Episode 481: Remember Someone

“He will not be a monster then — unless, of course, you consider me one. I’m sure you do.”

Julia Hoffman has seen too much.

Yesterday, Julia went into Dr. Lang’s secret murder lab without permission, and found the monster that he’s been assembling out of corpses and bits of string. She knows that the monster still needs a head, which means one more person has to die to finish the project. This is dangerous knowledge. Julia must be stopped.

Now she’s locked herself in Lang’s parlor, and she’s calling the police. She’s also screaming and sobbing quite a bit. Barnabas and Lang are banging on the door, desperate to stop her. Lang has pulled his gun — he’ll kill to protect his experiment, if he has to.

In a last desperate bid to halt this disastrous chain of consequences, Barnabas shouts through the locked door to his hysterical friend.

“Julia, remember!” he cries. “Remember someone!”

481 dark shadows remember barnabas lang

So that’s lovely, isn’t it? It’s one of the all-time great Dark Shadows bloopers — a high-stakes dramatic cliffhanger that’s resolved with three words, and Jonathan Frid goes blank on word two.

Here’s how it plays out from there:

Barnabas:  Julia, remember! Remember someone!

Dr. Lang:  Dave Woodard!

Barnabas:  Dave Woodard! Remember Dave Woodard!

And then Julia puts the phone down, walks to the door, and lets the guys in.

Now, there’s no logical reason why Lang should know about Dave Woodard. The whole point of the scene is that this is a terrible secret that only Barnabas and Julia know. But Addison Powell consulted the teleprompter, which is the magical source of all secret knowledge.

481 dark shadows phone julia

The interesting thing about this moment is that Barnabas is invoking a particularly powerful secret — the three words that sum up the worst thing that Julia’s ever done. But Jonathan Frid has actually forgotten that secret, and in fact this is the last time they’ll ever mention it on the show. Barnabas is simultaneously evoking and erasing his own history.

Clearly, the audience is supposed to recognize the reference, and understand exactly what “Remember Dave Woodard” means. There’s no further explanation; Julia just hangs up and opens the door.

But this powerful totem can only be used once. We all take a moment to remember Dave Woodard, and then he joins the ranks of Dark Shadows’ rapidly evaporating past.

481 dark shadows checkmate julia barnabas

As she lets the guys into the room, Julia gets that faraway look in her eye.

Julia:  You always win, don’t you, Barnabas?

Barnabas:  We can always checkmate each other, Julia.

Julia:  No. You stop me, though I seldom stop you.

This is not actually the case. Julia has won before, lots of times. I haven’t been keeping score, but I’m pretty sure that she carried the day more often than he did. That’s why there are still some people left alive in Collinsport.

But the Barnabas/Julia relationship has been evolving lately, and part of that process is rewriting the past.

481 dark shadows promise julia

This is a particularly important moment in that evolution, because Lang poses a serious threat to the Barnabas/Julia relationship. A successful soap opera relationship is built on a strong foundation of shared secrets — and up to now, Julia has known absolutely everything about Barnabas’ crimes and schemes.

But Barnabas has been hanging out with Lang lately, shutting Julia out of the mad-science conferences. That’s the point of what’s happening today — the guys have been sharing a bunch of new secrets, driving a wedge between Barnabas and Julia.

So Barnabas has a new best friend all lined up — another mad scientist to confide in and fight with. And now Lang is standing behind Julia, pulling his gun out of his pocket.

Based on past experience with this insane television show, there is every reason to believe that Lang is going to murder Julia, and take her place in the story.

481 dark shadows promise barnabas

But that’s a dead end for the show, and Barnabas knows it.

The fact is, nobody wants to see Lang become a permanent member of the menagerie. Addison Powell is The Worst Actor who Ever Appeared on Dark Shadows, and Grayson Hall is the best. She’s interesting in every scene, dispensing at least five different facial expressions at any given moment. All Lang can do is shout.

481 dark shadows locker lang julia

Remarkably, Julia doesn’t invoke her emergency backup plan — the red notebook that contains all of her notes about Barnabas’ vampire cure. This was a huge focus in the last couple of weeks before the 1795 time travel story; the entire story revolved around the location of that notebook.

The notebook is safe now, locked in a bank vault — and if Julia dies, it will be turned over to the authorities. It’s the obvious trick for her to use right now, the “checkmate” that keeps her alive. But she doesn’t mention it, now or ever again.

