Episode 486: If They Both Live

“We must not be emotional about his death.”

On Friday, Julia and Dr. Lang performed the experiment to free Barnabas from his vampire curse by transferring his life force into a Frankenstein monster. It went about as well as any DIY project, which is to say: It ran for about three minutes, and then ended in confusion, ruin and despair.

Lang had a heart attack mid-experiment and fell over onto one of his buzzing machines, and then something shorted out with a pop and a puff of smoke, and then there was electricity and life force just flying all over the place, and there was an earthquake and a flash flood and the box of scorpions tipped over and the sun got in my eyes and I think we need a do-over.

486 dark shadows confusion lang julia

So that went great. Now Julia’s bustling around, unhooking everyone from whatever they’re hooked into. Lang tells her to turn off the big switches on the wall, and the experiment shudders to a close. Now it’s time to write up the paper for the Journal of Mad Science, and start working on that Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

486 dark shadows shot lang julia

Oh, and you’ll probably also want to tend to the wounded. Julia hurries over to give Lang a shot of whatever you give people while they’re apparently still having a heart attack.

486 dark shadows three lang julia

Barnabas’ pulse is weak, so Lang pulls a bottle out of his pocket, and hands it to Julia. He’s still panting and practically falling over, but his bedside manner is stabilizing.

Lang:  Give him… this… three… cc.

Julia:  What is it?

Lang:  Give it to him.

Julia:  Tell me what it is!

Lang:  Give it to him!

Oh my god, is it like an especially hard word to say? Just tell her what it is. Honestly, this guy. Even when he’s dying, he’s a dick.

Julia gives Barnabas the three cc’s of whatever it was, and considering that the patient still isn’t moving or showing any signs of breathing, I’d say that treatment didn’t turn out to be the rocket sled to recovery that they were hoping for.

486 dark shadows ambulance lang julia

Next, Julia wants to call the hospital and get an ambulance for Lang, but apparently he’s decided to devote the last moments of his life to standing in the way of competent medical care. It’s true what they say about doctors being the worst patients. Sometimes, they’re the worst doctors, too. Some people are just the worst at everything they put their minds to.

486 dark shadows same barnabas julia

Barnabas comes to, and now Julia’s running back and forth between the two guys, trying to keep up with their lunatic demands. This must be what it’s like to be a woman, pretty much all the time.

486 dark shadows attack lang julia

Barnabas is disappointed to still be in his old body, and Julia tells him that Lang had a heart attack. Barnabas cries, “Cassandra!” and starts climbing off the table.

486 dark shadows kill lang barnabas

Julia tries to keep some kind of order.

Julia:  Lie back down.

Barnabas:  No! Cassandra, she — she’s found out! She’s going to kill him!

Julia:  No, no — you must —

Barnabas:  I must stop her!

Julia:  Barnabas, please! You’re too weak!

Barnabas:  She will kill him! I must go!

486 dark shadows save lang barnabas

So he moves approximately one step and then collapses, still shouting, “We must save him, so we can try again!” Meanwhile, Lang is trying to restart his pulmonary functions through the sheer power of the dramatic arts.

486 dark shadows kill cassandra

And over at Collinwood, Cassandra’s still having fun playing with her Dr. Lang action figure, so at least somebody’s enjoying themselves.

“No, I will not kill him,” she decides. “One doesn’t come back and find one’s victims after all these years, and do away with them in a moment.”

This is basically Batman-TV-show level villain logic, and not even one of the smart ones. This is, like, Riddler level, where you issue “catch me if you can” challenges. This is not adult villainy.

486 dark shadows decompose lang

So it goes on like this for a while. Barnabas stumbles out the door on his Junior Woodchucks rescue mission, while Lang continues to backseat-drive his own death.

He says that Julia will only have 48 hours to repeat the experiment, before the patchwork monster decomposes. Julia is too well-mannered to suggest that if they wait around for a few minutes, they might have a new corpse they can use for spare parts.

486 dark shadows tape lang

She leaves the room to get something, and now we have the big tape recording scene, which will occupy so many of our days and nights in the weeks to come. Lang remembers something important that Julia needs to know, so he uses his handy reel-to-reel tape recorder to record a message for her.

