Episode 545: Teacher’s Pet

“It must be done as only another human being could do it.”

So here’s something I never thought I’d say: Ever since the Dream Curse storyline wrapped up last week, Dark Shadows has been a little dull.

That’s an extraordinary statement, because the Dream Curse storyline was a completely static piece of soapcraft that spent months walking in circles, and then fizzled away to nothing at all. You’d think that it would be impossible for a story to look sedate compared to that. And yet, here we are.

545 dark shadows adam stuck

The problem is that Adam is still stuck in his dusty hideout in Collinwood’s abandoned west wing. He’s been here since late last week, and it’s started to get to me. I get that soap operas are slow sometimes, and Dark Shadows has more than its share of glacial periods, but nothing really drives that home more than having a character trapped on the same set for episode after episode.

Adam’s laying low right now on account of being a giant Frankenstein man who has recently run amuck a couple of times, and while things haven’t quite gotten to the torches-and-pitchforks stage, you can never be too careful about these things. So he’s taking some time off, and couchsurfing while he catches up on his reading.

545 dark shadows adam nicholas intro

And then who should show up but Nicholas Blair, the sorcerous supervisor who arrived a little while ago to tell the local witch that he’s disappointed in her job performance. This is supposed to be a thrilling twist, but honestly, he’s the fourth character to visit Adam’s room this week. Carolyn’s been popping in and out, and he’s also had visits from Harry and Professor Stokes. So the novelty of someone stopping by for a chat has worn off to some degree.

545 dark shadows adam nicholas told

The exciting difference here is that Nicholas apparently has some kind of satanic plan for Adam; he’s been very excited about the idea that Adam is a new life form who could be turned to the dark side.

But so far that’s kind of a theoretical plot point, and it’s hard to get too turned on by it. Nicholas has been on the show for a solid month at this point, and he hasn’t actually done anything evil yet. He’s called up spirits a couple times, but who doesn’t on this show?

The only thing that’s keeping Nicholas’ “evil” cred alive is the idea that he has some kind of dark, mysterious plan that we know almost nothing about. In fact, the only thing that we actually know about Nicholas’ plan is that this isn’t part of it.

545 dark shadows nicholas strong

But what the hell, here’s a new plan.

Nicholas:  You mustn’t worry about what other people think, Adam. And you needn’t always do what other people want you to do. You must learn to be a strong-willed individual.

Adam:  Individual.

Nicholas:  You are Adam. You’re bigger than other people. You learn fast. You have a better brain. You can do things that other people can’t do. And you’re very strong! You are a very important person.

545 dark shadows adam nicholas straight

Listening to this, Adam tries to stand up straighter, which is adorable.

Nicholas:  You are a man who — with my guidance — can alter the course of history. Yes, you and I shall be going a long way together.

And that’s it, that’s the extent of Nicholas’ nefariousness for the day. This may not seem that bad to us, but Dark Shadows was produced by New York theater people, and for them, the darkest sin that you could possibly commit is to go to Los Angeles and get an agent. Nicholas is their worst nightmare.

545 dark shadows cassandra nicholas angry

But life can’t be all smiles and handshakes, not on a Friday. Whatever Nicholas has up his sleeve, the fact is that the show’s main storyline is about a guy who hasn’t left his bedroom in over a week.

So don’t get me wrong, I love Nicholas, and I’ve talked a lot about how funny and cool he is. But we’re a month in, and we’re still not getting a lot of plot points out of him. If he just decided not to show up for work on Monday and we never saw his character again, then pretty much nothing on the show would change. He’s just been hanging around on the fringes.

545 dark shadows angelique power

So here’s where a power hitter like Angelique really comes in handy.

Angelique knows that if Adam dies, then Barnabas will become a vampire again, and for some reason known only to crazy people, that’s the only thing she wants in the whole world.

Nicholas has been telling her to back off, because he’s got plans for Adam. You can’t say that kind of thing to Ms. Cassandra Angelique Bouchard Blair Collins Collins. She’s only going to stand in the background and smolder for so long.

