Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Episode 426: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

“The more one learns, the worse one feels. I did not realize life was like that. But probably it is a well-known fact that no one bothered to tell me.”

There’s big news from the royal family, as usual. They think that just because they’re rich and powerful, that means they’ve got a patent on the epic tragedy — although to be fair, they usually do. Regular people don’t poison each other and throw themselves off cliffs; they just don’t have the time.

So here’s the top headlines: Barnabas, Prince of Collinsport, killed his uncle Jeremiah in a duel. Barnabas was then killed by his own wife, the witch Angelique, and cursed with eternal life. After dispatching Angelique, Barnabas courted his dead uncle’s wife, Josette, and planned to make her his vampire bride.

On Friday — confused and frightened by a vision created by the ghost of Angelique — Josette rejected the undead Prince, and killed herself by jumping from the cliff on Widow’s Hill. It’s basically a cross between Hamlet, Macbeth and the juicier episodes of Dynasty, as directed by George Romero.

Continue reading Episode 426: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

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Episode 425: Jump Street

“I would not let them be together in life… and they shall not be together in death.”

So far, there have been lots of surprises in the 1795 flashback storyline — some of them pleasant, and some not so much. I think the most disappointing surprise has been the characterization of Josette. She’s supposed to be the heart of the whole story, but as I’ve talked about this week, there’s not much there to hang on to.

Josette is basically just a spoiled rich girl. She never shows any real maturity, or makes any difficult decisions. She’s the blank slate that other characters write on — and not just the supernatural characters. There was that episode where Reverend Trask talked her into a weird, borderline-sexual exorcism ritual, and he didn’t use hypnosis. He just told her what he was going to do, and then he did it.

So, standing here at the precipice, the real tragedy is that Josette’s tragedy doesn’t feel like much of a tragedy. It’s the end of the girl as we know it, and I feel fine.

Continue reading Episode 425: Jump Street

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Episode 424: Pursued By a Bear

“Doesn’t it disturb you that the last thing she was able to say was your son’s name?”

You know, I don’t care how it looks on TV — I bet there’s a downside to murdering any random person you come across. For one thing, there’s all the mess to clean up, and it certainly won’t make organizing the neighborhood softball league any easier.

I mean, at a certain point I think you just need to say to yourself, I bet that person’s probably in the middle of something. Then you say excuse me, and you go find something else to do. Join a book club or something. It’s just not that difficult.

Continue reading Episode 424: Pursued By a Bear

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Episode 423: Twisted

“We were just having a little family argument.”

This hasn’t been an easy week so far, either for the Collins family or for the Dark Shadows audience. They’re wrapping up this phase of the Barnabas/Josette storyline, and after all of the build-up, it doesn’t really feel like anything.

This week, we’re seeing two of Dark Shadows‘ less successful attempts at creating a soap opera supercouple — a pairing that endures for years and offers unlimited story potential, as they overcome obstacles and always find their way back to each oher. On Monday, the show officially unveiled Vicki and Peter as the brand new star-crossed, century-hopping romance, and now we’re heading straight for a pivotal moment in the epic story of Barnabas and Josette.

Now, I don’t know how you feel about the situation, but personally I couldn’t care less about those couples. They could jump off a cliff for all I care, and lucky me, guess what happens next.

Continue reading Episode 423: Twisted

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Episode 422: Confining Women

“Aunt Natalie, I don’t mean to be impatient with you, but I think these questions are annoying.”

Josette is wearing a ring.

I’m making that super clear right up front, just in case anyone has a hard time processing the concept. It’s a hard ring to miss — it’s gold, with a big black onyx stone, and it’s usually seen in the company of a vampire. But now the ring is on Josette’s finger — Josette being the young woman you can see here, the one standing behind the enormous ring — and that is apparently a compelling dramatic situation.

You can tell that it’s important, because this is a five-minute scene, and Josette is under strict instructions to keep the damn ring in shot as much as she possibly can. This involves making several hand gestures which do not occur in nature.

Josette’s aunt, the Countess Natalie, is concerned about this, because she believes that the ring is connected to a witch’s spell, which will lead to Josette’s death.

