Episode 390/391: The Princess

“Well, if you went to her and told her that, just told her that she wasn’t involved in any way.”

Okay, back to the writers’ room. Ever since we started this uncertain and frightening journey into the past, almost all of the episodes have been written by Sam Hall and Gordon Russell. I talked the other day about Russell’s recent game-upping, and obviously Hall is beautiful and perfect, so the show has been, on the whole, amazing.

And then along comes Ron Sproat, who’s my third favorite out of three.

390 dark shadows dying jeremiah josette

Sproat wrote yesterday’s episode, in which the evil witch-vixen Angelique tortured a nine-year-old girl, in order to trick Barnabas into agreeing to marry her.

Now, I don’t specifically have a problem with kid-in-peril storylines, because what’s the use of even having kids on the show if you’re not going to send them out to play in traffic once in a while.

The thing I take issue with is the “I’ll cure Sarah if you marry me” scheme, because Angelique is supposed to be cooler than that. A couple weeks ago, she told Ben that she’d never cast a spell to make Barnabas love her, because he needs to come to her of his own free will. She wants the realness.

So what’s the point of tricking him into marriage when he’s desperate to save his sister’s life? That wasn’t the romantic proposal she’s been dreaming of. Something is wrong with Angelique right now, and I blame Sproat.

390 dark shadows bed josette

One of the problems with Sproat’s scripts is that his dialogue is functional rather than decorative. There are a lot of moments where the characters say things that any other character would say in that situation, and they become interchangeable.

For example, here we are in Jeremiah’s room, watching him die. Jeremiah was shot in a duel the other day, and the outlook isn’t good. At the time, it didn’t look like he was shot in the face, but now his head is completely wrapped in bandages, so I guess maybe he was, unless he’s taken the opportunity to get some elective plastic surgery.

Anyway, the dialogue.

Andre:  Why don’t you go to your room, and rest for a while?

Naomi:  Your father’s right, Josette. You can’t do anything for Jeremiah. You’ve been sitting here for hours, you must be tired.

Andre:  We’ll let you know if there’s any change.

Josette:  Jeremiah’s dying because of me. I won’t leave him.

You see what I mean about the functional dialogue? Naomi and Andre could trade lines and it would make no difference at all.

390 dark shadows chill josette

Then she feels a chill. People are always announcing they feel a chill in Ron Sproat scripts. She says it’s a premonition; Jeremiah’s going to die tonight. Why he’s decided to indicate that by creating a localized weather pattern around Josette is left up to the audience to interpret.

390 dark shadows improvement barnabas andre

So Andre goes downstairs to tell Barnabas that Josette thinks Jeremiah is going to die.

Barnabas registers surprise, saying, “According to the doctor, he showed signs of improvement!” Because doctors are always optimistic about patients who have been shot in the head.

Andre continues, “What frightens me most is she isn’t crying, or hysterical — she’s just quiet. Altogether too quiet, as if she’s mourning for a man who’s already died. As if she feels that she’s responsible for his death.”

Gee, I wonder where that’s coming from. Apparently, people don’t understand other people’s feelings today.

390 dark shadows responsible barnabas

Barnabas:  Why should she feel responsible? I was the one that challenged him to a duel; I shot him. His blood is on my hands, not hers.

Andre:  Yes, but she was the cause of the duel. If she believes that she killed him, she won’t live past that guilt for the rest of her life… unless you pity her. I mean, her only crime was that she was in love with Jeremiah, and not you.

Barnabas:  Perhaps it was.

Andre:  Well, if you went to her and told her that, just told her that she wasn’t involved in any way, and that she’s not to blame.

390 dark shadows love andre barnabas

Which is just annoying. Everything is annoying me today.

Barnabas:  Perhaps Jeremiah will recover, and he and Josette will live very happily.

Andre:  I pray it will happen. Maybe some good should come out of all this.