545 dark shadows angelique crazyface

This is why you need a good lunatic in your cast, for when things get slow and you need someone to get unreasonable. Angelique isn’t a perfectly-constructed character, and I’ve had cause to speak sharply to her on several recent occasions. But when things are poking along and you need a change, you can always count on Angelique to step up, and be completely out of her goddamn mind.

545 dark shadows cassandra fingers

She marches up to Adam’s hiding place — and by the way, for a dusty old storage room in an abandoned wing of the house, this place gets a lot of foot traffic. You could set up a hot dog stand on this route, and you’d at least break even.

Adam’s door is locked, but that means nothing to Angelique. She just twiddles her fingers at the handle, and it opens for her. It’s finger magic, apparently; her hand is a sonic screwdriver.

545 dark shadows cassandra adam normal

Adam’s all curled up on his bed, and Angelique takes a moment to consider what type of club is appropriate for this hole.

Angelique:  So… you are Adam! You must not die through magic. Nicholas would surely know that I was responsible. No, it must be done as only another human being could do it.

545 dark shadows angelique axe

So she picks up an axe, because that’s how a human being would do it. Not a sane human being, obviously. The other kind.

Monday: A Little Bored.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Roger enters Collinwood in the first scene, he closes the door behind him, but it swings open again.

When Nicholas is seen in Adam’s room, the intention is obviously to suggest that he appeared there by magic. There’s a tight close-up on Adam’s face to disguise Nicholas walking onto the set, so that he can be on the opposite side of the room from the door when he says his first line. Unfortunately, that close-up isn’t as tight as it needs to be, and you can see the top of Nicholas’ head over Adam’s shoulder as he passes by.

Nicholas gets his line twisted in a sparring match with Cassandra:

Cassandra:  What are you smiling at?

Nicholas:  You, and your perpetual unwillingness to learn.

Cassandra:  To learn what?

Nicholas:  That working yourself up into a rage never gets yourself anywhere with me, and it never has.

When Cassandra opens the drawing room doors to go upstairs, you can see the shadow of the camera in the drawing room moving across the floor.

Monday: A Little Bored.

545 dark shadows cassandra normal

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

17 thoughts on “Episode 545: Teacher’s Pet

  1. The moment when Nicholas imposes himself as Adam’s mentor marks the beginning of the end for Adam as a character on the show. Once Adam begins to become more forceful, in the beginning with comical results as he attempts to assert his manhood, it is not long before he turns into a total jerk, eventually committing the greatest sin a character can in muscling around the show’s two most popular characters, Barnabas and Julia. At that point he loses the sympathy of the audience.

    In the beginning he had been a sympathetic character given the way that everything, and everyone, was against him. You felt sorry for him for the plight he was faced with, having been thrown into the world being ill-equipped to get along. But, ultimately, he could never be a sympathetic character as a monster the way the vampire and the werewolf could, since those examples involve afflictions that can’t be controlled, whereas with the case of Adam he is simply a blank slate in need of character development and maturity.

    As an infant man-child, you wanted to protect and feed him. As the well-meaning child, you wanted to guide and nurture him, as Professor Stokes has been doing. But now that the terrible teens have arrived, it won’t be long before you just want to smack him.

    Perhaps the audience of the time responded in the same way, and since the torch-wielding villagers were not going to show up to play out the natural course of the Frankenstein story, the writers were at a loss as to what to do and where to go with him. So, one episode, without any explanation, they just sent him into another room in Stokes’ apartment and left him there, just forgot about him completely.

    1. Good point. Nicholas turning Adam into a monster only matters if we care about Adam. We feel sorry for him but we don’t really care about him. No one on the show does (Stokes is mildly curious and Carolyn’s feelings are all over the map).

