“I am your servant. You are my master. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it is to be.”
Okay, let’s talk some more about The Crucible, the 1953 Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials. Everybody knows that The Crucible is the inspiration for the Collinsport witch hunt that’s coming up next month, but the influence goes even deeper than that, all the way down into the soul of Dark Shadows.
The play is a dramatization of the hysteria in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts. A group of young girls is found dancing in the woods, in defiance of the strict Puritan laws against dancing, music and anything that might be enjoyable. Horrified at being discovered, and desperate to find a scapegoat, the girls pretend that they’ve been seduced and tormented by witches living in the village. Directed by the eldest girl, Abigail Williams, they become a terrifying mob who accuse dozens of their neighbors. Guided only by the “spectral evidence” of the girls’ testimony, the court convicts and executes 20 innocent people.
Abigail is a terrifying figure in the play — self-centered and vengeful, taking a special delight in wielding the power that she’s suddenly acquired. Abigail was a servant of farmer John Proctor, and her tangled relationship with him is the emotional heart of the drama.
Over the last few weeks, the crucial new idea on the show is to introduce these narrative collisions, weaving characters from other fictional worlds into the story of Dark Shadows. There’s a beautiful woman from another story walking into the house today, and things are going to get ugly.
But let’s start at the beginning, because a lot happens today. We’ve traveled back in time with Vicki, who’s stuck in 1795 — back when Barnabas was alive, and waiting impatiently for his fiancee, Josette, to arrive on a ship from the Caribbean island of Martinique.
There’s a storm today, and Barnabas is pacing back and forth in the drawing room, looking out the window and worrying about Josette’s boat. Without thinking, Vicki tells him, “Nothing has happened. Your fiancee will arrive here safely.”
Barnabas’ face lights up. “You say that with such assurance, I believe you,” he says. “Are you psychic?” Vicki says no, but Barnabas is excited: “I’ve always wanted to meet someone who is. Are you sure you can’t tell the future?”
And, oh, Baby Barnabas, you’re so adorable right now that it’s hard to believe you’ll become the cold, vicious monster we’ve seen in 1967. He’s like a little puppy, instantly distracted from his worries by the idea that he knows someone with supernatural powers.
Realizing what she’s done, Vicki backtracks, and says that she can’t tell the future. Of course, she knows the legend that Josette committed suicide, throwing herself from the cliff on Widow’s Hill, but it’s probably not a good idea to share that with everybody right now. That kind of thing makes people nervous.
But here’s another distraction, knocking on the door. Josette’s aunt, Countess Natalie du Prés, has arrived for the wedding. Her coach is stuck in the mud, and her maid, Angelique, has walked through the storm to fetch help.
It’s a quiet entrance, but she’s the one character we’ve seen in 1795 who’s played by a new actor. We might want to watch out for this one.
The big entrance is reserved for Natalie, who marches in with a series of complaints. This is Grayson Hall, upping her game. The Countess du Prés is basically Julia with a French accent, a louder voice, and a bigger hat.
Natalie: No, no, it is impossible! Josette wrote me from Paris, just before they left. She promised she’d be here last week. I cannot be here before them. Oh, it is a mistake!
Barnabas: Of course it isn’t, Countess.
Natalie: Obviously it is, there’s no one here to greet me.
Barnabas: We’re delighted to have you.
Natalie: Are you.
She sweeps into the drawing room to give the place a disapproving once-over.
Natalie: So, this is the house where you expect my Josette to live.
Barnabas: Father’s giving it to us as a wedding present, and then he and my mother are going to live in the new house, when it’s finished.
Natalie: And take the furnishings with them, I trust.
And then she takes a step back, and sticks the plumes of her hat straight into Barnabas’ face. You don’t give a hat like that to Grayson Hall, and expect her not to use it.
Naturally, Barnabas is desperate to please her.
Barnabas: Josette will be very happy here.
Natalie: You think so. Tell me, does it ever stop raining?
Barnabas: Of course it does.
Natalie: Is it ever warm?
Barnabas: Well, it’s not as warm as it is in Martinique.
Natalie: But the sun does shine, occasionally.
Barnabas: Yes, it does.
Natalie, with a sigh: I taught Josette to love color. There’s so little here.
Barnabas: She loves me. As I her.
Natalie: So… perhaps your love can make up for the barrenness of the world you’ve chosen.
It’s wonderful. And she likes Barnabas; this is an up moment for her.
The whole episode is like this. Joshua gives Natalie a gruff welcome; Natalie antagonizes him and makes a grand exit. Joshua barks at Barnabas, and mocks Naomi for drinking during the day. (“Perhaps they will be kind,” he says, “and merely think you ill.”)
