“He will beg for death. Death will be a mercy.”
It always starts with a box.
Someone is always too greedy, or too curious, or too clever. They go looking for trouble, and they find it. They open the mystery box, and evil is loosed upon the world. And they don’t even clean up after themselves, which is just typical, isn’t it?
Barnabas and Julia go to her room to find the notes that she’s been keeping on her experiments, and they find that Dr. Woodard’s already been there. He’s pried open the lock, and stolen Julia’s notebook, and now somebody is going to have to do something terrible.
Barnabas says, “We must act, immediately, before Woodard can tell what he knows… and you’re going to help me.”
So this is going to be a tough day for Julia — the character that we love, the character who makes us laugh, who always has three clever lies for every situation, who can stare death in the face and strike a bargain.
She was introduced on the show as Dave Woodard’s friend — he brought Maggie to Julia’s sanitarium, kicking off the bizarre chain of events that led us here. And now she has to help kill him.
Well, I guess, technically, she doesn’t have to. There are other options, like for example taking responsibility for your crimes, turning yourself in, showing remorse, and auditioning to be allowed back into the human race. But this is Dark Shadows, and we burned that bridge long ago.
So this episode isn’t really about the death of Dr. Woodard. It’s about the death of Dr. Julia Hoffman, former human being.
And like everyone who’s about to die, Julia goes through the stages of grief, as described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.
According to Kübler-Ross, the five stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Chromakey.
The first three stages — Denial, Anger and Bargaining — are essentially all part of the same protective cocoon that people retreat to when something disastrous has happened. These early stages are all about keeping control over a situation that you can’t actually fix. Denial is the first protective layer, keeping the pain at arm’s distance.
Julia: How can I help you?
Barnabas: With your knowledge of medicine. You’re going to devise a way of killing Woodard so that it would look like an accident.
Julia: Then… I would be an accessory.
Barnabas: Yes, you would.
And here’s the craziest thing about the whole situation — he’s grinning. He’s leading someone into damnation. This is like Christmas for him.
Julia: I can’t be an accessory to a murder!
Barnabas: You’re already an accessory.
Julia: I’m not responsible for you!
Barnabas: Of course you’re responsible. You helped me. You protected me. You share the responsibility for any act of violence I must commit.
And he’s right, of course he’s right. The Serpent always tells the truth. Just knowing what Barnabas did, and not turning him in, makes her complicit in all of his crimes. Every excuse that she’s told herself all this time has just been… well, denial.
She turns away, and shuts her eyes.
Barnabas: Do you want to know how Woodard will die?
Barnabas: It will be a painful death. A very painful death.
Julia: I don’t want to hear about it!
Barnabas: You’re going to hear about it, like it or not. I’ll see to it that Woodard endures more pain than any human being has ever known.
Man, he’s having a good time.
Barnabas: He will endure an agony long before he is dead. He will beg for death. Death will be a mercy.
Julia: Don’t. Don’t kill him that way!
Barnabas: I must. You refuse to help me.
Why is it important for Barnabas to take Julia down with him? He could just go and kill Woodard on his own; he can probably think of several ways to do it without getting caught. But he’s taking deliberate pleasure in making Julia share in the guilt.
Is he pleased because now he’ll always have a hold over her? Or does it just make him feel better that he’s not the only monster?
Julia: There… is a way he could die painlessly.
Julia: A drug… injected… that would cause him to die almost instantly.
Barnabas: And will this drug cause him to die… a natural death?
Julia: Yes. It would appear to be a heart attack.
Barnabas: Good. At last you’re proving to be of use to me.
She slumps down onto the bed, still lost in a haze of denial. You know, I bet she’s thought about what it would be like to be alone with Barnabas in her bedroom. This probably wasn’t what she had in mind.
Julia: Why did I tell you? Why?
Barnabas: You had no other choice.
Julia: I couldn’t stand the thought of the death you described. Anything seemed preferable.
Barnabas: How humanitarian of you.
Then he leads her out of the room, and over to her lab in the Old House to prepare the injection. And there’s nobody on screen who points out that murder is wrong, that there’s a higher moral code than just protecting your own interests at any cost. This is afternoon television; kids are watching. Oh, and PS: They’re going to get away with it.
