Catspaw - Episode #30

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Catspaw - Episode #30

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:44 pm


CATSPAW (2nd season; episode #30)
Directed by Joseph Pevney  Like a Star @ heaven  Like a Star @ heaven  Like a Star @ heaven  writer: Robert Bloch Like a Star @ heaven Air Date: 10/27/67

This episode is somewhat of an oddity among the TOS episodes, an episode cobbled together for no other reason than to fit a Halloween theme (this originally aired during the week of Halloween in 1967). There are no other reasons for its existence - no profound ideas explored, no stretching of the imagination, no - EVEN - threat to the galaxy or the Federation, because the aliens in this one go off on a personal agenda. Robert Bloch, the premiere horror writer of the time (Psycho), penned the script (he also wrote What Are Little Girls Made Of? in the previous season and then Wolf in the Fold). He's usually adept at frightening the audience. The paradox to this effort, though, is that there doesn't seem to be a sincere attempt to offer scares: the writer, director and actors approach this with a tongue-in-cheek attitude after the first and only death in the pre-credits sequence. These first couple of minutes are spooky, but after that...the story goes sideways.

In the plot, the main trio (Kirk, Spock, McCoy) beam down to the spooky surface of a planet, in search of missing crew members Scotty and Sulu. The lightweight approach is most evident in the early encounter with the 3 floating witches: Kirk asks Spock for a comment; Spock's response, along with Kirk's and McCoy's reactive expressions, sends me into guffaws every time I see it - perhaps the single most hilarious moment during the season (and that's saying something, as I,Mudd and The Trouble With Tribbles are coming up soon). But, this throws me off, as I was expecting a genuinely scary show at this point, based on the pre-credits scene. Later, of course, we have the scene in the dungeon, when Kirk refers to 'Bones' (McCoy) and then notices the skeleton hanging nearby. BOO! Laughing  

There is, admittedly, a half-hearted attempt at exploring the conflict between physical senses and pure mentality. There is a tendency in TOS to depict aliens who hunger for the potential of physical sensation we human beings represent. Usually, such aliens may take human form temporarily, as Sylvia & Korob do here, and the new sensations corrupt them; apparently, only we humans can handle the, ah, sensuous nature of the ability to touch something or someone physically (see also the later By Any Other Name). But, the episode never really makes it clear what these aliens want - all we get is the Halloween mumbo-jumbo: a foggy mist, the witches, a black cat, crew members turned into zombies, a dark castle with cobwebs and, finally, the warlock and sorceress with a wand. It's all quite perfunctory for the Halloween mood. BoG's Score: 6 out of 10

These aliens do prove to have impressive abilities, even by the standards of 23rd century technology, and it is explained that they tapped into our subconscious to produce this bizarre scenario, so there is the usual effort on TOS to offer some semblance of creative rationales. And, Antoinette Bower as Sylvia manages to convey a kind of repugnant presence, even in her female form; witness the rare instance of Kirk repulsed by an alien female (of course, he states "You're not a woman.").  
Theo Marcuse as Korob doesn't get a chance to be truly sinister, as he was in a few small film roles, and becomes pitiable by the end. There's a brief reference to 'the old ones' by Korob, the beings he and Sylvia serve, which conjures up images of Lovecraft, rather than aliens from another galaxy. The episode is capped by some of the worst FX - involving puppetry - of the series.
Extra Trek Trivia: This was the first episode of the 2nd season to be filmed and so is the first appearance of Chekov (Walter Koenig); his wig - ugh, scary. According to Kirk, precious jewels such as rubies, emeralds and diamonds, can be manufactured by 23rd century technology and are worthless as currency; or was this another patented Kirk bluff?
Remastered trailer: Boo!  Twisted Evil


Last edited by BoG on Sun May 03, 2015 12:55 am; edited 6 times in total
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CATSPAW REMASTERED

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:54 pm

CLASSIC TREK QUOTES:
Sylvia: "You are using me! You hold me in your arms, and there is no fire in your mind!
______ You're trying to deceive me! It's here... like words on a page! You are using me
!"

FULL REMASTERED EPISODE:




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