Episode 325: The Spirited Child

“I died, and everyone brought me such pretty flowers.”

Today’s episode opens with young David wearing pajamas and a robe, walking all the way downstairs to the foyer. He positions himself in front of the 18th century portrait of Barnabas, looks at it, and then makes what appears to be a conscious, deliberate decision to freak the hell out.

325 dark shadows david portrait

David stares at the portrait, and remembers the night that Barnabas found him at the Eagle Hill cemetery, coming out of the Collins family mausoleum.

Barnabas (voiceover):  Hello, David. I’ve been looking everywhere for you. But now I’ve found you, haven’t I?

325 dark shadows david voiceover

The voiceover continues.

Barnabas (voiceover):  What were you doing in the mausoleum, David? Is there something in there that fascinates you?

325 dark shadows david previously

Barnabas (voiceover):  I think you’re keeping something from me. Do you know what happens to little boys who lie to their elders?

So David is basically inventing the “previously on Dark Shadows” montage, entirely in his mind. The kid’s a genius.

325 dark shadows liz david art

David starts shouting at the portrait, “I want to go back to Collinwood! Let me go! Let me go!” Liz rushes to his side, but David pulls away, and then runs upstairs to his room.

You know, everybody says that children should be exposed to fine art, but look what happens when you try it.

325 dark shadows liz vicki barnabas

Once the kid is safely stowed in the overhead compartment, Barnabas comes over to apologize to Liz for harboring a dangerous lunatic on her property.

The other day, Willie tried to warn Maggie about Barnabas, but he was shot by the police, who thought he was the maniac who abducted her. Willie’s still in a coma and may not pull through, so Barnabas is taking the opportunity to make sure that everyone knows that he had no way of knowing what was in Willie’s mind.

Barnabas:  I think it’s the greatest single shock of my life.

Liz:  You shouldn’t be so harsh on yourself. You had no way of knowing what was in Willie’s mind.

There, that was easy. But why didn’t he bring a fruit basket? I would have thought this was at least a fruit basket level apology.

325 dark shadows barnabas liz david

But Liz is more concerned about David. For some reason, the kid is scared stiff of Barnabas. Obviously, Liz doesn’t think that David’s fear has any basis; it must be a coincidence, or some kind of dreadful misunderstanding, because Barnabas is a sainted and holy person who can never be held responsible for the paralyzing madness that seems to affect everybody who comes within three yards of him.

Barnabas suggests that maybe he and David should have a man-to-man talk in his bedroom, so: Sure, why not. What could possibly go wrong.

325 dark shadows barnabas david swimming

And guess what: It goes swimmingly. David stares fixedly ahead and says that he’s not afraid of Barnabas, and he doesn’t know what Elizabeth is talking about.

325 dark shadows barnabas david bed

Barnabas sits down on the bed, a move precisely calculated to put the boy at ease.

Barnabas:  Perhaps we could ease your fear, David, if you would tell precisely where you were when you were lost.

David:  I already told everyone a hundred times.

Barnabas:  Yes, and everyone believes you… but, you see, I don’t. Because I know where you were.

David:  Where?

Barnabas:  You were in that secret place that little Sarah told you about, weren’t you?

David:  No!

Barnabas:  Yes, you were. And that secret place is in the Collins mausoleum, isn’t it?

325 dark shadows david knife

Then he displays David’s pocket knife, which he found in the mausoleum’s secret room after David had been there. Things devolve pretty rapidly from that point.

Barnabas demands to know what secrets little Sarah has shared with him.

Barnabas:  She’s told you all about her family, hasn’t she? About her mother and her father and her brother. She’s told you about her brother.

325 dark shadows vicki david

Unfortunately, just when it looks like we’re getting somewhere, Vicki comes in, and she sucks all the drama out of the room as usual. The party breaks up, and Barnabas goes home.

325 dark shadows david sleep

But! — the craziest part of the episode is still to come. Once everyone clears the room, David goes to sleep, and he has one of those German Expressionist art film dreams like kids in soap operas are always having.

325 dark shadows david candles

In the dream, David walks through a dark basement labyrinth. The fog machine is going like sixty, providing the typical dream sequence cloud cover.

