“One cannot buy a witch in an antique shop.”
Today, Victoria Winters returns to the scene of the crime — the Eagle HIll cemetery, where she shot and killed a man two weeks and 172 years ago. I’m not sure if there’s still a warrant out for her — there’s a lot I don’t know about the statute of limitations in a time travel scenario.
She’s hunting for the grave of Peter Bradford, her 1795 boyfriend and accomplice, who was left behind when she returned to 1967. Or possibly 1968. It’s hard to say. I’m pretty sure it’s a Wednesday, if that helps.
I mean, she left in November 1967, but by the time she got back, it was already April 1968, and she’d missed Christmas and a new Beatles album, and her library books were, like, crazy overdue.
You see, it’s an unwritten rule for a daily soap opera that the show takes place on the same day that the episode airs, even if there are three consecutive episodes that take place on the same night.
So if you turn on today’s episode of General Hospital — and you might as well, if you have absolutely nothing better to do — then you’re going to assume, without really thinking about it, that the episode takes place today. It’s the only sensible assumption.
And if there’s a super-obsessed GH nerd sitting next to you, who says, “Actually, if you count the number of days since they celebrated Christmas, you’ll find that today’s episode actually takes place on the evening of February 3rd,” then the only possible response is to say thank you very much for the information, and try to change the subject. Warning: Do not ask to see their notes.
This strange slippage between real time and story time comes up in any kind of serialized narrative that takes place more or less in the present day. It’s especially noticeable in cartoons and comic books, where the phones get smaller but the characters stay the same age. In the Amazing Spider-Man comics, Peter Parker’s frenemy Flash Thompson enlisted in the Vietnam War in the early 70s, but Peter and Flash are still in their late 20s in today’s comics, where they make references to iPads and Lady Gaga.
For this particular time trip, the weird wrinkle is that they made a huge deal about time standing still at Collinwood while Vicki visited the 18th century. Her four months in the past happened during “one tick of the clock,” so there shouldn’t be any relationship between the timelines of nineteen-sixty-something and seventeen-ninety-something. Except apparently there is.
Vicki: Look at the date!
Liz: Died April 3rd — that’s today! — 1795.
Vicki: And it’s dusk! I was hanged at dusk. At this moment, Peter’s going to the gallows.
Liz: Vicki, this happened ages ago.
Vicki: No — it’s happening right now, at this very minute, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it!
This is an example of meanwhiling — a weird timey-wimey conceptual pretzel that I happen to love, because it’s like a magic trick. They’re basically saying “Meanwhile, in the past,” which makes no logical sense, but you still understand what they mean. They do a lot of meanwhiling next year; the 1897 storyline is chock full of meanwhiling.
Anyway, the point is that there is no single coherent explanation of Vicki’s trip through time. The core idea is easy to understand — Vicki changed places with Phyllis Wick, the Collins family’s governess in 1795. She filled in Phyllis’ place in history, and then jumped back to the present at the moment that Phyllis was hanged for witchcraft. Like “meanwhiling”, that doesn’t actually mean anything, but you can form a mental model of it, which is all you need to follow the story.
The problem is that Barnabas was alive in 1795, and if Vicki replaced Phyllis in history, then Barnabas should have recognized Vicki last year, when he was released from his coffin. As we found out yesterday, Barnabas remembers Phyllis, which indicates that the time switch didn’t actually affect history.
But we’ll see Angelique pretty soon, and she does remember Vicki, and eventually we’ll see Peter, who’s still in love with Vicki, and by the time we reach Christmas 1968, so many people have been going back and forth to 1795 that there is literally no way to tell what actually happened, and to whom.
But it’s fun for Dark Shadows fans to chew it over and wrestle with the paradoxes, which we’ve been doing in the comments this week, just like fans have been doing in fanzines and forum discussions and at DS conventions for decades.
I actually had a letter printed in The World of Dark Shadows circa 1988, where I explained my personal theories comparing the effects of the 1795, 1840 and 1897 time trips. I don’t remember that much about it, but I think it retconned a couple things from the Leviathan storyline, and I’d also decided that Angelique married Ben in 1795 Parallel Time. I should dig that out one of these days, because I bet it’s super embarrassing.
Anyway, we should move on, because there’s a lot more that happens today. For example: Look, it’s Tony Peterson! We haven’t seen him in ages.
Tony is the hard-boiled young lawyer who got himself embroiled in the Barnabas storyline, back when all anybody cared about was Julia’s notebook of vampire secrets. Carolyn is currently under Barnabas’ thrall, and the last time we saw Tony, she was breaking into his office to try to steal the notebook for Barnabas. It’s a whole thing. This was months ago.
The important thing here is that she’s cute and rich and flirty, and apparently she has a horse? I guess?
