Episode 335: The Shadow He Casts

“A patient’s fears are always real, because they’re rooted in the only ultimate subjectivity.”

Today’s episode opens with David in his bedroom, looking into his crystal ball and calling for Sarah. And since nothing interesting is going to happen for at least the next four minutes, I might as well tell you about the strike.

335 dark shadows david sarah bedroom

In late September 1967, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians went on strike against ABC. The actors’ union, AFTRA, told their members to honor the strike and not cross the picket lines.

So ABC Studio 16 was dark for over a week, with no end in sight — the union wasn’t even negotiating. Dark Shadows had been taping episodes about two weeks ahead of broadcast, but they were rapidly running through the backlog.

Dark Shadows executive producer Dan Curtis, fearing that a break in broadcast would kill the show’s fragile momentum, asked the cast to cross the picket lines. AFTRA woud impose fines on any actor who broke the strike, but Curtis offered to pay all of the fines personally if they’d come back to work.

Everyone in the cast came back, except for two actors — Robert Gerringer, who played Dr. Woodard, and Daniel Keyes, who played the crazy old cemetery caretaker. They were replaced with different actors, and the show continued, with ABC executives doing the technical work in place of the striking technicians.

335 dark shadows david sarah bed

This incident is important to the developing story of the show for three reasons.

First, it’s interesting to see how much Curtis and the cast cared about the show, and wanted to make sure that it continued, even at the cost of breaking with the union.

Second, they lost six days of production because of the strike, so this episode was taped only three days ahead of broadcast. That’s crazy close, and if any other problem came up that caused a delay, they’d be off the air. They taped one episode on a Sunday to catch up, and then they stayed about four episodes ahead until the next summer.

Last and pretty much the least, we have a new Dr. Woodard, because Robert Gerringer wouldn’t cross the picket line.

335 dark shadows fisher david

This isn’t him, by the way. This is Dr. Fisher, a psychiatrist who only appears in this episode. He never returns, because we already have enough pointless skinny white guys on the show.

David asks Dr. Fisher if he’s a psychiatrist, and Fisher says, “Yes. Does that word scare you?”

Well, not really, David thinks. I have other things to worry about. A vampire’s trying to murder me, I don’t have a lot of room in my schedule to be startled by occupations.

335 dark shadows fisher david bed

The scene goes on for several minutes, but I can sum it up in one line.

Dr. Fisher:   David, I’d like you to tell me about your dream one more time.

So let’s move on.

335 dark shadows new woodard

Downstairs, we’ve got the new Dr. Woodard. Even with a new face, you can tell it’s the same guy, because he’s doing the thing that Woodards do best, namely: reviewing the case with Burke.

Woodard:  Fact number one: when Maggie Evans was found, she was suffering from a very strange neck wound. Fact number two: when Willie Loomis was found, he was suffering from a very similar type neck wound.

Actually, Willie was bitten on the wrist, so this is a continuity error — although the Doctor’s just regenerated, so maybe there’s some residual timey-wimey energy floating around.

335 dark shadows fisher white people

Dr. Fisher comes downstairs, and gives his report. It turns out that David is afraid of death.

Fisher:  It might just be possible that David has never accepted his mother’s death, and because of this, death is more terrifying to him than it is to most people.

Now, David’s mother died in front of him, only seven months ago, consumed by fire and shrieking for him to join her, so I’d say that’s a mark in the win column for psychiatry.

335 dark shadows fisher lecture

Dr. Fisher explains his interpretation of David’s fantasies. The “Barnabas” and “Sarah” of David’s dreams are reflections of his ambivalent feelings about mortality.

David’s companion, “Sarah”, is an attempt to make friends with death. The vision of “Barnabas” is his fear of death — sometimes safely locked away in a coffin, but then rising up again, fangs bared to gobble the boy up.

Liz:  But why Barnabas?

Fisher:  Perhaps there’s something about him — his height, his shape, the shadow he casts — that frightens the boy.

335 dark shadows woodard go somewhere

At this point, Dr. Woodard says, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Stoddard, but I’ve got to go somewhere and do something immediately.”

I know just how he feels; if I was at a party with a psychiatrist, I’d probably do the same thing.

335 dark shadows woodard mausoleum

And so, in the end, Dr. Dave Woodard — here representing our fear of bland recasts — goes back to the Collins family mausoleum, which represents our fear of the story going in circles and ending up exactly where it was a week ago.

Woodard looks at the names on the stone plaques, which represent the ending credits which will be on the screen thirty seconds from now.

335 dark shadows sarah woodard

And then he turns — and there’s little Sarah, representing a decent Friday cliffhanger, and the promise of actual story development next week. See you Monday.

Monday: Talk Show.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When they’re sitting on the couch together, Burke addresses Dr. Woodard as “Dr. Hoffman”.

Liz fumbles as she says goodbye to Dr. Woodard.

Liz:  Doctor, I want to thank you for all of the time and attention you’ve devoted to David’s problem. Let’s hope that we’re closer to… a situation now than we were before.

Woodard:  A solution, I’m sure we are.

In the reprise on Monday, we’ll see that Sarah was supposed to say “Hello, Dr. Woodard,” and then Woodard would turn around in surprise. But Sarah didn’t say anything in the final scene today, so it looks like Woodard turns around for no reason.

Monday: Talk Show.

