Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Shades of Gray"

zero stars

Air date: 7/17/1989
Teleplay by Maurice Hurley and Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Story by Maurice Hurley
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Worst. Finale. Ever. I might as well get it out of the way and call it the most pointless episode of TNG ever made. Honestly, was this episode even meant to be taken seriously, or were the creators as hopelessly desperate to fill the hour as it looks? Part of me thinks it's unfair to even assign a star rating to a clip show, but I'm going to do it anyway and assign it, let's see, no stars. (I suppose every Trek series has to have one.)

Not only are the choices of clips mostly bad (not that they had much to choose from at this point), the framing device is terrible: Riker is infected with parasites on an away mission, and the only way to keep them from destroying his brain are to combat them with endorphins by triggering his memory. His memories, of course, are all clips from previous first- and second-season episodes of the show. How convenient. Or, for us, inconvenient.

One nice aspect of this episode is that it took me about 25 minutes to watch on DVD because of the fast-forward button and the fact that I've seen all these other episodes in the last few months and don't feel obligated to watch excerpts again. (I can't imagine watching this episode again without a fast-forward button.) But, for the record, the clips are from the following episodes, in this order: "The Last Outpost," "Encounter at Farpoint," "The Dauphin," "The Icarus Factor," "Justice," "11001001," "Angel One," "Up the Long Ladder," "Skin of Evil," "The Child," "A Matter of Honor," "Conspiracy," "Symbiosis," "The Last Outpost" again, "Skin of Evil" again, "11001001" again, and "Heart of Glory." And, of course, a montage where lots of stuff blows up (including Remmick's head from "Conspiracy," which is almost worth a free half-star by itself, but I'll resist).

While there are clips from a few good shows, many of the clips are from some of the series' worst episodes, and there's no reason to be repeating them. The episode's "original material" depicts how happy memories strengthen the parasites while painful ones ward them off. The scenes in sickbay with Troi and Pulaski employ much unendurable medical babble that seems to be repeating on an endless loop. I seem to remember there was a writers' strike either before or during this season of TNG. Based on this episode, they should've taken more time off.

Previous episode: Peak Performance
Next episode: Evolution

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93 comments on this post

Mon, Sep 17, 2007, 12:27am (UTC -6)
Before I watched the episode "Shades of Gray" I read the part of your review that stated 'Worst. Finale. Ever.' I thought that you were probably being unfair. But dear god, what a cinematic travesty that episode was.

Despite the fact that enduring all those meaningless flashbacks was a waste of time at best, I really thought that the worst part was the "story" that happened in between memories. Half of the things said were by the doctor, and no justification is required to explain why that is a horrendous choice.

Maybe something that was positive about "Shades of Gray" was that it actually got a laugh out loud from me. At the end, when Riker wakes up he says "you won't believe the dreams I was having", and Troy responds, laughing, "Oh yes we would!" If this was a cartoon made in the 70's for toddlers that would be appropriate.

I guess I feel more sorry for this episode than I am mad at it.
Sun, Apr 6, 2008, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
Although not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, I don't think "Shades of Gray" is as bad as say "Unnatural Selection" or "Force of Nature."
And it certainly wasn't as bad as "Threshold"
Wed, Jun 11, 2008, 12:15pm (UTC -6)
My understanding has always been that the wretched finale (and the shorter season) was caused by the writers strike; they ran out of episodes and cobbled together a quick clip show finale shortly before all the writers left.

Whenever I wrote about the recent writers strike, I thought of Shades of Gray, and feared that a current favorite show's finale would suffer a similar fate...
Fri, Mar 20, 2009, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
This episode was written to save time and money as a result of the writers' strike of 1988. It was shot in only three days, while most take at least a week. Director Rob Bowman commented, "It was Paramount saying, 'We gave you more money for "Elementary Dear Data" and the Borg show. Now do us a favor and give us a three-day show.' So that's what you do. It's an accepted part of the medium."
This episode is thought to be one of the weakest ever made. Maurice Hurley, who co-wrote the episode, commented, "Piece of shit. It was supposed to be a bottle show. Terrible, just terrible, and a way to save some money. I was on the way out the door."

The only thing that makes this episode that makes it better than Voyager's "Threshold" is the fact that they were forced to produce it. "Threshold", on the other hand, was entirely the writers' fault.
Tue, Jun 26, 2012, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
This episode is weak, but by no means the worst episode of the series. That ignominious title should go to season 7's "Genesis". "Genesis" is absolute moronic garbage that I can't believe got past a writer's retreat spit-balling session. The premise is idiotic, and the plot stemming from it is pedantic. It's Star Trek Voyager-level bad.

"Shades of Grey" come about because of the '88 writer's strike. But compared to "Genesis", it's a cake-walk to sit through ("Data, something's got meeeeeee!")
Thu, Nov 22, 2012, 8:08am (UTC -6)
This is the 1st TNG episode I used the fast-forward button, and when I read this review I laughed out loud finding out that the reviewer did the same thing. Horrible episode, a bad zip of older scenes and the moments between Troi and Pulaski seemed like taking centuries. A waste of time...

On to the 3rd season! :) I love Star Trek!
Sat, Jan 12, 2013, 6:10am (UTC -6)
The sole reason I don't put this in the same category as most of Trek's other bad episodes is because the writers' strike messed up a few things (the strike was happening right as this episode was written, IIRC). And honestly, the parts prior to the clip show portion (which only took up half the episode at most) wasn't so bad. It's been a while since I've watched this episode, however.
William B
Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
Certainly, there was always going to be a ceiling of quality this wasn't going to break. About the only show which consistently made watchable to good clip shows is The Simpsons, and that mostly worked because The Simpsons' internal rules were always pliable to begin with, as a comedy. ST:TNG is a drama in which, at least in principle, there are high stakes. The episode here has an especially funny break between what is happening in the primary frame of the episode -- that Riker's life is on the line -- and the purpose of the episode, which is to repackage old clips of the show, which is about as low-impact and low-importance as the show can get. That said, the basic idea of having Pulaski stimulate parts of Riker's brain to (re)produce memories is actually kind of clever, and I like the basic idea that Riker's emotional state eventually affects the organism. The only problem is that it's hard enough to find a good set of clips, all from Riker's POV, this early in the series; adding the additional constraint that they be grouped together by emotion pretty much breaks the show. "Riker sexytimes" doesn't sound like it'd be impossible to do, but apparently there was only one sexy Riker scene that wasn't terrible -- that's Riker/Minuet -- and the only other options are the Edo fleshfest, Beata of Angel One and Headstrong Irish Daughter from "Up the Long Ladder".

There are still some good clips in the episode -- the Riker/Guinan flirting, the (not great, but decent) Riker/Troi farewell in "The Icarus Factor," the fight with the second officer on the Pagh (though I would have preferred a number of other scenes from "A Matter of Honour"), the dance with Minuet, and the introduction to Data -- the last of which is not really a great scene, but is one that makes sense to be important to Riker and is decent. In addition to these, I like Riker's stoic reaction to his life being on the line and his scene with Troi talking about this. There are some good things here.

