Episode 358: Boy Meets Ghoul

“Okay, you’re pretty, but we’re not on a bus.”

So then Carolyn rushes over to the Old House, to tell Barnabas what happened in yesterday’s episode. It’s not easy.

Carolyn:  Barnabas, I saw it! Hoffman’s notebook!

Barnabas:  Where?

Carolyn:  In her hands. She’d taken it from the clock.

Barnabas:  The clock? What clock?

Carolyn:  The large clock, in the foyer at Collinwood.

Barnabas:  Well, you seized the notebook, of course?

Carolyn:  I couldn’t!

Barnabas:  Why not?

Carolyn:  This lawyer came in.

Barnabas:  What lawyer?

I know, right? I feel bad for the guy; he’s only missed one episode, and now he has no idea what she’s talking about.

358 dark shadows barnabas carolyn sailor suit

And that’s not even the problem. The real problem is that Carolyn has walked into his house wearing a brown and orange sailor-suit top, apparently on purpose. Carolyn appears in four scenes in today’s episode, and she’s got a different outfit every time. This isn’t the good one.

358 dark shadows barnabas carolyn stress

Anyway, Barnabas is kind of stressed out, quelle surprise. He decided last week that he wants to kill Julia, but he can’t do it until he knows that her notebook has been destroyed. He sent Carolyn to get the notebook, and now she comes back and tells him that it’s locked up in a safe, in the office of a lawyer that he never even heard of. This is definitely going to come up at her annual performance review.

But Barnabas has an extremely soap-opera idea.

Barnabas:  He’s young, this man. Is he attractive?

Carolyn:  He’s rude, and violent… and… yes. He’s attractive.

Barnabas:  Then you won’t mind what you must do.

And that’s all you have to say. Carolyn is a soap opera character; you just turn the dial to “vixen”. Not a problem.

358 dark shadows barnabas carolyn puppet

And then Barnabas gets an idea. There might be an alternative to killing Julia.

Barnabas:  Suppose Dr. Hoffman decides to speak, to tell everything she knows about me? How can we make sure that no one believes her?

Oh! I know. The bat puppet!

Carolyn:  I don’t know.

Barnabas:  You should, you gave me the clue. You told the lawyer that she imagines things, and you’re right. But she must imagine much, much more.

Yes! You get the bat puppet, I’ll crank up the fog machine.

358 dark shadows hypodermic

Or, sure, a hypodermic needle in a box. That’s an option.

Barnabas’ new brainstorm is that he can drive Julia insane by making her believe that she’s haunted by the ghost of Dr. Woodard, who she helped to murder a few weeks ago. This is the hypodermic that she filled with poison, which he’s apparently keeping in a drawer in a credenza about three feet away from his front door. I suppose it’s good to keep your used murder weapons close by, in case you want to incriminate yourself in a hurry.

358 dark shadows tony carolyn water

Okay, time for outfit #2. It’s the next afternoon, and Carolyn has tracked Tony down at the courthouse. She invites him to the Blue Whale for a drink, which is apparently… water, in a wine glass. At least, that’s what it looks like from here. Luckily, the dialogue is sparkling.

Tony:  Why were you in the courthouse just now, and why did you come to my office last night?

Carolyn:  I go where I feel like going.

Tony:  You could get into trouble, trailing strange guys.

Carolyn:  You’ve already told me I like trouble.

Tony:  You need a job, from 9 to 5. Responsibility.

Carolyn:  Here we go, Mr. Peterson’s famous condemnation of the decadent rich.

Tony:  Well, I look at you, and —

Carolyn:  And you don’t even see me. Just a sign, flashing: Carolyn Collins Stoddard.

358 dark shadows tony carolyn close

They’re kind of adorable. It’s a sweet first date scene, which we haven’t seen a lot of lately.

Carolyn:  Will you try something? Close your eyes.

Tony:  I don’t like games.

Carolyn:  Why? Do you always play badly?

Tony:  All right.  (closes his eyes)

Carolyn:  Forget my name… what I look like. You’re on a bus to Bangor. You’ve been asleep. You wake during a stop; a stranger sits down beside you. You open your eyes… and turn.

