“This coffin. What does it mean?”
Vicki and Jeff peer through the door to the secret room in the Collins mausoleum. Entering the cramped space, they find a closed coffin in the center of the room.
“This coffin,” Vicki sighs. “What does it mean? Does it mean something to you, Jeff?” This is their first date, by the way.
“You keep talking about secret rooms, and guns. It bothers me for some reason.”
And now, another tableau from our pageant of Great Moments in American Health Care.
Victoria Winters was in a car accident the other day, and escaped entirely unharmed. But she’s been cooped up in a hospital bed for episode after episode, and she doesn’t even have a magazine.
She says to her doctor, “You are going to release me today, aren’t you?” The doctor smirks, and says, “Now, why be in such a hurry?”
So apparently this hospital encourages able-bodied patients to stay longer. Even for a vampire soap opera, that requires more suspension of disbelief than anything else on the show. I thought we were back in the 20th century.
“Perhaps — in the mastery of science, in the mastery of modern medicine — you will find your best hiding place!”
Previously, on Dark Shadows – Barnabas Collins, knocked unconscious in a car accident, was brought to the Collinsport Hospital, and is now under the care of Dr. Eric Lang. Observing the patient’s lack of pulse and impossibly low blood count, noting the presence of two puncture wounds in Vicki’s neck, and blessed with the unique ability to add two and two, Dr. Lang identified Barnabas as a vampire, halfway through yesterday’s episode.
Dr. Lang confronted Julia with his conclusions, and insisted that they work together to treat Barnabas’ condition — and by the end of the episode, Lang surprised Barnabas by whipping open the heavy curtains and exposing his panic-stricken patient to the late-afternoon sunlight.
And now Barnabas is fine.
“Doctor, may I see your neck, please?”
We closed our first week back in the 1960s with a tremendous car accident, which is either a metaphor for the chaotic process of change and renewal, or just another example of Victoria Winters destroying every single thing that she touches.
“How can they possibly hear you or me, when we are both dead?”
Hey, remember when Barnabas wanted to turn Vicki into a new version of his lost love Josette, but he wanted her to come to him willingly, without having to use his hypnotic vampire powers on her? Yeah. I think we’re going to have to circle back and review that one again.
Because Vicki made the tactical error of actually going and having her own life outside of Barnabas’ immediate sphere of influence, and she met another guy. That made Barnabas get all bitey, and now he and Vicki are going away together.
But — and this is something I never thought I would say — Vicki is doing something interesting here. She’s agreeing to go, because she’s been hypnotized, but she doesn’t look happy about it.
When Carolyn got bit, she got a dreamy look in her eye, and she was super excited to be Barnabas’ new blood slave. All she could think about was how she could be helpful to Barnabas. Vicki’s affect is more like she agreed to go on a trip with someone that she isn’t that crazy about traveling with, but she promised to go and the tickets are non-refundable.
“I mean, the very idea of people cavorting in and out in time periods would be amusing, if it weren’t so preposterous.”
Sometimes I see a big event on a daytime soap opera — a wedding, or a black-tie charity fundraiser, or a serial killer holding a group of teens hostage in a police station during an earthquake while one of them is having a baby — and I think, it is seriously unbelievable that this is the same genre, the same medium and the same timeslot as Dark Shadows. It’s the budgets — I just can’t get my head around where all that money is coming from.
I understand that the technology has advanced — filming and editing and effects are easier than they used to be. But how can they afford all those people? When modern soaps do those big episodes, they just throw dozens of people at the screen — main cast, recurring players, guest roles, plus all those extras standing around in the background, pretending to dance or eat or tend to the wounded.
Dark Shadows could afford five and a half people a day. That’s it. If you’re lucky, we’ll get a guy to wrap some bandages around his head, and we’ll call him an ancestor. I mean, it’s not like people suddenly got less expensive. There can’t be that many out-of-work waiters willing to appear on a television show while they wait for something to open up at a restaurant.
“One cannot buy a witch in an antique shop.”
Today, Victoria Winters returns to the scene of the crime — the Eagle HIll cemetery, where she shot and killed a man two weeks and 172 years ago. I’m not sure if there’s still a warrant out for her — there’s a lot I don’t know about the statute of limitations in a time travel scenario.
She’s hunting for the grave of Peter Bradford, her 1795 boyfriend and accomplice, who was left behind when she returned to 1967. Or possibly 1968. It’s hard to say. I’m pretty sure it’s a Wednesday, if that helps.
I mean, she left in November 1967, but by the time she got back, it was already April 1968, and she’d missed Christmas and a new Beatles album, and her library books were, like, crazy overdue.
“I think I expected a haircut to make me feel all new. It doesn’t.”
Victoria Winters is back from her trip to the 18th century — and like all young people coming back from break, she has a bullet wound in her shoulder, a barely coherent memory of what happened, and a new boyfriend who she doesn’t know how to contact.
Now, Julia Hoffman — who has just revealed that she’s a doctor — is providing some unorthodox therapy, spinning a medallion in Vicki’s face and interrogating her under hypnosis. Let the healing begin.
“I’m back, I’m back! I didn’t die, I didn’t die!”
And meanwhile, in the present, everybody is still standing around in the drawing room, waiting patiently to finish the scene that they started four months ago.
This is a weird thing for a TV show to do. It’s so weird, in fact, that the opening narration — which usually lasts about thirty seconds and doesn’t mean anything — actually goes on for three minutes, all the way through the opening titles and into the first scene, just to make sure we know what’s going on.
“I don’t know what lies beyond the grave… but I hope you will have some kind of peace.”
When we last left our undead psychopath hero, Barnabas Collins, he was walking into the Collinwood study, intent on murdering his old friend, Nathan Forbes. I forget exactly what brought this on, but it’s not like it matters. Sometimes you just decide to kill a guy.
But Nathan makes a plan of his own, grabbing a crossbow off the wall and shooting Barnabas as he enters the room. This is probably why you don’t see a lot of people hanging up decorative crossbows anymore.