Episode 505: The Sinking Detective

“You might as well prepare yourself for an ordeal.”

It’s a tough job, I get that. Police officers on Dark Shadows combine the inadequacy of soap opera cops with the inadequacy of monster movie cops. Police officer characters can do very well, if they stay in their own genres, but when they stray too far from home, they start competing with characters that are automatically way more interesting.

The outbreak of lawlessness that Sheriff George Patterson is currently investigating centers around Adam, the patchwork Frankenstein monster. If they catch him, they’re planning to charge him with being brought to life without a license, which I don’t think is even a misdemeanor.

So you’ve got to feel bad for the Sheriff, unless you forget all about him the moment he’s off the screen, like everybody else does.

505 dark shadows patterson clothing

Patterson actually had Adam in a holding cell in yesterday’s episode, but the monster bent the bars and climbed out of the window within half an hour. This was the only justified arrest the Sheriff has ever made in the entire run of the show. You can imagine how frustrated he must be.

So it’s nice that he gets at least one impossible Sherlock moment. They’re stalking Adam through the woods, and the Sheriff suddenly reaches up and pulls a piece of cloth off a nearby tree. Apparently, Adam tore his turtleneck as he passed this exact spot, and Patterson, using his magical sheriff-sense, is able to spot a fragment of black cloth by moonlight. The tree must be an informant.

505 dark shadows patterson track

The Sheriff looks ahead, and says, “Yeah, I think we’re on the right track. That’s the old Collins house. Every time anything goes wrong around here, that’s where all roads seem to lead.”

505 dark shadows adam accomplice

The lawmen approach the house, and the camera pans over to reveal that Adam was hiding right behind the tree where the Sheriff found the torn cloth. The tree was in on it the whole time!

505 dark shadows patterson barnabas guard

The Sheriff enters the Old House with a face like thunder, and immediately begins questioning Barnabas, using the most devastating interrogation strategy he can muster.

Barnabas:  I didn’t expect to see you again tonight.

Patterson:  You didn’t, Mr. Collins?

Barnabas:  No. Has something happened?

Patterson:  Don’t you know?

Barnabas:  Well, no. Of course not.

Barnabas assumes a puzzled frown. Patterson has him right where he wants him.

505 dark shadows patterson interrogation

Observe the technique.

Patterson:  What have you been doing all night?

Barnabas:  Well, I think you should know the answer to that. I came here shortly after you found the man you wanted, and I’ve been here ever since.

Patterson:  I see. Why didn’t you go back out and rejoin the search party, and help look for Carolyn?

Barnabas:  You found the man who abducted her. I assumed that you had a confession from him by now, and that Carolyn was safe.

Patterson:  We had the man who abducted her. He escaped over an hour ago.

Barnabas:  Escaped! How did he ever manage to do that?

Patterson:  He seemed to find it rather simple. He merely pulled a chain out of the wall, bent the bars on his cell window, and escaped. He also mauled one of my deputies. The man may have a broken neck.

Barnabas:  Well, I’m terribly sorry to hear that. But tell me, Sheriff — why are you here now?

Well, I think it’s obvious why he’s here; he’s come over to tell you every single thing that he knows about the case.

You ask one question — “How did he ever manage to do that?” — and he gives you a full recap, including a medical report so you can figure out how many deputies he has left. Stand there long enough, and he’ll probably give you traffic and weather on the 7s.

505 dark shadows barnabas patterson look

The Sheriff asks if the man came back here, and Barnabas says, “Well, if he had, I would have told you.”

Patterson rolls his eyes, and walks across the room. Then he stops, and fixes Barnabas with a stern look, clearly saying to himself, “Would’ve told me, huh? Why, I oughta…”

505 dark shadows barnabas patterson steps

He takes another four steps, and then stops and looks at Barnabas again.

505 dark shadows patterson barnabas search

He opens the doors, glances in at the next room, and then walks back to look at Barnabas again. This concludes the search of the premises.

505 dark shadows patterson eyebrow

Now, we know this interrogation is pointless, because we have a functioning sense of televisual literacy. Barnabas is the main character of the show. Patterson is recurring at best, and he’s been played by three different actors in the last nine months. And this one is the short Patterson, too, so his attempt at crusading G-man is coming off somewhere around moody ice-pop salesman.

