Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 48 (Shades of Gray)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account. 

“Shades of Grey” was the last episode of the second season, and what a bad episode it was. Not only was it a bad episode, it served (and still serves) as a reminder of how bad the first two seasons were. I think that may be why everyone hates this episode.

The story, such as it is, has to do with Riker getting an infection on an alien planet. Normally, the transporter would be able to filter out anything that doesn’t belong there. However, whatever has infected Riker isn’t like anything that’s in the medical database. Conventional treatments won’t work. Since it’s invading Riker’s nervous system, Dr. Pulaski hooks something up to his brain. (I have to warn you that this may not be for the very squeamish.)

Pulaski is able to stimulate certain centers of the brain, thus stimulating memories. With the help of Counselor Troi, who’s an empath, Pulaski is able to tell how Riker feels. They determine that happy memories cause the infection to grow more rapidly and that survival-related memories cause the infection to stop growing and even die. Pulaski is able to stimulate the most primal feelings and kill off the infection.

The use of memories and feelings in this episode is a bad excuse to use clips from previous episodes. In this case, the use of previous clips was done to save money. I guess it’s true that you get what you pay for. Not only was underlying story bad, but the first two seasons of the show didn’t have that many great moments. It’s kind of like trying to sell a ‘best of elevator music’ album. It’s just not going to work.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised that The Next Generation didn’t get canceled after this episode. Had I been in charge at the time, I probably would have contacted the writers at The Next Generation and ask what they were smoking. Yeah, it’s that bad.

I think that the actors sensed that they were working with something sub-par. Riker was lucky that most of his scenes were filmed with him lying down. When I first saw the episode, I thought that Diana Muldaur and Marina Sirtis had given better performances as Pulaski and Troi, respectively. My opinion hasn’t improved much with time.

Not only do I not recommend this episode, this is my least-favorite episode. I wish that I could rate this episode zero stars, but that’s not an option. In fact, I’d be surprised if many places even carry it. I don’t imagine that there’s much demand for it, especially now that the DVD season sets are available. You’d have to be the most hard-core fan to even consider it.

IMDb page

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