Anger is the second stage. It’s another way to try to assert control over the situation — by finding someone else to blame. We’ll have to be quick to catch this one, because it doesn’t last very long. It’s not easy to maintain this stage while you’re standing in a room with a psychopathic killer.
Julia’s got her black medical bag, and she’s prepared an injection of what appears to be Windex. She thrusts it at Barnabas.
Julia: Here. Take it. I never want to see it. I never want to look at it again.
Barnabas: I’m not going to take it, Doctor.
Barnabas: You keep it. I have no use for it.
Julia: What are you saying?
Barnabas: You’re the doctor. You’re the one who’s going to administer the injection.
Here’s where we get a little flash of anger.
Julia: You’re asking me to commit a murder in cold blood? You’re insane if you think I’d ever agree to that!
But she can’t sustain it. It’s hard to accuse someone of being insane when you’re discussing how to retrieve your notes on curing a vampire.
The third stage, Bargaining, is the crucial one. Really, all of the first three stages are just different flavors of Bargaining. This is the stage where you come up with something — anything — that might change the outcome. You tell God that you’ll be a better person. You offer to work harder, or listen more, or return all the money, or glue it back together. Bargaining is the agonized heartcry of: There’s got to be something that I can do.
Julia: There may be another alternative to killing him, Barnabas.
Julia: Yes. I could go to Dave. I could talk to him.
Barnabas: Talk to him?
Julia: Yes! He’s a doctor. He knows what my experiments could mean to medical science. He may agree to cooperate with me, for the sake of the experiments.
It’s useless, obviously. Bargaining never actually makes things better. It’s just the thing that you do until you finally realize that there’s nothing you can do.
So what happens after the Bargaining doesn’t pan out? That’s the fourth stage: Depression. This is actually the crucial moment of the grieving process, when you finally admit that you don’t have control of the situation. You can’t fight your way out of it; you can’t change what’s happening. You’re going to have to go ahead and murder the guy.
Woodard: You protected Barnabas Collins… knowing what he was! You protected him!
Julia: For the sake of the experiments! For the sake of knowledge… valuable knowledge!
Woodard: And to get that knowledge, you’re willing to sacrifice human beings’ lives! You, a doctor!
Julia: Nothing happened to Maggie! She’s still alive!
Woodard: No thanks to you. Willie Loomis, a hopeless maniac. How many more would there have been after him? You were just going to stand by and do nothing!
Julia: I tried to keep Barnabas under control. I wasn’t always successful.
Woodard: There’s no excuse for you, Julia. There’s no excuse in the world for what you’ve done!
We remember this one. This isn’t the first cold-blooded murder on this show, and it certainly won’t be the last. But this is the one that Dark Shadows fans think about, and talk about. Does anyone ever mention Tessie Kincaid, or Maude Browning, or Wanda Paisley? Has anyone got a teardrop tattoo for Nathan Forbes, or Eric Lang, or even Jeremiah Collins?
But we remember Dave Woodard, because he’s speaking the truth. Julia knew what Barnabas did, just like we did. She protected him, because she wants him to stay on the show, just like we do. We opened the mystery box, and let the evil loose into the world. And we like it. This is our fault.
It took three hundred and forty episodes to get here, but this is where Dark Shadows really begins. This is the fall from grace. The murder of Dave Woodard is Dark Shadows’ original sin.
And so we come to the final stage. In Kübler-Ross’ model, the fifth stage is “Acceptance”, but this is Dark Shadows, where nothing is acceptable.
We see the shadow of a bat flapping outside the window — and then Barnabas appears in the room. He’s the wrong size and in the wrong position, and they’ve messed up the lighting, so it looks like the back of his head is part of the curtain.
Woodard gasps, “Until now… I’d hoped it was really a nightmare.”
“Consider it a dream,” Barnabas purrs, “from which you will never awaken.”
It’s weird, and unfinished, and unfair. And if you were watching the original syndication package — as I was in 1982, when I was in sixth grade and they were showing it every afternoon on the NBC affiliate in New York — then this is the last episode of the show.
