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Episode 616: The Great 1968 Wrap-Up

“I said you were my friend, and how I wish that were the truth. But I am past the point when friends are possible.”

Signs that your life may not be going the way that you hoped: You walk into your best friend’s house, and you find him moaning in an armchair. You reach out to touch his collar, and you see bite marks on his neck, and the only thing that you can say is, Oh, man. Not this again.

Barnabas Collins has been chewed on by his ex-wife, vampire soap vixen Angelique, and now his friends Julia and Willie have to figure out what to do about it. They stand around the scene of the crime and spitball ideas for a minute — they want to hide Barnabas someplace, but the next time the vampire summons him, he’ll go. They need to store him someplace safe, where she can’t get at him. But where?

Then Julia says, “Downstairs, Willie — the cell!” like that’s suddenly the greatest idea ever. So they hoist Barnabas to his feet, wrangle him downstairs to the basement, and lock him up in the dungeon cell, because today’s episode was written by Ron Sproat, and he never does anything else. God damn it, Sproat!

Continue reading Episode 616: The Great 1968 Wrap-Up

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Episode 615: The Truth About Cats and Dogs

“What difference does it make who catches the vampire?”

Hey, look who’s come over for a social call — it’s Sheriff George Patterson, the three-time winner for Least Effective Police Officer in the Dramatic Arts. In the two years that he’s been on Dark Shadows, Collinsport has grown from a gloomy little seaside town into a nightmarish hellscape ruled by demonic mob bosses, who never get prosecuted or even questioned very hard. We’re not going to see another law enforcement losing streak like this until the Pink Panther movies in the mid-70s, and even Inspector Clouseau managed to catch the bad guy once in a while.

As we’ve seen this week, there’s been a massive conspiracy to kill that nice young Joe Haskell, with four characters directly involved in a plot to poison his medicine. Furious, he decided to take the law into his own hands, and there’s an eyewitness alleging that she watched Joe strangle Barnabas Collins while he was innocently napping in an armchair.

Joe is not technically in custody at the moment, because he’s in the hospital, recuperating. But he never gets booked, and nobody else in the crime syndicate does either. Sheriff George Patterson lives in the law-breakiest town in the world, and he never even makes a goddamn arrest.

Continue reading Episode 615: The Truth About Cats and Dogs

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Episode 614: Curtains, Foiled Again

“I don’t know what to believe. Everyone tells me the sensible thing to do is the crazy thing to do.”

Okay, let’s review the rap sheet.

Mon, Oct 21 : Breaking and entering (Barnabas sneaks into Nicholas’ house), attempted murder (Barnabas tries to kill Eve), first degree assault (Angelique bites Barnabas).

Tues, Oct 22 : Attempted suicide (Joe, with a letter opener).

Wed, Oct 23 : Attempted murder, conspiracy (Angelique tells Barnabas to take Joe into the woods and kill him).

Mon, Oct 28 : Conspiracy to commit murder (Nicholas gives Harry poison to kill Joe).

Tues, Oct 29 : Breaking and entering (Harry sneaks into the Old House), attempted murder (Harry puts poison in Joe’s medicine), first degree assault (Angelique bites Barnabas), conspiracy to commit murder (Angelique tells Barnabas to kill Joe), attempted murder (Barnabas gives poison medicine to Joe).

Wed, Oct 30 : Attempted murder (Joe tries to kill Barnabas with a curtain tie).

So we’ve reached the point where they’re averaging one major felony an episode. Dark Shadows might have more murder per hour than How to Get Away with Murder.

Continue reading Episode 614: Curtains, Foiled Again

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Episode 613: Joe Haskell Must Die

“Then why didn’t that someone give him the medicine?”

Man, after a solid week of sifting through the Danielle/Eve/Jeff/Peter boondoggle, it’s nice to get back to a simple, straightforward hypnotized rape victim flip-flop murder-revenge conspiracy. I mean, some of us still appreciate the classics.

Continue reading Episode 613: Joe Haskell Must Die

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Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

“The trouble, I guess, is that soaps are rather subterranean.”

