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"Shades of Gray" was one of the weakest episodes ofTNG's first two seasons and proved a particularly flat finale for season 2. It's hard to believe that, in only two seasons, the writers had come up so dry that they cobbled together a kind of greatest-hits show, in which much of the episode consisted of filler from earlier programs. The nominal plot involves Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), who is scratched by a thorn on an unfamiliar planet while doing a geological survey. The thorn injects him with microbes that begin to infiltrate his nervous system, and it's up to Dr. Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) to figure out how to stop the organism from killing Riker. She discovers that stimulating Riker's memory with electricity has an effect, but happy memories strengthen the invading organism--so she must find a way to provoke Riker's worst memories to negate the organism's hold.

Frakes spends much of the episode flat on his back, simulating sleep, while director Rob Bowman cuts to a collection of clips from earlier episodes. The positive memories all have to do with his prowess with women, as he cuts a swath through the known universe. The negative vibes come from clips of the death of Tasha Yar and the few episodes in which Riker was the crew member in the most jeopardy. Mostly the clips serve as a survey of the various facial-hair fashions Frakes sported in the first two seasons. --Marshall Fine

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Studio:  Paramount
CastLeVar Burton, Gates McFadden
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review by . June 01, 2011
Trek's first clip show, and it's last.
No one likes clip shows.  Even if the clips are good, all it reminds you of why you couldn't be watching the episodes the clips came from instead of the clip show.  It's not even like it's a "best of" since not all the clips are always good.      Shades of Gray is TNGs only clip show and I don't think there really is another example of a clip show in all of Trek which shows how odious this is.  TOS had "The Menagerie" which at …
review by . January 29, 2004
One thing about the next generation series that has always annoyed me is the character of the chief medical officer of the Enterprise. Whether it is Dr. Crusher or Pulaski, the most common line seems to be, "I don't know . . . " Even twenty-first century doctors don't talk like that, and they don't have the advantages of another couple of centuries of medical knowledge and intelligent diagnostic computers. In this episode, the line is repeated by Dr. Pulaski until the point of boredom is reached. …
Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 48: Shades Of Gray
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