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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old September 2 2013, 04:20 PM   #31
Greg Cox
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Funny. I had no idea anybody disliked this episode. Even as a kid, it was one of my favorites and I was always wanted to know what Seven and Roberta and Isis got up to afterwards. (No surprise there, eh.)
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Old September 2 2013, 04:28 PM   #32
Christopher
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Melakon wrote: View Post
Perhaps he was feeding lines from off-camera. Some actors prefer getting their cues from an actor rather than a script supervisor as non-actor's delivery can sometimes be pretty flat with little to play off for the featured actor.
Except the scenes being shot were in Gary's library and office. Doohan didn't voice the Beta 5, Barbara Babcock did. And the only scenes that had Shatner, Nimoy, Lansing, and Garr in Gary's office at the same time were the climactic scenes, and the Beta 5 didn't have any dialogue there except calling off the countdown. There was nothing for the actors to play off except "Altitude 250 miles" and "Forty seconds to impact," which wouldn't have been worth wasting Doohan's time.

Also, I checked the call sheet again, and DeForest Kelly is also listed as H for "Hold," while the other four actors are listed as W for "Worked."

I did some research and jogged my memory, and I've remembered what "hold" means. It means that the production isn't using the actor on that particular day of shooting, but isn't done with the actor yet, so they're still being "held" by the production. So the "hold" notation for Kelley and Doohan meant that they weren't on the set that day, but they still had scenes to be shot on a later day. Maybe they were supposed to stay available in case something delayed shooting on the intended set and they had to substitute shooting a different scene that would've used those actors.



The Old Mixer wrote: View Post
When you see something that's unusual, like humans and Vulcans working on a ship together, it doesn't immediately follow that they're from the future. He wouldn't have known that they would someday be allies, that they would someday serve on starships together, and that those ships would have transporter devices...unless he did.
He wouldn't have known for certain, but that doesn't mean it's particularly difficult to hypothesize. He's a smart guy; it's not like he would've been totally unable to imagine an explanation.

But I went over the transcript, and I must concede it is explicit in the episode that Gary does have knowledge of the future. His full line in the transporter room was, "That's impossible. In this time period, there weren't -- Humans with a Vulcan? You're from the future, Captain." His use of "weren't" makes it pretty clear he's acquainted with thinking of the 1960s in the past tense. Moments later, he says of his employers' world, "Even in your time, it will remain unknown." That's not just a conjecture or extrapolation, it's a statement of certain knowledge.

So we can conclude that, while Gary was native to the 20th century, he and his employers did have direct knowledge of the future. Thus they undoubtedly had time travel in their repertoire.


Regarding Gary's device and the sonic screwdriver...I think both were drawing from a common source, the Bond phenomenon. IIRC, Our Man Flint (1966) had the title character boasting of the number of covert functions that his pen could perform.
Again, though, the sonic screwdriver was originally just a screwdriver -- or rather, a device that could open panels, hatches, and so forth. That's all it initially was -- not a multifunction spy tool, but essentially a high-tech prybar. (Crowbar to us Yanks.) Within a few months (in "The Dominators") it was given the ability to cut through a wall like a blowtorch. Its first use as a scanning device was in 1971's "Colony in Space," and by "The Sea Devils" a year later it became a mine detector/detonator. And so on.

So it wasn't created to be any kind of spy device; that came later, once Jon Pertwee became the Doctor and the show took on a James Bond/gadget-driven flavor. As originally conceived, the sonic screwdriver was just for opening things. Like I said, all the similarities we see to Gary's servo were added years later, rather than being part of the original concept behind the sonic.

(We can probably safely assume that the sonic keeps gaining more functions because the Doctor keeps tinkering with it and adding new settings. Which is why it's so ridiculously overpowered by his 9th through 11th lives.)
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Old September 2 2013, 04:50 PM   #33
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
jpv2000 wrote: View Post
Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Officially, it's obviously just as "canonical" as any other episode. And Lord knows some of us have gotten plenty of mileage out of it . . . .
Exactly. I loved that episode, though I admit I loved most of TOS.

