“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