Episode 353: The “I Have a Dream” Speech

“You and Vicki take a walk together, and Vicki dreams about taking a walk.”

“You know, I had the strangest dream about you last night,” says Victoria Winters, and because this is Dark Shadows, we have to hear all about it.

She’s in the foyer of Collinwood talking to Carolyn and Julia, and apparently none of them have a job, or anything that might occupy their time. Vicki tells Julia, “I dreamt we were going someplace together. We walked for a long, long time, until we came to a very old house. You wanted me to come inside with you, but I didn’t want to. I was frightened.”

“How curious,” Julia says, because you have to say something.

Vicki says, “If dreams are supposed to mean something, I wonder what that one meant?”

The others don’t respond, because the obvious answer is: It means you’re boring in your sleep, too.

353 dark shadows julia carolyn detention

In other words: We’re in detention with Mr. Sproat again today.

The current state of play on the show is as follows: the vampire has hypnotic control over his young niece, who’s helping him seduce the governess, who’s being hypnotically controlled by the mad scientist, who’s in love with the vampire. You’d imagine that if someone handed you that premise, it would be almost impossible to write a boring episode of that show. And yet, here we are.

Carolyn:  Strange about Vicki’s dream.

Julia:  Yes, it is.

Carolyn:  You and Vicki take a walk together, and Vicki dreams about taking a walk.

Julia:  Well, what about it?

Carolyn:  I just think it’s a strange coincidence.

Julia:  Oh?

So that goes approximately nowhere. Eventually, Julia says, “If you have something to say to me, I wish you’d say it.” Carolyn replies, “I don’t have anything to say,” and then the scene goes on for another sixty-five seconds.

353 dark shadows carolyn sunset

The problem, really, is that there’s just one active plot on the show right now, and one story — even a story as outlandish as this one — isn’t enough to keep a daily soap opera moving. They’ve been ruthlessly closing down story possibilities lately, trimming away everything that isn’t related to this little quartet of crazy.

Dr. Woodard’s dead, Burke’s dead, Maggie’s doing fine, David’s been silenced, Liz hasn’t had anything to do since Jason left, and Roger hasn’t had a storyline in living memory.

Barnabas, Julia, Carolyn and Vicki are the only characters on the show with anything to do, and Vicki is really more of a prop than an active participant. Plus, Carolyn is acting as Barnabas’ agent, so really the entire series right now hinges on the relationship between Barnabas and Julia.

On the bright side, that relationship is fairly complex, and they’re hands-down the two most entertaining characters on the show, but two characters can’t power a daily half-hour of television by themselves. There’s a twist in the story coming up, but they’re saving it for Friday, and today, I’m sorry to say, is more along the lines of Wednesday.

325 dark shadows joe carolyn so cute

Just to make sure we don’t lose the will to live completely, they bring Joe out of no-story limbo for the day. Joel Crothers is currently the only hot young guy on the show, and he’s completely wasted as Joe, a bland talk-to character that doesn’t give him a chance to show off how funny and sexy he can be. (This problem, I’m happy to say, will be recognized and corrected shortly.)

The scene here is so annoying that I can hardly get my head around it. Last week, Carolyn talked to Joe in the Blue Whale, and asked him to go poke around in the Collins mausoleum with her. She was starting to believe that David’s wild stories about ghosts and coffins could be true, and she wanted him to help her investigate.

Since then, she’s switched over to the other team, so now she has to tell Joe that she’s changed her mind. All of David’s stories are just the fantasies of an imaginative child.

353 dark shadows carolyn joe awareness

Joe — possibly aware that he’s a character on what was recently an interesting soap opera — can’t believe that Carolyn is shutting down yet another story point.

Joe:  He didn’t imagine Sarah. You told me you saw her.

Carolyn:  I was wrong. I wanted to believe I really saw her for David’s sake, but I didn’t.

Joe:  Well, Maggie and Sam saw her. They didn’t imagine her.

Carolyn:  Joe, I can’t explain to you about Sarah. I only know that everything David has said about Barnabas is his imagination.

Here we see Ron Sproat discovering a new innovation in bad soap scenecraft — the anti-recap. Last week’s conversation in the Blue Whale didn’t actually lead to anything; it was just a time-filling recap of everything that Carolyn had done in the previous few episodes. Now, we’re revisiting that conversation, but moving in the other direction. Carolyn is actively taking information out of Joe’s head.

