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Because of the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike they had to shoot
this episode in 3 days. It's pretty much crap, consisting of repeat cut
+ pasted clips from Season 2 and was described by its writer, Maurice
Hurley as "terrible, just terrible."
Why the producers couldn't just wait to shoot something decent who knows. I'm guessing because of the strike the production ran out of money and could only release a flashback episode or maybe Roddenberry was too sick at the time to be able to veto this half-assery. This episode also marks the final appearance of Diana Muldaur (Dr. Katherine Pulaski) on the series.
As a long-time fan of all the Star Trek series,I found this a disappointing episode, and I wonder if the liberal use of "flashbacks" featuring Will Riker's exploits, both positive (and largely romantic) and negative (lots of pain, and a crewmate's death)was a money-saving device, as were many of their "bottle shows" (episodes in which all scenes take place on the Enterprise). Diana Muldaur(who also appeared at least twice on the original series) deserved a better final appearance than this for her character, Dr. Kate Pulaski. Loyal viewers (in the Star Trek world, is there any other kind?) also were shortchanged. This was the last episode of second season; thus, the season ended "not with a bang" but with "a whimper."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ST:TNG:48 - "Shades Of Gray" (Stardate: 42976.1) - this is the 22nd and
last episode of the 2nd season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is
also one of the worst if not the worst episode in the series. This
turns out to be a "flashback episode" which is done to save money -
this means that it takes clips from previous episodes and puts it into
a new episode (including the pilot episode, the second season episode
"The Dauphin" with Whoopi Goldberg, the Tasha Yar included episode
"Justice", and the Dr. Beverly Crusher included episode "Skin of
Evil"). What's surprising and perplexing is that this is only the
second season so there's not much footage to take from yet, so why
would they have this episode? Well, watch and surmise for yourself.
Trivia note: this is one of the few times Dr. Pulaski (in her last appearance on the show) uses the transporter (because of her disdain for them). This is the only time in the second season you see Gates McFadden as Dr. Crusher, though only in archive footage. And, Troi mentions "Imzadi" to Riker again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I grew up watching and loving TNG. I just recently finished watching the entire series ST Voyager on DVD, which may have heightened my sense of disgust with this episode, as the difference in style and approach between the two shows couldn't be more stark. The idea may have been good if used as an opportunity to further expand Riker's character, which is how it probably would have been treated on VOY. They could have featured memories that would be "new" to the audience, rather than simply regurgitating old show clips. The in and out transitions between the "memories" and the "present" in this episode start as cliché in the beginning, and very quickly become intolerable as the tired pattern wears on and on. Bar none- worst episode ever.
While we all know now that the reason for "Shades of Grey" being a
"clip episode" was due to the 1988 writers strike and the production
running out of money at the end of the 2nd season, I still can't excuse
it on that basis.
There should have been ways to tell this same story without delving into the scene vault every 2 minutes. The entire amount of time devoted to new scenes (largely, those with Diana Muldaur, Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes on the sickbay set) is about 15 minutes. The rest is all clips from previous episodes. Surely the director could have found a away to squeeze out of the budget a few extra "new scenes" that would have been "Riker specific" flashbacks. Perhaps they could have used alternate takes or different camera angles of those same previous scenes (I'm sure at least some existed), or possibly even re-filmed some of the same scenes with the actors.
Frankly, I just see this episode (when it was first broadcast and still today) as a complete mess, a real cop-out, and a very depressing way to have ended the 2nd season..
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If there ever was a *nothing* episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Shades of Grey" is definitely it. It has an outline of a plot built for scenes ripped from the first and second seasons. It is a shame that the show ended their second season with a *clip show*. As we say where I work, it is what it is. Riker's life hangs by a slender thread after encountering an infection that is attracted to nerves, the source a thorn from a predatory vine during a geological survey on an unexplored planet. So Riker lays on a sick bay bed, unconscious, as a head device allows Pulaski to monitor the progress of the infection, trying to find a way to stop it from spreading to his brain, ultimately, of course, wanting to kill it. It seems that negative emotions, negative endorphins during dreams seem to repel the infection, actually even stopping it from completely overtaking Riker's brain. Riker's health reacting to emotions is the excuse for the scenes featured in "Shades of Grey". Passionate, horrifying, sad, violent: each emotional memory has a positive or negative reaction that influences the infection in one way or another. There are some decent moments, some good humorous touches, especially involving Picard and Riker (one scene at Data's expense at the end), but a brunt of the episode has Pulaski, concerned and calm, hypothesizing and theorizing, while Troi remains emotionally invested in the welfare of her Imzadi. Widely (and rightly, in my opinion) considered the worst episode of the entire series.