For younger readers who may be unfamiliar with the technology, a “tape recorder” was kind of like leaving a voice mail for somebody, except they had to come over to your house if they wanted to listen to it.

486 dark shadows live lang

Here’s the message. You’re going to want to pay attention here, because it’s setting up the next several months of story.

Lang:  Julia, if you do the experiment again… If both Barnabas and my creation live — if they both live — Barnabas will be free and healthy, as long as Adam lives. Adam will drain Barnabas’ affliction from him, but will not suffer from the disease itself, if he lives. But if Adam dies, Barnabas will be as he was before.

486 dark shadows pin cassandra

And then Angelique slips, and pushes the pin all the way through her voodoo doll, and Lang goes out in a blaze of flared nostrils. It’s not exactly death with dignity, but it’ll have to do.

486 dark shadows died lang julia

So there he goes. Dr. Eric Lang, ladies and gentlemen. He died as he lived — noisy, and impossible to understand.

486 dark shadows confront barnabas cassandra

So by the time Barnabas gets to Collinwood to confront the witch, it’s too late. Lang’s dead, the experiment’s a failure, and we might want to spend some time closing down the secret murder lab.

486 dark shadows gone julia barnabas

But then something deeply weird happens — and considering the current baseline, that’s saying quite a lot.

Barnabas comes back to the lab, and Dr. Lang is… gone.

Like, actually gone. His body just isn’t there anymore. Barnabas and Julia are still having the same conversation, but during the scene change, Addison Powell got up and walked off the set, and Eric Lang just stops existing as a material object in the story.

486 dark shadows time julia barnabas

That is super extra crazy, and it says a lot about what’s happened to Dark Shadows lately. We watched a character die over the course of ten minutes, and then his body just vanished as soon as we looked away.

You can’t even use a handwave like “time compression” to explain it, because they didn’t just dump the body somewhere and pretend that he went on vacation. As we’ll see tomorrow, it’s public knowledge that Dr. Lang is dead. It’s a major conversation piece for the next few days.

Somehow, invisibly, Barnabas and Julia reported the sudden death of a prominent local doctor, and arranged for his body to be collected from his secret murder lab, without anyone noticing the rotting corpse-monster on the other side of the room.

I mean, even if they managed to convince the police that Lang died of a heart attack, then how did they explain why Julia is here, dressed in a lab coat?

So this is the moment, I think, when Dark Shadows simply ceases to function like a soap opera. It’s still a continuing daily serial on daytime television, but it’s jumped the track and landed in a completely new genre.

Because there’s no way on this earth that a soap opera would do what they just did. You don’t kill a soap character on screen, and then act like there are no consequences. A soap opera runs entirely on consequences; that’s what the genre is for.

When someone dies on a soap opera, then you get a story-beat bonanza that keeps the series humming for weeks. First you have to report the death, and then you go around and tell every single character about it, and give everyone a chance to react, and then there’s the funeral. If you’re lucky enough to have some foul play involved, then you can live off that story for months.

486 dark shadows them barnabas julia

In fact, the only thing that you don’t do is forget about him and start talking about something else, which is exactly what they do.

Check it out; this is how they wrap things up in four sentences.

Julia:  This experiment — it killed him as much as she did! If it hadn’t been for this secret, he would have let me send for help.

Barnabas:  We must not be emotional about his death, Julia. Every instinct, every feeling I have is to let go, to get revenge — but we must not, we have no time!

And that’s it. They just get back to work on the experiment.

486 dark shadows gone barnabas julia

So that line says pretty much everything about what kind of show Dark Shadows has become: “We must not be emotional about his death.” Nobody would ever say that on a soap opera. The whole mission statement of a soap opera is to be emotional about things.

For better or worse, Dark Shadows has now decided that is no longer the case. This is not the story of a family, or a functioning community. This is the story of a handful of crazy monsters, who operate in a hazy otherworld according to the logic of dreams, metaphors, and second-string Batman villains.

This new style won’t last forever. After a while, the writers will figure out that they’ve actually wandered too far off the reservation, and they’ll need to connect back to some soap opera basics again. But this is the path that they’re going to travel through the long, psychedelic summer of 1968. Let the great experiment begin!

