“Perhaps it will happen tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that.”
Quiet, everybody; Dr. Julia Hoffman is on the phone. At the beginning of an episode, I usually try to give a little summary of what’s going on, to help orient you to where we are in the story. But, as we learned yesterday, recaps are for the weak. As far as Dark Shadows is concerned, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. Try to keep up.
Because this is the thing about Julia: she goes to eleven. And she doesn’t even work her way up to it — today, she starts at eleven, and continues from there. Twelve is an option.
At the moment, she’s taking a call from Dave Woodard, who she co-murdered about a month ago.
Julia: It can’t be! You’re dead!
Woodard: Yes… and soon you will die!
Woodard: Do you hear me, Julia? Soon, you will die… very, very soon. You… will die!
We take a quick break for the opening titles, and then we’re back on the phone.
Woodard: Do you hear me, Julia? Soon — very, very soon — you will die, when you least expect it. And it isn’t far off. Perhaps it will happen tomorrow… or the day after. Or the day after that.
Or, presumably, the day after that, and so on. We’re familiar with how time works. Do you think we could wrap this call up? I’m getting a hurry-up signal from the producer.
After she hangs up, there’s about a minute and a half of her breathing heavily as the doorknob turns. This close-up of a slowly turning doorknob is a recent invention on the show — this might actually be the first example of it, but I’m not going to go back and check, because life is too short, and there are many more slow doorknobs ahead of us.
I’m also going to assume that this gimmick is unique to Dark Shadows, because I can’t imagine anyone else thinking that an audience would sit through it.
Anyway, the door finally opens, and thank goodness, it’s another character.
Barnabas comes in and acts very calm and reassuring, like he’s thrilled to see her, and he has no idea why she’s so stressed out. It must be one of those things that’s funny for vampires. She tries to pull herself together and pretend that he’s not driving her crazy, but it’s a tough sell.
Then Barnabas goes outside, and he smirks as he tells Carolyn about the progress of his brilliant plan.
Carolyn: I almost feel sorry for her. You’re being very cruel to her.
Barnabas: She was cruel to me! She tried to turn Vicki against me. She deserves to be punished for that… and she will.
This is why Barnabas is still a problem. Even now, just days away from the big character reboot, he’s still acting like he’s the only one who has feelings.
But he still needs to get Julia’s notebook out of Tony Peterson’s safe, so he tells Carolyn to get to work.
So now we have another cute Carolyn/Tony date scene, where he’s charming and she’s scheming.
Tony: Okay, we’re here. Next question.
Carolyn: Surely you’re not going to ask me why I wanted to come here.
Tony: Well, you asked me to take you to dinner. You asked me to bring you up here. Usually, the man issues both invitations.
Carolyn: I was hungry, and I wanted to see your apartment. A man’s apartment says a lot about him.
Tony: Mine says that I don’t have much money, and that I don’t empty cigarette butts out of ashtrays.
I love Tony. He was just introduced last week, but he has a real point of view. Jerry Lacy manages to make every line interesting, even in a Ron Sproat script, where the dialogue is almost entirely functional, rather than decorative.
The landlord must be a lunatic, by the way. There’s a huge wooden armoire in the apartment, plus a wooden screen and a grandfather clock. Who puts a grandfather clock in an apartment? I’ve been living in apartments for most of my life, and you can go a long time between grandfather clocks.
The date comes to an abrupt halt; we spent all day yesterday making scary noises at Julia, so we’re making up time today. Carolyn steals Tony’s keys, makes an excuse, and skedaddles. Poor Tony — he’s baffled, and this isn’t even the weirdest conversation he’ll have tonight.
Back at Collinwood, things have calmed down significantly. Roger comes home, and Julia seems basically fine, so it seems like Barnabas has backed off a bit on the “spend the rest of her life in a home for the incurably insane” concept.
But like I said, this is a functional script today. We need Roger to tell Julia that Carolyn is out with Tony, so she’ll hurry over to Tony’s apartment and set up the next plot point. That’s not going to happen if she’s curled up in a fetal position next to the end table, so this is a case of plot-mandated sanity.
The rest of the episode is basically just connecting the dots. Julia tells Tony that Carolyn is using him, to get her hands on the notebook. Tony tells her that she’s being ridiculous, but then he notices that his keys are gone. He goes to his office, catches Carolyn trying to open his safe, and that sets up a conflict for tomorrow.
It’s a whimper rather than a bang, really, but at least we’re off the phone and out of the house, and that feels like progress.
Tomorrow: Anyone But You.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the first scene, Julia stares at her bedroom door as it appears to stretch and squish. They’re using a reflection of the door to produce the effect, so the doorknob is on the wrong side.
Barnabas has a little trouble with his lines at the end of his conversation with Carolyn.
Barnabas: No one will suspect how the notebook disappeared.
Carolyn: But what if I’m caught?
Barnabas: See that you don’t.
Behind the Scenes:
Tony’s apartment is a redressed version of the set used for Burke’s apartment. The number of Burke’s apartment was 42; Tony’s is 24. In an August 1968, we see Joe’s apartment, which is also #24.
Yesterday and today, Dr. Woodard’s voice on the telephone is played by Peter Turgeon, who played Woodard until the character’s death in October. The physical manifestation was played by fill-in actor Peter Murphy, who recently played the Caretaker and Burke’s corpse. He’ll be back in a couple weeks to play Dr. Thornton.
This is Turgeon’s last Dark Shadows episode. After this, he had an undistinguished career, with small parts in Airport and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and one-episode roles on The Jeffersons and L.A. Law. He did a lot of regional theater, and I suppose someone on this Earth must have loved him.
Tomorrow: Anyone But You.
— Danny Horn