"Shades of Gray" is a pathetic excuse for an episode for "Star Trek:
The Next Generation"--one that insults the audience's intelligence and
just looks like a lazy attempt to fill the time slot. It is so bad and
so irrelevant that I recommend you skip it completely--you really don't
need to bother with this one.
When the episode begins, Riker's leg is injured while on an away team mission. However, this is no mere scratch--the thing festers and cannot be eliminated using the transporter's bio-filters. Soon, Riker is dying and Dr. Pulaski is fighting to save his life.
This doesn't sound that bad, does it? Well, no...the concept isn't bad. However, this only takes up a tiny fraction of the show. Most of it consists of clips of Riker from other episodes--and they appear to be completely random in how they are used. Relevant or not--they are tossed into "Shades of Gray" and the sum effect is a show that obviously no one gave a crap about when they made it. A complete waste of time and the worst simply because there have been episodes with dumber premises (such as the baseball game episode from "Deep Space 9"), but at least they TRIED something different with these shows. Here, it's just an attempt to re-use old footage and otherwise take the week off from production! Awful.
I'd forgotten about the writer's strike of 1988. After watching those season ending episodes of "The Outer Limits" which shamelessly includes random insertions from previous episodes, I thought other series were above that. I guess, at least for one episode, STNG needed to save a few buck and bank on an insipid plot. Riker picks up a kind of raging virus as he and Geordi explore a planet previously unexplored. It is beyond the expertise of Dr. Pulaski, who can't stop it. Scans reveal that it has attacked the nervous system and will eventually head for the brain and kill Riker. What Pulaski and Troi find is that the entity is reactive to human emotions. Troi is there to read Riker's thoughts as he dreams. She senses different kinds of dreams from adventure to erotic to pain to terror. All these are represented by short clips from the first two seasons. There is no order to them, but Pulaski is able to use drugs to enhance the experiences. Troi, whom we all know is in love with Will, coaches the doctor as they search. It was fun to guess what scenes might fit in, but it detracted from the actually presentation. It's sad sometimes to know that factors other than a lack of creativity force the hands to the producers of shows such as these. It's so piecemeal and the whole treatment is so hard to swallow that it's a bit of an embarrassment.
I am watching the series back to back as fast as possible. I am
attempting to watch all things Star Trek. This is month 3 and I am now
on Season 3 of TNG and I have already gone thru DS9 in its entirety.
Star Trek is the greatest television phenomenon ever achieved.
"Shades of Grey" is the first recap episode in the TNG series. Having just watched the shows, these clips were fresh in my mind, but I noticed how a couple of them were re-shot because the film looked better. Season 1 always seemed real dark and ugly to me - and the actors looked silly, like they didn't fit in their own skins.
The show is essentially just made of up a greatest hits of the happiest and saddest moments in Riker's life on the Enterprise up until this point. The Data and Riker scene in the holo-deck is a classic moment of new friendship. My other favorite is when the 2nd officer on the Klingon ship challenges Riker's authority as first officer and Riker beat the living CRAP out of that Klingon. Then the admiral kicks his a$$ but good. This entire episode is a heck of a reminder that a LOT of crazy, great things have happened already in a mere 2 seasons with 5 more to go and a handful of movies! At this point in the series they are really starting to develop the emotions that tie Riker to Deanna Troi as Imzadi. Up until this point they have mentioned the fact, but they have yet to exploit it. Let the record show that the ST Wiki - Memory Alpha claims that Imzadi means "first" and denotes that she has had intimate relations with Riker and also remains deeply close on an emotional one. This episode further proves there will be a tense romantic interest in each other for a long time to come.
Here is the article: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Imzadi By this point in the series, production value is up to speed and Star Trek TNG is settling into the sci-fi behemoth it was destined to become. Watching this again as an adult I see now what GREAT ACTORS the Star Trek Universe provides. They really need to make a new ST show set after all the current shows. A DS9 movie would have been nice too.
America loves clip shows. It's a fact. Why do you think "America's Funniest Home Videos" is still on the air? Given that now we have Tosh.0 and the oh-so-different Ridiculousness to boot, it's a safe bet that clips shows are what we're all about. And that's why "Shades of Gray" is a fine episode. It takes all of the crap from 2 seasons worth of TNG and distills it into an easily digestible form. All told, it saves you a good 20 hours of some pretty awkward television. If you watch "Measure of a Man," "Q Who," "Samaritan Snare," and "Shades of Gray," then you'll know as much about the first 2 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation as any other casual fan, and you'll be happier for not seeing the Anti-Drug PSA episode of "Symbiosis," as well.
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