We’ve never heard of a horse before, but they want to remind everyone about this promising opposites-attract romance that’s been on hold for a while, and the easiest visual shorthand for “rich young woman” is a riding crop and a hat. Carolyn and Tony engage in some really quite charming banter — this is a Sam Hall script, so there are jokes today — and she manages to get him to invite her out to dinner tonight.
I’d throw some quotes at you to prove how adorable this is, but honestly, the entry’s already running pretty long and we’re only about seven minutes in, so just take my word for it.
Barnabas comes over, to check on his fantasy-metaphor Rohypnol date rape harem, which includes Vicki as of the end of yesterday’s episode.
Barnabas: Where is Vicki?
Carolyn: Out with Mother.
Barnabas: Did she seem different?
Barnabas: More like you?
Reflexively, she lifts her hand to touch the side of her neck. He nods.
Barnabas: Yes. Didn’t you notice the change in her?
So as I mentioned the other day, returning to the present means that the writers have to figure out how to jump-start the main storyline again. They were running out of story options in late ’67, to the point where they either had to kill some main characters, or find another way to shake up the status quo.
The interesting thing that they’ve decided to do is to change all of the women’s roles on the show, to make them more active and give them more authority. Vicki in particular was a character who was only acted upon; she didn’t really do a lot, except serve as the McGuffin in the war between Barnabas and Julia. Now she’s leading her own storyline, and we’ve also seen Liz challenging Barnabas more directly than she used to.
The last couple of days have also built up Julia’s confidence in the story — she’s come out as a doctor, breaking the hold that Barnabas had over her. Yesterday, she even had Barnabas down on one knee, swearing loyalty to her. It’s all been about the women, reasserting the traditional female authority over soap opera storylines.
Today, it’s Carolyn’s turn.
Barnabas: I have to stop this obsession with the past. She’s been disturbed ever since the seance.
Carolyn: Barnabas, you shouldn’t have.
Carolyn: You should let Vicki feel whatever she feels.
She’s starting to get somewhere interesting, but that’s put on hold as Vicki and Liz return from their trip into town. This ends up being headline material, because on their way home, Vicki stopped at an antique shop, and bought an old painting.
In other words: Ta-DAH!
Yes, it’s time for Angelique’s supervillain trick — turning up alive, more or less, when you least expect it. The basic formula goes like this:
Barnabas: Angelique, you were killed, and we left you in the past! There’s no way you could have survived.
Angelique: But I did! Ta-DAH!
So Barnabas says the line which is his traditional response at this moment — a hoarse “Angelique!”
Liz says, “Yes, she is angelic, isn’t she?” and then the show just keeps on being perfect.
Because now we have a fifth female character to mess with Barnabas, and throw him off balance in unpredictable ways. They’ve got him surrounded.
A little later, Tony arrives for his dinner date with Carolyn, and there’s more adorable banter.
Carolyn: Let’s have some fun. I need to have fun.
Tony: Well, you’re not dressed for night fishing, or for bowling, or for the ball game in Bangor.
Carolyn: What are you talking about?
Tony: My idea of fun.
Carolyn: You’re not serious!
Tony: Oh, worse than that. I am, from your point of view, disgustingly normal.
Carolyn: Don’t tell me my point of view.
Tony: Well, that’s the only way you’ll ever get to know it.
Carolyn: I don’t need to know it. And I’m not going to change. You are.
“You wanna bet?” he says, and crosses his arms. She nods, and playfully imitates his pose.
And oh my gosh, I love this episode. This is just good, well-written television, the pupal stage of a soap opera supercouple.
And then Barnabas comes along, as he always does, and sabotages the soap opera storyline with his weird, self-centered vampire gloom. He sends a psychic call to Carolyn, instructing her to come to the Old House.
So Carolyn heads for the door, making inadequate excuses.
Carolyn: Tony… there’s something I must do.
Tony: What is it?
Carolyn: I can’t explain.
Tony: Well, you’re going to have to.
Carolyn: You stay here.
Tony: I wil not!
Tony: Where are you going?
Carolyn: There’s one thing I must do. I won’t be long. I promise.
And then she bails. Naturally, Barnabas doesn’t even want her for anything important; he’s just worried about Vicki and freaked out about Angelique’s portrait, and he wants to talk it over with someone.
Vicki isn’t responding appropriately to his vampire bite — she’s resisting him, just like every other woman in his life, all of a sudden — and he’s decided that the portrait is casting an evil influence that’s getting in his way. He says, “The witch must be BURNED!” and it sounds like he means it.
Obviously, Carolyn has no idea what he’s talking about, and she asks how she can help. “Comfort me,” he says, and pulls her close for a drink.
And then we see that Tony has followed Carolyn, and he’s watching this through the window, and I told you that this episode was good.
By the time Carolyn gets back to Collinwood, adorable banter is off the agenda. He didn’t see the fangs, but he saw enough to know that Carolyn walked out on him so she could “comfort” Barnabas.
“What do the two of you want from me now?” he spits, and there’s just not a single thing she can say.
