Episode 308: In Circles

“You know something, doctor? I’ve just decided that I don’t believe you.”

Today on Dark Shadows, we learn what a rich kid does on his day off — he rides on a bus. Carolyn is taking David on a trip into Bangor, and he’s got his heart set on that bus trip. But their plans are interrupted by a visit from Sam and Joe, who have something to discuss with David.

You can tell that it’s important, because Sam uses Dramatic Clarification — a technique where you pretend that you’re being super focused and intense, when really you’re just saying the same thing twice.

So when David asks why Sam needs to talk to him, Sam says, “Well, it’s about something urgent. Something very, very urgent.”

307 dark shadows david pmpin

You see, David has a new friend — a mysterious little girl named Sarah, who seems to be connected to Maggie’s abduction. This was discussed in detail in yesterday’s marathon recap session, and apparently it’s urgent — very, very urgent — that we go through it all over again.

David is super chill about the whole thing.

Joe:  Since you’re such a good friend of hers, we thought that you’d introduce us to her.

David:  Sure, I’ll do that sometime.

Sam:  When would that be?

David:  Well, the next time I see her.

But that’s not going to be today, because rich boy is about to get on that bus to Bangor. Carolyn offers to postpone the trip so they can help Sam and Joe, but the guys say that’s not necessary. They’ll just go walk around in the woods and hope they bump into a ten-year-old.

307 dark shadows sam joe chromakey

So they head off to Chromakey National Forest. This is the second time they’ve used chromakey to pretend that they’re filming outside; the first time, last Friday, was even worse. They’ve managed to avoid casting shadows on the blue screen this time, but they’re still not lighting it properly, so there’s a blue line around all of the foliage. Still, it’s nice to be outdoors.

307 dark shadows sam joe swing

Sam and Joe hear a squeaking noise, and they follow the sound to a swing, which is rocking back and forth. It’s not a very exciting moment, but Sam spices things up with some more dramatic clarification: “She was here! She was just here!”

307 dark shadows sam joe burning

They’re near the Old House, so they decide to drop in and see if Barnabas knows anything about the little girl. Joe knocks on the door, and then they have the following exchange.

Sam:  What are we going to tell Maggie when we get back?

Joe:  Oh, I don’t know. We’ll tell her we made some progress.

Sam:  What progress?

Joe:  I’ll think of something.

Yes, we’re actually watching the characters discuss how they’re planning to justify wasting the entire episode. Come on, guys, we’re burning daylight.

307 dark shadows sam julia believe

It turns out that Julia’s at the Old House, and they have the same conversation that Julia has with everybody. They ask questions, and she changes the subject. Sam finally loses his patience, growls at her, and walks away.

Joe:  I’m sorry, doctor. He’s upset, and I’m sure he didn’t mean that.

Julia:  I understand. But I’d like you to know that I’m doing everything I can.

Joe:  I’m sure you are, doctor. Goodbye.

308 dark shadows julia dc

Joe walks away, and Julia gets some dramatic clarification of her own.

Julia:  I’m doing everything I can.

308 dark shadows david julia back

It feels like that should be the end of the episode, but it’s not; there’s a whole other scene at Collinwood. David and Carolyn are back from Bangor, and we get an update on everything that David ate on the trip.

For some reason, Julia is putting on her gloves and getting ready to go out again. We just saw her at the Old House in the last scene; apparently she went back to Collinwood and now she’s going out again. Everybody in this episode is just walking in circles.

Carolyn asks Julia about her interest in that strange little girl that everyone is looking for. She understands why Sam and Joe are looking for Sarah, but why was Julia asking questions about her the other day? Julia says that she’s just naturally curious, a typical Julia dodge.

They end the episode with one more dose of dramatic clarification.

Julia:  Are there any other questions you’d like to ask?

Carolyn:  Not at the moment.

Julia:  Well, please feel free to ask.

Carolyn:  I will. I definitely will.

