“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.
Sorry! What a silly mistake to make. I’ve just been watching this March 1968 episode of General Hospital, and the two shows are so similar that sometimes I forget which one I’m supposed to be writing about. After all, they’re on the same network, and General Hospital was the lead-in to Dark Shadows up until two weeks ago, when they wedged One Life to Live in between them, just to give people a fighting chance at telling them apart.
After all, to be effective, drama has to be rooted in the human condition. At the end of the day, General Hospital and Dark Shadows are both about the same fundamental concerns — love, death, power, revenge, voodoo and bringing people magazines.
But we’re not supposed to be watching Dr. Hardy and Nurse Lucille talking about Audrey’s miscarriage. We should be watching Nicholas Blair, who’s walked into a deserted old storeroom and caught Angelique, just as she’s about to cut off Adam’s head with an axe.
Now that I think about it, that’s one of the easier-to-spot differences between the two shows; General Hospital doesn’t break out the medieval tableware very often. When the characters on GH want to mess with each other, they use a completely different set of tools, like fretting and nagging and over-explaining things.
For example, here’s Mr. Murdoch, the Port Charles district attorney, patiently helping Polly get her mind around her own storyline.
Murdoch: Now, you understand, Miss Prentice, that what we are trying to prove is that they murdered your father.
Polly: Yes, Mr. Murdoch, I realize that. I just… I wish… well, I guess it’s no use in wishing I didn’t have to testify, is there?
Murdoch: No, it’s a little late for that. But that’s why I thought it would be easier for you if I sent you a subpoena. You see, a subpoena is a court order. You are required to come and testify.
So that makes sense, obviously. It’s a court order; she doesn’t have a choice.
Polly: Yes, sir, I understand. I just wish you didn’t need me, that’s all.
Murdoch: Well, frankly, I thought that this would make it a little more comfortable for you, Miss Prentice. Nobody will be able to embarrass you about volunteering testimony. You have no choice. Everybody will understand that.
Okay, great. Got it. Not a hard concept. So the thing that I — oh, sorry, wait. We’re still mansplaining things to Polly.
Polly: Oh, well, I hope so. I just honestly hate to do this, I mean, with all the publicity, and everything. But, Mr. Murdoch — if I’ve been subpoenaed, then I can’t help it, can I?
Murdoch: No, you can’t help it, Miss Prentice. You’re in no way responsible. You have to tell what you know about the relationship of Jessie Prentice and Dr. Baldwin to each other, and to your father. All I want is the facts about what you know to be true. Now, do you understand?
Over at Collinwood, the explanation scene plays out a little differently. The enormous, undead Frankenstein monster is put out, because his new satanic friend allowed the murderous witch to leave the room without letting Adam strangle her.
Adam: She will try again; I know she will come back. Why does she hate me? I did nothing!
Nicholas: An unfortunate fact of the human world, Adam. When two people wage war, the innocent are often caught in the crossfire.
Adam: I do not understand.
Nicholas: There is so much I have to teach you! But I will get to that… after I finish the business at hand.
But Adam’s right; Angelique really is going to try again. In fact, she’s trying right now. She’s slipped off to the drawing room, where she pulls out a homemade voodoo doll and a sharp pin.
“You are Adam,” she tells the figure, “made by man. And Adam can be destroyed as easily as I can tear this doll apart.”
She rests her fingers on the doll’s chest. “You are Adam. Your heart is here. When this heart stops beating… Barnabas Collins will be a vampire again.”
But Dr. Hardy can’t allow that kind of thing to go on. Just before Nurse Lucille thrusts the pin through the clay figure’s heart, Dr. Hardy grabs her and twists her arm behind her back. “What a fool you are!” he growls, as Lucille struggles to pick up her voodoo doll, and put an end to the unnatural creature hiding in a deserted wing of the hospital.
Or — Collinwood, sorry. A deserted wing of Collinwood. This isn’t Dr. Hardy and Lucille; it’s Nicholas and Angelique again.
But that reminds me — I wonder what Lucille’s up to? She seemed pretty determined to make her sister Audrey change her tune. Now, she’s walking into Audrey’s drawing room for a visit.
Lucille: Hi, honey! I hope you don’t mind me barging in like this, I know you said you didn’t feel like company.
Audrey: No, that’s all right. Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I would have fixed you some lunch.
Lucille: Well, that’s why I didn’t tell you. I had a quick lunch at the hospital. And what about you?
Audrey: Oh, I had some bouillon. That’s about all I felt like.
Lucille: Now, honey, you’ve got to eat, if you want to get your strength back.
Meanwhile, four months and an hour later, Nicholas and Angelique are having their own confrontation.
