“Don’t start imagining a lot of things just because someone we barely know is acting peculiar.”
All week, I’ve been talking about Sam Hall, the new writer who just joined the show. He wrote the last three episodes, and now he passes the baton back to Ron Sproat, who tends to be lackluster and frustrating. And today, just to prove the point, Sproat turns in a script that appears to be made mostly of reconstituted episode parts. Damn it, Sproat! Get it together.
We open with an incredibly contrived teaser — Julia rushes to Tony’s office, saying, “I must see you… It’s a matter of life and death!”
When we come back from the opening titles, it turns out she’s just talking about the damn notebook again. Tony put it in his safe three episodes ago, and it’s perfectly content there. But Julia knows that if Barnabas gets the notebook, he’ll destroy it, and then he’ll be able to kill her without worrying that her secrets will get out. Naturally, Julia’s a little stressed about the whole situation.
Except… yesterday’s episode ended with the exact opposite of this. Barnabas played an incredibly cruel trick on Julia yesterday, pretending that he’d had a change of heart, and was ready to return her affections. By the end of the scene, she was completely convinced that her relationship with Barnabas was stronger than ever.
So what the hell? The only explanation is that the writers aren’t talking to each other. It’s not the actors’ fault — they recorded this week’s episodes out of sequence, so I’m sure it was tough for them to keep track of where they are emotionally. But somebody should have been paying attention.
I suppose they might have an excuse for being a little distracted. They’re getting ready to do something big and crazy at the end of next week, and maybe they were spending all their energy figuring out how that’s going to work. Although Sproat doesn’t usually need an excuse for writing a disappointing episode, so maybe not.
So what we’ve got here is a four-minute scene where Julia begs Tony to get the notebook out of the box, and then begs him to put it back in the box. This was a great scene when they did it three days ago. I’m not sure why we have to revisit it, because the notebook isn’t mentioned again for the rest of the episode, but let’s move on.
Next, we go to the Evans house, where Maggie and Joe are having an unbelievably wholesome date night. She brings in a cake, and he says, “Hey, that looks great. Store-bought?” She swats at him, and says, “Joe! It’s homemade!”, and then they kiss. In other words: these are the cutest possible people, and at some point we ought to get around to giving them a storyline.
Then there’s a knock at the door, and the crazy lady walks in. This is the structure of the entire episode — the people of Collinsport living their lives in peace, interrupted by sudden-onset crazy lady.
Julia’s decided that she might be able to get help from Sarah, the ghost of Barnabas’ beloved little sister. She’s come over to Maggie’s house because she wants to borrow Sarah’s doll, which Sarah left with Maggie a couple months ago.
Maggie says that she doesn’t have the doll anymore — it disappeared a couple of weeks ago, and she can’t find it.
Disappointed, Julia helps herself to a chair and continues to talk nonsense. She explains that she’s in trouble, and she wants to know how to get Sarah to appear to her.
Now, everyone’s being pretty casual about the idea that Sarah is a ghost. For the last month or so, it’s been hard to track exactly who believes in Sarah and who doesn’t. I think by now they’ve given up on that as a story point. I know I have.
Then Julia realizes where she might be able to find Sarah — at the Collins mausoleum, her final resting place. Maggie is concerned.
Maggie: You’re not going up there now?
Maggie: But it’s getting dark, it’s not good to go tramping through the cemetery after dark.
Julia: I must.
Maggie: But something could happen to you up there all alone.
That’s adorable; apparently, Maggie thinks that there might be something in the cemetery that’s scarier than Julia.
Julia goes to the cemetery, and guess who she runs into.
Caretaker: You mustn’t go in there.
Julia: Why not?
Caretaker: This place is cursed. Anyone who enters it will anger the dead. The dead take terrible revenge.
Damn you, Sproat! Again with the caretaker. Why couldn’t we have stayed at Maggie’s? They had cake.
This scene goes on for approximately four hours. They cut away for a commercial break, and when we come back, she’s still talking to the caretaker.
Caretaker: Strange things have happened here… violent things.
Julia: What do you mean? What’s happened here?
Caretaker: I don’t know.
Oh, for Pete’s sake. Is there anyone else there we could speak to? Let me talk to your manager.