308 dark shadows joe sam afghan

Except that’s not the end of the episode. They faked us out again.

Sam and Joe go back to the Evans house, and apparently they’ve been out all night — Maggie’s gone to bed already. It’s not clear what they were doing all this time; maybe they took a bus to Bangor.

Anyway, Maggie wakes up, and guess what she finds by her bed: Sarah’s doll!

Sarah visited the house two weeks ago and took her doll away. Now she’s apparently brought it back. This means that there’s only one thing that actually happened in this episode, and it’s hitting control-Z on Sarah’s doll. Anybody feel like a trip to Bangor?

Tomorrow: The Finger of Suspicion.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Something’s wrong with one of the cameras; there’s a purple line down the left hand side of the screen.

Joe and David step on each other’s lines in the Collinwood scene:

David:  She likes to play in the woods. You know, she acts as if it’s her own.

Joe:  Well, we could take a —

David:  You know what I mean?

Joe:  Well, we could take a look around there, Sam.

Outside, Joe tells Sam that he isn’t sure the moving swing means anything: “It could’ve been the wood, the wind, for all I know.”

Tomorrow: The Finger of Suspicion.

308 dark shadows sarah doll

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

7 thoughts on “Episode 308: In Circles

  1. This episode is significant to me for many personal reasons, even though it is fairly boring, in the original DS ep universe. It is the only episode, during the original run of DS, in which I actually saw all (or most) of the ep in its entirety during its actual run. Hulu says this ep aired on August 30, 1967 – a Wednesday. About one week prior, I had had a birthday. I was 6 years old and in morning half-day kindergarten in fall 1967. Since both my parents worked, I was at a sitter’s in the afternoons (or at least most afternoons), the Beckers. I think my younger sister was there too. So why was I home alone, watching DS in the afternoon? Where was my younger sister that afternoon? Was the schedule with our sitter not worked out yet? A year or two prior, I was dropped off home alone accidentally after half-day morning pre-school, some signals had gotten crossed, and I was absolutely terrified. I hid in a closet and cried, and I knew enough to use our wall phone and call my dad’s office and wail, “I’m home alone.” But there I was, on August 30, 1967, home alone (but not too scared about it) and watching DS in the afternoon, in Iowa, central daylight time. My heart pounded when I realized I was watching DS — I was only vaguely aware of the show. The spooky music frightened me more than anything, and I just decided to soldier on and would turn off the TV or change the channel quickly if I got too scared. We didn’t have a remote, so I would have gotten off the couch. Luckily for me, it was this ep where everyone and their uncle was looking for someone named Sarah. I remember this ep as being B&W, but all we had was a B&W TV in 1967. We only got our first color TV for Christmas 1970, as I remember. I truly never knew what this show (and perhaps a lot of shows) looked like in color because all we had was B&W. Anyhow, I remember people talking in the foyer, talking about looking for Sarah, but somehow my mind thought Vicki was in this ep (also looking for Sarah), but she wasn’t. Now if all they are going to do is just look for Sarah, this is all very low on the scary scale for a 6 year old Iowa boy, so it’s a good thing I saw this ep. I do vividly remember the empty swing, and the actors talking about the empty swing, speculating that Sarah had just been there. The empty swing, to me, was such a powerful image that I thought they showed the end credits on the scene of the empty swing. I truly don’t remember anything about Maggie finding the doll, Carolyn and David going to Bangor, or even Sam getting huffy/suspicious with Julia, and Julia acting smirky. I just remember people looking for Sarah and the empty swing. I’m thinking a lot about kindergarten now, as I am having children of my own very late in life and have twin daughters, right now in kindergarten. I’m reflecting on how their experience is very different from mine, and how very retro my partner/co-parent/baby mama and I are with our twin girls, as we are very low-tech, low-media. We only watch a DVD or VHS, or maybe a Netflix show, with them once in a while. We actually do retro things like rehearse their school Thanksgiving play or read books. But who was I in kindergarten? Obviously a person scared of DS and relieved to have watched a benign ep. Would I have even thought or even imagined anything about the twists and turns of my own future life back then, my own soap opera, would take me far away from my midwest roots to be now 54 years old and have been a full-time stay-home daddy for the past 5 years, wondering what is next for me? Eps like this take me into my own strange journey into my own past and float back into my own present, like the crashing waves of the show’s opening or even a still pond that runs deep. There are only a few short DS scenes from eps that I remember seeing in the original run. I will comment on these if I see them again. As I became older and a teen, I definitely enjoyed horror movies and in 7th grade especially, one of the highlights of my week was watching this goofy “Son of Gravesend Manor” show on Saturday nights from WOI-TV, Ames, Iowa, where these characters (Malcolm the butler, Boris Kut-your-head-off-ski, and the Duke of Desdemona) acted out their own skits during commercial breaks of all these classic dubbed Mexican horror films. I also saw most of DS’s vampire storyline in reruns on WOI-TV (commercial station with ties to Iowa State U) after school in the spring of 1976. It wasn’t until the late 90’s or so, 1998 or 1999, that I actually saw quite a bit of the twice-daily eps of DS on SciFi channel. And now of course, I can gradually see it all, thanks to hulu and Netflix (and youtube for pre-Barnabus eps). And of course, many thanks to you Danny for your insight and analysis. (Sorry for this stream of consciousness writing….)