So he’s going to ask a lot of dumb questions, and Barnabas is going to lie. And that’s going to be the end of it, because what else can they possibly do?

505 dark shadows patterson barnabas conceal

The conversation gets a little off-track.

Patterson:  What about your servant, Willie Loomis?

Barnabas:  What about him?

Patterson:  I questioned him earlier. I didn’t believe one word he had to say. I had the feeling he was concealing something.

Barnabas:  Well, I’m sure Willie has nothing to conceal.

Patterson:  Then why was he so nervous when I questioned him?

Okay, a) once again the Sheriff is issuing bulletins about the progress of the investigation, and b) he’s asking Barnabas to account for somebody else’s feelings.

Given that, Barnabas’ reply makes perfect sense.

Barnabas:  Well, he told me that he had a very alarming dream last night, and he’s been upset about it all day.

And that’s when you know you’ve pretty much hit rock bottom in the field of detection. When your suspect starts telling you about someone else’s dream, it might be time for you to update your LinkedIn profile.

505 dark shadows barnabas patterson backacting

The traditional Dark Shadows backacting shots aren’t helping Patterson very much either. He’s already a foot shorter than Barnabas. In this shot, he looks like a G.I. Joe action figure.

505 dark shadows barnabas patterson ordeal

“Sit down, Mr. Collins,” the Sheriff says. “You might as well prepare yourself for an ordeal.”

This gives him the height advantage, but referring to this as an ordeal makes the sequence feel a bit like the Spanish Inquisition sketch from Monty Python. All he needs is a deputy nearby to gasp, “Not the comfy chair!”

Anyway, it doesn’t go that great, ordeal-wise.

Barnabas:  Surely you don’t think that Dr. Hoffman helped this man in any way.

Patterson:  What I think, Mr. Collins, is this whole affair smells to high heaven! As far as I’m concerned, no one is above suspicion — including you!

Barnabas:  Sheriff, the man you’re looking for is probably some kind of vagrant. Now, what connection could I have with him?

Patterson:  I haven’t the vaguest idea, Mr. Collins.

Yeah, we can tell. Luckily, at that point a deputy comes in and reports that the man was spotted in the woods, headed for Widow’s Hill.

505 dark shadows carolyn adam fall

The police arrive on the scene just in time to find Carolyn slipping over the edge of the cliff. Adam is holding on to her, and she’s begging him to pull her up.

The Sheriff gives the order to stand back, and see how this scenario plays out.

505 dark shadows carolyn adam saved

So obviously, Adam saves her, no thanks to the worthless Sheriff, and with nowhere else to go, the monster jumps off the cliff to his death.

505 dark shadows carolyn barnabas sheriff

That about wraps it up for the investigation, so everyone goes home.

The next day, the suspect’s body is scooped up, booked, and brought to trial. In a moment, the results of that trial.

Monday: After the Fall.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, when Adam staggers through the woods, one of the police officers can be seen on the left side of the screen walking to his place, and then waiting for his cue.

As Barnabas paces around the Old House drawing room, he hears the sheriff outside telling his deputies, “Keep your eyes open; this is where we picked him up last.” But the sheriff’s line isn’t muffled enough, and it sounds like he’s just on the other side of the room.

Sheriff Patterson tells Barnabas that it took six men to subdue Adam. When he told the same story to Julia and Willie on Wednesday, he’d said it took twenty men.

Adam now has a comically tiny length of chain attached to his ankle — just a few links, which don’t even reach the ground. The sound effects man has a different opinion.

When Adam grabs Carolyn as she’s trying to escape, she knocks one of the fake rocks over.

When Adam brings Carolyn to the top of Widow’s Hill, the studio lights can be seen at the top right. After a cutaway to some footage of waves crashing, you can see a stagehand on the left.

Behind the Scenes:

James Shannon plays the Deputy who talks today; he was also in yesterday’s episode. We’ll see him again as an 18th-century Guard in November.

Tom Murphy plays the Deputy who doesn’t talk. This is his third and last episode on the show. He played the Chauffeur in the first episode, and a Blue Whale patron in 1967. His IMDb page says that he’s “known for Love-In 1972 and Dark Shadows.” He is not actually known for either of those things.