Unfortunately, the clips actually get worse as the episode gets on, and the meshing between the clips and the Enterprise material gets worse and worse. I like how this episode follows Riker/Troi tearful goodbye scene, ending with words like "Are you sad?" "Yes." "So am I!" with Troi saying something to the effect of, "He's relaxed...he has feelings of warmth and friendship." OK, that is not the emotion communicated in that scene, is it?

I do like how this episode demonstrates how huge the quality differential between s1 and s2 is. It follows up the Riker/Guinan flirting in "The Dauphin" (a great comic scene) and then the Riker/Troi tearful goodbye in "The Icarus Factor" (not great, but serviceable) with the Edo fleshfest from "Justice" -- as quick a demonstration of how far the show came in one year as is possible. The Riker/Min scene -- which is quite good -- is sandwiched between the Edo scene and the "Angel One" and the "Up the Long Ladder" sex scenes, which also demonstrates how variable the series is in terms of its eroticism. (To be fair, while the "Up the Long Ladder" scene is not good, it is nowhere near as bad as the "Angel One" scene, which in turn is IMHO nowhere near as goofy as the Edo skinfest.)

Somewhere in the 1/2 to 1 star range from me.
William B
Wed, Apr 3, 2013, 8:23am (UTC -6)
And now, for fun, I will compare my ratings of s2 (which I just finished rewatching) with Jammer's -- I will list only my ratings where they differ. In parentheses is the difference between mine and Jammer's.

Elementary, Dear Data 3.5 (+0.5)
Loud as a Whisper 3 (+1)
Unnatural Selection 2.5 (+0.5)
The Dauphin 1.5 (-1)
The Icarus Factor 2 (-1)
The Emissary 3.5 (+1)
Shades of Grey 0.5 (+0.5)

Well, that sure was insightful.

On the season as a whole, I think that it's underrated. The season still has some bad shows, but they are mostly of the forgettable variety -- nothing in "Manhunt" strikes me as bad, it's just totally devoid of interest, for example. I don't really count "Shades of Grey" against the season, given the writers' strike and the necessity of working around it. And there were strong shows for most characters -- Picard with "The Measure of a Man," "Contagion," "Time Squared," the subplot in "Samaritan Snare," and a general strong commanding presence, Riker with "A Matter of Honour" and "Peak Performance," with strong supporting work in "The Measure of a Man," Data with "E,DD," "The Measure of a Man," "Pen Pals," and the subplots of "The Outrageous Okona" and "Peak Performance," Worf in "The Emissary," Troi in "Loud as a Whisper" (to me anyway), and Wesley in the B-plot in "Samaritan Snare" with Picard. Pulaski's only headline show was "Unnatural Selection," which I think is not as bad as people usually credit it with, but isn't a great starring vehicle; still, she's a good presence throughout the season. I think Geordi was fairly ill-served here -- as he frankly is every year -- but the promotion to chief engineer gives the character a better niche within the show, and he gets some good material throughout and especially in "Elementary, Dear Data." The season introduces Guinan, gives the first use of the Romulans as an effective Cold War-style foe in "Contagion," introduces the Borg, deepens Klingon culture in "A Matter of Honour," moves the Ferengi into largely comic threat territory which can *still* be mined for dramatic tension in "Peak Performance," moves Wesley away from wunderkid and into a role more believable (if not entirely well realized), and Riker grows a beard and a sense of humour. This is where TNG starts really *being* TNG.

While it's hardly that strong a recommendation, I do think it's notable that most of the bad episodes are *really* bad and disconnected from everything, and thus highly skippable. If I wanted to rewatch s2 tomorrow, I would essentially skip all of "Okona" except the Data subplot, "The Royale," "Up the Long Ladder," "Manhunt" and "Shades of Grey" and I would not feel I've lost anything at all. The worst episodes remaining -- say, "The Child," "The Dauphin," "The Icarus Factor" -- are important enough for character to be worth watching, but aren't really all that bottom-of-the-barrel; the material which *works* in this season is not particularly infected by the rot that remains in the weak episodes. It's easy enough for me to dismiss these 'skippable' eps as hiccups of a show finding its footing, which don't really have any impact beyond the episodes themselves, with the possible exception of "Manhunt" which does affect later Lwaxana episodes, albeit slightly.
Mon, Jul 1, 2013, 8:01pm (UTC -6)
There are some interesting comments from the writers about this episode on Memory Alpha. Basically, they knew it was crap, and the only reason for it's existence was that they needed a low budget episode to make up for Elementary, Dear Data and the Borg extra costs. It's unfortunate that they chose the season finale to be this episode, however.
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
I'm with everyone when they say "Shades of Gray" is a bad episode, but I don't think it's the worst ever. The fact that's the season finale is far worse than the episode itself.

Things must have been a real disaster back then, or else they'd have changed places with "Peak Performance".

Now, time to look at the whole season: Overall, I think it was a bad season. But, you have to remember that S1 was terrible, instead. So, this is an improvement!

Now, what makes S2 better than the first season is a mix of a couple of great episodes and more subtle progress.

Great episodes: "A Matter of Honor", "The Measure of a Man", "Time Squared", "Q Who". And both "Peak Performance" and "The Emissary" deserve a special mention, imo. I already talked about these eps in their respective pages.

And when I say subtle progress I mean better acting: everyone is much more relaxed, lines are starting to come out naturally; and characterization is becoming more stable.

We are just about to see the show taking new heights next season, and no small part of S3 success was thanks to the solid foundation S2 left before.
Nick P.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 9:34am (UTC -6)
Maybe I am a complete weirdo, but I love this episode. I can't claim it is high quality, but in my book, if something is watchable, then it is good. Whenever this episode airs in repeats, I find myself drawn in. The 2 big pluses to this episode are the Riker/Troi sort of romance and the music, which is remarkable in this episode. Truth be told, the soundtrack to this episode is arguably a top 5 of the series.

I also have stated many times season 2 is my second favourite season and I have nostalgia love of season 2, so I like clips from them.
Nick P.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 9:44am (UTC -6)
*Nostalgia love of season 1.
Sat, Oct 5, 2013, 9:18pm (UTC -6)
So your patient has a bizarre infection in his leg that you have no idea how to treat, but which you suspect will infiltrate the brain within a few hours. Why wasn't amputation an option? Especially since bionic legs are practically unnoticeable in the 24th century, as Rom proved later. Then again, that 2 second thought I had while watching it was probably more thought then was needed for this episode. It wasn't a horrible 20 minute episode, but once the flashbacks started, sigh...

(Actually, I seem to recall liking the episode when I was a kid. Maybe it was because I started TNG in the 2nd season, and so all the 1st season clips were news to me. Or maybe because I was just a kid).

In any case, I bear no malice towards the writers, director, or even the producers who ordered it. It had to be done, so be it. Time to move on.

As for the 2nd season as a whole, the improvement over season 1 was so dramatic that I can't really put this season in the same category. By my count, a full 50% of the episodes were at least good episodes, compared to less than 25% in the first season. Yes, only half good is hardly the sign of a wonderful franchise, but it's enough to be engaging.

It also had the first sustained length of quality episodes. Starting from Matter of Honor and going through Q Who, Jammer rated 7 of the 9 episodes as 3 stars or greater (personally, I'd nix Icarus Factor from that list, but 6 of 9 is still good). That's a pretty good run, not just for season 2 but for the series in general.