  2. Summer of 1976 – If WOI-TV continued to show DS reruns through the summer, I was too busy to have time to watch it. That was the bicentennial summer, I was 14, and my family went to Washington, DC, and Philadelphia for July 4, which was a big deal for folks from Iowa (and my family was, by nature, mostly very frugal). Somehow too, I got a part in a summer stock play that summer “George Washington Slept Here,” an old Moss/Hart comedy, which was at the nearby Okoboji Summer Theater (which provides theater experiences for college students from Stephens College in Missouri). I played the part of Raymond, the bratty nephew. It is the only play I have ever been in, where we had one week of solid rehearsals — day and evenings — then one week of performances. I don’t remember watching much, if any, TV that summer. I weep for what I would have liked to do with acting, as if that is a lost part of myself that I don’t know if it could ever rise again. But maybe all of us, in some way, can rise up like the phoenix or experience our own death and resurrection…

  3. I just wrote a poem about this episode:

    Looking for Sarah
    Ode to Episode 308

    by Timothy Johnson, © 2015

    Everybody’s looking for Sarah –
    Where is Sarah?
    Who is Sarah?
    Does Sarah have the answers?
    Is she real
    or a ghost in the shadows?

    Looking for something

    Looking for someone
    who isn’t there

    Looking for answers
    when I don’t know the questions

    One little boy watches, all alone,
    Just relieved that today’s show is not too scary

    Sarah’s swing is alone, empty
    goes back and forth empty
    squeaky hinges
    “She’s gone! She was just here!”
    Was she?

    Like dreams
    just when you think you’ve found her
    she’s gone

    Past, present, future – all flowing, swirling
    mixed together
    connected, disjointed fragments
    smashed puzzle pieces
    phoenix rising

    her empty swing still squeaks

  4. Tim — This show also evokes strong, deep memories from childhood. I’m not sure how I’d react to it if I had not remembered the end of the original run and watched the Barnabas/1795 story lines in high school.

  5. Joe has branched out his talents; he’s moved on to being Manners \ Apology Monkey, too. “I’m sorry, Doctor, I’m sure Sam didn’t mean that.”
    Guess it’s all part of the ‘Real Swell Guy’ package. (Hope that comes with a Beachwear outfit. A Speedo would be nice, but I can settle for trunks.)

    1. Ditto on the speedo. Then there’s this:

      “Outside, Joe tells Sam that he isn’t sure the moving swing means anything: “It could’ve been the wood, the wind, for all I know.”

      Well, I do know, Joe, what moves a swing, and it ain’t the wind. Had lotsa wood swinging outside.

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