Episode 333: Those Meddling Kids

“What would I be doing with a coffin in my basement?”

At the end of yesterday’s episode, young David broke into the Old House and went down to the basement, to find Barnabas’ coffin. But he was caught, and now the question is: Will Barnabas kill the boy?

The answer is no, obviously, for a couple reasons. For one thing, David’s been going around telling everybody that Cousin Barnabas Wants Me to Die — so if he suddenly disappeared, last seen heading towards the Old House, it would be tough to make a clean getaway. Even the thoroughly incompetent Collinsport police force could manage to connect those dots, given a good breakfast and a head start.

The other reason is that you can’t murder a child in cold blood on camera in a soap opera, even in the late 60s and even in this soap opera. I mean, we’re not animals.

333 dark shadows barnabas david threat

But it’s amazing that the narrative even poses that question. The vampire’s only been on the show for six months, and look how far we’ve drifted from civilized human society.

333 dark shadows barnabas david spanking

As it turns out, Julia comes to the Old House, calling for David. He dashes upstairs and runs to her for protection, and we have the following high camp moment.

David:  Barnabas! He’s going to kill me!

Julia:  Kill you?

Barnabas:  I found him prowling around in the basement.

Julia:  What?

Barnabas:  Yes! I was about to give him a sound spanking!

But in the end, he doesn’t even do that. He just takes away the spare keys that David used, and sends him home.

333 dark shadows burke woodard foyer

But look what’s waiting for him back at Collinwood — Burke and Dr. Woodard, who are hanging around in the foyer with puzzled expressions and no chaperone. Note: They don’t live here, and as far as I can tell, nobody invited them over. They appear to have shown up to participate in some kind of impromptu competition to see who can say the stupidest dialogue.

Burke:  I’m getting worried about that kid. He’s behaving very strangely lately, and according to Vicki, he’s had all sorts of wild fantasies.

Woodard:  Yeah… if they are fantasies.

Burke:  What do you mean by that?

Woodard:  Oh, I’m not sure what I mean myself, Burke.

Burke:  Now, what’s up, Dave? I’ve never known you to talk in riddles before.

You see what I mean? Who even talks like that? It makes me want to hit somebody.

333 dark shadows burke woodard riddles

Basically, this entire week is like a mirror-universe episode of Scooby-Doo, where the ghosts are real and the bad guys win.

This little self-appointed Scooby team is going to lead an investigation, but unfortunately, these are two of the most annoying characters on the show, which diminishes their rooting value considerably.

333 dark shadows david woodard crowd

I mean, look at Woodard here. I’m not a director or anything, but if I saw an actor standing in the middle of a shot like that, I would take corrective action. I’m just saying.

Anyway, David runs back to Collinwood, and tells the grown-ups all about his adventure in the Old House.

David:  It’s there, Burke, it’s really there!

Burke:  Now, what would Barnabas Collins be doing with a coffin in his basement?

David:  Because he’s dead.

Woodard:  Dead?

David:  He walks and talks, but he’s really dead, and that was his coffin that I saw.

333 dark shadows david julia trunk

But Julia is following close behind. She needs to cover for Barnabas, so she’s got her own version of events.

Julia:  David, you didn’t see a coffin.

David:  Yes, I did!

Julia:  No, you only imagined you did. You saw something that resembled a coffin. A trunk, perhaps.

333 dark shadows roger julia lying

Finally, Roger comes in to bring order to the lunatic circus that’s broken out in his drawing room. He’s not pleased.

Roger:  What is all this commotion?

Julia:  David imagines that he saw a coffin in the basement of the Old House.

Roger:  A coffin?

David:  It’s there. Really, it is!

Julia:  Now, David, if you’d seen a coffin there, I would have too, and I didn’t see anything. So there must not have been anything there.

333 dark shadows julia david why

And then, in the middle of all this crazy, there’s a tiny little transcendent moment that makes the entire episode worthwhile.

David walks up to Julia, looks her right in the face, and calmly asks her, “Why are you lying?”

