Oct 30 2009 12:42pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Catspaw” (Halloween Edition)

Written by Robert Bloch
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 2, Episode 7
Production episode: 2x01
Original air date: October 27, 1967
Star date: 3018.2


Mission summary

Kirk is worried because the landing party surveying planet Kyris VII missed their scheduled check-in. Neither Scotty nor Sulu respond on communicators, but finally crewman Jackson contacts the ship with a request for transport—alone. He ignores Kirk’s questions about the people he really cares about, so they beam Jackson up. As soon as he materializes on the transporter pad he falls over, dead. Another transporter accident? No, because a cheesy voice trying to be scary emanates from Jackson’s mouth:

Captain Kirk, can you hear me? There is a curse on your ship. Leave this place or you will all die.

A threat like this is tantamount to inviting the captain over for tea. Now Kirk has a mysterious murder to solve, and two of his favorite employees are still missing. He beams down to the planet with his last two senior officers, Spock and Dr. McCoy, leaving Assistant Chief Engineer DeSalle in charge. They materialize in an unnatural, improbable fog and Spock picks up some life form readings. Kirk confirms that the Enterprise is not reading any lifesigns aside from him, McCoy, and Spock before losing contact with the ship. Then they hear wailing from the thick mist and three witches appear, a la Macbeth. They warn Kirk to “Go back! Remember the curse!”

WITCH 1: Wind shall rise.
WITCH 2: And fog descend.
WITCH 3: So leave here, all, or meet your end.

They disappear amidst cackling, leaving the three officers more puzzled than frightened.

KIRK: Spock. Comment?
SPOCK: Very bad poetry, Captain.
KIRK: A more useful comment, Mr. Spock.
SPOCK: What we’ve just seen is not real.
KIRK: That’s useful.

They decide to follow the very real life form readings on Spock’s tricorder, but a wind rises and blows them back. (Well, they were warned.) The odd weather brings them to a castle that appears in the clearing fog. The door opens invitingly and since the life form readings are inside, they enter. An angry black cat with a crystal on its collar is waiting for them at the entrance then runs off. Kirk comments that their experience so far feels like someone “playing an elaborate trick or treat” on them. On the Enterprise, the crew is alarmed because Kirk and the others have disappeared from sensors, just as the previous landing party did.

The door slams behind Kirk, Spock, and McCoy so they begin wandering the endless corridors of the castle, which are tastefully decorated for Halloween with dust and cobwebs. Abruptly the floor collapses beneath them and they fall into a dungeon. They wake up chained to the walls along with some skeletons and try to figure out what’s going on.

MCCOY: You were saying something about trick or treat.
KIRK: Dungeons, curses, skeletons and iron maidens. They’re all Earth manifestations. Why?
SPOCK: I do not know, Captain, but these things do exist. They are real.
MCCOY: Could this be an Earth parallel development of some sort?
KIRK: None of this parallels any human development. It’s more like a human nightmare.
SPOCK: As if someone knew what it was that terrifies man most on an instinctive level.

The missing crew walks in, Scotty armed with a phaser and Sulu holding a ring of keys. They seem hypnotized or drugged and only respond to Kirk’s questions with head nods and shakes. Sulu frees them and Scotty herds them to the door. Kirk attacks him to get the phaser, and they’re instantly transported to a much nicer room, where a strange bald man in wizardly robes introduces himself as Korob. He claims to know everything about Kirk and his crew and says he warned them to stay away. Korob dismisses their many questions as “of no importance,” though he does admit that they aren’t native to the planet. After conversing with his black cat, he waves his magic wand to create a banquet.

Kirk demands to know what Korob wants. When they refuse to eat, he tries to bribe them into leaving by turning their food into jewels. Kirk assures him the gems are worthless because they can replicate them easily, and Korob changes his tactics, claiming they have “passed the tests”:

Our analysis of you may have been in some small way in error, but you were warned to stay away and yet you came to save your comrades. That proves loyalty. Your bravery was tested and you did not frighten. And despite my failure with these bright baubles, I perceive that you cannot be bribed. In many ways you are quite admirable.

So what do they win? The cat meows and Korob sends it out of the room. A moment later a raven-haired woman in a flowing black dress enters the room. Curiously, she wears the same crystal pendant that was on the black cat’s collar. Korob introduces her as Sylvia. While Spock distracts her into delivering exposition, Kirk grabs Scotty’s phaser. He passes it to Spock and demands their weapons, equipment, and answers. Sylvia responds by holding up her pewter Star Trek Hallmark Christmas ornament, a model of the Enterprise dangling from a chain.