Exasperated, Josette says, “Why do you persist in this ridiculous nonsense about witches?” which would be a perfectly reasonable question, except that’s not what Josette thinks, and therefore Ron Sproat is trying to kill me.

Continue reading Episode 422: Confining Women

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Episode 421: Bird Planes

“Oh, Peter — what a fool I’ve been!”

Fade in on Josette Du Prés Collins, who wakes up happy and refreshed, with a song in her heart and a brand-new neck wound.

Her boyfriend Barnabas stopped by for a bite last night, and they had a long talk about love and change and eternity. Then one thing led to another.

And it’s a strange thing to say, but this is actually a familiar scene on Dark Shadows by now. We’ve already seen several previous versions of the hypnotized heroine, as she smiles her secret smile, and joins the Sisterhood of the Scarf.

You know, I’ve heard that there are other soap operas on the daytime schedule that are about people falling in love, overcoming obstacles, getting married and starting a family. I wonder what that would be like?

Continue reading Episode 421: Bird Planes

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Episode 420: The Stalking Dead

“I don’t care about those things that I can’t understand.”

Okay, everybody, please take your seats; Barnabas Collins is looking up.

“Why doesn’t she come to the window?” he says, in thinks. “I must see her one more time before she leaves. One more time!”

Barnabas is trying to avoid Josette, but as usual, he isn’t trying very hard. He knows that if he sees her, he won’t be able to resist biting her and turning her into his vampire bride, and on the whole that’s probably not something that a gentleman ought to do. But if he could just see her One more time!

He’s not good with the portion control, is what I’m saying. It’s not his strong area.

Continue reading Episode 420: The Stalking Dead

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Episode 419: Lose My Number

“I will not let you do what you would have to do to be with me.”

We’re in the Collins family mausoleum again today, for literally the sixth day in a row. It’s been nine months since we opened the mystery box and unleashed the vampire on the world of Dark Shadows, and we’ve now reached the stage where the show is almost entirely graveyard-based. I remember the days when people on this show had homes to go to.

Josette’s tracked down her ex-boyfriend Barnabas, who died recently and doesn’t seem to be committed to making their relationship work anymore.

“I beg you,” he says. “If you love me, then go. Forget you saw me. Remember this only as a terrible dream.”

I think we’ve all had conversations like that, haven’t we, where the other person just won’t accept that it’s over? Somebody needs to buy Josette a copy of He’s Just Not That Into Biting You.

Continue reading Episode 419: Lose My Number

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Episode 418: A Dark and Stormy Night

“You promised — you swore that I would never be forced to rise again as the monster I’ve become!”

Let’s face facts: So far, this entire week of Dark Shadows has basically been one long suicide note. Newly-risen vampire Barnabas Collins asked his servant Ben to end his eternal torment, but the floating head of the apparently-deceased witch-vixen Angelique stopped Ben mid-staking. Now we’re back to square one.

So I’m going to put this right out on Front Street — absolutely nothing happens today that didn’t happen yesterday. This is the third episode in a row written by Ron Sproat, the writing team’s remedial student, who has a childlike faith in the power of recap scenes to grip the audience and hold us spellbound.

But I can’t just write the same post three days in a row, so I’m going with my new emergency backup plan, which is to talk about Varney the Vampire.

Continue reading Episode 418: A Dark and Stormy Night

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Episode 417: Too Soon

“What if last night happens all over again?”

Today’s episode begins with a reprise of yesterday’s strange anti-cliffhanger, where the psychotic monster who’s been terrorizing the people of Collinsport for the last nine months talks his best friend into driving a stake through his heart.

“No matter what you are, no matter what you done,” Ben tells the vampire, “you’ve been my friend.”

“Think of it this way, Ben,” Barnabas says. “You’ll be performing an act of friendship. My destruction will be the only way to save me, my only salvation.”

Barnabas also tells Ben to make sure he helps Vicki escape from jail. After that, Ben should take some money and start a new life, somewhere far away from here.

Ben says he’ll never forget Barnabas, and Barnabas adds, “If you do remember me — remember what was good about me, as I hope others will.”

And oh my god, can you stop micromanaging this whole experience? I’ve never seen someone backseat driving their own suicide like this.

Continue reading Episode 417: Too Soon