"Assignment: Earth" is the last episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. It was first broadcast on March 29, 1968, and initially repeated on August 9, 1968, five months later. It is episode No. 55, production No. 55; it was written by Art Wallace, based on a story by Wallace and Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Marc Daniels.
Engaged in "historical research", the Enterprise time travels to 1968 Earth where they encounter an interstellar agent planning to intervene in 20th century events with motives uncertain to Kirk and Spock. The episode served as a backdoor pilot for a proposed spin-off television series, produced by Roddenberry, also to be called Assignment: Earth. Guest performers Robert Lansing, as Gary Seven, and Teri Garr, as Roberta Lincoln, would have continued in the new series had it been commissioned.
The Federation starship USS Enterprise, which has time-travelled to Earth in 1968 for historical research, intercepts a powerful transporter beam originating from one thousand light-years away. A man (Robert Lansing) dressed in a 20th-century Earth business suit materializes, along with a black cat. He introduces himself to Captain Kirk (William Shatner) as Gary Seven, and realizing that he is dealing with people from the future, warns Kirk that history will be changed if he is not released immediately. Kirk, having no proof of Seven's claim, orders him to be taken to the brig and asks Spock to search the history database for any critical events that will soon occur. Among other things, Spock finds that the United States will launch an orbital nuclear weapons platform in a few hours.
Seven, with the help of his "servo", escapes from the brig and beams down to an office in Manhattan, emerging from a vault. Activating a computer, he identifies himself as Supervisor 194 and inquires as to the whereabouts of Agents 201 and 347, who he learns have not been heard from in three days. Seven decides to complete their mission. A young woman arrives, whom Seven mistakes for Agent 201. After some confusion, the computer identifies her as Roberta Lincoln (Teri Garr, credited as Terri Garr), a secretary employed by the missing agents. Seven then tells Roberta he is a CIA agent, and, appealing to her patriotism, asks her to remain and assist him. The computer eventually discovers that Agents 201 and 347 have died in a car accident.
Kirk and Spock track Seven to his office. Roberta stalls them while he and his cat enter the vault and dematerialize. Arriving at McKinley Rocket Base, Seven stows away in the launch director's car as he leaves to make a final check of the pad. Riding the elevator to the top of the gantry, Seven climbs an access arm to the side of the rocket, opens a panel, and begins to rewire the circuits.
Kirk and Spock beam down to McKinley Rocket Base and are immediately detained. As they are questioned, the missile carrying the nuclear weapons platform is launched. On the Enterprise, Chief Engineer Scott (James Doohan) tries to locate Seven. In New York, a curious Roberta explores the office and accidentally discovers the hidden vault. Scotty locates Seven on the rocket gantry and tries to beam him up, but Roberta, randomly operating the transporter controls, intercepts the beam and brings Seven to the office. The computer tells him that he can still take manual control of the rocket.
Seven takes control of the missile, arming its warhead and bringing it off course. McKinley Base controllers frantically try to destroy the missile without success. After a failed attempt to call the police, Roberta bludgeons Seven with a heavy cigar box and seizes the servo. Seven pleads with her to allow him to proceed, "or in six minutes, World War III begins!"
Scotty beams Kirk and Spock from the base to Seven's office. Roberta, now trusting Seven, points the servo at Kirk, but Seven surrenders it, noting that it was "set to kill". He then pleads with Kirk to let him complete his plan, which is to destroy the missile at a low enough altitude to deter the use of such orbital platforms in the future. Kirk decides to trust Seven. With only seconds to spare, Seven retakes control of the computer and safely detonates the warhead at an altitude of 104 miles (167 km).
In the epilogue, Spock and Kirk explain to Seven that the Enterprise was meant to be part of the day's events, citing their historical records. Seven is curious to know more, but they reveal only that he and Roberta will have an interesting future.
In 2008, IDW Publishing launched an Assignment: Earth five-issue comic book series written and drawn by John Byrne. The stories show the characters' lives from 1968 up to 1974, including Seven and Roberta's peripheral involvement in the events of a prior episode, "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" (occurring before "Assignment: Earth" for the Enterprise crew, but after for Seven and Roberta). An epilogue set in 2008 depicts an annual reunion between Roberta and Isis (in her humanoid guise) at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to honor a friend who had been killed in that conflict.
In 2010, The characters appeared in issues #3 and #4 of Star Trek: Leonard McCoy Frontier Doctor.