Sylvia explains that she used sympathetic magic to kill Jackson and has similar control over their ship. She demonstrates by returning Kirk’s communicator so he can contact the Enterprise while she holds the miniature model over a candle flame. DeSalle reports that the ship is burning up. Realizing he’s met his match, Kirk immediately surrenders, pulling the model out of the candle and relinquishing the stolen phaser.

Korob starts questioning Kirk about their science, while Kirk questions him about magic, but no one is willing to budge and give any answers. To prevent anyone else from attempting to rescue the rescue party, Korob encases the model of the Enterprise in a Lucite block, which places an impenetrable force field around the actual ship. Chekov claims that it “will not analyze,” but DeSalle is determined to dent it. Kirk and Spock are sent back to their room while Dr. McCoy is questioned. Once again chained, Kirk and Spock have nothing better to do than talk about their predicament some more. Spock conjectures about “psychological theory of the racial subconscious” suggesting that in their attempts to read their minds, Korob and Sylvia only tapped into the subconscious. They agree that their captors are “totally alien,” likely invaders from another galaxy.

McCoy returns under the same mind control as the others and Sulu unchains Kirk. Before they bring him in to see Korob and Sylvia, the two aliens bicker:

KOROB: You forget what we were sent here for.
SYLVIA: I forget nothing. I’m not a puppet, Korob, like you.
KOROB: You’re a traitor.
SYLVIA: You are a fool. We have nothing like this and I like it. To touch, to feel to understand the idea of luxury I like it. And I don’t intend to leave it.
KOROB: We have a duty to the Old Ones.
SYLVIA: What do they know of sensations? This is a new world.
KOROB: You’re cruel. You torture our specimens.
SYLVIA: And that, too, is a new sensation. I find it stimulating.

Stimulating? That’s Captain Kirk’s cue! Sylvia sends everyone away so she can be alone with him and Kirk gamely makes his move. Korob spies on them while Kirk caresses her, and she seems to enjoy it. She says she wants a “joining” between them... so they can share their information completely. She responds to his compliments by telling him she can “be many women” for him, transforming into two garish women in hideous outfits before resuming her previous shape.

He keeps asking her questions about herself and her people. She slips that when they come to this planet, her people are “like feathers in the wind without the transmuter.” Kirk becomes much more interested in the transmuter than in her, and she tells him that it’s the source of their power. “It gives only form. You’re teaching me substance,” she tells him, but when he asks whether she’ll reconsider going home, she realizes that he’s just using her. “And why not?” he says, “You’ve been using me and my crew.” Uh oh. Sylvia’s pissed and she has a transmuter-thingey! She promises, “You will be swept away. You, your men, your ship, your worlds!” But for now she’s just going to put him back in the dungeon.

Which is where Korob finds them and frees them. He understands that Sylvia is out of control, so he has also freed the Enterprise and wants them to go away as quickly as possible. But Kirk won’t leave without his men so Korob says he’ll take care of Sylvia. They’re stalked through the corridors by a giant black cat and take shelter back in their dungeon. Korob is killed when the cat knocks the door down onto him, and Kirk takes his wand: “Korob seemed to think this was important. Said something about a transmuter.” They suddenly remember the hole in the ceiling from when they fell into the dungeon and use it to escape to the upper floor.

McCoy and Scott promptly attack them with spiked maces. Kirk knocks out the doctor, Spock uses his Vulcan neck pinch on Scotty. Sulu fights with his racial subconscious, but Kirk easily fends off his clumsy martial arts. When Sylvia arrives, Spock warns, “Don’t let her touch the wand, Captain.” Presumably he’s referring to the transmuter in Kirk’s hand. Sylvia transports the captain and herself back to the main room of the castle. She tries again to convince him to join her, then threatens him, then tempts him: “I am a woman. I am all women.” She resorts to pulling a working phaser on him and Kirk smashes the wand against the table.

In a flash of light, Kirk and the rest of the landing party are standing outside, the transmuter’s illusions vanished. On the ground are two tiny blue marionettes with tentacled faces waving their little stick figure arms. Spock wants to study them, but they collapse and their bodies begin to smoke.

MCCOY: Too late. All of this, just an illusion.
KIRK: No illusion. Jackson is dead.


