“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Danny Horn