Tomorrow: Precious Moments.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

The opening voiceover says, “The witch who put the curse is getting her revenge.”

Addison Powell’s last moment as Dr. Lang — recording the taped message for Julia — is appropriately disaster-prone. He has trouble with the clunky controls on the reel-to-reel tape deck, and doesn’t turn it on in time for the sound effect of the music playing. Then he’s supposed to switch the prop recorder to “record”, which should still keep the reels spinning. Instead, he turns it off, and records his final words while the tape is clearly not running. The camera pulls in quickly when they realize how silly this looks. The dude can’t even die correctly.

Barnabas starts smiling halfway through his confrontation with Cassandra, starting with the moment when he grabs her and spins her around. He gets it under control, but about twenty seconds later, he grabs her hand again, and he smiles again. It looks like he’s just barely suppressing the urge to laugh.

Another person gets the Dream Curse poem wrong again. This time, it’s Mrs. Johnson, who starts with, “Through sight and sound, and headless terror,” instead of “faceless terror.” She also says “A blazing head of light will burn,” when she should say “Ahead a blazing light will burn.”

This episode has the weirdest, most glaring Dream Curse blooper. When Julia closes the second door and approaches the third, she walks past a metal garbage can on a little platform which is spewing dry-ice smoke. It’s clearly not hidden by anything, and there’s a light pointing straight at it, so it’s hard to imagine what they were thinking.

Behind the Scenes:

This is the last time we see Dr. Lang alive, although Addison Powell returns for one episode as a ghost in a couple months. The recording of Lang’s final words will be replayed endlessly, and according to Barnabas & Company, Powell was paid for each episode where his voice was heard.

There’s an oxygen mask over Adam’s face today, to disguise the fact that it’s not Robert Rodan under the sheet. In fact, I think it’s actually a mannequin today. Over the last couple weeks, when stand-in Duane Morris was lying under the sheet, we saw his shoulders and chest — today, we only see the monster’s head, and that’s only in the background. By act 3, the entire figure is covered with the sheet.

The skeleton that’s usually hanging at the back of Lang’s laboratory is gone today, so it could be dressed as a bride for Julia’s dream. The skeleton was in the lab at the end of Friday’s episode, but it’s gone by the start of today’s.

The skeleton bride in Julia’s dream uses the same “woman laughing” sound effect that they’ve been using for Angelique since she died. It’s not actually Lara Parker’s laugh, but it sounds pretty close.

The music that’s heard on the tape that Lang records over is Mozart’s Serenade No. 13 in G (“Eine kleine Nachtsmusik”). The piece is heard an unbearable number of times in the episodes to follow, and this may have contributed significantly to the decline of interest in classical music in America.

Tomorrow: Precious Moments.

486 dark shadows dream curse blooper

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

47 thoughts on “Episode 486: If They Both Live

  1. Yes, by this point Dark Shadows is no longer a soap opera in the standard traditional sense. It is now a horror series, where instead of basing the show on emotional effect, they are instead banking on the thrill factor. That’s why we don’t care about the sudden disappearance from the lab of Dr. Lang’s body, which I didn’t even think to notice while watching this part of the series. Because the viewer has no emotional connection with Dr. Lang. He was just a mad scientist. He was entertaining, but not a character with whom we could identify. If he dies, fine. If his body disappears without so much as a comment, so what? It was fun to have him along, but we are more interested in the experiment than the scientist who conceived it.

    But as to when Dark Shadows stops becoming a soap opera where emotions are front and center, this explains why such personal themes as David’s fear of Barnabas and the tense conflict between Barnabas and Julia, which were central parts of the storyline pre-seance, were simply dropped post-seance. Also dropped from the plot are any emotional traces that Barnabas’ vampiric influence might have had on Carolyn and Vicky. Just as gradually as the show transitioned from standard gothic soap to supernatural vampire soap, another transition has been made when the show returned from 1795 to the present where the show is becoming more horrifying, and thrills rather than emotional impact will be the motivating force, and a lot more people are going to have to die. The funhouse is open, and the roller coaster has just passed the top of its first loop and is now gathering speed as it rushes forth toward a new thrilling series of twists and turns and upside-down whirls.

