Episode 313: Old Friends

“He heard the pearl-shaped voice of a ghost saying Boo.”

The storyline this week is that young David’s trapped in the secret room in the mausoleum, and he can’t figure out how to open the hidden door from the inside. It’s a fairly suspense-free scenario, because he’s friends with a ghost who knows that he’s in there.

So it doesn’t take a genius to predict that Sarah will show up to rescue him, at some point between now and the day he starves to death. For the sake of convenience, let’s call that point “Friday.”

And yet, here we are, smack in the middle of Wednesday, with no end in sight. On the plus side, we get to spend some time with Joe this week, so that’s something.

313 dark shadows vicki joe tall

I haven’t paid much attention to Joe so far, and I’m not sure why, because he’s lovely, and all of a sudden I have a crush on him. Look at him, he’s gorgeous. Tall, handsome, broad shoulders, deep voice, secretly gay. He even knows all of his lines. He’s basically perfect.

So I’m not sure why this is only occurring to me today. It might be the jacket. Last week, we saw him in a shapeless aquamarine turtleneck that didn’t really do much for him. The next day, he had a greenish jacket on, and a new haircut that was too short and made him look like a dork.

Today, he’s rocking a new jacket with horizontal stripes, and he’s got it zipped up halfway, which accentuates the shoulders. He’s got a brown sweater under it, and the haircut’s grown out nicely.

Plus, he’s got kind of a take-charge attitude today — he basically spends the whole episode leading Roger around as they search for David. As usual, Roger is all wry, queeny sarcasm, which makes Joe look masculine and commanding. Or maybe it’s just the jacket. I don’t know.

313 dark shadows david dying

And David’s dying, by the way. Or maybe he’s just tired. It’s hard to say. Today’s script calls for him to alternate between two modes — he’s either pounding on the walls and screaming for help, or he’s unconscious. His internal clock appears to run entirely on dramatic irony.

313 dark shadows roger joe chromakey

Oh, and there’s more Chromakey today, and it looks good this time! This is the third episode where they’ve used a bluescreen effect to pretend that they’re filming outdoors, and they’re getting better at it.

The first time, two weeks ago, was just a nightmare, with shadows creating weird blue lines all over the place. Their second try a few days later was an improvement, but there was still too much going on.

Today, they try Chromakey on two different shots — first, with Roger and Joe standing on a hill looking over the countryside, and then another shot as they get to the Eagle Hill cemetery. The hill shot, which you can see here, is pretty nice; the cemetery scene gets a little dicey.

It looks like the key is to put the actors in front of the bluescreen, without throwing in a lot of extraneous foliage. The problem with the other shots is that they keep trying to throw plastic shrubbery in there too, both in front of the actors and behind them. They can’t light all those different levels correctly, so they get blue lines around the edges.

I’d be happy to go on telling you more of my theories about the history and practices of early Chromakey technology, but by now I’m sure you’re slumped against the wall like David in his “down” phase, so let’s move on.

313 dark shadows caretaker mausoleum

And now we come to the best part of the episode. The caretaker’s back!

This is the crazy old caretaker of the Eagle Hill cemetery, whose job appears to be to walk around and tap on gravestones, to make sure that they’re still there. Then every once in a while he notices that someone’s disturbed the dead, and he gets kind of upset about it.

The last time we saw the caretaker, it was the second day of the blog, and I was kind of stressed and uptight about him. Five months and a hundred episodes later, it feels like seeing an old friend again. Basically, he’s not Burke, and that’s good enough for me.

313 dark shadows caretaker loop

The caretaker is extra loopy today; I think he’s aware that the show has a regular ghost character, and if he wants to compete, then he needs to up his game.

He sees that the mausoleum gate is open, so he pokes his head in, and calls, “Is anybody in there?”

313 dark shadows david help

David hears him, and starts pounding on the wall, shouting, “Help! Help!”

313 dark shadows caretaker no

The caretaker’s reaction is perfect. He stares around the apparently empty crypt, and cries, “No… no! There’s no help for you! No help is possible! You must rest. Rest!”

So he locks the gate, and backs away, ignoring David’s muffled cries. It’s fantastic. That’s why we have a caretaker, for top-shelf crazy like that.

313 dark shadows roger joe caretaker

The episode goes on, but really nothing gets accomplished; it’s another Sproatnapping “close call” episode.

Roger and Joe chat with the caretaker about the dead for a while, and then they take a look in the mausoleum. By the time they get there, David’s sound asleep again, and then he wakes up five seconds after they leave.

So there’s no plot development today, just some fun things to look at and listen to. Every once in a while, that’s enough.

Tomorrow: A Logical Explanation.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

This episode has one of the all-time great dialogue bloopers, which Roger handles beautifully:

Joe:  Shall we go?

