John Billingsley recently answered fan questions regarding his time on Star Trek: Enterprise, including what he considered to be the best and worst episodes of the series, his attempt to provide story material for Phlox and more.
Playing the cheerful and amiable Dr. Phlox was a nice change from the actor’s usual roles and reflected more of Billingsley himself. “Because I’d played so many psychopaths and sociopaths and serial killers and tormented souls and drug addicts and lunatics,” said Billingsley, “Dr. Phlox is perhaps my favorite part if only because it was a chance to be giddy and delightful for four years. I rarely have the opportunity to be that kind of guy.”
Billingsley had a favorite and a least favorite episode of Enterprise. His favorite episode was one that featured Trip, Similitude. “I thought that was the best episode for a lot of reasons,” he said. “Everyone in the cast was involved and everyone had an emotional through-line. Some episodes, of any show, actors are used to convey information or they’re shunted aside. That episode, I thought it was the best of our ensemble pieces and it did what Star Trek does best, which is to deal with a topical question that has some sociological significance in a way that brings humanist values into play. And I got to handle a baby.”
The worst episode, in his opinion, was Precious Cargo. “[Padma Lakshmi as an alien princess] and Trip were on the run from whoever was pursuing her,” Billingsley explained. “I don’t remember all the details. I thought that was an unfortunate episode all around. It just didn’t work. Again, no fault of the actors. It just didn’t come together. And it was at a touchy point in our second season. We were holding on to not-great, but adequate audience numbers and after that episode our numbers just plummeted and we never got the audience back again.”
Unlike Bob Picardo (EMH) on Star Trek: Voyager, Billingsley didn’t really get the chance to have his story ideas incorporated into Enterprise, but had he been able to do that, he had definite ideas on what he would have liked to have seen for his character. “Bob Picardo, I think, did a wonderful job on Voyager of asking them for stories and suggesting plot ideas,” said Billingsley. “I did a little of that in the first couple of years, but didn’t make any headway, so I let that go. But for me it would’ve had to do with the Denobulan culture. I would have been interested in finding out more about Phlox’s species and his people and what their belief systems were. Any time I got a little information about Denobula, that was wonderful. It helped me flesh the guy out. Any story that moved in that world would have been great.”