Tony turns toward her, opens his eyes, and grins.

Tony:  Wow!

Carolyn:  You see?

Tony:  Okay, you’re pretty, but we’re not on a bus. Now finish your drink.

358 dark shadows tony carolyn deer point

This is such a standard soap opera trope — the flighty rich girl meets the hard-working, emotionally demanding boy — that it only takes two scenes, and you instantly know where it’s going. She flirts, he fights, she drives him crazy. They fall in love. Except this version includes a vampire.

The new writer, Sam Hall, joined the show with yesterday’s episode, and he’s good at setting up these intentional narrative collisions — mixing genre conventions together to create something new. They seem to be watering down the “hard-boiled detective” element, but the soap opera “rags meets riches” story is strong enough to be a good contrast with the vampire drama.

358 dark shadows barnabas carolyn ritual

And then he adds something even more peculiar to the mix. Carolyn goes back to the Old House — in another outfit, by the way — and she finds Barnabas preparing the ingredients for a ritual. Strap in, this gets a little weird.

Barnabas:  An Indian I knew in Barbados long ago taught me the secrets that he used when he needed enormous power.

358 dark shadows barnabas pose

It’s kind of a long story, so he sits her down, and positions himself so that he has a clear shot at the teleprompter if he needs it.

Barnabas:  A brilliant man. His tongue, he said, spoke into the ears of the gods. He was jailed and tried as a warlock. When the soldiers came to hang him, the cell was empty.

Carolyn:  He escaped?

Barnabas:  Yes. You see, the gods told him the secret magic number of the universe, the number which unlocks all the rules that bind you mortals to your daily, dull lives. The number is whispered so deeply into the soul that no one can remember it, without… using the magic…

That’s not actually the way that line was supposed to end, but you get the general idea. This is Hall’s first episode writing for Barnabas; he hasn’t learned yet that you can’t give Frid speeches like this. Typical n00b mistake.

358 dark shadows barnabas carolyn fire

But the point is: we’ve never seen anything like this on the show. The secret magic number of the universe? We’ve seen lots of random vampire powers, but now Barnabas is explicitly telling us that he’s borrowing from a different cultural tradition. It’s supernatural sampling.

Barnabas lights a taper, and sets fire to whatever the heck is supposed to be in that little dish. He says, “Now I am ready,” and picks up the dish.

358 dark shadows barnabas gown

And now we have the following astonishing thing: A vampire from a port city in Maine standing in his living room wearing a necktie and a green floral dressing gown, swirling a dish around in his hands, and mumbling over it in make-believe Haitian Creole. I believe that this was the first time they’d ever done that on daytime television.

These days, obviously, it’s practically a cliché, but it was groundbreaking at the time. You have to give them credit.

Tomorrow: Love and Death.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There’s a weird gap in the first act, when Carolyn and Barnabas are talking about Tony’s safe — a clumsy edit that breaks continuity. There was a similar cut in episode 352. This is basically the answer to the question, “Why did they just leave the camera running when someone made a mistake?” The rudimentary video equipment made the edits look worse than the bloopers.

When Barnabas walks over to the credenza to get the hypodermic, the camera tilts up, to keep the petite Carolyn in the shot. This reveals the top of the Old House set, and the studio lights.

When the closing credits begin, the camera turns off for a moment, and Jonathan Frid’s credit plays over darkness. Then they turn it back on.

In the credits, they spell Jerry Lacy’s name incorrectly: “Jerry Lacey”. They do the same thing tomorrow, but they get it right on Friday.

Tomorrow: Love and Death.

358 dark shadows carolyn julia

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

32 thoughts on “Episode 358: Boy Meets Ghoul

  1. I absolutely love your blog about Dark Shadows. After my daughter and I watch an episode, we stop to read your blog about it, we don’t want to read ahead to get any spoilers. But you are a fabulous Dark Shadows fan.

      1. I do. I started watching the DVDs in January 2015 and discovered the blog just a few weeks after the Barnabas introduction. A short catch-up and then I’ve been going to the blog every day after each episode.