The continuity rewrite is pretty intense at this point in the series, so if you’re having trouble keeping track, here’s a quick list of things that they don’t talk about anymore: the notebook, Dave Woodard, Burke’s plane crash, the ghost of Sarah, David’s fear of Barnabas, Carolyn being bitten by Barnabas, Barnabas aging, and Julia hypnotizing Vicki.

That’s practically everything that happened on the show in the six weeks before Vicki went to 1795. The writers have essentially decided that they’re keeping Barnabas and Julia’s simmering relationship, and they’re throwing out practically everything else.

Contrary to popular belief, going to 1795 didn’t reboot Barnabas. He’s pretty much the same as he always was. They rebooted everybody else.

481 dark shadows negotiate lang julia

The negotiation that follows is rather complex.

Julia:  Will you give me your word that you will not try to kill anyone else, as you’ve tried to kill Jeff Clark?

Lang:  Yes.

Julia:  No, you give your word too easily. I know that you still have to find a face for that — that creation.

Lang:  I can create the face, the same way I created the figure.

Julia:  Then you have my word that I will say nothing.

481 dark shadows word lang julia

Lang nods, and turns away.

Julia:  You also have my word that I will do everything possible to stop that experiment!

There’s a huge, thunderous music cue as Julia stalks out of the room and we fade to commercial. It’s a great line to end the act on; it’s just a shame that it makes absolutely no sense. What did she just agree to?

481 dark shadows master julia barnabas

But there’s only one game worth playing on this show. It’s called Stand Next to Barnabas, and Julia is really, really good at it.

Julia:  You cannot consider Lang’s offer — to put your life force into that monster, and bring it alive!

Barnabas:  He will not be a monster then — unless, of course, you consider me one. I’m sure you do.

Julia:  No. I wish I did, then I could simply let you do it.

Which is an amazing thing to say — and hearing her say it justifies every retcon that they’re doing here. This is the kind of scene that the audience wants to see, and if the writers have to wipe everyone else’s storyline to achieve this, then so be it. It’s just so damn cute.

481 dark shadows plan barnabas julia

Barnabas finally explains his totally bonkers plan.

Barnabas:  If I go along with Dr. Lang’s plan, I will escape from Angelique forever! I will be a stranger to her.

Julia:  And to all of us. Even if it works, how will you live? Where? You won’t be able to come back here; you’ll have no position at all. Barnabas, what will you do?

Barnabas:  There is a great deal to be decided. I will leave whatever wealth I have with you. You will keep it for me. But that is not the important thing tonight.

So how cute is that? I can’t believe it. Not that long ago in story time, these two were determined to destroy each other. Now she’s the only person he really trusts.

481 dark shadows tracking julia barnabas

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately tracking the development of this relationship, because it’s basically the whole reason why Barnabas works as a character — and, therefore, also the reason why Dark Shadows works as a show.

In that first moment when Vicki returned from her trip into the past, there were lines and meaningful glances between Barnabas, Julia and Carolyn that only made sense if the audience remembered exactly what was going on four months earlier. The Barnabas/Julia story picked up as if it was the very next day.

And the really weird thing is: that’s the only storyline we were supposed to remember in that kind of detail. They never even mentioned Sarah’s ghost, or the problems with David, and that was the entire reason why they had the seance in the first place. The writers are telling us who’s important, and it’s not Sarah or David or Dr. Woodard.

They don’t expect us to remember everyone. We just need to remember someone.

Tomorrow: Witches Be Crazy.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Barnabas bobbles a line with Julia:

Julia:  You cannot deal with her?

Barnabas:  Catch her at the crossroads in the day of the — in the — in the dead of night? That is the only way to catch her.

When Cassandra walks up to the iron gate to eavesdrop on Barnabas and Julia, studio lights can be seen on the left side.

There’s a tape edit while Barnabas and Julia are talking on the terrace, cutting out part of Julia’s line.

One of the quotes above has been edited for clarity. What Barnabas actually says to Julia is, “If I go along with Dr. Lang’s plan, I will escape upon Angelique forever!”

 

Tomorrow: Witches Be Crazy.

