Episode 448: Fight the Tower

“Poor child. If I had any feelings left, I might pity you.”

It’s been a big week on Dark Shadows. On Monday, crotchety patriarch Joshua Collins found his dead son, Barnabas, sleeping in a coffin in the basement of the Old House.

Learning that Barnabas is the vampire maniac who’s been killing people all over town, Joshua vowed to find a way to remove Angelique’s curse. Now he’s keeping Barnabas locked in the tower room at Collinwood, while he tries to track down an occult customer support line.

So, obviously, this is a super exciting development. Collinwood has a tower room!

448 dark shadows tower coffin

And it’s beautiful, too — just look at it! A circular set, which is totally new, with stained glass windows and a dark chandelier.

New architecture is always exciting on Dark Shadows, because the show is basically just the story of this big crazy puzzle box of a house, constructed entirely out of spooky places.

Yesterday, when Joshua was explaining his plan, Barnabas objected that someone might find him. Joshua brushed this aside, saying, “No one ever comes to the tower room.” Which is crazy, because they just finished building the house, like, two months ago. Why would they go to all the trouble of building a tower room if nobody goes there? The Collins family is completely insane.

448 dark shadows tower joshua

But the best thing about the tower room — when considered as a utility closet for storing dangerous criminals from the world of the dead — is how amazingly eye-catching it is. We’ve never heard of the tower room before, but apparently you can see it from pretty much any window in the house, including the drawing room, as well as from the front door, the back patio and possibly the basement.

It is, in fact, the single worst hiding place in Collinwood, narrowly edging out the grandfather clock in the foyer, which everybody walks by a hundred times a day.

448 dark shadows dress millicent joshua

Millicent comes downstairs in her wedding dress — oh, Millicent is getting married today, by the way, I forgot to mention that in all of the architectural excitement — and she finds Joshua in the drawing room, staring at the tower, because obviously the best thing to do under these circumstances is to draw more attention to the scene of the crime.

Millicent says that she saw a light in the tower room last night, and shadows passing in front of the window. She asks Joshua if he knows who was up there, but Joshua denies that anyone was ever there.

You know how sometimes the moon and the clouds and passing birds and airplanes and weather balloons and tinsel and black helicopters can make it look like somebody’s up in the tower room? Apparently it was one of those.

448 dark shadows wedding millicent nathan

Everybody assembles for the big wedding day, although obviously they can’t stop talking about the tower room for more than fifteen seconds. Millicent mentions that she saw a light there, and Nathan is immediately suspicious.

“A light in the tower?” he gasps, as if he’s intimately familiar with the traffic patterns in every room in the house. He doesn’t even live here.

448 dark shadows lights nathan joshua

Grabbing a moment alone with Joshua, Nathan brings up the mysterious light in the tower.

Joshua — who’s led a pretty quiet life and isn’t used to the stress of being an accomplice after the fact to a serial killer — loses his cool to a noticeable degree.

Joshua:  Now, listen to me, young man! Whether there are lights in the tower room or not is no concern of yours! I’m not interested in your observations or your curiosities! So keep them completely to yourself. Is that clear?

I don’t really have much of a reason to quote that line, except that it’s awesome and I wish I could talk like that. Oh, the people I would berate.

448 dark shadows drawing room daniel nathan

Anyway, everybody goes and gets married, and then there’s some Millicent/Nathan drama around whether he’s interested in her money or not. She’s decided to prove that her new husband isn’t a gold-digger by signing over her entire fortune to her little brother Daniel. Naturally, Nathan doesn’t find out about this until after the wedding, and he’s not super thrilled about it.

I’m skimming through this part of the episode because it’s not tower-related, and therefore who cares.

448 dark shadows happy millicent nathan

But Nathan is one of those mythological trickster figures that I’m so fond of, and he’s got a scheme to get his hands on the money. He goes upstairs to Millicent’s room, and assures her that he loves her just as much as he did when she was unbelievably wealthy. She is entirely convinced.

But then Nathan swipes one of her earrings when she’s not looking, and when she notices that it’s missing, he swings into action.

448 dark shadows right nathan millicent

Nathan:  I hope you haven’t lost it.

Millicent:  Oh, no, I couldn’t have. It must be here someplace.

Nathan:  All right, now, don’t let yourself get upset.

Millicent (smiling):  I’m not upset.

Nathan:  But you’re acting extremely upset.

Millicent:  But I’m not! I’m really quite calm.

448 dark shadows calm nathan millicent

Nathan holds on to her.

Nathan:  Then I must beg you to act calmly.