Carolyn: It’s not like that!
Tony: Then you’re in love with him.
Carolyn: He’s my cousin!
Tony: Well, I’d always heard the idle rich were decadent. That was no cousinly kiss I saw!
Tony: Look, you’re not going to use me! Enjoy yourself, Miss Stoddard!
“Poor little rich girl indeed,” he spits — and there he goes, our only hope for a normal, non-supernatural opposites-attract love story. Barnabas ruins everything.
A little later in the evening, it’s time for one last battle: Barnabas Collins vs Representational Art. He lets himself in at Collinwood, where they apparently don’t lock the front doors when they go to bed, and advances on the portrait of Angelique.
But the women of Dark Shadows aren’t done with him yet. Carolyn has waited up, and she’s sitting in the dark, wearing a fantastic emerald robe.
Carolyn: I don’t want you to call for me anymore.
Carolyn: You love Vicki. I don’t want to just be used anymore.
Barnabas: We will not discuss this tonight.
She starts doing that thing where her voice catches a little bit, and it makes you want to be a better person.
Carolyn: I wanted to go out for dinner tonight.
Barnabas: You’re behaving like a child!
Carolyn: I am not a child. But I am young, and I want my own life, Barnabas. Can’t I have it?
Barnabas: Carolyn —
Carolyn: Can’t you leave me alone?
Barnabas: We will talk tomorrow! Now, GO!
And there you go. That’s, like, five awesome scenes in a row.
And there’s still more stuff in this episode. When Carolyn goes upstairs, Barnabas returns to his new hobby, which is fighting with oil paintings.
“I have lived this curse for almost two hundred years,” he says, glaring at the portrait. “Is that not time enough? Now that you have found me again, must everyone around me die, as they did before? No! I will not let you do it!”
And then he takes a knife and slashes at the picture, ripping it from the frame…
And he throws it into the fire, yelling, “Burn! BURN! That is the only way you will die. It is the only way this curse will end! BURN! BURN!”
And then he turns back, and the portrait is still there on the easel. Ta-DAH! And that’s why Dark Shadows is my favorite television show.
Tomorrow: First Wife’s Club.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
At the beginning of the episode, as Liz and Vicki walk through the graveyard, there’s a cough from offstage.
Vicki tells Liz, “The caretaker said that if Peter was buried anywhere here, then it would be here, in this section.”
When Liz and Vicki enter Collinwood with the picture, Liz kisses Carolyn’s cheek. The next shoot is a close-up of Barnabas, but Carolyn’s head is in the way.
Also, they’re making a big deal about the date on Peter’s gravestone, and they don’t even get it right — it should be April 3, 1796, because Vicki arrived in November, 1795. We’ll see this tombstone again in episode 660 — yes, sigh, they’re still talking about Peter two hundred episodes from now — and by that time, they’ve fixed it — by turning the 5 into a 6 with a black magic marker. See below for the fantastic result.
Tomorrow: First Wife’s Club.
— Danny Horn
56 thoughts on “Episode 463: Meanwhile, in the Past”
Angelique continues to make the series better. Try to imagine this episode without her. She’s a compelling antagonist — even in portrait form — and she’s a narrative sleight-of-hand that allows the writers to slowly make Barnabas the series protagonist — terribly flawed, sure, but very much like the Victor Newman of DARK SHADOWS.
Later, Angelique as Cassandra Collins will comment that Vicki’s presence in the past alerted her to the fact that Barnabas was alive in the future. That makes all kinds of no sense, but plot-wise, it provides a narrative purpose to Vicki’s trip to the past.
Funny you should mention timelines: The Dark Shadows Wiki attempts to put the series in chronological order and reminds me a lot of your GENERAL HOSPITAL nerd example: (http://darkshadows.wikia.com/wiki/TIMELINE). I appreciate the effort but it does strike me as the work of people who perhaps don’t understand the soap opera conventions to which DARK SHADOWS would always maintain, no matter how much it changed into something unique and unrepeated.
The DS Wiki timeline places episode 305, which aired in August, as taking place in January of 1968, which is nuts. They’re essentially arguing that DS first started time traveling during the Barnabas cure storyline rather than with 1795.
Soap opera episodes take place “now” (or basically the day you’re watching them) unless you’re told otherwise (e.g. when Christmas lasts for about a week). Trying to apply logic to the chronology is to venture hopelessly down the rabbit hole. For example, Barnabas first shows up in spring/summer of 1967…. in Maine… where the sun sets around 9 that time of year. By the time Burke asks Julia if she’s ever seen Barnabas during the day, the better question would be if she — or anyone — has ever seen him before 10 p.m. or when most of the house has gone to bed. But the show depicts it differently — it’s dark during reasonable visiting hours, fortunately for Barnabas and for those of us who just want to enjoy the story.
