★★★ November 3, 1967 Season 2 Episode 7
If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog.
This show was written by Gene Roddenberry, Robert Bloch, and D.C. Fontana
A black cat, witches, fog, and a spooky castle.
I saw this in a comment elsewhere and it’s true. If you understand the premise of this episode, that the black cat, witches, zombies skeletons, magic, etc. were derived from the aliens’ mistaken interpretation of human nightmares, rather than human reality, then, this episode does make sense.
This 1967 Halloween episode is not just about Trick or Treat – It’s about the clash of two cultures that meet in passing. It’s about how badly things can go wrong when communication is set aside to make room for personal wants and desires that can become greed.
There is truly a great line in this episode. When the crew faces the 3 witches from Macbeth. When the witches are done reciting their lines, Kirk says to Spock, “Spock . . . comment.”
“Very bad poetry, Captain,” Spock replies to Kirk’s obvious annoyance. I loved that.
When they beam down, they see thick fog, 3 witches, an eerie castle, and a black cat entering the castle. They meet Korob and Sylvia, end up in a dungeon, and find that Scotty and Sulu are in a trance of sorts and obeying the will of the two sorcerers.
The sorcerers use their magic against the Enterprise, Bones ends up in a trance-like state while Kirk and Spock try to figure out a way to beat the sorcerers and save their ship and crew. Sylvia becomes very cruel and disputes with Korob. Korob decides to help Kirk and his crew because he feels that Sylvia is going way too far.
This episode is Star Trek Halloween special basically… The crew land on a weird foggy world complete with monsters…
The voices of the little creatures in the final scene are the sounds made by newly-hatched alligators calling for their mother.
A detailed metal prop miniature of the Enterprise was created for this episode, then laminated in lucite as one of Korob’s tricks. The miniature was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum by Gene Roddenberry.
First appearance of Pavel Chekov, though not the first one broadcast. That honor goes to Star Trek: Amok Time (1967). Notice that Walter Koenig was still growing his hair out and therefore had to wear a rather unconvincing wig.
The title of this episode, “Catspaw”, is a term that describes a person used by another as a dupe. As McCoy points out, Scott and Sulu are used as catspaws to lure more crewmen down.
Fittingly, the episode was first aired during the week of Halloween.
James Doohan (Scotty) lost his right middle finger during World War II. Most of his scenes are shot to hide it; however, it is very noticeable here. When Scotty is holding a phaser pistol on Kirk and Spock, only two fingers are holding the butt of the phaser.
Scotty’s only dialogue is the statement, “Everything’s vanished”. Sulu doesn’t speak at all; he simply nods “yes” and “no” when queried by Kirk, and later cries “aha!” before engaging Kirk in hand-to-hand combat.
This is the first episode to feature all 7 of the “classic” cast members who would be brought back for future big screen adventures: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov, although they do not all appear in the same scene together.
The three witches seen towards the start of the episode were intended to be shown as floating severed heads. Hence the reaction from the landing party at their appearance. The characters wore black turtlenecks against a black backdrop, with light shining directly up into the face. Unfortunately, the effect did not work and the turtlenecks worn by the actors can clearly be seen. Even in the remastered version of the episode, this oversight is still present.
Theodore Marcuse (Korob) died in a car accident one month after “Catspaw” aired.
Korob and Sylvia refer to their leaders as the Old Ones, and imply that they are close by. Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft referred to the inhuman gods in his short stories as Old Ones; their being “nearby” was standard fare in his writings. Episode author Robert Bloch was a friend and disciple of Lovecraft. A similar reference occurs in Bloch’s Star Trek: What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1966).
The ornithoid lifeforms were marionettes composed of blue fluff, pipe cleaners, crab pincers, and other materials. The marionettes were operated with thick, black threads that were clearly visible; most of this was corrected in the remastered version of the episode.
When Gene Roddenberry originally outlined the chain of command, Lt Uhura was fourth in command. One of the reasons Dr Martin Luther King Jr convinced her to continue in the role (which she was considering quitting) was that he thought it was progress for a black woman to have such a prominent role for that time, although he was probably unaware that she was to be fourth in command. In the original script, Lt Uhura was to be in command when Kirk, Spock and Scott were all on any planet, but NBC was against having a female in charge of the Enterprise.
The Three Witches are iconic characters from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a play which inspired frequent allusions throughout this series.
The role of Crewman Jackson was played by regular Trek stuntman Jay Jones. Jones is credited as “Jimmy Jones”, whom some sources believed was Jones’ brother. However, in a 1996 retrospective interview, Jay claimed he played Jackson, as his first assignment on Star Trek, and makes no mention of a brother named Jimmy being involved on the show.
First time Assistant Chief Engineer, Lt. DeSalle was in command of Enterprise. Captain Kirk and second-in-command Mr. Spock beamed down on the planet Pyrus VII to rescue third-in-command Chief Engineer Scotty and fourth-in-command helmsman Sulu, leaving the command to Lt. DeSalle. Lt. DeSalle became fifth officer in charge of Enterprise command. Also, this was the third and last appearance of Lt. DeSalle in the show. He had appeared previously in Star Trek: The Squire of Gothos (1967) and Star Trek: This Side of Paradise (1967).
First episode produced for the second season.
