Episode 342: Shadow of the Bat

“I didn’t say I believed it, but Dave did. And he’s dead.”

You know, we’ve been spending a lot of time with the monsters lately; we should probably check in with the good guys while we still have some.

Yesterday, Barnabas and Julia murdered Dr. Dave Woodard, because he’d found Julia’s notebook that described her efforts to cure Barnabas of being a vampire. Julia prepared a hypodermic with a drug that would make it look like Woodard had a heart attack. She chickened out at the last minute, but Barnabas jammed the needle into Woodard’s arm, and the doctor died.

This has caused a great deal of inconvenience for everyone, because earlier in the evening, Woodard had called Sheriff Patterson, and made an appointment to share some important evidence. So now the Sheriff is wondering whether Woodard was killed to conceal that evidence.

Naturally, this raises an important question, namely: Why do you need to make an appointment to bring the Sheriff crucial evidence about an unsolved murder and kidnapping? What else was on his schedule today?

342 dark shadows maggie symbolic

Sam was with the Sheriff when he found Woodard’s body, and now he has to tell his daughter what happened. Enter Maggie, wearing an incredibly inappropriate skirt.

342 dark shadows maggie skirt impossible

Now, when I say it’s inappropriate, I mean several things. For one thing, this is a fairly grim scene, and that’s not an outfit that expresses “sympathy for your loss in these trying times.” It’s also inappropriate for her age, her body type, her social class, her IQ and her character arc. But most of all, it’s not a good thing to be wearing in a television studio when the cameras are turned on.

So the question is: What does Maggie’s skirt mean?

342 dark shadows maggie skirt bad

It can’t mean that she’s glad Woodard is dead, because Sam hasn’t told her yet, and when he does, she seems pretty broken up about it.

Sam:  It just looked like he’d fallen asleep, that’s all… only his eyes were open.

Maggie:  Pop, maybe he died a natural death.

Sam:  A man doesn’t call and make a special appointment to see the Sheriff and then just die by natural causes. He just doesn’t!

I guess I can understand the skepticism. Personally, I don’t have a lot of rules about what people do after they make special appointments, but Sam does, and I have to respect that.

Maggie is uneasy, because they’re still not sure what happened to her while she was abducted. Willie has been blamed for the crime, but Maggie is still unable to remember what happened for all those months.

Sam says, “Listen, I told you not to think about that. You just forget about the whole thing,” which given the circumstances is kind of insensitive.

342 dark shadows maggie sam skirt

Sam remembers that he saw Woodard with a little red notebook earlier in the evening, and if it’s gone, then that may be a clue to what happened. Maggie doesn’t want him to go out — she’s scared that her kidnapper might still be at large — but he insists that he has to go.

I don’t blame him; I wouldn’t want to stay in the house with that skirt either. It might go off, and hurt somebody.

342 dark shadows patterson new

Sam goes to Woodard’s office, where he meets a man claiming to be Sheriff Patterson. He’s another recast; this is actually the third Sheriff Patterson we’ve seen in the last three weeks. They’re burning through the cops these days.

I don’t have a lot of good things to say about Patterson’s outfit, either. I know, I’m being super shallow today, but look at those pants. I’m only human.

Anyway, focusing on the fashion is helping to take my mind off the dialogue. There’s nothing that’s particularly bad about it, but this is one of those episodes where people stand around speculating, and the audience is fully aware that they don’t have the essential information that they’d need to figure out whodunit.

342 dark shadows sheriff patterson another

These “police futility” episodes are an important staple of the conventional soap opera structure, where a crime is always followed by several weeks of inconclusive law enforcement. This helps to reassure the audience that our society is founded on principles of justice and order, and it also fills up time while the writers figure out what to do next.

The Dark Shadows writing team hasn’t figured out yet that it’s okay to skip the pointless police investigations, and just go on to the next werewolf attack. They’ll get there eventually.

342 dark shadows patterson incompetence

Then we get one of those Dark Shadows moments that’s so breathtakingly incompetent that it makes you wonder how they ever manage to do anything else.

To set the scene, I’m not entirely clear where the hell this is. Sam and the Sheriff are currently standing on the set that represents Dr. Woodard’s office. Previous episodes have established that this room is in the Collinsport Hospital, especially when Maggie was kidnapped from the hospital.

However, in a later episode when Julia brought Maggie to Woodard’s office, they made a point of saying that the office was in Woodard’s house, because they were pretending that Maggie was dead, and she would have been recognized if she was in the hospital.