    This is why Vicky has become such a peripheral character on the show. Her persona is still much the same as the show itself was in the beginning–gothic, meandering, and often brooding. The horror that is beginning to engulf Collinwood is still very distant to her, she is never at the center of it. For her character, there is only a faint aura of strange dark forces, but they are somewhere else, behind hypothetical locked doors. There can be no truly horrifying thrills when she is around, and I think this is why the writers on the show have found it increasingly difficult to write stories for her. The best they can do is a leftover love story from the 1795 storyline. The show became instead about Barnabas because as a creature of the supernatural the possibilities are infinitely more thrilling and mysterious. With Barnabas we get a witch, a devil’s emissary, a mad scientist, and a violent creature made from human clay. With Vicky we get Frank Garner and Jeff Clark. From the writers’ point of view, the choice would be obvious.

    1. Well said. The series is now full-on Universal horror (in its 1940s “b” movie period). I’ve wondered elsewhere if it’s even possible to do a riff on the Frankenstein monster without this happening.

      The series starts to ground itself a little more in reality after Adam vanishes in Stoke’s back room. Even the werewolf plot line feels more “realistic” (or as close as DS gets).

      And if Alexandra Moltke had stayed on the series, Vicki Winters would have had a prominent role in the Quentin’s ghost story. By this point, it seems like there was room for either Maggie or Vicki and fortunately for Katherine Leigh Scott, Moltke left the show.

      I don’t know if DS would have let Motlke play different roles: Rachel Drummond, Lady Hampshire, Parallel Time Vicki, but if they had there would have been significant front burner stories for her.

      1. I think it was good that Moltke left when she did. As Danny mentioned, KLS made interesting acting choices with Maggie. I preferred her character to Vicki, so if they would have had to make a choice, I think things worked out for the best. I think they could have written other female roles if both had stayed, for example Beth in the Quentin story could have been played by either AM or KLS. They managed to work Marie Wallace into the story, so they weren’t limited in their female characters.

      2. Moltke’s always said she wanted to return to DS but only if she could have played Vicki differently (or another character). But apparently they only wanted her to play the one character the one way – so I’m thinking there wouldn’t have been much opportunity for her to grow or play other characters.

        I do find this era of DS a bit of a muddle what with the Dream Curse and Lang’s experiments. Lang is missing the touchstone with reality that made the previous supernatural stories so effective (we never learn ANYTHING about him, other than he collects harpoons). If they had given him a credible backstory to explain his motivations for creating Adam (like in the original Frankenstein) – and cast a better actor – he would have been far more interesting. As it is, he’s cray-cray and that’s the answer to everything he does.

        And the Dream Curse just doesn’t connect – and let’s be honest, it’s boring. Danny nailed it when he pointed out one of the problems is there’s so much wackiness happening in the waking world, the curse seems tame by comparison.

        I think things get back on track once Nicholas Blair shows up and Adam begins to have a story of his own. But for now, a bit aimless.

        1. Nicholas’s arrival brings us an antagonist with an agenda — although the plan itself (create a race of monsters) is insane and never comes close to working. But it’s enough to propel the story.

          Angelique as Cassandra is a disappointing antagonist. The Dream Curse is laughable and needlessly complicated: She turned Barnabas into a vampire with her near dying words in 1795 and now she needs to do it through a VTD (vampirism transmitted through dream). There is no emotional weight behind it because most of the characters aren’t aware that having the dream and sharing it with someone else will have potentially fatal effects for Barnabas, nor does it truly put them in jeopardy.

          It’s also odd that Angelique even wants Barnabas to be a vampire, as it would seem that a human Barnabas is a better target for her torment. There’s no evidence she’s any more powerful than she was in 1795 and the vampire Barnabas killed her without much effort.

          If Angelique’s plans had been more grounded, they might have provided more compelling drama: Manipulating Roger against the family — and in a way slowly turning him back to the antagonistic figure from the first episodes. Driving Liz bonkers in order to seize the family fortune. Angelique’s goal in 1795 was grander than simply cursing Barnabas. She wanted to be mistress of Collinwood.

