And away we go!
2:05 - A Night in Sickbay
TV Blurb: Porthos pisses, aliens get pissed, Archer gets pissy. Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga. Directed by David Straiton.
Warning: The following paragraphs contain personal observations on this subject. Some of these statements may cause shock or consternation on the part of the reader. If viewing statements of opposing viewpoints sends you into spasms of irrationality, it is recommended that you close this page now.
To my surprise (and perhaps others), this episode was nominated for a Hugo Award as Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).
I do see how some fans could really dislike this episode. The biggest problem I have with it is the dramatic life-and-death plot involving Porthos doesn't work when combined with the comedic sexual tension subplot, and Sickbay features in both plotlines. Individually, they might have worked as separate episodes with different B stories. The Kreetassan tree misunderstanding also works better with the sexual tension plot's tone.
Plot A: Porthos must suffer. For a story about Porthos, it's amazing how little the dog actors actually get to do. There's even a dummy Stunt Porthos for some scenes. In the past, there were episodes not starring Porthos, and he'd gotten way more on-screen action than he does here.
Plot B: Archer hits puberty. Okay, let's make one thing clear-- this plotline is intended as comedy. And we all know Star Trek's success rate in the comedy department. A lot of the gags fall short, but others are gems. The dream sequence funeral, with Phlox's eulogy echoing his earlier lines, is hilarious, thanks to John Billingsley's delivery.
Scott Bakula works his ass off in this episode. He has to go from a frantic pet owner into a lovesick teenager sometimes right in the middle of a scene. And he's in nearly every scene. He handles the dramatic and comedic highlights equally well in my opinion. It's not his fault that he has to say a lot of dumb stuff that's out of character for what we know of Archer.
Amazing scene: During the bat hunt, around 23:25 begins an uninterrupted take lasting almost 90 seconds of Phlox and Archer talking, stalking and climbing around Sickbay with nets, handheld camera work, and a VFX bat, finally cutting away when Hoshi enters. I'll gladly give director Straiton credit for that, it was well done.