Part of it is that the characters became more clearly defined into the roles they would play for the rest of the season. Picard was the humanist diplomat, not a short tempered Frenchman. Riker was the good humored non-conventionalist, not the Kirk clone. Data was the mirror to reflect on what being human means, not just the weird robot. Troi was... well, still Troi. But whatever. Plots started to get smarter, and more importantly ended in a rational matter. No more character's acting like idiots like Datalore or plots randomly lurching along like Home Soil. Instead of bad episodes that frustrated and angered me with their stupidity (Angel One, Justice, and the like), the bad episodes were basically just boring (Unnatural Selection, the Dauphin, etc). While improvements still need to be made, I quite enjoy the season for what it is.
Dave in NC
Wed, May 21, 2014, 11:14am (UTC -6)
The absolute bottom of the Trek barrel. (Riker has no painful or happy memories other than what occurred on the Enterprise? Please.)

The only way I'd watch this episode again is if they had a "musical soundtrack only" option on a DVD.
Wed, May 21, 2014, 12:35pm (UTC -6)
No clip show deserves more than zero stars. It is straight-up fraudulent because the hour "episode" doesn't actually have an hour of material.

Needing to save money is no excuse. You don't need a big budget to film 45 minutes. My favorite Star Trek episode of all time is "Remember Me", and the majority of that was Beverly Crusher wandering around an empty ship ranting at the computer.

Need to save even more money? How about that episode (don't know the name) where 3 members of the crew were stuck in a single room on the holodeck with one dying of a gunshot room? That episode sucked. But at least they put in an effort and gave us new material. And it probably cost them almost nothing.
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 3:43pm (UTC -6)
I think a clip show like this comes off as worse now that we binge watch the show on dvd or netflix. At the time it was shown, it had been up to 2 years since many of those clips had previously been seen, so it may have been a more enjoyable experience for viewers who were reminded of previous episodes they hadn't had a chance to see for a while.

And the framing for the clips is not as bad as all that. About 20-25 minutes of setup outside the clips, and some decent dialog between Picard and Riker about the how most lifeforms attack out of instinct to survive instead of malice, etc.

Not the best of course, but zero stars? nah.
Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 7:01am (UTC -6)
And so to the end of season 2 on the re-run of the entire TNG series im watching currently. I have a distant memory of having seen this years ago, but feared the worst, even warning 'she-who-must-be-obeyed' - who has watched the re-runs with me and is becoming quite an avid 'TNG' and-everything-else-trek fan, that this is probably TNG's worst episode. True to form, its awful.

Even she picked out most of the first few 'clips' originating episodes which suprised me, but i had to use the fast forward button on the Tivo to get to the end. If Picard had asked the Doctor one more time 'what can i do'? or 'What do you want me to do?'.......

TNG is to me, 'STAR TREK' and its such a shame, i can watch any episode over and over, and have done over the years, i always enjoy it but this.....well. I understand about the strike and saving money etc, but no one participating in it seems even bothered. Even Riker couldnt care less that he might die. With Troi almost hysterical and the Doctor constantly shaking her head at her computer screen thing, its one ill avoid in the future like it just doesnt exist!

One thing i did note was how different Data had become since the clip shown on the episode where Riker calls him 'Pinocchio' in the holo-forest to how he is now at the end of season 2.
Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 8:13am (UTC -6)
"One thing i did note was how different Data had become since the clip shown on the episode where Riker calls him 'Pinocchio' in the holo-forest to how he is now at the end of season 2. "

There is a reason why Data/Worf are fan favorites, and their character development is a huge part of that. The actors just did so much with their roles (going from "Pinocchio" and "sit in the corner and scowl" to what they eventually became).
Fri, Jan 16, 2015, 10:13am (UTC -6)
I had never seen this before I recently started rewatching the series, so I was curious when I saw that it had a zero stars rating on this site.

It started interesting enough with Riker's injury, and I thought: "See? That's what you get for going to unexplored planets without any protective gear!" Of course we know that Riker is not about to die, but I still found it interesting how they would resolve the situation, and he's given a little character development in how he handles imminent death, where we are once again shown how much he's built his identity on his role as a Starfleet officer. I also liked that the episode featured a lot of Pulaski, who to me is the most underrated character on the show. I knew that she wouldn't be around for the next season, so I was happy to see more of her here.

Then she and Troi probed Riker's brain and his memories started resurfacing, beginning with the scene of Riker alone on some planet, shouting his crewmates' names. I didn't remember that scene and only thought: "Weird, why doesn't he have his beard? Did they use a deleted scene from season 1?" But when the scene on the holodeck was replayed, it dawned on me: "Could this be a clipshow? Did they really go there?" From there on it went straight downhill.

In the end, the episode really only serves to remind us how many bad moments TNG has had until this point - bad in terms of stories, dialogue, acting and sets. Which is a shame, because there had in fact been many good moments (though hardly any consistently good episodes) the in the second half of season 1 and during season 2. I didn't reach for the forward button (mainly because I watched it on a tablet computer, where it's harder to scroll to the right scene), but I instead turned away my eyes to check e-mails and Facebook statuses. I think that if I had been watching this show on TV back then, with no knowledge of the coming seasons and with the next episode months away, I probably would not have tuned in for the next season.
Thu, May 21, 2015, 11:45am (UTC -6)
Worst TNG episode yet. And that's really saying something. This is quite possibly not just the worst of TNG, but the worst of the whole franchise!

Say want you will about episodes generally considered to be the worst of their respective series (ones like "Spock's Brain," "And the Children Shall Lead," "Let He Who Is Without Sin...," "Profit and Lace," "Threshold," or that abysmal finale to Enterprise), but at least all those episodes were actually trying to be episodes. They were all failures, but at least the attempt was made!

"Shades of Gray" is as close as you can get to pure filler - nothing more.

Thu, May 21, 2015, 1:35pm (UTC -6)
While this was awful, it served a purpose. It was the price paid for the Borg budget in "Q Who". That said... when DS9 ran out of money they made "Duet"....

But regardless, this cheaply made piece of trash was the price they paid for blowing the budget on the Borg ripping a slice out of the ship.

Totally worth it. Cause we can just skip this...
Thu, May 21, 2015, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
Great point Robert.

But, DS9 did MUCH better with 'Duet' for sure. :-)
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 3:34am (UTC -6)
Was this episode the inspiration for 50 Shades of Grey?
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
I liked it, i guess because i haven't got an issue with 1 clip episode, although it would have worked better in a later series and if it was more focused on showing particular events, for example a clip show about the klingons in season 7 which gives the viewer a recap on how things came to be with the klingons,
I just think there was lots of other TNG episodes worse than this, more boring than this and with worse writing like masks and descent
Diamond Dave
Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 12:22pm (UTC -6)
So, that was the way they did season finales back then! Way to get people to come back next year...

OK, so it's a clip show, and we all know that because they blew the budget on early episodes they were told to bring one in quickly and cheaply. But you can bring a sense of style to a clip show, and this doesn't.

For the new scenes this actually starts OK, I guess there's no real sense of peril as Riker is clearly not going to die, but up until they start stimulating his dreams it's not too bad. But from then, the constant Troi and Pulaski "let's do this" interspersed with the clips is the lazy man's way out.

