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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old June 5 2013, 04:21 AM   #1
Praetor Baldric
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Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

OK, seriously, I am a pretty smart guy. I can even understand what Alternative Factor was supposed to be about. But, Catspaw, I never got! Who are Korob and Sylvia, what is their deal with capturing and terrorizing Kirk and company? A giant cat? Seriously, I can usually find something cool in every TOS episode (even when it is poorly written or directed), but this one just eludes me. Help me find something positive about Catspaw please.

Last edited by Praetor Baldric; June 5 2013 at 04:48 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old June 5 2013, 06:13 AM   #2
BillJ
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

I think this one falls in the 'guilty pleasure' category. I do love the Enterprise necklace.
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Old June 5 2013, 06:23 AM   #3
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Big Daddy wrote: View Post
OK, seriously, I am a pretty smart guy. I can even understand what Alternative Factor was supposed to be about. But, Catspaw, I never got! Who are Korob and Sylvia, what is their deal with capturing and terrorizing Kirk and company? A giant cat? Seriously, I can usually find something cool in every TOS episode (even when it is poorly written or directed), but this one just eludes me. Help me find something positive about Catspaw please.
It's a Halloween special.

That is all.
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Old June 5 2013, 03:18 PM   #4
Greg Cox
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
Big Daddy wrote: View Post
OK, seriously, I am a pretty smart guy. I can even understand what Alternative Factor was supposed to be about. But, Catspaw, I never got! Who are Korob and Sylvia, what is their deal with capturing and terrorizing Kirk and company? A giant cat? Seriously, I can usually find something cool in every TOS episode (even when it is poorly written or directed), but this one just eludes me. Help me find something positive about Catspaw please.
It's a Halloween special.

That is all.
Bingo. It originally aired on October 27 and was clearly intended as a fun Halloween romp--written by the author of PSYCHO, no less.

Rewatching it in, say, July as just another Trek episode is like watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and wondering what all the holiday carols and Christmas trees are about.

Just think of it as "A Very Trekkie Halloween" and it can be good, spooky fun! (I admit that I loved the episode as a kid and always looked forward to it.)
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Old June 5 2013, 03:29 PM   #5
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Trek or treat!
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Old June 5 2013, 04:06 PM   #6
Christopher
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Bingo. It originally aired on October 27 and was clearly intended as a fun Halloween romp--written by the author of PSYCHO, no less.
Right. Robert Bloch was known as a horror/fantasy writer, and "Catspaw" is very loosely inspired by a prose story Bloch wrote called "Broomstick Ride," which is summarized here.

It's worth remembering that part of Roddenberry's original pitch for the series was that it would feature parallel worlds that resembled cultures from Earth history, thus enabling the production to save money by reusing existing props, costumes, set pieces, and stock footage from historical shows/films rather than having to spend money creating entirely alien settings every week. So a lot of episodes started with the idea to replicate some Earthly culture or setting, and then a justification was made up for it. Let's do a space gangster episode so we can use stuff from The Untouchables! The excuse? Oh, let's say they're very imitative and some old ship left them a book about gangsters. Let's do an episode about Indians in space! The excuse? Let's say they were transplanted by some mysterious ancient race we'll never mention again. Let's do space Nazis! The excuse? Let's say an Earth historian altered their culture. Although Roddenberry himself was content to treat parallel cultural evolution as a spontaneous happenstance in his own scripts, as in "Bread and Circuses" and "The Omega Glory."

So the idea behind "Catspaw" was to do a Halloween episode that would let them use a castle set and medieval sorcery trappings and whatnot, and the excuse they came up with was an alien expedition studying humanity by accessing the racial subconscious and its primal fears.
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Old June 5 2013, 04:12 PM   #7
SchwEnt
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

That's right, Trek or Treat. But if you need serious...

Sylvia and Korob were so alien that humanoid mind and humanoid life were totally foreign to them. To understand and/or control, they attempted to probe the conscious minds of crew and instead reached the unconscious mind, where they were unable to determine what is human reality and what is human imagination.

They probed the basic primal unconscious human mind, elemental fear, which they manifest in symbols of horror and terror (skeletons, torture, ghosts, etc.)