          And back to Nicholas, I sometimes think that a human antagonist controlling Adam and using him for his own ends would have been more interesting. Instead, we have two supernatural beings. There was potential for Stokes to play that role (and for many reasons, I’m glad he didn’t turn out to be a villain) but to have a great actor like Thayer David playing a character driven to corrupt ends in a pursuit of knowledge or even a misguided belief that what he wants is the best thing for “Adam” would have been great to see.

      3. I think it’s important to note that KLS was the first DS member to play a dual role – Maggie and that of ghost Josette. And she volunteered – and initially, did it for nothing. That small gesture helped awaken in no small way the creative possibilities with the powers that be – and had to endear KLS to everyone for stepping up and playing.

    2. Lang’s disappearance, to me, was because Powell was pissed off from doing so badly with the reel to reel, that he just walked off the set in the middle of taping.

    3. Years later, I’ve just watched this episode, and I didn’t notice, nor care, that Lang’s body was gone. I was too caught up in what Julia gave Barnabas to drink.

  2. There’s a parallel between Dr Lang’s death and Dr Woodard’s. Both were murdered by methods that mimicked a heart attack. But the difference between them is in the emotional consequences. We care about Woodward’s death because we’ve come to care about him as a character (in spite of the change in actor). We also care because of how it affects Julia. Lang, OTOH is more a plot device than a character (and what’s more, played by “the worst actor ever to appear on Dark Shadows”! ) And we’re certainly not going to be moved by Angelique’s remorse at committing murder: she’d happily snuff out the lives of six supporting characters before breakfast!

    1. Funny you should put it like that. Considering she only snuffed out Lang’s life due to Mrs Johnson complaining about what time Angelique wanted breakfast!

      I love Clarice Blackburn!

  3. I’m trying to figure out why I hate this storyline so much. I think it has to do with the fact that almost all of the other stories deal with situations that are EXTERNAL to the citizens of Collinsport (something they are not responsible for and didn’t ask for). I really liked the detail of the stories in the beginning because they focused on the ‘average’ citizens of any small town Americana (i.e. crazy wealthy family on the isolated house on the hill, local good hearted waitress and her alcoholic father, rural country doctor that goes way beyond his Hippocratic oath to help his patients). I cared with and could identify with these people. I liked the details of the police investigations (much like I enjoy the detail oriented crimes of the CSI’s, Without a Trace, and the Cold Cases of this century). I hate the idea of people creating an INTERNAL situation (especially in such an outrageous way). Come on, creating a new human life out of decaying body parts and worse yet in order to help a lunatic vampire criminal. I consider Lang as an outsider only there to drive this insanity. Yeah, Julia and blood specialist/psychiatrist and her murdering blood-sucking cohort suddenly have the expertise to take over this experiment, which was really only a figment of Lang’s insanity fueled delirium…

    1. Joanne, only the first 250 episodes of DS focused on what you preferred as the storyline. Maybe if you were watching in1966, your viewership would have made the difference in what direction DS storyline took. But because the Gothic, detective, small town tale was failing, miserably, a preposterous, flying by the seat of their pants show was born. And it was a success. And it had success and failures, but all of them had something to keep a loyal group of fans interested 50 years later. I love your intelligent posts, but you Hate Barnabas, you Aren’t a fan of most the story lines. And I apologize if I sound anything other than what I am, which is curious why you watch Dark Shadows,,?

      1. I’m currently finishing up rewatching the series and have to say I liked most of the other stories. I’m in a minority because I don’t follow the opinion of most fans that Barnabas is the sole reason for watching the show. I enjoyed everything up to the 1795 story and the stories that follow this atrocity. Actually I also truly enjoyed the 1970 Parallel Time episodes which included an interesting story not focused solely on Barnabas and Julia. Also I adored Quentin 🙂

        1. It’s interesting you mention 1970 PT because I think it often gets short shrift when storylines are ranked — perhaps because it comes on the heels of the Leviathans. But I think it’s a much more grounded storyline with more compelling antagonists than 1968. And while there’s a vampire, witches, and Dr. Jekyll, it never feels as campy as the height of the Dream Curse/Adam and Eve.

          But I think the series was always “freer” when it could “burn down Collinwood” and actually kill Elizabeth Stoddard. When you watched the other present day, real time stories, you knew who was untouchable, which was most of the Collins family.