You see, they sell syndication packages in sets of 26 weeks — that’s half a year. The first time Worldvision tried to sell Dark Shadows reruns to public TV stations and local network affiliates, they only managed to sell that first 26-week run. WNBC didn’t get the ratings they’d hoped for, so after 130 episodes — from 210 to 340 — they decided to take it off and forget about it.
So there I was, eleven years old, completely in love with this insane show, and it was just building to the most thrilling crisis point — and then it was gone. No explanation, obviously; there was just something else on TV instead.
And you know, I never did see what happened to Dr. Woodard. Gosh, I can’t wait until Monday to find out.
Monday: The Night of the Doctor.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Barnabas says to Julia, “How can I allow Woodard to live, knowing what he knows? And you yourself, with all of your sentimality — sentimentality — must know that he has to die.”
When Barnabas tells Julia, “There will be no risk,” they cut to a camera that isn’t focused on anything.
Julia tells Barnabas, “He’s a doctor. He knows what my experiments could mean to medical silence — science!”
And then, obviously, the Chromakey Barnabas appearing in Woodard’s office is one of the less effective effects. Making it even worse, the image of Barnabas is supposed to be large enough to block out the bat shadow on the windowshade. But it isn’t, so when Barnabas first appears, you can still see the bat shadow behind him.
Behind the Scenes:
The “bat signal” shadow on the windowshade is not the “bat by Bil Baird” marionette that we saw in episode 330. It’s just a shadow, and Baird isn’t credited.
To be fair to these early Chromakey effects — this was cutting-edge technology, done on a daily soap opera where setting up effects shots took time away from cast rehearsals. Plus, they couldn’t actually see the finished product in the camera. These days, you could punch in the input from one camera to the other, so you could make sure that the image looked good as you were filming it. They couldn’t do that in 1967, so instead they would draw the picture on a filter with a crayon to approximate the size and placement of the Chromakeyed image. For real, they used a crayon. Lela Swift talks about it in one of the bonus DVD interviews.
Monday: The Night of the Doctor.
Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967
— Danny Horn
26 thoughts on “Episode 340: Dave Woodard Must Die”
I love your daily show blog – so much fun reliving the fab Dark Shadow days
Thanks, I’m glad you like it!
I have been watching Dark Shadows on Decades and they only showed up thru episode 340 . I watched this as a kid from when I was 12 to 17, loved this show !!!!,
Glad I found your entertaining comments , you are so funny .
I’m so glad there’s a comment section, I never saw it until now! I’ve been coming here for weeks and dying to tell you how much I LOVE and appreciate this site!! Ive been a HUGE DS fan since I was 8 years old, when the revival aired on TV. When I was about 10 or 11 I got a couple of those old VHS “DS Bloopers” and “Best of Barnabas” from the old series, which was my first time seeing the original series. Then I caught the show on Sci-Fi, around the Quentin haunts Collinwood storyline and was hooked! Today I have from the first episode up to early 1969 on the MPI DVD collections and try to get one a month! Anyways I love this site and love your recaps! They are hysterical and well written. Thanks for giving a big DS fan something fun to read every day!
That’s awesome, thank you! I’m glad you like them. And you were lucky to catch the Quentin storyline as your first big chunk of the series — the 1897 story is the best period of the show. I’m looking forward to getting there someday……
I very much agree, it is the best part of the series…and I can’t wait to read your thoughts when ya get there!
Oooh OOoh. I get to start the first fight on the blog. I’m going to call out the 1795 story as the best because it was so damn ground-breaking and it truly stands as a horror novella on its own, with the best cliffhanger in daytime TV ever (Victoria Winters led to the gallows). The 1897 story was fun but so plot-heavy and a victim of its own success. The writers continued it months too long with the Petofi mess.
Gauntlet thrown (minus disembodied hand).
Meanwhile, Dave Woodard waits to die. 🙂
All right, then. We will see! I accept your challenge. 1795 is just a month away, and then 1897 is about a year and a half from now. So it’s kind of a long-term challenge. Game on.