And in yesterday’s episode, Sheriff Patterson was standing in this room when he picked up the phone and said, “Operator, give me the hospital.” So maybe this really is Dr. Woodard’s house.

Oh, except there’s a sign on the door that says “David Woodard, M.D.” which I don’t think you would have in your own house, and also if it’s his house, then who let them in? But whatever.

Anyway, Patterson and Sam are in this room, wherever it is, and Patterson hears footsteps approaching down the hall. He turns the lights out, and waits as the approaching visitor knocks on the door.

342 dark shadows patterson burke gun

The door opens, and Patterson draws his gun, snapping, “Stand right where you are!” Then he recognizes that it’s Burke, and asks, “What are you doing here?” And he just keeps on pointing the gun at Burke’s midsection.

So, there’s your challenge: Make sense of that scene.

If this is the hospital, then why is Patterson suspicious of somebody walking down the hall? If this is Woodard’s house, then how did Burke get in? And in any case, why does Patterson need to draw his gun, when as far as he knows, this isn’t even a crime scene?

It’s a nice reminder, in the middle of all the supernatural shenanigans, that conventional soap opera scenecraft already exists at a sharp left turn from reality. Compared to this scene, the vampire stuff is practically a documentary.

342 dark shadows burke sam sheriff

The ensuing conversation is basically a pageant of Great Moments in Forensic Science, which includes the following statements:

#1.) “All right, forget the facts. I’ll settle for a few suspicions.”

#2.) “A man like Dave Woodard doesn’t just sit down and die!”

#3.) “Are you trying to tell me that Dave might have died of supernatural causes?”

342 dark shadows bat signal

And while they’re having this conversation, at the window we see the silhouette of a large bat, hovering in place in exactly the way that bats don’t. Nobody in the room notices the bat, so the implication is that Barnabas is eavesdropping on the conversation, in bat form.

342 dark shadows maggie sam phone

I’m not going to be able to tie all this up, by the way. Some days, I can pull some kind of insight out of the episode, and some days I can’t, and this is one of the can’t days. It just keeps stumbling along, from one scene to the next, with no particular focus.

Once the autopsy is complete, the Sheriff calls Sam and tells him that Dr. Woodard died of a heart attack, and there’s no evidence of anything other than natural causes. Apparently, they didn’t notice that he had a puncture wound in his bicep, but autopsies are funny that way. The end.

Tomorrow: The Apparatus.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Sam has some pronoun trouble in his conversation with Maggie:

Sam:  The red book, it was gone!

Maggie:  Maybe he just put it away.

Sam:  Well, if it is, then we’ll find it.

Also, Sheriff Patterson doesn’t know how to pronounce the word “autopsy” correctly. He puts the stress on the second syllable.


Behind the Scenes:

The recast Sheriff Patterson is played by Angus Cairns, who only appeared in two episodes — yesterday’s and today’s. This is Cairns’ only screen credit, but he had a long career on Broadway, playing mostly ensemble and understudy roles, going back to 1938.

This is the last time we see Sheriff Patterson for seven months — he’ll appear next in episode 505, in late May 1968. At that point, he’ll be played by Vince O’Brien, who we saw filling in as Patterson a few weeks ago, in episode 328.

Tomorrow: The Apparatus.

342 dark shadows maggie face

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

20 thoughts on “Episode 342: Shadow of the Bat

  1. I just wanted to say, I love your blog!! And agree wholeheartedly about the skirt, I think that was the day something happened to the real skirt, so someone grabbed Aunt Mabel’s quilt, wrapped it around her, and said “that’ll do”. It’s one of those few pieces of clothing that can make a slim, petite person like Kathryn look bulky. Normally I love the DS clothing choices (especially Joan Bennett’s wardrobe and later, Angelique/Cassandra) but this is the exception.

    Have you ever considered doing recaps of “Dark Shadows: The Beginning”? I know it’s like watching paint drying but then people who are interested in the show could read about the early episodes before watching the popular ones from 210 on. Just a suggestion….I’m a huge fan! 🙂

    1. Thanks, I’m glad you like it! I like your theory about the skirt; it’s the kind of outfit that makes people say “There must be a logical explanation for this!”

      I’ve thought about doing the 1966 episodes when I finish the run, but between now and then I’ve got the Leviathans and 1841 PT, and it’s hard to imagine at that point that I’d still have any appetite for Bill Malloy and the pen.