          1. YES! This Parallel Time concept allowed the writers to provide jaw dropping cliffhangers while giving the viewer a sense of security that all was still well in the ‘real world’. Also this story nicely balanced supernatural elements with a richly layered set of events and unexpected plot twists.

            1. Also, the Parallel Time allowed for a better reboot of Barnabas. He again comes into present day Collinwood, becomes “the cousin from England”, has Willie in his power at the Old House and does have a thing for Maggie.

              But he is allowed to replay the sequence as a hero. There is no talk of any attacks in all the time he is there (and if we are to go for the one we witness, tha of Buffy – it might well be because he has learned to be cautious, leaving them alive, just unable to tell anyone about it). He quickly goes from briefly menacing Maggie to succumbing to the joys of poking his nose in everybody’s business. And while Maggie does get kidnapped this time, he is the rescuer.

              And the one time he is in danger of being killed is BECAUSE HE KNOWS too much.

              It would be curiouls to see how that fully rebooted Barnabas would have played in the future if the series had gone o.

              1. There was some discussion between Sam Hall and Dan Curtis about ways to allow the show to “keep getting more and more horrifying”–and Sam Hall’s solution was to have Julia’s character be killed off to make way for someone else to discover the secret of Barnabas, but Dan Curtis wouldn’t go for it. So the writers were obviously considering keeping the character of Barnabas at least somewhat menacing and at a distance from all other characters given the secrecy he would have been required to maintain.

                Besides this, by the start of 1971, Jonathan Frid decided he no longer wanted to play Barnabas. They had to re-write Night Of Dark Shadows, which was originally intended as a sequel to House Of Dark Shadows, because of Frid’s concerns of being typecast. He’d gone from being a reluctant vampire to a reluctant Barnabas. His Heathcliff-type role in 1840 parallel time portrays him as just another soap actor in what had by this time become just another soap, having returned to the gothic trappings of dark secrets behind locked doors.

                Dark Shadows was meant to end when it did. If its renewal and popularity was due to Jonathan Frid playing Barnabas, then its decline and cancellation was likewise the result of Frid’s refusal to play Barnabas any longer. And they did lose several million viewers in those last few months.

              2. Yes, 1970 PT, as well as 1897 and 1840, have Barnabas entering a Collinwood that is already full of intrigue rather than simply providing the only intrigue, as he did in 1967. Unfortunately, the 1991 remake (and arguably the 2004 pilot) followed the same model as 1967, which gives us a supernatural entity among bland characters. Of course, at least in 1967, we had some degree of affection for the Collins family based on the previous storylines.

                1970 PT, 1897, and 1840 also all have inciting incidents that aren’t Barnabas-related (Quentin marrying Maggie, Quentin returning to Collinwood, and so on). 1991 DS just has Vicki, the supposed protagonist, taking a job as a governess. Wow. Thrilling.

                Another key ingredient in the more successful storylines is a strong male leader as a foil or contrast to Barnabas. Rewatching the series, I realized how Quentin shares many traits with the “classic” Burke Devlin (Mitch Ryan). One of the problems with Anthony George’s recast Devlin is that he has most of the steam and tension removed from him when Barnabas arrives and once the series starts to develop him as a rival, we are more inclined to want to see Barnabas succeed. Ryan was also in his early 30s, I think, as opposed to George, who was a decade older.

                Quentin, as a strong male lead, allows you to expand the story potential because it doesn’t have to always hang on Barnabas, who obviously can’t appear in every episode.

                1. Yes, it makes more sense to drop Barnabas in the middle of a lot of other stuff happening. It is a shame that in 1991 they took their cue from HODS instead of going with PT 1970 in structure, and accept the rebooted Barnabas.

                  Face it, Barnabas, as in HODS or in the 1967 was a dead end. In HODS in ended with everyone dead, and in 1967 they painted themselves into a corner and the only way they could get out was a trip to the past (that made hash of what had been established before) and hoping forgetting the previous storylines and doing a reboot. Not much hope for a continuing story.

                  While if you go with the 1970PT you have a lot of drama that does not depend on the vampire, and the vampire playing it low key – which means that the possibilities or long term storytelling get much bigger.