We do get to see the exploding head again, so that's something, and Data's character progression is clear for all to see. But there's not much else to see here. 1 star.


Overall my scores for this series average out at 2.3, coming in a hair under average and a hair up on season 1. Indeed, it was heading for a better score until the abysmal end to the series, which saw 4 of 6 score under 2. Ironically that came straight after the triumph that was Q Who, the only 4 star episode of the first 2 seasons.

Overall, the characters are now starting to blossom and back story being filled in. Data and Worf continue to star, Geordi is assuming greater prominence, and Chief O'Brien is now on regualar show. Wesley was even a bit less annoying. Personally, I was not unhappy with Pulaski - she brought a spiky quality which actually served as a nice counterpoint to some of the other main characters. Good groundwork for sure.
Mon, Oct 19, 2015, 8:31pm (UTC -6)
I don't think this the most horrible of all, but what does make me really sad is that this is how we say goodbye to Dr. Pulaski. She deserved floats and firecrackers!
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 11:54pm (UTC -6)
Funny thing, when I watched season 2 back when it was first run, I was a teenager. I didn't know much about the human experience, women, and so on.

I didn't like Pulaski.

Now I am rewatching the series on netflix as a man in his 40s, and I absolutely love her character. Depth, personality, charisma, edge, passion, joy of life..... a far superior actress and character to Beverly. She was was written to be passive, bland, and had almost zero character development until late in the series when they gave her command in the S7 opener, and the Picard love episode (I try to forget that abhorrent ghost lover episode).
Wed, May 11, 2016, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
To put this whole season in context, I do believe that a writer's strike was happening at the same time. Still, I like to pretend that this episode doesn't exist.
Wed, May 11, 2016, 6:21pm (UTC -6)
Believe what you want, nothingoriginal55, but the facts remain. The WGA was on strike for 5 months in 1988 during the off-season. That delayed the start of the season and shortened the run of shows, including TNG. While S2 began without scripts in hand, the strike was a non-factor by 1989, when this episode was, shall we say, written. Lack of budget (blamed on "Q Who?") forced a shortened shooting week, but that's no excuse for a lack of creativity.
Fri, Nov 11, 2016, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
I agree with this low ranking.

hard scifi : 0/5
-virus and bacteria cannot infect spieces they are not adapted to.
-adaptation requires massive exposure to that virus/bacteria over prolonged time
-as such it should not have infected riker at all as this was the first time humans landed on that planet.
-needles in the head to stimulate brain activity, that penetrate the skull somehow?
Without disinffecting the skin or a sterile OK, giving REAL dangerous bacteria a chance to enter the brain?
-besides that far in the future? sorry i refuse to believe they still use needles to stimulate the brain.
-total bullshit with their negative endorphins talk, they bind to the molecules, ok thats what virusses do, bind to dna, ordering to make more of them, still you could just kill the diseased cells. (why would cutting of a leg or a few nerves be bad, certainly they can be grown back with fututure medic tech, and even if not better without a leg than dead I would say.
-besuides there are only 3 types of endorphine, and none are negative, basicly they work like a mild variation of morphine. there is no biological posibility that they chemically can do anything to nullify that virus.

continuity 0/5 :
-the flashbacks are bad, and in error, he had a whole career and a love live before the enterprise, his flashbacks should have included those too
-they forgot their own solution for the aging bug? they could have pulled riker through the transporter and supplemented the datastream with earlier dna patterns, and as such canceling out the virus.

Enjoyment : 1/5
-flahbacks are never fun.
-stupid needle thing, for shock effect not fun
-WAY to many time 'lets futher narrow down the beam + a lower groth percentage, boring!
-the cure worked way to fast, instead of a slow recovery or "and the next month" the cure works IN AN INSTANT, rather than having a slow negative growthrate, skipping info is no fun.
-goofy capturing spine moment has lack of real danger no fun.

average score 0.3/5, or in stars 0.0 out of 5 stars.
Sat, Nov 12, 2016, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
DutchStudent1982: "hard scifi : 0/5
-virus and bacteria cannot infect spieces they are not adapted to.
-adaptation requires massive exposure to that virus/bacteria over prolonged time"

This is... not true at all. Think about it; some of the most notorious pandemics in human history occurred precisely because populations were suddenly exposed to novel contagions. When smallpox and measles were brought to the New World, it was the previously unexposed indigenous peoples that died, far more readily than the Europeans who had been living with those viruses as endemic diseases for centuries.
Paul Davis
Sun, Nov 20, 2016, 1:11pm (UTC -6)
To this day whenever we watch a clip episode of any show we call it a "shades of gray" episode. Everyone knows exactly what we mean.

And thanks for the genuine laugh out loud at seeing zero stars.
Wed, Nov 23, 2016, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
For me, having just now rewatched all the putatively good episodes of the first two seasons, the only must watch eps are the pilot and then The Measure of a Man. Elementary Dear Data, Time Squared, Q Who, Datalore, and Peak Performance are also perfectly watchable. Conspiracy and A Matter of Honor were great ideas that were undone by poor execution. I don't see the appeal or the four star rating of 11001001 at all; the aliens were silly, and the premise didn't feel believable.

I'm thankful the series was able to survive its rough start.
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 6:49pm (UTC -6)
Okay, so, yeah: zero stars for creativity, intelligent plotting, entertainment value.

But four stars for being So Awful That you and your friends all dive for the remote and scream, "No! No! Quick, turn it OFF! Turn it off right now!!"
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
"The Child"-0.5
"Where Silence Has Lease"-3
"Elementary, Dear Data"-3.5
"The Outrageous Okona"-1.5
"Loud As a Whisper"-2.5
"Schizoid Man"-1.5
"Unnatural Selection"-2
"A Matter of Honor"-3.5
"The Measure of a Man"-4
"The Dauphin"-2
"The Royale"-3
"Time Squared"-3.5
"The Icarus Factor"-2.5
"Pen Pals"-2.5
"Q Who"-4
"Samaritan Snare"-2.5
"Up the Long Ladder"-1
"The Emissary"-3
"Peak Performace"-3.5
"Shades of Grey"-0
Overall: 2.48
Tue, May 23, 2017, 5:44pm (UTC -6)
Very disappointing finale - but having read the comments and understanding there was a writers' strike helps explain this disaster. Still, I think zero stars is harsh from Jammer - for me, this episode is a bit better than "Manhunt" and isn't as bad as (from ENT "A Night in Sickbay" or "Precious Cargo" or from TOS "Spock's Brain").
The actual plot is very basic - and how Riker is cured all of a sudden at the end is a mystery since the parasite's growth rate stops but it never (as I recall) went negative. It was as if a few steps were skipped. So some of his nerves should still be impaired.
I actually didn't mind the flashbacks until about half-way through them. I've seen most but not all of S1 and S2 and didn't mind seeing the ones that would have Riker go through the appropriate emotions.
The early part of the episode (before the treatment/memories begin) isn't half bad but when considering the overall episode as being very simplistic, I'd rate it 1 star out of 4.

