Monthly Archives: April 2014

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Episode 383: The Newlywed Game

“Do you remember when this mark was the only sign we belonged to each other?”

And this is it, this is how you end a love story. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in toasting the happy couple, as they enjoy their first and only dance as Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Collins. This is their moment.

It lasts for exactly two minutes and twenty seconds.

Continue reading Episode 383: The Newlywed Game

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Episode 382: A Witch in Time

“If the Devil has blinded me, Abigail, I consider it curious that he lets you in on all his plans.”

You know, everybody likes to talk smack about Abigail Collins, but when you think about it, every single thing she says is exactly one hundred percent correct.

Let’s run through some of her pet theories.

Abigail believes that Phyllis Wick, Sarah’s real governess, was replaced by Victoria Winters in some unnatural way. This is true.

Abigail thinks that the clothes Vicki was wearing when she arrived were shockingly immodest. According to the standards of the 1790s, this is true.

Abigail thinks that Vicki’s lying when she claims that she doesn’t know where she came from, that Vicki has uncanny knowledge about the future, and that the world would be a better place with one less Victoria Winters in it — check, check and check.

She’s basically nailed it, all the way down the line. Is it too late to go back and make this a television show about Abigail?

Continue reading Episode 382: A Witch in Time

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Episode 381: Runaway Bride

“I believe you can do anything — and the meaner it is, the better you can do it.”

So there we were, all set up for the big royal wedding — Barnabas, the young prince of the wealthy and powerful Collins family, marrying Josette du Prés, the ravishing heiress of the Martinique sugar plantations. Young and beautiful and desperately in love, embarking together on their life’s journey.

And then, at the last moment, the bride runs off with the groom’s uncle, which is pretty much the exact reason why you need to hire a competent wedding planner. Have we learned nothing from reality TV?

Continue reading Episode 381: Runaway Bride

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Episode 380: Something Borrowed

“I did not change Mr. Collins into a cat so that you could kill him!”

Dearly beloved, I have a question: Why do they even bother to send out Save the Date cards? It’s a soap opera wedding; they have to know that it’s not going to go as planned.

The bride calls the groom by the wrong name at the altar, and they call it off. Or the groom’s sister goes into labor during the ceremony.  Or the bride shows up two hours late. Or the groom doesn’t show up at all. Or the bride’s ex-boyfriend runs in and punches the groom in the face.

Continue reading Episode 380: Something Borrowed

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Episode 379: Nine Lives to Live

“Your aunt is right. The cat is a sign, the Devil’s pet. The laughter after the joke.”

“Governesses are supposed to be trusting,” the Countess du Prés smiles. “One has to be in dealing with children. Think of me as a giant child.”

Joshua Collins has disappeared, all of a sudden and in the middle of an argument. While the men are out pointlessly searching the grounds, the Countess has decided to re-enact the mystery, with herself in the starring role as Joshua, and Vicki pinch-hitting for Jeremiah. As usual, Grayson Hall is having a wonderful time in the role of Natalie, who has all of Julia’s swagger, none of Julia’s guilt, and a much more extravagant wardrobe.

And then there’s Vicki, who’s come all the way from the 20th century, and refuses to have any fun at all.

Continue reading Episode 379: Nine Lives to Live

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Episode 378: Resistance Is Useful

“I am unaccustomed to explaining things, sir!”

Ben Stokes has an axe to grind. I mean, literally — he’s standing in the woods near the Old House, sharpening his axe with a grindstone.

“She’s a witch, that Angelique,” he thinks. “A man like me can’t fight a witch. But I’ve got to. Mr. Barnabas… he’s the only friend I got. She says she’s doin’ everything cause she loves him. If only I could figure out some way I could help him, without her knowin’ it.”

Ladies and gentlemen, there he stands, the unwilling henchman — forced to follow the deranged monster’s commands, but openly struggling the whole way. This is such a common theme on Dark Shadows that it must be coded deep down in the show’s DNA.

