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?

421 dark shadows mood natalie josette

But here comes Josette’s aunt, the Countess Natalie, with a breakfast tray and a fresh supply of bright chatter. She starts to open the curtains to let in the morning sun, but Josette stops her — she doesn’t want the light to come in.

The scene follows the established pattern of the hypnotized-heroine genre. The girl is dreamy and distracted, and she doesn’t talk much, which violates all known soap opera law. The concerned relative asks what’s wrong, and the girl says that nothing’s wrong. Then she makes some weird excuse.

You always know you’ve reached the break point of the scene when the girl uses the concerned relative’s name, as in: “Aunt Natalie, I thought you knew me. Don’t you see that I’m all right?” Then it’s all over, except for the furrowed brow, the disturbed exit, and a fade out on the girl brushing her hair, or listening to a music box, or whatever the hell it is you do while you’re waiting for sunset.

421 dark shadows another vicki natalie

Still following standard operating procedure, the concerned relative is determined to get to the bottom of things, which in this instance means that she makes a beeline for the Collinsport Gaol. Oh, great; it’s another one of these.

Time-traveling girl governess Victoria Winters is currently in jail on suspicion of witchcraft, which isn’t actually against the law, but just try having a conversation about it with any of these people. Vicki should be brushing up on defense strategy, but instead she’s spending her time meeting with the witnesses for the prosecution and saying incriminating things. Vicki is an idiot.

421 dark shadows serene natalie vicki

The dumb thing she’s been doing lately is telling everyone who stops by about the Collins Family History book that she brought from the future, which explains how and when everybody in the family dies. (On the whole, the answers tend to be: suddenly, and tomorrow.)

Natalie wants to know what’s happening to Josette, so Vicki cheerfully tells her all of the legends about Josette’s impending suicide.

Vicki:  She was very calm that day. Serene and happy, and she hadn’t been for some time. It was a cold, stormy day. And she lost a ring. That was the first thing that went wrong.

Natalie:  What ring?

Vicki:  It was a gold ring, with a black onyx stone in it.

Natalie:  She has no ring like that.

Vicki:  Are you sure? Because she was very upset about losing it. After that, everything started to go wrong. Glass shattered, and doors blew open, and couldn’t be closed again. And a great sound was heard, echoing through the house. That’s all I know.

And honestly, at this point, even I think that Vicki must be a witch. “Glass shattered”? Is that supposed to be a riddle? Who wrote down “glass shattered” in the family history?

421 dark shadows warned vicki peter

So Natalie walks out, even more convinced that Satan is speaking through Vicki, which he might be, for all I know.

When she’s gone, Peter Bradford — Vicki’s jailer, lawyer and court-appointed love interest — expresses his concern. Why does she keep saying incriminating things?

Vicki explains that she just can’t get her mind around the fact that these people believe in witches; nobody does in her time. Peter asks what she would think if someone from the future showed up in 1968, claiming to know everybody’s fate.

She thinks about it for a moment, and says that she would think the “time traveler” was mad. Peter says, “So does the Countess.”

421 dark shadows stunned vicki

And Vicki is thunderstruck, as if this is the first time that’s occurred to her in the entire four weeks that she’s been in prison, with absolutely nothing else to think about.

“Oh, Peter,” she says. “What a fool I’ve been!” So at least we’re getting somewhere.

421 dark shadows noble vicki peter

Peter strikes a noble pose, as if he’s the hero of the story, instead of the guy standing in the background who doesn’t know what to do with his arms.

He stares into the distance, and talks about her returning to her own time. He asks if she has any family. She says that she was engaged, but her fiancée was lost in an airplane crash.

421 dark shadows what peter

Peter assumes a puzzled expression.

Peter:  A what?

Vicki:  Airplanes. They fly.

He shakes his head.

Peter:  A kind of bird?

Vicki (chuckling):  No. It’s a machine.

Peter:  A machine…

Vicki:  With an engine. They… I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it myself, but you ride in them, through the air.

421 dark shadows smile peter

Then Peter does something that we’ve never seen him do before. He smiles.

Peter:  You know, for the first time, I’m beginning to think you are crazy. You ride in them? I think you dreamed up those… bird planes.

Vicki:  No, Peter. Oh, there’s so much that you don’t know.

