Shades of Gray

Riker gets stung. Then Riker has flashbacks. Was it poison or acid in that thorn? Interestingly, it was actually a sort of parasitic or symbiotic life form that… WHO CARES? IT IS A CLIP SHOW! William T. Riker, this is your life, when we put Shades of Gray in the Mission Log.

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  1. CmdrR says:

    John: So, Ken, do you think this episode holds up?

    Ken: What episode?

    John: Shades of Gray!

    Ken: It’s not an episode; it’s ‘Ferris Berman’s Day Off.’ Recap: The Away Team beams down to Gilligan’s Planet. Riker is a dumbass and gets attacked by a plant. Then, the budget runs out. We spent the rest of the episode watching “best of” moments. The end. Messages, meanings, morals: Writers Strikes suck.

    John: You’re under-selling it. This episode was two years in the making. It has a guest cast of dozens. Hell, it took weeks between scenes because Riker kept shaving his beard off and having to grow it back.

    Ken: I need a drink. We’re the thorn juice??

  2. Wildride says:

    “Remember when we said we could borrow from the budget of one episode to pay for another? This is that episode.” – The producers.

  3. Wildride says:

    Secret backstory: After the events of this episode, Pulaski files a complaint against Miles for his comment and, in the end, Picard sides with him and Pulaski insists on a transfer. Crusher, as head of Starfleet Medical, is forced to transfer back to avoid it becoming a huge scandal.

    #Conjecture #MayNotHaveHappened

  4. deaddropsd says:

    I agree w your thoughts on Data’s “way” /naiive manner. Too much has always seemed new to him. 4 years at the Academy, time on previous ships. USS Tripoli would have educated him on wayyyyyy more idioms, quirks etc

  5. deaddropsd says:

    BTW, what dose it mean, when I hear the female computer voice a la Siri speaking? is that auto speech of some listener’s “Tweets” or your comments or? voice mails? Just curious….I thought I remembered the writer’s strike had an impact on the weakness of this clip show episode…? hmmm, oh well, yes onto the great Uniform Change of Season 3, can’t wait! What a difference it made…lol

    • The Mission Log computer has a mind of her own.
      As for the writer’s strike, that had ended by the start of season two. What we have at the end of season two is a cost-cutting measure since so much budget was spent on “Q Who.”

      • Muthsarah says:

        So just how much of an impact did the strike have? And..well…how much of it was actually negative?

        I remember you talked about how it probably impinged on the development of “The Neutral Zone”, but I don’t recall the subject coming up in any other Season One episodes.

        And the open submission (or whatever it was called) system did leave the door open for “Measure of a Man” (EDIT: And “Loud as a Whisper”). Maybe some other good Season Twos also. Could the strike actually have HELPED TNG to transition away from its old guard writing staff (who I’m not saying are bad writers, but they clearly were having problems with consistency, or at least with the producers) and clear the way for Piller, Moore, and the TNG that was to come?

        • Not sure I know how to quantify what you’re asking. You hit the highlights we covered – the second season started late, there were attempts to recycle some older script submissions plus there was more willingness to hear pitches from people not in the industry. A lot of the changing of the guard had already happened by the end of season one with some more exits at the end of season two – those weren’t directly related to the strike. Once Piller came on board, it was a little while before he ascended to producer role and could officially open the door to submissions from anyone. So, yes, there was an impact, but more to do with the logistics of starting season two and playing catch up in the early weeks/few months of the season.

      • Cygnus-X1 says:

        MLC sounds hot when she speaks with an Irish accent.

  6. Muthsarah says:

    What’s you guys’ takes on Seasons One and Two as a whole? I’m not aware
    of any Season One Retrospective. There’s still time for a Season Two.

    • Well I can only speak for myself, and I’ll comment here how I did on Facebook to someone. I feel like season one was new so we might have all been more forgiving at the time. Season two has better individual episodes, but its flubs are much more acute than in season one. It’s almost a draw. Season one might be the winner only because (with the exception of “Code of Honor”) its weaker episodes sort of fly under the radar. No retrospective episode just yet, but we may work that into some upcoming Supplemental plans.

      • Muthsarah says:

        Do you guys take extra time out of your lives to record supplementals, or are they simply put out there in place of “regular” Trek episodes? Are they made entirely at your discretion? Do you ENJOY making them? How much of the Mission Log Podcast is joy and fun and light and awesomeness and how much is grind and re-watch and think and pause and write and compose and stuff, beyond the point when it’s even enjoyable?

        You say you might do Season review supplementals, but, you haven’t yet. I don’t want you to feel pressured, if that’s not your kinda thing. It seems you two put at least a full day’s worth of work into each episode. And please, don’t ever change that, unless you wanna do more.

        To put the rest of my jumbled, love-colored thoughts into the simplest words:

        – The more supplementals, the better, if it doesn’t distract from your regular routine. I haven’t even gotten around to half of them, and they’re very informative thus far, especially the behind-the-scenes discussions, since I know the finished episodes well, but I don’t know half of the lore. Or the trivia, I guess would be more appropriate for you, John.

        – I don’t want you to spoil stuff going ahead. Both you and Ken have been a fair bit kinder towards Seasons One and Two than I think most fans have been (including myself). Season Three could be a bombshell. Assuming you, like Ken has been, are coming back to it relatively fresh, having gone years between viewings. Which I did once, meaning that, once upon a time, each episode (and its memories) hit me in the face like an Abrahms-era lens-flare.

