“If you feel it… sit it.”
Here’s how you know you’re not making a hit with your fiancee’s parents: When her mother opens the door, she immediately shrinks back and murmurs, “Oh,” as if she’s just stepped in something. And this is Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a woman who literally has not left the house in 18 years; you’d think she’d be happy with any new faces who come along.
But Buzz Hackett is an acquired taste, I guess. Liz says that she’ll tell Carolyn that he’s here. Buzz says, “Hey, can’t I come inside?” Liz says “No,” and shuts the door in his face.
Now, I’ve seen this early-Barnabas run of episodes several times, and Buzz never really made that much of an impression on me before. I’ve always enjoyed last week’s “Mrs. McGuire! MRS. MCGUIRE!” freakout, but beyond that, I’ve mostly watched the Liz/Jason blackmail episodes with a finger poised over the fast-forward button.
But it turns out that Carolyn’s teen rebellion is worth watching. At this point, the producers are starting to realize that the vampire is attracting a lot of young viewers, who are watching the show after school. The blackmail story is mostly just two middle-aged people standing around being snide to each other, so it feels like the Carolyn/Buzz relationship has been thrown together to give it a right-on teen-power boost.
The writers are clearly on Carolyn’s side; she gets all the funny lines and dramatic exits, and Liz has to just stand there and take it.
Liz: Can’t I put some sense in your head?
Carolyn: I doubt that, mother. Because nothing makes very much sense anymore. You’ve collapsed my world for me, and I’m only trying to find a way to survive.
Liz: You can’t survive with that creature out there!
Isn’t that lovely? “You’ve collapsed my world for me!” I wish I’d had that line ready to go back in my own teenage rebellion days. That’s a hard accusation for somebody to refute.
But for the knockout punch, Carolyn says that she and Buzz are definitely not going to have any children. “The one thing I don’t think I’d ever be able to stand would be to have a child, and then cop out on it, the way you’re doing to me!”
That might not sound too bad, but this was 1967, when copping out on someone is pretty much the worst thing you can do.
While the mother and daughter are fighting in the drawing room, the boys have a little confrontation on the stairs. Buzz has parked himself on one of the steps, and he doesn’t want to move when Jason comes along.
Really, the only thing wrong with this storyline is that Carolyn doesn’t actually end up marrying Buzz. He perks up the place something fierce.
Then there’s some more conversations with Jason, and Liz paces back and forth for a while, but who cares? The happening place is the Blue Whale. And look, Buzz is dancing! That was his only character flaw, that he wouldn’t dance. Now he’s perfect.
Carolyn goes offscreen to powder her nose, and Jason enters the bar to have a man-to-man talk with Buzz.
I’m going to get kind of deep into this conversation, because this is the key component of my newfound Buzz-appreciation. If you’re not on board with the Buzzolyn shipping, then this conversation might be the thing that turns it around.
Jason approaches Buzz’s table.
Jason: Do you mind if I sit here? Just until she comes back.
Buzz: If you feel it… sit it.
Which is awesome. I suggest you try saying that to the next person who asks you if they can sit somewhere.
Jason floats the idea that Carolyn is only dating Buzz to make her mother upset.
Jason: She’s using you.
Buzz: Could be. She told me all about that stuff.
Jason: Well, now, don’t you mind being used like that?
Buzz: If that’s what’s happening, man — I’m having it pretty good.
Again: awesome. Suddenly, Jason isn’t the evil snake who can talk his way around anything. He’s just another square, giving the kids a plastic hassle.
Buzz says, “You gettin’ around to the message?”, so Jason puts his offer on the table. If Buzz breaks it off with Carolyn, he’d appreciate it.
Buzz: Oh, yeah? How much will it be appreciated?
Jason: Well, let’s see now… that’s a pretty nice motorcycle you’ve got out there. Now, I’m sure if you can manage to spend more time with your other friends, and forget about Carolyn — you can very easily afford a new motorcycle.
Buzz: Means that much?
Jason: That much.
Jason: What do you say?
Buzz: I say NO.
Jason: Why not?
Buzz: I like the bike I got, and the chick I got.
BOOM! So that’s how you do that.
There’s nothing left for Jason to do. He just stands up, awkward and embarrassed, as Carolyn comes back to the table.
Carolyn: Well, here he is again! My stepfather.
Jason: Hello, Carolyn, I’m just passing through.
Buzz: Hey, baby, guess what. I can get a new bike!
Buzz: He’s going to buy it for me!
Carolyn: What for?
Buzz: For not hanging out with you. (He hugs her.) You’re a baaaad influence!
Carolyn: Are you going to take it?
Buzz: Are you kidding? Swap you for a bike? Never.
I know, right? It’s a perfect moment. The part inside of you that’s a teenage girl just swooned.
Earlier in the episode, Liz called Buzz “that creature”, but Dark Shadows is turning into a creature show, and today’s monsters are tomorrow’s dream dates. Buzz is an unshaven, uncouth bad boy, but he’s loyal and sincere, and the contrast between Buzz and Jason couldn’t be stronger. The creature wins.
So Buzz gets up, chuckling, “Come on, let’s go to Logansport, before he offers me a sidecar too.” The two kids laugh, and walk out together.
It won’t last. There are other, better monsters coming up, and the blackmail/rebellion story will fade away. This is the last time we’ll see Buzz and Carolyn happy together; she’ll move on to other men, with more supernatural backstories.
But in this moment, Buzz wins. The parents are squares, the kids are triumphant — and, just for tonight, that’s enough.
Tomorrow: The Casual Ghost.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Buzz gets a line backwards in his conversation with Jason: “I guess she figured I wasn’t her type. She comes from a family that makes big noise… and I come from a family that makes big money.”
Tomorrow: The Casual Ghost.
— Danny Horn