DARK SHADOWS takes place in a special world where everything is within walking distance regardless of what you were told or even seen in a previous episode. And I love it.
Agreed. The chronology doesn’t make sense in any soap and there’s really no point trying to justify it especially when there are so many flagrant contradictions. I believe there’s some kind of overlap with the day that Laura Collins is due to burn David and Maggie’s disappearance by Barnabas. Can’t remember the specifics but they take place very close together despite being months apart real time. Just best to go with the flow along with casting and sudden set and wardrobe changes (like Matthew’s morphing cottage or Laura’s magically changing dress).
Also, bringing back Angelique is a no-brainer considering the story opportunities that presents. I do like the fact they’re using the 1795 storyline as a springboard for what will happen in 1968. In many ways, 1795 served as a second pilot (albeit a long one) for the show. And I like that her portrait will be around for a while before she makes a physical appearance – nicely builds up mystery and anticipation.
Oh yes, 1795 definitely reboots the series. Barnabas is less the malignant force upon the return to 1968. He even says, “will everyone around me die”? Referencing the curse, which he never did before, and demonstrating a concern for others that was never evident before.
Danny hits the nail on the head with the reference to “control.” The early, villainous Barnabas is almost supernaturally in control. It’s only once Julia arrives, that the control begins to slip. He starts to become concerned for his own safety (and his overall goal as a protagonist — his cure — is obviously less insidious than brainwashing an innocent girl).
The villains are usually completely in control: Angelique for the most part in 1795, Blair in 1968, Quentin during the ghost storyline, Petofi in 1897, and so on… DS is a series that likes to stack up overwhelming odds against our “heroes.”
I’ve argued that Angelique is more interesting when “behind the eight ball,” as she is when a vampire under Blair’s control, which is why we all love it when she turns the tables on him.
As someone else had commented, too, thus is the first time in the “modern” storyline when Barnabas mentioned that he is under a curse. As for everybody else around him dying, whose fault has that ever been except his? Once again, Barnabas refuses to I accept responsibility for his own actions and decision, and instead blames others.
As someone else had mentioned, this is the first time in the “modern” storyline that Barnabas specifically references the vampire curse he is under. As for people around him dying, whose fault was that? Barnabas once again refuses to acknowledges responsibility for his own actions and decisions.
Pedro: Great point, Pedro, about 1795 being a while second pilot for the show.
Yeah, my anti-timeline material today is partly inspired by the timeline on Dark Shadows Wiki. I actually love that they’re doing it — it’s a fun game, if you don’t take it too seriously.
But I have made some edits on DS Wiki when I’ve seen an “inconsistency” in the timeline listed as a blooper, like “Carolyn says this happened two weeks ago, but according to the timeline it was only four days ago.” That’s not a blooper; it’s just how soaps work.
I think some DS fans got interested in the show because they like science-fiction/fantasy TV, and some are coming in as soap opera fans. I think the urge to tidy up inconsistencies and come up with a single canonical narrative is stronger on the science-fiction TV side.
My theory is that, generally speaking, soap operas are about emotion — big, grand feelings, while sci-fi/fantasy series are, generally speaking, about ideas — big, grand concepts and the world-building necessary to support the exploration of those ideas.
Whenever I’ve read an otherwise well-written DS fan faction that felt… off to me, I think the issue was that the writer focused too much on the sci-fi angle — basically, applying a TRUE BLOOD approach to DS.
Viewers forgive a lot about soaps if the emotions are intense enough. That’s the “money,” as they say. There’s no need for a “hell dimension” explanation for why Fen Baldwin or Summer Newman are now teenagers, which would mean their parents had been married for almost 20 years, which doesn’t make sense with any other plotline.
Sci-fi/fantasy viewers need an explanation for this or their heads explode. And that’s usually what frustrates some of them about DS: there are not even attempts to rationalize the time travel or explain away the paradoxes. That gets in the way of the emotion.
I should also distinguish between daytime and nighttime soaps — the emotion is often more earnest in the former and delivered more with a wink in the latter. This, I think, might be why some DS fans rejected the 2012 film — it was more vampire MELROSE PLACE. The original DS, after all, existed in a world where no one — not even the bad guys — commented on what a dolt Vicki Winters was, after all. In a nighttime soap, there’s no way to do that character without her being a walking punchline.
Excellent points, Stephen!
“But I have made some edits on DS Wiki when I’ve seen an “inconsistency” in the timeline listed as a blooper, like “Carolyn says this happened two weeks ago, but according to the timeline it was only four days ago.” That’s not a blooper; it’s just how soaps work.” Perhaps this was changed later than your post (but I don’t think so), but the “blooper” section on the DS Fandom Wiki is called “Bloopers and Continuity Errors,” so I think it’s fair to categorize the “it happened four, not two days ago” type of inconsistencies as “continuity errors.”
