Pitch your alternative to 'Shades of Grey'

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Sam_I_Am, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. Sam_I_Am

    Sam_I_Am Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    Location:
    New Taipei, Taiwan
    It seems that everyone dislikes Shades of Grey.

    If you were in charge of the episode and you had to do something quickly, without any writers, on a limited budget, what would you do instead?
     
  2. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Writers were available for Shades of Gray. The strike was over in August 1988, which only affected the early part of the season. That episode happened because the show had gone overbudget, and there was no money for guest stars or new sets.

    I would have done a bottle show, perhaps a character piece. Or use archival footage in a more intelligent manner, like in The Menagerie. This episode was rushed (shot in three days) on a shoestring budget. Still, I'd rather watch it than Okona or Pen Pals.
     
  3. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Well, they did have some writing, but an incredibly limited shooting time, 3 days in fact

    I think the biggest flaw was in their application of a clip show, which was admittedly a feasible solution to their predicament. If I were in their position, and really had very little wiggle room, as they did, I might make a similar choice to do a clip show for a bottle episode, because there's been plenty of clip shows from other tv series that worked well. Hell, The Menagerie from TOS is a brilliant application of a clip show

    I think the easiest way to make what they were aiming for work better would've been to take the episode away from Riker & Troi, right off. Riker was sill too weakly developed at the time to fully carry a clip show.

    Instead, have Wesley be the one who gets infected, & Picard be the one present throughout. Troi could be there maybe, to do her empathy nonsense if need be, but the prominent performance should've fallen to Stewart (I mean c'mon. No brainer)

    As for the clips, the application of how they were included was one of the lamer aspects of the episode. How they should've been used is as flashbacks, to the more worthwhile experiences in Wesley's time aboard the Enterprise, his time spent with Picard in Samaritan Snare. His time with Riker & Guinan In The Dauphin, his early scenes on the bridge, bothering Picard

    Basically a retrospective on the experiences of a child aboard a starship, as his life hangs in the balance. Meanwhile Picard struggles with having been made responsible for him, while his mother is away, & facing the grim possibility that he may yet again be informing Beverly (Who hadn't even been in the season) that he's lost someone else close to her

    There is some dramatic worth there, and it's something they could even build on when Gates returned the following season. All Wheaton would've had to do is lay in a bed & let Stewart chew up the screen, with occasional breaks to highlight some of the more useful moments of Wesley's time there
     
  4. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    That's not bad! :techman:
     
  5. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Thanks :)

    My theory is that in a pinch, you have to go with the characters who have been built up the best so far, which at that point were, Picard, Data, & like it or not, Wesley. They devoted a lot of screen time to that kid those first 2 seasons. What better way to get some use out of it? By cherry picking his best moments & then wrapping a solid Stewart performance around them
     
  6. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Even the title would have worked better. Wesley was wearing a couple shades of gray in season 2. lol
     
  7. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Ha, ha!

    And you're right, it does set up Bev's return in season 3 nicely, by providing an impetus for her to return, instead of us all just wondering about it.
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    If they had to use clips they should have rummaged through the deleted scenes to find bits that had been cut out of previous episodes, so ay least it wouldn't be 100% reruns.
     
  9. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Location:
    Melakon's grave
    They could have padded the "Totally Naked" gag reel and it would have been better than "Shades of Grey".
     
  10. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Kansas City
    The test pattern with an 8-bit version of the TNG theme song playing on a constant loop for the entire hour.

    Infinitely more interesting.
     
  11. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Have the crew be infected by a quickly spreading virus that causes them to behave in interesting ways.

    One thing I did in a scifi story I once wrote was the virus makes people revert their memory to a prior version of themselves, but unable to be convinced it was now the future. With Troi and Riker one of them could have gone back to a point they were dating. Wesley could have gone back to before his father died then Picard to the day after he died. Worf during the raid on Khitomer. Etc .
     
  12. Makarov

    Makarov Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    One hour of Data tap dancing and Brent Spiner improv comedy.

    They actually did an episode like that on that dinosaur show Terra Nova, this one guy was infected with something that caused him to revert to a past memory.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
  13. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    There's so many scifi tropes Trek has available to it that make characters act in entertaining ways very cheaply.

