A Star Trek: Enterprise crew member feels the show was held back by the network, though he uses more colorful language. John Billingsley played Dr. Phlox, the Denobulan ship's doctor aboard the Enterprise NX-01. He appeared with Enterprise co-stars Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating on a GalaxCon Live virtual panel. Billingsley got candid about the series, which some fans feel didn't live up to its potential. "We came on after so many years of Star Trek, and in a number of those years, double-dipping. Deep Space Nine overlapped with Voyager, for instance. I think by the time we aired, there was fatigue, understandable fatigue. The show did really at least need a year off. I always felt badly for Rick and Brannon that they weren't given that time.
"The bible for the show just needed a little more work. I think the notions were strong, and I think with the character development, they had some clarity. But in terms of an arc for the first season, I think the Suliban wasn't quite as thought through as it needed to be. I think there was a little bit more work needed on what the tonal balance was between the darkness of 'we are the first f***ing ship, and we don't know what the f*** we are doing' and the nature of what Star Trek is supposed to be, the optimistic spirit. It is a hard tone to strike for what they were trying to do."
As a specific example, Billingsley offered a scene where the crew first learns to use the ship's transporter in "Strange New Worlds." During Enterprise's era, transporter technology was still new and had some kinks to work out.
"And the studio itself also needed to kind of grapple with what they wanted to achieve," Billingsley says. "I remember there was an early episode where a crew member is transported, and they come back. And in the first draft, it was pretty cool because this guy comes back and his head is where his ass is supposed to be and what the f*** and we are afraid of the transporter. By the time it emerges, and we are shooting it, the guy comes back from the transporter accident, and he has got a little twig sticking out of his forehead. And that to me early on crystalized where I think the timidity of the network f***ed us. To me, there was another level of scariness that the show wanted to move towards, and I felt that the powers that be said, "But, but, but."
Understandably, Billingsley feels the show may have been hamstrung early on between the rush to air, the network notes, and being preempted for sporting events. The series didn't enjoy the longer runs of its three predecessors, but fans have come to appreciate Enterprise and its characters.