Peter:  I wish you didn’t think anything about where you came from.

Vicki:  Sometimes, I wish that too.

Peter:  I wish you’d stay here. Forget all about going back to your own time.

Vicki:  …You almost make me want to wish that.

421 dark shadows kiss vicki peter

And then he just goes ahead and kisses her. They embrace, and he murmurs, “You’re just a girl… I’ll make you forget the rest.”

Now, I have to say that I don’t really like either of these two people, either as television characters or as presumptive human beings, but I have to admit that’s a cute scene. We don’t get a lot of meet-cute romance on Dark Shadows, and this is kind of adorable.

I don’t like them, individually or as a couple. But I like the bird planes.

421 dark shadows another josette barnabas

Meanwhile, back at the other romance that I’m not really that invested in, Barnabas enters Josette’s room through a secret panel, about which apparently there is one.

421 dark shadows date barnabas josette

Josette wants to run to his arms, but he walks upstage and strikes a moody pose, as if this is anything but a blood-thirsty booty call.

Once again, Barnabas tries to explain The Life That You Would Have If You Are With Me, and once again, Josette says that she doesn’t care and doesn’t even want to hear about it. Basically, he’s slipping her a supernatural date rape drug, which is not particularly heart-tugging. As far as I’m concerned, they could move on from this storyline any damn time.

421 dark shadows ring josette barnabas

But according to Vicki and her magic book of plot points, we’ve got a few steps between here and — let’s face it — Friday, and the first one involves a ring. They get that one over with, and next I guess we have to keep an eye out for glass shattering.

So it’s going to be kind of a long week, here at Dark Shadows Every Day. Please send more bird planes.

Tomorrow: Confining Women.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, when Josette tells Barnabas that her feelings wouldn’t change if she left Collinwood, you can hear people shuffling around in the studio.

The teaser is a reprise of the last scene of Friday’s episode, but there are a few differences. Josette’s wearing a different nightgown, and Barnabas bites her on the left side of the neck, instead of the right side.

Behind the Scenes:

The Petofi box has returned to its usual spot at Collinwood, in the second-floor hallway outside Josette’s room. It was last seen in Jeremiah’s room in the Old House. We’ll see it again in the drawing room in episode 441.

Tomorrow: Confining Women.

421 dark shadows coffin josette

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

50 thoughts on “Episode 421: Bird Planes

  1. I keep thinking, why not get Burke back? Sure, he’s dead, but that has not stopped enterprising writers before (Remember “Soapdish”? Bring back a decapitated guy?) Even more in DS..

    And if Mitchell Ryan had sobered up, we could have Burke back, with supernatural trappings…

    1. I think they may have planned to bring Burke back when they started the 1795 story, but Anthony George was sick of the show and wanted to leave. He wouldn’t even stick around for another week to play Jeremiah’s ghost.

      Also, Burke is a non-supernatural character, and a storyline dead end. They were really struggling near the end of 1967 to come up with anything for him to do.

      1. Problem with Burke is he was designed to be an antagonist to the Collins family. Once that antagonism faded, they needed to find a new direction for the character. I guess the engagement with Vicky was a step in that direction but once he was recast the inherent dullness of the character really came to the fore (Mitchell Ryan was really the one who made Burke interesting). He might have worked as an antagonist for Barnabas (and it seemed that was where they were headed) but only if Ryan had remained in the role.

        1. Dullness is Anthony George. Started out okay, but dull. And made the horrible acting choice of juicing up the character by playing both roles as Genial and Overthetop Concerned.

          Both Burke and Jerimiah should have been villains, and George turned them into Nice Guys.

          Ryan was a go-getter, ruthless, and borderline criminal.

          Much more satisfying.

          And George dumbed him down.

          1. To be fair to Anthony George, Burke was being watered down when they dropped the entire revenge plot by having Roger admit to him that he drove the car and then they all sort of became buddy-buddies and Burke’s raison d’etre was gone. I’m not sure why they dropped it suddenly – maybe they realised that Mitchell Ryan was getting more and more flakey due to his alcoholism that they didn’t want him in any big story.

