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Season Two:
-30: "Catspaw"
-32: "Friday's Child"
-33: "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
-38: "The Apple"
-39: "Mirror, Mirror"
-43: "Bread and Circuses"
-45: "A Private Little War"
-46: "The Gamesters of Triskelion"
-49: "A Piece of the Action"
-52: "Patterns of Force"
-54: "The Omega Glory"
-55: "Assignment: Earth"

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Assignment: Earth

(Star Trek story #55 in production order)
  • story by Gene Roddenberry and Art Wallace
  • teleplay by Art Wallace
  • directed by Marc Daniels

Assignment: Earth

Star Trek saves its only second season foray into the world of time travel proper for the very end of its run, which turns out to be an exceedingly bland run-of-the-mill exercise that re-hashes its usual petrified take on the subject. The opening, and indeed many of the challenges of the story, are extremely reminiscent of "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (Star Trek production #21), with talk of the "lightspeed breakaway factor" bringing the Enterprise and crew to then-present-day 1968 - although this time on purpose and with intention to study the time without allowing themselves to be detected. No sooner do they record this in the log than an adventure slams into them. With their strict restrictive fear of altering anything, you have to wonder why they bothered to tempt fate in the first place.

What is perhaps more interesting is revealed in Herb Solow and Robert Justman's "Inside Star Trek" book and audio cassettes: that this episode is a thinly disguised backdoor pilot for a proposed TV series about Robert Lansing's Gary Seven alien agent, saving humanity each week in James Bond style with the aid of his Earthly assistant Roberta Lincoln (Teri Garr) and his mysterious cat-woman companion Isis. That series might even have gone somewhere, if only this "pilot" episode wasn't such a clunker.

The biggest flaw in the episode is the lack of a proper, tangible, externalized antagonistic force to drive the conflict in the plot. All of the major characters belong to either Star Trek's cast of heroic regulars, or the proposed new cast of Gary Seven's heroes. The writers attempt to generate most of the story's conflict artificially between these two groups, while any roles outside of these groups remain uninteresting bit parts. There are major motivational problems as well, because Gary Seven is the only character who knows what's going on, and he keeps too much information to himself until the very end. All the other characters are left in the dark, with our Star Trek regulars forced to doubt their every possibility for a move, spending all their time either second guessing themselves cluelessly, or standing around in some form of captivity waiting for something to happen. For a story that's meant to double as the 55th of Star Trek, and as the 1st for "The Adventures of Gary Seven", the story really doesn't do justice to either series or either set of characters. The audience is left with no-one to root for, and nothing to get emotionally invested in.

There is some fun to be had with this episode. Teri Garr's bubbly presence lifts the episode up a notch, and is one of the story's highlights. Her costume seems to be more suited for a quietly posing model though, and looks a bit out of place when she starts jumping around the set like a monkey. The episode also uses a lot of footage of a rocket ready for launch, which is the kind of thing that can easily drone on too long and be a bore. "Assignment: Earth" is at least successful in combatting this by having Scotty encourage the audience to try to spot Gary Seven somewhere in there with him, elevating our interest in such footage enormously. Nice one.

When all is said and done, this Star Trek episode actually does keep its nose clean in terms of what actually happens with regard to time travel. Nothing "changes" magically, history proceeds logically, no conundrums bugger up the writing. The belief in such possibilities has merely rendered the characters extremely impotent and boring today. Because any time-travel no-no's are limited to beliefs inside the characters, this is actually the best of the three full-length time travel stories produced on Star Trek so far. Yet it still isn't a winner by any stretch of the imagination.

It is interesting to ponder Gary Seven's actual take on time travel though. He appears to have some knowledge of future history, but he only verbalizes the threat of changing history when he realizes who the Enterprise crew are, as though he is tailoring his remarks to fit in with what he knows their belief systems would be. What does he himself really believe? Perhaps this is still officially up in the air, although it's hard to think that the Star Trek writers who penned this episode actually have anything more metaphysically correct in mind. Had "The Adventures of Gary Seven" become a series, it could have safely stayed away from any time travel, as Gary only travels across space, and it would probably have turned out to be much more dramatic, exciting, and interesting than this poorly designed pilot could show.

Read the next Star Trek review: "Spectre of the Gun"

This Season Two time travel story is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Star Trek Season Two "Purist" Standard DVD Box Set:

Watch the legend continue to develop through its prime. Set contains all 26 episodes from the second season in their original wacky broadcast order, plus new bonus features.

As someone interested in researching how the episodes actually looked and sounded originally, and when and exactly how certain musical cues first debuted, this was the DVD set for me, and it remains the most untampered-with full-season collection of Star Trek out there. Unique extras include pure text commentaries on select episodes. Sadly, these sets are starting to become rare, and prices are now rising as these become collectors' items....


DVD Canada


Standard DVD Extras include:

  • To Boldly Go... Season Two featurette (20 min.)
  • Designing the Final Frontier featurette (22 min.)
  • Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana (8 min.)
  • Kirk, Spock, & Bones: Star Trek's Great Trio (7 min.)
  • Nichelle Nichols - Divine Diva (13 min.)
  • Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy (12 min.)
  • Text Commentaries on "Amok Time" and
    "The Trouble with Tribbles"
  • "Red Shirt Logs" Easter Eggs (8 min. total)
  • Production Art & Photo Log (still menus)
  • Original Trailers for every episode (1 min. each)

Standard DVD remastered with CGI:
Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Region 1, NTSC, Canada
Region 2, PAL, U.K.

The Original Series Remastered Sets

The re-mastered Star Trek set for season two, like that of season three, seems destined to be obsolete in very short order. Its content is easily surpassed by the more respectful presentation on Blu-ray, and unlike the "purist" DVD release listed above, appears to have none of its own exclusive content. Add to that the very gimmicky, awkward packaging that is prone to damage both during shipping and with light usage, and I'd have to recommend that all devoted Trekkers should consider other options for their ideal TOS season two product.

Season Two - Blu Ray

  26 episodes @ 51 minutes
Star Trek sets are now available on Blu Ray. Picture and sound quality restoration has gone up yet another notch since the remastered version, as have the liberties taken with "upgrading" the episodes. Once again, even newer CGI effects and optical shots have replaced many space scenes, matte paintings, and phaser effects.... but this time the upgrades have the same respect and user-functionality applied to select Doctor Who DVD releases since 2002, as the CGI effects can now be turned off to see the original effects. Good show. It seems that the music has still been tampered with too much for my liking though.

Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

Blu-ray features add:

  • option to watch original or new CGI effects.
  • Audio commentary on "The Trouble with Tribbles"
    by writer David Gerrold.
  • Starfleet Access - Okuda interactive trivia plus picture-in-picture interviews on 2 episodes:
    • "Amok Time"
    • "The Trouble With Tribbles".
  • Behind-the-scenes 8mm home movies part 2 (HD, 12 min.) from Billy Blackburn (Lt. Hadley / DeForest Kelley stand-in)
  • Star Trek TOS on Blu-ray (HD, 10 min.) restoration and upgrade featurette.
  • Star Trek's Favorite Moments (SD, 17 min.)
  • Mobile-Blu Content-To-Go Exclusives: "Creating Chekov", "Listening to the Actors" "Writing Spock" "Spock's Mother"
  • "More Tribbles, More Troubles" with commentary from the animated "Season 4" DVD box set.
  • "Trials and Tribble-ations" in HD this time, with
    two featurettes from the DS9 season 5 DVD box set.
  • plus all documentaries, featurettes, and episode promos from the "purist" standard DVD set listed far above.

Review written by Martin Izsak. Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review: "Spectre of the Gun"

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