Barnabas:  Yes. Someone in this house will be happy…

That’s a nice sentiment, but maybe you should have thought of that before you shot Jeremiah in the face. I bet he was planning to use that face for something.

390 dark shadows happy barnabas angelique

But if you want to see happy people in the house, then here comes Angelique, reporting that Sarah is recovering nicely from her voodoo-inflicted illness.

390 dark shadows settle barnabas angelique

Angelique settles herself at Barnabas’ feet, and asks when he’s planning to tell Josette about their upcoming marriage.

Angelique:  It will come as a surprise to her. But then I suppose it will surprise everyone. There will be those who will tell you that I’m not worthy of you. Perhaps they are right.

Barnabas:  Don’t say that.

Angelique:  I will try to be worthy of you, Barnabas. I will do everything in my power to make you a good wife. You do know that, don’t you?

Barnabas:  I…

390 dark shadows marriage angelique

She completely misinterprets his obvious lack of excitement.

Angelique:  What is it? Do you doubt my love for you?

Barnabas:  No.

Angelique:  You must never doubt it, because I do love you. More than anything in the world, I want to make you happy.

390 dark shadows marriage barnabas

Things get a little awkward.

Barnabas:  Angelique…

Angelique:  What is it? Why do you look so troubled?

Barnabas:  We never spoke of marriage.

390 dark shadows told me angelique

Angelique:  But we did, this afternoon! You told me you would make me your wife if I was able to cure Sarah. And Sarah has recovered.

Barnabas:  Yes, but…

Angelique:  But what?

Barnabas:  I thought Sarah was going to die, I was desperate.

390 dark shadows that why angelique

Angelique:  Is that why you agreed to marry me?

Barnabas:  I didn’t say that.

Angelique:  No, but you implied it.

390 dark shadows weak angelique barnabas

She walks to the other side of the room for some passive-aggressive backacting.

Angelique:  You promised to marry me if I saved Sarah’s life. I did, and now you want to go back on your promise. Apparently, you do not want to marry me, and so I release you from your promise.

Barnabas:  Angelique…

Angelique:  Forget everything that was said. I’m glad that Sarah has recovered. I didn’t cure her to force you into a marriage that you obviously do not want.

390 dark shadows hurt angelique

Now, I hate to say this, because I love Angelique, as a character and a chaos engine, but this plot point just doesn’t work at all. She’s specifically trying to pressure him into living up to his marriage proposal. Again, what’s the difference between that and casting a spell on him? Saying “I don’t want to force you” is the thing that you say when you want to force somebody.

Angelique should be in control of her own emotions. That’s part of what makes her so much fun to watch — that she can get inside other people’s heads, as she did during Reverend Trask’s interrogation on Tuesday.

390 dark shadows don't cry angelique barnabas

But Sproat doesn’t really get Angelique — and in her early days, occasionally Lara Parker doesn’t either.

There’s a great quote from Parker in a 1991 People interview (quoted in Craig Hamrick’s book Barnabas & Company): “I was just a young, naive actress who wanted to play the lead. I had to be the princess. I wanted to cry when things went wrong. They kept pulling me aside and saying, ‘Honey, you’re the heavy. Don’t cry. Think vicious.'”

She absolutely nails vicious in the scenes where she’s being explicitly vicious, but today, Sproat’s script is encouraging her to play the princess.

390 dark shadows proposal barnabas angelique

So obviously, by the end of the scene, they end up here. But where does here get us?

Monday: It’s a pre-emption Christmas special!
Time Travel, part 2: Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

David Ford is in this episode, so obviously the dialogue is a little bumpy. There’s one point in his first scene with Barnabas when he delivers a full minute of dialogue while looking back and forth between Barnabas and the camera.

Naomi still calls Josette “Mademoiselle du Prés”, instead of Josette Collins.

In her conversation with Angelique, Josette walks over to a part of the set that doesn’t have lighting. They carry on part of their conversation in full shadow.

In Jeremiah’s room, Barnabas asks Andre, “How is he?” Andre’s response: “Very loam.” I swear this is what he says.

