Episode 489: Bein’ Green

“I have much too much work to do, to be bothered with dreams.”

Young David Collins has returned home, after a lengthy trip to Boston to recuperate from realizing that his cousin Barnabas was a vampire who planned to murder him. This was a major storyline six months ago, and it led directly to the séance that sent his governess, Vicki, tumbling through time to visit the Collins family of 1795.

Last month, when Vicki came back to the present day, the Dark Shadows writers used the opportunity to make a fresh start on the story — not so much tying up the loose ends as just cutting them off and pretending that they were never that loose in the first place. Everybody just stopped talking about how worried they were about David, and now he’s back from Boston, and everything’s fine.

But there’s something different about the boy, which is even more important than his slow-motion off-screen amnesia. David has come back to Collinwood wearing a Nehru jacket.

489 dark shadows nehru beatles

The Nehru jacket is a tailored coat with a mandarin collar that was popularized in India in the 1940s and named after the Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It was terribly trendy in America and Europe in 1965, inspired — as so many things in pop culture were, in the mid-60s — by the Beatles.

In February 1968, the Beatles went on a well-publicized trip to India, to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. By then, they’d moved on from the Nehru jackets and were mostly wearing white linen open-necked shirts, but the jackets were still a sharp fashion statement in the US.

489 dark shadows collinwood roger david

So here’s David, back from Boston and all of a sudden he’s dressed like someone from the 1960s. This is another noticeable shift in the development of Dark Shadows in this period — the clothes are getting a bit more modern. Spending four months in the 18th century will do that.

There was a new emphasis on wardrobe during the 1795 trip, because they had to find period costumes for everyone. Sometimes they just went wild, especially with the women’s hats — and now that they’re back in 1968, it feels like they’re more confident in their ability to use the characters’ clothes to enrich the story.

So when David comes home from his trip and finds that his father has suddenly married a complete stranger, he’s got some subtle clues that something is terribly wrong. It’s not just that Cassandra is fifteen years younger than Roger, and she doesn’t actually seem that interested in getting to know her new stepson.

There’s a much more fundamental problem going on here: Roger Collins isn’t wearing a tie.

485 dark shadows fridspeak barnabas

As we’ve noted recently, ties are mandatory for most of the men in the Dark Shadows cast, even if you’ve got a robe on and you’re alone at home reading a book.

There’s actually a pretty strict dress code for guys on Dark Shadows, which is mostly based on social class and authority. Please allow me to explain.

464 dark shadows bite barnabas vicki

The older men on the show — Barnabas, Roger, Dr. Lang, Professor Stokes — all wear ties pretty much non-stop. This dress code applies even when you’re drinking the blood of the living.

467 dark shadows window barnabas lang

So if you’re an older guy and you don’t have a tie on, then that’s a signal that you’re in some kind of distress. The only excuse Barnabas has for showing off his bare neck is when he’s been in a car accident and has been insta-cured of his vampire curse.

474 dark shadows suffering roger cassandra

Therefore, Roger wearing a tie is a happy, content man, and Roger without a tie is troubled and confused. There have only been two episodes since we’ve come back to 1968 when Roger hasn’t had a tie on. The most striking example is the moment when he briefly breaks through Cassandra’s spell, and realizes that he’s married someone that he hardly knows.

489 dark shadows nehru david roger

And then there’s today’s episode, when David comes home wearing his stylish Nehru jacket, and finds Roger — now fully under the control of David’s wicked stepmother — wearing a turtleneck.

484 dark shadows going barnabas willie

A turtleneck shirt is the other acceptable fashion choice for the men of Dark Shadows — but only for the younger, lower-status guys. Willie wears a turtleneck, because he’s a servant.

471 dark shadows addams vicki

A few weeks ago, the housekeeper’s son, Harry Johnson, scandalized everyone by showing up at the front door of Collinwood with a turtleneck on. Vicki actually opened the door, saw a guy who’s not wearing a tie, and immediately started screaming.

483 dark shadows tie joe

In fact, you can tell a lot about the younger guys’ position in a given scene, based on their tie vs. turtleneck choices.