      2. I’ve been getting the DVD’s from my library. I read your blog first, then watch it. At one point, I had been watching since eppy 1 when Vickie and Burke (the GOOD Burke) arrived. After a while, I was bogging down. Then I found your blog! I started watching again from your first blog and having been going along ever since. LOVE it!

      3. My husband and I are watching the show and reading the blog at the same time. This is big fun as we look for the bloopers and at the same time can appreciate the new technical features and difficulty you are educating us about. It has really given us an appreciation for what we are seeing versus making fun of how weird old movie effects look. I am a big-time fan of your sense of humor and the fun you poke at the show, all in good spirits. Timeless! I am just old enough to remember a few things about the show as my mom watched it when I was a kid – my memories mostly stem from the later years as I was born in 1965. Julia was unforgettable and of course so was Barnabas. I also remember Quentin and Angelique. I knew it was about a vampire. And here I am, now in my 50’s watching the entire series with my favorite guy! Thanks for the memories.

  2. The thing I’ve always found hilarious about this episode is that they essentially tell us that Barnabas, prior to becoming a vampire, met a warlock during his travels who taught him how to cast spells. But when we actually meet human Barnabas in 1795, he doesn’t know anything about witches or witchcraft and even doubts their existence. LOL!

    What is this thing called “continuity”, Dark Shadows?

    1. I suppose, if you really NEEDED to try to come up with some kind of explanation for the very obvious contradictions between the whole Barnabas in Barbados story and 1795 Barnabas’ complete disbelief in witchcraft, there are perhaps two possibilities. One is that, at some point after becoming a vampire, Barnabas somehow got transported to Barbados by this warlock, who passed on his secrets to a fellow magickal creature he sensed even from as far away as Collinsport (perhaps a teacher of Angelique’s…?) and teleported him back. Or perhaps the warlock encountered Barnabas during a visit to Barbados and, sensing the future and for whatever reason known only to the warlock, passed on his knowledge but then cast a spell blocking the memory of the encounter until Barnabas arose as a vampire in another time, as he is not yet meant to have that knowledge in 1795.

    1. There is a trope in classic literature where guys all fall for their cousins. I expect they were following it. Plus you have to use the main cast and give them something to do. 🙂

  3. It is strange that they continue to use blue props (candles, tablecloth at Blue Whale, bedsheets) even though they have been shooting color for a fairly long time. You would think that a show this successful could afford to switch to white for items like these?

    1. Probably because there were still viewers who were watching on black and white televisions, and in those houses that could afford two televisions, the black and white tv was the smaller one in the kitchen used for Mom’s soaps during the day…

  4. Ha… that add it in the scene between Carolyn and Barnabas was, as you put it, clumsy. Why would they edit from a two-shot to another two shot. after they stopped tape, the first shot should have been a close up of either Carolyn or Barnabas, and then pull back to the two shot.

  5. That “edit” in my post above… Not “add it.” I really need to proofread when I am using talk to text

  6. The weird thing about Carolyn’s wardrobe change is that yesterday she started out in a green dress that she had been wearing for a couple of episodes, then she put a pale blue coat over that to visit Tony’s office. (In one or two shots you can see the hem of her green dress under the blue coat while she sits on those “important papers” on his desk.) Then in this episode she RUSHED over the the Old House but first CHANGED into that sailor suit. Not too much of a rush. Then she changes outfits again in this episode. Not sure that the last outfit change that you cite actually counts, though. It might be just another coat over her dress from the previous scene.

  7. The review left out some prime pieces of dialogue in the whole Barnabas/Carolyn Secret Number Of The Universe scene. The first is when Carolyn tells Barnabas about how upset Julia was that she couldn’t even eat her dinner and Barnabas replies: “The estimable Dr. Hoffman obviously withdrew to get some rest. She will need that rest. She will get no more tonight” just before he launches into the whole Barbados story. The next is when Carolyn is evidently confused by the word “warlock” and Barnabas clarifies: “A male witch, my poor uneducated child.” Then there’s the far creepier explanation for the purpose of the spell: “To plant a germ in the mind of another, then sit back and watch as the disease spreads.” This is really evil shit Barnabas is getting into here, which he discusses as casually as other people discuss the weather — which really makes this whole scene spectacular.