Author Greg Cox has included Gary Seven and Roberta in three of his Star Trek novels: Assignment: Eternity; and a two-part novel, The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh. In the latter two novels Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln go on to eventually stop Khan Noonien Singh and his fellow genetically engineered humans from taking over the planet. In the Peter Clines novel "Fold" a character comes from an alternate universe and has a cat named Isis after the cat from her favourite TV series "Assignment Earth" with no knowledge of the show Star Trek. Her version from this dimension has a cat named Spock.
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written by Gene Roddenberry
FIRST DRAFT PILOT, dated November 14, 1966
report & analysis by Dave Eversole
At last, we have a copy of the rare pilot script written and pitched as a series by Gene Roddenberry while Star Trek's first season was unfolding.
How do Gary and Roberta fare without the familiar Trek characters along to lend a hand? Is it better than the backdoor pilot we saw at the end of the second season? Is it worse?
The answers: Okay, no, and no.
Though the script is 47 pages in length, it is a pilot for a half hour program, as there are only three acts, and much of the page count is given to the necessary explaining and showing of the "Seven Universe" for the first time.
The teaser is only one page in length, and designed to be a part of a continuing format. Each episode would have opened with a shot of Gary Seven arriving at a new location via his wall safe transporter, followed by a rapid-fire TEASE montage of scenes from that week's episode (think of the scenes playing behind the burning fuse in Mission Impossible). These scenes would have emphasized Gary and Roberta in their fight against the evil Omegans, and would have played with the weekly narration:
In the hands of this one man...
could rest the future of all mankind.
His name...Gary Seven...
born in the year 2319 A.D.
The only survivor of Earth's attempt
to send a man back through time to today.
Assignment...fight an enemy
who is already here, trying to destroy us.
If he fails...there'll be no tomorrow!
We open on a close shot of a large richly bound book entitled "Earth History - 1967 Through 2300 A.D." It opens and the pages are rapidly turned. Superimposed, as if on the pages themselves, we see moving photos of the future - space vehicles, the starry heavens, the startling Satanic-looking Omegans. The narrator gives us a brief history - man landed on the moon in 1967, then reached outward to the stars. In the year 2245, Humans encountered the warlike Omegans. When Earth sent peace envoys to meet with them, the Omegans planned a decisive death blow. As masters of time travel, they sent a group of agents to Earth's most critical time period, the 1960s. Their mission: change Earth's future. Eliminate the statesmen of tomorrow, corrupt the parents of a future educator, destroy a key scientist, corrupt, weaken, destroy. . . until Earth has no tomorrow!
New York City. A fashionable office building. Roberta "Bobbi" Hornblower--a 20-year-old "mod," a delightful mixture of wacky teenager and self-assured young lady who has had to make her own way for years--arrives at an office marked "THE -7- AGENCY." Beneath this title is "INVESTIGATIONS." There is no answer to her knock. When she discovers the office unlocked, she enters to wait for Mr. Seven.
She soon encounters Marley, the building superintendent. He stops by to drop off a nondescript package which was left for Gary Seven. Soon we learn that Mr. Seven has only recently rented this suite. Marley is a bit put off by Seven cutting a large hole in one wall for an oversized safe.
Much as in the aired pilot, we follow Roberta as she encounters the various odd items in Seven's office - a small cube (which we will later discover controls a computer), a pen (servo unit) that doesn't write, a pair of glasses (X-Scope) which allows the wearer to see through solid objects, and a voice-activated typewriter. Roberta uses the typewriter to compose a note to Seven. She tells him that she has decided not to apply for a job as his secretary. In fact, she tells him she had never heard of his agency until just a little while ago.
She explains (via the note) that something weird happened to her earlier that day. While downtown, she met a woman who looked remarkably like her, a woman who was coming to apply for the job as Seven's secretary. As they talked on the sidewalk, a large slab of marble siding fell from the top of a building. Roberta froze, would have been killed, but the woman stumbled and pushed her out of the way, and was herself crushed. Roberta, out of curiosity, took the slip of paper with Seven's address, and came down to apply in her place.
As Roberta finishes her note, she sees a cat wearing a jeweled necklace sitting on a ledge outside the window. Roberta opens the window, tries to pick it up but it hisses and spits at her. She tells the cat it can climb back down the way it came up.
A SQUEAKING sound. The door of the large wall vault swings open, revealing a "shimmering nothingness," and then the faint outline of a man which grows more solid as he approaches the vault opening and the room.
