Episode 512: Everybody Rise

“I am prepared to convene a jury of the dead in this room!”

He meant well, is the thing that you have to remember. There’s an evil witch who’s living at Collinwood these days, and she’s making life complicated for everybody, so Professor Stokes thought, hey, we’ve got a witch, why not raise the spirit of a bad-tempered 18th-century witch hunter?

Stokes learned that Reverend Trask was buried alive behind a brick wall in the basement of the Old House, so he figured, let’s wake Trask up, point him in the direction of Angelique, and then just let nature take its course. Stokes is something of a lateral thinker.

So, yeah. It’s not one of the top ten plans. But at least it doesn’t involve terrorizing a young child, so for Dark Shadows, it’s actually not that bad. You have to grade these things on a curve.

512 dark shadows barnabas trask mess

So here’s how it shakes out. Barnabas comes home after a long day of whatever the hell it is that he does now that he’s not a vampire anymore, and finds his basement completely flooded with furious vengeance. The lesson for the kids at home is: Don’t entomb your victims in your own basement. You’re going to want to put some distance between you and the dead dude that hates you.

512 dark shadows barnabas trask jury

Now, Reverend Trask has been hanging in that little alcove for more than 170 years, so he’s had a lot of time to run the equations on this little scenario. He’s chained Barnabas on the same hook, and now he’s got a whole pageant planned out.

512 dark shadows barnabas trask captive

Facing the prisoner, Trask declares, “I am prepared to convene a jury of the dead in this room, to sit in judgement upon you, and to determine a verdict for or against you!”

Barnabas stares at his tormentor, too astonished to speak. Also, he’s forgotten his lines. So he kind of just looks at him and gasps a bit.

512 dark shadows barnabas teleprompter

He tries to turn and check the teleprompter, but he’s chained up, and he can only twist so far. Also, there are lit candles standing between him and the prompter, and that can’t be helping either.

512 dark shadows barnabas trask gulp

At a loss, he kind of gulps, and mutters, “No…” Then he looks back at Trask. The situation has not noticeably improved. It’s clear that we are currently witnessing Jonathan Frid’s actual worst nightmare. Chained to the wall, no access to the prompter, staring at an actor who probably can’t remember what he’s supposed to say, either. This is a particularly grim round of dialogue chicken.

512 dark shadows barnabas trask summon

Finally, Trask shows some uncharacteristic mercy, and just moves on with the scene. Whatever Barnabas was supposed to say probably wasn’t very important anyway.

Trask summons the first victim — Jeremiah Collins, who Barnabas shot in the face all those years ago.

512 dark shadows z jay

And hooray, it’s Zombie Jeremiah, who apparates in a cloud of Chromakey. It’s always good when Z-Jay stops by, because he brings the gore in a way that the show usually doesn’t bother with. He’s still a natty dresser, but his buckshot face isn’t getting any better. He ought to have that looked at.

512 dark shadows ruby maude

Next up: “I summon from their watery graves, the spirits of Ruby Tate and Maude Browning!”

And get a load of these two, who bring their own brand of morose spectacle to the proceedings. These are two streetwalkers that Barnabas killed in 1795. They’re not the same actresses who played the original parts, not that it matters, so imagine the casting call. Wanted: Two dead 18th-century women of easy virtue for ghost trial. Bring sheet music, and be dressed for not very much movement.

512 dark shadows suki

And then, guess who shows up. “I summon the spirit of Suki Forbes, whose life ended in this very house!”

And, oh, look how furious she is. Ruby and Maude went with a kind of decayed nonchalance, but Suki’s been holding this in for 170 years, and she’s ready to pop. I love Suki, and this actually is the original actress, so it’s a shame she doesn’t get any lines to say.

512 dark shadows nathan ghost

This is starting to look like the show’s victory lap around 1795, and here comes Nathan Forbes, one of the most entertaining characters of the era.

512 dark shadows ezra simpson

Finally, Trask calls a condemned criminal named Ezra Simpson to be the judge for this undead kangaroo court.

512 dark shadows barnabas trask bachelor

After these preliminaries, the sequence essentially becomes one of those reunion specials after a season of The Bachelor. All of Barnabas’ sins have come back to him — or, at least, as many as they could reasonably dig up on short notice — and now they’re going to stand around and talk about what a jerk he is.

512 dark shadows trask defense

Trask adresses the court with his usual volume and intensity, which means they can probably hear it two channels over.