Monday: After the Fall.

505 dark shadows barnabas patterson little

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

25 thoughts on “Episode 505: The Sinking Detective

  1. Carolyn is a glutton for punishment. OK so Adam pulled her off the cliff but then again he’s the one who got her into that predicament in the first place so I would reserve my gratitude as far as he was concerned. Also I love that now Barnabas is her ‘go to’ person after her terrifying ordeal. Does she still remember Episode 350??

  2. I believe that with Carolyn, as with Vicky, where Barnabas is concerned there is a selective amnesia at work, where they can’t seem to remember anything about having been under his control. Not so with Maggie, who required hypnosis through that medallion wrapped in lime peel–and even that doesn’t hold, as she seems to require periodic tweaking to make sure she can’t recall anything. Surely if Carolyn knew there was a real live ancestor on the estate from 1795, and she had her own free will back, she would be telling everyone, just because having a cousin around who’s 200 years old would be fascinating to talk about on its own. This is likely a convenience for the writers, who can’t afford to overload the storylines by having Julia hypnotize everyone Barnabas has been in contact with who have found out about his powers.

    As Sheriff George Patterson, I always thought Vince O’Brien’s predecessor Donut Eclair had that role played right. O’Brien sounds like he’s trying out for a role on Dragnet and comes across as being too heavy-handed. He wouldn’t try to strong arm a member of the Collins family like that unless he had definite solid evidence–what he’s relaying to Barnabas are just hunches. Donut Eclair as Sheriff Patterson would have had the proper demeanor for the role–his trademark balance of firm but personable–and done the right thing if he’d wanted to interrogate Barnabas, by inviting him down to the station for questioning, along with some bad coffee, in the less comfy chair in front of his desk.

    It’s fortunate that the Collinsport police don’t have a high success rate with justifiable arrests in the vicinity of the Collins estate. Because if they did, there would be practically no one left at Collinwood aside from Vicky and maybe Carolyn. I shudder to think what Dark Shadows would be like as a one-woman show. Lots of thunderstorms and not a whole lot else, aside from visits by Frank Garner.

    1. Certainly with Carolyn there was selective amnesia. Dr. Lang “cures” Barnabas after the car accident. Carolyn comes downstairs and says to Julia (the only person who would know the import of the question) “I don’t know why I’m wearing these silly scarves”. And so ends the whole Carolyn under Barnabas’ control. Instant amnesia, story over. Only Maggie remembers what actually happened to her.

      I was always happy when old DS actors appeared in other shows.When Dana Elcar was a regular on McGyver, I was very happy. I kept saying ‘Hi, Sheriff whoever you were on DS,”. Hey, the DVDs weren’t out and the part of the Sheriff wasn’t exactly big or important.

      1. Yes, I used to think the same when Louis Edmonds was on All My Children. When Mrs. Wallingford finally caught on to how she had been conned all along, I wanted to say, ‘Hey, Phoebe, you should have seen Langley some 15 years ago when he was at Collinwood. He was a real regal gentleman then!’

      2. Yes -it certainly was confusing when the show gave you one version of an explanation for one person and a totally different one for the next person. For example how did Vicki ‘forget’ that Barnabas bit her? I originally thought that Carolyn did remember the attacks and only permanently forgot when Nicolas used his deluxe amnesia spell on her. Likewise with Maggie when her memories didn’t stay repressed when Julia originally hypnotized her but then Nicolas put the whammy on her and presto gone forever. Nicolas definitely shops at the high end occult stores because his hypnosis works way better than Julia’s or Angelique’s. Likewise with all of the variations on the time travel scenarios but I won’t go there for now..

    2. If Sheriff Patterson arrested everyone who deserved to be arrested, then the most interesting plot lines would all take place in Collinsport Jail! Vicki would be left to wander alone through Collinwood, occasionally exclaiming, “I don’t understand! ” For variety she’d occasionally visit Maggie and Joe to drink coffee.

  3. I love how everyone (including Barnabas himself) just assumes that Barnabas Collins is the only Barnabas in the world. No one else has this name. It doesn’t even matter if you’re an out-of-town vagrant. You will never have met any other Barnabas.