“I appreciate the effort but it does strike me as the work of people who perhaps don’t understand the soap opera conventions to which DARK SHADOWS would always maintain, no matter how much it changed into something unique and unrepeated.” I think that’s an unfair judgment on the fans who keep the DS Fandom Wiki going. Of course they understand soap opera conventions. It’s just a “nerdy” thing for fun, not an absolutely slavish intent to figure out an absolute chronology. It’s much the same as fans on that site liking to post the bloopers and continuity errors–even the most minute–FOR FUN.
OK – I’m going to be very candid in expressing my initial reaction and thoughts while viewing this episode – this request of Barnabas to have his young cousin Carolyn ‘comfort’ him both disgusted and sickened me. This is not a vampire in ‘survival’ mode by a long shot – this is basically the actions of a selfish dirty old man. I’m sorry if I offend any Barnabas fans but this is how felt about this scene – Tony is 100% correct in expressing his shock and revulsion upon viewing this unsavory exchange. I was genuinely surprised the censors allowed this or it could have been an example of Jonathan Frid ad libbing with the wording of this expression. Out of 1225 episodes this one is definitely my least favorite.
I agree that it’s a terrible thing to do on about ten different levels.
That doesn’t ruin the episode for me, because it’s very clear that this action has immediate bad consequences for Carolyn, and that gives her the strength to tell Barnabas that she doesn’t want to be his roofied comfort food anymore. There’s no sense in which the show approves of what he does here.
Just to avoid any misunderstanding — from our POV as the audience, absolutely “Ewww, ick, yuck, double-ewwww….” Still, given what he believes to be the situation, I think Tony is being a little bit of an ass here. Bear with me…
Tony’s ticked off because she’s kissing another guy. On the one hand, it is 1967. On the other hand, it’s not really an open relationship if both parties aren’t aware of that fact. So, point Tony on that.
How about the age difference? Given that Jonathan Frid plays the character, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Barnabas the character would look ~26. As of this episode, canon is that Barnabas goes in the magic box at the start of April 1796. His 1970-PT equivalent was born in 1770. According to Google, law school typically takes 3 years, so Tony is at least 24. So…wash on that.
Which leaves us with (drum roll and best Bela Lugosi impression, please)…con-sang-uity (pun intended and unavoidable). Given the characters’ ages, it seems likely that Barnabas/Sarah and Millicent/Daniel are in the same generation, so they’re N-th cousins. Joshua refers to Millicent as “cousin” rather than “niece” (and is pushing his brother to marry her), so clearly they’re no closer than 2nd cousins. Assuming “Barnabas”, the fictional (~25 yo) “cousin from England” is the same generation as Carolyn, they are (as far as Tony knows) no closer than 8th cousins (Daniel –> Gabriel –> Unknown –> Edward –> Jamison –> Elizabeth –> Carolyn). Tony is probably more closely related to Carolyn than “Barnabas”. Even as actual 2nd cousins 6 times removed, that’s well beyond what anyone would usually consider icky or pose any unusual genetic risks (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consanguinity and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin_marriage).
I mean, it’s not like Roger, who married his grandmother.
very creepy scene. I just saw this episode a few days ago (again.) and my reaction was a very loud ‘EWWWW’. But he didn’t ‘kiss’ her in the traditional mouth on mouth or even mouth on check. He very clearly went to her neck. But still. EW.
Yep, creepy creepy creepy. I don’t think the use of the word “comfort” was an ad lib or flub; it matches up, subtextually, with the later scene where Carolyn confronts him by the portrait – when she says he’s just using her and really loves Vicki, she explicitly identifies their connection as a physical substitute for his romantic interest in another woman. It’s all kinds of eew.
I had the exact same response. Thank you for voicing it so well.
JoAnn in revisiting this episode, I found Barnabas both disgusting, sickening and sadistic telling his cousin he needed comfort, thereby sucking her neck…idiot…lol.
I agree, Joanne! “Dirty old man” and implcit incest are both evoked by this distasteful euphemism.
Yeah…that was beyond creepy. I doubt they could get away with that on TV today.
Give Barnabas a pass. He is vampire after all.
Joanne I was also shocked at the comfort Carolyn could give barnabas, and it didn’t hit me fully until barnabas used that word, comfort. And Tony witnessed it. Super creepy. But still great and bold writing.
Yes – I think it was that single word (comfort) and the context in which it was used that brought about the extreme negative connotations I associated with this scene. In the episode when Barnabas originally bites Carolyn after catching her snooping around in the basement by his coffin I saw that as an act of desperation by the vampire which could somewhat justified. This comfort routine came across to me as despicable – after this scene I’m finding it very difficult to reconcile identifying with Barnabas as any type of real protector of the Collins family, and I’m currently watching the
beginning of the 1970PT story (starts around Episode #970).
Yes, it was the command to “comfort me” that is especially disturbing. It raised connotations of sexual abuse to me–like a creepy old uncle using a euphemism for the abuse he inflicts.