That being said, TNG S2 is pretty weak -- seems most people are of that opinion -- of course it gets much better, but it has its strong episodes too. Would be good to see more consistency in quality of episodes.
Wed, Jun 21, 2017, 4:46pm (UTC -6)
Zero Stars is excessively generous if you ask me.
Any clip show justifies a temporal eradication order on the offending studio but this was the absolute pits.
The initial memories of our chap Will are ,of course, driven by his wedding tackle as he tries to ape Kirk's romantic efforts with every female he comes across.
Unintentionally funny, if rather sad and agree with Jammer that I could have done without being reminded of those terrible earlier episodes.
17 million wormholes from me.

So: season 2,eh?
Well it was more or less as dreadful as season one really.
I only really liked snippets of some episodes with one or two exceptions.

Best actor was , for me , easily Michael Dorn.

A miracle that the series survived but at least we are over the worst and from the next season things get steadily better and that is mainly because the showrunners begin to realise that the more interesting area to explore is the characters themselves.
Peter Swinkels
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 3:16pm (UTC -6)
Even the acting seemed off and those needles in Riker’s head creep me out.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Sun, Mar 25, 2018, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
I'm not sure why they HAD to do a clips show. We certainly saw low-budget, low-tech shows on Treks that were good or even great ("Duet" on DS9).

But let's say you HAD to do a clip show to save money and time:

Seems like some of the crew in an already crashed shuttle craft (to save money on the not having to show the crash) would be they way to go. One of them is dying -- doesn't matter who. It could still be Riker.

Three of the others go in one at the time and they talk about their journeys on the show (in clips) and then also tell stories of their time before the Enterprise to keep him awake and fighting until the Enterprise arrives. Seems like Picard, Troi and Data would be the best choices. Could have been a chance for dramatic personal interactions and a better array of clips could be used.

They even could have projected into the future with talk of the Borg and Romulans and set up some tension for Season 3. You could have Pulaski get there for the last five or 10 minutes to give her a little send-off and one last thing to do.

I think there could have been a way to do a better clip show at least.

That said, I didn't think this was horrible.
Prince of Space
Fri, May 18, 2018, 1:33am (UTC -6)
Ugh. This ep was so bad it made me want to slap my mama.

So I did! Then I felt bad cause obviously she had nothing to do with it.

Mon, Jun 4, 2018, 12:35am (UTC -6)
Working my way through the series, and following the reviews here, I saw a lot of references to Shades of Gray. And here it is...yep, that was really lame.

A clip show after only 2 seasons. What a stinker.
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 6:48pm (UTC -6)
Will Will die? Will Will will himself well? Y'all can hang around to find out. I'm moving to the next season.
#%*@*@* hospital episode. bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep
Mon, Jun 25, 2018, 6:52am (UTC -6)
It might be a good thing that this episode sucked. We never had another clip show in a Star Trek series again. Probably because this was so terrible and they daren't do it again. If they had managed to pull off an acceptable clip show we might have ended up with more of them.

It's a shame that this episode was Pulaski's final episode though, not a strong send off.
Mon, Jun 25, 2018, 11:37am (UTC -6)
“ Probably because this was so terrible and they daren't do it again.”

They might do it if there’s another writer’s strike during production. Of course, Star Trek is serialized now so it’s extremely unlikely. Who would even queue up a clip show if they could just go to the next real episode any time.
Ari Paul
Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 10:30pm (UTC -6)
Just imagine if you will an alternate timeline:

Imagine that the writers strike continued for another year. Imagine that shades of grey was just the beginning of a continuous run of clip shows that went on to compose the entire third season...all regurgitating the same tired crappy episodes in some stupid way only slightly different from each other.

Then the show is cancelled after its third (mostly clip show season)

TNG never becomes the global phenomenon that it is today. No more star trek spin-offs are produced. Star trek dies a quiet death in early 1990.

The actors all drift around in quiet desperation, living unfulfilled lives. Broken dreams.

Mirinia Sirtis gets into hardcore porn to pay the bills...but contracts AIDS and dies in 2001.
Michael Dorn quits acting and becomes a successful commercial airline pilot, flying for Delta.
Patrick Stewart returns to England and stage acting. He can never get the roles he once did, even in small English productions. Occasionally he does commercials for local companies. Most of the commercials are spoofs at the fact that he was "that other star trek captain."
Brent Spiner quits acting and goes into insurance sales
Jonathan Frake's career starts to dry up. He gets smaller and smaller roles. Refusing to give up the dream, and saddled with emotional distress, he drifts and flounders. He becomes addicted to meth. In and out of rehab, he later dies of suicide.
Wil Weaton still goes to conventions, and makes his living doing star trek appearances. His life is more or less the same.
Gates McFadden retires from acting and becomes a drama teacher at a rural high school somewhere in middle america. She is beloved by her students and her community. She marries a wealthy real estate developer. She remodels houses in her spare time and was even featured in one of those remodel shows. all almost happened. And it could have happened, if things didn't pull themselves together after the early seasons of TNG. Let this be a reminder to everyone never to give up. Persistence. Good Humor. Faith. Hard work.
Jason R.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 6:50am (UTC -6)
Ari you didn't say what happened to Levar Burton in the alternate timeline. Some kind of Reading Rainbow reboot?
Ari Paul
Sat, Sep 15, 2018, 1:53am (UTC -6)
Oh yeah! Levar! Levar's career actually improves without the success of TNG. He get's lucky in a number of castings, but really trikes it big when he strikes up a friendship with director Ridley Scott while acting in 1492: Conquest of Paradise. Ridley casts him as a supporting character in a string of his films. He moves on to a successful directing career and has just now (2018) released a documentary film that got awarded at Cannes. His career took a bit of a dent through his close relationship with Weinstein, but he's recovering.
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 5:00am (UTC -6)
Canadian television producers were guilty of the same crappy clip show junk BECAUSE WE DONE RUN OUTTA MONEY AND CAINT DO NO BETTER. All thru the years of tv clipping it out for the summer vacation was the norm. I reckon the viewing audience had more mature watchers who wrote in and said we ainta gonna tak it no more. Show us something real. This trash is not worth reviewing because you have already reviewed the real eps.

The end of Pulaski thank you very much.
Jason R.
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
Pardon my ignorance, but is it really such an onerous process to write a single 45 minute episode? Couldn't someone in management have just done it? It's not like they had to write a whole season's worth. What am I missing??
William B
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
This ep sucks, but yes, it is difficult to write an episode, and no, management couldn't have just done it. Or rather, I don't see how a clip show is any worse than a terrible thrown together script by non-writers.
Jason R.
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
Okay I can see how putting one together from scratch would be hard, but if you had a template from previous shows, a general knowledge of the characters and a reasonably good idea for an episode why is it so hard? I'm not saying I could write a classic, but I am confident I could do better than Shades of Grey! Surely someone like a producer or a director or someone who was already deeply involved in the creative process could put together something competent!
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
Maybe they were obliged to use a pre-existing scrap of an unfinished episode on account of not being allowed to write one without the say-so of the union? Wouldn't it be some kind of scab labor to just start writing scripts yourself during a strike?
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 2:20pm (UTC -6)
From Memory Alpha:

“This episode was written to save time and money as a result of budget overruns earlier in the season. It was shot in only three days, while most take at least a week. Director Rob Bowman commented, "It was Paramount saying, 'We gave you more money for "Elementary, Dear Data" and the Borg show. Now do us a favor and give us a three-day show.' So that's what you do. It's an accepted part of the medium." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)”
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
That was lazy of me. Thanks, Chrome.
Jason R.
Thu, Sep 27, 2018, 5:39am (UTC -6)
Oh I see. So I guess the writer's strike wasn't in issue then?
Thu, Sep 27, 2018, 7:21am (UTC -6)
@Jason R.

