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08.09.02 It's a Dog's Life

An episode that revolves around saving the life of Captain Archer's best buddy, Porthos, completed a six-and-a-half-day production schedule yesterday that took place mostly on standing ship sets, especially Sickbay ... which may explain the segment's title, "A Night in Sickbay."

According to executive producer Rick Berman at a recent press junket (related story), the dog gets sick and has to stay overnight with Dr. Phlox. The worried father, Archer, takes up residence in Sickbay during that time, and it turns into a humorous "Odd Couple" scenario between the captain and the doctor.

The beagles who portray Porthos had an unusual number of call days this week, and certainly put their acting skills to the test. The dogs are trained by Performing Animal Troop, a company that provides screen animals for film and TV. Besides "playing sick" in Sickbay, one of the dogs also had to allow Scott Bakula to rub gel all over him in the Decon Chamber (for the first scene, when Phlox discovers Porthos picked up a pathogen on an alien planet).

While the schedule was shorter and less strenuous than that of the previous segment, "Minefield" (see related report), certain scenes were filmed for this episode that will involve optical effects in post-production. Remember the unnaturally wide grin Phlox displayed in "Broken Bow"? One of the new effects will be along those lines. Plus, John Billingsley donned special prosthetics that will reveal more than we really wanted to know about Denobulan feet.

On Thursday, perennial guest star Vaughn Armstrong was back on the lot for one day, reporting to work at 5:30 a.m. for a 3½-hour makeup session to once again become Kreetassan, the purplish, easily offendable race introduced in "Vox Sola."

"A Night in Sickbay" is directed by David Straiton, who also helmed last season's "Desert Crossing." Straiton has worked on such TV shows as Charmed, Angel, Special Unit 2 and Freaky Links (on the latter series, he directed an episode titled "Edith Keeler Must Die!").

On Tuesday, Paramount employees were surprised to see our intrepid spacemen walking around the lot dressed not in their NX-01 jumpsuits, but in contemporary but quite sharp-looking dark suits. What could that be all about? Find out in October when the episode airs!

Please note: All production information is subject to change.

Discuss the new season at the Enterprise message board!