“Trick or treat,” indeed, but which is it for viewers? As you can tell from the original airdate, this is Star Trek’s attempt at a Halloween episode. As silly as it is, the premise is interesting: a race of aliens using our subconscious to frighten us, just as the Scarecrow does in Batman. But aside from the fun haunted house decorations, the plot is muddled. We never find out what the aliens really want, and I’m not sure the aliens or the writers do either. The most interesting conclusion we can draw is that these creatures are Lovecraftian invaders, with the reference to the “Old Ones” and their true forms resembling tiny Cthulus.

I like the idea of truly alien aliens—non-humanoids for a change—and the fact that no one may ever find out what they want or where they came from, but the half-hearted attempts to explain everything were just teasing and annoying. What was the Enterprise doing there in the first place? If Korob wanted them to leave so much, why didn’t he and Sylvia just draw the blinds and pretend no one was home instead of kidnapping Scott and Sulu and killing poor Jackson? The whole episode is a mess of conflicting information, which perhaps ties in with Sylvia’s own confused impulses. Though it only flirts with an idea that is explored more in a later episode, this is a story about an alien seduced by the flesh. In a human body, Sylvia is exposed to new sensations that consume her mind. There’s also the now-familiar idea that even advanced alien races, for all their power, need something that humans have in spades; Korob admires their character traits, and Sylvia tells Kirk, “We need your dreams, your ambition. With them, I can build.”

Fortunately, the light tone of the episode (aside from Jackson’s death) salvages the story and we have some fun character moments. The best of them is when Kirk first wakes in the dungeon and turns to McCoy. “Bones,” he says, then corrects himself when he sees the skeleton shackled beside the doctor. “Doc!” he amends, and refers to McCoy as Doc for the rest of the episode.

Nothing highlights the questionable practice of the captain leading an away mission than the fact that they have to leave an assistant chief engineer in command while the rest of them are on the planet. DeSalle has a stiff military manner (“credits to navy beans”?!), but he’s not bad in that chair, and it’s always interesting to see a different command style, particularly on a ship named Enterprise. I don’t know about you, but I was slightly distracted by Chekov’s tribble wig in those Bridge scenes, spoiled by seeing later production episodes first, I guess. Another idle observation: the white flashes that accompany Korob’s and Sylvia’s use of the transmuter reminded me of Q’s power in TNG, so I wonder if this episode inspired that visual effect.

I was surprised that before this episode, I had never heard the word “catspaw” before (and I must have missed the usage when I watched it before). McCoy directly refers to the title of the episode when he says, “You kept Scott and Sulu as catspaws to lure us down here.” I looked it up and discovered that the term, which means a person unwittingly used by another as a dupe or tool, originates from a fable called “The Monkey and the Cat” by Jean de La Fontaine. In it, a monkey tricks a cat into plucking chestnuts from a fire, burning its paw while the monkey eats them all. I wonder how common this term is, or was back then.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 3 (on a scale of 1-6)

Torie Atkinson: I really wanted to like this episode. I love Halloween, and it was silly and campy enough to satisfy that much. But aside from the mess of plot issues Eugene mentioned, this episode made a whole slew of assumptions that made me wince. First of all, “racial subconscious”? Uh, no. Black cats and cobwebs are not some Jungian collective unconscious—they’re entirely constructs of culture, as evidenced by the fact that none of this stuff seems to frighten Kirk or the others at all, having never grown up with it! I liked the idea that they created this haunted house because they thought it’d be scary, but that’s the explanation? Really? Why not just say they picked up The Addams Family broadcasts or something?

Who else thought that the witches in the beginning were about to tell Kirk to beware Macduff?

It was interesting to see what appeared to me as an entirely random redshirt commanding the Enterprise (yes his name is LaSalle but how often have we met him?). His no-nonsense approach was a sharp turn from the familiar commands we’ve seen so far (Kirk, Spock, Scotty), and it felt uncomfortable to have him in charge, like he didn’t belong there. Anyone have trivia on-hand of how many times we see someone not in the main cast in charge of the ship? I’d like to do a compare and contrast of their commands at some point. Not that I’m a nerd or anything.

The sexism fairy has definitely visited this episode. The fact that Sylvia’s spirit animal is a black cat is a blatant symbol of aggressive female sexuality (think Manet’s Olympia). Her newfound sensuality overwhelms her delicate female form, driving her absolutely mad with desire. Yeah, yeah, big surprise there. But she’s a dangerous creature: manipulative, even cruel. When she tells Kirk that she is “all women,” I grimaced. So all women are witches? Or just manipulative sex-crazed aliens? Bad Star Trek! In the corner!

