Episode 234: Adventures in Babysitting

“I don’t like people asking questions. And I like even less the people who inspire those questions.”

You know, it’s amazing the kind of thing that you can get used to when you’re watching a TV show every day. The show is clearly stalling while the writers figure out how to spin the Barnabas story out, and I’ve been grumbling all week about the recap and repetition.

But consider this: It’s May 1967. Thirty seconds ago, Nurse Sharon was emptying bedpans on General Hospital. And now we’re watching a walking corpse from the 18th century savagely beating a destitute con man with a cane.

234 dark shadows beat willie

So yeah, there’s a lot of recap this week, but look at what’s on the screen right now, and consider — this is what the show is like when it’s boring.

Willie has been reduced to a whimpering child, desperately trying to hang on to the last tattered shreds of his soul. The hateful blowhard from last month has actually become the audience identification character. Willie is the only person who knows exactly what Barnabas is and what he’s up to, and that’s a secret that he shares with us.

Willie is horrified, as we are, and he’s concerned about what might happen to the young women and children who Barnabas has identified as potential victims. Willie is the character who speaks for us. And now we’re watching Barnabas hitting him in the face with a priceless Collins family heirloom.

This is a crazy way to run a television show. I’m just saying.

234 dark shadows woodard sam

But that’s going to have to hold us for a little while, cause here we are back at the Evans house, with Sam and Dr. Woodard discussing Maggie’s mysterious illness.

And look at how Sam is standing in this scene. That’s a posture that tells you we’re not going anywhere for a minute.

Woodard, huge surprise, is scolding Sam about Maggie’s sleepwalking. “It could be worse the next time,” he says. “She could be hit by a car! She could have a fall, at those cliffs by the shore!”

Man, the imaginary plot in Woodard’s head seems to be a lot more action-packed than the actual show. Can we see some of that?

Woodard walks to the door and puts on his coat. It looks like he’s going to leave and the scene will be over. Then they keep talking for another two minutes, just cycling through the list of things that they’re worried about.

234 dark shadows bedside maggie

And then everybody goes back to where they were at the end of Tuesday’s episode, with Vicki at the bedside, confused by Maggie’s unnerving mood swings.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that an actors’ strike had recently shaken things up backstage. They fell two weeks behind on the taping schedule, and everyone’s been working six days a week to catch up.

Looking at the taping dates — sorry, a little fun gap moment, bear with me — yesterday’s episode was actually filmed a couple days later. They taped this episode and tomorrow’s, then went back and did Wednesday’s. I think it’s possible that yesterday’s episode — with the rainstorm, and Barnabas’ long random soliloquy — was a filler that they wrote at the last minute, just to get some breathing room. That might explain why Vicki is sitting with Maggie at the end of Tuesday’s episode, and then suddenly goes back to Collinwood for no reason.

So here we are again, with everyone getting back into position for the rescheduled climax.

234 dark shadows sam paints

Sam’s at the Old House, engrossed in his work, and Barnabas takes a break from sitting for the portrait. Outside, a dog howls.

Barnabas stands up, walks to the window, and — in the most direct Bela Lugosi impression that he ever attempts — he cries, “How beautiful the night seems.” Then he pauses and looks around as if he’s expecting a round of applause.

But Sam hardly notices; he’s all wrapped up in the painting. Barnabas might as well go take a little stroll around the neighborhood.

234 dark shadows vicki phone

And so we end up back at Tuesday, but crazier and more intense.

Instead of thunder and lightning, Vicki hears the dogs howling, and it gets louder than ever before. The dogs aren’t just howling at the moon — they’re snarling, angry, so loud that it practically seems like they’re in the house. The French windows rattle — the snarling dogs are right outside, and desperately trying to break through the doors.

Maggie, fully under Barnabas’ spell, looks Vicki straight in the eye and says that she doesn’t know what Vicki’s talking about. It’s a genuinely creepy moment.

Terrified, Vicki runs out of Maggie’s bedroom to call Burke for help. Halfway through the call, the bedroom door slams shut. Vicki rushes to the door, frantic to get back to Maggie, but the door’s locked and the dogs are still growling.

It’s pretty crazy, and wait till you see what happens next. Good times are coming.

Tomorrow: The Waiting Room.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Barnabas bobbles a line in his scene with Willie:

Barnabas:  I don’t like people asking questions. And I like even less the people who inspire the questions.

Willie:  Well, I didn’t tell him anything.

Barnabas:  I still say… that I dislike people who de- … who break a trust. You broke a great trust, didn’t you?

When Willie asks Sam about Maggie, Sam snaps “Don’t mention her name!” Willie didn’t say Maggie’s name; he just called her “your daughter.”

And then there’s the case of the missing phone. Today’s cliffhanger depends on Vicki running out of the room to call Burke, but several recent episodes have shown that there’s a phone right next to Maggie’s bed. Two weeks ago, Maggie woke up from her nightmare, and used the phone to call Joe. We saw the phone again in Monday’s episode, when Woodard examined Maggie.

Tomorrow: The Waiting Room.

234 dark shadows willie cane

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

9 thoughts on “Episode 234: Adventures in Babysitting

  1. i am absolutely loving your recaps. you make me laugh!

    i had started watching dark shadows for the first time a year or so ago when it was on netflix- not sure how far i got. i think i ran out of steam during maggie’s stay in the basement, which seemed to go on forever. now i’ve seen all the pre-barnabas episodes, and i’m starting back up again.

  2. In Dark Shadows viewing years, I’m ancient and began watching the series back in either the third for fourth grade during its original run. I discovered your blog just last night and am hooked. Man oh man, you should know that I stayed up LONG past the time after my Ambien kicked; just reading and laughing and after I finished laughing I’d laugh some more. I really needed a new spin, another voice and commentary on this show and your words and talent are greatly appreciated. Now back to my show — er, I mean my reading.

  3. Just letting you know that I LOVE your DS blog. Filled with information, sarcasm and comedy. LoL! 🙂
    I started watching the show (Episode 1) about 4 weeks ago and now I’m on episode 280. I’m hooked :-p

    1. That’s great, I’m glad you like it, and glad you’re enjoying the show! If you’re on 280, there’s a lot of good stuff coming up — it just gets crazier from here. 🙂

  4. I restarted at 210, and of course it doesn’t feel new this time…but what’s great is having these blog archives to go with…..your writing is what makes it feel new, and the comedy feels fresh.

    If only you had written the show…..

    But wait. You have.

    Thank you.

    You’ve stated that it’s a story that can only be told once, but your re-telling here proves that not to be true.

    In a world….where nothing is new, and it’s remake after remake, I can see you as the JJ Abrams Of DS, bringing it back to life, and doing it better.

    The blog is a resume.

    1. Ha – thanks, that’s very nice. There’s a big difference between writing the show and commenting on it, but I’m happy to contribute what I can to the DS-watching experience.

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