LOL I kinda agree…I loved the 1795 flashback. I wasn’t too worried for Victoria tho bc I’d seen how it played out on the revival series & felt pretty confident she’d survive lol. But I kinda felt like that storyline started to drag in its last month too, with all all the Nathan/Millicent/Daniel stuff. I still have never seen the ENTIRE 1897 flashback. I got up to after Laura was destroyed again and then school started. I still have never seen the Levithan storyline, the parallel time storyline, the 2nd Turn of The Screw-ish story w/ Gerard or the 1840 flashback….I did catch a few eps here and there of the 1840s PT story the beginning of the next summer but Im looking forward to finally getting the last 2 years on DVD. Ive seen the first 2 1/2 years episodes probably about 15 times a piece…I kinda like old, boring things so I actually enjoyed the pre-Baranbas episodes, esp the Laura storyline!
1795 has Nathan Forbes. I just like a man in a uniform, I guess…even a cad.
Sounds like you and I were watching the same NBC syndicated run. I was in high school and by the time this episode aired, they were airing DS in the wee hours. I’d sit through the late night news, then an episode of Uncle Floyd and maybe a Mary Tyler Moore show, and finally Dark Shadows would be on. I honestly don’t know how I managed to get up for school after the time switch (although I feel like this particular episode ran on a Friday or Saturday night).
Anyway, when I came back for the next episode and the show wasn’t on, I pretty much lost my mind. But maybe it was a fluke. So I waited up the NEXT night, and still nothing. Thankfully, I was subscribing to a couple of DS fanzines at the time, and was able to find out what happened – but the wait between this and the eventual airings on WNJN (“the New Jersey network”) was an eternity for me.
Oh, I well remember those “dark ages” of the pre-internet days, even back before the VCR days!! This is why we’d run home after school or, as you said, stay up ’til the see morning hours to watch DS (or any tv show at the time) …you miss it, you’re outta luck. I understand why some fans say they wish they could’ve seen DS live in 1966-71, but it’s nice having the viewing options we have today!
Oh, I did it one better: I had my mother tape the shows on my dad’s reel-to-reel tape recorder; and one time, while my grandparents were visiting from out of state, I had my dear grandmother watch about a week’s worth of episodes. — I kinda had to think hard who she was describing in scenes, but it was better than nothing!
I was a teenager at that point, and my impositions on family were notorious!
I’m late to this party. I watched DS in its original run when I was a kid, and now I’m coming back to it for the first time since then. Right now I’m working through the Hulu episodes and am up to this one (and I’m catching the first episodes of the series at the same time on YouTube). So I haven’t watched anything beyond this episode, 340, since its original run. That means I really can’t comment yet on the comparative quality of the 1795 vs. 1897 story lines as an adult. However…for what it’s worth…the 1897 story probably remains the most vivid in my memory and imagination. I can’t remember a thing from the 1795 story line, but to this day I can still recall Count Petofi, Magda, Aristede, Trask, the crawling hand, etc. I remember that summer playing “Dark Shadows” with the neighborhood kids, pretending to be these characters. And I remember writing stories (kids’ versions of today’s fan fiction) with these characters and elaborating on the story. So at the very least, the 1897 story line made a huge impression on a ten-year-old kid and his friends!
Yeah, the 1897 storyline made a huge impression on me too, when I was watching in the late 80s on public TV. That was the point when I started keeping notes every day on what happened on the show. It’s been a while since I saw all that stuff — I’ve only rewatched once, maybe ten years ago — so I’m really looking forward to getting there next summer…
does sam ever stop smoking?! lol. he’s always got a cigarette or a pipe.
is julia’s notebook the same prop they used for jason mcguire’s diary – the one carolyn found many episodes ago?
One of the defining episodes of the entire series. Dark Shadows and Shakespearian tragedy meet in the middle.
Actually, it’s the next episode.