Roger:  Oh… wait a minute.

Joe:  What’s the matter?

Roger:  Several of my incestors — incestors? — my ancestors are buried here.

There’s also an odd bit of fuzzy geography when Joe and Roger are standing on a hill and looking around. Joe says that they’re on “the highest point of land for miles around.” Then he points, and asks, “What’s that down there?” Roger says, “Oh, that’s the Eagle Hill cemetery.” This raises a question: If it’s called Eagle Hill cemetery, why isn’t it up on the hill?

Finally, that’s Roger’s line quoted at the top. I’m pretty sure that the line as written was “He heard the pear-shaped voice of a ghost saying Boo,” not “pearl-shaped”. But that’s what happens when you read your lines off the teleprompter.

Tomorrow: A Logical Explanation.

313 dark shadows caretaker joe roger

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

17 thoughts on “Episode 313: Old Friends

  1. My favorite line of the episode is when Roger says to Joe, “I’ve gone this far with you. I may as well go all the way.”

  2. “,,, all of a sudden I have a crush on him.” Usually we hear about these things in media res; but there’s nothing like that moment of “when I first discovered him.” That’s one of the things I’m really liking about this blog, Dan… you share.

  3. why did david hide, anyways? he heard willie and barnabas coming – there is no reason he would hide from them. am i missing something?

  4. Agree with you Danny about Joel Crothers’ handsome good looks, broad shoulders, deep manly voice, etc.. He was always visually appealing, but in today’s episode, and tomorrow’s, he is suddenly off-the-charts gorgeous. The scene tomorrow, where he’s slumped in the chair at Maggie’s house, unshaven and exhausted, he just takes your breath away.

  5. Roger mentions that Eagle Hill is the most desolate of all the cemeteries in the area. How many cemeteries (desolate, cheerful, or in between) are in the area?

    You know, if that ding-dang caretaker had been doing his job, he’d have shooed David away yesterday, and we could have avoided all this nonsense!

    They may be better at ChromaKey, but it needs a lot of work still.

    Love that Roger is actually OUT SEARCHING FOR HIS ONLY SON, and yet is still constantly willing to quit immediately, and dismiss the caretaker’s story about cries for help, and generally be a wet blanket (though a wryly witty one). And he doesn’t want to go into the family crypt, then once they’re inside, he starts sightseeing?

    Right there with you about Joe! Been eyeing him since the color shows started. Don’t you just want to tousle that hair? (And maybe a few other things…) Gotta get over to Ohrbach’s and see if they have any more of those flannel shirts in attractive fall colours.

  6. I love how roger comes home to all the excitement of his 9 year old out at night, when there are steep cliffs, rocks and crashing surf, a mad man on the loose and if it’s Maine, probably bears in the woods and look how non plussed he seems. Like to hell with everything i need scotch and a hot shower, to hell with David he’s a pain in the ass any way . Roger is great .

  7. Mr. Danny Horn, I fracking LOVE your site! It’s SO damn pee-in-your-pants funny! I haven’t laughed so hard at critical analysis of a TV show since Phil Farrand’s Nitpickers Guides for Star Trek fans. I have all but the last 240 or so DS eps (getting those soon), seen up to ep700 or so.

    I had turned age 4 less than a month before Dark Shadows premiered. I won’t bore you with the incremental history of my DS viewing.

    But I’d like your thoughts on a suspicion of mine. Back when Mitch Ryan was fired you said his dialogue for that day’s shooting was rewritten for Joe. That was quite a while ago and I mean this not necessarily for this episode, but since then I’ve wondered if at least some of this search-for-Sarah traipsing about might have been planned for the Burke-investigating-Barnabus bust. It makes sense Joe would be doing some of this because he and Maggie are a thing (a thing they don’t show romantically very often at all anymore). My first inkling came when Joe accompanies Sam to Collinwood to ask David about Sarah. That seems like something old-Burke would do. There’s a recurring thread of Sam/Burke connections right up to Mitch Ryan’s last scene with Dr. Woodard’s “microphone” – the can’t-you-give-me-something-for-Sam hoo-haw. Sure, Maggie was missing back then, but their hanging together was clearly established through all that. Unless I’m misremembering, there was little if any one-on-one interaction between them since. Other than that full-episode in The Blue Whale (which I deleted entirely from my collection), I can’t recall those two appearing in the same scene since.

    What do you think?

  8. I’ve always thought Joe was dreamy. And Mitch Ryan . . . swoon I so wish he was still on the show. I wouldn’t mind watching love scenes between him and Vickie, or any other scene, really.

  9. I do appreciate that at least Roger shows up and reads Vicki the riot act. He really should consider firing her over this.

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