    Second day on the job and Sam Hall is hitting home runs as casually as if he’s just taking batting practise.

  8. The employment of Barnabas rolling out a series of “supernatural” aspects to drive Doctor Hoffman off the edge of the cliff is yet another example of the show’s “mythos” is never being completely or fully mapped out. After all, who is controlling the things that happen to Julia? Good to know that the actor playing Woodard was able to cash in for a more episodes (that is his voice in the episode, yes?) but all of this makes for a confusing and uneven “psychotic” storyline because we, the audience, are never quite sure what is real and what isn’t.

    The “secret magic number of the universe” is not only funny whack-o in the show itself but Danny’s discussion of same is knock-’em-dead hilarious. The positioning of Frid again center stage in front of the teleprompter is vintage melodrama as we now hear The next time I need to get anyone’s attention for ANYTHING I am going to start by saying, “An Indian I knew once in Barbados…..” Pretty sure that beats throat-clearing any day of the week.

    And then, the capper: the INCANTATION to the plate. Roll the smoke and incense. As we are fond of saying here, they certainly weren’t doing this on GUIDING LIGHT or SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, were they?

  9. When Barnabas first “converted” Carolyn he told her it wouldn’t look good for her to spend too much time at the Old House. Now of course she’s there every five minutes.

    I have it on good authority that the secret magic number of the universe is actually 8675309.

  10. You see, the gods told him the secret magic number of the universe,

    I’m glad you clarified that. I thought Barnabas said “the guards told him the secret magic number of the universe” and I was having trouble reconciling that with the rest of Barnabas’ jailhouse narrative.

    To me, Tony comes off in this episode as a male chauvinist pig. First, in the Blue Whale scene, he orders Carolyn to finish her drink. When he calls her at Collinwood later he tells her “I’m not calling you tonight at eleven. If you see me, it’ll be when I ask you. I’m about to ask you for the last time. Will you have dinner with me tomorrow night?”

    Julia trumps them both with her own bossy, controlling behavior by yanking the phone out of Carolyn’s hand and hanging it up while Carolyn is still accepting Tony’s invitation.

    1. You’re looking at this through the lens of 2020 & 2021. Times were different when DS was made. I figure Barnabas is from the late-1700’s, so he should be showing his mastery over women a lot more. Anyway, Jerry Lacy is playing a hard-bitten, film noir type character and that’s how they acted in 50’s and 50’s movies.

      I did love Julia grabbing the phone out of Carolyn’s hand and hanging it us.

      1. I’m looking at it through a 1967 lens. The expression “male chauvinist pig” was already in use in the late 1960’s to describe men who behaved las Tony does in this episode.

        Yes, film noir tough-guy characters did act like that in the 50’s and 50’s movies. By 1967, society was becoming more enlightened about how unacceptable that sort of behavior is.

  11. There is NO continuity problem when it comes to Barnabas’ knowledge of witchcraft. Yes, he learned the secret magic number of the universe from an Indian while in Barbados. That is definitely true. That’s why he’s able to demonstrate it by casting a spell immediately afterward.

    In episode #398, Barnabas states “I do not believe in witchcraft.” Why? He’s lying. The best defense most supernatural beings like witches, vampires, and werewolves have is most people don’t believe in their existence. Pretending to NOT believe in them helps others doubt their existence also. Throughout the entire run of Dark Shadows, nobody ever considered the possibility Barnabas could be a warlock. See how well he kept his secret? Angelique herself NEVER suspected Barnabas was a warlock, even when she, as Cassandra, found he could walk around in the daylight years later. The only person he ever told was Carolyn. She was under is power AND a relative. His trust in her was rewarded, because she never told another living soul.

  12. The Collins dinner dress code, “our house, our rules” thing was an interesting peek into daily living at Collinwood; I suppose if Julia had just taken off her suit jacket and come down to dinner in her blouse and skirt, she would have been booted out into the dark Maine night immediately.

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