“Assignment: Earth” aired in the spring of 1968 as the last episode of the second season of the original Star Trek. It began, however, as a completely separate pilot script by Gene Roddenberry almost two years earlier.
By the time it became a pilot within a series, Art Wallace had added his own ideas to the original concept, and created a series bible and the final script with Roddenberry.
As a result of being shoehorned into the Trek universe as a way of getting it on the air, Æ never got the chance to establish itself on its own. The irony of course is that we would never have seen it otherwise. Unfortunately, the series never materialised.
Since then, Æ has been well treated as a specialty within Trek with books by Greg Cox, and comics by Howard Weinstein and John Byrne. But regardless of the form, it still involved relating to the Trek universe first.
Where Trek talked about the Sixties using metaphor and symbolism as a way to get social issues around the restrictions of the time, Æ had the potential to speak more directly to the audience.
I think it still can. While Trek chronology has our current time period as leading up to the Third World War and projects its idea of utopia into the remote 23rd century, we live in the world that descends from the real 1960s, and it’s still pretty messy here. The idea of an agent of another culture that wishes to help us while we struggle to work it all out is still a very interesting concept.
In writing this adaptation of Æ, I removed the scenes that did not involve the core Æ cast, bridged where there had been cutaways to Trek, and added to the material with a larger back story for Seven. As much as I love Star Trek, Assignment: Earth is strong enough to stand on its own.
You can find out how this pilot episode for a series that never came to be was made by visiting AssignmentEarth.ca.