Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Star Trek--"Assignment: Earth"

“Assignment: Earth” is the most unusual episode of Trek as it served mainly as a pilot for a new show Gene Roddenberry was cooking up. The show was to featurea futuristic James Bond character named Gary Seven, his clueless assistant Roberta Lincoln, and Isis, a cat that could turn into a human. Seven andhis entourage took center stage of the plot it is clear their convergence with our heroes was a matter of cross promotional conveniencve. Considering TOS was thought to be all but cancelled at this point, I cannot blame roddenberry for the idea, but it is difficult to fit “assignment: earth” into overall Trek continuity.

Thew Enterprise runs into Seven after it uses the famous slingshot method to travel back to 1968. They capture Seven. He admits to them he is a human from the future, descended from other humans taken by an alien race 6,000 years ago. His job is to alter events for the good of the future. He will not say why he is in 1968, but as the plot unfolds, we learn that he plans to detonate an American nuclear missile safely over Eurasia in order to frighten the world into ending the arms race. The plan almost fails with the intervention of Kirk and Spock who believe Seven is actually trying to start World War II. Seven convinces them he is earnest by saving Kirk and he is allowed to explode the missile as originally planned.

For an advanced human from the future, Seven certainly comes up with some dumb plans. Whether it blew up safely in the sky as a warning or not, a missile headed towards Warsaw Pact countries is an act of war. Most certainly not a nuclear war, but I cannot imagine an American “accident” like that would prompt a breakout of peace. I am not enough of an idealist to think that idea is going to do anything but make Cold War tensions worse.

As a pilot, there was some promise in a potential show standing on its own. As part of the trek universe, it is a square peg in a round hole. Seven is completely ignored throughout the rest of Trek on television and film, although a number of novels and comic books feature his adventures on the periphery of major Trek events. Most notably, Seven allegedly helped end the Eugenics Wars in the novels.

I am not a huge fan of “Assignment: Earth” because of its odd fit. The regular TOS cast was pretty much incidental to the story. In fact, all they really do is get in Seven’s way. They believe their actions to be proper, it is not particularly entertaining to find out the main characters have been acting completely wrong until the end when tegument star becomes the hero. In this case, it is even worse, since Seven had somean incredibly dumb idea to scare people into peace. I am glad TOS did not end on such a sour note, but considering much of the third season to come, it is only a small blessing.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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