There’s another four minutes left in the episode, so we go back to the cottage to check in with Maggie, who’s a little shaken following the crazy lady visit. She says, “I have the feeling that something is going on,” which is a difficult feeling to dispute.
This scene is very Sproat; it’s just nice people standing around and having vague feelings of dread. The whole show used to be like this.
And then — because this is Dark Shadows — just when you least expect it, something amazing happens. Julia enters the mausoleum, and she meets Sarah.
And Sarah is pissed.
Sarah: I know who you are.
Julia: I’m Julia Hoffman.
Sarah: I know what you did!
Julia: What do you mean?
Sarah: I know what you did to Doctor Woodard!
And… oh. Damn.
Julia: No, Barnabas did it! It was Barnabas.
Sarah: You helped.
Julia: I couldn’t help it! I had to do it, to protect him! You understand that, don’t you?
Sarah: You shouldn’t have done it! I liked Dr. Woodard. You shouldn’t have done it!
Julia: Are you angry with me?
Sarah: You shouldn’t have done it!
I’d say that’s a yes. I’ve seen angry people before; that’s what they sound like. You know, this might actually be the first time on the show that there are consequences for doing something wrong. I forgot that could even happen.
And that’s how we end this crazy, impossible week. Julia is alone, standing in the Collins mausoleum — where this whole lunatic storyline started, one hundred and fifty half-hours ago. I wonder what they’ll do for an encore.
Monday: The One Where Julia Loses Her Mind.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
It sounds like the caretaker forgets a line, and has to be prompted by Julia.
Caretaker: I can warn you, just as the dead have done. You’re in danger here! Danger!
Julia: I’ll… remember that you warned me.
Caretaker: Yes, remember — and heed my advice!
Somebody coughs offstage during Maggie and Joe’s final scene, right before Maggie says, “Do you suppose it’s starting again?”
Behind the Scenes:
This is the last appearance of the Eagle Hill caretaker; his last words, appropriately, are “Go, now — if you value your life!” We’ll see Peter Murphy again in a couple of days, playing the ghost of Dr. Woodard.
Monday: The One Where Julia Loses Her Mind.
Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967
— Danny Horn
29 thoughts on “Episode 360: Crazy Lady on the Loose”
I like Pissed Sarah vs Sudden Onset Crazy Lady. Fun recap of a slog of a show, Danny.
Tomorrow it is the Grayson Solo!
By the way, do you know of Patrick McCray and his experiment in watching DS nonstop?
Yeah, “the Julia episode” is coming Monday. It’s a special episode, so I’m doing something interesting with the blog post format for the day. Stay tuned…
I hadn’t seen the nonstop DS experiment. I’m trying to look at it, but I’m having trouble figuring out where it starts — I see a bunch of supplementary posts, but I can’t find the core posts. Was it mostly on video? It’s confusing me.
Here is the link to all the videos…
Just a quick warning — it’s a porn site now. Use the Wayback Machine — this is the last capture: https://web.archive.org/web/20160215000000*/https://collinsfoundation.net/category/dark-shadows-experiment-2012/
You can also e-mail Patrick McCray, he has the e-mail there.
By the way, I have written a couple of things myself for that blog.
I don’t quite understand the benefit of shooting out of order. I understand being behind and having to work extra days and maybe once in a long while doing an episode early if the special effects took longer to process, but just because you’re behind what benefit do they get by being out of order?
This is just a guess, and I haven’t been following what was shot when, but if you have the same characters in two episodes that are several days apart, it makes it easier on everyone if you just shoot those together. That way they have to get out of bed and into the studio for several days straight, but then they can get a couple days off straight as well. It might be better than coming in every other day, or only coming in one day on one week and then four on another week.
boy this episode was wacky. i was wondering what the heck was going on and then i saw sproat’s name.
“an unbelievably wholesome date night” LOL
Joe’s looking mighty handsome in his green turtleneck….
Cut me a slice of cake, and serve it up with a steaming cuppa ‘Joe’!
Me, too! Y’know I’d always considered Quentin and Barnabas to be the “hearthrobs” on DS, but man, oh man …Joel Crothers was HOT, and I think they done a little better job promoting him. Please understand I hadn’t seen many of the back-in-time episodes, but I’m thinking Nathan Forbes never looked THIS good! 😉
Yes he does, though! Maybe even better!
