Episode 357: When Worlds Collide

“Why do you think you’re the only one who hears dogs?”

Let’s start, once again, with the notebook. I’m going to assume you’ve been following the story, and you already know everything you need to know about the vampire, the doctor, the experiments, the murder, the notebook, the niece and the crystal chandelier. If you’re new to the group, feel free to read up on the old episodes, because frankly I’ve had it with trying to explain this weird little knot of a storyline.

Fortunately, the show is less than two weeks away from coming to the exact same conclusion.

357 dark shadows julia carolyn clock

Yesterday’s episode ended with a stalemate straight out of a door-slamming bedroom farce. Julia’s hidden her notebook in the grandfather clock in the Collinwood foyer, so Carolyn won’t find it and give it to Barnabas.

Carolyn looks at the clock, and realizes it didn’t strike the hour. She reaches for the cabinet door, to see what’s wrong.

To distract her, Julia tries to strike up a conversation about Barnabas. But then there’s a knock at the door, and a stranger walks in.

357 dark shadows julia tony welcome

His name is Tony Peterson, he’s here to see Roger, and he does a great impression of Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. Carolyn goes upstairs to find Roger, leaving Julia and Tony standing around awkwardly in the foyer.

So this is probably a good time to talk about the new writer, Sam Hall, who starts today. He’s married to Grayson Hall, who plays Julia, and executive producer Dan Curtis offered him the job after meeting him at a cast party at Grayson’s apartment.

Sam was a playwright who’d spent several years on the CBS soap The Brighter Day, and he didn’t really want another TV job. But the family had been struggling for a while, and Sam was considering moving back to Ohio, to work at his father’s rubber gloves factory. (Seriously. That’s a real fact.) Then Grayson got a short-term gig on Dark Shadows, which turned into a long-term gig, and that kept them in New York. So when Curtis said he needed a new writer to replace Malcolm Marmorstein, Sam said he’d give it a try.

Spoiler alert: He’s amazing. My fascination with the Dark Shadows writers started when I was watching the reruns on public TV in high school, and I noticed that all of the episodes that I really liked were written by the same guy. Hall’s scripts are witty, and fast-paced, and he comes up with ideas that nobody else could.

Now, the credits at the end of today’s episode actually say that it’s written by Gordon Russell. The credits are lying. The Dark Shadows Program Guide, which is my nerd Bible, says it’s Sam Hall, and I believe it. You’ll see why in a minute; we’re keeping poor Tony Peterson waiting, and we should probably get back to Collinwood.

357 dark shadows julia roger clock

With Tony stashed in the drawing room and Carolyn upstairs fetching Roger, Julia decides to get her notebook out of the clock. Just as she opens the cabinet, Roger heads downstairs, and he says, “It’s a fascinating piece, isn’t it, Miss Hoffman? The original Barnabas Collins had it made as a wedding present for Josette.”

And Julia laughs. After weeks of tension and drama, this weird little coincidence just breaks her, and she can’t help it. “I’m sorry,” she chuckles, “it’s just — my nerves, the storm, and just now, the clock didn’t strike. Something’s wrong with it.”

357 dark shadows tony roger

Then Roger turns to the young man who’s shown up uninvited. Tony’s a lawyer, and he’s representing an injured cannery employee who’s been trying to get compensation from the Collins family.

Roger enters the drawing room, saying that he can give Tony five minutes.

357 dark shadows julia sneaky

Once the guys are occupied, Julia looks around, hoping for a moment to get the notebook out of the clock without anybody seeing it. Roger and Tony continue their conversation.

Roger:  Now, this accident Newley supposedly

Tony:  This accident Newley had is a result of your worn-out machinery. As his lawyer, I intend to get…

Roger:  Do you live in Collinsport?

Tony:  All my life.

Roger:  Yet, I don’t know you.

Tony:  You will.

357 dark shadows julia checking

Julia checks to make sure Carolyn isn’t going to come back downstairs. The guys are still arguing.

Roger:  You are an extremely insolent young man!

Tony:  Growing up in your town made me that way.

Roger:  Contact Phelps at the cannery tomorrow.

Tony:  And hear his one line? “I’ll get in touch with Mr. Collins”?

Roger:  He will… in due time.

Tony:  Meanwhile, my client is using up his savings.

Roger:  I’ll send him a check.

Tony:  Unbelievable! Pure 18th century. Why don’t you send the lady of the house down with a basket of food?

