“All the things that we once shared together, I never thought that we would share remorse.”
The whole point of television is to surprise you. I’ve never understood why somebody would watch a boring TV show where it’s exactly the same thing every time, like a police procedural, or a cooking show, or the news. Your own life offers you plenty of opportunities to be bored; you put the mystery box in your living room because you want it to bring you something new.
So here we are on the day after Christmas, 1967, and we’re watching the gothic soap opera that gradually turned into a free-wheeling spook show. And just for today, it turns all the way back into a drama again. Who saw that one coming?
Today’s episode was written by Sam Hall, who I think I might have mentioned is the best writer on the show. I first started to pay attention to the writers when I noticed that some of the episodes are more witty than others. After a while, I could recognize a Sam Hall script just by listening to the dialogue, and this is one of them.
Check it out; this is Joshua reacting to the news that Barnabas is planning to marry Angelique.
Joshua: You can’t be serious.
Barnabas: I am.
Joshua: You can’t marry this girl.
Barnabas: I’m going to, father!
Joshua: It’s absurd.
Barnabas: I’m sure that you think so.
Joshua: How well do you know her?
Barnabas: Very well.
Joshua: But that’s nonsense. She’s only been here a month. Why, I haven’t even spoken ten words to her.
Naomi: Obviously, Barnabas has.
Joshua: I can barely remember what she looks like.
Naomi: She’s extremely pretty.
Joshua: Is that why you’re marrying her?
Joshua is played by Louis Edmonds, who’s one of the natural comedians in the cast; he was born for drawing-room comedies. So far, Joshua’s been playing the stern father, but now they’ve discovered that he can be funny too.
Joshua: You’ve had a nasty shock. Josette’s marrying Jeremiah, as she did. But there’s no need to rush into this. There’s no need at all. You simply go to that servant girl —
Joshua: That is a fact; I am not making a disparaging remark. You simply go to her, and tell her that you’ve made a mistake.
Barnabas: No, father.
Joshua: What do you mean, “No, father”? I’m sure you want to be out of this, as much as I want you to.
Barnabas: I have no choice! I promised I would marry her.
Joshua: Well, then, break your promise.
Barnabas: You raised me to be a man of honor.
Joshua: A man of honor doesn’t get involved in anything like this.
It’s gorgeous. And not a ghost in sight.
Then there’s a lovely scene with Barnabas finding Josette mourning at Jeremiah’s grave. Here’s more quotes; it’s really going to be mostly quotes today, because I love this dialogue.
Barnabas: Are you offended?
Barnabas: That I am here.
Josette: You cared very much for Jeremiah once… before I came to this land.
Barnabas: You must not blame yourself.
Josette: I’m afraid I have no one else to blame.
Barnabas: I killed him.
Josette: Yes. But if I’d come to you that night, before he and I ran away… If I’d said to you, I love him, you’d have let me go.
Barnabas: I wouldn’t have believed you. Let me tell you now that you did not cause his death. My temper did. I grieve as much about him as you do, perhaps even more. Do not hate yourself. Hate me.
Barnabas: Oh, you must. You are so very young. And many pleasant things will happen to you.
Josette: No. Not after this.
Barnabas: Yes, after this. You must believe me.
She turns away.
Josette: Oh, Barnabas… What are we going to do?
I love it. There are days when the dialogue is just functional, getting the scene from A to B. And then there are days like this.
Joshua: Why do you want to marry him?
Angelique: Oh, I love him, sir.
Joshua: A reason I find most incomprehensible.
Joshua: Well, it is! Her love seems to have sprung from nowhere. Perhaps I don’t understand about love.
Angelique: Perhaps not, sir.
Joshua: But I find it absolutely appalling that it could exist between two people who have never spent more than an hour with each other.
Joshua: You’re taking gross advantage of my son.
Angelique: You think, sir?
Joshua: You made him promise, in a moment of personal stress, to marry you if you cured my daughter.
Angelique: The circumstances seem to me unimportant, sir. We would have married, regardless of them.
Joshua: I think you’re far too intelligent a girl —
Angelique: Thank you, sir.
Joshua: — to believe that. Otherwise, you would have waited, as a lady should.
