“The house, the room. The coffin!”
Here’s a list of 32 things that I like about this episode, in order of appearance, with a special focus on pretty boys in peril, and introducing Miss Beverly Atkinson.
#1. The sign is crooked.
#2. Beverly Atkinson. This is her only appearance on Dark Shadows, and according to IMDb, it’s her first screen credit.
I believe that she’s the only black actor to ever appear on Dark Shadows. In fact, if you’d asked me yesterday, I would have said that there were zero black actors on Dark Shadows. Then I watched this episode, and now I know better. So unless there are others hiding in episodes that I forgot about, then I think this is the beginning and the end of racial integration in Collinsport.
#3. The first character that she interacts with is literally a white devil.
#4. She won’t let Nicholas in to Tom’s hospital room, but as soon as Maggie walks in, Beverly brightens up, and gives her a big smile. When Maggie asks if she can go in, the nurse says, “Of course, Maggie!” and opens the door for her.
This means that Maggie Evans is officially Right On. That’s a 1960s slang term which I don’t quite remember what it means.
#5. Hey, look! It’s Tom Jennings, our brand new sexy boy character, and he’s all beat up and bruised and dirty, which is apparently what we’re doing with our cute boys these days. On the whole, I mostly look for cute boys in Near Mint to Very Good condition, but if they feel like knocking him around for a while and leaving him all weak and groggy and helpless, then I can work with that too.
#6. It turns out that Maggie and Joe have been visiting Tom in the hospital every day since his vampire attack, which was the first time we’d ever heard of him.
In a couple minutes, Maggie’s going to tell Nicholas, “He and Joe are very close; they’re cousins. They tell each other everything.” It’s one of those super close plot-mandated off-screen relationships that they just never happened to mention while the cameras were turned on.
#7. Some extremely Dark Shadowsy dialogue.
Maggie: What is it, Tom?
Tom: Room! Room! The coffin!
Maggie: Coffin? Tom, you’ve had a nightmare.
Tom: No. The house, the room. The coffin!
#8. Beverly decides that Tom needs to rest, so she walks over and picks up a hypodermic full of sedative, and then just jabs it in his arm without saying a word. That’s what we call medical care on this show.
#9. A moment later, Maggie walks out of the room, but we never see the nurse leave. She might still be in there, for all I know. Somebody should probably go and check.
That was Beverly Atkinson’s last scene on Dark Shadows. After this, she mostly played not very good roles on not very good TV shows, including Girl #1 on Sanford & Son, a Hooker on Police Story, Bertha on Baretta, and Lola on Law and Order (not the one you’re thinking of).
Her most distinguished part was Vivian DeWitt, a recurring role on six episodes of Hill Street Blues. That’s not going to get her into the Hall of Fame or anything, but how many episodes of Hill Street Blues were you in? So shut up.
#10. Maggie tells Nicholas that Tom kept talking about a room with a coffin. She’s perplexed by it, even though every single human being that she knows has been talking about coffins on and off for the last year and a half.
#11. Nightlife at the Blue Whale: One customer. They can’t afford any extras today, because they spent all their money on Beverly Atkinson. No bartender, so Maggie’s drink has already been ordered, and it’s waiting for her to arrive. Also: huge scallop shell ashtray, which is adorable.
#12. And get a load of Love’s Young Dream: the nutritious Joe Haskell, who’s donated blood to a lady vampire twice in the last two episodes, and today he’s going to go back for thirds. Used to be hot, now a hot mess.
#13. He stood Maggie up last night because he was getting his neck juice sucked out. She tells him, “I waited and waited, I was so mad that — well, I was so mad that I’m still mad.” They’re so cute.
#14. Freaked out because the sun is setting, Joe lights a candle. I knew they wouldn’t put an ashtray on the table for no reason. Scallop shells cost money.
#15. The house, the room. The coffin! The lid rises by itself, more or less. If you look closely as the shot starts, you can see a hand pulling the lid open.
#16. Angelique sleeps in her coffin with a blanket over her lap, because she’s wearing a dress and there is a limit.
#17. She’s also been lying in her coffin holding a single red rose. Female vampires sweat the small stuff.
#18. Angelique sits up, and the very first thing she does is call for Joe. This is their third hemoglobin-related booty call in three straight episodes. If I had supernatural control over Joe, I would do exactly the same thing.
#19. Joe is supposed to visit Tom today. Maggie says, “You’ve got lots of time before visiting hours at the hospital,” about which: Really? It’s dusk. How late does this hospital stay open?
#20. Maggie says, “I used to think that I knew every expression on your face.” This would be a hard one to forget.
#21. Joe runs out to see Angelique, and evil wizard Nicholas Blair strolls in and takes his place. Act 3 starts with Nicholas amusing Maggie with a magic trick, making two drinks appear under a napkin.
Try to imagine how Nicholas could possibly have brought two large drinks over to the table without Maggie seeing them. I can’t picture it. He may have used actual magic. Nicholas Blair is a baller.
#22. More Dark Shadows-y dialogue.
Nicholas: I like women who have a sense of themselves.
Maggie: I don’t know that I do. I’m not sure that I ever wanted to have that much of a sense of myself.
#23. Nicholas picks up his straw, and says, “If I were a magician, I would wave my magic wand, and you would be carefree and smiling.”
#24. Angelique tells Joe that they’ll both be visiting Tom in the hospital tonight. The penny drops.
#25. Joe says, “You know about Tom. You did this to him, didn’t you.” He pulls her onto her feet and shakes her. “Didn’t you!”
#26. It’s just a really good episode, is all. They’re doing story beats from True Blood, but forty years earlier, and for an audience largely composed of children.
#27. And it’s not over yet. The two hot boys finally have a scene together, and they’re both dirty and disheveled and bitten-on. The only thing that’s wrong with this episode is that Angelique should use her vampire powers to make them kiss.
#28. Tom tells Joe the story of Angelique appearing in the woods, and attacking him. Joe just stands there and stares at him. Angelique is going to kill Tom in about two and a half minutes, and there’s no reason why she needs to play with her food like this. It’s just more fun this way, that’s all.
#29. Joe leaves the window open, because how else is the vampire going to get in.
#30. In his sleep, Tom pulls the bandage off his neck, because men are made of meat.
#31. Angelique arrives for her second meal of the evening.
#32. If Beverly Atkinson were here, she wouldn’t put up with this kind of nonsense. This is the problem with the American health care system.
Tomorrow: Dig Dug.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In act 2, when there’s a close-up of Angelique calling for Tom, the camera wobbles.
Joe flubs a line in act 4:
Tom: Joe, I want you to go to the police.
Joe: How would I do that?
Behind the Scenes:
In the comments, sights9 pointed out that there’s another black actor on the show — Henry Baker, who plays gypsy King Johnny Romano’s servant in four episodes in August 1969. Thanks for the correction!
Tomorrow: Dig Dug.
— Danny Horn