481 dark shadows someone julia barnabas

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

22 thoughts on “Episode 481: Remember Someone

  1. 1795 allowed for the “reboot” of the Barnabas less so because they completely changed Barnabas’s character but more because they changed the Barnabas/Julia relationship. Previously, it had been more of a complex chess game –mutually distrustful and physically abusive (though the latter is usually frowned upon in most chess matches). Now, Barnabas trusts Julia when a big part of the pre-1795 episodes is that he considers her a threat to his existence and to his relationship with Vicki.

    You’d mentioned that it was possible that Vicki returned to a “different” 1795. That’s a very plausible theory when you consider Barnabas and Julia. For instance, we can imagine that they still conspired to kill Dave Woodard but that it might have played out differently — less overtly blackmailing Julia and Barnabas being less clinically psychopathic about it.

    The vampire Barnabas of 1795 (and the later storylines) is selfish, at times vicious, and often bites/strangles first and asks questions later, but he’s far more complex than the cold, calculating villain of 1967.

    Both Barnabas and Julia are also far more concerned with the Collins family, beyond their own self-interest, than they were pre-1795. When Lang originally “cures” Barnabas, there is a gratitude expressed that I could not imagine the 1967 Barnabas even feeling. Or when Barnabas even suggests that Lang “do no more for me” when he suspects that Angelique might try to stop him.

  2. Of course, all that forgetting what went on in 1967 will hold until you get new writers. Come a new writer, they take a look at the unresolved issues of 1967 and they might decide that it is time to get the time bombs explode, just to see what happens.

    Remember in “One Life to Live” Dorian got away for years with her killing her husband. And then, out of the blue she is charged and condemned to death. Because there was a nice story to tell about it.

    Of course, DS did not last long enough for that “coming back to bite you in the ass” storyine, and anyway, it could not be done after KLS left the show (although I can imagine her returing, and Maggie returing, and getting her memory back and all that…)

    1. I will say that I was sad when Katherine Leigh Scott left Dark Shadows. I know Vicki was the original main character, but I always preferred Maggie and liked KLS more than Victoria Moltke. The fact that the show didn’t go that much longer was especially sad. I would have loved to see KLS do the entire run. Well she has remained dedicated to the show and has added a lot to fandom keeping DS in the public mind, one of the reasons I like her.

  3. When I watch these episodes I’m reminded of two other shows that started out with a talented ensemble cast and then wound up focusing solely on one or two ‘favorite’ characters: Happy Days with Fonzie and Lost in Space with Will/Dr Smith. In both instances the quality of the shows deteriorated to a great extent because the shows strayed too far from the creators original vision. Dark Shadows worked its way into a corner (at least creatively) by putting all their eggs into one basket. However when I watched the 1970 Parallel Time story I felt the show redeemed itself by refocusing on the ensemble cast scenario as opposed to shoving ‘these two’ down my throat yet again.

    1. That’s funny, I think both of those shows were drastically improved when they refocused on the breakout characters. Happy Days was #16 in the ratings during the first season, when Fonzie was a minor supporting character. After refocusing on Fonzie, they jumped to #11 in season 3, and hit #1 in season 4. They were in the top 3 for three seasons in a row.

      Responding to audience interest in real time is the best thing about serialized storytelling. Television shows that are flexible and able to pivot are the ones that stay on the air.

      1. I know that the ratings are everything to the survival of a show but looking over the progressing storylines of each show I still shudder when I think of the cringe worthy plots such as the Adam/Eve that we’re reviewing now versus the Phoenix/Early Barnabas on DS, the ‘Vegetable People/Space Hippie’ versus the ‘Space Exploration’ on Lost in Space and of course the famous ‘Jump the Shark’ versus the ‘Fifties Teen Angst’ on Happy Days..Also as you mentioned previously the change in Julia’s personality are quite noticeable – the cool as ice with nerves of steel persona she had while treating Maggie Evans at Windcliff as totally morphed into that of a character being treated in ‘The Snake Pit’.

        1. Oh! Now I want Dark Shadows to have a “Vegetable People/Space Hippie” story. I think the closest we’ve got is the Leviathans. Sebastian Shaw could have been a space hippie, too.

    2. It’s true that abandoning the pacing and character structure of a soap opera, DS burned out quickly (five years compared to 40 years for Y&R). However, no other soap opera has entire run available on DVD nor has any other daytime soap inspired three movies — one during its run and both with its TV cast — and a primetime revival.