Angelique: I am aware, sir, that I entered your house as a servant. But I understand that in this great democracy of yours, it is no crime to rise above your station in life.
After a shellacking from Joshua, Angelique realizes that if she waits for the wedding, Barnabas may find his way back to Josette.
And then — because this is Dark Shadows, and the universe loves you, and it’s Christmas — she decides that she needs to step in once again.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. And they were sore afraid.
And the Angel said unto them, “Fear not! For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my people.”
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly, there with the Angel, a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, and goodwill toward men.”
And that’s what Christmas is all about.
Tomorrow: Tell Them We Are Rising.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the opening scene, Joshua tells Naomi, “I cannot stand in this house one more day.”
The camera is out of focus through much of Josette and Barnabas’ graveyard scene. It completely loses focus during Angelique’s thinks at the end of act 3.
Jeremiah’s gravestone says “Here lyes Jerimiah Collins.”
Tomorrow: Tell Them We Are Rising.
— Danny Horn
22 thoughts on “Episode 392: Christmas Stalking”
This episode is one of my favorites. I always love the shows that check the characters in the middle of the supernatural shenanigans. Josette’s remorse is palpable. She doesn’t need to tumble off Widow’s Hill, you know she’s already damned and doomed herself. And then we get back to the wacky and the weird and that hand rising from the grave is just one creepy image.
As for the spelling on Jeremiah’s grave, it’s not so much a typo as DS trying to imitate the style of inscriptions on headstones in colonial New England. It seems a 100 years too late, much like the witch hunting story, but props for trying.
Would this also pertain to the spelling of GAOL as it was used when Vicki gets tossed into JAIL in the upcoming weeks?
True, that was what was funny., Joshua the cold and distance character created to be not effective by Angelique’s curse is funny at times.
That’s how the Brits still spell it: Gaol.
I’m glad you mentioned Louis’ comedic talent – he really is hilarous. I love all his snobby Roger one-liners, especially all the asides he used to make about Mrs. Johnson’s cooking – comedy gold. Do we know if any of these were adlibs or script additions by Louis?
I totally agree – Louis Edmonds was great even when he played Roger at his most devious. The scene where he ‘terrorized’ Vicki while she was locked in the West Wing (courtesy of the also great David Henesy) was priceless.
One of my favourites!
My guess is that they didn’t purposely do ad-libs, because it was hard enough for everybody to remember their lines every day, without having people mess up your cues.
But over time, soap opera characters tend to drift towards the actors’ personalities, because the writers pick up on what the actor brings to the role. Roger’s transition from villain to sarcastic-but-loving family man was definitely an example of the actor’s real personality shining through.
Here’s the thing if the argument Angelique is getting is that she hasn’t known Barnabas long enough, why doesn’t she mention she knew him in Barbados and just as long as Josette?
I noticed that as well. either its a problem with continuity writing, which is my guess, or Hall didn’t think it was important for Angelique and Barnabas to point it out.
wait a second I wasnt thinking straight- if they now revealed any hint of affection – or god forbid an affair! – that occurred while he was courting josette, and that those feelings didn’t go away while he was planning his wedding with josette, well, that would reflect very very badly. no wonder neither of them are saying anything about it.
awesome episode, and review. I rejoiced at the campy graveyard action at the end. those crazy DS people!!! LOL
I agree with this comment:
This episode is one of my favorites. I always love the shows that check the characters in the middle of the supernatural shenanigans.
I enjoyed watching Angelique handle Joshua with nothing more than her wits.
I’ve also enjoyed the brief moments when we see Naomi and Abigail sparring. I wish, in fact, we had more of that and little less of cats.
The hand at the end was great. At first it seemed straight from the 1976 movie “Carrie”, but then I remembered the time line. De Palma must have stolen the gag from DS.
It’s possible the hand shot idea is even older than Dark Shadows? Also, I’ve just seen the first episode of the new series The Book of Boba Fett, and there is a similar shot when one of the character is “resurrected”.
Ever notice that the only coats on the coat rack conveniently belong to the character going out the door.
I know there are some who think of Josette as a young, self-centered twit, but she did not seem that in this episode. She did seem young and at a loss to find herself in such a horrid situation, but she seems committed to presenting herself with mature proprietary. Maybe she’s just numb and still wondering what the heck really happened.
