Speculations about Gary Seven, Isis, Dr. Who, and the “Assignment” that never was.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is assignmentearthhd0070.jpg

Hi Everyone,

Imagine at TV series where there’s a mysterious alien traveling through time and space with a often silly companion and a little magic wand that helps him get through tough situations. No, not Doctor Who, although…

I’m thinking of Assignment: Earth, the would-be TV series born of the Star Trek episode of the same name. I think it might have had a chance in the spy-crazy era of the late 60’s. And with the cold war still raging at the time, Gary Seven and his cat Isis would have made a fun entry into TV land. Unfortunately, it wasn’t picked up, and we are only left with the one hour where Spock and Kirk are made to look really silly as Gary Seven embodies a cool only equaled by Spock.

That hat Spock? Seriously? But nice suits.

The more I looked into the brief world of Gary Seven, the more I see homage to (or copyright of?) Dr. Who. Consider after all, he can travel anywhere through time and he has his own little version of a ‘sonic screwdriver’. And if he and Miss Lincoln are to have “…interesting experiences” together, Hmm, I think I’m beginning to see where the inspiration came from…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is assignmentearthhd0274-copy.jpg
Seven with his own ‘sonic screwdriver’.

From what we’ve seen, Gary is a lot like The Doctor. He seems to be awfully intelligent about well, everything, he is often sent on missions to fix events in time (boy could we use him now), and using the convenient ‘screwdriver’ that is often the determinant between escape or capture. We never see the ship he travels in, but it is assumed that his ‘assignments’ take him all over the galaxy through different eras. He’s a Time Lord.

Miss Lincoln (Teri Garr) had promise and deserved better!

Miss Roberta Lincoln would make a good companion. She’s young, quirky, a bit daft, but determined to make a statement (“We want to know if we’ll be alive when we’re 30!”) I think of the series were picked up at the time, I hope she would evolve into a stronger female character, yet in reality, if it was picked up the 60’s she’s probably remain more comic relief, at least until the advent of the Women’s Movement. Now if it was made today, I’m pretty sure she’d be more like a combination The Doctor’s companions; I’m thinking Donna Noble, Clara Oswald and a little Martha Jones, and she’d be much more interesting. Unfortunately we have little insight into Roberta left. Teri Garr, who played Roberta, noted in her memoir: *

“I played Roberta Lincoln, a dippy secretary in a pink and orange costume in a very short skirt. Had the spin-off succeeded, I would have continued on as an earthling agent, working to preserve humanity. In a very short skirt.”

Then there’s Gary Seven’s cat, Isis. Of course we found out at the very end that Isis was actually a shape-shifter; she briefly appeared as a human sex-kitten lounging on Seven’s couch, much to a flummoxed Roberta Lincoln’s instant jealousy. Isis wears cat ears and purrs in her human form! Yet Gary depends on her greatly, and acknowledges her advice. Maybe she’s Gary’s River Song (The 11th Doctor’s wife).

April Tatro as the real Isis

No doubt Isis’ little trick was meant as a teaser to entice the would-be buyer of this pilot-within-a-Star Trek-episode to want more. So is Isis a woman in a cat’s body or a cat in a woman’s body? The world may never know…

As a bonus, I’ve always loved how Spock was instantly ‘strangely attracted’ to Isis. It’s fun to see the real chemistry between Nimoy and the cat in the Briefing Room. The cat sits and purrs contentedly in his arms, eyes slowly opening and closing. Cats know a good person. Although speaking from a character’s point of view, I wonder if Isis was subtly mind-melding with Spock, or giving off pheromones, or at least good vibes? How else to explain Spock’s urge to cuddle? But then, he had the same, if embarrassed reaction to Tribbles! It was a cute touch.

Hello Kitty. Spock and Isis.

So I wonder, why wasn’t Assignment: Earth picked up as a series? Was it too expensive, too far fetched? Would it have continued to connect with the original Star Trek series? Well…

Turns out Assignment Earth did find a way to continue after it’s ill-fated pilot. Comic book writer and artist John Byrne did write a 5 volume sequel to Assignment Earth – in glorious graphic novel style! The issues cover 5 years, starting 3 months from the date Enterprise left Gary and Roberta to figure their fate. Each issue presents a year later. These came out a while back, but you can find all 5 in digital versions on Comixology.

Of course, since Gary Seven is part of the Star Trek universe, maybe he could turn up on Picard? Or sequel-mad CBS All Access could reconsider that little pilot, updated for the times. I could see Mahershala Ali or Adam Driver or as Seven.

How did you feel about Assignment: Earth and Gary Seven? Please let me know in the comments!

*Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood. by Teri Garr.

9 responses to “Speculations about Gary Seven, Isis, Dr. Who, and the “Assignment” that never was.

  1. Sue Hutchings

    Robert Lansing who played Gary Seven would have been 92 today. The character of Gary Seven (plus Isis and Roberta) have shown up in Greg Cox’s novel Assignment: Eternity as well as another of his Star Trek novels, and Roberta is featured in 2 of Dayton Ward’s novels. They also appear in one issue of a series of comic books Star Trek: Year Five which are available as Kindles from Amazon. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fans might enjoy The Zygan Emprise Trilogy by Y S Pascal.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Voices From the Past
    2 private detectives investigating time travel
    Features an elderly Roberta Lincoln
    “Assignement: Earth” was an all-time favorite. I was bummed when it was not picked up as a series.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kid Charlemagne

    Fan video for the opening credits of an Assignment: Earth series.

    (No, I didn’t make this. I would not know how.)

    He actually made two, but I think the comment system gets cranky if I try to put more than one link in a comment.

    Like

  5. Kid Charlemagne

    I will try to post the second one, meant for a hypothetical second season, here.

    Speaking as someone born in 1963, these themes do sound like they could have come from an adventure show of the late 1960s. 😀

    Like

  6. I for one would love for there to be an Assignment: Earth series. I do not believe it will ever happen though. There are other adventures of Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln out there: I found this article after noting the similarity between Gary Seven and Doctor Who while reading Greg Cox’s Eugenics Wars books, in which they play a prominent role. However, the apparent influence of Doctor Who on Gary Seven is only apparent given the realities of 1960s television vis a vis the UK and the US are thar Roddenberry was very likely unaware of Doctor Who at all. It seems to be just one of those weird coincidences. Great article though.

    Like

  7. I can see Gary Seven as a Time Lord agent of the Celestial Intervention Agency. He could be one of the extra faces we saw in The Timeless Child. The vault door opens to the Tardis interior, or the whole office is the Tardis, as has been done in other DW episodes. He has a vortex manipulator for when he doesn’t want to take the Tardis. He has a sonic screwdriver. He has a companion. And that cat is Frobisher, the shape changing alien that’s usually a penguin.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s