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Star Trek The Next Generation: Shades of Gray

Still more enjoyable than reading Fifty Shades of Grey
"Captain's log, Stardate 42976.1. During a geological survey on Surata Four, Commander Riker has become infected by an unidentified microbe."

There are worse episodes, there are more offensive episodes (many of which pop up here), but I can't think of a lazier Next Gen episode than this one.

I'm going to start this review off with some behind the scenes trivia. The reason being because, much like this episode, I really need to pad this thing out with as much random nonsense as I can so it isn't just a paragraph long.

It was the year of our lord nineteen hundred and eighty nine. This was the year that saw the beginning of the first Bush presidency...

At least it wasn't as bad as the sequel
...the fall of the Berlin Wall...

The East Berliners quickly regretted their decision when they saw
Hasselhoff was the musical entertainment
...and most important of all, the birth of Taylor Swift.

Admit it, you start dancing every time you hear 'Shake it Off''
Meanwhile, at Paramount Studios in California, production on Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season was slowly winding down. The writers and producers were due to start work on the season finale when the studio heads came down from on high to deliver an ultimatum:

And thus 'Shades of Gray', Star Trek's first - and so far only - clip show was born (and before anyone starts, no, I don't consider 'The Menagerie' to be a clip show).

This is a difficult episode to review because, as it is a clip show, not an awful lot actually happens. Riker gets stung by a plant while on an away mission and spends the next forty five minutes being bombarded by two seasons worth of flashbacks while everyone else stands around the bio-bed looking worried. This means we have to relive some of the horrors of seasons 1 and 2. I don't know about anyone else, but I really didn't want to go through 'Justice' or 'Angel One' again or endure the many seductions of William T. Riker for a second time.

Fortunately, Doctor Pulaski later figures out that negative memories produce the endorphins needed to fight the infection, but all that results in is more intense clips with faster editing. But we do learn an important lesson. Thanks to Doctor Pulaski we now know that watching the first two seasons of Next Generation in condensed form with all the good bits cut out is lethal. Binge watch at your own risk. And that's me done. I figure since the writers didn't bother to put much effort into writing this episode I should put an equal amount into reviewing it.

See you next season.

Notes and Quotes

--In the original script, the entire forest was supposed to come to life and attack Geordi and Data when they attempt to extract a thorn from one of the vines. Since this was meant to be an ultra low budget episode, this was unsurprisingly cut from the finished episode.

--This was Diana Muldaur's final appearance as Doctor Pulaski. Rumours that she fell down a empty turbolift shaft between seasons remain unconfirmed.

--Muldaur wasn't the only one to leave after this season. Showrunner Maurice Hurley and cinematographer Edward R. Brown also departed the series.

--Michael Dorn (Worf) and Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) do not appear in this episode except as clips from previous episodes.

Riker: "Of course I know who I am. I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise."
Picard: "I'm delighted that you're feeling better... captain. The admiral and I were worried about you."
Data: "Captain, I do not believe you have the authority to promote me to the rank of admiral."

Data: "For Commander Riker's sake, I hope my hypothesis is in error."
Picard: "Unfortunately Commander Data, your hypotheses rarely are."

Riker: "My great-grandfather was once bitten by a rattlesnake. After three days of intense pain, the snake died."
--Riker's great-grandfather was Chuck Norris?

Zero out of four many seductions of William T. Riker.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. This may be my favorite review of a clip show ever, Mark. Lol.

    And we finished two seasons! On to season three!

  2. It should be noted that Maurice Hurley was let go because he had been (allegedly) sexually harassing Gates McFadden, and when he got kicked out the door she was welcomed back, thus beginning TNG's (and ST's) new Golden Age.

    Out with Pulaski!. Out with Hurley. In with the great episodes already!.

  3. I never hated Pulaski, but I'm glad she didn't linger beyond season 2.

    Speaking of proof, I have video evidence that she did in fact fall down a turbo-lift shaft! Wait, that's an elevator... must've been the Holodeck.


    Were the safeties off?

  4. J.D., I've long since suspected that there were never such thing as holodeck safeties. I mean, has anyone ever seen a holodeck episode where the safeties actually worked?

  5. Oh, it's not [i]that[/i] Shades of Gray ... and I had my hopes up.

    Alright, as a male, I'm not much for the recent Shades of Gray, but even it would be better than this dreck of an episode. I must admit, while I adored TNG when it ran, it is not ageing well. And this is a particularly poor episode.

    Zero seductions out of four indeed.

  6. If I were feeling charitable, I might attribute this clip episode to a desire to raise the tension level, since replaying the past is something that is sometimes done as a sendoff to a beloved character. But they didn't even choose particularly good clips. In fact, when the organisms growth rate increased during the love scene clips, I theorized that they were showing good taste, trying to kill him off before more embarrassing romantic scenes could be dredged up from his memory.

    And actually I much prefer the more recent Shades of Grey (the dystopian Jasper Fforde novel that is, not Fifty shades).

  7. Definitely not one that I remember with any fondness, that's for sure. I'm honestly glad Crusher comes back to replace Pulaski, as while I did not hate her, I never liked her much either.

    It's telling that your review of the episode was far more enjoyable than the actual episode! Another great one, Mark!


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