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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Shades of Grey (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

Well. That’s over now. Star Trek: The Next Generation limps across the finish line of its second season with a compilation clip show designed to save money and keep the season’s episode count up. Shades of Grey is frequently cited as the worst episode not just of the second season of The Next Generation, but of the show as a whole. While it’s hard to entirely agree with this assessment – Shades of Grey is cynical and lazy, but it’s neither as sexist as Angel One or The Child nor as racist as Code of Honour or Up the Long Ladder – it is possible to see where that argument comes from.

Like the first season before it, there’s a sense that the second season of The Next Generation might have been better had it ended an episode earlier. Indeed, the second season could have ended with Q Who? and the only episode anybody would really miss would be The Emissary. Unfortunately, one imagines the syndication agreements and network policy made this impossible. While one suspects many of those involved would be happy if Shades of Grey simply faded from existence, it remains part of the show’s syndication package.

This is a little like what this episode feels like...

This is a little like what this episode feels like…

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Non-Review Review: Futurama – Into the Wild Green Yonder

Interesting. It seems that Futurama has somehow (presumably unconsciously) incorporated one of the central features from its key sources, the Star Trek franchise. It’s frequently asserted by fans of that series that the television show spawned a rather inconsistent movies series. Some, such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, could stand tall and be measured along the best movies that science-fiction could offer; while others, notable Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (in which Kirk kills God in a story pitched and directed by William Shatner), were actually terrible. The consensus emerged that the even numbered sequels were great and the odd numbered movies were terrible. This is just a run of thumb, and it’s possible it has been reversed (the tenth movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, was pretty disappointing; the eleventh, Star Trek, was a blast of fresh air) or even completely deconstructed. While none of the four Futurama movies are “terrible” or even “bad”, the distinction between the “okay” and the “great” seems to fall on similar lines. The first and third, Bender’s Big Score and Bender’s Game, weren’t great, while the second and fourth, The Beast With A Billion Backs and Into the Wild Green Yonder, perfectly capture all that was great about the show.

Here we go-go again...

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Non-Review Review: Futurama – The Beast With A Billion Backs

I wasn’t overly impressed with the first of the Futurama movies, Bender’s Big Score. It was grand, and a wonderful emotional kick made it worth watching, but it felt very insular and a little too random in its execution – built around in-jokes and clever ideas discarded after five minutes or so. Somewhat paradoxically, it felt more like a “final” episode than the “first” of anything, let alone a welcome to this new format for the show. So I was more than a bit relieved to discover that The Beast With A Billion Backs was a far more consistent viewing experience, but also one which felt a lot more like a regular episode of the show, just stretched to two hours. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

... And Zoidberg, too!

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