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

38 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.

    1. Yup! I didn’t have that cool stuff, except for the pleather jumper. But I would have been thrilled to have Maggie’s skirt, even though it would have made me look like a sofa.

  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.

  12. Regarding the questions on the set location… I grew up in a small town in the 60s and the doctor’s office was a portion of the main floor of his house. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the doctor’s office door would have his name on it, or the exam room doors labeled as exam room #1 and #2, etc. That way the patients don’t wander off into the wrong room. There was a nurse/receptionist but she might be off taking vitals etc on the next patient. As for walking in, we definitely did just walk in the front door without knocking during business hours. Conversely, one wouldn’t go upstairs because that was the personal living space. At any rate, I can definitely see little Collinsport having a similar doctor’s house/office.

    1. Our doctor had an office in his house. It was more unusual to lock your doors in a small town then, especially if you were home. 1967 doesn’t look that unfamiliar but the world has changed in 50 years.

  13. Really glad to see so many incredible compliments for Danny and this blog on this specific day’s entry. I know they are from years ago but I plan on keeping the tradition going. There is so much thought and effort and painstakingly good writing going on here that I hope that he gets the credit he deserves. Is there an annual Oscars/Emmys type-thing for blogs? Cause if there is, this one definitely needs to get nominated.

    Now, as to the skirt: inexplicable. Maybe Maggie had spent the night with Mama Cass and the Papas or the Puff The Magic Dragon people. It screams 1967 bad clothing art from start to finish. But the whole color palette for the show lately has been wickedly bizarre lately with aa heavy emphasis on greens.

    Danny is spot-on again. Once we got through the climactic episodes of the murder, we have definitely come careening back to Recap Lane, because we now have to see everyone’s REACTION TO THE LOSS OF A MAJOR CHARACTER, which I think is sub-section 8, paragraph B, item 4(c) of the SOAP OPERA STORYLINE AND CHARACTER GUIDELINES.

    Besides about 10 other bits of comic genius hilarity, Danny writes this about the skirt:

    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.

    I don’t think we’re set up for any kind of emoji’s here which is a real shame. I have a string of them I would like to unleash about now.

  14. Of course nobody thinks to ask the logical question: “Did Dr. Woodard have a history of heart problems?”

  15. I’m surprised KLS has never commented on that skirt. I have a lot of DS books where she’s interviewed but it’s never been addressed to my knowledge. It’s one of the top 5 most memorable outfits in the show’s history, imo.

  16. … and on the Dick Van Dyke Show, Jerry had a dental office in his house.

    The door opens, and Patterson draws his gun, snapping, “Stand right where you are!”

    It looked to me like Patterson pulled his gun before the door opened, based solely on hearing footsteps. Walking loudly must be a felony in Collinsport.

  17. If this episode is the one that begins with Sam taking for-frigging-ever to open his own frigging door, then this is the episode that I consider to be DOA. The scenes between Sam and the new Sheriff? If they’d been any slower, they’d have gone back in time. Thank goodness we don’t see the Sheriff again for a while and that he’ll be played by someone a tad more competent when we do. Thank goodness we’ll soon have Julia and her mad scientist fools around with dry ice scenes.

    1. This is why I love to read the blog and the comments BEFORE watching. You are right. Sam took forever to open his own door. I was laughing watching it because of your comments!

  18. Was the ABC New York studio in the garment district? That’s the only way I can explain Maggie’s skirt – they must have had some bulk material to give the studio.

  19. It’s not a skirt, it’s actually a dress with a velvet bodice and quilted bottom, and it’s absolutely hideous. Maggie usually has a pretty cute wardrobe so I don’t know how this was chosen, or by whom. Whoever is to blame, shame on them.

    1. I think they’re palazzo pants. It may not be in this episode (she actually wears this outfit again!), but at a point or two you can see the distinct legs.

  20. I’m watching this episode yet again on PlutoTV’s recurring loop of installments, starting with episode 210 through an episode somewhere around 850 or so. (Until recently, PlutoTV only went up to 532/533 before even the dream curse was resolved, but lately has continued and gone through most of the 1897 storyline and also before that was resolved, then going right back to episode 210 and Willie Loomis’s sepulchral search for baubles and bangles.

    Seeing this one again and being subjected to visual assault perpetrated by Maggie’s quilted hip wrap makes me wonder if the writers intended it as a twisted kind of mourning garment, despite Maggie’s unawareness of Dr. Woodard’s untimely demise when she strapped on the abomination. Months later, however, I believe it was a harbinger of another doctor’s death, Eric Lang’s, whom Angelique/Cassandra accidentally offed while playing with clay and pins.

    So, Maggie’s skirt was initially used as a weird comment on a beloved doctor’s demise, but later a predictor of the downfall of another, far less revered MD. I seem to recall her also wearing it one other time, which made me wonder if they’d decided to end Dr. Julia Hoffman’s time on DS, but that time no doctor was harmed in the deployment of that skirt.

    So— why, why, WHY the skirt??? There’s no reason for such a degradation of a slim and lovely figure like Maggie’s.

    There, I said it. Someone had to, just as Danny had to.

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