This is the first episode in which a scope can be seen at the engineering station on the bridge. The science station scope was slightly altered for this episode; it is of a lighter color than the science scope used in episodes of the first season and has a circular control added to its left side. This dial control, as first seen in this episode, would remain throughout Seasons 2 and 3.
Robert Bloch based this episode very loosely on his own short story “Broomstick Ride”. Bloch also wrote Star Trek: What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1966) In both episodes, the “Old Ones” figure into the guest characters’ backstories.
One of the cat’s roars was recycled as the trademark growl for Bowser in various games such as Mario Party (1998) and Mario Golf (1999).
The short scene of crewmen in turtleneck uniforms walking in a corridor during red alert is stock footage from Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966). This marks the last time that these uniforms are worn by Enterprise crewmembers.
This is Sulu’s only non-speaking appearance in the entire series.
This episode marks several changes to the episode credits. From this point on, the episode titles and end credits are in the same typeface as the main title of the series. Directors and writers are credited at the beginning of Act One instead of the end of the last act. DeForest Kelley’s name is added to the opening credits. Also, Gene Roddenberry is credited as series creator in the opening credits.
Several bloopers from this episode can be found in the second season blooper reel.
The robe worn by Theodore Marcuse as “Korob” was previously worn by Bob Denver as “Fairy Godfather” in a dream sequence in Gilligan’s Island: Lovey’s Secret Admirer (1967) ten months before. So either the Trek Wardrobe Department borrowed it, even though the shows were produced by different studios, or they loved the design so much they copied it.
In this episode, DeSalle wears a red engineering tunic, unlike the gold command tunic he wore in Star Trek: The Squire of Gothos (1967) and Star Trek: This Side of Paradise (1967). The character started out as a navigator in the former, then served as a science officer in the latter, ending up as an engineer here.
The blue planet used in this episode as Pyris VII (albeit a darker blue, to illustrate the spookiness of the planet) was reused in subsequent episodes, representing Argelius II in Star Trek: Wolf in the Fold (1967), Sigma Iotia II in Star Trek: A Piece of the Action (1968), Troyius in Star Trek: Elaan of Troyius (1968) and Scalos in Star Trek: Wink of an Eye (1968) which were all lighter blue.
‘Catspaw’ introduces two plot elements that were revisited in stories later in season 2. First, Star Trek: By Any Other Name (1968) explored the theme of extra-galactic aliens taking human form and then becoming inundated with human sensations. Second, Star Trek: Assignment: Earth (1968) revolved around an eccentric man with uncommon powers, who is accompanied by an apparently intelligent black cat which later turns into a black-haired woman.
Body Count: 3, and he isn’t wearing a red shirt, it’s yellow. Given that Scotty, Sulu, and Jackson all beamed down to the planet and that only Jackson was killed, it is unusual that Jackson wasn’t a red shirt, as a red shirt’s life expectancy is typically shorter than a crewman’s who is a gold or blue shirt. The other 2 casualties were not Enterprise crew members at all.
This was the first of two times that Captain Kirk and Spock were cornered by a giant cat. The second was in Star Trek: The Animated Series: Once Upon a Planet (1973).
Spock’s reference to the witches’ “very bad poetry” echoes his earlier remarks about the Air Force’s “poor photography” in Star Trek: Tomorrow Is Yesterday (1967).
When Captain Kirk and his landing party arrive on Pyrus VII, they are met by eerie mists, a dark castle, wailing witches, zombies and a black cat. They soon learn that they are under the influence of a wizard, Korob, who tries to bend them to his will. They also soon learn that the black cat they saw is more than she appears and is in fact a powerful witch in her right. This beautiful witch, Sylvia, who wears a diamond pendant on her black dress, explains that they are explorers from another galaxy; however, Kirk and Spock must find a means to escape their grasp before they return to the Enterprise.
William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Antoinette Bower … Sylvia
Theodore Marcuse … Korob (as Theo Marcuse)
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Walter Koenig … Ensign Pavel Chekov
Michael Barrier … DeSalle (as Mike Barrier)
John Winston … Lieutenant Kyle
Rhodie Cogan … First Witch
Gail Bonney … Second Witch
Maryesther Denver … Third Witch
Jay D. Jones … Crewman Jackson (as Jimmy Jones)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Jeannie Malone … Yeoman (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
10 thoughts on “Star Trek – Catspaw”
“The crew land on a weird foggy world complete with monsters…” Basically Max what you are saying is they landed on Planet Earth May 2023! lol
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I don’t have much recollection of this episode.
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That might be a good thing…I didn’t describe it too well because it was so strange.
I guess that’s why I thought I should remember it
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Well, I usually find that even on series I really like, very special Halloween episodes are usually forgettable. I don’t think this would change that perception to me! But they probably had fun making it!
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No it woudn’t change that. The 1st season was much more even….this one has some high ups….like yestereday is one of the best period…and this is down.
I liked this episode, and the ending of it reminded me of how The Witches of Eastwick ended. Fun to watch the cgi remastering and I’m sure that the discs I got from the library are remastered as the engine glow is distinctive. So sorry to hear the main guest actor died so soon after the episode was made. The cat and the use of shadows in the tunnels was quite effective!
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The ending to me was creepy with those things just dying like that and with the smoke. It was by far the hardest episode to write up…
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I can see why it would be a hard one to write up.
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