A few weeks ago, when Joe paid a social call on Vicki, he was rocking the turtleneck. But last week, when Joe had to confront Barnabas about Willie showing up at Maggie’s house, he needed the authority of a jacket and tie.

465 dark shadows wave peter

Jeff is the guy with the most complex fashion choices, as befits the mysterious amnesiac character who might turn out to be the ghost of Vicki’s 18th century boyfriend. When Jeff popped up for the first time — standing at the side of the road, causing traffic accidents — he had a tie on, like a proper gentleman.

487 dark shadows happy vicki jeff

Jeff’s tie is very precisely attuned to what’s happening with his character. The other day, he wore a snappy blazer and tie when he visited Vicki at Collinwood.

487 dark shadows tendencies vicki jeff

Hearing that Dr. Lang — his boss, and captor — had died the night before, Jeff ran over to Lang’s house to break into the doctor’s filing cabinet. Returning to Vicki with exciting good news, he’s clearly in a much more emotional state of mind, and that’s reflected in his loosened tie and unbuttoned sport coat.

478 dark shadows tie jeff

Along similar lines, Jeff was wearing a tie on the day that he planned to leave his job and move out of Lang’s house.

479 dark shadows crotch jeff lang

Then Lang drugged him and planned to cut off his head, and obviously that’s more of  a business casual situation. Lang removed Jeff’s jacket and tie, and strapped him to the table.

When he was freed, and Julia hypnotized him into forgetting the entire experience, Jeff still had the wide-open collar that indicates that he’s had kind of a trying day.

482 dark shadows ties jeff

He wakes up a couple episodes later, ready to walk out on his boss and start a new life couch-surfing at Maggie’s, so he puts the tie back on.

He’s even got the tie on in his sleep, when he nods off in a chair and has the Dream Curse nightmare. Again, it’s a stressful situation, so he’s looking a bit worse for wear.

476 dark shadows grave robbing jeff

But when Jeff is really upset, he turns to the turtlenecks. Dr. Lang — as befits his age and higher status — is always impeccably dressed, even when he’s in the cemetery on a grave-robbing expedition. Jeff, who’s going to do the actual digging, has changed into a black turtleneck and jacket.

484 dark shadows tell lang jeff

And later on, when Lang visits his ex-assistant at Maggie’s place, a distressed Jeff is just openly flaunting his turtleneck. There’s actually a moment when Jeff gets so upset that he grabs Lang by the tie, a sign of open inter-generational rebellion.

474 dark shadows isn't liz cassandra

So that’s the men’s fashion update. On the women’s side, there’s only one notable fashion trend — Cassandra’s love of bright green.

It’s really quite striking. In this period, the women of Dark Shadows don’t have a defined look. There are occasional high points and low points — and Maggie’s quilted rainbow-flowers skirt, which is both simultaneously — but there’s nothing that you can identify as a coherent wardrobe concept.

473 dark shadows alive cassandra roger

Except for Cassandra, who is almost always dressed in a very 1968 shade of bright green.

489 dark shadows cassandra

And it’s not just one outfit that she wears all the time — she has several different dresses and coats, all bright green. It’s obviously a deliberate wardrobe choice for her character.

485 dark shadows come in cassandra

Over the last couple of weeks, she’s expanded slightly to include the other secondary colors. Last Friday, when she used a voodoo doll to attack Dr. Lang, she was dressed in a striking green, purple and orange combo.

475 dark shadows purple cassandra

We’ve also seen her in a lavender coat, in a confrontation scene with Barnabas.

477 dark shadows green carolyn cassandra

There are only a couple of episodes where she wears something that isn’t green or purple, and in each case, she only wears it for one act and then changes into secondary colors again. When Carolyn came home a couple weeks ago, she was actually wearing a green top, so Cassandra had to switch over to dark navy.

477 dark shadows green cassandra

But when she ducked outside to cast a spell on Tony, she threw on a green coat, and was back in her comfort zone.