357 dark shadows carolyn julia stairs

It’s a nice, tightly written scene, and the thing that I love about it is that it isn’t even the real scene. On any normal soap opera, that would be a nice dramatic story point — the young firebrand lawyer making his mark by taking down the heartless fish baron.

But on Dark Shadows, the normal soap opera stuff is what happens in the background, while the two mad women are in the other room, engaged in a desperate life-or-death struggle for possession of a notebook stuffed with vampire secrets. It’s the vampire-soap-opera version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

357 dark shadows julia carolyn race

Carolyn stalks downstairs, and it looks like the ladies are about to get into a fight over the book — but then Tony stomps out of the drawing room, saying that he’ll be in Roger’s office first thing in the morning to finish their talk.

357 dark shadows julia take me

That puts the kibosh on the notebook chase for a moment, as Tony puts on his coat. Julia hears the dogs howling outside, and she knows this may be her only chance to escape.

She asks Tony if he’d mind driving her into town, and he agrees. While Carolyn glares at her, Julia puts on her coat and leaves with Tony.

And that was probably the last peaceful moment Tony Peterson will ever experience. You know what happens to people, once they get involved with the inmates at Collinwood. There are hamsters with a longer life expectancy.

357 dark shadows roger carolyn lawyer

Carolyn strikes up a conversation with Roger, which is an opportunity for more fast-paced one-liners.

Carolyn:  Uncle Roger, who is Mr. Peterson?

Roger:  A most unpleasant young man.

Carolyn:  Aside from that.

Roger:  So angry! From my reading, I understood the younger generation to be obsessed with love. He certainly didn’t get that message.

Carolyn:  Is his office in town?

Roger:  If he has an office. I wouldn’t be surprised if he operated out of his briefcase and car.

Carolyn:  Didn’t your great-great-grandfather arrive here with nothing more than a Bible and eighteen dollars? Wasn’t that all?

Roger:  No, it was not! He arrived with manners, if he was any great-great-grandfather of mine.

It’s lovely. I mean, Roger usually gets good dialogue, but everything feels fresh today.

357 dark shadows tony julia dogs

Downtown, Julia paces around Tony’s office, jumping at sudden noises. Tony stares at her, and tries to figure out what the hell he just drove into town. A dog howls.

Julia:  Did — did you hear that?

Tony:  What?

Julia:  That dog howling. Did you hear it?

Tony:  Why, yes.

Julia sighs with relief.

Julia:  I was beginning to think I was the only one that heard it. Now, where do we start?

Tony:  Well, I see one logical place. Why do you think you’re the only one who hears dogs?

357 dark shadows tony julia dognoise

And that’s it, right there — the thing we’ve been waiting for. That’s what Sam Hall is going to bring to the show.

Tony Peterson is from a completely different fictional universe. He’s a visitor from the world of detective novels, or possibly a romance novel where the poor, headstrong young lawyer wins the heart of the pretty rich girl whose uncle owns the cannery. He could actually be from the original version of Dark Shadows, in that first year when Burke Devlin walked around with a chip on his shoulder, grumbling about dark secrets and the Collins family.

But Dark Shadows has become something different, and now Tony is an outsider, looking at the madness with fresh eyes. When he looks at Julia, he doesn’t see the brilliant and secretive doctor who’s been pushed to her limits. All he sees is the crazy lady that she’s become.

357 dark shadows tony cig

Julia:  You hate the Collinses. Why?

Tony:  I’m that type of fella.

Julia:  That’s not an answer.

Tony:  I grew up without money. I had to think about every dime. What was the last dime Roger Collins ever thought about? I bet it was an original pressing of a first edition from the Denver Mint. I want what they’ve got.

Julia:  You wouldn’t, if you knew.

A dog howls outside.

Tony:  Knew what?

Julia:  What… they… have got.

So, yeah, I’m just going to be quoting dialogue all day, and pretty much for the next three years. I hope you get used to it.

357 dark shadows tony julia panic

What Sam Hall has figured out — on his very first day — is that Dark Shadows is a mash-up.

That’s not a completely new idea, obviously, because they’ve already grafted characters and plot points from Dracula onto a daytime soap opera. But now that storyline is running out of steam, and they’ve been flirting with the idea of closing down the vampire story and starting over with another monster.