Right, the strike was settled in 1988 and this episode (1989) was written by the usual writing staff. If you want to see the strike’s impact, check out “We’ll Always Have Paris” where the ending was unfinished and needed to be ad libbed or “The Neutral Zone” which was a fan-submitted script.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 27, 2018, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
I'll admit I had also thought it was about a strike. So now what I guess I have to conclude is that Shades of Grey happened because...they were just incompetent? It amazes me how to this day certain projects can fall so flat due to just not getting a proper writer. TNG overall had decent (but rarely sublime) writing, so it's amazing that a fumble like this could happen just due to budget issues. How hard could it have been to write a cute bottle episode??
Jason R.
Thu, Sep 27, 2018, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
I suppose if the price for Q Who was Shades of Grey it was a fair trade and I'm pleased with the outcome. Definitely puts a more satisfying spin on the situation.
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
For me, there are 8 good episodes in this season - Q Who (perfect), Pen Pals (near-perfect, with a wonderful fairytale-like quality), Elementary Dear Data (a delight; fun and thoughtful), Time Squared, Peak Performance (both strong outings with only minor quibbles), The Dauphin, Where Silence Has Lease (good scripts mainly let down by visual effects issues) and The Emissary (great character work, unengaging main plot). The rest is a mess. (I'm in the minority that only rates Measure Of A Man as 2.5, as the courtroom scenes don't ring true for me.) It's notable that both Worf and Wesley get well-written romance(!) episodes that really serve their characters well, even if the main plot of said episodes is lackluster. Picard is great, even in duff episodes like The Schizoid Man. Riker and Troi, while rarely foregrounded this season, provide likeable and reliable support and are used well as part of the ensemble. Pen Pals is Data's best utilization to date, a predecessor to The Offspring. Pulaski doesn't really get a strong episode of her own (as Unnatural Selection doesn't work) but she's fine otherwise - not better or worse than Crusher, just different. Moving Geordi off the bridge and giving him his own set is a great call that also helps make the ship feel like a bigger and realer place, as is the addition of Guinan, who makes the role her own and has exactly the right handle on it almost immediately.

What's notable in S1-2 TNG is that even though about two-thirds of the episodes are bad, the characters all work (as do the relationships between them) and they're people you feel welcomed by and want to spend time with. They feel like real people. All of the characters would be deepened in coming seasons, but what's here already works well - they're people you instinctively trust and respect as professionals but also who you'd hang out with, and this is a big key to the show's success.
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 7:26pm (UTC -6)
This episode is better than most people give it credit for. It combines elements from previous episodes and form a new unique story which is easy to do. 3 stars from me.
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 7:38pm (UTC -6)
“It combines elements from previous episodes and form a new unique story which is easy to do”

You’re right, it is easy to do...with recycled footage.

Can’t wait for your review touting “Cost of Living”’s refreshing take on disciplining children.
Circus Man
Sun, Dec 9, 2018, 9:37am (UTC -6)
I'll grant that this episode is unique. It shows that uniqueness is not always a virtue.
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
What is wrong with "Cost of Living"?
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 10:29am (UTC -6)
I haven't read Jammer/s review but I saw the score of 0. I don't agree with that score. I would give it a 7/10 which means I was glad I saw it but not one for the books.

I liked the cooperation between Pulaski and Troi. (As an aside, it is pretty ironic considering the shit talking Marina has been doing against Diana Maldaur, a superior actress who went on to a great role in LA Law. )

It is too bad this was the last episode for Dr Pulaski. I wonder if we will ever get the full story of what happened there. If Patrick Stewart lobbied for his love interest, Beverly, that is pretty pathetic. Women should be given strong roles and Pulaski was a true Chief Medical Officer who was strong and principled and stood up for things. I compare her favourably against the other bridge crew who themselves were cringingly unprofessional and weak at times. When I was a young lad, I wanted just the prettier and less abrasive Dr Crusher but now I prefer the real senior officer character and the superior actor.

The actors who played Troi, Riker, and Data have stated that they are typecast now (even in a recent interview with Frakes) and unable to get good roles and yet others went on to get great parts (such as Maldaur). I wonder if what we had was some young inexperienced actors, including those three, who were unprofessional and didn't know what to make of the older accomplished actors such as Stewart and Maldaur. Stewart tried to get them to be more professional and Maldaur has stated they were not very friendly.

The last scene alone was the best and funniest portrayal of how Data as artificial intelligence didn't get humour. (Although I wonder if it does now in real life? I expect so since it is pretty formulaic)

The episode would have been a great one if Riker were being killed off. That way they get to show a montage but as a real part of the plot. In this case we got to see just how truly awful some of the earlier episodes were. So there were a lot of flashbacks in this episode and yet for some reason they didn't bother me (and that is saying something as I am not a fan of Rikers.)
Lizzy DataLover
Mon, Jun 3, 2019, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
There is only one great thing about this episode. Pulaski's leaving!!!!!!!! :D

Y'all probably saw that one coming. But anyway the episode itself is pretty dry and the story *or lack there of* was pathetic. I understand they were going thru the writer's strike and what not, but seriously? At least some of the clips were from decent episodes.

Well it's all in the past now. Anyway I'm off to Starbase [insert number] to greet the lovely Dr. Crusher. ^-^

But before I go:

The Child: 3/10 I really don't like Deanna.

Where Silence Has Lease: 3/10 I just didn't understand anything.

Elementary, Dear Data: 6/10 cute. But it would have been nice if it stayed a Data episode.

The Outrageous Okona: 4/10 Data is funny tho.

Loud As A Whisper: 3/10 what in the world?

The Schizoid Man: 5/10 any excuse to do a Data abduction episode.

Unnatural Selection: 3/10 eww Pulaski.

A Matter Of Honor: 5/10 KLINGONS!!!!

The Measure Of A Man: 8/10 duuude this one. It loses points because Maddox is a little terd who I want to punch multiple times. Also this is the twenty fourth century. EVERYBODY is supposed to be accepted. Still good tho.

The Dauphion: 3/10 oh Wesley. I'm not even gonna bother checking to see if I spelled it right.

Contagion: 7/10 finally another good one.

The Royale: 5/10 silly.

Time Squared: 5/10 this one and Cause And Effect remind me of each other. I liked Effect better.

The Icarus Factor: 4/10 dude WTF?

Pen Pals: 6/10 Data is soooooo cute!! But ugh all that Prime Directive crap.

Q Who?: 7/10 I don't know bro. I always hated the Borg. They're just too good at being bad.

Samaritan Snare: 5/10 the Pakleds are funny. They make things go.

Up The Long Ladder: 3/10 what's with all the early season stereotypes?

Manhunt: 5/10 ehh. Hey Lwaxana was there.

