Episode 287: Notes on Camp

“I suppose I’m exaggerating. But then again… maybe I’m not.”

At the top of today’s episode, we’ve got Barnabas sneaking up on a sleeping Vicki as she spends a not particularly peaceful night in Josette’s room. He’s got his fangs in this time, so he’s ready for action.

But then, from the corner of his eye, he notices Josette’s portrait, staring at him. He’s basically making a move on his new girlfriend while his ex is calmly sitting there and watching. It’s an awkward moment for everyone — even for Vicki, and she’s sound asleep.

Embarrassed and sheepish, Barnabas backs away from Vicki and exits the room. It’s a nice character-building moment for Barnabas, but unfortunately it makes the story less interesting. If he’s not going to bite her, then we don’t have a plot anymore. So now what?

287 dark shadows willie vicki

There’s another awkward social moment in the morning, when Vicki wakes up and finds that Barnabas isn’t around. Ouch. Even for a vampire, that’s cold.

So in lieu of breakfast, she has a completely head-baffling conversation with Willie.

Willie:  Did you sleep all right?

Vicki:  Beautifully.

Willie:  I mean, nothing disturbed you during the night.

Vicki:  Of course not! What are you talking about?

Willie:  Nothin’.

Vicki:  Did you expect me to see ghosts?

Willie:  No.

Vicki:  Well, I must say, I expected to, sleeping in Josette’s room.

Willie:  I mean, you didn’t see or hear anything?

Vicki:  No. Why do you keep asking?

I don’t know, crazy girl, maybe because last night you woke up in the middle of the night because you heard a ghost. The two of you had a lengthy conversation about it before going back to bed. What the hell is wrong with you?

287 dark shadows liz says no

Anyway, Vicki gets back to Collinwood in time to hear Liz tell “Miss Hoffman” that she’s not interested in helping with her research into Collins family history.

Now that Liz doesn’t have a storyline anymore, this seems to be her function on the show — to say no to things, and then change her mind two scenes later. A couple weeks ago, she had to be talked into attending Barnabas’ costume party in three different episodes; whenever an episode is running short, they wheel her in to temporarily refuse something. She’s become a storyline speed bump.

You know that Liz is treading on weak ground when she says, “I just don’t believe in going over the past,” with Vicki in the room. That’s like saying she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.

287 dark shadows julia clock

But the real point of the scene is to give Julia an opportunity to be manipulative. She needs to get a foothold in Collinwood so that she can continue her investigations into the mysterious goings-on, and Vicki is a natural ally.

Julia proceeds to dazzle Vicki with the number of facial expressions she can adopt in one minute. I believe this may be a record-breaking attempt, so let’s see how many she can manage. The clock starts at 09:57.

287 dark shadows julia world shattering

Julia:  I know everyone who specializes in something always thinks his or her work is of world-shattering importance.

287 dark shadows julia can't help it

Julia:  I can’t help it.

287 dark shadows julia important

Julia:  In this case, I think my work, my research, is important.

287 dark shadows julia very important

Julia:  Very, very important.

287 dark shadows julia interst

Julia:  You have an interest in the past.

287 dark shadows julia help me

Julia:  Help me? Talk to Mrs. Stoddard, and try to persuade her.

287 dark shadows julia don't know

Vicki:  I don’t know if I can.

287 dark shadows julia try

Julia:  Try.

287 dark shadows julia remember

Julia:  And remember…

287 dark shadows julia it's just possible

Julia:  … it’s just possible my work

287 dark shadows julia may be as important

Julia:  may be as important

287 dark shadows julia as I think it is

Julia:  as I think it is.

Vicki:  A family history, that important?

287 dark shadows julia who can tell

Julia:  Who can tell?

287 dark shadows julia maybe someday

Julia:  Maybe someday, just as important

287 dark shadows julia just as important

Julia:  to someone else.

287 dark shadows julia even more so

Julia:  Maybe… even more so.

Vicki:  I don’t understand.

287 dark shadows julia maybe I'm exaggerating

Julia:  Maybe I’m exaggerating.

287 dark shadows julia or then again

Julia:  Or, then again…

287 dark shadows julia maybe i'm

Julia:  Maybe… I’m not.

287 dark shadows julia i'm not

And she turns to look at Vicki for the dismount.

Sixty seconds on the clock, ladies and gentlemen. An unbelievable performance.

287 dark shadows julia super camp

It’s a cliché to say that it’s difficult to explain “camp”, and in fact it’s even a cliché to say that it’s a cliché, so I’ll just say two things — number one: Grayson Hall is the greatest actress who ever lived, and number two: Shut up.

287 dark shadows willie julia

Next on Julia’s tour of terror, she saunters into the Old House like she owns the place. Willie tries to protest, but he doesn’t have a chance.

Willie:  I thought I let you know the other day when you came with Miss Winters that visitors aren’t welcome!

Julia:  I’m not a visitor, and I’m not interested in being welcome. I came to see Mr. Collins.

Willie:  You can’t!

