“Please, take pity on me. Don’t torture me like this.”
It’s a Ron Sproat script today, which means that Vicki’s locked up and she’s not getting away any time soon. This is a bit of an obsession with Sproat, an old-school soap writer who knows that the only question worth asking is: What are we going to do tomorrow? If he can’t come up with a good answer to that question, then he stuffs a girl into a closet and keeps her there for a week.
Now, to be fair, it was Gordon Russell who actually put Vicki in stir this time; Sproat is just the guy keeping her here. But I don’t see any reason to be fair today. If life was fair, I’d have enough material to stretch this out to a full blog entry. And yet, here we are.
Continue reading Episode 555: All Tied Up
“Why would you imagine dogs howling?”
It was the best of times.
“Mail for the show recently has been running to almost 6,000 letters a week since Barnabas soared to fame, with Frid himself receiving nearly 5,000 of that total.”
It’s late summer 1968, and Dark Shadows’ ratings have skyrocketed from 2.8 million viewers to 4.5 million, since Jonathan Frid debuted as reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins.
“Ben Cooper has licensed a line of masks and costumes based on the Dark Shadows theme and featuring Barnabas. Western Publishing is also on the way with a boxed board game, comic books and puzzles.”
Call it magic or genius or just being in the right place at the right time, but apparently what American housewives and teenagers want more than anything in the world is a vampire soap opera at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
“Several weeks ago, Frid appeared in three Stern Brothers stores in the New York City area as a guest at fashion shows displaying ‘Monster Shoes’ — the latest in girls’ and women’s footwear. Stern’s officials described his appearance as one of the biggest in memory.”
There’s just one problem: Barnabas Collins isn’t a vampire anymore. He used to be, once upon a time, but he was cured three months ago. Any viewers tuning in to see neck-biting will be sorely disappointed, and so will their 4.5 million friends. Continue reading Episode 554: Fresh Blood
“I’m certain that’s a possibility.”
Well, here we are again.
The current storyline has hit something of an impasse — Adam, the enormous and lonely Frankenstein man, is demanding that Barnabas create a woman to be his mate. Barnabas, who has no idea how to do such a thing, tells Adam that he has no idea how to do such a thing. And that’s pretty much where we left off.
Continue reading Episode 553: What Not to Do
“How could he talk so good in such a short time?”
We’ve been spending a lot of time lately with Adam, the enormous adolescent Frankenstein who’s hiding out in the abandoned west wing of Collinwood. His love life isn’t really working out, and he’s just learned that he was pieced together in a mad science experiment, so he’s in kind of a bad mood.
But that works out well for us, because there’s only so long that you can watch a guy hide in a room before you start wondering what’s happening on The Secret Storm these days. We need a change.
Happily, today Adam’s got some new things to say, and a new vocabulary to say them with.
Continue reading Episode 552: Hooked On Phonics
“I’ve always wanted to at least not hurt you in any way.”
Welcome back to another week of Dark Shadows, the pop culture sensation that’s been gaining in popularity as its storylines grow progressively darker. It’s August 1968, and this crazy little daytime horror show is the success story of the summer.
Lately, we’ve been following Adam, the love-struck Frankenteen who’s hiding out from the police in an abandoned wing of Collinwood. He’s been there for a couple weeks, reading poetry and developing a full-scale crush on Carolyn, who just wants to be friends. Adam’s finally been told that he was created in a mad science lab, and there’s no chance that Carolyn will ever love him.
Left on his own, Adam picks up the knife from his breakfast tray, and considers ending it all. I believe the headline would be: World’s Largest Man Kills Himself with World’s Smallest Knife.
Continue reading Episode 551: Cruel World
“I have a terrible fear that something’s going to happen.”
Yesterday’s episode closed with Adam, our enormous and confused teen Frankenstein, thrusting himself romantically at a young woman who would have preferred otherwise. He’s six-foot-six and has superhuman strength, while she’s somewhere in the low five feet, and at press time was saying “Adam, you’re hurting me.” Things were definitely shaping up to be one of those American tragedies that you read about in the papers.
Today’s episode begins with Carolyn walking downstairs, post-trauma. Her hair is messed up, but her blouse and skirt are intact, so I guess that means that everything worked out more or less okay.
Continue reading Episode 550: The Afternoon After
“All men are allowed to fall in love. It’s expected of them, actually.”
You know, people complain about how difficult homeschooling is, but it’s a breeze, really. At school, there’s a real problem with classroom size, and that’s even more important when your child is a 6’6″ Frankenstein with kung fu grip. He needs the personalized attention that he can only get from a child-centered environment. Besides, they’re teaching about evolution at school and not creationism — which, for a child assembled in a mad science lab, is pretty insensitive.
Homeschooling is super convenient, too. All you need to do is give him some books and keep him in a dusty old cobweb sanctuary, and the kid practically educates himself. Then you arrange for some seriously ill-advised sex ed training, and you’re good to go.
Continue reading Episode 549: Take What You Want
“I can make you older. I can make you die. But I cannot assemble a human being and have him live.”
You know, the great thing about having an evil magician as the lead villain of your television show is that conjurers tend to be showmen. Yes, even the evil ones. You don’t devote your life to the study of pulling demon rabbits out of sinister hats without developing a certain panache.
At the moment, the Great Nicholas is punishing his lovely assistant, Angelique, for disobeying his direct instructions. He’s taken her powers away and made her mortal again, and now she’s crumbling to dust while we watch.
Angelique staggers upstairs to find her portrait, which has helped her overcome setbacks in the past. But when she gets to Vicki’s room, she finds that the portrait is cracked and peeling, suffering the same fate.
And then Nicholas steps out of the shadows and turns on a lamp, as if to say, is THIS your card?
Continue reading Episode 548: Bleak Lives Matter
“Instead of a dream, you threaten me with a gun. Are you bored with your tricks and your spells?”
In yesterday’s post, I did a little compare and contrast exercise between Dark Shadows and a March 1968 episode of General Hospital, which was DS’ lead-in at the time. What I found was two shows that share the same network and afternoon timeslot, but feel like they were made in different decades.
By 1968, General Hospital’s storylines were starting to break away from the old-fashioned kitchen sink approach to soap opera, where the stories are supposed to be a slice of life that the audience can personally relate to. The GH episode that we looked at includes a girl who’s accusing her stepmother of killing her father, and a woman who’s struggling to put her life back together after a traumatic car accident that resulted in a miscarriage.
Those situations aren’t really a part of typical daily life, especially when they happen to the same extended family at the same time, but they’re not outrageous.
Meanwhile, a Dark Shadows episode starts at unbelievably insane in the first scene, and then ratchets the tension up from there.
Continue reading Episode 547: Justice in Hell
“I can punish you for having such human emotions!”
Angelique approaches her boss, her eyes pleading. “Mr. Blair,” she ventures, “do you think maybe I should talk to her?”
“Well, all right, Angelique,” Nicholas nods.
“Thank you, Mr. Blair,” she says, and moves toward the door.
“Oh, Angelique…” he says. “You won’t say anything to her about not being able to have any more children?”
“Oh, no, Mr. Blair, I won’t do that,” says Angelique. “But maybe I can help her come to her senses. You know, she has so much to be happy about, Mr. Blair, and I’m going to tell her so!” Fire flashes in her eyes. “Somebody’s got to!”
And then she turns and leaves the room, and the organ music starts up, and it turns out we were watching General Hospital by accident.
Continue reading Episode 546: A Little Bored