478 dark shadows image maggie cassandra

The next day, Cassandra was wearing a stylish black-and-white outfit when she met Maggie.

478 dark shadows purple cassandra

But then she got back into purple and green in time to send Maggie the first Dream Curse nightmare.

473 dark shadows thrilling cassandra barnabas

So, why all the green? One obvious metaphor is that she’s “green with envy”, now that she knows that Barnabas is out of the box, free from her curse, and in love with someone else.

485 dark shadows power cassandra

But the addition of purple and orange — especially when she’s casting spells — suggests that there’s something deeper that’s going on.

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The fact is — with apologies to Kermit the Frog — secondary colors are villains’ colors. The most obvious example is Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. Five members of the Sinister Six — Doctor Octopus, Electro, Mysterio, the Sandman and the Vulture — all wear either green or purple.

489 spider-man green goblin

And then there’s his ultimate nemesis, the Green Goblin, who wears an ensemble of green skin and purple clothes, with bright orange pumpkin bombs as accessories.

When you think about it, the entire fifty-year run of The Amazing Spider-Man is actually about the battle between primary colors and secondary colors.

489 dark shadows hug david cassandra

So obviously David is going to back away when his new stepmother tries to pull him in for an unsolicited hug. He’s a kid in 1968, and he reads Spider-Man. He knows a villain when he sees one.

Tomorrow: What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

489 dark shadows wonder david cassandra

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

23 thoughts on “Episode 489: Bein’ Green

  1. 1968 is really green in general, Especially when Chris & Quentin show up. It’s like their theme color. And then 1897 and everything is a cool blue. Leviathans is green again, Parallel Time is just rainbow candy, I don’t remember 1840/1841PT but I bet they had color themes.

      1. I never noticed any of that; now I’m going to have to keep my eyes open. This is one of those moments when I’m really happy that there are smart, observant DS fans reading the blog. I’ve been having a lot of those moments lately.

  2. All that it needs is Kermit the Frog…

    Hey, come to think of it, I would like to be in the meeting of Cassandralique and Miss Piggy about how to get your guy. What is more effective: deadly curses or karate chops?

  3. It seems like all of the spirit and fire has gone out of David. When new governess Vicki appeared he was a real spitfire and always had a slew of devious tricks up his sleeve, and Vicki wasn’t even trying to take the place of his beloved mother Laura. Here is ‘Cassandra’ a woman who could try and sabotage his newly reconciled elationship with his father and all he manages is a half hearted shrug when she tries to approach him. Barnabas did not even have to physically bite him to drain the life out him…Maybe David WAS really on a mystical journey to India and found his own inner peace and acceptance of events outside of his earthly control..

      1. David had to mellow at some point otherwise there would be no in-story reason to keep him at Collinwood – he would have been shipped away to military school just like Roger wanted in the early episodes. In-universe, I think the turning point came after the experiences with his mother – he may not remember what happened consciously, but I’m sure the traumatic event of seeing his mother burn (sort of, maybe, whatever, still not sure what happened there) left a mark on his psyche. At the very least, he’d think she abandoned him again. And the death of Burke would have affected him as well. This could have made David lash out again, but instead, it seems to have matured him somewhat. That’s my take anyway.

      2. YES – that’s the David I’m talking about! Maybe they should have had him away at a military boarding school (like Roger originally suggested) – at least it would have provided a plausible explanation for his more subdued. I don’t mind a character shift but damn it provide the viewer with some type of acceptable rationale for these changes.

        1. But in order to send David to a military boarding school, they would have had to resolve the who were Vicki’s parents storyline and they didn’t want to get around to that. Plus the needed David around to be menaced, stalked, possessed, and talked to by ghosts and other supernatural creatures.

  4. One of the things that DS really captures for me is how children aren’t listened to by adults, even by the well-meaning ones around them.

    David several times throughout the series has key information about Laura, Barnabas, Cassandra, Quentin – and he’s stifled by either supernatural forces or circumstance. As a kid, that metaphor really resonated with me – the idea that children know truths about the world adults can’t or won’t acknowledge.