      But now that you mention it, I haven’t thought of what I’ll do on the days when the show was pre-empted for Thanksgiving and Christmas… Hmmmm. Interesting. Thank you!

  2. Love the blog! Discovered it a couple of weeks ago and read it daily.

    Personally, I would love to see you do the 1966 episodes. They can be a bit tedious but they were actually the first episodes I saw – I started watching the show from the beginning (on video, that is, not back in 1966) and I was hooked on the show long before Barnabas showed up. I know it improved immensely but there’ll always be a special spot for the first year in my heart.

    Still, I’ll keep reading whatever you decide!

    1. Well, I’ve got until late 2017 to think it over, so there’s plenty of time. 🙂 Right now, I’m just excited about getting to 1795. It’s still a month away! Who can think about 1966 when we haven’t even met Angelique yet? So much good stuff coming up.

      And thanks for your comment! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

    2. I agree with you Pedro…I loved the show well before Barnabas as well. It was so different from anything I had ever seen before. And the 1966 episodes do indeed help establish the characters, their past, etc. It’s also interesting to see how characterizations change–Roger starts out as despicable, David is a budding sociopath, etc. In my opinion the 1967 episodes are more enjoyable if you have a sense of “shared history” with the characters.

      Also, it’s fun to watch Roger and Sam running scared during the Bill Malloy storyline! And you can also find out why Mrs. Johnson came to Collinwood as occasional maid, why Burke hates the Collins family so much, and of course watch the glorious Phoenix storyline. 🙂 As you can probably tell, I love the 1966 episodes and wish I could go back and watch them over again!

  3. My theory about Maggie’s awful skirt is that the kitchen of the Collinsport Inn is missing an awful lot of potholders… 😀

  4. a man has been murdered. a doctor has lost her soul. willie has gone insane. a town is in upheaval.

    but its maggie’s dress that will give me nightmares.

  5. Maggie’s skirt might be the most frightening thing yet on DS.

    So here’s our body count so far (at least of people with speaking parts): Bill Malloy / Matthew Morgan / Dr. Guthrie / Laura Collins (sort of) / Jason McGuire / Dr. Woodard. Have I missed anyone?

    Things are about to pick up soon.

  6. C’mon, I bet that skirt is SUPER cozy. From the looks of it, it must be generating its own heat.

  7. I grew up in the 60s and that dress (most likely all one piece, not just a skirt) looks to me to be what was then called a “hostess gown,” something to be worn for entertaining at home.

  8. I absolutely agree about the need for recapping the beginning. Yes, we’re greedy. I was watching some of the beginning episodes which I’ve never seen before and all I could think of was getting to the recap it and realized it wasn’t there and I had sad thinks.

    Monster effort this and while we appreciate it, your audience will be asking for more when it’s done. KLS has a publishing company which publishes (among other things) all things DS. I would love to see this published. Yes, we’re greedy but very appreciative.

  9. Maggie is so broken up at woodward’s death, she can’t stop turning the topic to herself first when sam tells her about the doctor’s death, then after the phone call confirming a heart attack, she is actually glad…for herself .

    1. Yeah, how dare a woman who has been kidnapped, raped (because vampiriesm has always been associated with sex) tortured until she had a nervous breakdown, then betrayed by her psychologist into forgetting the details of what happened so she is completely unable to protect herself from her attacker, because she can’t identify him, think she should care about HERSELF. Doctor Woodard was trying to help her and if he died a mysterious death, then the person who kidnapped her might well be out there, waiting to do so again. How DARE she feel any kind of relief that maybe, just maybe the nightmare won’t repeat.

      Women, always thinking that being safe, not raped and not tortured is more important than their MALE physician had a weak heart! The NERVE!

  10. I agree about the skirt, but I have to add (as an incredibly old person) that I had a skirt like that in the 1960’s. I am contemporary with Denise Nickerson, and my Mom was fashion-forward in the sense that I wore anything sold at Sears Roebuck. So I had a hideous quilted skirt, a red pleather jumper that leaked red dye on my white turtleneck, and my pride-and-joy was a maxi-dress in “country quilt” pattern that made Maggie’s skirt look sedate. Yep. I’m OK as long as I keep my meds in balance.

  11. The other great part of the Burke entry scene is the sheriff telling Sam to stand on the other side of the doorway, right in his line of fire. I guess everyone’s getting a little sick of Sam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s