                  (It would be amusing if Barnabas at some point realizes that he may be the most sensible member of the family since everyone else is a flake..)

                  1. The “rebooted” Barnabas is what makes Barnabas Collins unique: The family protector who happens to be a vampire and a thoroughly flawed human being. I thought the Burton film tried to capture this but both the script and Depp’s performance seemed too aware that Barnabas is, putting it bluntly, a spoiled narcissist who often screws up more than he fixes. There is an earnestness to classic DS, especially in Frid’s portrayal of Barnabas, that is critical to its success, I think.

                    HODS was successful at the time, but if it existed in a vacuum, it might be easily forgotten. Removing even the early Barnabas from the trappings of a soap opera, which is what made the character and concept unique, and you just wind up with a B-horror-film.

                    The Barnabas during the 1970 PT chooses to stay in parallel time (as he chooses to stay in 1897) because he is concerned about the well-being of others. This was a character trait that Ben Cross’s Barnabas never demonstrated. He’s a psychopath who wasn’t really all that nice during the 1790 flashback (his treatment of Angelique is almost intentionally more cruel than during 1795). You watch the series and there’s no protagonist! Barnabas is obviously the antagonist because he’s the one who shows up and unleashes hell and kills members of his own family. Is Vicki supposed to be the protagonist? She does nothing really until arguably 1790.

                    It seems evident that the continual remakes of DS seem to not grasp what made Barnabas Collins a compelling character. I do think the Burton film comes the closest but just falls down with its tone. DS can’t be self-aware. It cannot survive even the slightest Whedon touch. Perhaps that is part of its soap opera heritage that is most critical.

                    Also, Barnabas and Julia should be BFFs.

                    1. Yeah, I think the fundamental problem with all of the remakes, including HODS, is that they misunderstand the importance of Julia.

                      If they want you to care about a character, then the character needs to make a joke, make a friend and make a plot point happen. Ben Cross and HODS Barnabas could only get the plot points. Depp’s Barnabas added the jokes, but still couldn’t manage to make a friend.

                      Half-hypnotized Vicki and cane-beaten Willie don’t count as friends. Barnabas needs a relationship with a peer, who likes him and is liked in return. Starting here, in these early weeks after 1795, the friendship that develops between Barnabas and Julia is the thing that makes him feel human.

                      He’s still a terrible, destructive person, but he has a friend, and that gives him worth within the narrative. None of the remakes have even tried to capture that relationship, and they’ve all failed at creating a version of Barnabas that audiences can connect to.

                    2. Reviewing the show through this site, it occurs to me that Julia is the audience identification character not Vicki or (later) Maggie.

                      Unlike those two, Julia accepts Barnabas for all his faults (vampirism, melodramatic soliloquies) — just like us. He tries to hide a part of himself from Vicki or Maggie and it’s the part of himself we actually think is exciting and fun.

                      And, of course, as the audience, we’d much rather be Julia than Vicki or Maggie — in on all the secrets, while still technically outside of the crazy Collins family.

            2. How do you feel about some viewers’ opinion the 1970 P T was so intricate and complicated that if you missed one episode, you were lost?

        2. Thanks for your answer Joanne. I’m finishing up the series also, I’m curious to hear what you think of bramwell and Catherine and that whole parallel time story. Quentin would have made a better Heathcliff, and Barnabas should have been Morgan. I agree with the comment below that Quentin just bellowed at KLS in the 1970 PT Rebecca riff. I think Morgan is playing the poor man’s Quentin in this last arc. I digress, back to the here and now, this storyline is trying, and the dream curse is torture, but in the wrong way. I appreciate everyone’s input and insight. I am firmly on Team Barnabas, but that’s what makes the worldgo round, at least in Collinsport.

          1. I’ll have to admit that Bramwell did make me nostalgic for Barnabas once I got to that storyline. The way Daphne was treated was appalling. Barnabas does one more thing during the several weeks that is truly atrocious but after that he does actually gain my sympathy, especially when Vampire Angelique uses him as an all you can eat buffet.

          2. I did not like Bramwell. I may have stayed in another post but this story line should have ended the series. It was flat, Frid was horrible as Bramwell and the way Daphe was treated sucked. What were folks thinking here?

