Saturday, April 16, 2016

Star Trek: Assignment: Earth

Most of my posts recently have been about Star Trek and here's another one, as I take a look at the final episode of season two of the original series
Once again, it's a really clear day everywhere on Earth.
Assignment: Earth is a strange episode. It was put forward not just as an episode of Trek, but also as a hopeful spin-off series. As a result, it wasn't really good at either. The hopeful series didn't get picked up and the episode isn't the best that Trek has to offer either.

In the episode the Enterprise has been sent back in time (!) "to find out how our planet survived desperate problems in the year 1968." Interesting, as 1968 would later prove to be a rough and tumble year in the U.S., but thankfully one that didn't see the launch of the orbiting nuclear weapons platforms that were supposed in this episode.
Just before the opening credits they accidentally intercept a powerful transporter beam with a human, Gary Seven, and his cat Isis (a familiar?). It seems that Seven has been sent from a planet whose existence will remain hidden even in the 23 Century "to prevent Earth's civilization from destroying itself before it can mature into a peaceful society." Can Kirk and Spock trust him? Can they stop him or should they help him? That's the crux of this episode.
That, along with showing us cool footage of the Apollo 4 launch of the first unmanned Saturn V rocket
And Spock hanging out with Isis the cat.
We also get to meet Roberta Lincoln, Seven's new groovy, but ditzy helper. The series they were trying to sell would have been the adventures of Seven, Lincoln and the cat, presumably saving the Earth from destruction every week.
I'm not sure it would have worked, especially without a T.A.R.D.I.S., but at least Seven has a Sonic Screwdriver. I think that you can make a good argument that Seven is in fact a Time Lord, but I don't blog about Doctor Who, so I'll just leave it at that.
We do get to see Kirk and Spock in civilian clothes, which is fun, and the episode gave us a genuine look at the future by showing us a voice-recognition typewriter, but the whole, "were here to figure out what happened in the past" argument doesn't work for me, especially when at the end of it all, Kirk explains that their record tapes reveal that everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to. So why didn't they look at those record tapes before their mission?

Or maybe history was altered and they just don't know it. Alas, there's no sign of a historian on this mission who might have been able to sort it all out. I guess they never replaced the one they lost in Space Seed.
 Assignment: Earth ended Trek's second season. In my next post I'll look at the season as a whole and present my top 10 episodes.

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