Episode 268: Suicide Is Painful

“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.

268 dark shadows time bomb

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.

268 dark shadows liz vicki

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.

268 dark shadows liz roger

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?

268 dark shadows liz david hair

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.

268 dark shadows carolyn liz

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.

268 dark shadows why april

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

16 thoughts on “Episode 268: Suicide Is Painful

  1. I recall watching these episodes with my mother in syndication 25 years ago. I’m a 14-yr-old kid hooked on the spooky vampire. I want to wear a black ring on whatever finger is most dramatic at the moment. I get up, go to school, do my homework, settle down in front of the TV at 7:30 and then there’s this.

    It honestly felt as if Barnabas was off the show for a decade. I think when the series was first released on VHS, they edited out most of the blackmail storyline, keeping in just enough for it to make sense when [spoiler] and to explain Jason’s relationship with Willie. When the DVDs came out, and I rewatched all of them again, I realized that the VHS edit had cost the viewer nothing. It was a stunning amount of padding.

    1. Please refrain on posting future major spoilers in the comments section. Some of us are watching the series for the first time and reading the blogs after we finish the episodes.

      Danny has been pretty good about spoilers in his daily blog. He may mention something mild but I have yet to see if give away a major spoiler that is happening around the time of the episode he is discussing.

    2. It’s been more than 5 years since your post, but I hope someone might see my question and be able to answer it. You mention that in the original VHS release, much of the blackmail storyline wasn’t included. Was that true with the first syndication run as well (the 130 episodes released by Worldvision in 1975?) Is there somewhere on the internet where I can see which episodes were part of which syndication releases?

      1. OMG, no spoilers! Please try to restrain yourself and not selfishly spoil everyone else’s fun by giving away how the story will play out. I have really been enjoying both the show and this blog; your careless attitude toward sharing as yet unrevealed plot twists is shameful. BOO!

  2. The April 10th date always bugged me too. I wonder if Joan Bennett made a mistake during the taping and forgot the date. This is a long shot, but maybe Liz was referring to the date when Jason first came back into her life and started blackmailing her?

    1. That’s a good thought. Jason actually arrived earlier than that — April 10th is a Sunday, between ep 205 and 206. At the start of 206, Elizabeth is filing her nails, so I’m not sure why that’s a particularly traumatic event. But who even knows with Liz.

  3. Don’t what to read about it?? Never! Perish the thought. I would happily read one of your synopses even if the entire episode was just Liz shopping for coats. As long as I knew we’d eventually be getting back to graves, ghosts, and ghouls.

  4. Why is Roger’s name printed first in the Bible? Shouldn’t Elizabeth’s name be at the top of the page, as she was born first? And Carolyn’s name is just below Liz’s, so shouldn’t David’s name be below Roger’s? And why are the NAMES printed with a printing press, but the birthdates are handwritten? Even if this page was printed just after Carolyn’s birth, the dates for all three could be printed. And if these are some sort of insertable stickers, again, Liz’s should be FIRST. She was born FIRST!

  5. What I never understood about the date in the bible is how could it be April 10 when the newspaper that Vicki was reading in episode 238 was dated April 26. Some sort of space – time continuum issue I guess.

  6. I’m liking this storyline, now that it’s actually going somewhere (approximately since the episode Liz left the estate to break Carolyn out of the slammer). Joan Bennett’s just so mesmerizing, even when she can’t quite get the words out.

    Re. April 10 – I’d assumed the show just wasn’t keeping real time (there are a few runs of episodes that take place on the same day or night), but that doesn’t explain the newspaper discrepancy Ed points out – and even if it did, it would have been worth ignoring it to give the date more dramatic weight – it’s not like they’ve been too hot on continuity so far anyway…

  7. Maybe that is the month and day she thought she killed Paul Stoddard. Her life really ended then – and she has just being symbolic of that.

  8. And to make things ever more confusing, I offer this. The timeline, over at the Dark Shadows Fandom wiki, is pretty thorough and well thought out.

    Accordingly, by the time of this episode (in their chronological progression,) the date should be December 10, 1967.

    Ironically, then entire run of DS (not accounting for time travel) takes place over the span off just 455 days! So five years of our time was just about 15 months in their universe.

    If this site allows links here’s is the timeline page:


  9. Re “the strange thing is that Liz is more cheerful today than usual”: People who have made up their minds to commit suicide are often quite happy and relaxed in the hours leading up to the deed. It’s just such a relief to have made the decision.

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