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Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 48: Shades Of Gray

Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 48: Shades Of Gray a clip show

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The writers are more comatose than Riker is

  • Jan 29, 2004
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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. Dr. McCoy of the original series sometimes said it, but not as often and always with a tone of irritability rather than bafflement.
What saves the episode is the courage shown by Commander Riker as he faces death. While on a simple survey mission, he is pricked by a thorn that injects microorganisms into his leg. They infiltrate his nervous system and rapidly migrate towards his brain. His humor and good grace as the organism invades his brain shows us all how we should face a death that we can see as it approaches. Of course, Dr. Pulaski finally wises up and determines that negative emotions will kill the bugs. By stimulating those emotions electronically, Riker is cured and awakes with a quip on his lips.
In the original series, the lines given to Dr. McCoy occasionally got predictable and routine, including the classic, "He's dead Jim." However, it never reached the point that it does in the next generation. This episode is one of the worst offenders and while watching it, I did something I rarely do when watching any Star Trek episode, entered into a bored state.

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More Shades Of Gray TNG reviews
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 …
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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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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

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