Angelique: You can’t punish me for doing what I came to do!
Nicholas: Oh, can’t I? I can punish you for being still in love.
Angelique: No, I hate Barnabas Collins!
Nicholas: I can punish you for having such human emotions!
Angelique: He has defied me!
Nicholas: I can punish you for caring about that!
So I guess things are a little bit more intense on the Dark Shadows set.
Still, it’s not like life stands still in Port Charles.
Lucille: I bought you a few things that I thought you might like.
Audrey: Oh? What things?
Lucille: Not very much. Just a few odds and ends. First — I bought you a couple magazines.
Audrey: Oh. Well, thank you.
Angelique: Oh, if you would only forgive me!
Nicholas: What would my master say?
Angelique: He is my master too!
Nicholas: Not anymore! Your master lives on this Earth — in the Old House, not far from here!
Lucille: And then, I bought you a game, which will allow you to play bridge by yourself.
Audrey: Well, Lucy, I don’t know how to play bridge.
Lucille: Well, you can learn, from that! I bought you a beginner’s set.
Nicholas: Let me see, now. What shall I do to you?
Angelique: Adam is alive. Nicholas, remember that — Adam is not dead. I tried to kill him, but I failed, punish me for that! I won’t try again, I swear!
Nicholas: You’re begining to sound like a woman in panic! All right… that’s what you’ll be.
Lucille: And then, I bought you a drawing pad!
Audrey: A drawing pad?
Lucille: Yeah! I thought, if you’re just sitting around, you might find out if you have any artistic talent! And I bet you have, I bet you’ll surprise yourself. You know, everybody seems to be wanting to draw these days.
Nicholas: Tell me your name.
Angelique: You know it. Angelique.
Nicholas: No. That is not your name. Cassandra Collins is your real name now.
Angelique: What do you mean?
Nicholas: You are no longer playing a woman married to a human. You are a woman now, married to one Roger Collins!
Lucille: I have one more thing. Ha! You’re going to think I’m crazy. I bought you two enormous knitting needles, and some huge knitting yarn. Now, look at that.
Audrey: Lucy, you really didn’t have to do all this.
Lucille: Well, I wanted to, honey. I wanted to.
Audrey: You’re being very kind, I know.
Lucille: Well… what’s a sister for?
Nicholas: You are no longer a witch, a member of our coven. You are human — without power. You have only the minutes left to you to live out. You will die, as humans die!
Nicholas: Look at me!
Lucille: A little bored, aren’t you? That’s why I brought you those things, I thought they’d help to pass the time till you really get on your feet.
Audrey: I’m sure I’m going to have to do something. I expected everything would be so different; I expected I’d be so busy!
Lucille: Well, of course you did, honey. But here you are, in the apartment all day long with nothing to do. Well, you’ve got to find something to do! Something creative! Something… something wonderful!
Nicholas: This hand is no longer the servant of my master. This hand is no longer the recipient of my master’s grace.
Nicholas: This mind is no longer the property of my master! And this heart is no longer our domain!
Audrey: Losing this baby has made such an emptiness in my life! Everything I do seems like busywork, without any meaning at all!
Lucille: Well, now, Audrey, don’t talk like that!
Nicholas: You are a woman, born in Martinique in 1774. Died… we shall soon know.
Lucille: Audrey… since you want to face facts, I think there’s something else you ought to face up to.
Nicholas: You are mortal now.
Audrey: If you keep going the way you’ve been going, you’re going to lose Dr. Hardy!
Angelique: But I’ll die!
Nicholas: That is your punishment.
Lucille: He told me he was at his wit’s end to know what to do about you!
Angelique: How long do I have left?
Nicholas: I am not a fortune-teller.
Audrey: I do love Steve.
Lucille: And he loves you, Audrey…
Lucille: … But there’s only so much a man can take.
Tomorrow: Justice in Hell.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Cassandra turns off the tape recorder in the teaser, someone in the studio coughs.
Nicholas tells Cassandra, “Your departure has already been arranged, of course. It will be orderly, designed to concern — cause little concern or regret.”
Behind the Scenes:
In the teaser, Cassandra listens one more time to Dr. Lang’s message on the tape recorder. This is the last time the message is heard on the show, thank goodness. The message was heard in 13 episodes following Lang’s death.
Sam Hall wrote all five episodes this week. It’s the first time that one writer has written a full Monday-to-Friday week of the show since Francis Swann in November 1966. There have been a few times when one writer has done five episodes in a row, but split across a weekend — especially in September 1967, when Gordon Russell and Ron Sproat were the only writers on the show for about six weeks.
Tomorrow: Justice in Hell.
— Danny Horn