Well said, Tom. Ugh. But it is so perfect in the story to have someone so repulsive lurking around. Well not for Carolyn, of course.
Yes I felt some kind of way about him asking her to “comfort” him. If it wasnt getting some blood from her what the hell else could he have been thinking? …lol
Bold writing, exactly. I was glad to see that the writers haven’t de-fanged Barnabas. If he’s able to be that creepy, it makes me feel like there’s a lot of room for him to maneuver — you can’t predict what he’s going to do, because the writers are willing to have him do things that are shocking. And it’s interesting that this scene supports the interpretation that drinking blood is something he does when he’s stressed out or scared. I suppose he can’t hit the sherry the way some Collinses do.
Yes well he has just learned the meaning and Karma and Paybacks a bitch. We will let our vampire stud move on however.
What Tony witnessed was, in the sitcom sense, a comedy of errors. Creepy to be sure, because Barnabas is related to Carolyn, but no less so since he’s also interested in Vicky, who will soon be agreeing to run off and marry him–and who is also Carolyn’s half-sister. True, the earlier storyline did not confirm this, but the writers had a storyline in the works where this was going to be confirmed before Alexandra Moltke left the show. But, of course, this show, unlike all others on television at the time, is not afraid to take such chances. The shadows are dark for sure.
Its also creepy because barnabas clearly stated to Carolyn she was above Willie but below Victoria in her importance. And he cruelly told her he had no feelings for her, she was just a need when he craved blood, and a wing man to help get Vicky. Now he just needs comfort, with no obligation and no romance, so all along she was just a prostitute. One that is related to him. I won’t even go into the writers turning Angelique into Nicholas Blair’s slave. Really these men are working out some serious fantasies. But shocked, creeped out and occasionally bored, I LOVE this show. All the more because it is 34 years old. In real time that is 🙂
Yeah, that’s something that’s really surprising me as I’ve been rewatching, looking closely at each episode, and then reading and talking in the comments. My general memory of Barnabas was a lot more positive than I feel about him right now. There’s sort of a DS fan image of Barnabas as the good guy, the “reluctant vampire”, but up to now, that’s not what’s happening on the show at all.
My memory of the show was that Barnabas was totally evil in 1967, and then we got to learn what a nice guy he used to be in 1795 — and then coming back to the present day, he’s “rebooted” and set up to be the hero. I know there are more steps ahead, but he is so not rebooted yet. And yeah, this “comfort” moment is about as selfish and creepy as it gets.
I mean, I love him as a character, because he’s fascinating and he makes interesting stories happen. But he’s not a good guy, and he’s a ridiculous distance away from “hero”.
Danny, I keep wondering how our view of Barnabas is based on the Marylin Ross novels. True, there were not that great, but in them Barnabas was very much the hero, and the reluctant vampire who practiced “catch and release” with his victims. We read them at the same time we watched the show, and somehow the two of them blended.
I wonder if some of this isn’t just because of how society changed. Back in the 70s there was a whole lot less talk about dubious consent and a whole lot more acceptance of men loving one woman while sleeping with another. One of the big story lines was Rachel/Alice/Steve where Alice was the good girl Steve loved, by bad Rachel seduced him and kept him away. Steve was written as pretty well understandable and Rachel got all the blame. I see some parallels here. Barnabas turns to Caroline in an hour of need and she starts acting like a soap vixen doing what she can for Barnabas then having the temerity to ask for a life of her own all while being jealous of Barnabas’ “true love” at least for this week. The change in Caroline’s personality is pretty marked and kind of fit in with “the other woman” type. There is a contrast between her and Maggie. Maggie was a “good victim” because she fought back and finally resisted Barnabas. Caroline was a “bad victim” because once under Barnabas’s spell she didn’t resist it and she made life difficult for him while staying attached. It feels a bit like good victim, bad victim when it come to rape in some ways.
I find your comment about her and Tony being a super couple in the making to be really interesting. Nancy Barrette was the one actress who managed to pull off super coupledom. Once they paired her with John Karlen they really sparked and fit together. IIR, suddenly in every AU they fell in love. It was only in the “real” world that Willie and Caroline didn’t get together and if it had lasted long enough I would bet Willie would have been possessed by an appropriately upscale ghost or suddenly have an identical twin that would have clicked with Caroline.
In a nutshell, Barnabas ain’t shit right now. He is getting everything he deserves.
He is a freak at his lowest point right now in the gutter if you will. However, when you are put in gutter status, regardless of how you got there, you are looking up.
Totally in agreement with you, Danny! The phrase “reluctant vampire” is too simplistic to describe such a complex character.
Since Hoffman is used all the time and Barnabas makes this clear to her time after time, she should have had some of her own storyline in which she brings a husband/dr. to let Barnabas know that she was being comforted.
The rating of women by Barnabas, the “comfort me” (creepy but this is a creepy show), Tony watching this “old man” with Carolyn who tells Tony that Barnabas is a relative he he he, etc.
