“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?
Continue reading Episode 287: Notes on Camp
“He never intended for her to die. Only to live.”
At the end of today’s episode, Barnabas is going to sneak into the room where Vicki’s sleeping, and lean over to bite her. I know, spoiler warning, but seriously it’s the only possible ending that this episode could have.
There’s a storm outside, Vicki is stuck at the Old House, and Barnabas has invited her to sleep in Josette’s room. What do you think is going to happen, they’re going to start a fantasy baseball league? Please.
Continue reading Episode 286: Slumber Party
“Was it the weather that made you think you saw a little girl on the top of the stairs?”
Oh, fantastic — it’s another day, and Victoria Winters is still sitting in her bedroom and staring at that music box, like she’s trying to figure out how to shrink herself and live inside it like the Bottle City of Kandor.
Carolyn comes in, and asks Vicki some questions. The conversation basically goes like this.
Q: What are you thinking about?
A: I saw Maggie the other day.
Q: Where did you see her?
A: In the cemetery.
Q: Why were you in the cemetery?
A: Because it was Josette’s birthday.
So Carolyn stops asking questions. At a certain point, there’s simply nothing you can do.
Continue reading Episode 285: Kandor Crush
“Our mistake is thinking that there are limits as to what can take place on this planet.”
Maggie’s still locked up at the Windcliff Sanitarium, recovering from her recent vampire abduction. Dr. Julia Hoffman — the noted blood specialist, psychologist and all-around smart person — is hypnotizing Maggie with a penlight, trying to bring her repressed memories to the surface.
They took a field trip to the Eagle Hill cemetery yesterday, and they found the Collins mausoleum, which triggered some frightening memories. Julia noticed that there was a grave marker for Sarah Collins in the mausoleum, and now she’s trying to learn if there’s a connection between the 10-year-old named Sarah who died in the 18th century and the little girl named Sarah who helped Maggie during her incarceration.
That is an incredible leap in logic, and I’m using the dictionary definition of “incredible”, as in: impossible to believe. Julia is going to make a lot of these intuitive leaps over the next week, making connections that no real human would ever make given the current information. And every single one of her batty conclusions is exactly correct.
Julia is therefore a completely unbelievable Sherlock Holmes type detective, who pulls insights out of the air and is right every time. And the audience loves her and believes in her anyway.
Continue reading Episode 284: Doctor Who
“Does the name Collins mean anything to you?”
Dr. Woodard is visiting Windcliff Sanitarium for another needlessly combative progress report on Maggie’s treatment. This is the third time we’ve seen him at Windcliff, and each time, he’s been verbally arm-wrestling for control over the case with Maggie’s doctor, Dr. Julia Hoffman.
Today, Dr. Hoffman wonders what would happen if they took Maggie to the Eagle Hill cemetery, where she was found sleepwalking before her abduction. The suggestion makes Woodard erupt in fury.
Woodard: To begin with, Eagle Hill cemetery is right outside of Collinsport. Somebody’s liable to spot Maggie. But more important than that — subjecting her to an experience like that might very well drive Maggie to the point of no return.
Julia: I realize there are risks involved.
Woodard: Risks! You are playing around with a girl’s mind. You can’t take risks like that!
So, just another day at the medical conference, really. In fact, this scene is so similar to Woodard and Julia’s previous bouts that it’s easy to miss the fact that they’ve actually swapped personalities.
Continue reading Episode 283: Role Playing
“You’ve remembered coldness, you’ve remembered a melody, a fragrance. All these things are very important.”
We open today with Dr. Julia Hoffman, noted blood specialist, leading a therapy session for Maggie, who’s blocking out her memories of being kidnapped by a vampire. This is not typically in a blood specialist’s line of enquiry, but Julia Hoffman is not a typical doctor.
Continue reading Episode 282: The Examined Life
“I believe a lot of things, but that doesn’t prevent me from being amused by them.”
On Friday, Barnabas’ pleasant costume party was interrupted by several strange incidents — Liz felt a piercing cold, the door flew open, and a bunch of candles blew out. For some reason, everybody decided that a ghost was trying to communicate with them, rather than the obvious alternative explanation, namely: it’s windy outside and we’re in a drafty old house.
So now they’re all sitting around a table with their fingers touching, conducting an impromptu seance. Just as they’re ready to give up, Vicki starts to moan: “Run… please, faster… I must run. Don’t stop me! Don’t STOP me!”
Continue reading Episode 281: Ancestral Exercises
“I must insist, I think this is a great deal of nonsense.”
We’ve seen a remarkable change in Barnabas’ character this week — not necessarily a change in his core values and moral system, but certainly a change in the way that he’s being presented. But as striking as that change is — killer ghoul on Monday, perky party host by Friday — he actually isn’t the only villain-school dropout in the room.
In fact, all four of the male characters in today’s episode have played the heavy in past storylines. When Dark Shadows began, just a little over a year ago, Roger was an unsympathetic absent father and possible murderer, and Burke was a ruthless businessman intent on revenge against the Collins family. And it was only a few weeks ago that Vicki and Carolyn didn’t feel safe in the same house as Willie Loomis. And yet here they all are in today’s episode, chatting away, like a happy group of friends.
There’s actually a tendency over time for soap opera characters’ personalities to drift a bit, usually in the direction of becoming more like the actors who play them. This is partly a result of the hectic schedule of soap opera production, which requires a round-robin of writers and producers to keep the story going, sometimes over decades. After a while, the actor is the only person who’s consistently been paying attention to what their character is supposed to be like.
And in Barnabas’ case, nobody has any idea what his character is going to be. The original plan was that Dr. Woodard would rescue Maggie from the Old House weeks ago, banging a piece of wood through Barnabas’ undead heart along the way. But the vampire got a reprieve, thanks to the fan mail that’s been pouring in, so they’re just making it up as they go along.
This isn’t an arc. They don’t have a plan. There is literally not a single person on the Dark Shadows production staff who has any idea what’s going to happen next.
Continue reading Episode 280: Costume Drama
“That night must go… nothing wrong.”
We open today’s pulse-pounding episode with a long scene of two young women trying on dresses that they’re planning to wear to a costume party.
You can tell that the show is running a little low on suspense right now, because Vicki says, “When you said her name, the strangest feeling came over me,” and then we’re supposed to be interested in learning more about that feeling.
Continue reading Episode 279: Party Animals
“I have things for you to do, other than to make preposterous statements.”
Two days ago, Barnabas killed Willie’s best friend, and then grabbed Willie by the throat and made him bury the corpse in an unmarked grave. Today, Willie is helping Barnabas unpack vintage dresses from a trunk, and they’re making plans for their upcoming costume party.
This must be one of those Great Moments in Human Resources, because the improvement in Willie’s workplace environment is simply off the charts. I know that working in the service industry can be unpredictable, but that’s got to be one of the fastest turnarounds in history.
Continue reading Episode 278: Of Course! A Costume Party!