Like most ST, it's not really a bad idea, maybe just failing in execution. And it's been seen many times in ST... aliens who seek to understand mankind and latch on to one aspect by which to judge us (and make an eps)
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Old June 6 2013, 12:25 AM   #8
Irishman
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Big Daddy wrote: View Post
OK, seriously, I am a pretty smart guy. I can even understand what Alternative Factor was supposed to be about. But, Catspaw, I never got! Who are Korob and Sylvia, what is their deal with capturing and terrorizing Kirk and company? A giant cat? Seriously, I can usually find something cool in every TOS episode (even when it is poorly written or directed), but this one just eludes me. Help me find something positive about Catspaw please.
It had the unfortunate designation of being the "Halloween" episode of Star Trek that year. That gave the powers the be the excuse to be campy for camp's sake.

And they did. The result? Pipe cleaner and crab pincher marionette aliens! Ta da!
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Old June 6 2013, 02:42 AM   #9
Nerys Myk
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Irishman wrote: View Post
Big Daddy wrote: View Post
OK, seriously, I am a pretty smart guy. I can even understand what Alternative Factor was supposed to be about. But, Catspaw, I never got! Who are Korob and Sylvia, what is their deal with capturing and terrorizing Kirk and company? A giant cat? Seriously, I can usually find something cool in every TOS episode (even when it is poorly written or directed), but this one just eludes me. Help me find something positive about Catspaw please.
It had the unfortunate designation of being the "Halloween" episode of Star Trek that year. That gave the powers the be the excuse to be campy for camp's sake.

And they did. The result? Pipe cleaner and crab pincher marionette aliens! Ta da!
I doubt the desire to be camp was behind the the pipe cleaner aliens.
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Old June 6 2013, 02:59 AM   #10
Irishman
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Irishman wrote: View Post
Big Daddy wrote: View Post
OK, seriously, I am a pretty smart guy. I can even understand what Alternative Factor was supposed to be about. But, Catspaw, I never got! Who are Korob and Sylvia, what is their deal with capturing and terrorizing Kirk and company? A giant cat? Seriously, I can usually find something cool in every TOS episode (even when it is poorly written or directed), but this one just eludes me. Help me find something positive about Catspaw please.
It had the unfortunate designation of being the "Halloween" episode of Star Trek that year. That gave the powers the be the excuse to be campy for camp's sake.

And they did. The result? Pipe cleaner and crab pincher marionette aliens! Ta da!
I doubt the desire to be camp was behind the the pipe cleaner aliens.
Campy and cheapy.
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Old June 6 2013, 03:50 AM   #11
Dale Sams
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

1) The stunt of the guy falling off the transporter pad

2) The sheer alienness of Sylvia and Korob, including the aliens at the end, which I thought were cool.

3) "Bones"
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Old June 6 2013, 06:03 AM   #12
Gov Kodos
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Great fun, and aliens who turn out to be really alien.
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Old June 6 2013, 01:27 PM   #13
scotpens
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
. . . Just think of it as "A Very Trekkie Halloween" and it can be good, spooky fun! (I admit that I loved the episode as a kid and always looked forward to it.)
I hated that episode when it first aired. I saw Star Trek as "serious" science fiction (compared to, say, Lost in Space) and thought the show ought to be above a cheap gimmick like doing a Halloween-themed episode.

Of course, that was before the Gangster Planet, the Nazi Planet, the Roman Empire Planet, and the American Flag and Constitution Planet . . .
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Old June 6 2013, 04:29 PM   #14
Praetor Baldric
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Dale Sams wrote: View Post
1) The stunt of the guy falling off the transporter pad

2) The sheer alienness of Sylvia and Korob, including the aliens at the end, which I thought were cool.

3) "Bones"
Those are great moments. Another is the dialogue between Kirk and Spock after they encounter the witches:

KIRK: Spock. Comment?
SPOCK: Very bad poetry, Captain.
KIRK: [rolls eyes] A more useful comment, Mister Spock.
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Old June 6 2013, 04:46 PM   #15
BennieGamali
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Re: Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

I love this episode. The reason I love it is the line that went something like "Are you ok Bones..*skeleton* eeh McCoy"
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