This was truly a strong episode.
But now one has to ask how Barnabas did the voodoo so well on Willy. I don’t remember his biting Willy? But call me curious.
Rockie–Yes, Barnabas did bit Willie. That’s the first thing he did, it seems, when Willie was released from the coffin. In those early Barnabas episodes, Willie is weak from blood loss, and the bit is on his arm. The original Dr. Woodard was treating him for it. And when Maggie became “ill” after being bitten by Barnabas, people often made reference to the similarity between her and Willie’s malady. Willie did seem to recover physically, but he remained in Barnabas’s thrall.
Give Barnabas sometime as this story line moves on Barnabas does become the hero. In the end he saves Vicky in the 1795 flashback 2.
I think Barnabas merely transitions into a more sympathetic character — by that, the show’s (and by extension “our”) sympathies are with him. He’s not the antagonist who serves as an obstacle to what the protagonist wants. That was definitely the Barnabas of 1967 — threatening the peaceful Maggie/Joe union and later injecting himself into the Burke/Vicki union (despite our opinions of the Burke character at the time, we were intended to want to see the two together).
When the series returns to 1968 after 1795, Barnabas is still the antagonist. He’s just on the defensive. He’s a threat to Vicki (and presumably would have killed her if not for Vicki’s poor driving) and to Carolyn. And this episode’s scene with Carolyn only underscores it. It doesn’t concern him that being his lap dog is destroying Carolyn’s life. He’s using her beyond even the original use (restoration of his youth and essentially “silencing” her). Remove him and everyone is much happier.
After he becomes human, Angelique/Cassandra replaces Barnabas as the chief antagonist, but he’s hardly a heroic protagonist. All he wants is to survive (hardly inspiring and no different from his “goals” post-Julia). Yes, he refuses to allow Langenstein to kill Jeff Clark but he’s still willing to see someone else die for his own purposes. He sees to Willie’s release but only for his own ends. He’s also willing to see people suffer through the Dream Curse in order to avoid becoming a vampire. He goes through with the Adam experiment, which proves catastrophic because he’s not capable of actually properly rearing this new life. Again, Adam exists for Barnabas’s own ends.
During all of this, he’s certainly nicer — less the diabolical Dracula in modern dress from 1967. He’s no longer a “bad guy” but he’s still a pretty bad person.
Yes, he tries to kill Eve — risking his own life for the sake of stopping BlI hair’s evil scheme — but Stokes seemed to initiate much of that. No, I think we might find in retrospect that 1968’s biggest challenge is that it doesn’t have a heroic figure — closest is really Julia/Stokes. Barnabas is still in a gray area.
I think the turning point comes in 1969: For one thing, the threats to the family and community are not a result of Barnabas’s own bungling like the Dream Curse, Adam, Eve, and so on. And he gets involved because it’s the right thing to do: Protecting Chris Jennings and seeking a cure. Trying to stop the ghost of Quentin from possessing David and Amy.
I’d actually exclude from “heroics” Barnabas’s attempts to save Vicki — he loves her and would do anything to protect her. Romantic but not heroic. No, Barnabas going through the I-Ching, risking everything, to save David — a boy he was close to killing just two years earlier — is a key moment for me in Barnabas becoming the “hero” of the series.
He’s certainly flawed in 1897, more an anti-hero, but from a narrative standpoint, he is a more active protagonist — his goals are not just self-preservation or getting a girl. He wants to save people.
Excellent distinctions, Stephen!
This episode is so dense, in the best possible way. Every scene is well written and offers something significant.
But I want to talk about about Julia’s beautiful new ‘do. She looks great and I want to buy bottles of shampoo with Grayson Hall’s smiling face on them.
Perhaps someone on the show could have done the same for Joan Bennett. She’s a beautiful woman and she rocks a purple houndstooth coat better than anyone has a right to. But then you see that matching purple ribbon in her oversized hair. She’s got the hairstyle of a child beauty pageant winner. Joan Bennett deserves more, especially when she’s nailing all of her lines, as she did today.
except when she said a line too early, though Danny didn’t include it in the bloopers
Julia is simply beautiful with her new do and Barnabas, stubborn, dont want to admit his heart went a flutter looking at Julia, that Julia looks better than Vicki, Angelique, and Carolyn put together and is damn sure smarter.
I saw this episode yesterday and one thing that struck me was how great Joan Bennett is in the scene where Liz and Vicki return with the portrait. This must be the happiest and most carefree we ever see any of her characters, and for a few all too brief seconds she’s loads of fun. Barnabas’ portentous hiss of “Angelique!”, followed by her “Yes, she is angelic, isn’t she?” like a daffy matron in a screwball comedy is great. It’s a whole new side to Liz’s character, and a moment of levity to cherish before things get really grim for her again.