The Emissary: 8/10 duuude K'Ehleyr is so cool!! And her and Worf brooo! I wish she could have been brought back. You know, for more than just a stupid death scene.

Peak Performance: 7/10 I love it when Data kicks ass.

Shades If Gray: 2/10 bye bye Pulaski.

Season 7 is still better.
Gaius Maximus
Thu, Jul 18, 2019, 10:10am (UTC -6)
@Peremensoe - I realize I'm several years late here and the original commenter will probably never read this, but I had to point out the appalling misunderstanding of biology in this comment just for my own peace of mind.

The epidemics of smallpox, measles, and other Old World diseases among the inhabitants of the Americas are in no way comparable to what happened in this episode. As Dutchstudent clearly said, viruses and bacteria cannot effect species they are not adapted to. Key word: species. Europeans and Native Americans are not different species! Smallpox, measles, etc, had been adapting to the human species in Eurasia and Africa for millennia before they were brought to America, where they encountered absolutely ideal conditions for a disease, a large population of a species they were adapted to that had no prior exposure to them. That's why those epidemics were so devastating.

The situation in episode is in no way comparable. It's explicitly stated that the Enterprise crew are the first humans to land on the planet, so nothing on the planet would have had a chance to adapt to humans. Without prior exposure, the chances of a bacteria or virus being able to infect or even interact with a human's system would be extremely low. Have you ever given an oak tree a cold by sneezing on it? Sounds ridiculous, right? To catch a disease from a never before encountered alien lifeform is exponentially more unlikely.
Jason R.
Thu, Jul 18, 2019, 12:21pm (UTC -6)
"Have you ever given an oak tree a cold by sneezing on it? Sounds ridiculous, right? To catch a disease from a never before encountered alien lifeform is exponentially more unlikely."

In real life this is certainly true, which makes the idea of contagion or infection from alien life forms you often see in scifi (or parasitism like in the Alien movies) especially implausible. We would almost certainly have nothing to fear from an alien organism at the microbial. Even at the macro level an alien predator probably wouldn't even recognize us as something to eat let alone try to eat us. And if they did our foreign chemistry would probably make us as nutritious to them as rocks would be to us!

But to be fair this is Star Trek, where half the galaxy is populated by so-called "humanoid" aliens who are almost indistinguishable biologically, such that they can even breed with us the idea of cross species infection is more plausible.
Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 10:52pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting:

--Even though I last saw these eps maybe 1.5 to 2 yrs ago or so, I find my old brain does not retain the details that long. I remember the basics, though . . . and I remember this one as being a long series of flashback clips?

--It has kind of a promising beginning here, but I know it won't be realized.

--Animate vs inanimate objects, people's roles - responsibility and blame. Watching where you put your feet.

--I love Pulaski. I wish she didn't have to leave us.

--Will Riker dreams himself younger. I do that sometimes, too.

--Ah! This great Guinan-Will scene. I do give the ep points for showing us that again.

--The flashbacks touch frequently on dreams vs reality.

--Mega points off for showing the black slime monster.

--I like how Troi takes some of the credit for the Doc's theories and efforts. "We've only made it worse!" "We've found the answer!" Really, Deanna? Though "credit and blame" is something of a theme in this ep, so all this oddly worded, shared responsibility stuff between Pulaski and Troi is probably deliberate.

--LOL. The super-weird electrolyzed hostage Riker scene.

--Riker has led a fairly violent existence the last couple of years.

--Cute ending, as Riker claims to be "Captain Jean Luc Picard." It's the least we deserve.

Well, no great shakes - bad, yes, but more passively bad than actively bad. Bad not because there are terrible things about it, but because there's very little good about it.

A disappointing way for Pulaski to go out, and for the Season to end. But passable. Have seen much worse on ST.
Wed, Nov 6, 2019, 1:21pm (UTC -6)
When I read the title of the episode, I did not remember the plot, but when I saw the summary, I had Vietnam flashbacks of this episode. Needless to say, I shuttered very hard.
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 11:50pm (UTC -6)
Aaa, any excuse to hear Troi tearfully wail "YOU MUST SAVE HIMMMMMMMMM" is just fine with me! Great corny line
Sun, Jun 21, 2020, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
Sad to say the set up scenes on the planet were actually going somewhere when somebody at "corporate" duck-taped the writers together and force-fed them two tons of rigatoni.

The result was completely editor-driven. Troi and Dr. Pulaski poking skewers into Riker's brains was OK for starters, but it reminded me of when I got into my parent's drinks cabinet when I was 11 and poured gin into the Kaluhua .....Cascade failure rapidly descending from a flabby concatenation of over-long scenes to a kaleidoscope of horror. The best part was the look of relief on Pulaski's face once she had killed the infection in Riker's brain and in our own.
Sun, Feb 21, 2021, 3:09pm (UTC -6)
A rubbish exit for Pulaski but when I first saw this episode I remember being happy to see Tasha again.
Sat, Mar 6, 2021, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
I get the clip show but why did they use some clips of that other Riker guy, the one who lacked the majestic beard and never lifted a leg to pointlessly set his foot on some object?!

I had work to do today that I put off so I did that while letting this episode play so I could say that I didn't skip it.

PS - I still skipped a lot of it.
Beard of Sisko
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 10:50pm (UTC -6)
Most pointless episode in Trek history. That's all I have to say about it.

Now for my Season 2 overview

The Child: 1/10
Where Silence Has Lease: 7/10
Elementary, Dear Data: 7/10
The Outrageous Okona: 2/10
The Schizoid Man: 5/10
Loud as a Whisper: 4/10
Unnatural Selection: 3/10
A Matter of Honor: 8/10
The Measure of a Man: 9/10
The Dauphin: 3/10
Contagion: 7/10
The Royale: 2/10
Time Squared: 7/10
The Icarus Factor: 3/10
Pen Pals: 6/10
Q Who?: 8/10
Samaritan Snare: 4/10
Up the Long Ladder: 1/10
Manhunt: 2/10
The Emissary: 6/10
Peak Performance: 6/10
Shades of Grey: 1/10

Average final score: 4.6

A lot more promise than Season 1 due to having some strong episodes. But it still has its share of major stinkers that severely hamper it's average final score.
Frake's Nightmare
Tue, May 4, 2021, 4:35pm (UTC -6)
A very sad tearjerker of an episode where Riker remains alive.
My favourite bit is where Pulaski says 'He's dying' and Picard says 'is there anything I can do to help'.....bit harsh, but you can see where he's coming from.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 2:16am (UTC -6)
I read Jammer ‘s review after watching this and see that we both skipped through the endless clips from previous episodes - except that Netflix’s “10 second “ button isn’t quite as good as the old VHS fast forward!

All I can say is: what a pointless way to end a series. Did they believe the show wouldn’t be renewed and therefore fans might appreciate a review of what had gone before? That’s the only possible reason I can come up with for its existence.

The biggest gripe? That the show featured Dr Pulaski heavily for what would be her last appearance, yet gave her so little to work with. Welcome back Dr Crusher… not!!!
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 2:38am (UTC -6)
Ah, so they ran out of money? Explains everything, except why they made it the series finale. And why that title?

You too have the “Captain’s Logs…” reference - a great work! That’s where I first read about the ‘Picard Manoeuvre’, and now I can’t stop seeing it…
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 1:36am (UTC -6)
After years of putting this specific episode off, I finally watched it.

