Episode 328: Look! A Ring!

“There are a dozen reasons why that’s impossible.”

So here’s your standard, kitchen-sink soap opera situation: Willie was shot a couple days ago, and he’s still in a coma. Barnabas is pacing around the drawing room, waiting for Julia to come back from the hospital to report on the patient’s recovery.

But this is Dark Shadows, and what he’s really worried about is that if Willie pulls through, he’ll tell everyone that Barnabas is a vampire. So when Julia tells him that Willie is still alive, Barnabas explodes with anger.

“I know what you’re going to say!” he shouts. “You’re going to tell me to remain quiet and forget it. Well, I refuse to do that any longer! Willie must die!”

328 dark shadows barnabas julia plans

So, once again, the slow progress of Barnabas’ moral development skids off the highway and hits a tree. We’ve seen some improvement — he hasn’t really been strangling people as much as he used to — but he’s still not taking responsibility for anything that goes on in his life.

Barnabas’ problems started several months ago, when he kidnapped Maggie and tried to brainwash her into becoming his dead girlfriend, Josette. It’s a long story, but the bottom line is that it didn’t really go that well.

Maggie got away, although she’s lost all memories of her abduction. But the Sheriff set a trap for the kidnapper, and Willie stumbled into it, getting himself shot in the back.

Obviously, this would be a golden opportunity for Barnabas to reflect on his life choices, and make a searching and fearless moral inventory. He’s done that, and the result is: It’s all Willie’s fault.

328 dark shadows barnabas julia problems

So Barnabas continues to lurch from one self-induced crisis to the next. But this is a soap opera, and even in the gravest emergencies, they’ve always got time for the feels.

Julia saw the Sheriff at the hospital, and learned that he’s coming over tonight to search Willie’s room for proof that he was the kidnapper. Barnabas starts to panic, but Julia’s been thinking things over.

Julia:  I think you might be able to turn this to your advantage.

Barnabas:  What do you mean?

Julia:  If there were a way that you could prove that Willie was the kidnapper… the Sheriff wouldn’t have to ask you any more questions.

328 dark shadows julia smile

Barnabas asks, “How can I do that?”

“I don’t know,” Julia says — and then she smiles. “But you’ll find a way.”

328 dark shadows barnabas feels

And how cute is that! Psychopaths can be so adorable sometimes.

As it turns out, he does come up with an idea, because Barnabas is actually a pretty smart character, when he can stifle his impulse to murder everybody in sight. And that’s why Julia likes him, and that’s why we like Julia, and suddenly the world is full of feels.

328 dark shadows patterson woodard change

At the hospital, Sheriff Patterson hovers over Dr. Woodard, who’s fussing with Willie’s oxygen tent. This is actually a recast Sheriff, and he looks even more like Droopy Dog than the last one did.

Willie’s still hanging in there, and the doctor says that there’s a slim chance he could pull through. The Sheriff says, “Well, all we can do is wait.”

Yeah. Great plan. Feel free to do that off-screen.

But while they’re waiting, they might as well speculate. This is pretty much all that law enforcement personnel ever do on soap operas; they review the case endlessly, with anybody who happens to be standing nearby.

Patterson:  You know something, Dave?

Woodard:  What’s that?

Patterson:  I don’t believe that boy kidnapped Maggie.

Woodard:  You don’t?

Patterson:  No.

Woodard:  Well, then… why did he try to break into Maggie’s room?

Patterson:  I don’t know.

All right, then. Good talk. Thanks for stopping by.

328 dark shadows barnabas julia ring

Okay, back to Barnabas. It turns out that he has Maggie’s ring, which she left behind during the abduction. This is actually a reference to episode 253, which was more than three months ago — a startlingly clever moment of continuity that almost makes you imagine that the writers ever have enough time to plan something in advance.

328 dark shadows barnabas candle

Barnabas hides the ring in one of the candlesticks, and he’ll make sure the Sheriff finds it. People are always looking inside candlesticks; it’s one of the first things that you do.

328 dark shadows julia barnabas instructions

Once that’s taken care of, Barnabas gives Julia her instructions. He wants her to go back to the hospital — and make sure that Willie doesn’t recover.

Remarkably, Julia is shocked.

Julia:  Are you asking me to kill him?

Barnabas:  I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.

Julia:  You must be insane if you think I’d do anything like that!

