“I just don’t care. I know that I should… but I just don’t.”
Up to this point, Dark Shadows has been one of the slower-paced soap operas, which is quite an achievement given the pace of the other shows in its weight class. But they’ve started experimenting recently with new storytelling techniques, including “creating interesting characters” and “having things happen”, and so far it’s working out okay.
So this episode plays kind of a mean trick on audience members who missed yesterday’s installment. The entire episode is about characters reacting to the news of Maggie’s death.
Now, you and I know that Maggie is still alive, but yesterday Dr. Woodard convinced Sam and Joe to tell everyone that she died in the hospital. It’s part of his irresponsible scheme to catch the madman who abducted Maggie, apparently without the assistance of law enforcement.
The plan is complex, but this is how I understand it:
Step #1: They send Maggie away to a sanitarium to recover.
Step #2: They tell everyone that Maggie died.
At this point, the kidnapper feels confident enough to abduct another girl. I’m a little foggy on step #3.
So this episode is about Vicki telling people that Maggie is dead, individually and in slow motion. The abduction story doesn’t really have anything to do with anybody else’s storyline, so after a while the scenes just drift back to talking about what these characters are always talking about, but with extra gloomy facial expressions.
Honestly, you could watch this entire episode with the sound turned off, and it wouldn’t make any difference. You don’t even have to be in the room while it’s playing.
To add insult to injury, here’s the new recast Burke. Two weeks ago, Mitchell Ryan showed up at the studio drunk, and they had to get another character to say his lines. Ryan was fired, and now we’ve got Anthony George, who happens to be one of the least charismatic living humans. This does not improve the situation.
Anyway, here’s Vicki and New-Burke, walking along the beach. They’ve never done this before, but yesterday Maggie needed a beach to collapse on, so they might as well get some more use out of it.
Unfortunately, this set doesn’t hold up very well to a second look. It doesn’t help that they’re using it for a Vicki/Burke scene, when the audience could really use something to look at that isn’t Vicki or Burke.
Vicki stares out at the sea.
Vicki: The tide’s coming in. Look at our footprints, they’re being washed away. Pretty soon, no one will even be able to tell that we’ve come this way.
Burke: You don’t have to talk about Maggie if you don’t want to.
Who’s talking about Maggie? This is her classic beach routine. She did it on Carson three times.
Then they have the most maddening conversation. Burke says that he hopes they find the man who abducted Maggie, but Vicki says that sometimes people do terrible things that they can’t help.
Burke: Compassion is one thing, but we can’t just turn the world over to madmen and killers. We’ve got to take some kind of a stand.
Vicki: Well, what if you can’t take a stand?
Burke: Why can’t we? If they find the man who killed Maggie, what do you want them to do, turn him loose?
Vicki: Of course not.
Burke: Then what are you talking about?
Yeah, good question. Can I help you guys with anything?
Okay, one more downer before we wrap up for the day. We see Carolyn and Buzz at Collinwood, and Buzz is annoyed.
Carolyn: Buzz and I have decided to spend a quiet evening at home. Well, sort of quiet, anyway.
Buzz: But I got plans. I don’t want to spend time in this mausoleum.
Liz: If you two are going to be in the drawing room, I’ll go into the study.
Buzz: You can’t make plans for a drawing room!
But Carolyn’s shaken up by the news about Maggie, and she promises Buzz that she’ll see him tomorrow. She won’t, really. This is Buzz’s last appearance on the show; he just rides off on his motorcycle, and we never see him again.
Then there’s a few more conversations until they finally just run out the clock and the episode is over.
Tomorrow: Don’t Say Anything.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
The boom mic peeks into the top right of the frame when Vicki approaches Carolyn in the foyer.
When Vicki and Burke enter the beach set, you can see the studio lights at the top of the frame.
Tomorrow: Don’t Say Anything.
— Danny Horn