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.

Continue reading Episode 1129: Windmills, and How to Tilt at Them

Episode 1128: As Rome Burns

“While you’re at it, you pack your bags and get out of here, because you’re through!”

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The mystical severed head of deranged warlock Judah Zachery is missing, and his centuries-old corpse wanders the woods, drenching itself in the blood of the innocent. And somewhere in the dark future, the damned rise from the earth and advance on the great estate at Collinwood, toppling its towers and bringing the family to ruin and despair.

Can the accursed head and body be destroyed before they reunite, and begin a murder spree of unrivaled ferocity? Can the impostor time travelers staying at Collinwood unwind the chain of events that is even now leading the helpless inhabitants step by step towards an even greater horror to come?

And, more importantly, can this girl from a little mining town in the West find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?

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Episode 1127: The Unexplainable Happenings

“You accept the fact of unexplainable happenings!”

Well, this is just typical. A young man awakens an ancient horror and sets it loose to prowl the countryside and spread havoc and despair, and as soon as he’s done it, he decides he didn’t mean it and he wants to take it back. I guess there were irresponsible millennials back in the nineteenth century too, eating avocado toast and not buying houses.

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Episode 1126: To Your Head

“How are we gonna explain carrying a coffin around?”

It’s got a wobbly, unmarked styrofoam gravestone. It’s got spooky stairs leading down to a story-productive secret passageway. It’s got a mystery box, containing a headless corpse and a gold mask studded with improbable jewels. It’s got the great visual hook of an eight-foot wooden cross, pinning down a forbidden coffin lid. It’s even got a hapless 1840 equivalent of Willie Loomis, unwittingly unboxing an evil from the past. This should be right up my street. So why am I so unhappy?

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Episode 1125: Things You Say to Otis Greene, Deceased

“What does it all mean? Why did you have to die before you could tell me?”

I kept telling them, death is only an extension of life. Then I killed them. Even then, they didn’t really get it. I guess it’s one of those jokes that’s only funny from one direction.

Continue reading Episode 1125: Things You Say to Otis Greene, Deceased

Episode 1124: We Had Faces

“There will be a knock on the door, a man will enter, and before he leaves this room, I will know where my body is.”

So here we are, having a nice conversation with Roxanne of all people, when the door opens and in walks Lamar Trask, descendant and undertaker. This Trask is just as judgey and accusatory as all the others, and he has an old letter that he claims will prove once and for all whatever it is that he thinks he’s talking about.

Barnabas tells him to put his letter away and stop bothering people, but Trask insists. “Evil has many faces, Mr. Collins!” he announces, and then the camera pulls allllll the way in for another one of those terrible too-close close-ups that they’ve been doing for the last few months. It’s been happening since the 1995 storyline, and I have to admit it’s killing me.

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Episode 1123: Jay-Z

“Tonight I have finally met the man I am going to kill.”

He is the greatest single threat that the Collins family has ever encountered, the Big Bad magnified to the status of Big Worst. He is the man behind the curtain that you should not pay attention to, because if you get close, he’ll sear the flesh from your bones with the cleansing power of his unending hatred for everything in the universe, up to and including you.

The Catholic Church hated him so much that they murdered him, and then put his head on public display, so that everyone would know the true face of evil. And even his head — now stored in a see-through Tupperware container and hidden behind the draperies in the very room where you currently stand — even his head has the power to screw up your afternoon to a pretty devastating extent.

At least, that’s what I’m told. For all I know, this refugee from the antiques roadshow is just another dime-store decapitation, cluttering up the credenza.

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Episode 1122: The Lost World

“It’s time I start finding some of the lost world that we can’t understand or even see.”

Time-tossed vampire Barnabas Collins is leaving his family’s mansion, when he catches sight of a pretty young woman who looks like someone from Charlie’s Angels. This is Daphne, the mystery ghost who is destined — a hundred and thirty years from now — to collude with an angry fire god to destroy Barnabas and his entire way of life.

So obviously he wants to stop and say hi, and find out what the hell is going on, with an eye towards possibly not having this girl embark on her weird post-mortem vengeance spree. He approaches her at a traffic stop, and asks for her license and registration.

Now, when we saw Daphne’s ghost in the future, she was a governess, which is one of the all-time most destructive professions in history. Barnabas asks why she’s here in the woods, and she says that her carriage broke down, which is exactly what governesses always say. A governess’ carriage breaking down is basically a prelude to a wave of terror that she will blame on everybody but herself.

He accuses her of waiting for Gerard Stiles, a name that she doesn’t recognize, because Barnabas doesn’t know where this moment is in her personal timeline, and he wasn’t fully briefed before embarking on this irresponsible time cop assignment.

“But you haven’t told me your name,” he points out, and she says she doesn’t want to. “I’d hate to have to force you!” he growls, and then another character emerges from the underbrush.

“Why would you do that, Barnabas?” Desmond asks, and why indeed? Barnabas already knows her name. It’s practically the only thing he knows about this entire decade.

Continue reading Episode 1122: The Lost World