    The 'Virus is spreading throughout the crew' which I already mentioned.

    The 'Crewmember loses some aspect of themselves they define themselves by, then adjust to it, then get it back'. Say, Wesley loses his technical genius and becomes a teenager of average intelligence, and he has to adjust to having a normal childhood and his fear that if he's not better than everybody he's disappointing Picard.

    The 'Crewmember is forced to face a phobia of theirs'.
    Character X is a afraid of Y. They are in a position where somebody will die if they do not face their fear of Y. This one can basically be mad-libbed.

    The 'Malevolent virus/computer program is gradually taking over the ship'
    It's easy to create dramatic moments here. "You have ten seconds until life support fails!" "Quick, the warp core is about to breach!"

    The 'Outsider learns something about humanity'.
    Trot out Data and have him learn how to do something particular to the human condition.

    Plug in any idea into any of these basic tropes, and you may not get a great episode, but you'll get a far better one than Shades of Grey for low effort and low cost.
     
  14. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    I might be a minority of one, but I don't mind SoG that much. Given the constraint of being a clip show, the concept (Riker needing different types of memories to stay alive) was OK.

    It was a lot better than other US shows (e.g. Friends) who use clip shows and use the predictable "Character X might be leaving and so all the other characters remember how much fun they had...and then Character X decides to stay anyway".

    At least SoG was a bit sci-fi-ish!!
     
  15. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Clip shows are sort of a conceit when it comes to sitcoms and usually the clips shown are there to relive funny moments. But the thing is, they're done on sitcoms! And at that, usually not until the show has at least 100 episodes under its belt.

    Not, you know, around 50.

    And I don't think "we need to show this alien pathogen certain types of memories in order to kill it" makes anymore sense than "Hey, remember how fucked-up the entire relationship between Ross and Rachel is?"

    And at least there's a conceit in sitcoms that we're seeing is literally what everyone remembers just a generality of the events, usually involving everyone. Apparently in SoG Riker's "memories" include thing he wasn't around to see, and things from other people's perspectives.

    I accept clip-shows in sitcoms because sitcoms have a much lower standard of "reality" where everything is supposed to be senseless and the characters largely static.

    A drama, or more serious-like show, like TNG? The standard is a bit higher and a clip-show does not fit, at least not as it is presented here. Yeah, I guess they *had* to do something and their hands were pretty much tied as far as budget, the writer's strike, whatever it was but, Jesus. I think they could have came up with something a heck of a lot better than this.
     
  16. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Star Trek even could have gotten away with a clip show if they found a more interesting story to tell with it. "Good memories make sick, bad memories make better!" That's just god damned stupid.

    Stargate SG1 did a clip show in their first season that introduced a great recurring villain, was interesting, and was relevant to the ongoing story.

    Speaking of Stargate, isn't it ironic that one of the best episodes of the series is named 'Shades of Grey'?
     
  17. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Agreed. It *might* be possible to make a good clip show. I dunno, set in the distant future and have an adult Wesley reviewing old logs from the Enterprise and think of those events?
     
  18. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Take out the clips of old episodes and redo the clips to show parts of Riker's life we've never seen. How he coped when his mum died. The argument with Captain DeSoto when Riker refused to let him beam down to the planet. Things like that. Show us new stuff that actually adds depth to his character instead of just showing what we've already seen. If I wanted to go and see bits of old episodes, I would have just watched the old episodes, dammit!
     
  19. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Interesting...as long as they didn't hire "Fabio" to play adult Wesley again! :lol:
     
  20. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    Republic of California
    If the budget is the problem, what about having a clip show that is, instead of the more memorable moment, is instead all the establishing shots and cooridor walking scenes. Have a story where most of it is told in voice over, or in some respects like "Data's Day", as a log entry or letter. Use old footage of people walking around or sitting in seats, their audio more or less muted with a new voice over and music track instead telling about life on the ship, or about some problem. Then use places like the bridge and cooridors only to slice in new scenes with the old clips to keep the story going. Then use the old cooridor clips to move the story to someone quarters or standing set, and continue the story. The use of voice overs could allow less stage filming and more post work done by less people.
     

Share This Page