Barnabas, bless him, objects that the trial isn’t fair, because he doesn’t have anyone to speak in his defense. It’s so cute that he’s playing along with this nonsense; he actually seems offended that this show trial of the living dead isn’t being conducted along the lines of modern American jurisprudence.

512 dark shadows nathan sworn

And so it just goes on, for two full acts, and it’s fantastic. This is as close as Dark Shadows gets to live theater — one set, shot almost exclusively from one direction, with weird costumes and lighting changes and lots of big entrances and exits. You could do this whole sequence as black-box experimental theater, and it really wouldn’t feel substantially different.

512 dark shadows nathan strangulation

Nathan is the only one who’s actually got a speaking part, so he’s called as the prosecution’s only witness.

Trask:  Nathan Forbes — will you tell the court how you died?

Nathan:  Strangulation.

Trask:  By whose hand?

Nathan:  Barnabas Collins.

Trask:  And will you tell the court how Suki Forbes died?

Nathan:  Strangulation.

Trask:  By whose hand?

Nathan:  Barnabas Collins.

512 dark shadows barnabas face

This goes on, through the other victims — “strangulation, Barnabas Collins” — and Barnabas actually tries to object.

When Nathan claims that Ruby Tate was strangled, Barnabas cries, “No, that is wrong!” He’s correct — Ruby actually died when she fell off the dock, backing away from him — but that’s not really the point. The refrain of “strangulation, Barnabas Collins” is just too catchy to resist. Barnabas has no choice but to hang by his wrists and make acting faces.

512 dark shadows trask verdict

After this testimony, Reverend Trask addresses the court.

Trask:  Your honor, the prosecution has proved beyond doubt that the accused is guilty.

Barnabas:  Wait! You said I could conduct my own defense!

Again: adorable. He’s actually engaging with this as if there’s any chance that he could affect the outcome. What defense could he possibly mount?

512 dark shadows frid face

Meanwhile, here are some things that Barnabas doesn’t say: I’m sorry, I wish I hadn’t killed you, you had a right to live your life, I recognize that you have value as a human being and that you were not just an obstacle for me to overcome.

And this is what we’re actually watching for. Once the scene gets going, the verdict and sentence are entirely predictable. The only question is whether Barnabas is going to dig deep and come up with something that even vaguely resembles remorse. The answer to that question is no.

Tomorrow: Thirty Two Short Films About Episode 513.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Joe is talking to Sam, he refers to “Carolyn Collins”; he means Carolyn Stoddard.

The copyright date in the credits says 1967.

Behind the Scenes:

This is the last appearance of Zombie Jeremiah, who’s been played by Timothy Gordon since Jeremiah’s death in December 1967. Gordon will appear next as a Minister, in November.

Ruby Tate is played in this episode by Natalie Norwick, who will appear in six more episodes. We’ll see her again next week, as the ghost of Josette. Norwick (also credited as Natalie Norwich) has television credits going all the way back to 1950, which is impressive.

Norwick’s 1950s appearances were mostly on the “Playhouse” shows that were based on the early-TV idea that making television is just like doing a stage play in front of a camera. The most amusing example is Schlitz Playhouse, which was named after its sponsor, the Schlitz Brewing Company, makers of the beer who made Milwaukee famous. She also had parts on The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse and Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre. In the 1960s, she had guest roles on some very popular shows, including Dragnet, Mike Hammer, Have Gun – Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Perry Mason and Star Trek. In the 1970s, she appeared on Ryan’s Hope and Starsky & Hutch, and she also had a part in a Broadway play called Break a Leg, which closed after one performance.

Maude Browning is played by Maggie Benson, in her only Dark Shadows appearance. Benson was a member of the ensemble in the Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!, which ran from 1964 to 1970. Her other credit is as a Nurse in The Gardener, a 1974 horror movie featuring Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro.

Suki Forbes is played by her original performer, Jane Draper.

Ezra Simpson, the judge in Trask’s kangaroo court, is played by Tom Gorman, a regular fill-in actor who appeared in 18 episodes between 1967 and 1968. He was also one of the non-speaking judges at Vicki’s witch trial, so it’s kind of funny that Barnabas objects that this character isn’t a real judge. I mean, it’s funny to people who actually pay attention to the fill-in actors. Like me. It’s funny to me. We’ll see Gorman next in October, as the Blue Whale bartender.