If it had told a good story, I might have been able to let it go. But it was such a mess of ideas. What is Karob’s relationship to Sylvia? Where do they come from and what do they want? Why are they trapping these guys? To get them to stay? To leave? Or just to bat them around like cats do with dead birds and mice?

Unintentionally hilarious lines: the bit about cats being the most ruthless of animals (when they aren’t napping like there’s no tomorrow!), and Spock shouting at Kirk “Don’t let her touch the wand!”

Torie’s Rating: Warp 2 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: Spock: “Very bad poetry, Captain.”

Syndication Edits: After Jackson calls for transport, Kirk orders McCoy to the transporter room and leaves the Bridge with Spock; Kirk tries to contact the Enterprise before they enter the castle; as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy explore the castle, DeSalle and Chekov try to figure out where they disappeared to; McCoy examines the jewels on the banquet table and comments that they look real; Korob outlining the tests they’ve passed; reactions shots of the ship model over the candle and Kirk’s suggestion to supplement the heat dissipation units; Chekov reports that the temperature has returned to normal and Uhura tries to contact the landing party; a shot of McCoy staying behind for Sylvia’s interrogation and DeSalle and Chekov discussing the force field; two lines of dialogue between Kirk and Spock about what’s happening to McCoy; bits around a shifted commercial break, when the giant cat stops Korob, Kirk, and Spock and after Kirk hits McCoy.

Trivia: Robert Bloch loosely based this script on his short story “Broomstick Ride,” which was published in Super-Science Fiction in December 1957. He also wrote the episode “What are Little Girls Made Of?” which also references Lovecraft’s the Old Ones. This is the only episode of any Star Trek series to be themed around a holiday (thank goodness!). Gene Roddenberry donated the prop of the metal Enterprise model in the Lucite block to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. With this episode, DeSalle seems to have switched to engineering from command, appearing in a red uniform instead of the gold he wore in “The Squire of Gothos” and “This Side of Paradise.” The aliens in this episode are called “Ornithoid lifeforms,” and are mentioned in several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Other notes: Theo Marcuse (Korob) died a month after this episode aired.

Next episode: Season 2, Episode 8 - “I, Mudd.” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

Eugene Myers plans to dress as a young adult novelist for Halloween later this month at the World Fantasy convention.

Torie Atkinson is going to need a lot of hair gel to pull off her Tintin costume.

1. DemetriosX
Eugene is being very generous with his rating. This is another one which is saved from a 1 only by the existence of Spock's Brain. I would be very interested in knowing just how much of Bloch's original script is left in the shooting script.

It isn't surprising that both of the Robert Bloch scripts cite the Old Ones. He was a dedicated correspondent with Lovecraft and started out writing quite a few stories in the Cthulhu Mythos. OTOH, at least for the androids in What Are Little Girls Made Of, I've always seen the term as simply meaning the ancients. The nature of this episode is more open to the Lovecraftian interpretation.

I don't know what the spiffed up special effects are like, but the original puppets of the aliens in their non-human form are some of the worst effects of all time. I mean a level that would make Irwin Allen fire the effects people out of sheer disgust.

It's probably better just to draw a veil over this one and try to forget it.
Mike Conley
2. NomadUK
Okay, fairly rubbish episode, but some fun to be had. Some funny lines, as noted.

Torie: Not 'all women are witches', but 'I can be any woman you want'. I mean, that seemed pretty obvious.

So, why is Korob a fat slob, whilst Sylvia is a svelt temptress? Is Korob seduced by the sensations of overeating?

Regarding holiday themes, do recall that Kirk mentions Thanksgiving in 'Charlie X'. Never any mentions of Ramadan or Guy Fawkes Day, though; odd, that.

And the best part? Right in the teaser, when Jackson executes one of the all-time great falls, stiffing it right off the edge of the transporter platform as though he were a waxwork mannequin. I mean, the feet fly up and everything. It rivals Scotty's flights in 'Who Mourns for Adonais' and 'The Changeling'. 10 out of 10 on that one!

It is a bit surprising that Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho couldn't pull off a better script. 'Wolf in the Fold' won't be a whole lot better.
Mike Conley
3. NomadUK
DemetriosX@1: I mean a level that would make Irwin Allen fire the effects people out of sheer disgust.