Every scene just sparkles today, and all of this week, really. Traveling into the past has allowed them to reboot not just Barnabas’ character, but everyone’s.
In the course of its first year and a half, Dark Shadows has cycled through three different writing teams, and in all the transitions, the rough edges have been sanded off the main characters.
Roger, Liz and Burke — whose conflicts drove all the story in the first six months — have settled down, and become a group of amiable friends. Reborn as Joshua, Naomi and Jeremiah, they’ve got conflicts to play again, and it’s obvious that everyone on the show is re-energized, including the writers and the people responsible for finding wigs and big feathery hats.
And that’s not all; the music department has a new trick too, which shows up in the tarot cards scene.
Natalie has parked herself in the drawing room, laying out a set of tarot cards and explaining to a bemused Barnabas how the cards reveal the future to her. Meanwhile, in the background music, we get a taste of the new Dark Shadows sound.
Robert Cobert is the musician who wrote and arranged all the music cues for Dark Shadows, building a library of background themes and dramatic stings that were used over and over in a variety of combinations. The new mood of creative excitement has hit him too, and he’s just recorded a new set of music cues featuring his new toy, the theremin.
The theremin is an early electronic musical instrument which generates sound by detecting the proximity of the musician’s hands to two metal antennas. It creates a high-pitched, eerie whine that was used in every monster movie and flying-saucer thriller from the 1950s on. Now that Dark Shadows has turned into a non-stop monster movie, it was only a matter of time until Cobert unleashed some theremin on the soundtrack.
The spooky new tracks were made for fortune-telling and spell-casting, so they’re a perfect fit for Natalie’s reign of tarot. She shows Barnabas the card representing him, and the one representing Josette — and then she spots a card and gasps, “The wicked woman!”
The Countess says the reading is over, but Barnabas wants to know what she saw. “There is a wicked woman in this house,” Natalie says. “That is what the cards tell us. The woman will bring grief… but the cards do not tell us who she is.” And then she turns and fixes Vicki with a look that tells us there’s more trouble on the way.
And the new music was created with that wicked woman in mind. On the 2006 CD set The Complete Dark Shadows Soundtrack Music Collection, all of the soundtrack cues are listed with their original numbers and titles, which they used when they were compiling the tracks for each episode. The most memorable tracks, both of which are used today, are cue 77: “Wailing Theremin (Angelique)”, and cue 80A: “Angelique’s Spook”.
Because Angelique — the Countess’ pleasant, smiling maid — is the wicked woman of the day. When everyone else is occupied, she sneaks up to Barnabas’ room and knocks on the door.
“Who is it?” Barnabas asks — and when he opens the door, she’s there on his threshold. “A ghost from your past,” she smiles, and then darts in and tells him to close the door.
Angelique: I have waited for this moment all day long.
He backs away, and she teases him.
Angelique: You do not remember?
Barnabas: I remember.
Angelique: I waited in my room. You didn’t come. So here I am.
He doesn’t respond.
Angelique: I have not your pride. I have no reason for pride.
She rushes to his arms.
Angelique: Oh, hold me!
Angelique: After you left our island, I would wake up at night, hearing you say my name. Did you think of me at all?
Barnabas: Yes… I did.
Angelique: Oh, tell me! Hold me tight and tell me.
He says, “No!” and breaks away.
Angelique: Well, you do not think me pretty anymore?
Barnabas: Yes, of course you are. But, you see… it was a mistake.
Barnabas: It’s my fault, I know. It was my weakness to…
Angelique: Love me?
And look at her face. This is not a healthy long-term plan.
Let’s go back to John Proctor and Abigail for a minute, because this scene with Angelique and Barnabas is a direct lift from The Crucible.
Abigail, a servant girl who used to work for John, finds a moment to be alone with him.
Abigail: Give me a word, John. A soft word.
Proctor: No, no, Abby. That’s done with.
Abigail: You come five mile to see a silly girl fly? I know you better.
Proctor: Put it out of mind, Abby.
Abigail: John — I am waitin’ for you every night.
Proctor: Abby, I never give you hope to wait for me. I’ll not be comin’ for you more.
Abigail: You’re surely sportin’ with me.
Proctor: You know me better.
Abigail: I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near! It’s she [Proctor’s wife] put me out, you cannot pretend it were you. I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now!
And now back to our TV show, already in progress.
Angelique: Today, when you opened the door, I thought you were glad to see me.
Barnabas: I was.
Angelique: You are honest now?
Angelique: Then you are glad I am in this room!
Barnabas: Josette is coming…
Angelique: She’s not here yet!