      The storyline suffers from “external motivations” — similar to what we see during the Leviathan storyline when everyone is brainwashed and not themselves. The cliffhanger in this episode is based in the plot device that whatever happens to Adam happens to Barnabas. We don’t care if Adam dies for his own sake. Nor do we care for Barnabas’s emotional sake — he doesn’t care for Adam as a son, there is no real “emotional” connection.

      1. I actually care about Adam, and not just because I think he’s cute. They’ve done a really good job so far at portraying his struggles communicating, and understanding the world. So far, his instincts have been to feel affection and joy — his original attachment to Barnabas, his appreciation of Stokes and his studies, and falling in love with Carolyn, which naturally everyone should do. I really like the guy.

        This will probably change as the months wear on.

        1. That’s a good point. Adam’s instincts have been remarkably benign so far. His crimes are the result of his childish mind being placed in the body of a super-sized man without any consistent paternal guidance.

          Nicholas’s exploitation of Adam is cruel and completely becoming of our now primary antagonist, but the lack of any real concern for Adam from Barnabas and Julia really tests my sympathy for them. I almost want to throw something at the TV when Julia resists conducting another experiment because of “how Adam turned out,” as though she and Barnabas don’t share a bulk of that responsibility.

          1. The other major problem is that Adam himself is not driving the plot. He’s a pawn in Nicholas’ story, which is a different matter. From now on Adam becomes a supporting player in his own story, which is not a good thing for any character.

            1. Yes, Nicholas has little personal stake in forcing Barnabas and Julie to create a mate for Adam. There’s his grand scheme to populate the world with monsters, but you can’t wrap your mind around it. He’s actually more compelling to me as a villain when he’s using Angelique the vampire to destroy Joe, an innocent man, so that he can have Maggie for himself (it’s also a supernatural spin on a classic soap opera storyline).

              But the creation of Eve should be all Adam. Carolyn’s rejection of him should provide the necessary motivation given his mental state to believe he can never know love with a “normal” woman, especially after Stokes reveals the truth about his origins.

              Interestingly, Nicholas is brought back in 1970, and once again, he’s a villain with little personal investment in the story. Basically, it’s just a job to him. Sure, he risks being “fired” (ha!) but it’s not enough on its own. Revenge is a major antagonist motivation in DS and Nicholas never taps into it. Even in 1970, when he should want revenge for his last (and perhaps first) failure.

              I also wonder if Nicholas wasn’t used as a “relief” villain. Cassandra and the Dream Curse were sputtering. Enter Nicholas and the hint of a grander plan involving the two. Adam was going nowhere as resident Frankenstein. Enter Nicholas to give us BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Later, Jeb loses control of the storyline so in comes Nicholas.

    2. I like the fact he put Angelique in her place but he didn’t stop there and started reeking havoc in not a nice way. He became more evil than Angelique.

  2. You would think that after 150+ years of having the satisfaction of knowing that Barnabas was chained and mouldering in his coffin that Angelique would cut him some slack. I’m sure she wasn’t sitting around twiddling her thumbs all the time he was locked up.

  3. Maybe I am being SUPER picky; after all, Adam is holed up in a disused room over in the West Wing of Collinwood, and it is never made clear what that room’s previous use was…
    An AXE?
    Where in the blazes does Angelique pull out an AXE from? And is that really the best ‘non-magical’ approach she can come up with? Is axe murder pretty commonplace in New England? I mean, he’s already sleeping, couldn’t she put a hypno spell on him and make him robot walk into a wood chipper?
    I will give Angie this much; her crazy certainly goes from zero to sixty in nothing flat.

  4. Another slight blooper – after Adam tells Carolyn that Blair came to visit, there’s a nice long shot of Carolyn floating down the stairs as the clock chimes. The clock face at the start of the shot shows it’s midnight, but there are only eleven chimes.

  5. Cassie Collins took an axe
    And gave poor Adam forty whacks
    When she saw what she had done
    She gave old Nicky forty-one

  6. I am amazed that the ratings are going up. Maybe people tuned in to see if it got better after the Dream Curse ended? Spoiler: It has not.
    I’m waiting for Tom Jennings.

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