Oh, I don't know that there's much below Irwin Allen's threshold. I mean, guys in giant alien carrot suits, anyone?
Mike Conley
4. NomadUK
but 'I can be any woman you want'.

And, if I recall correctly (not having watched the episode for awhile), isn't at least one of her forms pretty close to that of one of Harvey Mudd's mail-order brides?
5. DemetriosX
NomadUK @3:I don't know that there's much below Irwin Allen's threshold.

There isn't, but those puppets definitely were. They reminded me in some ways of the Clangers (which I really only know from that one Dr. Who episode where the Master is trying to figure out their language -- and apparently succeeding!), but so bad that they made the Clangers look real! We're talking not up to Plan 9 From Outer Space standards. I stand by my Irwin Allen comparison (including chimps with dangly things on their heads).
Michael Blackmore
6. mwbworld
You gave it a 2 because you're holding out the 1 for the space hippies episode right? That makes sense because this while bad is technically significantly better than that one.
Torie Atkinson
7. Torie
@ 1 and @ 6

I don't think I've ever been accused of being too generous in my ratings!

I gave it a two because it was bad, but it had some hilarious one-liners, a good deal of camp, and and a reasonably coherent series of events sorta kinda. ("The Alternative Factor" was not only awful but boring and nonsensical, hence the 1).

I'm not making any ratings promises for space hippies, but I will say that I am saving those 1s for the truly unwatchable stuff. Just you wait until I can mock with abandon!

@ NomadUK

Actually, she says that at the end of the episode, long after the shape-changing sequence. This is the dialogue:

SYLVIA: We need your dreams, your ambition. With them, I can build. Give me the transmuter.
SYLVIA: You fool. Don't you know what you're giving up? Everything that your species finds desirable. Look at me. I am a woman. I am all women.

Maybe she's just referring to her appearance, but I think her previous line implies she's referring to her behavior, too.
Torie Atkinson
8. Torie
Oh, and on the special effects: oh my GOD.
9. DemetriosX
Torie @7

Actually, I said Eugene was being generous (a 3? Really?). I would also give this episode a 2. My measure for badness is "Spock's Brain", though there are a couple that come close.

Every time somebody mentions those space hippies, I wind up with an earworm of that damn song! I dread when we actually get to the episode. (Headin' out to Eden, yeah brother)
Torie Atkinson
10. Torie
@ 9

D'oh! Sorry about that, got wires crossed.

Your comment got me thinking, though, of how much better this episode would've been if it had been a straight-up Old Ones/Cthulhu episode. A girl can dream.
Rick Rutherford
11. rutherfordr
Re cat's paw -- you've never seen a cat use her paw to lure her prey out of its hiding place? It's sort of like a cat's toy in reverse... a cat will stick her paw in front of a mouse hole and wait for the mouse to come investigate it... when the mouse sticks his nose out, the cat grabs him.

Maybe it's more common in barn cats that live on farms, catching mice in the hayloft.
Church Tucker
12. Church
Yeah, back in step with Eugene. I'd give it a 2.5 if that was allowed, but I'll round it up for the humor and Kirketude.

"Her newfound sensuality overwhelms her delicate female form, driving her absolutely mad with desire. "

FOR KIRK. C'mon, you've watched a season and some change, Torie. You know the rules by now. If there's disappointment to be had with this ep, it's that Kirk and Korob didn't have a knock-down fight, with scissor kicks and judo chops.

And all you bitching about Spock's Brain, you just wait 'til Turnabout Intruder.
13. DemetriosX
Church @12

Spock's Brain, Turnabout Intruder. Turnabout Intruder, Spock's Brain. Man, that's a tough call. Shatner getting in touch with his inner b***h v. "Brain, brain, what is brain!?" I'm gonna have to think about that one for a while. (And Turnabout Intruder will mean it's over. WAAAAH!!!)
j p
14. sps49
It wasn't a terrible episode; they are exploring a new world they sought out, bad guys try to mess with them, they figure out the key and we're on to the next episode. The less one thinks about it, the better it is.

My 10-year-old self really really wanted a little silver Enterprise model to play with. I still do.

Back in the day, the effects weren't that bad- TV resolution, especially with broadcast TV, was not enough to show how bad some of these were. It's like the colored artifacts around the TIE fighters that I never noticed until DVD, but worse. They were just needed to tell the story, not be the story- this would change after Star Wars.