(Heck, Roberta popped up in a new Trek novel just a few months ago.)
True. I loved the older novel Assignment: Eternity which had Kirk and crew again meeting up with Seven and Roberta and that lovely Isis.
Thanks! I'd been plotting to bring Seven and Roberta and Isis back for years at that point!
Thanks and kudos to you for a fantastic story. Assignment: Eternity is my absolute favorite TOS novel.

And, for the record, the new novel I was referring to is In History's Shadow by Dayton Ward.
I'm currently catching up on the Titan series, 2 more books to go, then I'll check it out.
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Old September 2 2013, 05:01 PM   #34
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

jpv2000 wrote: View Post

Thanks and kudos to you for a fantastic story. Assignment: Eternity is my absolute favorite TOS novel.
Wow! That's high praise indeed!

True story: That book was the result of a long process of development. The very first Trek proposal I ever submitted to Pocket, way back when Kevin Ryan was the Trek editor, was a completely different version of Assignment: Eternity that had something to with Federation scientists inventing some new weapon that would destabilize the Organian peace treaty. Kevin rejected that version, however, and that was that . . . for a time.

Years later, after I'd finally broken into Trek writing, John Ordover and I played around for a while with the idea of me wrting a Seven/Picard crossover, but I never managed to come up with a plot that we both liked. Another dead end.

Even later, we flirted with the idea of a Kirk/Q novel, but Paramount vetoed the idea, so I replaced Q with Gary Seven and adjusted the plot accordingly--and that's the outline that finally became Assignment: Eternity!

So, yeah, in a way, that book was years in the making. Glad you found it worth it!

Thinking some more about this: In retrospect, I think part of the challenge here, which is reflected in some of the negative comments about the original episode, is that it's hard to throw Seven up against Starfleet without one side coming off as misguided, irrationally stubborn, unnecessary, or irrelevant. Personally, I didn't mind that Kirk and Spock ended up playing second fiddle to Seven and Robert in the original ep, because it was a nice change of pace, but I can see where that might bother people who just want a straight-up STAR TREK episode.

Certainly, I can testify that striking a nice balance between Seven and our regulars is harder than it looks!
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Old September 2 2013, 05:23 PM   #35
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

It was always a strange experience for me in the 1960s to see Shatner and Nimoy in contemporary clothes, because I didn't really become aware of them until their Trek characters. Seeing Nimoy on a game show without the ears and penciled in "normal" eyebrows, or Shatner wearing a blazer with open collar shirt with his fancy sideburns always threw me a little bit back then. But apparently Roddenberry wanted futuristic hairstyles for the male actors as well, but they drew the line at that.
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Old September 2 2013, 07:52 PM   #36
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Also, I checked the call sheet again, and DeForest Kelly is also listed as H for "Hold," while the other four actors are listed as W for "Worked."

I did some research and jogged my memory, and I've remembered what "hold" means. It means that the production isn't using the actor on that particular day of shooting, but isn't done with the actor yet, so they're still being "held" by the production. So the "hold" notation for Kelley and Doohan meant that they weren't on the set that day, but they still had scenes to be shot on a later day. Maybe they were supposed to stay available in case something delayed shooting on the intended set and they had to substitute shooting a different scene that would've used those actors.
Maybe they were just being held to complete some ADR work to finish the season?
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Old September 2 2013, 08:11 PM   #37
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

^Like I said, "hold" just means that the actor isn't needed that day but will still be needed later in the production. Note that the call sheet says "Scenes to Shoot -- 159," "Total to Date -- 81," and "To Be Taken -- 78." That means that they were only a little more than halfway through shooting the episode at the time of this call sheet. Thus it stands to reason that there were still some unfilmed shipboard scenes that McCoy and Scott would've been in.
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Old September 3 2013, 12:13 AM   #38
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Thinking some more about this: In retrospect, I think part of the challenge here, which is reflected in some of the negative comments about the original episode, is that it's hard to throw Seven up against Starfleet without one side coming off as misguided, irrationally stubborn, unnecessary, or irrelevant. Personally, I didn't mind that Kirk and Spock ended up playing second fiddle to Seven and Robert in the original ep, because it was a nice change of pace, but I can see where that might bother people who just want a straight-up STAR TREK episode.

