Assignment: Earth - Is it Really a Star Trek Episode?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Irishman, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Irishman

    Irishman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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?

    A couple other problems I noticed are:

    1. Gary Seven, presumably a human, is immune to Spock's nerve pinch. Why is never explained.

    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.
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Of course its a Star Trek episode.
     
  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It does have ideas never raised again. Gary Seven could be human, but he's also a product of generations of humans raised by an advanced race on another world so maybe there was tinkering going on that makes Seven look mostly human while being something more.

    The transporting across vast distances idea is visited again in third season in "That Which Survives" when the Enterprise is transported across a thousand light years.

    The time travel to do historical research idea might have been the first time they had actually tried it, but it doesn't answer whether it would become a regular thing. Seems to me using a Class One starship for this kind of thing isn't the greatest idea. If you're going to do it I'd think a small dedicated team would be better.

    The episode itself is just okay. I think it's not something they would have done if GR hadn't wanted to do a backdoor pilot using Star Trek as a jumping off point.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.


    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.


    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.
     
  5. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't include it in my personal continuity.
     
  6. JT Perfecthair

    JT Perfecthair Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I wish there had been another series with Robert Lansing, a very cool actor.
     
  7. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Captain Captain

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    Check out his earlier series, 12 O'CLOCK HIGH. It currently runs on MeTV in the US, now on a once-a-week schedule. Lansing was only in the first season, though, replaced by Paul Burke for the remainder of the series.

    Harry
     
  8. mach7

    mach7 Commander Red Shirt

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    I just read in the late '70s version of the concordance that the the spin off show Assignment Earth was never supposed to be involved in/part of the Star Trek timeline.

    The idea never sold so Roddenberry and Wallace decided to wrap it up in a Star Trek episode and see if it could then be sold. Still no takers.

    As for the OP's questions, It is cannon because it was on screen and poses no great conflict with story's both before and after.

    We are told Gary Seven is human, but this is never really proved. McCoy's examination could have been interfered with.

    As for the time travel stuff, I get the feeling that maybe Star Fleet thought that mucking around in the past was a bad idea.

    I seem to remember that an early version of the episode had the Enterprise going back in time to fight a race of time traveling aliens called Omegans bent on destroying Earth in the past.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's right. The original plan was for a half-hour series in which Gary Seven was a time traveler from 2319, battling time-travelling Omegans. Here's an overview:

    http://www.orionpressfanzines.com/articles/assignment.htm

    I've read the pilot script, and it felt almost like a sitcom in the vein of My Favorite Martian, only much less funny. A lot of the running time is about Roberta's wacky reactions to Gary's magic tech (some of which survived in the aired episode) or Gary's suspicious landlord trying to prove he's up to something but being stymied by Gary's magic tech. Or Roberta being the butt of sexual innuendoes as she misunderstands Gary's actions, or using Gary's tech to discover her best friend is being two-timed and save her from making a terrible mistake. And the supposedly alien Omegans come off more as demonic sorcerors, prefiguring "Catspaw" a bit. It feels entirely different from Trek and from the episode we got.


    Except that Gary confirmed that he was the descendant of human abductees when he was confirming his identity to the Beta-5 computer, at which point he would've had no reason to lie, no listeners to deceive. So at the very least, Gary believed he was human and the Beta-5 saw no reason to correct him.


    No, as stated, that's from the non-Trek pilot version. I've read the pitch document written for the later, Trek-spinoff version, which slightly predated the episode script (Gary was temporarily renamed "Anthony Seven" in it), and there's no mention in it of time travel or Omegans. On the contrary, the revised idea was that Gary and Roberta would be tackling relatable modern issues and threats arising from within human society. It even makes a point of arguing that focusing on alien enemies, like rival show The Invaders, is a mistake, because the only worthy villain "is man himself."

    By the way, what I said earlier about how the episode seemed structured in a way to allow the Trek characters/scenes to be removed and leave a coherent story about Gary and Roberta? That actually was the plan, but not for a half-hour episode as I suggested. The pitch document mentions creating a 20-minute presentation film for NBC which would be cut from the non-Trek portions of the episode. (These days a 20-minute film would be a half-hour episode once commercials were added, but back then there were fewer commercials so it would've been more like 25 minutes.) It would be interesting to find out if this presentation film was ever created -- it would be a neat historical artifact if it could be found. But it probably would've been found already if it had existed.
     
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    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 . . . .

    (Heck, Roberta popped up in a new Trek novel just a few months ago.)
     
  11. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Wow, thanks! That 11/22/67 Solow memo is very revealing. The network felt the half-hour pilot was too much of a comedy, but apparently they would've been okay with keeping the "Omegan" element in the revised series. So I guess I wasn't off-base perceiving the pilot script as being like a sitcom. I just figured it was rejected because it was a very bad sitcom.

    Oh, too bad they don't have the full first draft of the script. I'd like to know what role that Lt. Cooke was supposed to play.

    The opening with them watching Bonanza (and promoting another NBC show) survived into the revised draft script, though it was less blatant in that version. I wonder if it was filmed and then cut, because the aired episode does open rather abruptly. Indeed, sometimes I wonder if it was originally aired with that scene but then had to leave it out of later releases for licensing reasons. Although I think we'd have heard about it if that were the case.

    I wonder why Doohan was being held for the scenes being shot in Gary's office. Scotty was never there.
     
  13. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    Exactly. I loved that episode, though I admit I loved most of TOS.

    True. I loved the older novel Assignment: Eternity which had Kirk and crew again meeting up with Seven and Roberta and that lovely Isis. :drool:
     
  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Thanks! I'd been plotting to bring Seven and Roberta and Isis back for years at that point!

    And, for the record, the new novel I was referring to is In History's Shadow by Dayton Ward.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  15. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Before knowing it was supposed to be some sort of pilot, I didn't really like the episode.
    It wasn't about the Enterprise or Kirk. They had many scenes without anyone from the series in it. Our heroes were bit players, losers, wrong about things. I didn't like it.

    I only just accept it now knowing it was a pilot (OK 20 years ago when I heard that it was).


    Kirk and Spock can't be defeated by a ditzy temp. That is soooo wrong. :rolleyes:

    I liked the cat though. :)
     
  16. Gojira

    Gojira Commodore Commodore

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    All I know is I love a young Teri Garr. I actually missed that episode in reruns during the 70s and only saw it when I git the DVD. It does seem more like a different show than Star Trek. Because it was basically a pilot for a different series it does feel different. But I do enjoy it.
     
  17. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Me too, and not just young.
     
  18. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yup. If it was filmed and aired, it counts. Whether or not I like an episode or think it fits is irrelevant. They're all part of Star Trek and happened within the context of the fictional universe.
     
  19. mach7

    mach7 Commander Red Shirt

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    Christopher,

    Thanks for filling in the blanks. Funny how time has a tendency to muddle facts.
     
  20. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    A young Teri is in two episodes of It Takes a Thief from 1969 if you can find them-- as Maggie Philbin in both "Guess Who's Coming to Rio" and "The Beautiful People", though she's billed under her given name of Terry.