Hall’s contribution is to say, essentially: We don’t need to do these one at a time. If you need some fresh energy in the show, just throw in something new, and see what happens.

357 dark shadows tony carolyn trouble

So what we’ve got now is a hard-boiled Dashiell Hammett detective story colliding with the chaotic vampire bedroom farce, and creating something new that makes you look at both genres in a different way.

Julia’s given Tony her notebook, begging him to keep it for her in his office safe. And then, just like in every film noir pastiche — a beautiful dame walks in, and I predict that before this scene is over, he’s going to say that she looks like trouble.

Carolyn:  I’m Carolyn Stoddard.

Tony:  Yeah?

Carolyn:  You know that, of course.

Tony:  Of course.

Carolyn:  I came to apologize. Someone should.

357 dark shadows tony carolyn notebook

She parks herself on the edge of his desk, her fingers idly brushing the cover of the notebook.

Carolyn:  I’m not like the rest of them.

Tony:  Just born lucky, I guess.

Carolyn:  You have everything figured out, don’t you?

Tony:  No.

Carolyn:  You look as if you do.

Tony:  You don’t know how I look; you never have.

Carolyn:  I’ve just met you.

Tony:  Come on. I was the lifeguard at the beach, the day you wore your first bikini. And when you learned to play golf, I was a caddie… yours.

357 dark shadows tony carolyn papers

Carolyn:  That’s impossible!

Tony:  Nah, you couldn’t see me for the golf bag then. Oh, I may have grown a bit taller. I certainly shave oftener. But… still the same package.

Carolyn:  Maybe I like men who shave oftener.

Tony:  Yeah. And maybe you just like trouble.

There, I told you! He has to say she’s trouble, it’s an essential part of the hard-boiled lifestyle. This character clearly does not belong in a vampire soap opera. But here he is, Hall’s first narrative collision, and there’s more to come. Tomorrow, believe it or not, we get a taste of Caribbean voodoo magic. It all fits together, sort of.

And that’s how Sam Hall is going to save Dark Shadows. They started down this road six months ago when they introduced a vampire, and Hall knows that they can’t ever go back. There’s only one direction this can go, and that’s forward, straight off the cliff on Widow’s Hilll.

Tomorrow: Boy Meets Ghoul.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Roger comes down the stairs in the foyer, there’s a boom mic very clearly in the shot, and at the same time, a crew member can be seen passing by the bottom of the frame.

Carolyn messes up her line, giving Tony the wrong cue:

Carolyn:  You have everything figured out, don’t you?

Tony:  No.

Carolyn:  You sound as if you do. You look as if you do.

Tony:  You don’t know how I look. You never have.


Behind the Scenes:

Tony Peterson is played by Jerry Lacy, who had been a stage actor up to now — mostly in regional theater, although he’d played the Sheriff in an Off-Broadway production of Desire Under the Elms in 1963. Lacy was referred to Dark Shadows by Nancy Barrett (Carolyn) and David Ford (Sam), who met him in the summer of 1967 while doing a show at the Wayside Theatre in Virginia. (Barrett and Ford were taking a break from Dark Shadows.) This is Lacy’s first television role. He’s going to play five different characters on DS, most of them named Trask.

The set for Tony’s office will be redressed in 1968 as the Old House master bedroom, Dr. Lang’s house, and then Nicholas’ house. (Thanks to prop-spotter Prisoner of the Night.)

Tomorrow: Boy Meets Ghoul.

357 dark shadows tony julia please

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

15 thoughts on “Episode 357: When Worlds Collide

  1. I like the description of DARK SHADOWS as a “mash-up.” It reminds me of Grant Morrison’s approach to Batman, a character who throughout his existence has been a grim avenger, caped crusader, camp straight man, James Bond adventurer, hardboiled detective, and borderline psychopath. Morrison’s take was that they were all the same character and to write him this way simultaneously.

    Over the course of a year and a half, DARK SHADOWS has been REBECCA, a gothic NANCY DREW, wronged man crime drama, and DRACULA. And like the band of killers confronting the hero in an action movie, they each politely took their turns rather than take the hero on all at once.

    But why? And perhaps this is the crucial question Sam Hall asks that, as you say, saves the show. My favorite DS storylines are excellent examples of the mashup: 1897 has vampires, werewolves, witches, phoenixes, warlocks, gypsies all taking part in riffs on JANE EYRE, DORIAN GRAY, THE WOLFMAN, even THE MALTESE FALCON. Same with 1840.

