Could Someone Please Explain Catspaw

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Praetor Baldric, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    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: Jun 5, 2013
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think this one falls in the 'guilty pleasure' category. I do love the Enterprise necklace.
     
  3. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a Halloween special.

    That is all.
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    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.)
     
  5. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Trek or treat!
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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)
     
  8. Irishman

    Irishman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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!
     
  9. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    I doubt the desire to be camp was behind the the pipe cleaner aliens.
     
  10. Irishman

    Irishman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Campy and cheapy. :)
     
  11. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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"
     
  12. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    Great fun, and aliens who turn out to be really alien.
     
  13. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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 . . . :wtf:
     
  14. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    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.
     
  15. BennieGamali

    BennieGamali Commander Red Shirt

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    I love this episode. The reason I love it is the line that went something like "Are you ok Bones..*skeleton* eeh McCoy"
     
  16. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I like that interpretation. And an extension of that blurring of reality and imagination was the death of Korob by the cat, because... after the scepter is destroyed we see both marionette aliens withering (rather than one dead and the other about to die). So even his death was an attempt to elicit a response from the landing party.

    About the only real "major fail" in the episode for me was the depiction of the aliens. Seriously, they could have come up with something better rather than slow motion puppets with visible strings.
     
  17. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    They blew the budget on the cat.