353 dark shadows vicki joe crotch

And you know what? That’s kind of it. From here on, the only interesting thing that happens is that Joe goes into the drawing room and stands in an awkward pose, apparently hoping to draw attention to his crotch. Then he sits down, facing the camera, and opens his legs, and now we’re all thinking about his crotch again.

So, you see? Joel Crothers is perfect. He knows this episode is a waste of time, and he doesn’t really have any connection to the story. But they paid him to show up at the studio today, so he might as well give the audience something to look at.

Bless you, Joe. We appreciate it. Maybe take off your jacket next time.

Tomorrow: Haunted House of Cards.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the beginning of the episode, they set up a shot in the Collinwood foyer so that you can watch Vicki walk down the stairs, and find Carolyn staring at the portrait. When she gets to the bottom of the stairs, they should have cut to another angle. But they don’t, so instead you see the boom mic dipping down into the frame, followed by a really awkward move as the camera tilts down to keep the characters in the shot.

When Vicki tells Barnabas that she can’t accept his offer to finance a search party for Burke, they cut to the wrong camera for a second, and we get an unfocused shot of the drawing room door. About fifteen seconds later, there’s a loud clattering noise from the studio.

Tomorrow: Haunted House of Cards.

353 dark shadows vicki joe more buffalo shots

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

27 thoughts on “Episode 353: The “I Have a Dream” Speech

  1. I feel the same way about Joel Crothers hehe. As for the show, it was maddening how the writers could come up with brilliant storylines and then put too much focus on them, leaving characters like Elizabeth & Roger on the sidelines. How could someone have trouble writing a story for Joan Bennett?

  2. How far in advance did the actors get the script? Did Edmonds and Bennett know they were a couple weeks from playing active characters in a great storyline or did they think they were doomed to wander into a room and give recap dialogue for the forseeable future.

    It seems like there was no reason to have Joe in the past few episodes. It was classic bad drama in which one character wants to do something and the other character shuts it down. Conflict is great but not when it puts you back to where you were when the scene started. So, I wonder if Curtis knows that he has plans for Crothers and is throwing a few bones to keep him engaged and fresh in the audience’s memory until then. There’s a similar scene with Maggie that serves no other purpose but for her to stand outside and compliment Carolyn’s scarf.

    So, I wonder if the show is stalling deliberately or if it’s really circling the drain and Sam Hall saves the day. The latter would be classic DARK SHADOWS.

    Oh, as I’ve mentioned, there’s also a shift in Julia’s motivations, which I’m not sure the writers are even aware of. When she first hypnotizes Vicki, Julia knows that Barnabas’s goal is to become human and live happily ever after with Vicki. Her actions are obstructive to that end and for no higher goal than plain jealousy.

    However, the next few times she hypnotizes Vicki, it’s after Barnabas has said that he has no wish to continue to experiments. He will remain a vampire, which means Vicki is a candidate for the brainwashing, living in a dungeon if she doesn’t comply Maggie Evans express. Her actual life is in danger. This is a major shift. And Julia’s actions can now be read as trying to save Vicki as best she can.

    Finally, the problem with the next few issues is that the peril is needless. Julia can get into a car and vanish. She does not have Willie’s problem that prevents escape. And Barnabas is useless during the day. She could even expose him without exposing herself (the police aren’t that clever). It would only have real drama if she has until morning to save herself before Barnabas kills her but there are countless days ahead when the guy who wants her dead is lying in a coffin.

    1. That’s a really good point about Julia’s ability to leave all this drama behind. Yes, Barnabas has some spooky powers, but he never seems interested in anything further away than downtown. For example, David is a huge threat when he’s at home, but when David goes on a trip to Boston, Barnabas loses interest completely.

      So why doesn’t Julia just leave? Is it love, or pride, or stubbornness? Or is Mrs. Johnson’s cooking really that amazing?

      I’m going to be going deep into the “are they stalling, or circling the drain” question very soon. The short answer for this week is: both.

      1. Danny, I’m really curious about actor contracts for the show. Most soaps operated (and still do) on a “play or pay” basis, guaranteeing a contract player a certain number of episodes per week. If the show couldn’t write to their minimum, they still got paid. It might explain why Joe showed up today – they needed to use him. From a broader perspective, though, DS seemed to have a few actors who would disappear for months at a time – including Lara Parker, after Cassandra Collins bites it. Perhaps the show just took its chances and figured it could get actors back (such as Thayer David in a few weeks) when it needed them and moved on when it couldn’t.

