Saturday, October 20, 2018

Episode Review - Catspaw (Original Series, Season 2)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.

Overview – Awaiting the check-in of a landing party on Pyris VII, crewman Jackson urgently contacts the Enterprise. When he is beamed aboard, he falls to the floor dead, but a voice from within him says the ship is cursed. With Scott and Sulu still on the planet, Kirk beams down with Spock and McCoy to see what has happened. They discover an ominous looking castle and spectral witches warning them to leave. As they continue to explore, they are captured and find themselves face-to-face with Scotty and Sulu, though the two men are in some sort of trance. Before long, Kirk and his men find themselves in the midst of a game of sorts with two powerful entities: Sylvia and Korob. As they play their games first with and then against each other, Kirk must find a way to save his crew from their clutches.

Score: 6/10 – Happy Halloween Trekkies! Yes, this is the episode that was aired on the week of Halloween and was done to bring a little bit of spookiness to the show. It is fun for that, but much of this episode has not aged well. I get that the effects with the giant black cat were the best they could do at the time, and that effect still works well, but the floating witches and the end reveal of the aliens left a lot to be desired. The Ornithoid getup looked like drier lint with pipe cleaners attached to it. The strings on the puppets were visible, and the sound effects were just hokey. They are one of my least favorite alien designs. Still, the story is fun and there is a bit of a special feel to it. The sets are excellent in their detail. The writers found clever ways to tap into the things that were spooky then, though some of it comes across as hokey now. Still, I have to admit that I found this episode to be fun. Yeah, cheesy and off the wall at times, but still fun.

Relevance – 2 points. This is the first episode to feature our beloved Pavel Chekov. That scores a point. Interestingly enough, it is also the first episode to feature all seven of the feature-film cast in the same episode. Speaking of Chekov, the wig Walter Koenig wore in his early episodes was quite the sight. This is also the third and final appearance of DeSalle. This time he is the assistant chief engineer. That gives us a second point in this section.

Continuity – 2 points. Character continuity is good. Kirk and Spock show their typical characters trying to rescue their crewmates. Universe continuity also works here. Where I found a place to deduct a point is in story continuity. Kirk is missing his chief engineer and helmsman. A crewmember beams up to the ship dead. So, Kirk takes McCoy and Spock down to the planet. No security detail, and the assistant engineer is left in charge with a green ensign to back him up. It makes no sense that a captain would take himself, the first officer, and the chief medical officer into an unknown situation that has already killed one of his crew without any security backup. Even for Kirk, that was an illogical call.

Character Development – 1 point. It seems as if Kirk is the only one to get some noteworthy attention. He is tries to seduce Sylvia as a way to drive a wedge between her and Korob. It shows off his charm and cleverness. Of course, some of it is so typical Captain Kirk that we can’t help but roll our eyes. Still, we get some decent Kirk moments.

Social Commentary – 0 points. OK, I have tried to identify something of substance that can be offered as a bit of commentary on our world. One could argue for the idea that power corrupts, but it is so superficial that I can’t seriously give it any points. Perhaps this episode is like Halloween itself. Full of sugary, candy-like fluff that is momentarily enjoyable but offers little in actual nourishment. It is fun, but not enough to give us anything for this category.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. As I said before, the set design is quite good, so I will give a point for that. It added to the overall feel of the episode and made things interesting on a visual level. That’s good enough for credit in this section.

Rank – Lieutenant (12 points). Like the holiday that this episode honors, this episode is simply fluff with nothing of real meaning behind it. I must confess that this is one of my guilty pleasures. Fun to watch each October, but it is not truly one that should be on a must-watch list.

If you would like to read other reviews from the Original Series, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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