Um, yeah. He is. I thought we’d established that, pretty comprehensively.

Once again, Julia says that she refuses to take a human life. But we’ll see how that goes.

328 dark shadows patterson search

The Sheriff’s search plays out exactly the way that you’d expect. He and Sam shuffle around Willie’s room, just opening and closing drawers.

At one point, Patterson opens the closet door, rifles through Willie’s shirts for literally five seconds, and then closes the door again. When he’s checking the dresser, he doesn’t bother to open the bottom drawer, because he doesn’t feel like bending down that far. It’s amazing.

328 dark shadows sam barnabas candle

Meanwhile, Barnabas is absolutely dying inside. Sam actually picks up the candlestick, and then puts it down again.

Watching these clowns, Barnabas is clearly thinking that he should have put the ring in a box marked RING, inside a drawer marked CLUES. Even then, he’d probably have to stand next to the sign and say, “Why, I wonder what this could mean.”

So in the end, he has to knock over the candlestick himself. “Look!” he cries. “A ring!” And then he has to explain what “evidence” means, because it’s longer than two syllables.

328 dark shadows julia oxygen

At the hospital, Julia and Dr. Woodard are startled when Willie starts to moan; he’s waking up from the coma. Woodard rushes out of the room, to call the Sheriff.

Left alone with the patient, Julia takes a long, hard look at Willie’s IV. And we’ll pick it up from here tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Willie Loomis Must Die!

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, Barnabas tells Julia, “As long as Willie is alive, my entire career is threatened.”

Barnabas messes up his line at the end of the teaser, trailing off into nothing: “Willie must die! Now. Tonight.” The music cue for the dramatic sting comes in too early, and plays over his last two words.

In Willie’s room, Barnabas says to Julia, “That’s why I must find a place to hide it, but in a place that they will — where they will find it.”

When Willie starts to regain consciousness, Dr. Woodard can’t get the zipper on Willie’s oxygen tent to close. He asks Julia to take care of it, and rushes out of the room.

Sheriff Patterson walks onto the set as the end credits are playing.

328 dark shadows credits patterson

Behind the Scenes:

This episode begins a little Sheriff reshuffle. Dana Elcar has played Sheriff George Patterson since episode 54, back in September 1966, when he was investigating the disappearance of Bill Malloy. (If you don’t know who that is, don’t worry about it. Nobody cares about Bill Malloy.) During this run, Patterson also investigated Vicki’s disappearance, and Maggie’s vampire abduction. Elcar will be back for one more episode tomorrow, and then he’s out.

Today, Vince O’Brien fills in as the temporary Sheriff for one episode, before handing the role to Angus Cairns next week. O’Brien has been on Dark Shadows before; he played another police officer, Lt. Dan Riley, in four episodes during the Phoenix storyline. O’Brien will be back again as Sheriff Patterson for another five episodes in May 1968.

O’Brien’s television career started in 1950, with appearances on the early TV anthology series Westinghouse Studio One. He had a long career in TV law enforcement, playing a parole officer on Armstrong Circle Theatre, a detective on The Defenders, and a judge on The Edge of Night, Ryan’s Hope, The Cross and the Switchblade and Law & Order. He also played a doctor in Woody Allen’s 1977 film Annie Hall.

The episodes this week were filmed out of order, so it looks like Dana Elcar skipped an episode. He’d actually left by the time O’Brien filled in for this episode.

Today’s cast also includes Dennis Johnson as Deputy Fred; we saw him last week, and he’ll be in the teaser tomorrow.

Also, Dean Perchall was the stand-in for Willie under the oxygen tent today. This seems to be Perchall’s only credit.

Finally, just for the super-trivial — this is the last episode where WABC-TV Channel 7 announcer Bob Lloyd ends the credits with “Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production.” Over the next couple weeks, the announcement is read by a member of the cast, until they finally drop it in episode 339. Lloyd also makes the recast announcements over the opening credits, including today’s: “The part of Sheriff Patterson is played by Vince O’Brien.”

Tomorrow: Willie Loomis Must Die!

328 dark shadows julia do it

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

16 thoughts on “Episode 328: Look! A Ring!