  3. I think Joe’s appearances last week and in today’s episode are easy to explain — they need someone for Carolyn to talk to, and they’ve lost Burke. Those are basically Burke scenes, especially when he’s hanging around aimlessly in the Collinwood drawing room.

    But yeah, I’m curious about contracts too — I don’t think I’ve read anything about how the actor contracts worked. I know that some of the actor disappearances were for vacations — Joan Bennett took a month off every summer, and Kathryn Leigh Scott was in Kenya with her boyfriend in the period between playing Rachel Drummond and Kitty Hampshire.

    I’m excited that this blog is starting to attract a little community of Dark Shadows obsessives 🙂 — so maybe someone else will have information that we haven’t seen before.

    1. By the way — a good chunk of the behind-the-scenes information that I have is from two books — “Barnabas & Co” by Craig Hamrick and R.J. Jamison, and “Dark Shadows Almanac: Millennium Edition” by Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson. “Barnabas & Co” has an incredible bargain price of $3 for the Kindle edition. I’d recommend it very highly for anybody who’s interested in the DS cast — before, during and after their time on the show.

      1. Another good one is The Dark Shadows Companion. Its older than the Almanac but tells a lot of information.
        I had read an article one — I’ll have to look it up — that Joan, Louis, Alexandra, Nancy, Joel, Kathryn and David all signed 5 year contracts when the show started (actually I think this is mentioned in the DS Companion.) And they made §330 per episode. A lot of them, esp Louis and Joan and Thayer and Nancy, were often given leaves of absence because they did a lot of theatre work. I’ll try to find the reference for that info but like I said some of it is in the DS companion. (Also something about the producers/writers had the option of terminating a contract every 13 wks if they wrote a character into a corner or the audience didn’t take to them.)

    2. KLS’ vacation in that period meant they had to kill off Rachel – and then when ratings soared and they extended 1897 for several more months, they essentially gave Kitty Rachel’s ultimate fate, as the reincarnation of Josette sucked back into her own portrait.

      I’ve always felt a bit cheated by that swerve. Rachel was much more sympathetic. DS obsessive? You might need a new term around here. DS OCD?

  4. I can’t say enough how much I LOVE this site. It’s the best! I never have anyone to discuss DS with and now I do!

  5. Here’s 2 snippets from the DS Companion, kinda addressing some of the above questions:
    “The writing staff toiled away in an apartment a few minutes from the studio, fighting to keep two weeks ahead of the taped storyline while the plot projections were formatted only six weeks in advance. This gave the storyline flexibility; if the ratings declined the plot strategy could be adjusted.”
    “At the same time, Alexandra Moltke – three years into her five-year contract- was beginning to complain about her diminished role in the series. ‘Victoria is so dumb,’ she protested. ‘All I do is stand around saying “I don’t understand what’s happening.” Jonathan has hypnotized me into eloping with him, tried to cut off my boyfriend’s head to stick on that goofy monster they made, even sent me hundreds of years into the past during a seance. And I still haven’t figured out that he may not be quite normal.’ Always unhappy with the limitations on her role, Alexandra had requested many times to be given another chance to play a villainess or at least someone with a dark side. That opportunity was never to arrive. Moltke had quietly married a young lawyer named Philip Isles and revealed that she was expecting. Virginal heroine Victoria Winters pregnant? That would never do! She was released from her contract. And so the young lady whose soft voice had first entreated us to follow her on her journey left Collinwood for good. Even though Ron Sproat had just slanted the plot to reveal Victoria as Elizabeth’s illegitimate daughter, this storyline was never used. Alexandra left Victoria as much a mystery as ever.”

    Both from The Dark Shadows Companion

    1. Joel Crothers played Joe Haskel and Lt. Nathan Forbes in the 18th century plot….he was so hot in those period military uniforms. He died in 1985 at only 44 of Aids. He was also gay,…..but, of course, not OUT way back then. He was one of the handsomest men on TV in the 1960’s. Tall, masculine, blue-eyed with some head of wavy hair. And,…..did you see his ass in some of the Dark Shadows re-runs (1966-69)……? Big, fay, juicy and HOT, baby !