Did you catch that Joshua called Angelique an “adventuress”? That’s old-timey talk for a loose woman who possessed enough education, beauty, and social skills to be considered acceptable company for gentlemen on the prowl. She’s not the girl a gentleman would marry, but she might be acceptable company for a hedonistic night on the town or even a number of months spent traveling, in other words, a potential mistress to liven up a gentleman’s boring life. I don’t know if that indicates Joshua suspected the nature of the relationship between Barnabas and Angelique or maybe Angelique had a reputation. Perhaps Joshua just pegged her for that sort of woman. … or sadly, perhaps he had reason to believe his son tended to associate with such women.
Based on Jeremiah’s gravestone, he was 32 ish when he died. We know Frid was about a decade older, but Barnabas says he grew up with Jeremiah. So that makes him what in the story? 32 plus or minus 5 years? Any bigger spread of time and the two boys would not have been so close. Barnabas does mention Josette’s comparative youth so I don’t think we can say he’s supposed to be all that young himself.
I don’t know, but I’m starting to sympathize with Joshua’s exasperation toward his son. Men were expected to be self-supporting before marriage, but it seems like both Barnabas and Jeremiah are late to matrimony for men of their wealth and status. Although one fanfic I once read had a backstory that Barnabas had already married once and lost his wife to childbirth. That makes more sense to me than him just now settling down in 1795.
Poor Joshua, he had the huge house built. Did he expect to be hosting a lot of important guests or did he have the expectation of filling the house with a multi-generational, extended Collins family once he got his son and younger brother properly married?
An adventuress was a gold digger. The latter term has more or less replaced it. It was really rude and tactless of Roger to say that. Naomi told him to be tactful and he basically said that he didn’t see a need to be tactful with servants. BTW way, Merriam-Webster says the word adventuress dates from 1707, so DS writers have not, as usual, used a word that hadn’t been invented yet, which they did a few weeks ago when they used “psychic” which would not be used for another century.
The opening teaser and subsequent scene between Joshua, Naomi and Barnabas is absolutely ON FIRE DRAMATICALLY. It may well be the FINEST acting all 3 have turned in with each other since the show began. It was so good I went back and watched it a second time. They just rip through the dialogue which is Sam Hall extraordinaire. Talk about a riveting couple of scenes.
And the subsequent cemetery scene between Josette and Barnabas is very well-calibrated as well. Despite the fact that Jeremiah has already been buried and has a tombstone (“Here Lye’s Jeremiah Collins” is that an Olde English spelling of “lies.”?) Is his body eventually moved to the mausoleum where we know he must eventually wind up? Maybe they didn’t have a mausoleum yet in 1795.
Yet another great scene with Roger grilling Angelique about her pending marriage with Barnabas. Just so great to see the show rebound from the awful show of yesterday.
Love Angelique with the miniature coffin as a witchcraft object. Spooky stuff for these originally aired Christmas episodes.
Neither Jeremiah nor Josette ended up in the mausoleum. They both got buried in the cemetery. Only Joshua, Naomi and Sarah were in the main part of the cemetery, with Barnabas behind the door. Presumably Joshua intended the mausoleum to be Naomi and him, because he couldn’t have expected Sarah to die young and not be buried with the man she married. But it was a small cozy mausoleum, except for the hidden room for storing weapons during the Revolution and a vampire son later on.
This was a huge improvement over yesterday’s episode: strong dramatic scenes and great dialogue. I especially liked the dramatic confrontation between Josuah and Angelique, with Josuah throwing in Angelique’s face her working class servant status. He does this again in a later episode, in which Angelique mentions that she and Ben came here as servants to his household. He replies, “That Madame, I can never forget.” Later in that same episode, Josuah again tries to bribe her to leave Collinwood. If I were Angelique, I’d find that highly insulting. Maybe she should have turned him into a cat again.
THIS IS THE EPISODE I REMEMBER THE MOST!!!!
That hand gave me the creeps for many, many years!!!
Anytime I see it used in TV or movies, I think of this Dark Shadows. I don’t care if it’s original or not, it all harkens back to that moment!