Certainly, I can testify that striking a nice balance between Seven and our regulars is harder than it looks!
I think you found that balance perfectly in the story. And I reread it more than most.

Also thanks for all the background info and it was indeed worth it in my opinion.
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Old September 3 2013, 12:32 AM   #39
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Funny. I had no idea anybody disliked this episode. Even as a kid, it was one of my favorites and I was always wanted to know what Seven and Roberta and Isis got up to afterwards. (No surprise there, eh.)
I watched this again recently after having not watched TOS for a long stretch and it's backdoor pilot nature is very apparent with fresh eyes. After thinking it was OK growing up I found it quite distracting now.
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Old September 3 2013, 12:50 AM   #40
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Thinking some more about this: In retrospect, I think part of the challenge here, which is reflected in some of the negative comments about the original episode, is that it's hard to throw Seven up against Starfleet without one side coming off as misguided, irrationally stubborn, unnecessary, or irrelevant.
Irrelevant, yes; all that Kirk and Spock really did at the climax was decide to get out of Gary's way. But I think the episode did a decent job of justifying why they were at odds. Kirk had no proof that Gary was who he said he was, and plenty of reason to mistrust someone employing such clandestine means to infiltrate Earth. Whereas Gary presumably felt it important to minimize potential disruptions to the timeline, so he would've wanted Kirk & crew to stay out of it as much as possible; thus he escaped rather than trying to convince Kirk to work with him. (Plus he didn't have time for that.) So there was good reason for them both to be working against each other with the best of intentions. Each was acting according to his responsibilities as he defined them, and thus their conflict was believable.

The problem is how the conflict was structured. The problem is that Roddenberry chose to structure the story in such a way that he could cut out the Trek portions and have a pure Gary/Roberta presentation film to sell his show to the network. And that means Kirk and crew only interact closely with Gary before he begins his mission and then remain on the periphery the rest of the way through. If Roddenberry and Wallace had chosen to, they could've structured the story so that the ongoing conflict between Kirk's responsibilities and Gary's was more prominent and central. Maybe have a climax with Kirk and Gary fighting on the rocket gantry, and Kirk almost falls and Gary saves him, and that convinces Kirk that he's on the level, and then they have to work together to finish the job. Or something like that.
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Old September 3 2013, 12:59 AM   #41
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

^Or they could have teamed up and fought Malcolm McDowell on the rocket gantry....
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Old September 3 2013, 01:37 AM   #42
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Oh, yeah, there's some nice conflict built into the concept. Seven's entire mission on behalf of his alien sponsors is in direct conflict with the Prime Directive, which means there's always going to be a degree of friction between his mission and whatever Starfleet crew he runs into. As well as, conceivably, some chewy moral dilemmas.

As I recall, this was something I tried to address directly in my aborted Seven/Picard project, but we never quite licked the problem of how to have Picard and Seven on opposite sides of the Prime Directive without one of them looking bad.
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Old September 3 2013, 02:10 AM   #43
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

I don't really mind if Gary Seven looks a little bad. I mean, as designed, he's distant, arrogant, and somewhat condescending toward humanity, and is capable of making cold, calculating decisions if he thinks it serves his mission. While he's technically human, he's essentially an alien in mentality and background, and that gives him some license to be unsympathetic, to get away with choices and priorities that seem strange or inappropriate to us. After all, he has Roberta to be the audience-identification figure, the more sympathetic one.
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Old September 3 2013, 02:13 AM   #44
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

I suspect my versions probably had Picard looking bad . . .which is probably why Ordover kept rejecting them!
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Old September 3 2013, 04:26 AM   #45
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Re: Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

The Old Mixer wrote: View Post
^Or they could have teamed up and fought Malcolm McDowell on the rocket gantry....
Please.....no.

How about McDowell and Shatner chasing Stewart (as Jack the Ripper) around present day San Francisco?
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