        Do you guys have a “ratings system”? Would you judge the “hold-uppingness” of a Season Three like you would judge a Season One? Every Trek fan seems to think Three was a better season than the previous two, even if a few “crazies” think it didn’t get truly good until Four. Are you guys going to take any kind of a different tack to Season Three than to the previous? Personally, I think TNG Season Three is the best season of any Trek ever. Every episode barring three TOTALLY holds up, and those three still are decent for genre TV, all saying. I’d be positively tickled to see you guys bowled over by it, given the last two (oft-troubled) seasons. But, I wonder, in the interest of greater-Trek love, would you maybe judge it by more stringent standards than you would the earlier seasons? Would you hold Season Three to a higher standard when you approach the issue of whether it holds up, based on its (superior) reputation?

        What TOS was from “The Corbumite Maneuver” through “A Private Little War”, so is my TNG Season Three. Plus the inevitable two following eps, a natural denouement. A tall order, just saying.

        God, this was a long comment. I’m sorry. A chocolate-covered Kudos bar to you if you made it thus far. :p

        • Supplementals are usually done in addition to the work we do on the regualr Mission Log. Sometimes we break that cycle, though, and release a Supplemental on regular release days. It’s our discretion given time, interview scheduling, etc. We did a series recap (two of them) for Star Trek The Original Series, but we didn’t discuss dedicating a whole episode to that for TNG seasons one or two. I say we might becasue we might choose to do that at the end of season three or we might incorporate some recap into another Supplemental show.
          No plans to chage our format for season three of TNG. Do we have a ratings system? Not really. Our mission is to talk about morals/meanings/messages – we’re not ranking the shows overall. Whether or not somethnig “holds up” us a criteria we play with a little to see if the morals/meanings/messages still work even if the production value of a particular episdoe does not.

          • Will Wright says:

            Hi John.
            I know it’s been a while, but now that you have mentioned it – yeah, I have to admit that I’ve always kind of wanted you guys to assign some type of rating to an episode – like “On a scale of 1 to 10 – I’d give it a 4.”

          • Well… that’s not really what we do. I get it, but ultimately are you comparing episodes to other episodes or basing it one some other criteria? There are a million lists out there ranking the various episodes. We set out solely to look at the ideas contained in them.

  7. wchmara says:

    Since this episode is nothing to write home about, I wanted to ask a non-related question. Does anyone know the story of how the producers decided on using the TMP theme instead of the new theme melody that had been already written and performed (which one can hear used as a background melody in certain episodes)?

    • wry observer of folly says:

      My best guess: $$$

      Also, the concept theme written by Dennis McCarthy, with all respect, sounded eighties tastic. It’s very Galaxy Quest.

  8. lordshmee says:

    I think you guys under-thought the whole “good thoughts leads to bad things” angle. Approach this from an evolutionary standpoint for the plant. As a body begins to die the brain will often begin releasing endorphins to make the process not suck so much. You’ll often hear hear people who recover from near death experiences say they felt no pain even in situations where they should have felt a LOT. So the plant evolved to take advantage of this phenomenon. The more it wrecks havoc on the body the more endorphins are released the faster the process goes making it more likely the plant gets its meal.

    • deaddropsd says:

      I feel like the series run was like a good jog…the first 1-2 seasons were warming up…got really good for 3,4,5 then hmmmmm well…so so so sad about the Borg…hahaha…if they had realllly been thinking imagine “All Good Things…” incorporating TRUE EASTER EGGS from “Encounter at Farpoint”- wOw..that woulda been something…!

  9. “Shades of Gray” makes “Spock’s Brain” look like “Threshold.”

  10. Jerry Stokes says:

    I know it’ll take a while to get to “Star Trek: Nemesis”. Tat is my secound favorite “Next Generation Movie”. I like it, because everybody got what they wanted.

  11. Cygnus-X1 says:

    A valiant effort by John and Ken to find meaning in this stinker.

    “Shades of Gray” is a clip show without a meaningful theme linking the clips. It’s not Riker contemplating his life choices or his value as a person. It’s just a series of clips to eat up time until Riker gets cured, as you guys said.

    Which is the worse episode—this one or “Code of Honor?” Flip a coin. I suppose I agree with John that this one is worse, simply because it is absolutely devoid of meaning. This episode can’t even be criticized as a failure because it makes no attempt at anything. It barely qualifies as an episode; it’s almost more akin to an extended trailer.

    When I cycle through TNG, I don’t skip many episodes. But I do skip this one. And also “Code of Honor.”

    • “Shades…” feels like a homework assignment slapped together in the face of a looming deadline after no work was done on the assignement for the rest of the semester. It’s a desperate move. “Code…” was seemingly thought out as a show, they just suffered from one bad decision after another not getting caught and corrected. Too bad – could have been so much better.

  12. wry observer of folly says:

    Let’s be understanding. Every show at this point had a clip show. MacGyver in its third and fourth seasons used the idea as a crutch.

  13. Low Mileage Pit Woofie says:

    I would dismiss this entirely, except for one passage, which sums up a decent lesson or two: “Most life forms act out of an instinct for survival, not out of malice.” As well as “If you drop a hammer on your foot, it’s hardly useful to get mad at the hammer.”

  14. KatieN says:

    I have both a loathing for clip shows and a grudging appreciation. I hate them because I’ve pretty much only every practiced the binge-mode of television consumption. All of the reverie is sapped from the episode when I’m reflecting on scenes I saw only days before.

    I have a grudging appreciation because frankly, I can get on board with that level of lazy. And also, I love it when shows are self-referential. Unlike most people, I don’t have a toleration ceiling on that kind of self-indulgence. In a way, this kind of falls into the category of self-reference.

    But since I do live in the present where binge mode is king, clip shows are an annoying relic.

    • I’ll go out on a limb here and say that for a clip show this is still among the worst of clip shows. And, yes, it only gets worse when binge-watching.