            Either way, whenever there’s no body found on soaps it’s always a cue to the audience that the character might come back. I assume they just didn’t feel like re-casting again and Vicky’s love interest could be any new character, so…

            1. I think one reason that they more or less dropped (or, rather, resolved it in an unsatisfying way) the Burke manslaughter story line is that they kept Roger around. He was originally more of a villainous character and was supposed to be killed off. Once committed to keeping Roger and smoothing out some of the wrinkles of his character, they couldn’t send him off to prison.

      2. Yeah, but plane survivor Burke might have acquired some supernatural powers after the accident… He survived in the jungle and had a fateful encounter… He comes back looking for Vicky and takes on Jeff Clark. He becomes a suspect when Clark falls off Widow’s Hill…

        Burke might also become the action hero of 1968…

  2. It just NOW occurs to Vicky that people might think she’s crazy if she says she comes from the future? I’m past the point of making fun of the character, I’m beginning to seriously question why the writers wrote her so dumb.

  3. So this is the legendary Josette, rescuer of governesses in peril and ‘best friend’ of scheming children who repeatedly ignore No Tresspassing warnings and enter the vampires lair..this love story was originally supposed to be about Barnabas and his ‘great love’ Josette but they both come across as extremely unlikable characters at this point..I’d rather see the background story of Nathan and Suki Forbes..or of Joshua and Naomi…even Abigail and Trask would have been more enjoyable. I’m really ‘not feeling the love ‘ for Barnabas in this story that was supposed to ‘re-introduce’ to his human origins. Also it would have been a great plot device to bring Conard Fowkes back to play his 1795 counterpart. Frank was originally the son of Liz’s lawyer who dated Vicki for awhile before being dropped abruptly from the show. Since Frank was also a new young lawyer in 1967 it would have fit into the storyline nicely for him to have played the Roger Davis part of the law clerk defending (and falling in love with) 1795 Vicki. At least he would be easier on the ears to listen to during the upcoming trial scenes.

    1. I’m with you on that one. I quite liked Frank and was sad to see him go (clearly the Laura story was too much for him and he got as far away from the Collinses as possible!). And you’re right, it would have been very inspired to have him play the role of Peter – and that would have given the relationship between Vicky and Peter and extra dimension.

      1. I watched the early episodes over again to see if they ever explained what had happened to Frank but no such luck – I think most viewers of episodic television shows like to see characters from the past re-appear in future storylines – it provides a sense of familarity and continuity.

        1. Conard Fowkes left because he was unhappy with his compensation on the show. I have read that he pushed for a contract more along the lines of Joan Bennett where he would get a guaranteed salary (or number of episodes per week) rather than being paid just per episode. That didn’t sit well with Dan Curtis. When Fowkes got an opportunity more to his liking on “The Edge of Night,” he was out of there in a flash. So in practical terms, no, he wouldn’t have come back, and I doubt Dan Curtis would have had him.

    2. The big mistake with Josette was not to go back to the original story as told by Barnabas. The young wife of an older man who finds herself attracted to the young nephew, and he to her…. Basically the story of Francesca di Rimini… Angelique might be Barnabas’ mistress and does not take kindly with his getting attracted to his new aunt…

      With that set-up Josette gest more spine, and it all becomes a tragic romance. And it avoids having protagonists with a bad case of the stupids.

      1. Agree – it’s usually a better idea to stick to the original story once it’s presented and try to enhance it as needed rather than totally revise it and pretend the first version never existed.

        1. All the had to do was have David Ford play Jeremiah, and Anthony George Andre du Pres, as Josette’s brother. Then they could have had the original storyline.

          Also, that could mean that Daniel was Jeremiah’s son. Which when we get to understand that Laura keeps marrying into the line, we can see the Collins family as a genetic experiment by Egyptian gods…

          1. Unfortunately, for everyone, present-day Barnabas had already foreshadowed George as Jeremiah……so sad for all of US.

            It’s hard to believe he left DS.

            It’s much easier to believe that DS got rid of him.

            His Jeremiah was laughable at best.

    3. Oh, I LOVE the idea of the 1967 Frank as Vicki’s lawyer in 1796! Well taken about him being easier on the ears. Lots of boats were missed. Too bad.

  4. Your bird planes reminds me of my favorite Doctor Who companion of all time Jamie McCrimmon who takes on everything from airplanes to Yetis with the same chill attitude of yep so they’ve got those now. “I tell you they’re no natural beasties!” LOVE me some Jamie.