    1. Hell, Barnabas practically announces that the ring is hidden right in the candlestick, is almost having a Telltale Heart moment “cleverly revealing” the thing and the dimbulb sheriff who couldn’t catch a cold and dopey dad suspect nothing at all. Then Barnabas gets to act mock-surprised at the “discovery”: “Willie, a kidnapper! Who ever would have thought it?” This is a prime Sitcom-from-Hell moment here.

  1. I think Frid’s blunder on the “my entire career’s threatened” line was him mixing up his later dialogue with Julia where he tells her that her career would be threatened by Willie’s recovery.

    Is Sam smoking that pipe as an homage to Sherlock Holmes as he plays detective with the sheriff. I also wonder how admissive that “evidence” would be when the victim’s father was present during the search that discovered it.

  2. I am cracking the frack up here reading your episode titles… sadly true and ridiculously funny!

  3. Best line of this episode is Julia to Dr Dave .. “you look tired, do you want me to relieve you?”

    Incidentally, I accidentally skipped two episodes but didn’t realize till I saw the episode number at the top of this blog…. yep time sure does move slowly in Colinsport.

  4. It is simply inconceivable that someone would be shut up in an oxygen tent like that and still be expected to live. Look at that thing! It could just as easy be used to cover an air conditioner or a settee, My God, can you imagine coming to and looking around and thinking, “OMG, I’m in some sort of beehive.”

    They must really want Willie gone! I’m with Danny–too much Loomis Abuse going on here, Bring back our handsome dude intact now!

    And the old Barnabas sleight-of-hand in knocking over the candle and exclaiming, “Oh, look, everyone, an incriminating ring for all of us to focus our attention on.”

    Yep. The new Sheriff George Patterson is as much of a dupe/dope as the old one. With an even shinier pate than the last one. Maybe the dude was gearing up to audition for KOJAK over on CBS in a few years. This parade of bumbling detectives is the one thing the show really should have figured out at some point. Having a good law-and-order counter to threaten and cajole your cast and fire up your plot points would have served the show well. EDGE OF NIGHT did this better than anyone as that show was pretty much a police procedural more than a soap.

    And the ransacking of Willie’s Room? I did a more thorough job of finding my brother’s Matchbox cars when I was 8 than this group of aspiring Sam Spades. And the poor guy only having one razor in the way of toiletries. We really need to gift Willie some Old Spice or something. Barnabas probably could be well-served with some as well. He’s bound to carry some rather fetid aromas from his many years of being entombed. Maybe he can work on devising a new skin care line for vampires–he’s definitely sporting a new haircut today so he’s headed in the right direction.

    1. The sheriff (Carter, I think), in the first 50 or so episodes was a bit more astute. But then the parade of Pattersons began.

  5. Of course many communities have volunteer fire fighters but Collinsport goes them one better by having volunteer police officers. So whenever they have to dig up a grave in someone’s basement or search a kidnapping suspect’s room there’s always an enthusiastic (if completely untrained) public-spirited citizen there to help. So what if some namby-pamby judge cries “Inadmissible Evidence!” somewhere down the line? It’s the thought that counts.

    1. Plus doctors acting as detectives, as Woodard and Hoffman think (or pretend) it’s their job to discover who Maggie’s kidnapper is. And let’s not forget Inspector Burke Devlin trying to solve Bill Malloy’s murder (and pitching in on Maggie’s kidnapping too).

  6. We see Barnabas hide the ring in the candle-holder and then in a later scene we see him checking to make sure the ring is there.

    That makes Barnabas seem somewhat OCD. Either that or his checking is an insult to us, the viewing audience. TPTB at DCP assumed we were too stupid to remember where the ring was hidden and we needed a visual reminder.

  7. Sorry for asking stupid questions, but…

    WHY must the ring be HIDDEN in Willie’s room? Just put it on top of the dresser where the searchers are bound to see it!

    1. I think Barnabus reasoning was that it must be hidden in a way so that it’s not obvious that it’s planted… of course, having the only one who pretty much had every opportunity to plant it discover it in a very sitcom-ey way would raise suspicions in itself you’d think.

  8. And even if Sam and the Sheriff did miss it…which is pretty likely…it would be a lot easier for Barnabus to “notice” it than having to knock over a burning candle.

  9. Maggie must die! Burke must die! David must die! Maggie must die! Julia must die! Sarah must die! Oh wait, she’s already dead. Willie must die! Right now Barnabas is just starting to sound like a big drama queen.

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