  4. This ep contains one of Nancy Barrett’s best scenes ever, and was hardly mentioned.
    Doing her own stunts, as she tries to escape the root cellar, Adam grabs her by the feet, and she falls almost face-first outside the door before knocking that rock over.

    And he’s got her by the hair, fantastic.

    All of these root cellar scenes make super great use of her gorgeous hair,
    Which serves as the best prop on the set in every two-shot.

    As she’s crying, “I want to go home,” Adam says, “Home?”

    And she screams at her highest decibel level


    He muzzles her with that big hand again and takes her inside,
    And you wonder why she doesn’t bite his hand again.

    We’re seconds away from the end of the root cellar scenes that I love so much….

    And now, I forgive Ron Sproat for setting up another “lock her up.”

    Nancy Barrett turns a lackluster script into GREAT TELEVISION.

    1. Yes, Nancy Barrett is excellent in the kidnapping sequences. She allows herself to be man-handled and hauled around and then fights back, all with no apparent regard to getting clonked into set pieces. The only obvious error I saw occurred during her attempt to run through the door of the root cellar in this episode. She clearly had to slow down to allow Adam to catch her before she left the shot.

      1. Yes, she did slow down, but poor Rodan must have been fearful of hurting her. I can’t imagine what the rehearsal conversations for these scenes were like. Rodan: Are you really going to do that? Barrett: Yes, i’m going to fight like hell, so you’re going to have to hang on tight. Rodan: But, I’m going to hurt you…..

        They are both fantastic in the root cellar scenes. I really love all the dirt and leaves all over her sweater. I always hate it when people are obviously supposed to be dirty and grimy but look like they just got out of hair and makeup. I love her tears and spoiled eye makeup…..

        and then he jumps off the cliff, and we are left wondering if that means he is dead….

  5. I love the sheriff’s line “That’s the old Collins house. Every time anything goes wrong around here, that’s where all roads seem to lead.” Because DS is such a bonkers show, the characters often lack any outside perspective. That can make things stultifying at times, as well as strain even our very generous suspension of disbelief. So it’s nice to have the sheriff point out “hey, why does crazy shit always come from that creepy mansion? No one else calls about Frankenstein monsters on the loose. We normally just break up bar fights and give out speeding tickets.” It heightens the oddity of the show to have an outsider walk in and take even momentary note that the residents of Collinswood–down to a man–are totally insane.

  6. For the last few episodes, the part of Dr Lang has been played by a tape recorder.

    Today, it is played by some rocks.

    Both are a massive improvement over Addison Powell.

  7. very funny, Clay. very, adorably funny, Danny (“the tree was in on it the whole time.” i know that tree. it actually was.)

  8. Add me to the list of Nancy Barrett worshippers (well, I should already be on the list but you know what I mean).

    There’s a careless discontinuity in Barnabas’s chat with the sheriff. B states that he only saw Adam once before, when Roger shot him. But the sheriff should already know that B saw him a second time, when B and Julia confronted Adam in the Collinwood drawing room just before Adam made off with Carolyn. My assumption is that the writers just forgot or didn’t care.

    I may be wrong but the “recording” we hear of Dr. Lang at the end of the episode sounds different than the one Adam has been listening to on the tape recorder. Actually, it doesn’t even sound like Addison Powell. Maybe they got someone else to record the spiel so they didn’t have to continue to pay Powell?

  9. That Adam is one stupid monster, I have to say. He first sets Carolyn down on a rock on which she can get only the flimsiest of footholds. Then, after she’s fallen, he can’t seem to figure out that he needs to pick her back up, in spite of having picked her up from a virtual dead heap several times previously.

  10. So where in the world did the Collinsport Sheriff’s office suddenly get TWENTY deputies? Or SIX, for that matter? (Turns out Sheriff Patterson is also the only fisherman who makes his catch smaller every time he repeats the story of catching a fish.) Were more lawmen needed to deal with a spike in DUIs from customers leaving the Blue Whale? To solve a rash of art thefts from Sam Evans’ house? I did a double take when Patterson claimed it took twenty deputies to subdue Adam. Assuming you could get twenty people to sign on as deputies in Collinsport, what would they even do? Has any other reference been made to the size of the law enforcement community on DS?

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