So far, everyone that we’ve seen under the vampire’s spell — Willie, Maggie, Julia and Carolyn — have all had the guts to stand up and question what he’s making them do. And not just once, but over and over, even at the risk of their lives and immortal souls. There are no sell-outs or collaborators on Dark Shadows — only underground resistance fighters who haven’t figured out which way is underground yet.

Now we’ve got Ben, the spell-charmed slave of a sinister soap vixen, and he’s desperate to spare his friend. But then a huge floating witch head appears, and starts giving him orders. Looks like recess is over.

Continue reading Episode 378: Resistance Is Useful

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Episode 377: Speed Dating

“I don’t know who she was. But your love was wrong, terribly wrong.”

You know, people talk about breaking new ground in the arts, but then you go and make an episode of afternoon television that ends with a woman holding the bloody stump of another woman’s demon-possessed arm, and all of a sudden everyone gets all weird about it.

They say, Where’s the romance? because apparently people think that soap operas should be about characters falling in love with each other. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. If you’ve got voodoo dolls, time travel, tarot cards and marionette bats, then who has time for all that sappy girl stuff?

But fine, whatever. Today — just for you — Dark Shadows is all about the love.

Continue reading Episode 377: Speed Dating

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Episode 376: Card Tricks

“The tarot cards give us access to knowledge of the occult which cannot be transmitted either orally or in writing.”

On Friday, a vengeful Angelique cast a spell on Josette and Jeremiah, sending them like sleepwalkers to a forbidden tryst, outside in the moonlight. Josette was followed by her aunt, the Countess Natalie, who was an eyewitness as the spellbound couple embraced, and pledged their love.

Now it’s the next morning, and Natalie does the only sensible thing she can do — she brings Josette’s father, Andre, out to the spot where the lovers met, and tells him that they’re being menaced by an evil force.

That doesn’t necessarily sound like the logical next move, but soap operas are approximately 90% information management. If somebody does something, then the next day, everybody has to stand around and talk about it. And if it’s a secret, then there’s all kinds of extra information management activity, including eavesdropping, speculating and making up excuses. Frankly, we’re lucky anything ever happens at all.

Oh, and we’re still in the past, by the way. Remember how we were in the past? Well, we’re still there.

Continue reading Episode 376: Card Tricks

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Episode 375: Dangerous Liaisons

“In the tropics, decisions melt like ice.”

When you get down to it, magic is just metaphor. It’s taking a symbol — like a toy soldier — and saying, this toy soldier represents Barnabas. Then you wrap a handkerchief around the soldier’s neck, pull it tight, and see what happens.

Anybody can do that, really, minus the magic part. Your boyfriend is far away, but every night you kiss a picture of him before you go to bed. You get an email from an annoying co-worker, and you roll your eyes and snarl at it, the way you’d like to treat the person if you could get away with it. When someone that you love dies, you light a candle, and leave flowers on the grave — and even if you don’t believe in ghosts or heaven, it comforts you.

But the people who know magic can take that a step further. Angelique isn’t just smacking a toy soldier around. She tricks the universe into believing that the soldier is Barnabas, and when she throttles the toy, Barnabas chokes.

That’s what magic is — you connect the symbol to the real thing that the symbol represents. Then you wish so hard that you punch a hole through reality, grab something on the other side, and pull.

Continue reading Episode 375: Dangerous Liaisons

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Episode 374: The Wedding Presence

“Anyone who would do a thing like that is capable of anything.”

Today’s episode opens with — guess who? — Angelique, the villainous lady’s maid, who has basically just walked up and pulled the show out from under everyone else. This storyline was supposed to be about Victoria Winters, girl governess, and her uncertain and frightening journey into the past. But Vicki is off screen today, quietly governessing somewhere, and Angelique takes center stage again.

And, naturally, Angelique is — guess what? — talking about herself, and how great her plans are. She’s recently acquired an unwilling sidekick, the heavily indentured Ben Stokes, and his primary duty appears to be standing by as Angelique delivers a spontaneous TED talk on the subject of how awesome she is.

Continue reading Episode 374: The Wedding Presence