Episode 455: Food and Medicine and a Plan

“You bungling fool!”

Yup. Still doing this.

We’re now at day four of this “Vicki on the lam” sequence, with no end in sight. Vicki is still hiding in the secret room in the Collins family mausoleum, with a bullet hole in her shoulder and a price on her head. She’s acquired a ten-year-old, Daniel, who’s also on the run, because Nathan is paying Noah to kill Daniel so that Nathan can get his hands on Millicent’s money, and so on. It’s all fairly dreary, and there isn’t a vampire in sight.

The good news is that Noah, the speed bump who walks like a man, is going to be shot and killed today. The bad news is it takes about twenty minutes to get there, and there’s nothing we can do but wait.

455 dark shadows mausoleum noah

So first we have to watch Noah examining the mausoleum, fruitlessly. Vicki and Daniel are perfectly safe, hidden behind the secret door. Noah may have seen Daniel run towards the mausoleum, but the panel was closed long before he came in, and we know there’s no way he’s going to figure out where the boy is. But we still have to watch him walk around the room for a minute and a half, touching the walls.

This is a runaround today, one of my least favorite kinds of episodes. There are some very specific plot points that they have to hit, to set things up for next week’s wrap-up of the 1795 storyline. This mostly involves moving characters from one place to another, which makes for good aerobic exercise but isn’t particularly interesting to watch.

The script is by Sam Hall today, the best of all Dark Shadows writers, and usually that means we get at least a couple jokes. But Hall’s heart isn’t in it today; all we get is functional dialogue, like “What’s happened?” and “You can’t!” Maybe he’s as bored with Vicki as I am, if that’s possible.

455 dark shadows gunslinger vicki daniel

Vicki still has the gun, and she’s still doing what every actor does when they’re holding a gun, which is: point it at the person she’s looking at. So it’s basically Child Endangerment Theater today, full of strange scenes like this:

Daniel:  And the shutters of the fishing shack blew open, and he went to close them, and I ran out!

Vicki:  It’s all right. It’s all right!

And she comforts him by giving him a hug, with the gun between them. She practically strokes his face with it.

455 dark shadows standoff daniel vicki

So she basically just keeps him covered for the whole episode. I don’t know if you could broadcast a show today where the main character just casually points a loaded gun at a ten-year-old like this. When the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment, I don’t think this is what they meant by a well ordered militia.

Daniel:  Miss Winters… what if I’ve gotten you caught?

Vicki:  No one’s going to be caught. Peter will be coming back in a few minutes, and he’ll bring food, and medicine, and a plan.

Yeah, great. I hope he brings some bandages, too, and a couple pints of blood, and a bunch of paper towels, and maybe a defense lawyer.

455 dark shadows storm daniel vicki

Daniel:  Where will you go?

Vicki:  I don’t know. Perhaps away in a boat.

Daniel:  No, not in a boat. Not tonight, not in this storm.

Oh, right — there’s a storm, by the way. We’ve been hearing thunder on and off. This must be one of those dry thunderstorms they have in Collinsport all the time, where they talk about the storm but nobody gets wet.

455 dark shadows petofi noah nathan

At Collinwood, Nathan comes downstairs and finds Noah waiting in the drawing room. He’s about as happy as anyone would be under the circumstances.

Noah:  Listen… it wasn’t my fault.

Nathan:  What’s happened?

Noah:  He — the boy.

Nathan:  What went wrong?

Noah:  The — the boy.

455 dark shadows villain noah nathan

So you can hardly blame Nathan for getting annoyed. Nobody can be expected to put up with a guy standing around in the drawing room saying “the boy” all night.

Plus, Nathan’s got sudden-onset Bond villain syndrome, so the dialogue gets a little fraught. It’s all “You mean, you couldn’t catch him?” and “I ought to kill you!” Nathan used to be fun.

At one point, he even says, “You bungling fool!” because now apparently he’s Doctor Octopus.

455 dark shadows balloon nathan naomi

Then Naomi comes in, to have a stern conversation that gets us exactly nowhere.

Naomi:  Daniel has been gone from this house for hours. How can you be so unconcerned?

Nathan:  Oh, Mrs. Collins, the boy is out playing.

Naomi:  At this hour? In this storm? The thunder and lightning would frighten him to death.

Nathan:  Oh, a girl perhaps. You don’t know boys.

Naomi:  Boys come home for dinner, I know.

Nathan:  He had some pocket money with him, I’m sure. Perhaps he wandered into the village.

Sure, that makes sense. Or maybe he chartered a hot air balloon, or discovered a tribe of underground mole people who have elected him King. Almost anything could be happening out there. How about we go out and see?

455 dark shadows offer naomi peter

I know, all I’m doing today is making snide remarks, but honestly, these runaround episodes don’t offer a lot of scope. An episode like this defies analysis; there’s nothing going on except what you see on the screen.

