taking it up the ass from a stevedore. Very tempting to make that a pull quote, but we don’t do pull quotes. Ha!