Assignment: Earth and its Status in Canon?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by SG-17, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. SG-17

    SG-17 Commodore Commodore

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    I've been slowly rewatching TOS and I have to say I don't understand how Assignment: Earth can be considered canon.

    It's a backdoor pilot for an unrelated concept.

    It treats time travel casually (Enterprise was given as assignment to study history!?).

    It is never referenced again (outside of the same method of time travel being used in STIV).

    Frankly it's the most logically incongruent episode in the entire franchise in terms of canon.
     
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    It's a classic Star Trek episode that aired on television. Many of us grew up watching it over and over in reruns and know it by heart.

    That makes it as "canon" as any other episode.

    And, honestly, if being "never referenced again" matters, then we might as well declare any number of episodes "non-canon," including most of TOS. :)
     
  3. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Commodore Commodore

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    Of course its canon
    Gary Seven was a smug bastard though
    If ever anyone deserved a Jim Kirk dropkick to the chest, it was Gary Seven
     
  4. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd like to know why Teri Garr hated it, as has been said around here. Just curious.
     
  5. plynch

    plynch Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It has charm.
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    /thread
     
  7. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    Gary 7 was a soldier in the Temporal Cold War.

    There, canon.
     
  8. SG-17

    SG-17 Commodore Commodore

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    I think my biggest sticking point is Starfleet sending the Enterprise on a mission to study the past. Not save it, not chase down a criminal who fled into the past.

    Its completely out of the blue, it's never talked about again even in other time travel episodes.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Hardly the only such incongruity in a show that was being made up as it went. Heck, in the 1960s, continuity of any kind was rare in TV. Anthologies were the classy stuff that everyone wanted to emulate, and nobody had VCRs to let them catch up on missed episodes, so the priority was to make each episode a satisfying whole that had zero dependence on anything outside itself. So it was rare for the events of any Trek episode to be mentioned again, as Greg said. The degree of consistency in TOS was actually above average for the time, but it was still quite loose by modern standards. And the makers of later shows had no obligation to follow up on every TOS episode.

    Granted, the random historical research mission in A:E is a weak plot device to set up the backdoor pilot, but that's an issue of the quality of the script, not an issue of continuity, because not everything in fiction is about continuity.
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I always thought that it was kinda cool that Starfleet tried making use of the breakaway effect accidentally discovered in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" to research the past. The idea that they were focusing on the present day late 1960s as a tumultuous period in history—which it actually was—and about which the Federation was interested in learning more for that reason, while obviously not interesting enough to lead to a spin-off, was one that I thought worked well enough for the purposes of an offbeat episode. :shrug:
     
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  11. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There are a lot of people who don't understand what "canon" means.
     
  12. UssGlenn

    UssGlenn Commodore Commodore

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    The Enterprise's accidental time travel in Tomorrow is Yesterday must have been the first time travel incident that wasn't highly classified.
    So some Brass at Starfleet Command, the ones with no training in Time travel (or knowledge that it has ever happened before), come up with this scheme to do historical research. And the people with actual time travel expertise don't manage to stop them. Of course the Enterprise is assigned the mission because they are the only ship with time travel experience (as far as these Admirals know anyway).
     
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  13. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    The "lightspeed breakaway factor" isn't exactly what Spock described in "Tomorrow is Yesterday" where he said:

    SPOCK​
    [...]the slingshot effect, like the one that put us here. My computations indicate that if we fly toward the sun, seek out its magnetic attraction, then pull away at full power, the whiplash will propel us into another time warp.
    [...]
    Logically, as we move faster and faster toward the sun, we'll begin to move backward in time. We'll actually go back beyond yesterday, beyond the point when we first appeared in the sky. Then, breaking free will shoot us forward in time, and we'll transport you back before any of this happened.
    No mention of lightspeed, but I guess close enough.
     
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  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    One can rationalize that, having only just discovered how to travel back in the time, Starfleet couldn't resist trying to use it for historical research on an experimental basis. Then, when this routine historical mission came close to triggering a nuclear war (oops!), they became much more cautious in the future.

    In short, it's the early days of time travel, so Starfleet's still working out how to handle it, thus explaining any discrepancies with future episodes.

    (I recall Christopher dealt with a lot of this in his D.T.I. novels; can't remember how much I'm duplicating his thought processes here.)
     
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  15. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What about the time travel theory discovered in The Naked Time? That was their first ability to go back in time and yet ignored after the larger TIY episode, although we know that both were going to be a two parter at one time!
    JB
     
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  16. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Dude, have you watched Discovery?:lol:
     
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  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah... People usually equate it with the slingshot effect, but to me it sounds more like a reference to "The Naked Time."

    However, the slingshot effect in TiY took place at warp, i.e. faster than light, so the term could apply to that too. It's really hard to tell.


    Yeah, you're basically right. A curious Starfleet took advantage of the new discovery, but when it proved dangerous, the Federation Council put the brakes on it. Ditto with the Guardian of Forever -- once "Yesteryear" proved that you could alter history just by scanning the past with the Guardian, there were probably restrictions placed on using it for historical research of any kind.

    I also established that it was these early problems that led to the Federation establishing the DTI to regulate temporal research and phenomena. Which will go out the window if Discovery should casually mention that the DTI already exists in the 2250s.
     
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  18. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    Agreed.
    I used to wonder why I didn't like this episode all that much.
    Its because its a pilot for another series. Instead of being in control, the command team of the Enterprise were made to look like buffoons.
    In this episode any changes that happened because the Enterprise went back in time were ore-destinedand meant to happen unlike in COTEOF.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Trek has often done it both ways -- sometimes a time travel changes things as in "City" or "Past Tense," sometimes it was part of things all along as in "Assignment: Earth" or The Voyage Home or "Time's Arrow" or "Little Green Men." Then there's "Yesteryear," which is a mix of both -- Spock couldn't act to preserve the timeline he knew until he experienced an alternate timeline showing him the need to act.

    And it always puzzles me when people assume it has to be one or the other in every single case, that it can't be both. Time travel would be like anything else in physics -- how it manifests depends on the specific conditions in which it happens. The same physical laws apply on Earth and in space, but the conditions are different -- i.e. on Earth's surface you're much closer to a very large mass -- so letting go of something you're holding will have a very different result on Earth (falls on your foot) than in space (floats in place, more or less). By the same token, some time travels would change history and others would merely reinforce it, depending on the specific conditions.

    Indeed, when quantum theory is applied to time travel, it says that an object or person traveling in time would necessarily follow all possible paths simultaneously, producing different timelines -- including one (or more) where their actions changed history and one (or more) where their actions merely fed into the existing history and nothing was changed. Rather than being inconsistent outcomes, they'd both be required. Put another way, if you're trying to preserve history -- or trying to change it -- then there's a probability of both success and failure, and since quantum physics is probabilistic, that means there are timelines where both outcomes happen.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
  20. valkyrie013

    valkyrie013 Commodore Commodore

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    I like that episode! one of my favorites!
    And I've read all the follow up book by Greg, and DTI's by Chris and Dayton's lattest ones.
    I like that the Aegis just nudge, not trying to change it to a more "Aegis Freindly" version, but just trying to keep them alive to make it out in to space.
     
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