As a kid I watched the shows after school, and I LOVED Dark Shadows then, and still LOVE it now! I have all the videos and still watch them, Barnabas is simply MESMERIZING, Frid was something special as an actor. I recall being unimpressed (at that time) with Grayson Hall as the great Doctor – but now when I watch her I see her unmatched talents, she was one of a kind! In fact, ALL the actors on DS were special – they all had that ‘IT’ quality. Which is WHY DS is STILL a hit to this day, there will never be another show that can match it!! By the way, I’m really enjoying all your comedic bits about the show, it’s hysterical to read!!
My goodness, you poor people that had this be the last episode of the show for you when it was yanked off of your local affiliate–now that’s a cruel punishment to be sure. Which means, of course, that you entirely miss the murder itself.
I was a huge fan of a one-hour radio program when I was a kid in the ’70’s called CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATRE which was hosted by E.G. Marshall. It had a very successful run for about 10 years in which MANY soap actors supplemented their income by performing and lending their vocal talents to the show. I can remember one night settling in to listen in bed on my AM/FM transistor radio (I was supposed to be asleep for school the next day), only to find that the local affiliate, WCKY (Cincinnat), had stopped carrying the show altogether (it was late in the show’s run), I was devastated as I had fallen so in love with the format and show that i couldn’t imagine living without it.
The “appearance” of Barnabas and his transfiguration from bat to full-fledged human being (well, sort of), is still a pretty good effect for 1967. Is this only the second time they pulled this off (Sarah being the first)? I have not seen any of the pre-210 episodes but I am curious as to how they pulled off their ghost sequences in that era.
Danny–the Kubler-Ross 5 Stages of Grieving Thing is a fucking hoot, in terms of how it lends itself here to a full-on “white paper” analysis. What a stud! And the hypodermic syringe filled with what can only be thought as “Windex,” is spot-on. And the way they handle the syringe–I would think they would put it in a container of some sort–that thing is huge!
Dear Barry Williams, hope you see this. You probably already know this, but there is lots of CBS Radio Mystery Theater on YouTube. I discovered it on there – I agree, it’s very good and enjoyable.
Is there a drinking game associated with “(…) must die!!!”?
It took three hundred and forty episodes to get here, but this is where Dark Shadows really begins. This is the fall from grace. The murder of Dave Woodard is Dark Shadows’ original sin.
Rewatching the show again here in 2021. This is a very broad, sweeping statement from Danny. And it’s so very true. The whole tenure of the show changes starting at 340 going to 365. Then we get to 1795 and never look back, so to speak.
Danny, I don’t know if you ever read these comments anymore, but the blog is holding up SO WELL all these years later on my second start-to-finish DS journey.
“And like everyone who’s about to die, Julia goes through the stages of grief, as described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.
According to Kübler-Ross, the five stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Chromakey.”
This made me laugh so loud, my co-workers turned to look at me!
I wish I could explain this to them because it’s so damn funny! But sadly, they wouldn’t understand
Possibly Ron Sproat’s finest hour.
Barnabas is downright diabolical and Frid does seem to relish playing the monster.
Julia seems totally defeated and her walk out of her bedroom is like a woman going to her execution.
These episodes are really powerful but they’re really writing themselves into a corner. You have the two most charismatic actors on the show doing something that really should destroy the audience’s attachment to them. (I seriously did not remember this from when I first saw it in 1967. Must have blocked it from my mind!) Though Dave’s murder is used by Barnabas again to manipulate Julia post-1795, it’s never referred to after that and they do get away with it. Were they bringing up Julia’s feelings for Barnabas yesterday as a possible reason for her choosing Barnabas over her friend, Dave? We’ve known Barnabas is a villain but this is a seriously dark turn for Julia. Were they still considering killing off her character at this point? It’s an odd choice for a character they were planning on keeping around. Barnabas has the excuse of doing this as a monster under the curse of the vampire. All Julia has is a vague idea of What I Did For Love combined with mercy killing. It’s amazing the character survives and continues after this, much less becomes a lead character for the rest of the series.
I don’t know for absolutely sure, but I’m pretty confident that we’re long past any plans to kill off Julia. Woodard becomes the “van Helsing” character to be disposed of. The Julia/Barnabas chemistry (which of course changes over time) has become just too good.