It’s practically his only line in today’s episode that isn’t meant to be delivered in a hysterical shout. It’s like he’s just realized that there’s evil in the world, and he honestly can’t believe what he’s hearing.

333 dark shadows scooby gang

Things deteriorate from there. Roger sends David to his room, and apologizes to Julia. But Dr. Woodard doesn’t see this as a time for healing and reflection.

Woodard:  I think we ought to go to the Old House.

Roger:  Whatever for?

Woodard:  To check out the boy’s word.

Roger:  Do you seriously think there’s a grain of truth in this preposterous story?

Woodard:  All right, 99 chances out of a hundred, it’s nothing but the boy’s imagination. But there is that one chance that he did see something, and I think we ought to check it out.

This is fuzzy math at best; apparently, medical school didn’t include any classes on probability.

333 dark shadows scooby team on patrol

So the Scooby gang drives the Mystery Machine over to the Old House, where they ask Barnabas if they can take a look in his basement. Naturally, he tells them that they’re being ridiculous, and he wants them to leave.

And I have to say, at this point, I’m on Barnabas’ side. Even knowing that these guys are one hundred percent correct — there really is a sinister secret in the basement — I still think they’re acting like bullies and fools.

Here’s the low point of the investigation.

Barnabas:  I resent the implication of what you’re saying. I find it quite insulting!

Woodard:  I’m sorry.

Barnabas:  You know, it would be within my right to ask the both of you to leave this house immediately.

Burke:  But we’re not leaving, until we have a look at your basement.

Barnabas:  And if I refuse to let you go down there?

Burke:  That wouldn’t be a good idea.

Barnabas:  Are you threatening me, Mr. Devlin?

And then: Burke chuckles.

Burke:  No. We’re asking you to show us your basement.

And oh my God I seriously want to punch him in the face. I’m aware that he’s a fictional character on a soap opera rerun. I want him to come to harm.

333 dark shadows burke search

Barnabas tells them to leave, and Burke says, “All right… but we’ll come back with a search warrant if necessary.” Because obviously that’s a thing that civilians can do.

Eventually, Barnabas takes them downstairs, and they don’t find a coffin, because he knew they were coming and he moved it somewhere else. And then he kills them and drinks their blood and buries them somewhere, the end.

Tomorrow: All Those Dead People.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Act 2 seems to start in the middle of a sentence. The scene begins with Woodard saying “–peared?”

When Burke looks around the basement, he puts his hand on a brick wall, which noticeably wobbles.

Tomorrow: All Those Dead People.

333 dark shadows old house basement

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

17 thoughts on “Episode 333: Those Meddling Kids

  1. Ha! Gotta say, your ending would have been preferable to the original! Nicely done! I know just what you mean about Burke getting up in Barnabas’ face like that — I wanted to punch him too. In fact, I’m not sure there was ever a time I didn’t want to punch Burke…

    1. I like Mitchell Ryan’s Burke — he was still kind of a pointless tough-guy figure, long on threats and short on action, but Ryan had charisma and he was fun to look at. But Anthony George’s Burke is pretty much always punchable. Maybe someday he’ll go to South America and stay there…

    2. Barnabas should have kicked both of their behinds and told them to get the hell out of his house. Only on TV do two pencil dicks come to your house demanding to look in your basement like they have a right. Hell no…Barnabas was right, but he was one step ahead of them and I like that.

  2. woodard’s mathematical probability formulas are always entertaining.

    i find anthony george annoying. he doesnt even have to do anything and i’m annoyed. too bad mitch ryan didnt work out – even when he misbehaved he could pull it off without coming across as a jerk all the time.

    that point you mentioned when david calmly asks julia why she’s lying – that really stood out and was extremely well done. he does not doubt himself. smart kid.

  3. Most Vampires, of the filmed variety , possess super strength. I was hoping Barnabas would grab Burke by the throat ( he is good at that) and picking him up and throw him out the door on his ass! The English have a term Burk strangely enough that describes guys like Devlin.