  6. Too bad Joel Crothers is no longer with us. If he were still alive and reading this site, I think he’d enjoy some of the very-flattering things you wrote about him, Danny. Even all these years later.

  7. I might be in the minority, but I’m enjoying the Barnabas/Carolyn/Julia/Victoria situation so much that I’m OK for the moment.

    But a show like this should always have two good stories cooking and third on the backburner.

  8. You mentioned the scene where VIcki turns diwn Barnabas’ offer to finance a search party for Burke. So what is the source of Barnabas’ income after more than a century?

    1. I think the implication is that he has access to secret troves of Collins family jewelry, which Willie can fence for him. But he doesn’t pay rent, he doesn’t buy groceries, he doesn’t have an electric bill and his home is furnished with pre-existing antiques, so there isn’t a lot that he needs to spend money on. I think candles is probably the biggest line item on his budget, and maybe he knows a guy.

      1. My husband and I just had this conversation… but what I am wondering is how did Barnabas restore the Old House? That would cost money. And how would Barnabas get a bank account? It’s not like he could go to the DMV and get a driver’s license, they are only open during daylight hours. And can he be be photographed?

  9. Fan boy alert ! but for me this blog has made viewing the episodes more enjoyable
    I only have one disc left and i either stop watching or buy more …..hmmmm

  10. I love the blog but wish EVERYONE would stop referencing what is going to happen next. For those of us that are watching the series, in chronological order, for the first time it is a little annoying. Kind of like watching a movie with someone who has seen it already giving away plot twists.

    Best scene of the day is when Carolyn comes over to the old house and Barnabas is sitting in his chair holding his cane. Looks just like a pimp waiting on one of his ladies to bring him his money. Bat daddy in the house!

  11. Danny–the “anti-recap.” You’re killing me, Smalls. There is at least 1-2 nuggets from you in each and every blog post that send me reeling. If laughter is, indeed, the best medicine, I for one am really glad you have entered my life. Infinitely more fun than an apple a day…………

    Meanwhile, what is the deal with how noisy the set can be? Does no one ever flick on the ON THE AIR or NOW TAPING or NOW FILMING sign? I’ve been in brothels that were quieter than the set on this show (or bathhouses, or something like that).

    And the entire episode appears to have been shot with a completely out-of-focus camera. Everyone looks hazy and undefined. I kept leaning forward trying to squint my way through it but you would think that they would figure out how to auto-focus at some point.

    But good things can come in small packages (sometimes) and Julia’s monosyllabic response to Carolyn’s line here was delivered with a Grayson Hall understatement that was positively mesmerizing.

    Carolyn: I just think it’s a strange coincidence.

    Julia: Oh?

    I could live off of her delivery of that “Oh?” for a week.

  12. Is the strike over yet or are we still dealing with ABC execs manning the cameras and microphones? If the latter, it would certainly explain some of the recent goofs. Flying boom microphone shadows are now so common that they’re not even worth noting.

  13. Joe can do all the manspreading he wants; talk about filling airtime! And the big, cozy flannel shirts. 😍
    Now if only someone can find him a storyline instead of making him tag along behind somebody else’s. (Preferably a plot involving much fewer clothes. sigh But that sort of thing won’t happen for a decade or so on soaps, will it? Pity.)

  14. Been watching DS lately from the point when Barnabus arrives in Collinsport. Just found your blog and love it!

  15. I’m watching this in order on TV, but have jumped ahead in the episode blog.
    Anyway, this is the last episode I watched & noticed something…odd

    Barnabas has a distinctive hairstyle: those little saw tooth bangs brushed to his right. It’s there, at least while being a part of the undead. It doesn’t seem to be that way when they do the time warp.

    In this episode, post puncture, Carolyn has her hair in a very similar fashion. It’s ever so slight & I’m not sure if it was intentional. If you look at the 3rd pix posted for day’s blog (the tight shot of Carolyn’s face), you might notice it. Her normal right-sided sweep has a few creases in it. Like someone took their fingers to intentionally separate her normally well quaffed hair

    It didn’t seem that way in yesterday’s episode & I’m not sure it will continue in future ones, but it was interesting.

  16. Joel Crothers was so fine. For some reason, I find him sexier in his 1960s incarnation, rather than the 1790s rake Nathan Forbes. Maybe it’s the tighter fitting 1960s wardrobe. I always thought Carolyn was out of her mind to dump him for Burke, and I really liked drunk Burke.

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