Here’s a story that isn’t true:

In some ways the situation wasn’t unusual for a soap opera. A girl and an older man, in the process of eloping, had been hurt in an auto accident. However, the condition of the still-unconscious male patient baffled the examining doctors at the hospital. Although he had suffered only a minor head wound and was breathing normally, his veins were almost empty of blood and no heartbeat or pulse could be detected.

The treatment — massive transfusions — was already underway when the patient’s personal physician and a friend arrived at the emergency ward. “What do you think will happen to him?” asked the friend in a desperate whisper. “Who can tell?” was the M.D.’s equally tense reply. “After all, no one’s ever given massive blood transfusions to a vampire before.”

And then “a burst of eerie music is followed by a denture-adhesive commercial, and one more episode of Dark Shadows comes to a cliff-hanging conclusion,” except that it doesn’t, because it didn’t happen that way.

Continue reading Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

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Episode 611: The Love Object

“Now I understand why I have the urge to kill Adam.”

So here’s the latest: Eve, the Bride of Frankenstein monster who used to be a French psychopath named Danielle Roget, is in love with Jeff Clark, the amnesiac who used to be an 18th-century lawyer named Peter Bradford, and she killed her lover to be with him, only to have him reject her and fall in love with a time traveling governess who’s on trial for witchcraft.

Now, I adore the absurdity of this plot point, but it’s only been around for three episodes so far, and already I’m checking the episode guide to see how often I’m going to have to explain it. The answer, fortunately, is not very often, so I’m not sure why I’m even bringing it up.

Because it’s not exactly one of the great romances of our time, is it? It’s soap opera mate-matching at its most cynical — just taking two random characters and saying, “This one is desperately in love with that one,” even though they have nothing in common and it doesn’t seem like it’s in character.

Continue reading Episode 611: The Love Object

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Episode 610: Inexplicable You

“We’ve both lived before, only you’ve came back looking the same, and I’ve come back looking different!”

Now, if I were to say to you that today’s episode of Dark Shadows involves a French Revolution-era psychopath named Danielle Roget, who’s recently been reincarnated as a Bride of Frankenstein monster so that a demonic magician can breed her to an inhuman creature that’s sharing a life force with an ex-vampire and create a new race of beings dedicated to serving Satan, and that she looks out the window and sees the guy who’s waiting for the Collins family’s governess to get ready for their date, and she realizes that he’s actually the unwitting reincarnation of a lawyer that the governess fell in love with when she traveled back in time and was on trial for witchcraft, then how would you react?

Yeah, I thought so. I’m sorry. I just don’t know what else I can say.

Continue reading Episode 610: Inexplicable You

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Episode 609: Nobody Understands Dark Shadows But Me

“Why do I remember that sometimes the trees have no leaves at all, and at other times, the leaves are green?”

So Adam the enormous Frankenteen is standing around in the drawing room, when his mate Eve opens the door and gives him a look.

This is what she does all day, apparently, just walks around the house giving people looks. Turns out that’s a job.

Continue reading Episode 609: Nobody Understands Dark Shadows But Me

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Episode 608: You Are My Someone

“Is that what you’ll do with me, when you don’t want me anymore? Will you have someone carry me to the woods, and kill me?”

“You are my slave,” Angelique says, staring directly into the camera. Try not to take it personally. She probably doesn’t mean you, specifically.

“You must come to me,” she adds. “Hurry!” Then she says it again, in an increasingly urgent tone. “Hurry! HURRY!”

I need to point out that this is not what normal television usually looks like. I feel like I have to say that every once in a while, just to remind myself that normal television exists.

Continue reading Episode 608: You Are My Someone

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Episode 607: In a World of Turtlenecks

“Put down that letter opener, you look ridiculous.”

We’ve watched our enormous teenage Frankenstein monster as he was brought to life from weeks-old corpse parts. We’ve seen him read poetry, and play chess. We’ve seen him kidnap women, break out of jail and jump off a cliff. We’ve even seen him cry.

But have you ever seen him in bed, wearing revealing nightwear? Welcome to Dark Shadows After Dark.

Continue reading Episode 607: In a World of Turtlenecks