Gary Seven, early thirties, strong features, but ones capable of humor, dressed in a modern suit, albeit one that seems to have interwoven metallic threads in it, steps into the room, immediately identifies himself as the fourteenth one who has tried to follow Roberta here. The others were killed. He knows that agent 3Y3 (referring to Roberta) knew some of them and offers her his condolences. He identifies himself as "7Y6006, codename: Gary Seven."
Roberta has no clue what he is talking about, but before she can speak, there is a knock at the door. Seven grabs the X-Scope glasses, looks through the wall to the hallway, sees a police officer.
Police Lieutenant Brunner is there to give Seven a hard time about his lack of a commission license permitting him to open a detective agency. Seven is puzzled - Roberta was supposed to have taken care of that. When Roberta begins babbling about the strange items in the office and shows Brunner the voice-activated typewriter, Seven is sure something is not right with her.
When Brunner leaves, Seven questions Roberta, asks why she is playing her cover identity so completely. She babbles, tells him she just stopped by to apply for a job, and accepted a package for him from his building's super. Seven realizes that she is the real Roberta. But why is she alive? Historical records showed that Roberta Hornblower was crushed by the falling slab of marble. 3Y3, an agent from the future, was to have assumed her identity since the body was crushed beyond recognition.
Belatedly realizing that he has said too much, Gary Seven, lamely, tries to talk his way out of the mess, telling Roberta it was all a gag. As they talk, the black cat with the jeweled necklace returns to the window and sits eyeing Seven. Another cat joins the first.
Roberta finally seems to buy Seven's story, and he offers her the job. But she is dumbfounded when he knows too much about her life -- her lack of any living relatives, her being kicked out of her apartment, etc.
As she is about to respond, she looks toward the window ledge and SCREAMS. Instead of the two cats, she sees Harth and Isis, two shape-shifting Omegan agents. Harth is a sallow "Count Dracula" type, while Isis is an incredibly beautiful woman. Isis, in human form, continues to wear the necklace.
When Seven follows Roberta's line of sight, he sees two cats. He turns and for the first time seems to really notice the package delivered earlier. He realizes what is happening, grabs Roberta, shoves her into the hallway a split second before the package explodes. Gary dives on top of her, his metallic-laced suit absorbs the impact of the explosion and fire, protects them.
Marley, the superintendent, sprays them with a waterhose and calls the fire department and police. Gary drags Roberta back inside the demolished office, locks the door behind them with the servo, and uses the cube to activate his computer.
It has the ability to turn back time in approximately thirty minute intervals. Gary orders it to undo all the damage to the office only, then he grabs Roberta and tells her that he is taking her through his transporter to his apartment. There he has a room and clothes, etc., already set up for her replacement.
Roberta protests, but is amazed as, with a sudden PLINGGGGG sound, the damage to the office begins to revert. The burned walls resume their original freshly painted forms, a heap of burned ashes reverts to an undamaged chair.
Still staring at this amazing sight, Roberta finds herself scooped up into the arms of Gary Seven. He carries her into the wall safe, and the door clangs shut behind them.
In Seven's apartment they change clothes, establish this key set, as well as more backstory on Roberta. In order to prove that he is from the future, Seven says that Roberta's best friend Cynthia will marry one Eddie Norris later this year. Roberta snorts at this -- fat chance, they hate each other. Seven insists it will happen.
Freshly attired, they travel back through the transporter to the office, which has fully reverted to its former condition. There is pounding at the door, and a fireman's axe chops a hole in it. Lieutenant Brunner, a fire battalion chief, several firefighters and Marley rush into the room. Gary feigns ignorance, makes Brunner look bad in the eyes of the fire department. All leave except Brunner.
In the weirdly dark, Satanic Omegan headquarters, Harth and Isis observe the scene in Seven's office via a crystal sphere. They pay particular attention to the angry Lieutenant Brunner, and say that they might be able to use him.
At Seven's office, Roberta finally says that she will take the job as his "secretary." Seven is pleased, but the mood is shattered when Brunner arrests him - the money he used to pay Marley for the lease of the office is counterfeit, all the bills have the same serial number. As he is taken away, Seven tells Roberta she can reach him by the telephone in his office. Brunner declares that Seven will be allowed no calls.
"Dial 7Y24490178J, write it down quickly," Seven yells at Roberta.
As Seven is dragged away by Brunner, he yells to Roberta, "And don't play with the cats!"