Then Barnabas fumbles:

Angelique:  Did you speak to Josette?

Barnabas:  Ye — no.

Angelique:  Why not? You said you were going to.

Barnabas:  Yes, and I will. Tomorrow, perhaps.

Jeremiah’s ghost appears by Josette’s bedside, through the magic of Chromakey. They don’t quite get the matching right, so it looks like Jeremiah is about four and a half feet tall.

This isn’t a blooper, just an amusing moment: Jeremiah’s ghost opens the door when he leaves Josette’s room.

Behind the Scenes:

Today’s episode gets a double number, because the show is pre-empted on Monday for Christmas. Whenever they skipped a day, they’d give an episode a double number, so they can keep the numbers consistent.

Timothy Gordon is subbing in for Anthony George for the next seven episodes, as Jeremiah’s body/ghost. His face is completely covered in bandages, a trick that Ed Wood used when Bela Lugosi died in the middle of shooting Plan 9 From Outer Space. We previously saw Gordon as a Blue Whale customer, and he played Barnabas’ hand when it came out of the coffin to strangle Willie in episode 210. We’ll see his hand again in the future — he plays Barnabas’ hand in a vision, and Count Petofi’s hand in the 1897 storyline. In 1795, he also plays a minister, and a spectator at a hanging.

As the series went on, the excitable teenage fans started idolizing every actor who appeared on the show, including day players like Gordon. Barnabas & Company quotes from an amusing response to a fan letter in February 1970:

“‘I more than yearn to be on the show more than I am, and it takes wonderful people like yourself to get me there — the producers are a little thick in the head sometimes, so write to them.’ (He provided names and an address.) ‘Get all your friends to write — the more the better, and you will get me back on. It is folks like you who make the stars.’

“He mentioned his fan club was aptly named ‘The Timothy Gordon, Ghost of Jeremiah Fan Club’ and was based in Salem, New Hampshire.”

Monday: It’s a pre-emption Christmas special!
Time Travel, part 2: Blood, Sweat and Tears.

390 dark shadows jeremiah baby

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

27 thoughts on “Episode 390/391: The Princess

  1. I guess that Barnabas is Angelique’s weak spot when it comes to her conniving ways. Basically she makes a fool of herself in his presence. I wonder if in her fixation she bothered to take a good look at what she wanted to get.

  2. I agree that Sproat doesn’t get Angelique. My preferred interpretation of her character is that she fully believes Barnabas is in love with her. He slept with her, after all, and she will refuse to think she’s been used.

    So, she doesn’t need a spell to make Barnabas fall for her because he already has. And the only reason Barnabas pursues Josette is because of family obligation. Thus, her plan would be to remove the obligation to marry Josette and even take her down a peg as a “lady” given the scandalous behavior she forces Josette into.

    But that interpretation goes off the rails when Angelique outright blackmails Barnabas into marrying her. My version of Angelique would be a master of denial and projection — external forces are keeping her and Barnabas apart. But my Angelique would be smart enough to realize the class differences, so she would set out to endear herself to the Collins family so they would see past her status and permit the marriage that obviously Barnabas wants.

    This would more logically explain her treatment of Sara. She makes her fall mysteriously ill and then sweeps in to cure her. As depicted, she comes across like a mobster offering protection money, but a smarter script would have her using Sara’s illness to curry favor, and all at the expense of Vicki, who’d be blamed for the mysterious illness in the first place,

    1. Yeah, one of my goals for this project is to look closely at the ways that the production process impacted on the stories and characters. Serialized narrative is rarely planned in the long term, for soap operas even more so, and for Dark Shadows even more than that.

      If you ask why somebody acts out of character, the answer usually lies outside the story. The Barnabas/Josette/Jeremiah backstory changed when they jumped into 1795, because they came up with a much more interesting story to tell. But it also goes the other way sometimes — writers forget or disagree with the original vision of the character.

