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Extra: An Interview with Violet Welles

“There were infinite possibilities in infinite combinations.”

Monday’s episode was the first credited to Violet Welles, one of the best writers on Dark Shadows, and one of the most mysterious. She was a theatrical press agent, working on a varied slate of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. She also wrote for several television shows, but almost always as a ghost-writer; Dark Shadows is her only credited work as a writer, and she had to be talked into becoming a full-time writer on the show.

There are several websites that list Violet’s credits as a press rep — Playbill Vault, Internet Broadway Database and the Internet Off-Broadway Database — but almost nothing is known about her television work.

Happily, there’s a fan resource to the rescue: The World of Dark Shadows, the flagship DS fanzine which ran from 1975 to 2001. Issue #59/60, published in June 1991, ran a four-page interview with Violet Welles, giving us a rare glimpse into the day-to-day experience of the Dark Shadows writing team. The interview is fantastic, and I’m going to post it here in its entirety. It was conducted by Meghan Powell-Nivling, who I have not contacted for permission, so I hope nobody minds. Here’s Violet.

Continue reading Extra: An Interview with Violet Welles

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Episode 715: The Secret of the Mysterious Clue

“I see a night of terror! I see strange screams, muffled sounds!”

Rachel Drummond, plucky girl detective, climbs the stairs to the Collinwood tower room. According to legend, no one has set foot in this room for a hundred years, but something’s happening up there — something sinister.

As she climbs, Rachel reviews the case. She came to this big spooky mansion as the governess for Edward Collins’ two young children — but nobody is willing to say what happened to their mother. “My wife is not dead,” Edward said. “She is away. She is going to stay away.”

But Rachel’s seen a light in the abandoned tower room, which is impossible. She’s seen the maid bring a new doll into the house, but the children say they never received it. And every time she asks a question, everyone tells her that some things are better left unanswered.

They can’t put off Rachel that easily. There’s a mystery hidden in this house — something sad, and dangerous — and she’s going to get to the bottom of it. The idea that this is none of her fucking business does not seem to have occurred to her.

Continue reading Episode 715: The Secret of the Mysterious Clue

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Episode 714: Inherit the Win

“This is my house, and I decide what is legal from now on.”

Let’s begin with the Trojan War. I know, I’m always nattering on about the Trojan War, but bear with me for a second.

It all started with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Peleus was a hero in Greek mythology, but not one of the good ones; he’s mostly known for killing his half-brother and his stepmom in hunting accidents. Thetis was a shape-changing sea nymph, and Peleus got her to marry him after he snuck up on her and tied her up while she was sleeping. They were a terrible couple and shouldn’t be marrying anybody, really, but you know the ancient Greeks, anything for a party.

Anyway, they had the wedding on Mount Pelion, which is amazing, because usually it’s booked, like, two years in advance, and all of the deities were invited, except for Eris, the goddess of Chaos and Discord.

Irritated by the snub, Eris showed up anyway, probably in a Lady Gaga meat dress, and she tossed a golden apple into the middle of the room, inscribed with the word “Kallisti”, which means “to the fairest”. Pretty soon, the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite were all squabbling over who the apple belonged to.

Now, think about that for a moment. Aphrodite was so beautiful that she was literally The Goddess of Beauty, and Hera and Athena still thought they had a shot. That right there tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Greek weddings.

The three goddesses asked Zeus to decide between them, but Zeus mumbled something about a very important phone call that he suddenly needed to make, and he pointed them at Paris, the prince of Troy.

The girls all tried to get on Paris’ good side. Hera offered political power, Athena promised skill in battle, and Aphrodite said she could give him the love of the most beautiful woman on Earth. Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite and ran off with the beautiful woman, who happened to be Helen, the queen of Sparta. This started the Trojan War, and a ten-year siege that ended with the destruction of both the Achaeans and the Trojans.

So who triumphs in this tale? Only Eris, the goddess of Chaos and Discord, who orchestrated the destruction of empires, just to hear the funny sound it made as it all shattered to the ground. Then Eris invented television, and you know the rest.

Continue reading Episode 714: Inherit the Win

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Episode 713: The Staff Meeting

“Perhaps I have an innate fondness for gypsies who’ve fallen by hard times.”

Frankly, it’s dawn; it was dawn four scenes ago. But Barnabas saunters downstairs to the basement, where Magda is tapping her foot and shooting meaningful glances at her wristwatch. Then he takes the time to give her a full briefing before he gets into his coffin, because apparently today is casual day in the crypt.

