Episode 1137: It’s Alive, Sort Of

“The underground vault below the unmarked tomb, of course!”

Lightning flashes, thunder crashes, the hunchback turns the wheel that pulls the pulley that hoists the creature to the rafters. The set explodes in enthusiastic bursts of galvanic excess. The crazed doctor squints as he peers at the ceiling, waiting for the moment when all the power of God’s creation will be at his disposal. More sparks, more zaps, and all of nature cries out — in exaltation or disgust, I know not which — as the operating table winds its way back down, to rest again on the floor.

The doctor rushes forward, craning his neck to catch even the mildest suspicion of success, hardly daring to hope, and there — in direct defiance of all the laws of God and nature — the dead man’s fingers shudder — twitch — and a pale hand rises from the resting position.

“Look!” the doctor gasps. “It’s moving! It’s — alive! It’s ALIVE!” And then the monster gets up, maybe thirty to forty minutes later.

Continue reading Episode 1137: It’s Alive, Sort Of

Episode 1136: Waiting for the Storm

“This time, I can’t help feeling that the dead have nothing to do with what has been happening to me.”

Something dreadful is happening underneath the skin of the world, something unnatural and unreal. Our dreams are full of portents. Everywhere, confusion clouds the mind. Alien forces corrupt our intentions, taking hold and steering us to empty places.

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Episode 1134/1135: The Graveyard Smash

“We cannot succeed without it, because without it he cannot live!”

You know, she’s done amazing things in the past, but now she’s even more in the past, and look what she can do. Displaced medico Julia Hoffman, thrust by circumstance into a time not yet her own, has assembled — in the middle of the night, in the middle of a graveyard, and in the middle of the nineteenth century — a pop-up artisanal mad scientist coworking space with all the trimmings, including assorted glassware lashed into an impromptu apparatus with bubbling liquids of uncertain purpose, along with tables and lamps and switches and samovars and who knows what-all.

She’s even got things wired up with electricity somehow, with a good old-fashioned Jacob’s ladder spark gap buzzing away in the corner, in case the Nobel committee comes by and she needs to science the place up a little.

She’s in a secret underground crypt, by the way, built by ignorant and superstitious villagers a hundred and fifty years ago as a long-term radioactive-waste storage facility, so they would have a place to put decapitated wizards that they weren’t using anymore. It wasn’t zoned for whatever the hell this is, so Julia’s technically a squatter, and she couldn’t hire anybody to help her drag the enormous Frankenstein-size slab through the narrow trap door beneath the unmarked grave, and down the winding stairs to this busted basement. And yet she did it somehow, in absolute silence and secrecy, all on her own. It’s incredible what you can do, when someone else puts your mind to it.

Continue reading Episode 1134/1135: The Graveyard Smash

Episode 1133: Low Clearance

“But actually, I did not come here to discuss the dead.”

It’s another one of those mysterious messages that Quentin’s been finding lately, scattered around his mansion. They’re cryptic little postcards from beyond the veil, signed by an old, extinguished flame, and they’re starting to get to him. They say things like “Joanna is dead and you are responsible,” which is upsetting, and they have these impenetrable adamantium wax seals that can only be opened by experts.

This time, the wax seal is even more troublesome than usual, and he’s really struggling with it. Quentin’s been opening his own mail for years now, it shouldn’t be this big of a deal, but the paper is determined to resist his advances. It must be some kind of trick judo paper that uses the attacker’s strength against him; the seconds are ticking by, and he’s still wrestling with it. He lunges at the seal one last time, and still it eludes him, and that’s when David Selby mutters “Oh, shit,” on network television.

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Episode 1132: An Armed Society

“How can love change in three days?”

Dr. Julia Hoffman crouches down to examine the body of a man beheaded in the late seventeenth century. “No pulse,” she observes. “No heartbeat. No respiration.” This comes as a surprise, for some reason.

The doctor has been hypnotically press-ganged into surgically reattaching this body to its long-lost head, so it can rise again and wreak a terrible vengeance on its numerous enemies, real or imagined. This impossible medical intervention must take place in a crumbling underground crypt in the middle of the night, without the aid of electricity or common sense.

“At least now we know where we’re starting,” Julia says. “We have a great deal of work to do, before we can start the operation.” Yeah, you can say that again.

Just like yesterday, today’s episode has crypt scenes at the top of the episode and the bottom of the episode, and in between is the soap opera storyline, with people flirting and breaking up and talking about their feelings. Dark Shadows is divided into two pieces right now, like a severed head cut from its body, which they’re trying to join together using Krazy Glue made by actual crazy people.

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Episode 1131: The Perils of Memory

“You cannot escape from the dead!”

It’s one of those complex evenings. In a secret underground crypt near Gallows Hill, a Cockney music hall performer with psychic powers places a tall glass case on an outcropping that contains a severed human head. It’s a terrible thing, the head, and it’s taken control of her senses.

The corpse in the corner grows restless. It rises, and approaches its long-gone head, grasping for its return. The head opens its long-dead eyes, and glares at the mentalist. They’re eager to be reunited, head to body.

“No, you must wait,” the woman says to the headless fiend, taking its cold hands in hers. “It is not time yet.”

Parking the body a few feet away, she looks to the head for instructions. “Now you must tell me, master,” she breathes. “What more is to be done?” They lock eyes, and merge minds.

“Yes, someone must help us,” she nods. “Someone very special. I understand, master.” Then she puts a velvet bag over the case, like it’s a parakeet cage.

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Episode 1130: Time and Tantrums

“This house is covered by a veil — a veil pierced by lightning!”

A hooded figure skulks through the Eagle Hill cemetery, as hooded figures do, making a yearly pilgrimage to the scene of the crime. She enters a free-standing mausoleum and pulls on a ring held in the mouth of an ornamental lion, and a secret catch uncatches, moving a panel that we all thought was a wall. Pushing it aside with practiced ease, the hooded figure steps into the room, raising her lantern to illuminate the coffin that isn’t there. “It’s gone!” she cries, as she lifts the lantern, and ta-DAH! It’s Angelique.

Now, I’m going to take a moment here to explain how this visitation fits into Angelique’s complex continuity. It doesn’t. There, that was easy.

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Time Travel, part 12: Nevertheless, They Persisted

“She wants to destroy the Collins family for all time!”

On October 23rd, 1970, Richard Nixon gave a speech to the United Nations about his desire for world peace. “In Southeast Asia, let us agree to a cease-fire and negotiate a peace,” he said. “In the Middle East, let us hold to the cease-fire and build a peace. Through arms control agreements, let us invest our resources in the development that nourishes peace.” And then they kept on fighting the Vietnam War for another five years.

But ABC decided that Nixon’s close-order hypocrisy display was important enough to pre-empt their daytime schedule, so as we always do on these pre-emption days, instead of watching the 1960s Dark Shadows that we know and love, we’re going to watch the 1991 Dark Shadows that we’re aware of and barely tolerate.

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Episode 1129: Windmills, and How to Tilt at Them

“Each time it reappears, murders follow in its wake!”

Well, this is what happens when you try to un-inevitable the inevitable; shit gets messy. Time-climbing ghostbusters Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman have peeled back the layers of the fourth dimension, visiting the undiscovered country of 1840 in order to avert a tragedy that they know perfectly well is going to happen a hundred and thirty years from now, right in front of their faces.

Their plan is to figure out how everything got this way in the first place, and then use that knowledge to make it not happen the way that it’s currently happening before it happens, which it already has. So it’s not going that well.

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