I totally agree about Joan Bennett in this episode. Her performance is so refreshing. She seems to be having a genuinely good time, something that almost no one communicates on “Dark Shadows.” The show can become listless when it becomes relentlessly grim, so these moments are all the more lovely. I wish we would see a bit more.
Joan Bennett is absolutely beautiful and probably fun to be around. She does shine in this episode and not as depressed and serious. I really like her as Flora.
Random culmination of thoughts since they returned to 1968:
Why does Barnabas need to enter through a door in order to get to the painting of Angelique?
Too bad Angelique is making a comeback, at least her laughter at this point. I quickly grew tired of her in 1795, after her character was initially interesting.
I love Jerry Lacy. He plays one of the few “real” characters in 1968. Down to earth in this episode, which was an interesting juxtaposition to Carolyn and Barnabas and their indescribable relationship. Lacy is like a slap of reality upside the head. He called Barnabas an “old man!” lolololol That is not how we 10-11 year old girls saw him. I enjoy Lacy in all of his roles, even the over-the-top walled up Rev. Trask.
I’m still getting used to 1968 DS, as I really enjoyed most of the 1795 stint. It was weird to see “modern day” Barnabas back to peering out his window of the old house. Culture era shock is still rocking me, adjusting to what everyone looks and acts like again in 1968. (Pretty funny, considering I’m watching DS in 2019.) I’m already missing the mish-mash of 1795-ish garb. It’s been a wild ride.
Barnabas was a sweetie in 1795 before all the chit hit the fan. Amazing how no vampire make-up made him look 10 years younger. It was nice to see that aspect of him again. As far as that “comfort” part of today’s episode, don’t look at it with the eyes of someone living in 2019. I keep seeing people trying to analyze things with 2000’s sensibilities. It was 1968 and this came from a vampire. I’m not looking deeply into meaning, other than Barnabas is always about Barnabas. Ta-da!
I don’t recall liking Julia’s new ‘doo as much as when I was a kid. I think it gets curlier in time though. Still much better and less harsh for her angular face. Even Barnabas looks different to me in 1968!
I love Joan Bennett no matter what era. She was a huge star back in the golden era of movies. Her hairstyle really didn’t seem all that different to me between eras. She’s worn the 1795 look in some 1967-8 episodes. It was a pretty big score to get her on board for a soap. A soap…… Many times I still have to stop and think that this WAS a soap opera, not Creature Features on a Saturday night. I’m having fun.
Yeah, why couldn’t Barnabas have turned into a bar, or simply materialize inside the drawing room to gain access to the portrait? As for not picking doors, Barnabas never seemed to lock his own doors at the Old House, either when he was away or sleeping during the day.
I’m pretty sure those windows open. Didn’t we see Daniel come thru them when he had injured Vicki in tow? And I think David came thru them once too. Why doesn’t B just come in thru the window?
Nancy Barrett proves three times in one episode that she can wear anything and look great. Words do not exist for me to express how much I loved the equestrian outfit. And as for the riding crop…well, let’s not go there.
When Barnabas comes back to destroy the painting, he looks in the window, then there’s this weird pan around the drawing and into the foyer, then he comes in the front door. What was the purpose of all that? Just eating up time?
And when Barnabas cuts the portrait out of the frame, it’s very obvious that it’s printed on paper, not painted on canvas.
Excellent points, Stephen!
Time on soaps have always been sort of fluid and it’s pretty pointless in trying to even make sense of it – as someone said, soaps is based on mainly big emotions and drama in the afternoon. Not only can days go on for weeks if they hit a big story point (one extreme example is PASSIONS, which had between 10-20 “days” per year according to some insane person who took the time to count them), but we also have things like Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS) which means kids can go off screen for a few months and then return on screen as teenagers/adults. One extreme example of a character having a fluid age is Mike Horton on DAYS – born in 1968, grew up to college aged by 1974 and stayed around a diffuse idea of a “twentysomething” for the next three decades. Maybe he’s finally caught up to his own actual age by now.
Meanwhile, you have sci-fi fans who are used to having some sort of rational in-universe explanation for things, no matter how contrived and ridiculous they are (such as Dawn being a magical key on BUFFY and not just a ret-con character).
A rare appearance of a female in pants! This is my favorite Carolyn outfit at this point. We see her in pants again in parallel time when she’s married to Willie. No other woman dons pants besides Carolyn. I grew up during this period of time, girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school here until 1969. And then it was under strict rules that would send you home if you broke them. This equestrian outfit is just too much. Perfect on her, but there has never been mention of horses. Hmmm…..
There are other women besides Carolyn who wear pants on the show, especially later. Megan Todd does, and I believe Angelique and Maggie do in some later episodes as well. (And let’s not forget Maggie’s infamous palazzo pants, though those are more pants pretending to be an ugly skirt.)
Vicki may have missed The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” LP, but she got back to 1968 in time for “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” album released later in April.