Continue reading Episode 713: The Staff Meeting

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Episode 712: The Neverending Story

“Tell me what you meant by what you said to me.”

Hey, guess who’s out on parole? It’s Angelique, freshly sprung from the flames of the netherworld, conducting an impromptu lecture tour in other people’s houses.

Barnabas and the gypsies are out at the moment, doing god knows what, so Angelique just lets herself in via Chromakey so she can stand there in the drawing room and express herself.

“It’s been a long time, Barnabas,” she says to Barnabas, who isn’t there. “Long enough to have put me out of your mind. Oh, but you’re still in my thoughts.”

“And so are you,” she spits, turning to address the portrait of Josette, which is hanging placidly over the fireplace, minding its own business. “You, with your innocent eyes, that were always so startled when they looked on evil. Well, here it is again! Look at me again!”

Holding herself erect, she declares, “I am Angelique — and I HATE you!”

So it’s a good thing Barnabas isn’t around, because honestly, imagine coming home and finding this in your front parlor. Seriously, you came all the way over to my house to yell at the decor?

Continue reading Episode 712: The Neverending Story

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Episode 711: Let’s Twist Again

“We’re all on the same side, aren’t we? My side.”

I address myself and those here with me to the powers of darkness, he said.

I call upon the flame to summon you, he said.

I call upon the raven and the viper and all the dark creatures of nature to draw you like a rising mist from out of the darkness of the earth, he said.

And he said it over an active hellmouth that spews out vengeance-vowing fire demons on the regular. What could possibly go wrong?

Continue reading Episode 711: Let’s Twist Again

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Episode 710: Been Caught Stealing

“Now you’re dead, and you’re going to stay dead.”

Pursued relentlessly by the muffled-tympani sound of a beating heart, black sheep and future poltergeist Quentin Collins races downstairs to the study, to check on his dead grandmother.

This is the first running of the Telltale Heart Grand Prix, and as Quentin applies the brakes and shudders to a stop, he finds Edith sitting up in her casket at the finish line, grinning at him like being dead is the most fun she’s had in years.

So there we are; it’s happened. The haunter has become the haunted.

Continue reading Episode 710: Been Caught Stealing

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Episode 709: Forget You

“What would her spirit be doing wearing a glove?”

At the end of yesterday’s episode, Barnabas finally drew a line in the sand.

“YOU have the will, Quentin!” he said to Quentin, who did.

“I will leave you now,” he continued, raising several eyebrows. “There’s only one thing that you have to decide in the next hour — how to give it back. Because if you don’t — I will have to do something about it. Something drastic!And then he walked out the door.

So David can suck it, I guess, is the current attitude of the program.

Continue reading Episode 709: Forget You

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Episode 708: Will Power

“It’s been my experience that death causes as much ill-feeling as life.”

Time-tossed vampire Barnabas Collins is stuck in the year 1897, lost behind enemy lines on a ghost-hunting recon mission. For all he knows, he’s here to stay, so he’s trying to make friends with the locals.

At the moment, he’s in the Collinwood study with Edward, the putative head of the household, in front of an open casket containing Edward’s grandmother. The old lady spent the last several decades telling everyone that she had a family secret that she would pass on just before her death, but it turns out that’s a tricky deadline to plan around. Now Barnabas is the only one who knows the secret, which was: Don’t let Barnabas get out of his coffin and hang around Collinwood. So that worked out great.

Grasping at straws, Edward harangues Barnabas for a while, begging him to tell the secret, but Barnabas just stonewalls and that’s pretty much all they can do.

Frustrated, Edward grouses that Edith even kept the location of her will a secret. She left instructions with Judith in a sealed envelope, and now they have to find it.

And that’s the last time anybody mentions the secret. From this moment on, the story is all about finding the will. It’s the most blatant MacGuffin relay race handoff you’ll ever see.

Continue reading Episode 708: Will Power

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Episode 707: Another Jane

“I know Collinwood more intimately than anyone else in the family.”

Her name is Rachel Drummond. Her journey is beginning, a journey that she hopes will open the doors of life to her, and link her past with her future. A journey that will bring her to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea, high atop Widows’ Hill, a house called Collinwood — a world she’s never known, with people she’s never met, people who tonight are still only shadows in her mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of her tomorrows.

And, man, talk about linking the past with the future. Here we are three years later, and we’re still doing Jane Eyre.

Continue reading Episode 707: Another Jane