"What's on, Jim?" asks McCoy.
Truer words, Jim. With Halloween fast approaching and with no clever preamble, here's "Catspaw" by Robert Bloch. Oh, boy, has he written better stories than this. A haunted house planet and the scariest thing around is Chekov's wig.
Crewman Jackson beams up dead and a voice comes out of his corpse warning them off.
When our leading trio fail to listen, some witches deliver another warning.
"Wind shall rise and fog descend,
Leave here, all, or meet your end."
There's also a castle and a cat.
McCoy wonders if it's an elaborate trick-or-treat. Spock inquires about the term. "You'd be a natural," Kirk smiles.
They fall through the castle floor and awaken chained in a dungeon that wouldn't spook Don Knotts' "Mr. Chicken".
Soon Scott and Sulu come to rescue them, but, wait, they're zombie slaves! (I remember that being a bit creepy back when, and Jackson, too, come to think of it.) Eeeeeerie!
But that's all undercut by the mumbo-jumbo of this tangerine-cloaked live RPG wizard. He's scored with a "funny" woodwind and exudes all the menace of a guy come to read the meter.
He's called Korob, and he tries to bribe them to leave with plates of jewels. Kirk says pish-tosh, they can make these on Enterprise, too. So they don't value them as they once did.
Last year versus the Gorn, for example. (And they still have money- DeSalle has a line betting us "credits to navy beans". I'm betting they don't value the navy beans.)
They still value making out with the ladies, as Kirk attempts to curry favour with the sorceress Sylvia, their other captor. She exudes all the sensuality of a guy come to read the meter.
She magics up a pewter Enterprise keepsake, then torments it with flame and encasement in lucite. Through sympathetic magic, the real ship gets warm, too. Horrors!
Then she turns into a giant house cat with a tiger's roar and chases them about.
Transmutation wand seized from the feuding shapeshifters, the tables are easily turned.
"Don't let her touch the wand, Captain." Spock urges. My wife laughed at that. Heh, Kirk's wand.
The extragalactic invaders with their vague dreams of conquest die in a ditch in their ludicrous true forms: blue furry chicken gizzards much too obviously on strings.
If you think I'm being too harsh, remember I added one star so as not to seem rude. For a lot of years, this is the episode I said was the worst ever. Now I'm not so certain. Even if it's not THE worst, it's still pretty bad. Opinions vary, but I am right.