      And even viewed as straight-up genre/supernatural/fantasy series, DS lasted longer than most in years but significantly longer in episode count. Joss Whedon probably would have been institutionalized if he’d tried to produce more than 1,000 episodes of BUFFY.

  4. So it sounds like they must have been getting a lot of favorable mail about Barnabas/Julia relationship then (to drop all the other story lines you mentioned?). It’s funny how they never allowed them to get together romantically. Maybe that makes for keeping the story more interesting though. “Remember…..someone!” I just love that blooper too.

    1. Romantically pairing Barnabas and Julia would have been considered as likely as romantically pairing Barnabas and Jeff Clark.

      I think, though, this helped the series because they were able to have Barnabas and Julia function essentially as a married couple (say, the older couples on a soap opera, where sex is not even up for discussion) while Barnabas could still pursue the next PYT. It was a precursor, I think, to the Mulder/Scully “partnership/marriage” where in that situation, it’s Mulder’s obsession and their working relationship that serves as the obstacle to any potential romance.

      No other version of Barnabas/Julia has been able to maintain this balance. Barbara Steele was more conventionally attractive, and the two never formed a true bond so she always came across as just a jealous lover.

  5. This holiday season, remember someone you knew and loved with a Hallmark death certificate. Hallmark. Because it’s the cause that counts.

  6. A belated comment because this only occurred to me as I was getting ready for bed last night–but you could fanwank the change in Barnabas and Julia’s relationship by saying “stuff happened” in the interval between Vicki returning from 1795 in November 1967 and Lang turning up on the scene in April 1968. (Given that soap operas tend to operate in real time, that is!) Of course the “stuff” that happened wasn’t interesting enough to show on TV–not on the new Dark Shadows, that is. g A lot of recapping, characters discussing their feelings with each other, opening and shutting doors–and maybe Julia teaching Barnabas such 20th century skills as how to drive and how to use a telephone. Just imagine all that being elided in the show in order to get to the more exciting monsters of 1968…

    1. You can also imagine an off-screen conversation between Barnabas and Lang early in this plot that starts with something like: “Beware, Doctor. There was another medical man in this town who learned too much about me… His name was… something or other. Oh, yes. Dave Woodard! Let me tell you all about it.”

    2. Yes well Julia unintentionally showing Barnabas what a real woman can do and say. The answer she gave Barnabas when Barnabas said she might think of him as a monster, surely cut like a knife, and he was hoping she would not notice the crack his face…lol. Too cute classic Julia letting Barnabas know he cant see the forest for the trees.

  7. A thought about Julia: I think Grayson Hall is a fine actress. But I don’t think her characterization of Julia should include emotional storms. I didn’t find her reaction to Jeff’s impending decapitation credible. She’s a doctor and is presumably trained react rationally, even in the face of horror. She’s likely to be shocked by the situation, but not turned into a quivering mess. The problem was even worse in an episode that followed Woodard’s death. It’s been a while, but I recall her writhing around the set for the entire episode (interacting with the telephone, I think) and doing nothing but emoting. This doesn’t seem like the controlled Julia that we know. And frankly, I don’t think it plays to Hall’s strengths as an actress.

    1. I think it’s somewhat credible that she would be totally freaked out seeing the pieced-together body, since it makes it likely that what Jeff Clark just told her is true. Possibly including the intention to cut Jeff’s head off.

    2. Julia’s braying scream-laugh-cry is the worst acting ever. So fake and contrived. It is flat out ear torment. Unfortunately we have to hear it multiple episodes, which is alarming. Hall saw how it came across onscreen and still did it again?!?

  8. I love the bit where Julia asks Lang to promise he won’t try to kill anyone else, and so Lang looks to Barnabas for guidance. Jonathan Frid just moves one of his ears, as a reaction. It’s pretty funny. I suppose they have a code set up in advance, in their secret club – one ear wiggle for yes…

  9. I’m glad to read the comments of others that find Grayson Hall’s choice to react the way she did to the body a poor choice. I do think she’s a good actress…well, of course, she is, she was nominated for an Oscar, however, her overacting on DS is painful.

    I really enjoy Jerry Lacy and think he’s one of the best actors on the series. I’m liking his scenes with Serena, I mean, Cassandra. I find they have great chemistry.

    I’m also starting to see how Julia and Barnabas could be a thing, but I like the prior comments likening them to Scully and Mulder.

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