DemetriosX @9-

You had to post those lyrics.

And we may not like Turnabout Intruder (the door is over there, dummies!), but The Shat does an excellent job. Torie will probably not like his portrayal, though....
Torie Atkinson
15. Torie
@ 12 Church

If I had written this review it would have certainly had the "distinct lack of half-naked man-wrestling" tag.

And Kirk's animal magnetism, yeah yeah. Theoretically Korob can turn himself in anything, too--why doesn't he just make himself look like Kirk and they live happily ever after?

@ 14 sps49

After I saw this I immediately checked eBay for the little Enterprise hood ornament they've got here. Want!

Aw, what won't I like about The Shat? :)
Church Tucker
16. Church
As The GF says, "Shatner makes me smile."

Also, forgot to mention that the pipe cleaner aliens were REALLY freaky the first time out of the box. Don't hold up quite so well, though.
j p
17. sps49
Torie, your sarcasm may be going over my head- but have you not watched Turnabout Intruder yet?

I think Shatner gives an excellent performance as Lester in Kirk's body, but in the late 60's there were too many who believed that all woman were similarly unstable.

If you haven't seen it, I'll shut up. But I am eagerly anticipating your analysis.

Back to Catspaw- In the 80's sometine I found an AMT model kit set that contained a little Enterprise together with a Klingon D-7 and a Romulan Warbird. The scale is about right, and I painted my Enterprise silver, but the finished model was FUGLY after the paint, not pretty and chromy.
Torie Atkinson
19. Torie
@ 17 sps49

Nope, never seen that one. It'll be fun, I take it.

I'll have a fun Star Trek DIY post sometime soon. You'll like it.
Del C
20. del
Could this be an Earth parallel development of some sort?

Why do they never find Vulcan parallel development planets, or Andorian parallel development? They even had an opportunity, with "Balance of Terror", and threw it away in favour of a historical link between Vulcan and Romulus.

I know the Doylist explanation, but I can't imagine a plausible Watsonian one.
21. Janice in GA
My favorite line (and I hope I'm remembering this correctly) relates to the image above with McCoy and Kirk chained in the dungeon, along with the skeleton.

When Kirk wakes up, he turns to his friend and says "Bones...", spies the skeleton, then says "McCoy."

Warren Ockrassa
22. warreno
"Unintentionally hilarious lines: the bit about cats being the most ruthless of animals (when they aren’t napping like there’s no tomorrow!)"

And lying on their backs to have their tummies rubbed while purring almost loud enough to rattle the windows.

I actually felt embarrassed the last time I watched this episode. I found it less tolerable than "Spock's Brain", at least in part because Robert Bloch, who wrote "Psycho" fagawshsakes, was a damn sight better writer than this. Everything was cringeworthy, especially the ridiculous pursuit of the "giant" cat.

"Catspaw" was just a shoddy episode; I think I would have given it a Warp Factor 0 (Vandalized and stalled Excelsior).
j p
23. sps49
Torie @19- Sure. Fun! Yeah, that's what it'll be! But I don't want to spoil it.

DIY = Do It Yourself?

Church @ 18- Nope, not what you linked; but it is on eBay.
Church Tucker
24. Church
@sps49 OMG, I forgot about those! I wanted a set just for the Romulan Bird of Prey.

And yeah, DIY=Do It Yourself. Probably via Punk->Makers->Steampunk
Torie Atkinson
25. Torie
@ 23 sps49

Oh goodie! I like fun!

And yep, Do It Yourself. You'll see.
Alison Sinclair
26. alixsin
This one terrified my younger sister, such that I couldn't persuade her to watch another ST episode for months if not years. That was after I'd recovered from "Devil in the Dark", which terrified me.
28. Lane Arnold
---among the most blatant examples of low budget from tos---see the puppet strings on the aliens at the end? and the cat walking through the hallway?--it was trying to find the kitty door, right?--in a way it doesn't matter if you're a sacrificed red shirter--they'll just bring you back in a future episode like eddie paskey--there seems to be some debate as to which episode was worse--"spock's brain" or "turnabout intruder"--it certainly was not this episode--for my money-it had to have been "the empath"--as kirk said in "balance of terror": "full reverse, emergency warp speed!"---
29. ***Dave
I have to go with Torie that there's major one-liners and Kirkitude here to keep this from being as awful as it seems.