Barnabas: But she’s going to be!
Abigail: I have seen you since she put me out; I have seen you nights.
Proctor: I have hardly stepped off my farm this sevenmonth.
Abigail: I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, and I have seen you looking up, burning in your loneliness. Do you tell me you’ve never looked up at my window?
Proctor: I may have looked up.
Angelique: You’re so different here! You’re as cold as that wind outside your house.
Barnabas: I am not cold, but I want to be. I have to be!
Abigail: You are no wintry man. I know you, John. I know you.
Abigail: I cannot sleep for dreamin’; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you comin’ through some door.
Proctor: Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again.
Barnabas: I didn’t know that we were going to be married then. To be honest, I thought I was in love with Josette, but I didn’t realize she was in love with me.
Proctor: Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby.
Barnabas: But now that we’ve written, you and I… well, it’s impossible.
Abigail: Aye, but we did.
Proctor: Aye, but we did not.
Angelique: Are you sad about it?
Barnabas: Well, what good will it be to admit that?
Barnabas: We both have different roles to play now.
Angelique: And what is mine? The Countess’ maid?
Abigail: Oh, how I marvel how such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be —
Angelique: You know me as I really am! I am no one’s servant but yours!
Proctor: You’ll speak nothin’ of Elizabeth!
Angelique: I am your servant. You are my master.
Abigail: She is blackening my name in the village!
Angelique: That’s the way it is.
Abigail: She is telling lies about me!
Angelique: That’s the way it is to be.
Barnabas: No, Angelique!
Proctor: Do you look for whippin’?
Abigail: I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart!
Abigail: And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will notl I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet!
Angelique: You will see!
Then Abigail and Angelique turn, and leave the room together.
And the world burns.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
An anachronism: Barnabas asks Vicki if she’s “psychic,” a word that was introduced to the English language in the 1870s. (See the Psychic article on Wikipedia. Thanks to Kerlin4321 for pointing this out!)
When Joshua is bullying Barnabas, he fluffs a line: “How will you ever get through life, if you put importance to… the really unimportant things?”
Joshua asks Naomi what they’ll do if Josette turns out to be like the Countess. Naomi stresses the wrong word in her reply. The line should be, “If she is, what?” — but Naomi says, “If she is what?”
In the last scene, when Barnabas says, “Who’s there?”, the front of a camera enters the frame on the right.
When Angelique says, “I am your servant; you are my master,” there’s a lot of studio noise. You can hear people walking around, and something squeaks several times.
Behind the Scenes:
This episode has a double number — 368/369 — because tomorrow’s episode is pre-empted for Thanksgiving 1967.
This is the last episode for a while that only exists as a kinescope copy. There’s six more after this; we’ll see the next one in June 1968.
This was actress Lara Parker’s very first professional acting job — which is remarkable, considering how universally popular she is among Dark Shadows viewers, and how important Angelique becomes. She had a husband and two young children in Norfolk, Virginia, but she wanted to follow her dream of becoming an actress, so she spent three weeks in New York auditioning.
Parker described her audition with Jonathan Frid in The Dark Shadows Companion:
“I had been told that Angelique was a witch, and I felt I had to do something demonic, but there was no mention of witchcraft in the scene. Then, at the very end of the audition, I had an inspiration. I turned to the camera and looked deeply into the lens. I knew Angelique was a woman scorned. I smiled a wicked little smile, and thought to myself, ‘Hell hath no fury greater than mine!’
“I was very lucky. The camera man zoomed into my eyes, and I got the part. Thus began one of the greatest adventures of my life.”
Parker will be on the show for 269 episodes, all the way up to the final episode in April 1971. She appears in every time period and present-day storyline, usually playing Angelique under various aliases. For her first two years, she actually kept the fact that she had a husband and children a secret from everyone on the show, fearing that she would be judged for being a working mother.
A props note from Prisoner of the Night: “Barnabas’ room in the Old House is redressed from Roger’s office at the cannery in 1966. Two props from Roger’s office are visible. The barometer, which will hang in the study of the Collinwood of 1967 onward, is on the opposite side of the door at stage left from where it was in the cannery office. Beside the barometer is the tall black desk from Roger’s office, which will also be in the Old House drawing room from 1967 onward, as well as the apartment of Professor Stokes in 1968. Beside the fireplace at stage right are three items that were seen in the Old House drawing room of 1967: one of the two identical pink-red easy chairs, and to the left a small round side table and a three-pronged candle holder which seems to have strings of pearls suspended from the holders. In the Old House drawing room of 1967, the side table and candle holder were to the right of the chair.”
— Danny Horn