Harth and Isis have observed this via their crystal. We learn that Isis delights in the torment of Human males. Harth is aware that Isis will appear and torment Gary Seven "in the tomorrow."
Roberta discovers that Seven's telephone comes equipped with a small viewscreen which slides up out of the inner workings and shows the person she is calling. She calls her friend Cynthia, and discovers the ugly truth -- her boyfriend, Eddie Norris, is having an affair with Cynthia.
Shocked, Roberta slams down the phone after promising to kill that two-timing phony Eddie.
Behind her, Harth says, "I can destroy Eddie for you, Roberta. If you'd do something for me."
In Seven's office, Harth attempts to put Roberta under a spell. "What a lovely one of us you'll make," he tells her.
A few moments later, Marley returns to Seven's office, encounters a dazed Roberta. She explains that that evil man almost owned her, but she was able to shake off his influence. She is of course referring to Harth, but the sympathetic Marley thinks she is talking about Gary Seven.
Roberta knows she must help Seven. She knows the small crystal block works the computer, but she is not sure how. She tries asking it questions, to no avail.
In his jail cell, Seven is visited by Isis. She wants to help him escape, she says. They will kill Harth, and be together in any year they choose. "And which one of us would own the other, Isis?" Gary asks. She disappears.
Later, Lieutenant Brunner, under the spell of the Omegans, comes to the cell, takes Seven away at gunpoint.
Back in Seven's office, Roberta is being stalked by Harth. "Help me," she screams into the computer cube. Nothing happens. She hurls the cube at Harth, rushes to the vault, spins the combination. It opens! She dashes inside, closes the door. The transporter effect surrounds her.
Roberta, that wacky chick, materializes in a United States Senator's office, then is transported to a men's steamroom in Chicago. Hilarity as she tries to explain her way out of each mess before being caught back up in the transporter and sent on her way.
In an alley behind the police station, the entranced Lieutenant Brunner points his pistol at Gary Seven and orders him to attempt to escape. Seven will not. Brunner fires at Seven's chest. Nothing happens. He fires three more times before realizing that the bullets are being stopped by Seven's special metallic-laced coat. Seven knocks him unconscious, fights a couple officers who try to stop him, and then dashes away into the night.
Meanwhile, poor Roberta has materialized at the Kremlin. Hijinks ensue (don't they always?). After running wildly about, she finally makes her way back to the room in which she first materialized and steps into the shimmering nothingness of the transporter's beam.
Harth, Isis and two novice Omegans (transformed Humans) await Roberta. Her next jump through the portal will bring her to Omegan headquarters. There is a deep pit exactly where Roberta will materialize. One step forward, and she will tumble to her death.
Seven arrives at his office, questions the computer about what happened to Roberta.
Roberta materializes at Omegan headquarters, takes a step forward and screams...
Gary Seven, carrying Roberta, emerges from his transporter. He was able to grab her at the last instant and transport back to his office.
Is every day going to be like this, Roberta asks. First day on any new job is always the most unusual, Gary Seven says.
Marley comes in, tells them that Seven's private detective business permit application has been approved. He also says the police realize that, somehow, they were mistaken about the counterfeiting. When they checked the bills a second time, the serial numbers were all unique.
We wrap in Seven's apartment. Seven answers a knock at the door. It is Eddie Norris. He asks if Roberta is living here. Seven coldly eyes him, and Eddie backs down. "Oh, I see," Eddie says.
Seven archly replies, "I'm pleased," and closes the door in his face. Roberta enters from her bedroom suite, explains that she was expecting someone to drop by. "Was it someone for me?" she asks.
After a beat, Seven says, "It was no one for you."
Roberta goes back to her room, leaving Seven alone.
From the script:
ANGLE ON SEVEN
Standing there, puzzled.
Well, I can't kill the girl simply
because she was supposed to die.
And since I do need a secretary,
she doesn't contaminate history. . .
And it's totally ridiculous for
a man to be talking to himself.
Even in this century!
Seven whirls, exits into his bedroom suite, CAMERA FOLLOWING him as he exits.
Well, this was only a pilot script, and there was a lot of groundwork to be laid, but still, the story is very thin, just a skirmish between Seven and the Omegans, with little in the balance. On the plus side, I do like this script's "Bobbi" Hornblower better than the one we saw on Star Trek. And though the possibilities could have been endless, hampered only by the writers' imaginations, I still see the proposed series as quickly devolving into weekly clashes with Harth and Isis.
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