Actually, what this episode reminds me of (aside from the above features and some spiffy music cues) is a (bad) "Lost in Space" episode. Cheap redresses of standing "horror" sets, cheap sfx, a story that goes for faux thrills ("It's like a haunted house ... IN SPACE!") -- all we need is Dr Smith lamenting "the pain, the pain of it all" and shrieking at the giant cat ...

It's not great literature

The end-of-article trivia includes notes on other appearances by DeSalle. I agree it was neat seeing someone else taking command (though it begs the issue of why Scotty was leading a landing party, unless he has to do his X hours of away team to keep his command license), but DeSalle is such a monotone stick that one can see why the concept never went any further in the show.

And while I'm a whole season ahead of myself, I have to weigh in that the worst-ness of the three worst episodes raised here has to go (from most worst) to

1. "Spock's Brain" (THE STUPID - IT BURNS!)

2. "The Way to Eden" (a worthy if laughtastic attempt at dealing with contemporary issues -- and, if you turn it into commentary on letting ideology trump humanity, something that's still worth discussing today)

3. "Turnabout Intruder" (fuss if you will over the chauvinism, and justifiably so, but it's got some fine dramatic moments, and the whole cross-acting thing is always interesting to see)

The last of which points brings me back around to one of Torie's. I'll have to cast my vote that the "I am a woman! I am all women!" line is "Hey, hot stuff, I can be any woman you want me to look or behave like!" more than a declaration of her archetypal femininity. That's how it always struck me, at least.

As to how Bloch could pen something like this, describes the ostensible inspiration, Bloch's short story "Broomstick Ride." How so much changed in the translation remains a mystery.
Church Tucker
30. Church
@29 ***Dave "... but DeSalle is such a monotone stick that one can see why the concept never went any further in the show"

Utterly forgettable in TOS, but ironically a huge scene-stealer in New Voyages/Phase II (different actor, of course.)
31. trekgeezer
Don't be too hard on Robert Bloch. I don't know about this particular episode, but Gene Roddenberry was known to rewrite scripts without consulting the original writer.
32. Dark Lord Rob
It's interesting to compare the "Lost in Spce"-ish episodes of Trek to actual LIS (since both did "Space-Hippie" eps this is easy to do); even when Trek is slumming there are strong philosophical bases to the stories and interesting subtexts... very rare in LIS to say the least. Personally I prefer the entertainingly bad Treks mentioned above to the dull ones (like "Kirk is an Indian" and "Vaal must be obeyed").

On the subject of "Catspaw" I'm going to agree with the three-star rating. The ep takes a silly premise (space humbugs create elaborate spooky facade to scare away outsiders for ill-defined purposes, and Freddie, Velma and Shaggy... I mean, Kirk, Spock and McCoy must get to the bottom of things) and delivers on the promise of "Fun!" if little else. Like "Gothos" and "Adonis" (also underrated here) this is a genuinely fun episode. Not great, but fun.
Eugene Myers
33. ecmyers
@ 32 Dark Lord Rob

I remember liking Lost in Space reruns as a kid, but haven't seen it in years. I think it might have only ever worked on the level of fun camp, while Trek frequently at least tries for some depth and meaning, even if it fails. It's like recent Disney and Dreamworks animations vs. Pixar films, which function on several levels. Despite the fact that the Lost in Space movie isn't very good, I appreciated the effort to give the story some substance and go a little dark.
34. ReAnimator
So are the reviews coming back any time soon? it's been a month.
Eugene Myers
35. ecmyers
@ 34 ReAnimator

It's been kind of a busy month, but we'll be resuming these soon!
36. Stickmaker
Forget _Lost in Space_, this episode reminds me of _The Cape Canaveral Monsters_, due largely to the bickering alien couple.
37. DrCroland
Honestly, I can't understand why so many of you guys keep dumping on this episode. It may not have been quite the best, but I think it was one of the most memorable! Give it a break, it was just a fun Halloween episode that was done on a limited budget. But the ending -- the second the transmuter was broken, the castle vanishing into thin air and Korob and Sylvia changing into those weird hoojamacallits that look like spiders or something and make weird sounds -- I mean come on, that was pretty wild for the time. Call me dense but I don't think I quite anticipated that ending (I was a kid back then...) You know, I think the only thing in TOS that freaked me out even more, was when Lt. Romaine was possessed by those alien beings in "The Lights of Zetar" the way she looked and sounded really scared me back then, and still does a little even today.

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