Millicent:  But, I… I am!

Nathan:  I fail to see any evidence of it!

Then she hears some dogs howling, and things kind of degenerate from there.


So this is some more narrative collision, this time with the 1944 film Gaslight. It’s the story of an irritating man, played by Charles Boyer, who’s trying to drive his irritating wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, insane. He does this very, very slowly. I watched it over the weekend in preparation for this blog entry, and I believe the running time is six hundred and fifty-five minutes.

The missing earring is practically a direct quote; in the movie, Ingrid Bergman loses a brooch. I could tell you more about Gaslight, except I don’t want to.

448 dark shadows curtains nathan millicent

Anyway, it all loops back to the tower room again, as everything in life does, given enough time. Millicent looks out the window, and she sees a light in the tower. Seriously, Joshua needs to put up some curtains or something. This is going to come up again.

Tomorrow: Something Nasty in the Woodshed.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Nathan enters Collinwood in act 1, he tries to throw his cape on the foyer table as he walks by, but it slips, and he has to back up a step and put it on the table.

They run the credits from yesterday’s episode, which includes Barnabas and not Nathan.

Tomorrow: Something Nasty in the Woodshed.

448 dark shadows viva el tower

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

49 thoughts on “Episode 448: Fight the Tower

  1. I think you can see the tower in some of the opening shots of Collinwood. The tower room looks similar to David Collins room in the 60’s, especially with the stained glass windows that always ‘blew open’ on their own. I think young Daniel looks especially spiffy in his junior version of Barnaba’s cloak.

    1. The opening shot of Collinwood is actually a house called Seaview.

      I had the privilege of working from this house while we were shooting an episodic down the street in another large mansion. I did wardrobe fittings in the music room!!

      Anyway, the tower looks just like that, except on the outside there is a huge vine growing up it now (2021). I think due to water damage, the inside of the tower was closed off, so I couldn’t go up into it, although I thought of sneaking up there many times!

      Although the inside of Seaview doesn’t really look anything like the inside of Collinwood, I can see how the set designers might have been influenced by Seaview. The inside feels like a medieval castle! High arched cathedral ceilings, lots of exposed beams, recesses with sculptures of religious figures, fountains, and fireplaces so large you could stand in them!

      So, my colleague said to me one day, this is the Dark Shadows house. And I said, “What’s Dark Shadows?” She told me and I went home and began watching from Episode 1, and now I’m hooked!!

  2. Why Collinwood was built in the first place was always an interesting point of discussion. It’s unclear when the Old House itself was built or even how large it is. Has the family outgrown it? Is that why it’s being given to Barnabas and Josette as a wedding present? It’s hard to imagine the practical Joshua permitting Barnabas and Josette to live in a sprawling mansion by themselves — even if they had a fair amount of kids.

    We see Jeremiah in charge of the construction of Collinwood at some point, and I wish they had kept the mythology of Jeremiah building Collinwood for himself. Presumably he would have married — the idea originally was for his bride to be Millicent — and he wouldn’t have wanted to live in his brother’s house or eventually his nephew’s house (Barnabas was most likely Joshua’s heir rather than Jeremiah).

    It’s later revealed that the Old House belongs to Naomi. I’m not sure women could own property in those days, but if so, it also implies that she is a Collins by birth and not just marriage.

    1. Good Points, I think Naomi had the deed since she was the mistress of the house and had control of the servants-household servants. That’s what wealthy women did they managed the household staff. This was true going back to Greek times.

    2. Naomi owned the Old House the same way that Josette could go trousseau-shopping in Paris in 1794 and come back with her head. But having writers who knew nothing about history…

    3. No! A woman like Naomi couldn’t own separate property. On marriage any property she has becomes her husband’s.

  3. I had always thought perhaps David Collins had the room just below the “official” tower room, due to his slitted windows & shape, somewhat, of his room. When I was a kid watching DS, I thought David had the coolest room ever, & I wanted to be in one of the tower rooms too. But perhaps he didn’t have one of the tower rooms after all…

    1. I think if there was a room under the tower room David would have insisted on having it as his bedroom – that would be a neat thing for a kid to have..

  4. Barnabas and Joshua remain me of Spock and Sarek if you are a Star Trek fan. In fact Sarek disown Spock for 18 years while Joshua disown Barnabas for a lot less time period.. One Dark Shadows fan said at least Sarek didn’t chain Spock but there are similarities. Also, the difficulty admitting love by both Fathers. Sarek didn’t until he got some Vulcan old age disease while with Joshua he seems to be somewhat uncertain of love and that why he escaped Angelique cursed but many DS fans felt he loved Barnabas in his own way.

