John Billingsley's Dream Star Trek Episode Sounds Absolutely Wild

The best character on "Star Trek: Enterprise" was easily Dr. Phlox, played by John Billingsley. Phlox, the first Denobulan to have appeared on "Star Trek," was genial, approachable, peculiar, and intelligent beyond measure. He seemed excited to be serving on a ship full of humans, a species he found to be unusually optimistic and amusingly prudish (Denobulans marry into large, complicated polycules, for instance, shocking the more traditionally heteronormative Trip Tucker who refuses to sleep with one of Phlox's wives). Phlox also kept a sizable menagerie of unusual animals on the ship, each one capable of producing an oblique medical secretion. Additionally, Phlox possessed multiple medical degrees, capable of serving as the ship's therapist as well as primary physician.

Denobulans are, in Billingsley's words, "f***ing merry and just exuberant"; in an interview with TrekToday, Billingsley talked about how much he enjoyed playing Phlox — a character he described as buoyant and balanced — compared to the number of "creeps and crumb-bums" he's played in his career. Phlox's merriness provided a welcome contrast to the cast of straight-laced astronauts and stuffy Vulcans more commonly seen on "Enterprise." In the interview, he talks about how often the writers of "Enterprise" really seemed to understand the character in a way that felt consistent to him — "A Night in Sickbay" remains a standout — as well as the times Phlox was perhaps mishandled; why, Billingsley wonders, did Phlox and T'Pol not simply fornicate when she was going through premature pon farr in the episode "Bounty?"

Billingsley wasn't the kind of actor to pitch ideas to the production staff of "Enterprise," content to play the part as it was given him, but he did have one idea that he wishes he had pitched: A story of dozens of Denobulans who are taken onto the ship and have, essentially, a weeks-long orgy.

Sex all over the ship

Billingsley describes his dream "Star Trek: Enterprise" episode in his interview with TrekToday. Billingsley's idea — and a rather amusing one at that — seems to have been a way to challenge the uptight formality commonly associated with "Star Trek," and was based on the idea that Denobulans are, to his eye, wild, sex-crazed hedonists. 

I never really pitched ideas, but one of the ones I kinda wanted to pitch was this: we pick up a Denobulan ship in distress and take in the crew; hundreds of 'em, like Tribbles. They eat all the food. They're messy as s***. They sing and skip and dance... They're hyper-curious and ask tons of questions and they're pleasure-seeking (i.e. you can hear them having sex all over the ship, at all hours, sometimes in public locations). They are inadvertently insulting in their hyper-amused contempt for human modesty and human dopiness, and they basically make the entire crew so incredibly embarrassed, and irritated, that Archer can't wait to shift 'em off onto the nearest inhabitable planet (only there ain't one nearby). [It's] like "The Man Who Came To Dinner," for those of you who know that old chestnut of a play, only Monty Woolley's character is every single Denobulan that comes aboard.

The characters on "Enterprise" were, for the most part, wide-eyed adventuresome archetypes. Capt. Archer could be read as the hero of a boy's adventure novel, T'Pol is a stern schoolmarm, and the rest all possessed an element of naïveté — fitting, as they were aboard the first Starfleet vessel to explore space. As such, the awkwardness of a spontaneous orgy erupting on the Enterprise would have been a fantastic counterpoint to the characters' color-within-the-lines approach to command.

Roddenberry's free love

Wild sex-crazed hedonism is a "Trek" tradition, going back to Gene Roddenberry's own lusty views of free love (if you need a clear view on Roddenberry's views on open sexuality, watch the 1971 feature film he wrote, "Pretty Maids All in a Row" — or any of the "Star Trek" episodes that center on an alien society comprising scantily-dressed, low-tech "children of the universe"). One of Roddenberry's more pervasive utopian ideas was that free love would eventually rule and that multi-person relationships should be the norm. He himself wanted to be part of a polycule that included Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols (this is no idle gossip; this comes from Nichols' own autobiography), and would eventually have an open relationship with Barrett and his longtime girlfriend Susan Sackett (described in her book, "Inside Trek: My Secret Life with Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry").

So Billingsley's ideas of Denobulan hedonism fits the Roddenberrian spirit of "Trek," and his idea of a ship full of sexually-charged Denobulans wouldn't have been out-of-place in the original series (at least thematically). One can easily picture McCoy walking in on nude aliens in the sickbay and politely averting his eyes while trying to get them to dress once again, or Kirk and Spock having to tell a Denobulan captain — using very, very guarded language — that sex in the ship's corridors isn't appropriate on a Starfleet vessel. 

Hilarity would have, no doubt, ensued.