"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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An Interview with Playboy Playmate Victoria Vetri
by Joe Vannicola Ï
In 1983, I interviewed actress/Playboy model Victoria Vetri for Bill George's book Eroticism in the Fantasy Cinema. It was the second interview I had ever done up to that point. The big deal for me was that I was actually speaking to a Playboy Playmate; the dream of every red-blooded American male who ever perused an issue of Playboy.
Tory, as she preferred to be called because she didn't like the name Vicki, was charming, engaging and generous with her time. My tape recorder had malfunctioned and she very kindly agreed to do the interview over again the next evening. During our second interview, Tory asked if she could change her answer to a question I had asked concerning Roman Polanski, who directed her in Rosemary's Baby. Her original answer was, "I'm just glad he's out of the country," in reference to the statutory rape case during which he fled the country to avoid a lengthy jail sentence. She changed her comment to, "I think he is a very creative director."
Prior to interviewing Tory, she told me an amusing story concerning the making of When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. When it came time to do the scene where she comes out of the water with a fish in her mouth, the director, Val Guest, had Tory put an actual dead fish in her mouth. To add insult to injury, the director did a number of takes, as Tory emerged from the water with the dead fish clenched between her teeth. Ever the trouper, Tory did the retakes without complaining. As you can see, being an actress isn't all glitz, glamour and adulation.
I felt a sense of sadness as I read on the various news websites the details concerning Tory's trial (in 2011) for shooting her husband of 25 years, Bruce Rathgeb, because she felt he had been cheating on her. Luckily he survived, but Tory was sentenced to nine years in jail for attempted murder. The story received cursory attention but not much more than that. After all, 44 years has elapsed since her appearance in the magazine and Tory hasn't acted in films or on TV for almost the same amount of time. To the jaundiced public, it was a mildly interesting story concerning the downfall of a former Playboy Playmate to be read about and forgotten in a day or two. Such is the attention span of John and Joan Q Public.
JV: Was Rosemary's Baby your first feature film?
VV:Rosemary's Baby was my first feature. I got it because Mia Farrow refused to test with the actors. She didn't want to be bothered doing that menial stuff, so Roman Polanski said, "By the way, how do you look in dark hair and can you look Italian?" I said, "Well, I am Italian." He said, "I'd like you to play the part of Terry Fionoffrio, Angela." I said, "Okay," and I played the part under Angela Dorian, my fictitious name. On the set one day he said, "Angela, we cannot use the Anna-Maria Alberghetti name. Can you think of an Italian name?" I said, "How 'bout Victoria Vetri?" He said, "That's fantastic! What an imagination!" I said, "That's my real name." He said, "My God, why are you using that name of a sunken ship, The Andrea Doria? I think Victoria Vetri has more of a– ah, what the hell, it's Italian."
JV: Was Playboy magazine responsible for you getting the part in Rosemary's Baby?
VV: No. Playboy really had nothing to do with me being in the film one way or another. Because by the time Playboy came out, I had already done the part. Because they mention that in my credits. I had 26 TV shows, all lead parts, under my belt, plus Rosemary's Baby, plus movies for TV. But they somehow made it sound like they discovered me. Which upset me at the time.
JV: Do you think that Playboy in any way helped your career in a positive direction?
VV: I think at one point in my career, it hindered it. I could have been a serious actress and all of the sudden it was like I was a thing, I was a commodity, I was a Bunny, I was a Playmate, and I played nothing but hookers. The types of roles that I went up for were not serious parts. I mean, I'm not saying that you can't play a serious hooker. Look at what Jane Fonda did in Klute. It's changed a lot. I was one of the first actresses to do Playboy. Then Claudia Jennings did it after me. I was very close to her and felt great remorse when I lost her in a car accident. I had to entertain that night. I had to sing with a rock group and I couldn't go on stage when I found that out. We had to give people their money back. Claudia and I did a film together called Group Marriage. She was a superb actress who was coming into her own and she was a loyal friend. A very creative lady. And I think she was one of the best friends I ever had. The only person I got close to through Playboy and it was a big loss.
JV: From what you told before this interview, I guess you're one of the few people actually born and raised in California?
VV: Very few. I mean, when I used to bartend between acting jobs I say, "I'll give a free drink to any native Californian who can prove they're a native." And I was the only one in the bar.
JV: How did you get the part in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth?