325 dark shadows david dream medallion

David can’t find Sarah, so he approaches a woman who’s standing in the shadows, spinning a jeweled medallion on the end of a long chain.

325 dark shadows julia dream medallion

The woman’s face is obscured, and he’s bothered by the medallion spinning in his face. “What are you doing?” he cries. “I have to find Sarah!”

325 dark shadows david dream sarah

He finally locates her, and tells her that he needs to know more about her. She fills him in on the backstory: she was born in Collinsport, and she lived in a big house on a hill.

325 dark shadows sarah hill

Sarah:  And then I got very sick. And everyone came to see me, and they were very sad.

David:  Because you were sick?

Sarah:  No. Because I died.

David:  Sarah, be serious.

Sarah:  I am! I died, and everyone brought me such pretty flowers.

325 dark shadows david dream coffin

I know, I’m doing it again — posting a straight synopsis of the scene, with no commentary or jokes or anything. But sometimes, you get a sequence like this, which is one hundred percent pure, uncut Dark Shadows, and the best thing for me to do is just get out of the way.

325 dark shadows barnabas dream

Sarah leads David to a coffin, which opens to reveal Barnabas.

325 dark shadows barnabas sarah

David dashes to safety, but Sarah stays put, and lets Barnabas approach.

“Sarah!” he says. “My little Sarah. You’ve come back. You’ve come back at last.”

325 dark shadows barnabas cane dream

David cries out, begging Sarah to get away. Barnabas turns his attention to David, backs him up against a wall — and then raises his cane to attack.

The episode ends with a shot of the shadow of Barnabas’ cane descending to strike the boy.

So that’s what ABC broadcast on television on a Friday afternoon in late September, 1967. And then they showed The Dating Game.

Monday: A Time Like This.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the start of the second act, Liz walks across the foyer to the front door and puts on her coat, planning to walk to the Old House to visit Barnabas. Liz pauses to talk to Vicki for a minute, and then Barnabas happens to come by, saving Liz the trip. But she keeps her coat on for the next two scenes; she’s still wearing it when she brings Barnabas upstairs to talk to David.

There’s another great moment when Barnabas’ discomfort is able to absorb Jonathan Frid forgetting his lines:

Barnabas:  Surely, Elizabeth, you don’t think I had anything to do with it.

Liz:  No, no! Of course not. That is, nothing intentional.

Barnabas:  When, uh — (panicked look at the teleprompter) — what, I, I, I just don’t know what you mean.

David asks what Barnabas wants to talk to him about. Liz responds, “I’ll let Unc– cousin Barnabas tell you.”

Barnabas says, “If you’re lying again, David, I will be very angry if I find out what it is.” He must mean “if you’re hiding something”.

In the dream, Sarah forgets how old she is: “I lived on a hill, in a big, big house, until I was about nine — ten!”

When David finds the coffin, the boom mic is visible at the top of the screen for about twenty seconds.

Behind the Scenes:

The stand-in for Julia in the dream was Fran Anthony, who also appears in the next episode’s teaser. This seems to be her only screen credit. She appeared in many off-Broadway plays, including The Climate of Eden, Poppa Is Home, The Warrior’s Husband, Puzzle of a Downfall Child and Up the Down Staircase.

Monday: A Time Like This.

325 dark shadows dream mic

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

15 thoughts on “Episode 325: The Spirited Child

  1. I like what the set designer did in the coffin room, it is like the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari , and some of the BLACK CAT with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi .

  2. This must have been gold for the show. Every kid who was watching the show before probably told all of their friends about this horror movie that was on every afternoon and they told 2 friends and so on. I can imagine how frightening this whole plotline must have been for pre-teens and teens, really a genius move.

    I feel like Barnabas is at his scariest when he is being nefarious and charming at the same time. One minute he is threatening David, the next wishing him pleasant dreams. I think he would scare Julia more if he would stop threatening her and just charm the hell out of her.

  3. A pip of a synopsis, including catching the German expressionism. (Far better in the b/w “lost” episode today, than the color one tomorrow.) Thanks for your work,.

