Episode 318: Interesting Times

“I heard the dogs howling, Barnabas. I know what you’re up to!”

When we last saw our heroes, they were in the Collins family mausoleum, trying to figure out what happened to young David during the days that he was missing. They know that there’s some connection between David, the mysterious little girl named Sarah, and the secrets locked in the mausoleum.

That’s all pretty straightforward, at least as much as Dark Shadows ever can be. The problem is that there are four characters in the mausoleum right now — two on one side of the secret panel, and two on the other — and it’s not clear which side “our heroes” are supposed to be.

318 dark shadows julia barnabas wall

But we live, as ever, in interesting times. This is the fourth consecutive episode written by Gordon Russell, who joined Ron Sproat and Malcolm Marmorstein on the writing staff a month ago. Two weeks later, Marmorstein was fired, so now it’s just Russell and Sproat.

And Sproat be crazy.

Writing Dark Shadows is clearly a three-person job — the times when there are only two writers are the weakest periods of the show’s run. In a couple months, they’re going to find a third writer — but for now, here’s new boy Gordon Russell in the deep end, paddling for his life.

318 dark shadows woodard sam mausoleum

So things are going to get a little flexible today, and by “flexible” I mean that they’re not always going to make a lot of sense. The characters make a lot of snap decisions, often in contradictory directions.

For example: Sam dragged Dr. Woodard out to investigate the Collins mausoleum tonight, because he was convinced that there was something there that connected to David’s disappearance, and Maggie’s abduction. But now that they’re here, Sam’s decided that maybe he’s imagined the whole thing, and there isn’t anything peculiar about the mausoleum after all.

318 dark shadows julia barnabas peculiar

But there are two peculiar things in the mausoleum tonight, and here they are: Barnabas and Julia, on the other side of the secret panel, listening intently to the Hardy Boys’ conversation.

Dr. Woodard, excited by the idea that little Sarah might be a ghost, remembers a conversation he had with Julia, when she said that she’s convinced Maggie’s case involves the supernatural.

Furious, Barnabas whispers to Julia, “You told him THAT?”

Julia whispers back, “He threatened to take Maggie out of my care. I had to tell them something that would…”

318 dark shadows julia barnabas choke

Impulsively grabbing her by the throat, Barnabas snarls, “I ought to get rid of you right now and here!” Obviously, that’s not quite what Russell wrote in the script, but it gets the point across.

318 dark shadows woodard sam wall

Startled, Julia lets out a strangled cry. On the other side of the wall, Sam hears this, and turns toward the secret panel.

Sam:  I heard a sound! A faint scream! It came from behind this wall.

Barnabas relaxes his grip on Julia’s throat, as Woodard, who was all excited about the supernatural a minute ago, transitions back into “logical explanation” mode.

Woodard:  It could have been some animal outside. It couldn’t have come from anywhere in this wall; it’s obvious, it’s solid rock.

Sam caves instantly, and completely loses confidence in his original suspicions.

Sam:  I hope I’m not hearing things that aren’t there.

Woodard:  You know, Sam, whatever the reason is that Maggie and David both showed up in this place… I just can’t figure it out.

Sam:  Maybe you’re right. Maybe it was just a coincidence.

318 dark shadows woodard sam standing

This resigned mood literally lasts for less than ten seconds, until Woodard says, “And yet…”

Woodard:  Standing in this place, I have the feeling that Maggie is in greater danger than she’s ever been before.

This conclusion is derived from exactly no evidence, but they both commit to it unreservedly. They hurry out of the mausoleum, running to the rescue of a girl who is not currently in any danger at all.

318 dark shadows julia barnabas bickering

Once the boys are gone, Barnabas and Julia can relax, and they settle into a pleasant round of hostile bickering.

Barnabas:  Just a matter of time, he said, before they know everything.

Julia:  You don’t really believe that, do you?

Barnabas:  Of course I believe it, thanks to you — you and your meddling and your blundering.

He has no choice — he’s got to silence David. Julia tells him not to be a fool.

318 dark shadows julia barnabas coffin

Barnabas reacts to this as anyone would — he opens up a coffin and shoves her face into it.

Barnabas:  I suggest you think about something, Doctor. I want you to look inside, and think about being confined here for the rest of eternity. Think about an existence of total darkness and loneliness. Does that appeal to you?

Julia:  Of course not!

Barnabas:  I was entombed here once. Now I am free and I intend to remain free.

318 dark shadows julia barnabas mood

Naturally, a minute later, the mood of the conversation changes completely; it’s just that kind of episode.

She reminds him that David only knows about the room because Sarah showed it to him. If Barnabas wants to be safe, then he needs to find Sarah, and get her to stop telling people all of his secrets.

318 dark shadows barnabas julia gestures

He walks to the front of the stage and makes dramatic hand gestures.

Barnabas:  I tried to find Sarah, but she won’t come to me. Little David has seen her, and talked to her and played with her. Vicki saw her at the head of the stairs. Even Willie saw her and talked to her. Why won’t she appear for me? I am her brother. She knows how much I love her. Why does she reject me?

It’s gorgeous. And obviously, the next time we see him, he’s completely changed his mind again.

318 dark shadows barnabas sneer

Left alone at the Old House, he paces in the drawing room and tries out some awkward Bond-villain dialogue.

Barnabas:  You’re going to sleep, cousin David. You’re going to sleep for a long, long time.

318 dark shadows barnabas julia grab

Then Julia bursts in, clued in by the howling dognoise outside that Barnabas is planning violence. She grabs his arms.

Julia:  I will not let you do it!

Barnabas:  Doctor, when I make up my mind to kill somebody, you know you can’t stop me. You know that nothing on this Earth will stop me!

