Episode 555: All Tied Up

“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.

555 dark shadows adam nicholas stuck

I’m not crying wolf about that, by the way; I really am struggling to keep hold of my will to live right now. This is the fourth episode this week about Adam, the cranky Frankenman, who’s been hiding out in this dingy room for three weeks solid and is growing increasingly dissatisfied with it.

This is supposed to be his secret hideout from the police, but there’s currently five people who visit him almost daily, and he’s started breaking curfew to go out into the woods and kidnap people. He’s not really hiding anymore; he’s just not paying rent.

555 dark shadows lemon pledge

And, honestly, would it kill him to brush away some of the cobwebs? He’s on a television show that’s sponsored by household cleansers; it’s got to be driving the housewives in the audience absolutely out of their minds. Stop moping and start mopping.

555 dark shadows adam nicholas take this

But it’s clear that today they’ve got their eye on Dark Shadows’ other demographic — the teenagers of 1968.

Nicholas:  Here, take this.

Adam:  What is this?

Nicholas:  Drugs.

555 dark shadows adam nicholas drugs

Yes, they really say that. It’s the best moment of the day.

Nicholas:  It’s something to make her sleep. When she regains consciousness, give her some food. Put this in it. She won’t give you any trouble.

So there you go; that’s how we deal with our problems, Dark Shadows style. This is like the CIA’s how-to manual on detaining governesses.

555 dark shadows adam vicki drab

So it’s all rather drab, and depressing. Adam follows through on the enhanced interrogation technique, ping-ponging from “I’m not going to hurt you” to “You will be quiet or I’ll have to kill you”, and then back again.

And every time Adam frowns, I see the cute character that I like fading away.

555 dark shadows adam stern

I’ve been generally upbeat about Adam until this week, because he’s mostly been adorable. Adam was once a happy little puppy, eager to please his friends and learning to say “table”. Now he’s got a semi-permanent mad-on, and it’s a downer.

And sadly, Robert Rodan just isn’t as good at being stern. You can see him trying to show us that the good guy is still in there, but it’s a hard job, and I’m not sure he’s up to it.

555 dark shadows adam nicholas bad

Unfortunately, this situation is making me less fond of Nicholas, too. I’ve really enjoyed his mustache-twirling villainy so far, but now he’s building up his evil cred at the expense of a storyline that I used to like.

Now, to be clear, I’m not opposed to people doing bad things to each other on television. A villainous character is supposed to do villainous deeds. You can love Darth Vader as a character, even if you wouldn’t want him to join your bridge club.

But the misdeeds are supposed to make the show more interesting, not less. Nicholas has taken a character that I had a serious crush on, and turned him into a character that bores me. This is not progress.

555 dark shadows adam nicholas spectacle

This sequence is proving that the show needs to focus on visual spectacle if we’re going to get anywhere. There was a time when Adam lumbering around with a chain attached to his leg was a diverting novelty, but leaving him in a cramped room for weeks has taken the shine off considerably.

If they want to make this show exciting again, they’re going to have to come up with something new for us to look at. For a preview of what they do next, check out the picture at the bottom of this page. See you Monday!

Monday: Apotheosis.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, the final music cue starts too early, and they have to start it over again.

Jeff trips over a word when he updates Carolyn on Tom’s condition: “They managed to get him to the hospital in time to give a transfoo-fusion. But he’s barely alive.”

When Adam walks over to the closet door with the vial in his hand, the camera that’s tracking with him bumps into something, and you can see one of the studio lights.

Monday: Apotheosis.

555 dark shadows angelique vampire

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

6 thoughts on “Episode 555: All Tied Up

  1. It does seem that in attempting to corrupt Adam to further his own worldly agenda for the creation of a master race, character-wise Nicholas has, too, sent himself on a downward spiral, as evidenced when he produces a vial of drugs for Adam to use on Vicki. It was just a month ago in episode 528 when Cassandra was trying to convince Nicholas to help her drug Vicki so that she could have the dream, but Nicholas reacted with disgust and told her “I am much too talented to spend my time drugging drinks.” But he goes along with it half-heartedly and when Cassandra asks him why he let her get away he replies “Drugging drinks is not my style. I felt like an apprentice.” So his standards are slipping a bit. And before long we will discover that Nicholas is only human, that he has the same weaknesses as a man that Cassandra has as a woman, and “this tawdry affair” that “has undone you” will come to define Nicholas’ mission on the earthly plane as well, though it will be fun to see him toy with Angelique in her newly transformed vampire state along the way.

    1. I also thought of Nicholas’ distaste for tampering with drinks. It’s hard to get much from episodes like this beyond “They’re running out of ideas.”

  2. It really doesn’t seem as if the writers are keeping track of each others scripts and what is actually happening. In exchange for constant thrills and shock scenes, consistency is going out the window. I don’t mean to keep harping on this but it really becomes evident as the show goes along in it’s crazy new direction. But keeping track of the characters unique personalities and traits should be a mandatory part of any show. I’m currently watching episodes of a show called ‘Haven’ and it really seems to capture a similar ‘feeling’ of what the locations for Dark Shadows would have resembled had they had the budget. If you watch the Dark Shadows episodes around the 70-75 mark (where Josette’s ghost makes her first appearance at the ‘real’ Old House) this becomes evident. There was a lot of outside location filming around this time and it really adds to the quality of the show – as Danny mentions this room in the West Wing is becoming really claustrophobic.

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