335 dark shadows woodard flute

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

18 thoughts on “Episode 335: The Shadow He Casts

    1. Yeah, that’s another long-time favorite of mine — Doctor Who was on the same public TV station that showed Dark Shadows. This wasn’t the PBS station that showed Masterpiece Theater and the McNeil-Lehrer Report, obviously. It was the other one.

  1. Joan Bennett is clearly not pleased at having her flubbed line corrected by this regional theater upstart. As she is shaking Dr. Woodard’s hand and is struggling to recall the line she has forgotten, you can see her clicking her heels and visibly hitching her leg up and down under her dress like Trigger the horse counting to two. Once Dr. Woodard completes the handshake by providing the “solution,” she stands there with hands clasped absolutely GLARING at him. And it isn’t Liz Stoddard glaring at Dr. Woodard–it’s Joan Bennett glaring at Peter Turgeon the sturgeon surgeon. Only when Dr. Fisher delivers his next line does she return to character, cocking her head sharply as though shaken from reverie.

    1. In the documentary “Dark Shadows — Behind the Scenes,” Alexandra Moltke said all the actors were nearsighted and couldn’t see the teleprompter. They had to memorize their lines for this reason. But this new Dr. Woodard is wearing real eyeglasses, which look ridiculous on screen because they reflect the studio lighting to an annoying degree. (Actors on film usually wear eyeglass frames without lenses.) So I think that new Dr. Woodard with his nerdy glasses was the only actor who could actually read the teleprompter!

  2. its such a bummer that those 2 actors wouldnt cross the line. the two clowns they replaced them with are just awful. and not even the fun kind of awful. even burke who i just want to punch in the face all the time is more fun than the replacement for dr woodard. he just never fits in.

  3. “I’m sorry…but I’ve got to go somewhere and do something immediately.”

    BEST. All-purpose excuse line. EVER!

  4. As a union guy kudos to Gerringer for not crossing but yea this new guy sucks.

    I’m confused by where the writers have taken the storyline. Feels like they’ve painted themselves into a corner with the David v Barnabas battle. They can’t kill either one and yet it doesn’t seem that they can coexist given what Davis knows. Hope this doesn’t end in another Julia induced amnesia.

    1. As another union guy, shame on the cast and Dan Curtis for crossing/encouraging to cross a picket line.

    2. Ed no…because Julia was in David’s dream with the medallion so when she tried on him, he remembered and ran out of the room. He was so dramatic. She wasnt able to do it for him.

  5. Poor Dr Woodard. Regeneration can be disorienting – Burke’s lucky it didn’t make the Doc temporarily strangly.

    So this episode wraps up (if you can call it that) the Seaview storyline (if you can call it that). You’ve said all along it wasn’t going anywhere,but still… I’m a bit disappointed.

    I remember watching a little DS as a kid, but not really any of the details. I was born in the UK, but my mother’s side of the family are American – they used to speak of the show in hushed tones, and my uncle had some of the VHS releases. The vibe of the show was enough to keep it in the back of my mind, but not enough to go to the effort of tracking it down and watching it properly.

    But I have always been a huge fan of Doctor Who, ploughing my way through the videos, comics, novels… and eventually the Big Finish audios.

    Once I’d caught up with all of BF’s Who stuff, I decided to give some of their other lines a go – and the Dark Shadows name immediately caught my attention, tugging at some atmospheric childhood memories of fuzzy VHS spookiness. A couple of years later and I’ve listened to the lot of them, and finally treated myself to the coffin collection on DVD to see where it all began.

    The point of this long rambling journey to nowhere is that the first DS audio I listened to from Big Finish was The house by the sea, which was terrifyingly brilliant. It’s depressing to discover that the storyline that inspired it is so… nonexistant. But it’s the thing that brought me back to this bizarrely gripping weirdness, so Seaview will always be a little bit special to me…

  6. As you imply, the appearance of Dr. Fisher at David’s bedroom door was confusing because the announcer had just told us that Dr. Woodard would be played by Peter Turgeon. So is that who this is? No, thankfully, Liz straightens us out. One of the peculiarities of DS and, I suppose, most soap opera, is that they don’t tell you when a cast change is permanent or – like the recent one-off substitute for Sheriff Paterson – it’s just for today.

  7. It is beyond hilarious that Burke not only gets the doctor’s name wrong of the person sitting directly in front of him but that he actually says “Doctor Hoffman” in a universe where NO ONE is supposed to know that she’s a doctor anyway (posing as a historian).

    And the Doctor Woodward stand-in: poor guy, with those Coke-bottle sized glasses, I am surprised he could even SEE SARAH let alone find his way to the mausoleum. I can remember my Dad wearing glasses like that in the late ’60’s/early ’70’s and thinking how awful it must be to have to be that myopic. Thank goodness we’ve come so far in matters optometric as I am now equally near-sighted and would have trouble distinguishing between a vampire and a werewolf if I were to find myself in bed with one.

  8. Say what you will about the replacement Woodard and the psych guy, both of them seemed to be able to say all of their lines while actually looking at the other actors, not the teleprompters. I give them both kudos for that.

  9. The new Dr. Woodard looks exactly like Professor Farnsworth from Futurama. (OK, maybe a young Professor Farnsworth.)

    The new Dr. Woodard wears glasses. It’s distracting because the glasses reflect the studio lights so we can’t see his eyes! To me, this makes him look cartoony.

  10. I actually like the new Woodard. It’s too bad RG had to exit the storyline when the doctor was finally front and center.

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