  5. The women’s dress code is they always wear skirts or dresses–never pants (slacks, jeans, capris,shorts and pantsuits were all fashionable for casual wear by the late sixties.) The closest we get to it is Maggie’s quilted whatyamacallit she wears around home.

  6. I’ve always wanted a Nehru jacket, and in my case it isn’t even because it’s a “quaint” ‘ 60s item. Almost nothing I like is ever quaint to me, even in a nice way. (Like Barnabas and Angelique, I have no sense of time to speak of.)

  7. Just to be clear: this is how we’re pronouncing “gazebo” now?

    What I like most about the return of Angelique right now isn’t her torment of Barnabas, it’s her odd relationship with Roger. Right now the character is working two plots: in one plot, she is the new wife of Roger and characters have to decide if she’s a gold digger or really loves him. But her other plot involves option 3, that she’s a reincarnated witch from the Caribbean bent on vengeance. But the writers are committed to both sides of this story, so that Daniel’s potential exposure of Cassandra for talking to Tony in the woods serves both sides of the plot well. But Lara Parker is exceptionally good these days because she so ably switches registers between her 3 personas.

    1. Agreed! And as always, Louis Edmonds shines. He is very believable in his affection for Cassandra (whether real or spell-induced, who can say?). I like the way they walked off arm & arm. But now that David has seen mommy kissing her curse-slave, I’m guessing things are going to get ugly.

  8. Now, we can’t possibly talk about villains in green, purple and orange without mentioning the Joker… Cassandra’s even got a delightful crackpot supervillain maniacal laugh.

    Nehru jackets make me think of Roger Delgado’s Master. I’ve always wanted one…

  9. Carolyn has previously worn a lime green skirt and sweater combo, and does again when kidnapped by Adam. I’m pretty sure Liz wears a lime green dress too, at some point post 1795.

    Will no one ever address the fashion horror of Liz’s stuffed-tube collar dresses? She wears them both pre and post 1795. That collar was one image that stuck with me from childhood watching. I don’t recall ever seeing that sort of collar elsewhere, TV or real life. One such dress worn by Liz is bright yellow.

  10. I figure Willie used to wear turtlenecks to reduce the temptation of his throat when hunting had been poor, or to cover marks if Barnabas had snacked, or just subconsciously to feel more secure. He seems to regularly wear a shirt and tie, once Barnabas became human.

  11. Ramse Mostoller (a.k.a. Ramsey Mostoller and earlier in her career, Ramse Stevens) was the costume designer on DS. In episode 579 and thereafter, she is credited as simply Mostoller. Until recently, IMDb did not note that she was married to Joe Mostoller, the costume designer for anther soap, “The Doctors.” He, too, started using the single name “Mostoller” in credits at some point. This suggests some question about who you got as a costume designer when you hired “Mostoller.” As they seem to have been a corporate entity, you might or might not be getting both of them. Just like with the Clintons.

    Like DS, “the Doctors” got their fashions from Orbach. In early November 1968, TD had a big wedding for Drs. Althea Davis and Nick Bellini. Joe Mostoller did some creative work on the bride’s veil and such, but mostly the clothes came off the rack. What Joe Mostoller has to say about TD’s relationship with Orbach is relevant to DS:

    “Usually the clothes on the show are credited from Orbach’s. This means we borrow them from the store, return them after the show, and they’re put back on the rack. But we worked in the wedding party dresses for five days, so we had to buy them.”

    https://www.newspapers.com/image/426326856/?terms=joe%2Bmostoller

    I am imagining a woman buying a green dress that Lara Parker has sweated in, even if for just one day (though we do see clothing come back again – I guess a repeat means the actor or the show bought the outfit).

    Mostoller tells another revealing story. They had an episode in which the women bought their dresses, and one character bought a dress for sitting in the congregation at the wedding. But by the day of the wedding, they had decided to make her part of the wedding party, so they put her in a gown appropriate to her upgrade. TD got angry letters from women who wondered why she did not wear the dress she bought at the store. So much for hoping the soap opera audience is not paying attention to inconsistencies.

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