Underrated Trek-Catspaw (TOS)
Next year I plan on doing a series on Star Trek episodes I love that may not be the most popular episodes. But I decided I wanted to talk about Catspaw now for reasons which will soon be obvious. So, enjoy this sneak peek. I give ypu :
Catspaw was the first episode of Season 2 (though not the first to air, Amok Time holds that honor). It was written by horror writer Robert Bloch, and may be the one time Star Trek did a theme episode. What was the theme? Halloween!!Â Yep, this is a Halloween episode. Don’t believe me? Not only does Captain Kirk point out that Spock would be a natural at trick or treating, but McCoy flat out used]s the word Halloween at one point when describing the castle they are exploring. The episode has black cats, castles, witches, skeletons…and is kind of lame to be honest. It isn’t the worst but it has its flaws. Let’s take a closer look.
Plot Synopsis :
The Enterprise is orbiting an odd planet, and on the ship Kirk and Spock are worried because Scotty and Sulu have not reported back to the ship yet. A third crewman, named Jackson, reports and when he is beamed up he falls dead, a strange voice shouting that there is a curse on the ship. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to find fog, three witches warning them off, and a dark castle which includes a black cat. As they explore the castle a trap door causes them to fall into a dungeon, where they are locked up. Suddenly, Scott and Sulu appear but act like mindless zombies with no will of their own!
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are brought to the two aliens responsible for this. Korob and SylviaÂ come from a different galaxy and use a device called the trasmuter to create all sorts of illusions like the castle. They created the illusions of the castle and everything to scare the ship away. To demonstrate their power, Sylvia uses black magic to cause the Enterprise to overheat by placing a model near a flame, and then encases a model of the ship in crystal which causes the real ship to be surrounded by an impenetrable force field. Syvlia then mind drains McCoy and later tries to seduce Kirk, until she senses his deception.
Korob has a change of heart and tries to help Kirk and Spock escape, but they will not leave without their men. Sylvia then attacks as a very large cat while Kirk and Spock fight Scott, Sulu, and the subsequently memerized McCoy. Kirk confronts Syvlia, but he manages to shatter the transmuter which causes everything to vanish. Scotty, Sulu, and McCoy are fine and Sylvia and Korob are final revealed in their true forms.
Only two guest stars in this one. Korob is played by Theo Marcuse and Sylvia by Antoinette Bower. Since Kirk, Spock, and Scotty are on the planet the ship is under the command of Asst Chief Engineer DeSalle played by Michael Barrier in his third appearance on Trek.
Episode Pro’s :
I love watching this episode around Halloween, there is just enough Halloween feel without it feeling like it isn’t even the same show. It’s still Star Trek. There are lots of cute scenes including one where Kirk starts to call McCoy Bones until he spies a skeleton hanging next to him. This is Chekov’s first appearance and you gotta love the horrible wig Walter Koenig has on. Plus, the model of the Enterprise encased in crystal is not only a part of a cool scene but the prop still exsists in the Smithsonian. I would kill to see that! Funny, they did a fantatisc job with the music in this epispde giving the usual soundtrack a very eerie sound which fit the mood well.
Episode Con’s :
Sadly this episode is known for one large fail, and that is the puppets representaing the real Sylvia and Koros. It is the worst special effect you will ever see,Â the puppets are awful and the black strings are clearly visible! The effects of the large cat aren’t so great eirher but I can forgive those. Also the story isn’t very strong, it does tend to drag once the “mystery” of Sulu and Scotty is solved at the end of act 2. I also get annoyed with the way Kirk doesn’t seem to realize the wand Korob has is the source of the aliens power until the last five minutes. Duh! YOU SAW HIM USE IT KIRK!
“Fast Foward” Moment : A four minute scene with Kirk romancing Sylvia which is boring and ultimately pointless. It’s a perfect example of the gratitoyus need to have Kirk romance a womab every week and I usually skip right over it.
Digital Enhancements : As you know several years ago all the classic episodes got enhanced effects. They are awesome! I will discuss this more later, but for now the only real enhancements in this episode involves the castle which looks much cooler, and some added effects here and there.
Final Thoughts:This was a decent start to season two which would create some of the greatest episodes of the series. True this is not the strongest story and it has no real socially redeeming value, but it’s still worth a watch especially around Halloween, flaws and all. Not the greatest but far from the worst.