Highly recommend, it's so bad it's good, especially after the halfway point. Read up on why it's nonsense (the writers' strike), speculate on the effort needed for the actors to keep a straight face.

And you can think about how incredible it is that the show kept going, and quickly became a classic, just a few months after this. Impossible for a TV show today.
Sun, Dec 26, 2021, 12:24pm (UTC -6)
"Uuuunnnhhhh! Episode bad!"
- Ludo
Balok Face
Fri, Feb 25, 2022, 5:24pm (UTC -6)
I'd like to see a clipshow of each scene where someone says,"We have no choice!" (or some variation). I figure it's said once in most episodes--of any Star Trek series.
Sat, Feb 26, 2022, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
Apparently they ran out of money so the finale had to be a review episode.
Tue, Mar 15, 2022, 9:55pm (UTC -6)
Hey this should get a star for so thoroughly destroying the notion of clip shows in Trek. Whenever the idea came up later, they always pointed to this.

Contrast with the 90s Outer Limits where they did a clip show at the end of each season. They were generally extremely bad because that is an anthology show, so typically thethe connections they made between episodes were ridiculous.

It really tarnished that show's legacy, imho.
Tue, Mar 15, 2022, 11:06pm (UTC -6)
"And you can think about how incredible it is that the show kept going, and quickly became a classic, just a few months after this. Impossible for a TV show today."

TNG benefited from fan support to an unprecedented degree. It simply would not have survived halfway through the awful first season otherwise.
Wed, Mar 16, 2022, 7:31am (UTC -6)
@Silly "TNG benefited from fan support to an unprecedented degree. It simply would not have survived halfway through the awful first season otherwise."

Good point. Then there was the 'eye candy' factor in 1987. I think the visual quality and color resolutions fascinated people at the time. "the ship is cool" "beautiful planets" and crew housing which resembled contemporary Hiltons. It was a comparatively sensual program back then.
Sat, Apr 16, 2022, 2:28am (UTC -6)
Disagree with Jammer's rating. It's at least two stars in my book.

Yes, the flashbacks is laziness personified. However, the underlying premiss is both sound and intriguing. It cuts into the heart of what it means to be self-cognizant. A deterioration of the brain--in particular the neurons and the firing of electrical impulses among those neurons--is what makes the essence of a human being. If something goes sideways there, a person stops being that person. Keeping the neurons, axons, and synapses active and healthy, including through mental stimulation, is a proven way to forestall a number of neuro-degenerative diseases. It's usually done through doing crosswords or learning a new skill, such as a language. The episode did it through artificial means (and yes, some artifice).

I thought that was pretty neat and certainly thought-provoking.
Thu, Apr 21, 2022, 3:29pm (UTC -6)
How about the Naked Now
Wed, May 25, 2022, 8:59pm (UTC -6)
"Riker's brain" as I call it. By far the worst episode of the series, and up there with the greatest stinkers in all ST history. Sometimes and episode can be so bad its funny and that helps you get through it, however this one doesn't even get there. It's just dry and bland. I guess when the studio gives you a syndication order you have to fill it, but why they didn't just decide to let Peak Performance by the finale if they ran out of money, is beyond me. That would have been a solid end to the season.
The Queen
Fri, Mar 17, 2023, 2:43am (UTC -6)
Being one of the people who watched TNG when it was originally on, I think it's worth while to point out that having to wait a week for every new episode did make a difference. By the end of the second season, your memory of episodes over a year ago would be wearing thin for most of them. So the clips didn't seem - quite - as bad in that atmosphere. And there were months before the new season started, so by then you'd have forgotten an eppy like this and remember only the good stuff. They certainly weren't in reruns yet, and it wasn't even that easy to tape episodes.

I do remember thinking at the time how stupid it was for them to be on an entirely new planet without any protective clothing at all. And how stupid Laforge was to say that he had to go down with Data because he knew where Riker had been. As if the transporter chief didn't know where he had beamed them up from. Also stupid was Picard hanging around mournfully, and I was annoyed at Troi too until she started reporting on Riker's emotional responses to stimulation.
Tue, Nov 14, 2023, 10:26pm (UTC -6)
I'm not going to pretend to understand how either Hollywood or the television industry work, but the logistics of this episode make no sense to me. They made this episode because they were short on cash and time, but surely it would have costed less and taken less time to just make 21 episodes instead of 22. I guess they must have had a contractual obligation or something.
Wed, Nov 15, 2023, 10:29am (UTC -6)
There was a writers strike at the end of season two, which is why this season had 22 instead of 26 episodes like all the others. Presumably, possibly in part because of the strike, they made a business decision to create a terrible clip show rather than just have 21 episodes.

Even a clip show like this could be packaged and sold with advertising and released and make money, which is probably a better business decision than just writing the whole thing off as zero. Creatively, it's awful, but if they had to get something out to feed a production line that was still operating, this was an option.

I doubt something like this would get made today, simply because the expectations of TV are higher and they probably wouldn't want to turn off the audience by wasting their time. But in the 1980s there were far fewer options for audiences, so you could get away with stuff like this a little more realistically.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 15, 2023, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
@ Jammer and Mac,

Not only that, but in the 80's clip shows were somewhat common even for shows that didn't have strike-related issues. I was watching through Fresh Prince with my wife a couple of years ago, and they seemed to have relatively frequent clip shows in between regular episodes, as a matter of course. Like, maybe 1/10 or something was a clip show (I made up that average). When I'd start and episode and my wife was in the other room about to join, she'd ask "is it a clip show?" before coming over. That's how common it was. And I think this was a bit endemic for that time. Whether it was always for cost-savings I don't know. But back then execs were utterly paranoid about potential new viewers being turned off by feeling they had 'missed something', and I imagine clip shows were seen as being 'collecting' moments so people could catch up and feel welcome to continue watching the next week. Trek was itself faced with execs of this attitude, which is why TNG was set on permanent "episodic mode" even though some of the writers, along with Piller, wanted more long-term continuity mixed in. I'm happy they at least did get some continuity going, like the S1-3 Romulan arc, the adjoining Worf honor arc, and Riker's long-form career and personal arc. Obviously I'm not pleased for TNG to have done a clip show as well, but alas it was a sign of the time.s
Baron Samedi
Wed, Nov 15, 2023, 8:31pm (UTC -6)
@ Jammer and Mac and Peter G.

This feels like a reasonable juncture to add that I recently watched through all of Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict (free on YouTube at the moment, as is Andromeda) and it featured no fewer than five clip shows (1 in each of Seasons 2-4 and 2 in Season 5 when it had jumped the shark), including its penultimate episode.

Interestingly enough, the very first one (S2E8 Redemption) was really well done, with a creative framing device of a morally ambiguous character imagining herself being put on trial to determine if she was a good or bad person as she slowly succumbs to injury, with the clips from previous episodes serving as evidence by the prosecution or the defense. It may have been my favorite episode up to that point and built towards an ending that actually had a permanent impact on the show's overarching story. It's kind of a mirror image of Shades of Gray, in that it's an episode from a Roddenberry-associated series that made a clip show work really well (in my opinion at least) in only its second season.

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