  4. Bravo for a grand episode and great summation. I well remember the German expressionism set in the Old House basement when I was a kid, the first DS go round. As a child I had no clue what that would have meant, but as an adult I watch a lot of silent films, so I appreciated your nod to the genre. Am I merely remembering a color version of Monday’s opening repeat scene or did other things take place in this particular set at another time?

    Loved the faceless faux-Julia. Seemed like she was wearing the wig backward. I agree with Ed that Barnabas is more frightening the more charming and gentlemanly he is. I particularly love it when Frid hangs onto the last letter of a word. That’s the implied threat coming through his charm. “Pleasant dreamssss.” Sarah is written almost obliquely evil in this dream. No David, there IS someone in this coffin — or something to that effect. Muahahahaha.

    Interesting touch to have a mausoleum type gate standing in the basement. On to Monday’s color re-do.

  5. It is truly extraordinary to think that something this unique, this macabre and bizarre could be airing on weekday afternoons on a major network. One can only imagine the Standards and Practices Division personnel talking to each other at work and scratching their heads and saying, “Well, we’ve never seen anything like it before in daytime, that’s for sure,” and probably writing it off as a anomalous artistic waste of time.

    Danny, the screen grabs just get better and better with each recap. This blog is something you should be truly proud of as it is One Of A Kind and As Good As It Gets.

    The shadowed Julia-with-medallion shot is right out of Hitchcock. Very reminiscent of Vera Miles touching the chair in the basement in PSYCHO and it swings around with the shadowed skeleton shot and hollowed out face (only to be illuminated by the swinging light when she hits it). Whether or not anything really makes any sense in DS at the end of the day is inconsequential, I suppose. It’s the risks that they took and the groundbreaking ideas that were foisted upon an unsuspecting but rabid fan base daily–it’s staggering.

    1. I can kind of speak to how this kind of thing got by. My stepmother was reasonably appalled that I was watching a soap opera after school. “Is that the show where one woman isn’t sure if the father of the baby is her husband or his brother?” When I told her it was the one with vampires trying to kill a virginal young woman and turn her into a vampire, she was cool. As long as there was no sex and no illegitimate babies and no hint that sex wasn’t awful and terrible and to be avoided at all costs she was fine. It was so strange.

      1. Percy’s Owner: I grew up in a household where a young male child watching a soap opera was not viewed as a positive attribute and was shielded from most of them until I was old enough to make my own viewing decisions. It was never the romance shows I was interested in; it was the mystery-oriented soaps like EDGE OF NIGHT and, of course, DS.

    2. I was 8 years old when I started watching this! My friends and I all, literally, ran home from school, to grab a snack and sit cross legged on the floor about 3 feet away from the tv! About this time era, you have to remem that we only had 3 tv channels to watch. And late nite tv on Saturday nite was fraught with the best black and white Bela Lugosi Honest -to-God horror movies, some of the best and worst ever made! B & W Classics like Frankenstein, The original Blob, Dracula, and later Hitchcock’s The Birds on Saturday nite late tv! We got to stay up late while mom & dad played cards in the kitchen with their best friends! And us kids, all 9 of us, lay on the floor and any where we could find a spot in the tiny room, and screamed and chased each other around, while we tried not to peek between our fingers at the scary parts! Ha! Dark Shadows next to those old movies was like watching The Power Puff Girls …it was just what we all did back then, I have wonderful memories and don’t remember any bad dreams! I’m binge watching all 1225 episodes of DS and find it terribly funny, corny, heart breaking, and hysterical, not to mention some of the best and worst acting I have seen in my life time! But I remain a true, and loyal Dark Shadows fan, telling my kids about in, bc they hear that theme song a dozen times a nite! I remain enamored with and a true Friday Fan until my last day on this earth! Thank you for your wonderfully amusing blog on every single episode! Whew!

  6. “That’s quite a nice Major Matt Mason space station you have there, David. It would be a shame if something…unfortunate…were to happen to it.”

    dun dun DUUUUUUNNNNNN…

  7. <>

    I’m not sure that’s really a blooper. Little kids are always fibbing about their ages to make themselves sound older and cooler. Dream-Sarah just isn’t very good at it yet.

  8. To be fair, Rodney Alcala did appear on The Dating Game (although that was after Dark Shadows was cancelled) – still, maybe it wasn’t the unlikeliest programming that ever happened?

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