      That definitely happens with the original 1966 cast over the first year and a half. By now, the guys who originally created Liz, Roger, Burke, Sam and Joe are long gone. The strongest writers on the show (Hall and Russell) only showed up four months ago. When the show gets back to 1968, we’ll see a lot more focus on the new characters that they’ve created, and the original characters get pushed a bit off the canvas. This happens on every soap opera, every time they change producers and writers.

    2. Another explanation is that Angelique is not human and never was (her story is very much like Ondine/Rusalka/Little Mermaid). So, of course, not being human, she can be very canny in some situations and very clueless in others.

      1. Or Anya/Anyanka on Buffy the Vampire Slayer who is smart when it comes to demon stuff but not so much with human emotions whether her own or someone else’s.

  3. I think that the bandaged head looks ridiculous – it really trivializes the character of Jeremiah. Maybe a better way would have been to show the character with his back to the audience – they could have gotten a tall dark haired actor and put him in Jeremiah’s ‘leaf coat’ and had Josette scream his name so the audience would know who he was. I think this would have projected a creepier atmosphere (but of course then they wouldn’t have been able to do the ‘hanging eyeball’).

    1. I agree. In addition, I think it’s inconsistently done. When Jeremiah is on the bed, his face looks to be completely wrapped up; whereas, when Josette sees him, he’s only partially so.

  4. How do I get back on the mailing list? Haven’t received a new Dark Shadows for a while.

  5. The only excuse I can make for Angelique is that maybe she thinks Barnabas is still in denial because of their relative positions and she needs to wipe that excuse out too when he doesn’t come at once.
    “Angelique: It will come as a surprise to her. But then I suppose it will surprise everyone. There will be those who will tell you that I’m not worthy of you. Perhaps they are right.”

  6. I don’t think it’s a blooper that Naomi still calls Josette “Mademoiselle du Prés”–her marriage to Jeremiah tore a hole in the family, after all.

    1. Angelique still calls her du Pres as well, in her marriage conversation with Barnabas; that’s the bit I found odd. Casually using her married name would have been a good, subtle way of keeping Barnabas focused on the distance between him and Josette in that moment.

  7. I agree that the blackmailing seems a stretch, but she did back down, after all. For me–now and back then, when I had the hugest Angelique crush–Lara Parker’s playing the pathos of Angelique’s pain, even against Frid and everyone else’s advice to play the heavy, made the character, greatly increased her fascination; when the revival series cast a much more experienced actress, they wrote Angelique as a pure villain/stalker, that dimension of pathos was mostly lost, and my heart sank.

  8. Blooper alert: when Angelique enters Josette’s room there is a male crew member clearly visible in the background.

  9. “In Jeremiah’s room, Barnabas asks Andre, ‘How is he?’ Andre’s response: ‘Very loam’. I swear this is what he says.”

    I think the closed captioner thought he said “Very lone” or “Very alone.” Yeah, that doesn’t make sense either.

    Stephen Robinson seems to suggest that Angelique is doing Munchhausen by proxy to worm her way into the Collins family. I like it.

    The writers disagree with the plot they supposedly agreed on in the writers’ room? So much for bothering to have a show bible at all. Hell, I could have written for this show if there were no rules.

    1. “In Jeremiah’s room, Barnabas asks Andre, ‘How is he?’ Andre’s response: ‘Very loam’. I swear this is what he says.”

      Although it is a bit garbled, Andre is saying, “Very low.”

  10. “Is he breathing? I can’t tell.” A worried Andre duPres says to Barnabas.

    I got this one. Probably not since it looks like the only thing in the bed is a zucchini with a head scarf on it. I mean there’s not even an impression on the bed that is remotely akin to something like that of a full-bodied man like Jeremiah.

    Could they simply not afford to pay an extra to lay in that bed for this scene? This was one of the more laughable moments in a long time,

    And YET: SOMEONE must have been hired to play the Jeremiah that walks into Josette’s room with the head bandages for the brief interlude there.