455 dark shadows killer noah vicki

So let’s just fast-forward to the carnage. Daniel leaves the mausoleum, running right into the arms of his would-be kidnapper. Vicki follows, assesses the situation, and ka-CHOW! We’re down one speed bump. I guess this story had a happy ending after all.

Monday: An Illogical Explanation.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

The opening shot of Collinwood is in black and white.

Noah wasn’t wearing a hat at the end of yesterday’s episode. Today, the teaser repeats the scene of Noah following Daniel into the mausoleum, and this time, Noah has a hat on.

Sarah’s grave plaque isn’t on the wall in the mausoleum; it was there when Naomi and Joshua visited in episode 416.

There’s an offstage squeak while Nathan and Naomi are talking in the drawing room, just after Nathan raises the idea that Vicki could be holding Daniel hostage.

When Daniel notices that Vicki’s got a fever, he tells her, “You can’t stay in this house.” They’re in the mausoleum; it’s not a house.

The sound effect of the gunshot isn’t synched with Vicki firing the gun.

Monday: An Illogical Explanation.

455 dark shadows pistol vicki daniel

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

19 thoughts on “Episode 455: Food and Medicine and a Plan

  1. And people complain Vicki never did anything. She killed Noah! She done shot him dead! Girl governess deserves a medal for that! Or at least a good hanging so she can get back to her own time zone and enjoy the comforts of Mrs. Johnson’s reheated leftovers.

  2. I enjoyed Naomi’s stunning, elegant dress in her scenes! As we travel into the past in later show arcs, it always seemed to me that the costumes in 1795 were drab in comparison to later costume choices, but as we’ve followed along with Danny, I kind of have to change my mind a bit. There have been some beauties in this time, and Naomi’s, today, is certainly one. Or perhaps because the rest of the plot is so boring as we reach the end of Vicki’s misbegotten adventures, it’s all we have left to love!

  3. Nathan’s shift from rogue to Bond villain also required him to lose his common sense, as he was previously a pragmatic character (even when he committed perjury for Trask).

    There is no logical reason for him to kill Daniel, who is no threat to him. Millicent is insane, and he can lock her away Rochester-style and return to living as a bachelor while controlling Daniel’s money. Daniel is a child and Nathan is sole guardian now that his older sister is mentally incompetent. Nathan was also once charming enough that he could have ingratiated himself so well to Daniel that he’d be well provided for even once Daniel turned 21 (somewhat similar to the relationship between Quentin and Jamison in 1897).

    If he kills Daniel, he gets nothing. I presume Daniel doesn’t have a will. Millicent left her money to him, sure, but no sane lawyer would have the money revert to Millicent’s new husband in the event of his suspicious death. If there is any wiggle room at all, Joshua would put the hammer down to keep Nathan away from the money. Why rock the boat when there is only smooth sailing ahead?

    Unfortunately, we need a diabolical antagonist for the last few weeks of 1795. I regret that it was Nathan, who was more interesting when he committed selfish acts that had great repercussions but yet weren’t the acts of a mustache-twirling child murderer. He testified against Vicki but he could easily rationalize that as testifying against someone who was already as good as convicted. It wasn’t like he provided a smoking gun or anything and he was just looking out for himself. Sure, he gaslighted Millicent, but this woman was never a model of sanity and he couldn’t remain married to a mindless pauper. And letting Naomi know about Barnabas was just revealing the truth. I liked the scene when he is actually disturbed that Naomi killed herself. That is more like the Nathan I liked: He didn’t fully think through his selfish, calculated actions and now someone is dead.

    Remove the entire Daniel storyline (especially everything involving Noah) and it’s much cleaner.

    Finally, I think 1897 and 1840 are tigther storylines precisely because their final act villains are still on the stage (Petofi and Gerard/Judah).

      1. The first time I watched the 1797 episodes, I realized some were a little draggy compared to others, but since I didn’t know what crazy story turns the writers would take out of nowhere, every episode kept me interested. GREAT insights now about the show from different comments and my own previous knowledge, but I will always hold dear my total joy of my first spin through Dark Shadows. Having said that, I will state again, I hated Craig Slocum at hello.

      2. Not sure if I agree. They mention that Joshua and Faniel talked adopting Daniel. If that happens, everything is kaput for Forbes. He needs to kill Daniel before he is adopted by Joshua.

  4. ‘YOU BUNGLING FOOL’ is something only Barnabas could get away with saying and then only to Willy. Hearing Nathan saying this sounds very artificial and out of character. Nathan and Noah are definitely one of the worst ‘teams’ on the show. Somehow hearing that Peter has a plan sounds worse than hearing that Barnabas has a plan.

  5. Barnabas`plans while never good, and often resulting in someone’s death, are actually successful in keeping him alive through centuries, his secret mostly safe( hence death blips) and keep the
    storymoving. The only successful plan Peter could possibly have would be to run into the nearest acting class.