Tomorrow: Thirty Two Short Films About Episode 513.

512 dark shadows trask manner

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

21 thoughts on “Episode 512: Everybody Rise

  1. Yes – go TRASK! They should have also dragged out Dave Woodard and Jason Maguire and Carl Collins and…but I guess Trask only invited the ones he knew about.

    1. Re: Carl — it would be a little confusing for victims to show up that Barnabas wouldn’t recognize yet. Then he goes back to 1897 and says, ohhh, that’s the guy. 🙂

      1. True – it’s one of those exasperating time travel dilemmas that I try and not go crazy about. Also I originally thought that the actress who played Suki came back later as Sabrina Stuart – they sounded very similar.

    2. You know, Carl Collins might involve a time paradox, but I think that you could bring both McGuire and Woodard. When Barnabas ask for a lawyer, McGuire offers his services – for pay. He will defend Barnabas as along as Barnabas delivers the jewels to him. And Barnabas has to, because he’s desperate. – later McGuire says “sorry boyo, but I cannot get you acquitted. Too many witnesses against you.” Woodard could be the prosecuting attorney, and Trask would pass sentence. The fun would be in watching McGuire asking to be paid more after each witness because “it gets harder with every killing to get you off”

  2. How can you not love Trask. As much of an ego maniac he was, he is so awesome. Much better then the later incarnations of the Trask family lines.

    1. Reverend Trask is wonderful all around – to have to put up with Roger Davis’ rants at Vicki’s witchcraft trial was no small feat – Trask rose to the challenge.

  3. This episode went for spectacle rather than character. In 1795, when Joshua discovers Barnabas’s secret, we have more than spectacle — we have a moving scene between father and a son. Or later in 1897, when the ghost of Jenny Collins appears and Quentin apologizes to her.

    To have Barnabas actually accept that he’s a destructive force and that his victims didn’t deserve their fates — not even Trask! — would have been a wonderful dramatic moment, especially since it would have perhaps justified Josette’s ghost weeping for him later. She never appeared to him previously.

  4. On the other hand, I miss the chance to have out a line I came up with. Say Barnabas express regrets “In law, Mr. Collins, sincere regrets and a buck will get you a cup of coffee – in certain places. In others you have to add some coins.” But that would be a Tony Peterson line in his original persona…

    (Say what, if Trask possessed Peterson, and let his control slip every now and then to let Tony let out some zingers)

  5. This was the first episode of Dark Shadows that I ever saw. I was 8 years at the time; my best friend’s mother watched the show every afternoon and I happened to be at their home when this episode aired. It scared the crap out of me; so much that I would not watch another episode for nine months, when I would become permanently hooked. I guess that’s the difference between being 8 years old and 9. At 9, I was still scared, but I liked being scared.

  6. The only thing missing is narration from the Snapped lady. Barnabas. Collins. Thought he had gotten away with something. LONG DRAMATIC PAUSE. but then Reverend Trask showed up. To prove. PAUSE He. Didn’t.

  7. Why does Barnabas have to turn into such a wimp when the ghost of Trask confronts him in the basement of the Old House? First he says oh no that was my ancestor that bricked you in and then he says “don’t touch me!” while standing there without moving long enough so that Trask can touch him. And why is it that a touch on the shoulder from a ghost would cause Barnabas to scream in agony and collapse that way? As a (former) vampire, he should appear a lot more accustomed to ghosts and other elements of the dark side. Screaming and falling on the floor in immediate defeat seems pretty sad for a man of his background. Especially after being so smug when in bricked Trask up in the wall.

  8. This was a cool episode! I loved the ghostly crew and that Nathan Forbes and his cocky swagger were back. It’s too bad Joe couldn’t adopt that swagger.

  9. This is one episode where the show’s tendency to move much faster than the average soap opera worked against it. They could easily have gotten two or three days entertainment out of a trial. Of course that would have entailed multiple appearances by the members of the jury, and maybe even allowing some of them to speak, and I’m guessing that wasn’t in the budget.

    Every time he got to put on that Nathan Forbes Navy cloak I bet Joel Crothers was reminded what a boring dead-end character Joe Haskell was.

    Is the name Ezra Simpson supposed to mean something to us? Doesn’t ring a bell at all with me.

  10. Since Jane Draper appears as Suki Forbes in this episode, I should mention that a couple of weeks ago (13 August 2020) Jane Draper commented on the post for episode 420.

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