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Old September 1 2013, 04:59 PM   #4
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Irishman wrote: View Post
Given that this episode was originally set to be a pilot for a Gary Seven show, and that it features odd cinematography (shooting around the fact that Kirk and our heroes rarely occupy the same space together), not to mention weird ideas that never get mentioned again (like time travel to the past as a thing that Starfleet ships just DO as a regular basis), should we regard this episode as a part of Star Trek canon?
Even if the spinoff had happened, it would still be counted as part of the canonical Trek universe, just as TNG, DS9, etc. are counted as part of the whole. Yes, it is more an A:E pilot than an ST episode, or at best an awkward hybrid of both. Maybe that's what you're driving at -- not whether it's "canon" (an overused word that generally gets in the way) but whether it's more of an ST episode or an A:E episode. Arguably it's closer to the latter, but that's the nature of a backdoor pilot. Plenty of other TV series have done backdoor-pilot episodes, many with even smaller roles for the series leads than this had. The whole idea is to make a demo episode of the new show under the banner (and with the budget) of the current show.

As for your comment about the cinematography, I looked through the TrekCore gallery and I almost see what you mean; there are only three scenes where Gary and Kirk are in the same place at the same time, and only two where they're in the same shot for any length of time. I suppose it's conceivable that Roddenberry and Wallace designed the story so it could be recut as a Trek-free half-hour focused solely on Gary and Roberta -- except that Spock is in frame with Gary throughout the climactic missile-destruction scene, so that would've taken some finessing. But at most that was just an option they left open for themselves, one that they didn't ultimately take. So there's no reason it shouldn't count as a "real" Trek episode.

A couple other problems I noticed are:

1. Gary Seven, presumably a human, is immune to Spock's nerve pinch. Why is never explained.
Yes, it is, essentially. We're told that he's the descendant of humans that have been trained and conditioned for centuries by advanced aliens, that he's a more physically perfect human specimen than McCoy has ever encountered. It follows that he's either been engineered or trained to be resistant to the nerve pinch.

2. At the end, Kirk says that he's sure that Seven and Roberta Lincoln will have "many interesting adventures together", a nod to the show that never came to be.

Is this episode too full of in-jokes and nods for its own good? Is it too "meta"? Sometimes I think so.
Well, since the episode's intent was to sell the spinoff, an acknowledgment that their adventures are far from over is very much serving the episode's own good. That's not an in-joke, it's doing what a pilot is supposed to do. Beyond that, I'm not sure what nods or metatextual elements you see in it.
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