    1. Re: a good plan for Peter: Or get out of acting altogether. Wait. I think he did go into real estate. A very shrewd move career-wise.

  6. Another continuity glitch in the reshot/repeated opening scene–Daniel pushes the door shut after he enters the secret room (because I presume it wasn’t working right!).

    1. Noticed the door thing… Henesy says they’ve got to hurry and close the secret room door and then pushes it as Alexandra says something like “that is as fast as it closes.” I think they were both ad libbing and doing a good job of it because the door wasn’t closing

      Also, I notice in most secret room episodes the brick that hides the automatic door close switch appears to weigh a ton, but Alexandra slides it like the styrofoam block it is.

  7. Not only does Noah suddenly have a hat on, it’s a fetching machine-knitted one. I don’t think even know if knitting was invented by then, let alone knitting machines! Come to think of it, he has a lovely matching machine-knitted sweater on. But if I’m going to start worrying about that, I would have to start worrying about all the zippers on the backs of dresses and the visible machine stitching you can often see on jacket lapels and such. Let’s not even go there…

    1. In his first episode, he’s wearing that weird machine-knitted pseudo-beanie, and a T-shirt. Noah ‘s obviously another time-traveller…

  8. Given her relationship with David, it’s kind of odd seeing Daniel so fond of Vicki. I mean, it’s kind of odd seeing anyone being fond of Vicki, but this one especially…

  9. This might only interest obsessive-compulsives like me, but I have been noticing the little shifts in the opening narration, in reference to Vicki as “one girl/and/or/woman sent on an uncertain and frightening journey into the past.”

    I compared the teasers for each episode from 435 to 455 – 21 episodes – and concluded that the switch back and forth between referring to Vicki as a “girl” now and a “woman” then, has little to no rhyme or reason.

    I looked at who the writer, director and narrator was on each episode. The only consistent thing is that when the writer is Gordon Russell, it is always either “one woman” or else “Victoria Winters” is named, which happens twice when Russell was the writer during the two weeks that I looked at.

    In every other case, no matter who the director, writer or narrator is, sometimes it is “girl,” sometimes it is “woman” and three times it is “Victoria Winters.”

    One time, when Ron Sproat is the writer, the teaser has “Victoria Winters,” but goes on to refer vaguely to a “girl,” which seems to refer to Millicent.

    So maybe this was a Gordon Russell thing that got into the boilerplate but nobody but him was consistent about it.

    1. Presuming that each opening narrative was crafted by the individual credited with the script (a big assumption), we might discern some patterns. By the close of 1967, the opening lines of the 1795 narration always went something like this:

      “A séance has been held in [once “at”] the great house of Collinwood, a séance which has suspended time and space, and sent one girl/one woman/Victoria Winters on an uncertain and frightening journey into the past, back to the year 1795.”

      Before that, the narration had varied a lot more, although regularities began to develop early on.

      Gordon Russell’s first 1795 narrative opener (episode 366) mentioned “a séance,” but, immediately, Ron Sproat and Sam Hall dropped this. However, episode 380, also by Russell, began:

      “A séance was held in the great house of Collinwood, a séance which sent Victoria Winters back on an uncertain and frightening journey to the past, back to the Collins family who lived in the year 1795.”

      This was closing in on the final version of the template, and it combined elements introduced by Sproat and Hall as well as Russell. For example, while Russell first introduced the word “journey,” the phrase “an uncertain and frightening journey” first appeared in a Hall script. (Twice, Hall tried removing the word “and”; hence, “an uncertain, frightening journey” but this didn’t take.) Hall also first used the word “suspended” which appeared in the final template and which Russell picked up on, although he experimented with turning it into “held in suspension.”

      About the terms that varied most, “one girl,” “one woman” and “Victoria Winters”: Gordon Russell started out in episode 366 using a neutral term: “one of their number.” Sproat introduced “one girl” and was immediately followed by Hall using “one woman.” Soon thereafter, Russell tried “one person” (which did not take). Hall did not turn out to be as married to “one woman” as Russell; Hall was more apt to use “one girl” than Sproat. Russell was more apt than the others to use Victoria’s full name in the template, although all three did.

      In episode 461, after the 1795 storyline ended, Hall called Victoria a “girl” in one sentence of the narrative and a “woman” in a subsequent sentence. Maybe it didn’t make any difference to Hall. He sometimes used “girl” and “woman” to differentiate different characters; for example, Vicki from Angelique or Vicki from Abigail. Sproat may have been naturally inclined toward “girl” yet perhaps lazy enough to copy Russell if he had used “woman” in the previous script. Russell, however, only uses “one girl” three times during the 1795 storyline (lazy copying on his part?); the rest of his opening narratives all have either “one woman” or “Victoria Winters.” Maybe it made a difference to him.

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