“Hello, Miss Evans. The expression on your face is one of surprise.”
It’s evening at the Evans’ house, and it’s time for more acting. We hear running feet, and then Maggie comes through the front door, panting. She locks the door behind her, and then looks around the room. She takes a few careful steps forward, breathing heavily, and turns on a lamp. Then she looks back over her shoulder at the locked door.
Now, I’ve seen people acting before, and in my opinion, what Maggie is trying to express is that she’s afraid of something outside.
By sheer coincidence, Barnabas happens to be right outside, and he knocks on the door. She hesitantly opens it a crack. He greets her politely, chuckling: “You look as if you’re going to slam the door at any moment.” He smiles, as if it’s absolutely ridiculous that she wouldn’t immediately invite a near-stranger into her home in the middle of the night.
She explains that someone was following her as she was coming home. “That’s strange,” Barnabas says. “Let me take a look.” And then he makes a big show of opening the door and looking around for any ne’er-do-wells who might be lurking on the lawn.
Maggie explains that she’s been on edge for the last couple days, because a girl was attacked near the waterfront.
“That’s terrible!” Barnabas says. “Do they know whom it was?”
And that’s the crucial Dracula moment, right there. “Whom it was.” That’s how Barnabas gets away with everything that he’s about to get away with. He’s the only person in a hundred mile radius who uses the word “whom,” and is therefore above suspicion.
Barnabas doesn’t have a title like Count Dracula, but his speech and manners suggest that he’s a nobleman. And he basically is, for this town — he’s a Collins, part of the family that established Collinsport.
Dracula needs to be part of the aristocracy; otherwise, he’d be killed by the superstitious peasants. All of the ethnic people with accents living in Transylvania know that you don’t go to Castle Dracula at midnight on St. George’s Day. Only the foolish gringo would ignore their warnings, and go get himself bit.
So if everybody knows that Dracula is a monster, then why don’t they storm the castle and knock some wood into him? Because he’s a Count, that’s why, and if everyone went around storming castles when an aristocrat does something objectionable then you’d never get anything else done.
You should keep this in mind, because it helps explain why you never see a mob showing up at Collinwood with torches and pitchforks. Also, it’s hard to put a mob together when you can only afford to have five actors per episode.
The door opens again, and Maggie’s father bursts in, delivering his lines in a way that suggests breathless excitement and only the vaguest memory of what he’s supposed to say.
This is Sam, played by David Ford, who had terrible problems with his lines, and probably holds the world record for looking at the teleprompter. The character is an alcoholic, which at least gives him some excuse for stammering out his dialogue. Sam will eventually be killed off but not soon enough.
So, let’s see how far he can get.
Maggie: Oh, Pop!
Sam: I’m glad you’re home.
Maggie: Pop, I’d like you to meet Barnabas Collins. Mr. Collins, this is my father.
Barnabas: Mr. Evans, this is a pleasure.
Sam: It’s nice to meet you.
Maggie: But why were you so glad I was home?
Sam: Well, I, um…
And there you go. He’s only said TEN WORDS so far. “Maggie; I’m glad you’re home; it’s nice to meet you.” And then he falls to pieces on word eleven.
Sam walks upstage like Groucho Marx having a strange interlude, and looks at the teleprompter.
Sam: I was worried.
Another teleprompter check.
Sam: About, uh. About an hour ago…
One more for good luck.
Sam: Another girl was attacked.
And then a big musical sting, and we go to commercial. He only had 22 words to say in that whole scene. It’s unbelievable that this man was employed, even on this show.
But the point of the scene, when they get around to it, is that Sam is an artist, and Barnabas wants to commission him to paint a portrait. Sam answers, “Well… yes. Yes, I would.” He doesn’t seem super enthused, but it’s probably because he couldn’t remember if he was supposed to say yes or no.
Sam sets up his easel at the Old House and gets to work, and he makes a lot of progress. It goes so well that Sam ends up painting all night. Then Barnabas hears a convenient rooster crowing, and realizes that it’s dawn. That rooster must be from the “family farm” where they keep all the cows. Where is this invisible farm? It’s got to be around here somewhere, unless that rooster is a ventriloquist.
When Sam looks up from the easel, Barnabas has suddenly disappeared, and Willie ushers Sam out. The end.
Tomorrow: The Me/You Fun Gap.
More Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Sam isn’t the only one who gets his dialogue mixed up in this episode. When Maggie leaves Sam and Barnabas at the Old House, she says, “All right, Pop. I’ll be going home now. I have to be up work for — early.”
Sam sets up his easel at the Old House with the light shining through it. Wouldn’t an artist want the light behind him, so he could see what he’s doing?
Tomorrow: The Me/You Fun Gap.
— Danny Horn