318 dark shadows julia barnabas nothing

But suddenly the doors blow open, and a mysterious wind blows through the room. Barnabas can hear “London Bridge”, Sarah’s favorite song, echoing in the storm. Sarah is here.

Barnabas calls out to his sister, and Julia smiles.

Julia:  Nothing on this Earth can stop you… except one little girl.

It’s fantastic; what a great ending. I think new boy Gordon Russell is going to work out just fine.

Tomorrow: This Maniac.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

During his scene in the mausoleum, Dr. Woodard moves from one side of the room to the other, and stands in the wrong spot, halfway out of the light and at the very left edge of the frame. After a beat, the camera jerks back a little, to keep him in the shot. Delightfully, this happens just as Woodard starts a sentence, “Standing in this place…”

When David enters the drawing room to talk to Dr. Woodard, he greets him with: “Doctor Hoffman? Er… Mr. Woodard?” The actors both chuckle at the mistake.

In the last scene, Barnabas chews up the words of a powerful line: “What if I’m unable — unable to find, er, Sarah. What if, what if David finds her again before I do, and she tells him more about me? I’m sorry, but cousin David… must… be… killed! Now! Tonight!”

Tomorrow: This Maniac.

318 dark shadows julia barnabas neck

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

22 thoughts on “Episode 318: Interesting Times

  1. barnabas just LOVES to get strangly with julia. she should start wearing steel turtlenecks or something.

    1. No…Julia needs to swift kick him where it will have an immediate impact. He won’t strangle her no more without thinking about it. She already has his mind screwed up.

  2. So for almost 200 years, no one ever seemed to examine the mausoleum from the outside. The secret room has be pretty much the same size as front part. Yet no one ever puts two and two together upon entering the easily accessible chamber.

    1. That’s a sensible thought. But its relatively easy to rationalize that away. We never see the exterior except from the front. And if I wished to build such a structure with a concealed room, I’d build it into a hillside to camouflage its true dimensions. It is, after all, Eagle HILL Cemetery.

  3. The doors blow open, winds strong enough to buffet the chandelier gust into the room…and not one single candle goes out. THAT is supernatural.

    1. Who is the 2nd Sarah? I’ve gone through character lists on several different sites and can only find references to one Sarah.

  4. This is a great episode. Lots of Julia and Barnabas action, thunder & lightening for punctuation, Barnabas anguished speech in the crypt (WHY won’t she come to me?), Dognoise. No fangs but ya can’t have everything.

    Also this is the best acting we’ve ever had from Woodard, if you ask me. I think Russell is having a bit of a kid in a toy store moment: look at all th is stuff to play with! Let’s get it all out and spread it around!

  5. I wanted to ask why this episode returns us to black and white again? I think Danny mentioned it coming in an earlier post but I forgot the reason.

    This is really the fastest-paced episode we have seen in quite some time. There is some real rhythm to the proceedings, no doubt. I wish more would have been made about Sam hearing Julia scream–it gets dismissed way too fast. The cross-cutting back and forth from the secret room to the other side of the mausoleum is solid. Imagine what the split-screen tech we have today could have lent the scene.

    Also, David really brings it in the scene with Doctor Woodard (it is odd that they are both named David and in the same scene together). For being such a young actor, I marvel at how much material they really give him to do. He is saddled with a tremendous amount of dialogue at one point in the scene and really acquits himself well. I love when he gets near the end of a line and he uses his arms for emphasis. I cannot imagine other soaps using child actors this much and really do not recall any that were given such air time. You used to only see them trotted out at Christmastime.

    Finally, there is a Fabulous Julia Moment where she comes sauntering back into the Great Room at Collinwood like she’s doing a runway show. Girl can really throw some shoulder and leg into things when she wants. That and the hilarious way she has with pulling down on both sides of her blouse or jacket, I guess to straighten them out. Between being dressed down by both Barnabas AND Dave Woodard in one episode, girl could probably use a stiff one. She’ll be hitting the scotch harder than even Roger before it’s said and done.

    I have to admit that I really do love the show in black and white again. It just lends itself so well to that medium. With the storm raging, you feel like you’re looking at something from the Universal Frankenstein era of the ’30s.

    1. To answer your question of black and white, the show was recorded on what are known as kinescopes, which meant a video camera was directly pointed at a monitor.

      Ever since I began watching this show, I’ve been impressed with David Henesy’s chops as a child actor. Sure, he had the occasional slip-up (who didn’t?), but he was often very good with his dialogue. When he did mess up, he would either strive to get his dialogue correct or simply soldier on.

  6. Is it ever stated or insinuated that the mausoleum is built into the side of a mountain or something, as opposed to a stand-alone structure? Otherwise it makes no sense that no one would suspect something’s behind the walls when the outside structure is at least twice as big as the room with the 3 coffins. Course this is the same show that has an artist and a doctor sleuthing on their own because apparently the police have no follow-up interest in what happened to David so there’s more than enough room for my belief to be suspended….or perhaps there’s a secret room to my belief that I’m not aware of! 🙂

  7. Frid is just too effective as a villain. I’m dreading the inevitable turn towards Barnabas as Tormented Hero. The scene where he shoved Julia’s face into the coffin was worth the price of admission.

    Turning now to Advice for Potential Child Murderers, has Barnabas considered that it would be much more efficient to arrange an “accident” for David rather than dispatch him by violence? Everybody knows that the kid does crazy things, so it wouldn’t be completely out of character if he were to “fall” off Widow’s Hill or get caught in a riptide or something.

  8. You know who’s going to give Barnabas away? Barnabas. What a dummy to strangle someone within a few yards of two people looking for mysterious doings!

  9. Everyone who admired David Henesy’s acting but only started watching the show when Barnabas arrived on the scene should go back and watch from the beginning. Henesy did a great job playing a creepy psycho kid in those early episodes.

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