    1. I think he loved Barnabas, something that becomes apparent by the end of the storyline. And in a way, he didn’t escape the curse. Sure, he didn’t die, but he saw his entire family destroyed (except for Daniel) and condemned his son to eternal imprisonment (or so he thought) – something he had to live with for the rest of his life. For someone like Joshua, who placed family pride above all else, this was probably a worse fate than death.

  5. I LOVE Tower rooms and if I ever have a house I want one. I think Joshua was maybe too honest though. Once Barnabas objected to being locked in the tower, you say OK fine and then you move him up there while he’s asleep and lock the door. It’s like when someone on a crime drama says “I’m going to tell the police everything” while still with the crooks who of course kidnap or kill them to keep them quiet.

  6. Massachusetts passed its Married Women’s Property Act on May 5, 1855. It allowed married women to own and sell real and personal property, control their earnings, and make wills.

  7. Anyone who says “Dark Shadows” moves too slowly should look at this episode. We go from off-screen wedding to full-on Operation Gaslight in one episode!

    Interestingly enough with all the carnage, Collinwood is back to its original foursome as we enter the final stretch of 1795: Liz-Naomi / Roger-Joshua / Carolyn-Millicent / David-Daniel.

    1. Yes, William! I was even thinking, oh look, Nancy and David get to play sister and brother in both story lines, and isn’t it cute watching Joel and
      David together again. I always liked how kind and big brotherly Joe Haskell always was to little David Collins.

  8. I love the arbitrary architecture of DS. You get it so right: there’s been a tower in their brand new house and it’s already treated as old news. Why did you build it then? Well, because this is a Gothic narrative and god damn it, gothic houses have towers filled with stained glass windows.

    There was a wave of Gothic novels written in the late 18th/early 19th century, where American authors tried to capture the popularity of European gothic writers like Anne Radcliffe. But the gothic is built on aristocratic decay, something the early US didn’t have a lot of. Author Charles Brockden Brown does the best of these but there’s a fair amount. One book “Alonso and Melissa”, features a haunted castle out on Long Island. Like Dark Shadows, how exactly do you get such a space? The novel claims the castle was originally built as a fortress against Native Americans. Um, okay.

    1. Yeah, building a castle is a great way to defend against Native Americans, as long as they hang back for ten or fifteen years while you’re building it.

    2. I’ve always had a theory that Barnabas was a fan of the original Gothic novels. I can just imagine a young Barnabas rushing off to devour the latest Ann Radcliffe, and furtively writing fanfic and fan mail to the author.

      After all, he seems to see himself as the hero of one of those novels, and self-dramatizes himself accordingly!

      As for Collinwood, I’d imagine they were building in the style of the imitation “Gothic” architecture already fashionable in England. Horace Walpole began remodelling Strawberry Hill as a Gothic mansion as early as 1747. And of course Joshua Collins would want to have the biggest, most impressive house in Collinsport, to demonstrate the power and wealth of the Collins family.

  9. I feel cheated by the off-camera wedding. I guest there’s no need to actually show a soap-wedding that isn’t derailed by some insane event. Where’s Angelique with her magic corsage when you need her?

  10. The dress Joan Bennett wears has to be my favourite! How come we haven’t seen it before? As much as I love Joshua Collins, I can see him letting Naomi make a new dress for just one occasion. Also Barnabas and Angelique were cheated, everyone dressed up for Millicent’s wedding, but not Barnabas’s. Talk about not loving your son’s wife!

    1. Yes, Naomi/Joan had the most beautiful dresses during the back-in-time eras, but this one just looks the most heavenly!

  11. Ahhh…I had forgotten that poor Daniel inadvertently gives Nathan the idea for the solution to his little problem when he wonders aloud who would manage his money if anything happened to his sister’s mind…

  12. Years ago, when I first saw these episodes, I thought Millicent was very annoying. Much older now, I realize what a sweet & charming, but sad character she is. You can’t help but like her and feel sorry for her.

    BTW, “gaslighting” is now a verb, as in: Nathan is gaslighting Millicent

    1. My feelings about Millicent evolved similarly to yours, Sean, although I was starting to get irritated with her again today, thanks to her stridency with Nathan in the gas-lighting scene.

  13. Dark Shadows 1795: three weddings and a buttload of funerals.

    I love the tower room. And, being an 18th century gothic romance, they need a creepy room at the top of the house for stashing monstrous, allegedly-deceased, half-mad relatives. It’s tradition.

