“All right, mother, I’ll tell you. I was out with Buzz. And what’s more, I had a ball.”
We take you now, live, to Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, who’s sitting in her bedroom with a seriously bewildered look on her face.
Her gaze darts across the room to the Collins Family Bible, which is sitting on a nearby credenza, apparently calling to her in a fairly urgent way. She stands up, leafs through the book until she finds the Family Register page, and stares at her own birthdate.
Suddenly, she slams the book shut, looks around, and says, “What am I doing?” Then she pauses, waiting for an answer. I thought that was a rhetorical question, but she might actually be asking the director.
And this is it, I’m afraid. This is the most dramatic action sequence in the entire episode, and it involves a desperate woman at war with a book.
Yes, it’s another suicidal-Liz episode, and the strange thing is that Liz is more cheerful today than usual. She’s going to commit suicide at the end of the day, and having made that decision, she seems super relaxed. If this is her last day, then she’s decided to enjoy it.
First on the list, obviously, is telling Vicki that she can have a day off. Getting the irritating governess out of the house is a key ingredient for an enjoyable staycation day.
It’s Roger’s turn next; this entire episode is going to be Liz giving final briefing instructions to her family and friends. They run through the usual “I can’t believe you’re marrying Jason McGuire” formalities.
Then Liz says, “If you’ve said everything you’ve had to say, I’d like to get dressed. Finish dressing.” It’s an obvious line flub, but even if she meant to say “I’d like to finish dressing” then it still wouldn’t make any sense. She’s about as dressed as you could ever be, including a scarf, a pearl necklace and a bow in her hair. What else could she possibly put on?
But whatever it is that she needs to do, it’s invisible to the naked eye; she looks just the same after the commercial break, when it’s time for her scene with David.
She tells him that she wants to spend some time with him today, and says that she wants him to remember how much she loves him. There’s an adorable moment where she says, “Your hair needs combing,” and reaches out to smooth his hair. It’s very sweet, a legitimately warm moment.
Just about everything is sweet in the episode today, tinged with sadness. It’s good, nutritious soap opera writing — small, intimate moments between two people who like each other. That’s a big part of the soap opera’s appeal, allowing you to see other people living their lives.
However, the problem for you and me right now is that you don’t want to read about it, and I don’t want to write about it. In fact, there’s a very good chance that the 1967 audience didn’t want to watch it. This aired the day after July 4th, when the kids were just hanging around the house with exactly nothing to do. The Dark Shadows ratings were climbing, but it’s not because the American people suddenly developed an unquenchable appetite for quiet character moments.
And the crazy thing is that this entire week is building up to Liz and Jason’s wedding on Friday, and most of next week is the fallout. Friday’s got a nice climax moment, and Monday has its moments, but this is not the material that the kids are tuning in for.
That’s all I’ve got today, I’m afraid. Come back tomorrow and I’ll try to come up with something more interesting to say, but I can’t make any promises.
Tomorrow: Loving the Monster.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Watch Liz’s pen when she writes the date of her death in the family Bible. She writes a squiggle, then two straight lines.
Liz writes the date of her death as April 10, 1967, which is so baffling that it makes me worry that there’s a crack in the world somewhere. This episode was filmed in mid-June, and aired in early July. Vicki seeing the date is the big reveal for the end of the episode; the audience is supposed to see that date and gasp, because — that’s today’s date! But it isn’t; it’s three months ago. If any of you can think of an explanation for this, please leave a comment; I’d love to hear it. I’m stumped.
Tomorrow: Loving the Monster.
— Danny Horn