Here we are, the final episode of season two and an interesting one to be sure. Before we start, you have to understand that this isn’t just another episode of Star Trek, in fact it was meant to be the back door pilot to an all new spin off series that involved a man from the future protecting the past.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the episode that originally aired on March 29, 1968, Assignment: Earth.
Captain’s Log Stardate undetermined.
Enterprise finds itself back in time after using the ‘lightspeed breakaway factor’ and is contacted by someone who shouldn’t be there. Beaming him aboard, they are greeted by a man going by the name ‘Gary Seven’ and his black cat named ‘Isis’. He informs Kirk that he is from another planet and has a mission on Earth so he would like to be allowed to finish his mission. Kirk declines and takes Gary into custody and Kirk soon learns that Seven is more than what he seems when the agent manages to escape and beams to Earth to ‘complete his mission’.
Gary Seven soon discovers that his fellow ‘Supervisors’ have died and he must complete their mission to save the timeline. What follows is basically a Star Trek version of a Doctor Who episode with Gary Seven attempting to infiltrate McKinley Rocket Base in order to prevent something tragic from happening while also maintaining his ‘human’ persona as Gary Seven. Meanwhile Kirk and crew attempt to find Seven, thinking he is some sort of menace, only to discover that Seven is on the level and they help him prevent what would have become a global nuclear war. Gary Seven ends up remaining on Earth, teaming up with a human woman named Roberta and his ‘cat?’ Isis (who might be a shapeshifter) while Enterprise returns to it’s own time.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode?
Although the ‘why’ of this episode is rather questionable, the actual story is a good one. The Enterprise, having travelled back in time seemingly on purpose to study the past, meets with an alien sent to Earth to protect the future. I mean, not bad right? Sure, overall this episode is a massive ripoff of Doctor Who with a touch of Mission Impossible thrown in for good measure. Now, that sounds like a complete mess right? Somehow, it’s really not.
The episode itself plays out very differently than a typical Star Trek episode with much less focus on Enterprise and it’s crew and the story shifting to follow the alien Gary Seven and his mission to save the future. While most of the episode takes place on Earth itself, it’s a cool fun episode that really plays off, like I said above, a Doctor Who story but Americanized a bit. The sad thing about it all is that this would have been a series of it’s own but Roddenberry apparently didn’t want to start a new series so he drug his feet to the point that it never happened. Ironically, Star Trek would find itself cancelled at the end of this season, giving the idea that maybe this could have been the logical continuation for the series had it not managed to get a third season thanks to a successful letter writing campaign.
The only thing I found problematic with this episode was the reason that Enterprise was in the past. It is implied from the beginning that they went back purposefully to ‘Study the past’ but this doesn’t make much sense especially after the events of City on the Edge of Forever where they learned the dangers of going back in time. Plus, why would they use a starship to travel in time when the Guardian of Forever could have easily been used instead? Again, that plot point just doesn’t work but, thanks to the story of Gary Seven himself, it can be ignored for the most part.
Overall, Assignment Earth is a fun episode that really should have been continued on with a series of it’s own. Thankfully, it seems we might get some of that very thing with the latest season of Picard…but I won’t spoil anything for you.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Gary Seven even uses a device similar to that of a Sonic Screwdriver….yeah…this was American Doctor Who.
- It is implied that Isis the Cat is some sort of shapeshifter even though that is left a very much a mystery.
Special Message from the team:
Unfortunately, this is where I have to inform you that this blog is going to be taking a little bit of a break for a while. We are in the middle of a physical move so new content will be limited for a short time. In the mean time, We will be reposting some of our STOS season 1 reviews and will follow up with continuing Season 3 of STOS in the coming weeks. Sorry in advance, but sometimes life has a way of sneaking up on you!
Until then…Live long and Prosper!
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Season 3 premiere Spectre of the Gun (coming soon)
For more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 4/6/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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