    Other fabulousness on display today:

    Nathan’s grin during his first scene with Joshua. The cad.

    “Joshua, I believe it is customary to toast the bride and groom.”
    “Yes, it is customary, isn’t it.” (sips)

    Naomi gets the shakes and almost spills her drink. Joshua raises an eyebrow, and says nothing.

    Dead-eyed Daniel Collins trying to be nice, and Nathan’s wide-eyed, double-take-door-slam reaction.

  14. So what’s with Barnabas’ coffin. Did Joshua have Ben haul it upstairs by himself while everyone was sleeping. Plus, is Barnabas “really” locked in. Wasn’t this the guy that kept popping in and out of Josette’s room at will.

    1. As my girlfriend mentioned, Barnabas could, at any time, disappear into mist and reappear in a different location, so how could he be confined to the tower room?

    2. I’ve been curious about these coffin relocations as well. First Ben had to get it out of the mausoleum and down into the basement of the old house. In a subsequent episode he describes this as a 20 minute walk. How long would it take one guy to carry a coffin that far?

      Now he’s had to move it again, from the old house to the tower in the middle of the night without anyone seeing or hearing him and somehow pull it up onto that mounting pedestal.

      How is any of this physically or logistically possible?

      Perhaps they have access to some sort of coffin transporter technology that has yet to be revealed.

      1. Good questions, Ricardo! And what about Barnabas and Vicki’s later elopement when she returns to the present? How would they gave gotten Barnabas’ coffin on to the plane? How would they have unloaded it? Where would they have taken it? Wouldn’t at any one of these points Vicki have figured out that there was something really wrong about Barnabas? Also, suppose the sun had been up when in transit?–or when they had disembarked at any point?

      2. I thought there are two coffins. Didn’t Ben make one for Josette? So, the one in the basement, I thought was coffin #2. Coffin #1 is still in the mausoleum….right?

      3. I think it was established or at least suggested a while back that Ben Stokes was blessed with phenomenal physical strength and that was why Joshua took him on…. some talk of having righted an overturned carriage single handedly as I recall. Hoisting a coffin from the old house and up to the top of the tower, (“where no one ever goes”, or at least never in the few weeks since they moved in) was probably a doddle in comparison.

  15. lots of great catches by clever commentators today (wow, William – “Collinwood is back to its original foursome” now THAT’s paying attention!) but jeepers, Danny you did outdo yourself! my favorites were “this big crazy puzzle box of a house, constructed entirely out of spooky places.”, “The Collins family is completely insane.”, “who’s led a pretty quiet life and isn’t used to the stress of being an accomplice after the fact to a serial killer — loses his cool to a noticeable degree.”, and “I wish I could talk like that. Oh, the people I would berate.” and then, there’s Clay: “they need a creepy room at the top of the house for stashing monstrous, allegedly-deceased, half-mad relatives. It’s tradition.” thanks, everybody. what a gothic hoot.

    1. If I need cheering up- some momentary chuckles- some clever lines designed to take someone off at the kneecaps- this IS my source.

    1. Depending on the network/studio whose budget it was, they are in storage or as rentals in the LA rental houses…. hopefully, because they would be best taken care of there….. also, they could have been sold to rental houses in NYC, but hopefully not because those houses didn’t last in the long run, and are mostly closed or bought out by the big LA rental houses. I’ve been in some NYC costume rental houses that rent to the film industry, not to the folks, yet the still smell like cat pee, and there’s rats everywhere…

      Everyone just cross your fingers that these costumes are in LA being taken care of minions of wardrobe union hopefuls!

  16. Surprised no one has mentioned that it seems as if Naomi missed her que and had to run into the drawing room during the first scene.

  17. Joel Crothers must’ve been dreading the end of this storyline. Going back to being boring Joe Haskell must’ve been such a letdown.

    1. Yes. This story line has certainly given him a chance to act with some of the real stalwarts of the cast, as opposed to being confined to lesser “talents” whose name I won’t mention… cough Katherine Leigh Scott and cough David Ford,

  18. At one point, Daniel and Millicent both hear a dog howling. Daniel tells her that he’s heard that sound before while at Collinwood, and that whenever he has, something bad has happened. As far as I know, his 20th-century counterpart David had been hear dogs a lot (a sign that Barnabas was either agitated of planning something), but, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve ever seen Daniel mention or experience this phenomenon.

  19. I must say, I think that Millicent was acting stupid today even by Millicent standards. Did she really think it would be better to wait until after the wedding to give Nathan the news about her money? Plot-mandated stupidity, I guess.

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