This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, our subject is Doctor Phlox from Enterprise.
Phlox serves as the Chief Medical Officer aboard the Enterprise NX-01. He is a Denobulan with over 50 years of practice before joining the crew of Enterprise as part of the Interspecies Medical Exchange program.
Phlox is differentiated from other Chief Medical Officers in that he fills his sickbay with many different types of alient plants, spores, and living pets and creatures in addition to medical instruments. Phlox used these animals in many different types of unique treatments for the crewmembers of Enterprise.
Phlox served at Starfleet Medical on Earth for two years before joining Enterprise, and he finds a love of Chinese food while serving on Earth. He considers egg drop soup to be one of humanity's greatest contributions to society at large.
Phlox holds over a dozen scientific degrees, ranging from veterinary medicine to dentistry and psychiatry. His expertise in psychiatry comes in handy when the Enterprise assigns him to be ship's counselor as well as Chief Medical Officer. In this role, Phlox forms close bonds with many of the other senior officers.
Phlox had three wives, who each have 3 husbands of their own. This family grouping results in a total of 720 total relationship pairings, and 42 of which have romantic implications. As a result, Phlox is part of a big family including 31 children, although only five of these children are his own. He maintains good relations with his two daughters, a surgeon and a biochemist, but his relationship is strained with two of his sons.
Similar to some of the animals he uses in treatment, Phlox goes through an annual hibernation period for up to six days. When threatened, Phlox has the ability to blow up his face like a blowfish to scare off attackers.
The best episodes featuring Phlox include: Dear Doctor, from season 1; A Night in Sickbay, from season 2; Regeneration, from season 2; and Doctor's Orders, from season 3.
Our notable quote this week comes from the episode Dead Stop in season 2:
Lieutenant Malcolm Reed: It can't be ethical to cause a patient this much pain.
Dr. Phlox: It's unethical to harm a patient; I can inflict as much pain as I like.
Actor: John Billingsley is the actor who played Doctor Phlox. Billingsley's most notable role since Enterprise has been a four-year stint on the show True Blood.
Until next time, live long and prosper...