As any self-respecting mythology professor knows, the phoenix is a mythical bird of extreme longevity whose life ends tragically (and rather warmly) when it burns itself alive in its nest. But that's not the end of the crispy critter for, out of the resulting ashes, it rises to live again. Thus the phoenix has become a universal symbol of rebirth and renewal - which made it the perfect title for this Ducky-centric episode. The heart attack was Act I. Act II was Ducky struggling to get his footing. And this episode is Act III…Ducky gets his mojo back (which is actually what was written on the top of my otherwise dry erase board for a VERY long time).
In "Phoenix", Ducky gets a chance to play front and center in an investigation. As a result, writing this episode was like shooting fish in a barrel. I just knew an injection of Doctor Mallard in which he doesn't normally operate would be fun for all. And by "I knew" I mean our esteemed leader, Gary Glasberg, knew. This cool concept was his brainchild. However, Mona Lisa gets credit for the Moon rocks.
I had read years ago that the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911. But not because someone wanted the painting itself. It was stolen so the bad guys could sell knock-offs to millionaires and pass them off as the real thing. I thought that was clever. I also thought Moon rocks were cool. You have now seen the result of all that thinking. What you have NOT seen was me drooling like a fanboy at the opportunity to work with René Auberjonois, who played Doctor Felix Blackwell in this episode, as well as one of my favorite characters of all time on Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Don't worry…I played it cool (though Michael Weatherly finally outed me on the set on the last day). But I was a fanboy for a reason. René is totally, completely awesome. He brought my character to life in ways I didn't anticipate – which is always a welcome treat. My only regret for this episode is that I didn't have his character in more scenes. Had I known we were going to get René….
Ditto for Michael Des Barres, who played the one-hit wonder, Del Finny. He brought considerable depth to the character, which is all the more impressive considering how little time he see him on-screen. Of course, the usual kudos to the rest of our cast and crew…who are going strong as ever after ten years. The run and ratings themselves are almost unheard of in television history. The fact that nobody has tried to kill anybody by this point IS unheard of. I think that says almost more than anything about why this show continues to succeed. Because the people making it are solid, hard-working incredibly decent people - and it shows up on-screen. So thanks for tuning in... again. It's going to be a great year.. again.
Steven D. Binder, Co-Executive Producer