  5. “Now, I have to say that I don’t really like either of these two people, either as television characters or as presumptive human beings, but I have to admit that’s a cute scene. We don’t get a lot of meet-cute romance on Dark Shadows, and this is kind of adorable.

    “I don’t like them, individually or as a couple. But I like the bird planes.”

    Another Sam Hall script casts its spell, and another Dark Shadows recap blogger is left hopelessly under its spell, powerless to resist. You are powerless, Danny Horn! POWERLESS!!!!

    1. Most people are taught in high school why planes fly, then promptly forget. (Note: its called Bernoulli’s Principle) However, I would think that a Governess with the responsibility of educating children would know it.

    2. Why can’t she just say, it’s like a carriage that takes people from one place to another, but instead of being pulled by horses on the ground, it is propelled by what is called an engine, and it moves through the sky. Much faster than a carriage. Easy.

  6. I think the Countess is one of the best examples of a Dark Shadows character who completely changes depending on who’s writing her. In the hands of Sam Hall (as in this episode) she’s a world-weary sophisticate, who loves and cares for her niec

    1. …but makes her amused contempt for this terrible Yankee backwater and everyone in it plain. Written by anyone else, all she does is fret about Josette and grumble about witchcraft. I like to think her tarot readings are part of a curse Angelique put on her on an occasion when she was especially mean to her: she’d be compelled to read them, and the readings would always come true, but they would always foretell something terrible. Or something like that. Sounds like the sort of thing she’d do, anyway.

  7. Where exactly did Vicki get all that info on Josette. It certainly wasn’t from the story Barnabas told her and Carolyn and I don’t think it was in the family book. Once again the writers just making it up as they go along.

  8. I Think Jossette did have a moment or two of maturity and grace just after Jeremiah’s death. Before that she was a shallow girl, and after as you’ve said, a vampire’s quick bite and vague distracted shadow

  9. I love the part where Natalie says she’ll help Vicki escape while the jailer (gaoler, sorry) is standing right behind her. I think Clint Eastwood played it a little closer to the vest in “Escape From Alcatraz.”

    Roger Davis seemed to be having trouble with his lines during Peter’s conversation with Vicki. There were some awkward pauses and what appeared to be at least one fumbled cue.

    I was going to ask how Barnabas knew about the secret passage when he never even lived in the new house but I suppose he could have learned about it during construction. Of course that doesn’t explain why there’s a secret passage to begin with.

  10. Of course, another difference in the recap scene is that this time Jonathan Frid remembered to put his fangs in.

    Speaking of differences, I agree with Adriana’s point about how stronger the Jeremiah-Josette-Barnabas story might have been had the writers stuck to the original version of this triangle.

    Finally, I, too, was surprised about how much more information the Collins family history suddenly had about the events leading up to Josette’s fatal leap from Widow’s Hill.

    1. It’s hard to underestimate how much Mitch Ryan leaving DS hurt several storylines. The complete lack of chemistry between George and Alexandra Moltke killed Vicki’s story, which was already in trouble. Mitch Ryan as Jeremiah, and being around for the whole 1795 story would have made it stronger and could have kept the original Josette story intact. Heck, Jeremiah falling for Vicki would have saved us from years of Roger Davis shouting and manhandling every female cast member.

      I wish Ryan had gotten a handle on his alcoholism before DS, because, as much as I like the 1795 story, I think it could have been stronger with the original Barnabas falls for his cousin’s young bride angle.

  11. In an otherwise rather unremarkable episide, a standout scene was the superimposing of Josette’s nightgown-clad form over Barnabas’ closed coffin. She is reclining in bed, dreamy-eyed, as if she has just been more sexually satisfied than she has ever been before. The camera shot’s slowly dissolving from the coffin lid to the white bed sheets surrounding Josette’s body metaphorically suggests that Barnabas has bedded her, a visual metaphor Ingeniously expressing the sexuality of the vampire myth.

  12. In an otherwise unremarkable episode, a standout was the Ingenious visual metaphor suggesting that Barnabas has figuratively bedded Josette: a camera shot of his coffin is briefly superimposed over a shot of a dreamy-eyed and a clearly sexually satisfied Josette, clad in a nightgown and reclining in bed. This scene nearly expresses the vampire myth’s undeniable eroticism.