  4. PT is a great arc. The only complaint is they gave David Selby nothing to do but scream at KLS all the time. He is always pist off.

    1. I think Selby played “Max De Winter” perfectly in PT1970. If you’ve ever read Rebecca, the Du Maurier novel homaged (or ripped off extensively, if that’s your preference) for this storyline. Max consistently had a stick up his bum once he & his new wife returned to Manderly, considering his past memories at the place & his dead wife–just as Quentin darkens considerably once he carries Maggie & her panties across the threshold of Collinwood. I find he plays the man with the complicated past WELL in the storyline, & pulls off the complex relationship with both Maggie & Alexis nicely. Just one woman’s opinion here.

  5. i was riveted when Barnabas confronted Angelique in this episode; it was full of sexual tension. Everyone talks about it as a blooper, that Frid is about to crack up laughing. I don’t see that at all. i interpreted the smirk on Barnabas’s face as amusment at Cassandra’s protestations of innocence. i actually thought he looked aroused, the grin was more about baring his teeth but with a hint of gloating and self-satisfaction. HIs eyes are set on her mouth and neck as he encroaches, grabbing her wrist and pulling her to him. It felt like a breakthrough, a pivotal scene, emotions released. I wanted more…

  6. Danny, once again you said it well:

    This new style won’t last forever. After a while, the writers will figure out that they’ve actually wandered too far off the reservation, and they’ll need to connect back to some soap opera basics again

    Yeah, that pretty well sums up why I don’t like this period of the show. Part of me just wants to skip to Chris and Quentin, but I’ve never seen this period. I’m going to gut it out.

    But Lord, this Dream Curse is WORSE than I had feared.

  7. Health care note…
    The ONE time that Julia actually WANTS to take somebody to the hospital, and they refuse.
    He is not just the worst actor, he’s the worst character.
    On the plus side, there was never any problem hearing him (though understanding him was another matter).
    Goodbye Dr. Lang. I won’t say rest in peace, since you never did ANYTHING quietly.

  8. Good Lord, that death scene was almost the death of me!! I’m SO glad he’s gone! So so glad!

    And maybe I just didn’t notice before, but Mrs. Johnson seems more like her 1795 counterpart, and that is, she’s ornery. I don’t remember her being like that before the 1795 episodes. But Clarice Blackburn is awesome and should’ve had a bigger role.

    And I keep on forgetting to mention that the Dream Poem sounds an awful lot like what Sarah in the movie “Labyrinth” read and recited to Jareth, the Goblin King:

    “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me”

    Maybe now that I’ve typed it out it doesn’t sound anything like it but it starts out sorta the same…

    I hope we don’t have to watch Mrs. Johnson go through this stupid dream sequence…I’m over it!

  9. I am currently watching these episodes and enjoying reading the summary and remarks. One point not mentioned about Julia’s dream, the music box is NOT Josette’s.

  10. I am not sure if I have ever laughed longer and harder while watching the show over the past year or so as I did when Dr. Eric Lang, at the height of his manic, over-the-top-and-then-some death throes performance–takes the time to try and check his pulse.


  11. And it is inconceivable that Dr. Lang could not figure out how to use the tape recorder: especially if it becomes plot pivotal as Danny states above. It clearly is not recording anything so they definitely should have re-shot that moment.

    1. He was probably called Eric “Butterfingers” Lang in medical school. If he even went to one. Powell himself probably didn’t even bother to rehearse with the recorder, thinking that maniacally pushimachinng buttons was enough.

      And even though the tape machine wasn’t turned on. we still have to be haunted by his “recording.” It could be one of the horrors behind the doors in the Dream Curse.

  12. Cassandra has on the most hideous caftan ever created in this episode. It’s in my top 3 most hated wardrobe choices in DS. Not important, no, just massively unattractive. But, hey, Dr. Lang is dead! Break out the champagne!

  13. I wonder, with Dr. Lang, so consumed by SCIENCE!, fights it off just to transfer Barnabas’ LIFEFORCE into HIS CREATION, f died before telling his DreamCurse, does that stop it, or mutate it, with Lang restless and YELLING BEYOND THE GRAVE?

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