“You can’t just walk into a place!”
It’s shaping up to be a pretty dull evening at Collinwood. Liz is sitting at a desk fussing with business papers, and Carolyn is assembling a moody jigsaw puzzle. Things liven up a bit when Vicki gets the evening paper, with the headline “LOCAL GIRL MYSTEROUSLY DISAPPEARS”. It’s bad news, obviously, but at least it gives them something to talk about.
Liz tells Carolyn and Vicki that she doesn’t want them walking around alone at night, until they find out what happened to Maggie. Liz gets up and goes to another room, and literally fifteen seconds later, the girls decide to go out and get some fresh air. What can you do with people like that?
Vicki and Carolyn walk over to the Old House, which is pretty much the only place to go. Nobody answers when they knock, but as they turn to walk away, the door swings open by itself.
We’re going to see a lot of these magic door tricks over the next few weeks, and it’s not really clear how they work. Presumably, this is either Josette’s spirit opening the door for them, or Barnabas, but there’s not a strong reason for either of them to want these girls in the house.
There are some examples where it’s definitely Barnabas slamming the doors — locking Vicki out of Maggie’s room, as he did last Thursday — but we never see him standing around saying, “Aha! And now I will magically cause that door to slam shut! Abracadabra!” It just kind of happens.
But I seriously can not get enough shots of people standing at the Old House door and peering inside. I’m usually being sarcastic when I say things like that, but I honestly love it. It’s a house of mysteries and secrets, and I think it’s thrilling every time.
Vicki calls for Barnabas, but there’s no answer. She decides to go in and look around anyway. Carolyn says, “You can’t just walk into a place!” but apparently you can, if you’re Vicki and you’ve got your heart set on wandering around other people’s property. Vicki is an idiot.
The girls walk around in the drawing room, admiring the chairs and the chandelier. This goes on approximately forever.
Vicki wants to go upstairs, and see if there are any other restored rooms. Carolyn scolds her: “Vicki, this place is not a museum! You can’t just walk in and out of here.”
Vicki replies, “Well, in a way, it is a museum,” because Vicki is an idiot. Get ahold of yourself, Goldilocks. You’re trespassing.
Upstairs, they find Josette’s room, which I thought was supposed to be Maggie’s special hypnotic brainwashing space, but Maggie isn’t here. Do they have a backup Josette storage room? Where the hell is everybody?
It feels like this episode is breaking some basic rules of suspense. The whole point of the storyline is that Maggie’s being hidden in this house, and specifically in this room. But if Vicki and Carolyn can walk in here, and Maggie isn’t in the room… then what exactly is supposed to be exciting about this situation?
Thankfully, Willie shows up to inject a little bit of life into this scenario. He’s nervous that they’re here, and tells them to leave:
Willie: You better get going now, it’s gettin’ dark.
Vicki: Willie, there are far more polite ways of asking a person to leave.
Willie: I haven’t got time to be polite, and neither do you.
Vicki: What do you mean?
Have I mentioned that Vicki is an idiot? She’s acting like it’s completely unreasonable for Willie to suggest that she shouldn’t be prowling around in other people’s homes.
By the time they go downstairs, it’s dark and Barnabas has come out of his box. The girls tell him how much they admired Josette’s room.
Vicki: I’ve never seen such a feminine room in my life.
Barnabas: Yes, it’s brimming with femininity.
Which is just an amazing thing for a person to say. “Brimming with femininity!”
Vicki and Carolyn finally head home, and Barnabas tells Willie it’s time to greet their dinner guest. Maggie walks down the stairs, wearing her wedding dress and holding the music box that Barnabas gave her. Barnabas greets her as Josette, and kisses her hand.
So at least we’re going somewhere. That moment doesn’t really make sense, because where the hell was Maggie this whole time, but part of the Dark Shadows experience is filtering out the boring bits and just paying attention to the strange parts.
Relief is coming soon. A new writer’s on the way; he’ll be here next week!
Tomorrow: Local Girl Mysteriously Disappears.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
The newspaper is dated April 26, 1967; this episode was broadcast in late May.
In the location film insert of Vicki and Carolyn walking up to the Old House, the place is clearly a wreck — shutters hanging off the windows, and clutter in front of the door. This would have been perfect before Willie started working on the house a couple weeks ago, but now it looks strange. Also, they walk around the side of the house rather than going to the front door.
When Carolyn and Vicki admire the bed in Josette’s room, there’s clanking noises from offscreen. There’s also a big crash offstage when Barnabas closes the door after the girls leave. It’s a noisy studio today.
Behind the Scenes:
Before the show started, they filmed a collection of scenes at real locations in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. They’re mostly generic scenes of characters arriving or departing from major locations, including Collinwood, the Collinsport Inn and the Blue Whale. These were used as film inserts in various episodes. The clip in today’s episode was filmed at the Spratt Mansion in Tarrytown, New York, which doubles for the Old House in the establishing shots. They stop using these inserts when the show moves to color, so there’s only a few more examples after this one.
Dorrie Kavanaugh makes another appearance as Maggie’s stand-in, walking silently downstairs at the end of the final scene. Kavanaugh was doubling for Maggie when she had a nightmare a couple weeks ago. We’ll see her again in a couple days.
Tomorrow: Local Girl Mysteriously Disappears.
— Danny Horn