Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 26

Assignment: Earth (29 Mar. 1968)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Mystery
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While back in time observing Earth in 1968, the Enterprise crew encounters the mysterious Gary Seven who has his own agenda on the planet.

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Roberta Lincoln (as Terri Garr)
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Mission Control Director Cromwell
Morgan Jones ...
Colonel Jack Nesvig
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Ted Gehring ...
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Paul Baxley ...
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Storyline

When the Enterprise is assigned to observe Earth's history in 1968, suddenly it intercepts a transporter beam which originates at least a thousand light-years from Earth, bringing aboard a humanoid alien 'agent Gary Seven' holding a black cat called Isis, who warns them to step back and let him go to accomplish his mission to save Earth; initially phaser-struck down, he manages to beam himself away, actually on a mission to prevent a nuclear rocket being launched at McKinley base because earth is socio-politically not ready for its technological progress. He assumes a classified identity to override a powerful computer, and mistakes the wrong girl, Miss Lincoln, for another agent; the computer reports both other agents he seeks are deceased in an accident. Meanwhile Kirk and Spock beam down to investigate if the alien isn't hostile, realizing the risk of changing their own past. When they get on his trail, the girl sees Spock's ears, calls the police and Seven gets away; they must ... Written by KGF Vissers

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29 March 1968 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

This episode features one of the first uses of stock footage of the first test launch of the Saturn V moon rocket, which occurred just the preceding November (1967). See more »

Goofs

When Kirk addresses the crew over the ship's intercom, the first reaction shot among the crew shows Mr. Leslie, wearing a gold officer's tunic, walking through the corridor with Lieutenant Brent. However, the second reaction shot of the same speech shows him in Engineering, wearing a red jumpsuit. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Captain James T. Kirk: Captain's log. Using the light speed breakaway factor, the Enterprise has moved back through time to the 20th century. We are now in extended orbit around Earth, using our ship's deflector shields to remain unobserved. Our mission - historical research. We are monitoring Earth communications to find out how our planet survived desperate problems in the year... 1968.
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1 Of The Best Pilots To Never Fly
9 May 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

The Enterprise travels back in time to observe Earth during a particularly tumultuous period in it's history. However, upon arriving they intercept a mysterious alien transmission and end up beaming aboard a man wearing a 20th century business suit and carrying a cat. So begins "Assignment: Earth", a Star Trek episode that was actually a pilot for a proposed series, a marrying of Ian Flemming's James Bond with Gene Rodenberry's socially relevant themes.

Robert Lansing plays Gary Seven, a human trained by an unnamed alien race to protect humanity against threats to world peace. In this story, his mission is to transport to earth and prevent the US from shooting a military satellite into space that could set off a nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union. But when the Enterprise captures Seven en-route to Cape Canaveral, Kirk is reluctant to let him go, fearing Seven's mission may not be as altruistic as he claims. Mr. Seven then escapes the ship, beaming down to the city of Manhattan with Kirk and Spock in hot pursuit.

Next we are introduced to Mr. Seven's hapless new secretary, Roberta Lincoln, (played by the unmistakable Terri Garr). Though Roberta is definitely a scene-stealing sidekick, and a quintessential '60's "dippy blonde", Rodenberry fleshes her character out having her express concerns, both about her country, and her generation's future during that strife ridden period of the 1960's. Of Garr's performance you can see that even at so young an age (in the episode they state she is 20), her comedic timing was already impeccable and she seemed to have genuine chemistry with Robert Lansing. Lansing is effective here, too, both as an action star, and as a straight man to Garr. His deep voice and those unique, vaguely sinister looking eyes of his made him well suited to play an enigmatic hero. His screen presence reminds one of Patrick Magoohan with an American accent.

Rounding out the trio is Mr. Seven's black cat, Isis, which he talks to as if it's purring is actually a language- which it is. Isis, we learn later, is really some sort of alien female in the form of a cat. We only learn this at the end when she reveals a glimpse of her true self in order to tease an already jealous Roberta.

"Assignment: Earth" had some high quality production values including the swanky office apartment Seven worked out of complete with a huge vault that was actually a teleportal like the Enterprise's transporter system. Mr. Seven's weapon of choice was a fountain pen that could short out electrical mechanisms, temporarily neutralize suspicious guards, and, if necessary, kill. His snooty female-voiced super computer looked very much like the M-5 unit from an earlier episode, "The Ultimate Computer", but that's okay. It's still a cool prop.

Veteran "Star Trek" director Marc Daniels keeps things moving at a nice pace and maintains the right balance between the straight-up action and the more comedic aspects of the episode. There is some particularly effective usage of stock footage from NASA, too. The incorporated shots of the rocket being prepped for launch are quite awesome.

Overall, as a "Star Trek" episode this one is a fine entry. As a pilot however, "Assignment: Earth" serves as a tantalizing indication of what might have been a great series. Such a shame it was not picked up by NBC, but then this was also the network that decided to axe "Star Trek" after 3 years so, *shrug* guess we shouldn't be all that surprised by this additional boneheaded decision.


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