    The LEVIATHAN and Parallel Time storylines are considered slow but only in comparison to 1897 — it’s high speed rail when we take into account much of the original Barnabas storyline. Those two story arcs gave us high dudgeon soap opera with vampires, witches, ghosts, werewolves, and Mr. Hyde. There was never a moment to stand still, and from a dramatic consideration, every character has a finger in the narrative pie. Liz has been showing up to deliver exposition since Jason McGuire’s final appearance.

    Sadly, this was the major problem with the “present-day” Collins family from this point on. Naomi and Judith Collins, Joshua and Edward Collins, and Millicient Collins, Charity Trask/Pansy Faye show us what this cast can really do with great scripts and engaged characters.

    1. I think the craziest mashup period is fall 1968, when they’ve figured out that they can pretty much just throw anything they want at the screen. Three different vampires running around simultaneously, a Frankenstein’s monster, a Satanic middle manager and a murderess killed during the French Revolution — and the thing we’re supposed to care about is their love lives.

      As long as they stay focused on that through-line — the bread-and-butter soap opera focus on the characters’ emotional lives — then they can do anything they want. I think the seams start to show during the Leviathan and PT storylines, because they start losing touch with the characters’ relationships.

  2. I was such a huge fan of Jerry Lacy. When he joined the cast of The Young & The Restless years later, it was to play a role much like Tony. Tough-talking, cut from the same cloth as Bogart. He felt a little bit like a character who was out of place in that soap’s Genoa City… as if he’d been plucked out of another time and somehow landed there.

    1. Richard I was trying to think of what person Jerry favors and it is indeed Humphrey Bogart! Jerry Lacy is fine!…even when he plays Rev Trask! If I were Julia I would have bitch slapped Carolyn all up in her business. Not sure what cloud Barnabas is on at the moment. How does he want to kill Julia?

  3. I really like how they riff on the idea that the people we meet from “around town” were really there the whole time. I like Carolyn but I could totally see her as a rich girl who looks through servants. 🙂

  4. too funny! as soon as jerry lacy (who is new to me) started talking, i immediately said, “humphrey bogart!” LOL

  5. As someone who came to the TV series via the Big Finish audios, I always get a little thrill when one of the veterans turns up for the first time in my TV series marathon. So a big welcome to Jerry Lacy!

    Funny thing, I was actually surprised how concerned and casual Roger was about the whole thing. An employee has had an industrial accident and Roger is only unconcerned because he thought the employee was still on full salary. When he hears otherwise, his first impulse is to send a cheque. He’s actually agreeing to all of Tony’s demands without batting an eyelid but Tony still wants a fight!

  6. Danny, I can’t believe you didn’t mention Julia’s maniacal sobbing/laughter breakdown with Tony. She not only chewed up the scenery but swallowed it, regurgitated it and then swallowed it again with that scene. It was fantastically odd.

    1. I thought Julia was good here. She really let on how miserable and scared she was, not only scared, but just cant understand why Barnabas is going to these lengths to kill her. How hurtful it must be for her, but she is a champ, in realizing the dumn shit Barnabas is doing and is dealing with it very well in my opinion…classic Julia!

  7. Yeah, that sobbing laughter was certainly unique.

    As a fan of film noir, I’m glad for having a hard-boiled character added in to the mix (especially since the show’s been killing off a large percentage of the male population in the show)

  8. Guess I am in the minority here but this to me is one of the worst episodes yet. The whole thing seems like, for the first time in the series, cartoonish. This Peterson character is so cliche, the lines and the acting. Grayson is way to shallow an actress to carry off the emotions necessary in her scene with Lacy and the back and forth with Caroline is exactly like a scene from a bad B movie. They should have filmed it in bw.

    If this is what we have to look forward too, I shudder to think what Barnabas’ character will turn into, COUNT CHOCULA?.

  9. Julia must have broached the subject of Tony becoming her attorney before we cut to the scene in Tony’s office, but it seems weird for their lawyer-client relationship being implied without being made explicit.

  10. Carolyn would’ve cleaned Julia’s clock if she’d had the time! 😉 Julia’s emotional outpouring isn’t surprising when you consider that she helped kill her colleague/friend, Dr. Woodard, for the vampire she loves, who never thought of her that way and now wants to kill her! How could a deal with the Devil have gone so horribly wrong?! 😉

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