    1. It’s spelled “berk” and it rhymes with (and seems to mean) “jerk,” but, yes, it also rhymes with “Burke.”

      1. Actually it’s Cockney rhyming slang, short for “Berkshire Hunt”, so it implies that the person being described is word that rhymes with “hunt”, which I hope I don’t have to spell out. (The secret of using rhyming slang correctly is that you don’t say the whole phrase complete with the bit that actually rhymes, otherwise it’d be, well, very obvious what you meant.) It’s normally used like it means “idiot”, though.

  4. When David is unlocking the door to the basement, I noticed a wavering at the bottom of the screen. It continues as he goes down the stairs and into the basement. It took me a moment to realize that that is a flaw in the old video tape, not a desired stage effect or an artistic comment on the instability of reality or of prop/scenery.

    The word that David keeps searching for in his attempts to describe Barnabas is “undead.” It continues to elude him in the next episode.

  5. David walked down the stairs to the coffin room and all I can think is, “DAyam! Those are amazing spider webs!”

  6. There’s no doubt about it–since Ron Sproat has come on board and flying solo with his scripts for awhile, the show is definitely making leaps and bounds and the melodrama is running full tilt. Gone is the incessant recapping (at least for now), and this episode really is CHARGED from start to finish. Everyone acquits themselves well and we have a rather satisfying climax with the David vs. Barnabas (and Julia) storyline. It’s a back-and-forth chess game where poor David ultimately gets checkmated (yet again) but it’s one of the best episodes of the whole arc.

  7. I think that Frid also handles the last act with solid gusto and verve: his deliveries are crisp and casual, but have a somewhat threatening nonchalance that really serves his character well. It also helps when the actor has more than a passing familiarity with his line knowledge.

    And the taking of the “Scooby” gang down to the basement is absolutely priceless. Maybe Barnabas could have done us all a favor and locked them in a cage or something.

  8. During that scene where Barnabas threatens David with “a sound spanking” you just KNOW Julia is thinking “No, spank me! Spank ME!”

  9. I started watching DS on Amazon during quarantine, starting with episode one. My mother always talked about the show and Barnabas the vampire. I had no idea he didn’t turn up until 200 episodes in! But I loved it from the beginning and I love your blog. I’m so glad I found it while googling things like “why doesn’t David Collins go to regular school?” (Is there an answer to that??) Anyway, I know it’s 2020 and most of these comments are from 2014, but I wanted you to know people are still reading and loving your posts…as soon as I finish an episode I look forward to them. Thank you!

    1. Don’t forget to David tried to kill his father during the early episodes.
      Which would affect his credibility with his father.

  10. Another thing to dislike about this Dr. Woodard actor is that he pronounces “mausoleum” as “mausolayum,” even after other characters have pronounced it correctly in his hearing.

  11. I hate Burke 2.0. I keep thinking how MR would have played it- with charm and persuasion and a few steps ahead planned out. This guy always looks like he barely has one thought in his head.

  12. Personally I love to see Barnabas squirm, so I enjoyed the the first 4/5ths of this episode. Maybe it’s because Barnabas isn’t yet the sympathetic figure he’d mellow into; we don’t know his “origin story” yet. And maybe it’s because I think keeping people locked up in your basement until they’re pushed to the brink of insanity is a lousy, loathsome thing to do–can’t help but bring to mind all the cases we’ve heard about in the past few years of women being held captive for literally decades, sometimes. But I have to say, Barnabas played it juuuuust right. Act completely insulted and imposed upon, make it seem like you might indeed be hiding something, refuse, refuse, refuse, and then once they threaten to bring the law into it, let them do down to the basement were they find–NOTHING! Absolutely nothing incriminating. If he’d consented immediately that would have roused their suspicions. But now THEY look like the heavies, the bullies, the bad guys. Barnabas has the moral high ground now. It will be so much easier for him to refuse to allow people to poke around in the basement should they seek to so in the future.

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