Julia:  Why not?

Willie:  He doesn’t want to see you.

Julia:  Then I prefer that he tell me himself.

Willie:  He can’t, he isn’t here.

Julia:  Then I’ll wait.

So there’s a particular brand of super-campness on display here — specifically, the kind that makes trim, well-dressed men with a creative nightlife say the word “fierce” a lot. Julia is violating the normal social rules of hospitality, and simultaneously using those social norms to make Willie uncomfortable.

This is actually standard operating procedure for mythopoetic trickster figures, as practiced by Anansi, Reynard the Fox, Bugs Bunny and the Wizard of Oz. But it’s usually easier just to say “fierce”.

287 dark shadows julia fierce

Julia continues to dominate.

Julia:  Mr. Collins has done a remarkable job with this house. Did he refer to any drawings of the house?

Willie:  No.

Julia:  Then what were his references? They must have been very exact.

Willie:  What do you wanna know for?

Julia:  I told you, I’m interested in the history. This house is part of it.

Willie:  Well, he had old pictures.

Julia:  I thought you said he didn’t.

Willie:  He did.

287 dark shadows julia no need to lie

Julia steps back, and fixes Willie with a look.

Julia:  There was no need to lie. If there was, I can’t imagine what the reason could be.

At this point, it’s clear to Willie that there are more monsters loose in the world than the one that he’s currently living with.

287 dark shadows barnabas julia

Barnabas finally shows up to have his own sparring match with Julia. He tells her that he’s not interested in helping her with the Collins family history. He admits that he has a deep interest in the subject, but he prefers to keep his interests private.

She tries a couple of flanking maneuvers, but he blocks them easily. Julia has no choice but to bring out the larger guns. This involves using several brand new facial expressions which she invents on the spot.

287 dark shadows julia new face

Julia:  I have done some research of my own. I might know something about your family that you might find extremely… informative.

Barnabas:  I doubt it.

Julia:  How can you be so sure?

Barnabas:  Well, I can’t… but I can be disinterested.

287 dark shadows julia exchange

Julia offers “a fair exchange” — she’ll tell him what she knows, if he does the same.

Barnabas says, “Oh, come now, Miss Hoffman. That’s not possibly fair. Whatever you may know, I certainly know much more than you do.”

287 dark shadows julia crocodile

Julia flashes him a crocodile smile, and says, “Do you. Well, let me know if you change your mind, you might find it… extremely interesting.”

She whirls around to leave. “Goodbye, Mr. Collins,” she says, toying with her gloves. “I hope I’ll see you again,” — smile, tug the gloves — “soon.

287 dark shadows barnabas wth

Then she strolls casually away from the blood-soaked undead ghoul, smiling.

He’s left staring after her, thinking, I have lived for almost two hundred years and I’ve never come across anything like that before.

And you know what? They’re just getting started. Things get so much crazier from here.

Tomorrow: The Unreflected.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the end of Julia’s scene with Willie, someone offscreen coughs. It happens just before Julia’s last line.

Tomorrow: The Unreflected.

287 dark shadows julia ending

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

15 thoughts on “Episode 287: Notes on Camp

  1. Brilliant! I am away from home, working in London at the moment and to read your synopses every morning is such a treat, a piece of home.
    And today’s round-up — bravo!!!

    1. That’s great, thanks! I’m having fun writing these; I’m glad you’re enjoying it. And yeah, I hadn’t expected today’s post to go quite this crazy, but this seems to be what happens when you write about Dark Shadows every day. 🙂

  2. It’s a cliché to say that it’s difficult to explain “camp”, and in fact it’s even a cliché to say that it’s a cliché, so I’ll just say two things — number one: Grayson Hall is the greatest actress who ever lived, and number two: Shut up.

    – NAILED it.

  3. I really have to say, I am enjoying your recaps IMMENSELY. I hope at some point you’d consider doing a few of the pre-Barnabas episodes, but I’m REALLY looking forward to catching up to the 1795 story with you!

    1. That’s great, thanks! I have another three years ahead of me on the journey to episode 1245, so I don’t know if I’ll still have the desire at that point to go back to episode 1 and start over again. I might be confined to Windcliff by then. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

      1. Danny I am late, only posting now in 2018, and I am getting a kick and good laugh out of your daily posts…lol. This is the start of Barnabas now aware he has met the match of his life. Here comes cool Julia, not even half steppin in the least, coming in with a bang, leaving Barnabas wondering what the hell just happened…lol.

  4. your observations on grayson hall kill me! LOL

    that vicki sure is bonkers. the conversation between her and willie was maddening!! gah!

  5. While technically Barnabas has “lived” for 200 years a substantial portion of that time was spent locked in a wooden box so I think we can forgive him a little befuddlement here.

  6. The entirety of the last 200 of these 20 minute episodes (ooooh, so exactly 66.6 hours) surely leads up to the split second when Julia first makes eye contact with Barnabas. And really the scene continues to hold up well.

    Damn but how deeply I love–need!!–this camp in my life every year.

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