I went to the homepage of the Dark Shadows experiment that I still don’t understand what’s going on. Possibly because the newest posts are at the top. I looked in the menu but that didn’t seem to help me either so I’m going to try it again. But if anybody happens along who knows what’s going on there , can you please tell us where to start actually
I went and hit post comment before I checked off the notify me of new comments box so I’m just posting this so I can check the box
Hi! Are you looking for where to start reading? You could start with the Introduction, or you can click on Episode guide in the menu, and that’s got a listing of every post, from the oldest to the newest. The blog starts with episode 210 — Barnabas’ first appearance.
Is that what you wanted? I can’t quite tell from your post.
Danny, no, the beginning of the other blog mentioned.
I started reading yours as soon as I manage to get to episode 210 🙂
Oh! Yeah, I can’t figure that site out either.
PS I almost fell asleep during the Julia episode. I learned how to do new things with my tablet, like running YouTube and another program at the same time. 🙂 but I have made it to 1795 and must now go read the entries after this one 🙂
I’m one of those that came home from school when it was originally on and turned on Dark Shadows first thing. I bought the complete collection on DVD and plan to watch every episode. Broke my heart to read this is the caretaker’s last appearance. He was always a favorite of mine. You knew you were in for a good time when he appeared.
On ths dvd collection the bonus interview is with Sam Hall. Even he states that they never ended an episode on a reaction shot from Grayson Hall because she overacted. Booya!!!
The most refreshing thing about this episode is when Maggie speaks of “Willie” and not “Willie Loomis”. Though God knows she might have strayed from the written word given the writer’s penchant for referring to everyone by their first and last name.
A microcosm of character snapshots from this episode alone truly serves for just how unique this show really was. I mean, when you think about the following cast of characters for just ONE EPISODE (and the vampire even had the day off!), it is nothing short of ASTOUNDING.
The Handsome young Attorney Newcomer
The Deranged but Talented Doctor/blood specialist cum historian and Vampire BFF
The Hippie Chick Waitress recovering from recent assault-and-kidnapping-by-vampire
The Uber Handsome and Dashing Lobster Fisherman
The Garrulous and More-Than-Spooky Cemetery Caretaker
The 18th Century But 9-Year Old Girl Ghost
This is an unbelievable roster of characters that can be found nowhere else on daytime television, then or now.
There is some definite chewing of the scenery going on here with Grayson Hall. I think she’s set her cap for a Daytime Emmy Nomination, even though we are few years away from that starting (1972)..
When Grayson goes into those deep moans and baritone cries of hers, she reminds me of actress Mercedes McCambridge, another great star of stage, screen, radio and television.
As stated above, shooting out of order on a television show is usually done to accommodate various acting and technical schedules and also minimizes down time (sitting around on the set waiting to shoot) for all concerned. It does mess with the actor’s ability to properly keep his “through line” for motivations and character development and I think that surfaces sometimes here when an actor can appear puzzled or unclear in a scene. They are probably thinking to themselves, “Haven’t we already shot this scene before?” It is kind of like reading different chapters in a book out-of-order. You’re never quite sure where you are in the scheme of things.
I was hoping Sarah would kick Julia in the ankle but alas, no luck.
Lol, or give her the ghost-pox.
Though I’m happy as a clam whenever Grayson Hall is on screen, even she couldn’t make me like a scene with the “caretaker.” After he gasses on and on about the “terrible” things have happened at the mausoleum–or “mausoLAYum” if you’re the first Dr. Woodard–when asked precisely what terrible things have gone on, he “doesn’t know.” I’m glad to learn we’ve seen the last of him. Good riddance and let the dead rest!
The caretaker is amazing. He just sort of rambles on and on and on and on and…
I’d be surprised if he had a script at hand.
Jerry Lacey looked super-young and cute here; you wouldn’t guess he’d go on to play such unappealing reverends and such. Joel Crothers would have made a good Vulcan. The caretaker deserved to go, if for no other reason than he referred to people being “buried” in the mausoleum; if it’s a mausoleum, they aren’t buried–they’re interred! What kind of cemetery loiterer doesn’t know that? Don’t call us, we’ll call you.