VV: Hammer (Hammer Films, the English studio that produced a number of horror classics from the 1950s through the 1970s) located me through my agent. They had just done a film with Rachel Welch called One Million Years BC. They'd seen me in some film, some magazine, it wasn't Playboy, and they said, "Let's do a test on her." I was obligated to Warner Brothers at the time and Francis Ford Coppola did a test of me running through the backs of the lot with a tiger bikini on panting and grunting, flaring my nostrils. Then we did another thing with me singing in front of a sky background with my guitar. They sent the test to London and Aida Young, the executive producer said, "Send her over." It was shot in the Canary Islands and at Shepperton Studios. It was about six months work. It took a year and a half for the film to come out. By the time I got to the Bahamas to see the film they couldn't show it, because the colour matching was all wrong. So it took two years for the film to come out. It won an award for best special effects.
JV: Did you find it hard reacting to imaginary dinosaurs?
VV: Yes, but I got used to it. I have a great imagination. After a while, they gave me a focal point. They'd say, "Look up here," at this guy on a ladder and I would pretend like I saw this imaginary thing. I could see some rushes where they were putting in animation.
JV: In a book titled Hammer House of Horror, there are stills from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth which show you in the nude. Where these stills from scenes that were deleted from the version shown here domestically?
VV: No. These were publicity shots. Because once Playboy found out they were in the Canary Islands doing a film and I was scantily clad, they sent a photographer over there. They said, "We'll pay you X amount of dollars to do stills because this would be good for our article 'Sex in the Cinema.'" I said, "Ok." Two weeks after we were there, the director (Val Guest) left his wife. He was sleeping with the script supervisor. It was like you could have made a movie within a movie. Everybody was screwing around. People were skinny dipping, drinking sangria instead of tea at four in the afternoon, getting drunk on their asses and it was like party time. Three or four in the morning they'd say, "You have to be up at six for a sunrise shoot? Let's stay up all night!" The sad part was when we came back to England and there the wives are, they've gotten letters from their husbands that have fallen in love on location saying, "It's over. It was getting old anyway." Here's the wife pouting and holding the child in hand as he gets off the airplane. The director, Val Guest, comes off the plane arm in arm with the script supervisor who he fell in love with and ended up marrying, by the way. So it was like a little mini soap opera. Because you throw these people together and the English are wild and crazy once you get them in a loose environment. But to watch them drop their façade of properness and say, "Ah, I'm free." Of course, having a California girl around didn't help because I was the first one to drop a loincloth. And all the girls between shots were getting a tan. After a while it didn't faze anybody. When you're all sitting around half naked it doesn't matter. That was quote "a family." I'm still getting letters from a lot of people I worked with on that movie. When the film came to an end they were crying, "Oh, I don't want you to go back to America. Stay in touch." That's the closest I've ever come to a family situation working with a film company.
JV: I was surprised when you told me that Invasion of the Bee Girls was made by Warner Brothers. I always thought it was the product of an independent company.
VV: I think an independent company got a hold of it. But Saul Weintraub, who worked for Warner, wanted me to fulfill my obligation since I couldn't do Enter the Dragon. Now, I'm thinking about this carefully because my agent who handled this is now retired. Warner and Hammer did When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth together. This was a Warner Brothers and independent production and I think they finally released it to the independent company. And from what you told me, someone else has bought it now and released it under another title. But my paycheque said Warners on it.
JV: For television and videotape the title Invasion of the Bee Girls is still used. But it was re-released as Graveyard Tramps.
VV: (laughs) Graveyard Tramps! Oh my God! I liked the shooting title The Honey Factor. It sounded more sci-fi.
JV: I didn't see Invasion of the Bee Girls when it was first released, but saw it at a drive-in under the new title and thought it was a fun film.
VV: I think it's kind of fun. I mean, it's so ridiculous it's funny. I had fun making it. Unless something really spectacular comes up in my career to make me do another horror movie, I have to be honest, I don't want to end up being a horror queen in films. I'd like to branch off. I'm trying to get a rock group together and get a video out, pursue my singing and maybe do some serious acting. I'm not saying that one cannot do serious acting in horror films. I saw a short today on cable. It was about Tobe Hooper who did The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, now he's done Poltergeist. When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out, people thought that without even showing too much, it was the most terrifying film ever and then he got money behind Poltergeist. But I for one do not go out of my way to see horror movies. If Friday the 13th is on cable, I will turn it on. But I won't go pay $5.50 to see it at a theatre. The one I loved, I saw it three times, is Alien