  13. And apparently when Vicki brings up the ring, no one stops to think “That’s just like the ring Barnabas always wore!”

  14. Natalie: “It’s all that witchcraft that’s been going on here.” (cue the Frank Sinatra song).

    It seems as if Barnabas has FINALLY laid some teeth into the poor whiny and distraught Josette at last! She awakens to a sense of something having invaded her during the night. The close-up shot of her neck pulsing with the two puncture marks in it is really…..disturbing. The girl gives good pulse for real. (Perhaps there is an award waiting for KLS in the future at the Soap Opera Annual Awards for Best Neck Pulsing in an Afternoon Drama).

    Then, Josette has to try and cover up the bite marks with a neck boa and bathrobe. Sort of makes having to hide a modern-day hickey seem almost de rigueur by comparison.

    And then Peter”s Big Scene: not to be left on the sidelines, this guy really puts it all out there with Vicki in the big “what are airplanes” moment with pauses and querulous looks and oddball acting choices that would make Uta Hagen turn over in her grave and then some. There’s a famous acting book called “No Acting Please,” which takes a very biological look at the concept of acting and how best to avoid the sort of stop/start/speak/halt technique that Peter displays in such abundance here. Clearly we need to get him a copy of this book. If we can tell you are “ACTING,” then it’s probably not a good thing. Peter’s performance here has all the artistry and pizzazz of someone reading you the ingredients off the side of a box of cake mix. Truly it becomes one of the series’ most execrable moments to date.

    And then the kiss. Peter: “You’re just a girl.” What exactly does that mean? I wish you were a boy? Danny, I love you, bro, but this is the first time I have to vehemently disagree with you. This scene is anything but cute. Cloying. Saccharine. Schmaltzy. Forgettable.

    And the black onyx ring finally comes to Josette’s finger, pushing her towards her inexorable climb and fall at Widow’s Hill. And maybe we can finally escape out of this dreadful part of the 1795 storyline once and for all and move on to something else………..

    1. I know I’m in the minority but I like Vicki. However, there is no way of redeeming Peter Bradford/Jeff Clark. Sadly, the homicidal vampire is really the best guy Victoria dates in the show (unless I missed her dating Joe Haskell). Burke is abusive and dismissive and Peter/Jeff is awful and the discomfort the female cast feels around him comes through.

  15. Barry: Great to see that you’re still blogging! Happy Labor Day, 2020!

    Of course, the glass shattering and Josette’s losing the ring were new additions to the story of Josette’s death and lead to what prices to be a rushed and botched depiction of her leap off Widow’s Hill–not the dramatic set piece we had all been anticipating.

  16. I liked that prior to talking about Josette, Vickiyimplies she’s a bit rusty on the details, then proceeds to give out with nothing but details. “Glass shattered,” indeed.

    And Barnabus continues to bring on the stupid, this time by giving a ring to Josette that had not only been buried with him, but which figures prominently in his portrait which itself figures prominently in the foyer of the new house!! smh

  17. Ok, so let’s talk about Josette’s costume. Before Natalie comes in Josette pulls a pink chiffon ruffled thing out of the drawer, wraps it around her neck like a collar and tucks it into the front of her gown, then closes her robe.

    This was a real garment called a fischu. It could be made from cotton, linen, guaze, chiffon, or just about anything else. It was mostly sheer and light, and it tucked into the front of a ladies bodice, covering her modesty, so that her bosom wasn’t hanging out all over the place. It also kept the sun off their decolletage.

    The fischu eventually becomes a blouse with collar.

    Similar to, but not be confused with, a shawl, that was worn on the outside, that eventually becomes a cardigan!

  18. Lots of background noise in this episode; people shuffling and moving around all through it. I think I even heard a girl laughing or crying or talking or something during last scene in the jail.

    1. I didn’t hear the girl laughing/crying/talking in the last scene, but often we hear bleed-through noise from previous things that had been recorded on the tape. Although we are lucky that Dan Curtis insisted on keeping the master tapes of DS so that we actually have the series to watch today, the tapes themselves were often not virgin (never were?), following the traditional protocol of just recording over tapes once a “disposable” show like a soap opera or talk show were over and done with.

Leave a 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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s