    Cross-cut back to the Jeremiah bedroom when Andre pulls up the sheet over him indicating that he has passed. But there is nothing in that bed except for the zucchini and head wrap. There is no way there is an actual person in that bed.

    Josette enters and poor David Ford has the unenviable task of imparting the news to Josette and has to actually look to the teleprompter for his big line, “Josette, my dear, Jeremiah is dead.” David Ford has this way of losing his place in the script, checks the teleprompter for his line, and then rapid-fire delivers at a shout to make up for the lost time he’s spent searching for lines. As a director myself, I would be having some very serious discussions with this actor about his future on the show at this point.

    And why earlier in the episode is almost an entire scene shot with the bedpost pillar completely upstaging the actors? Yeah, it looks kind of arty but is an epic fail from a purely stage composition standpoint.

    Finally, in this single episode, it appears that Angelique is moving into endgame with obtaining Barnabas to the point that he tells Naomi that he is going to marry her. This should be the climax of this months long gambit by Angelique yet we know that it doesn’t actually transpire. This makes for some clunky back-and-forth between Barnabas and her, as Danny described above, and one of the most disjointed of the 1795 episodes thus far (with extra special thanks to David Ford’s less-than-stellar performance).

    1. Barry: I agree that having an obvious prop standing in for Jeremiah (to me, it looked like a volley or soccer ball covered in wrappings and propped up at the top of the bed covers) was laughable, thus robbing the family,’s death vigil of both pathos and suspense.

  11. I agree that Angelique’s blackmailing Barnabas into marrying her in exchange for saving Sarah’s life hardly seems like having him come to her of his own free will. I like Stephen’s suggestion that she instead should have set things up to make it seem as if Vicki had cast a spell on Sarah, and thus win the family’s favor by saving the child. That would have been in keeping with her mastery of manipulation and deceit.

    Also, I thought it totally illogical that Barnabas would, after trying to back out on his promise to Angelique, suddenly experience guilt and agree to marry her anyway. That reversal seemed sloppily written, as well as unconvincing.

    Finally, Barnabas’ agreeing with Andre that somebody in the house will be happy if Jeremiah survives, while clearly implying that it won’t be him, again speaks to the character’s self-centeredness.

    1. Our thoughts on consensual relationships have changed. By today’s standards, Josette and Jeremiah were both raped via “love potion”. Neither one wanted to be with the other. They were drugged. Barnabas marrying Angelique certainly is under coercion and is not totally consensual either.

      As for Angelique not pinning the poisoning on Vicki it later becomes clear that Angelique wants Barnabas to (to paraphrase Billie Joel) “Love her just the way she is”, which in this case is a murderous sociopath.She doesn’t want to trick him into marriage, she wants to force him and then assumes that he will eventually come to love her, just because. I never forgave Dark Shadows for having that exact thing happen as the series was winding down. She poisoned your sister Barnabas! And turned you into a monster that killed people you didn’t even know, as opposed to family, her curse ended in you mother committing suicide. JEEZE, I don’t care how pretty she is and how much use she became, announcing she was your only true love was STUPID and WRONG, and couldn’t you have come to that conclusion back in the 1790s and saved everybody all that grief?

      When Dan finally hits that episode I will probably go into more detail on how MUCH I hate that decision.

      1. I agree, Percys. I understand that Sam Hall, if he had been allowed to wrap up the show the way he thought it logically should have ended, would have had Barnabas admit that Julia was the one he had truly loved all along.

  12. I noticed that when the camera focused itself on a clock, loud ticking started. But as soon as the camera focused on something else in the same room, the ticking stopped. I think this happens a lot on DS.

    About David Ford, even while looking intently at the prompter, he manages to flub a line. That’s gangster! And the pairing of him with Frid always makes me a little nervous, as they both seem just increase exponentially the other’s line-flubbing propensity.

Leave a Reply to Joyce Ramacciato Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s