Episode 568: Do You Want Vicki to Die

“Yes, Mr. Clark. We’re going to create another one.”

It’s currently 5:00am on Thursday as I’m writing these words. I woke up early, because I still have to write Wednesday’s entry. Last night, I was just sitting here looking at this episode, and I couldn’t think of a damn thing to say about it. But that’s the challenge that I created for myself on this blog — a four-year-long series of daily deadlines, mostly just to see if I could manage it. Apparently I could, until today.

The real problem with writing to a deadline is that as the time approaches, it’s hard to think about anything except that ticking clock. I think this is why there are so many movies and television show episodes where the climax is defusing a time bomb — the countdown to a deadline is the scariest thing that a writer can think of.

568 dark shadows jeff monster

That’s a shame, because a countdown is basically just a cheap stunt that can stretch out to any length that the writer needs in order to fill up time. “Should I cut the red wire, or the green wire?” is not a dramatically interesting question. So you create an arbitrary amount of time, and the character cuts a wire, and then either it works or it doesn’t, and the scene is over. Phew!

We’re currently in the middle of this “create a bride of Frankenstein” story, which has a deadline that’s even more arbitrary than usual, because there isn’t a ticking clock to put a limit on how long we’re all going to stand around and talk about it.

Adam wants Barnabas and Julia to create a mate for him, and he’s threatened to kill Vicki and everyone else at Collinwood if they don’t go through with it. We don’t have any way to judge how close they are to completing this imaginary make-believe task, which could happen at any time between right now and never, so every step in this story is just another plot token to collect until the writers finally get sick of it and think of something else to do.

Today’s example involves Jeff Clark, former 18th century lawyer of no fixed abode, discovering the laboratory that Barnabas and Julia have set up in the Old House basement. Jeff spent a while working for mad Dr. Lang as they stitched Adam together, so he recognizes what’s going on, and he’s going to call the police and put a stop to it.

568 dark shadows barnabas jeff die

Furious, Barnabas shouts, “Do you want Vicki to die?” which is a dangerous thing to say while the audience is listening. There is a non-zero chance that the answer to that question is yes.

568 dark shadows jeff barnabas backacting

Barnabas and Jeff proceed to have one of those Dark Shadows backacting arguments, where one of the participants yells his lines at the back of the other person’s head, so that the audience doesn’t miss out on anybody’s facial expressions. This is a conversation style that does not occur in nature.

Barnabas explains that Adam is threatening to murder Vicki — and if Jeff loves her, as we’re supposed to believe that he does, then he’ll assist them with the experiment, as he did for Dr. Lang. Only someone as bossy and self-centered as Barnabas Collins could take a moment like this and turn it into a job interview.

568 dark shadows barnabas jeff experiment

Jeff announces that he’s going to do the sensible thing — go to Collinwood immediately, tell Vicki to pack her bags, and take her out of town so that Adam can’t find her.

Barnabas counters by announcing, “Vicki isn’t the only person whose life is in danger. If we don’t go ahead with this, Adam has threatened to kill every member of the Collins family. Now, do you want to see Carolyn die, or Elizabeth, or David?”

There are two problems with this plot point. First, Adam is in love with Carolyn, and there’s no way that he’s going to go through with killing her — or any of her family, really. That threat sounded hollow when Adam first said it, and it still does. You don’t even need a red wire and a green wire on that one; all it takes is one thirty-second conversation with Carolyn, and the bomb is defused.

The second problem is that running away from Collinwood is actually a pretty good way to handle this crisis. Jeff and Vicki could take the Collins family with them, and just keep everybody out of sight until somebody deals with Adam. The guy’s never been further than Maggie’s house in his entire life; he has no idea where anything is. Just go on vacation.

568 dark shadows julia jeff help

In fact, this is such a non-emergency that Jeff has time to go home, change his jacket, and then come back to the Old House to tell Barnabas and Julia that he’s decided to help them. Apparently, this is his deciding jacket.

568 dark shadows julia jeff well

Julia isn’t feeling well, thanks to a plot point in a much more interesting storyline, so Jeff asks what he can do to help.

“That scope over there,” Julia says, “I was about to put it together. Can you do it?”

Jeff nods. “I did it for Dr. Lang.”

“Good,” says Julia. “Then that’ll help us start.”

This is an entirely depressing thing to say. You haven’t started yet? Then what the hell is that thing lying under the blue sheet? For Pete’s sake, you’ve been at this for a week and a half already. This is going to take forever.

568 dark shadows jeff scope

So Jeff walks over to a random piece of unplugged equipment, and fiddles with three knobs before stopping for an anguished thinks monologue. Apparently, that’s what it looks like when somebody puts a scope together. Now you know.

Tomorrow: Liz Misérables.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There’s a weird quality to Jeff’s thinks monologue in the teaser — it sounds like we’re hearing the pre-recorded lines as they’re played in the studio, rather than as part of the soundtrack. It’s back to normal for Jeff’s thinks in act 3.

During their argument, Barnabas steps on one of Jeff’s lines:

Jeff:  I love her, and I’m going to do the sensible thing. I’m going to go to Collinwood tonight —

Barnabas:  Do you think —

Jeff:  — and I’m gonna tell her to pack her things, and we’re going to get out of here!

Barnabas:  You think that she will leave without an explanation?

Julia paces around in Josette’s room, distracted and nervous. She picks up one of Lang’s journals and leafs through it for a second, apparently unbothered by the fact that she has it upside down.

In Josette’s room, Barnabas tells Julia, “It’s all right, don’t lose your control. I think I have control of the situation.”

Tomorrow: Liz Misérables.

568 dark shadows jeff thinks

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

22 thoughts on “Episode 568: Do You Want Vicki to Die

  1. Barnabas ‘cares’ so much for his immediate family and wanting to save them from danger (which HE created and when it’s convenient for him) but he could care less about others in the community (Maggie and Sam Evans, Joe Haskell, the doctors and police in Collinsport…). You can see where Adam got his ‘essence’ of entitlement from.

    1. Well Adam has reached puberty now and him and Julia are catching hell…lol. If they would have treated him right in the first place, he probably would be a different monster.

  2. Jeff’s only agreeing to help Barnabas and Julia complete the experiment because his job will be easy, just turning knobs. If his choice had involved the dirty work that Willie was assigned, then he would have opted out for the travel plan instead. Having studied to become a lawyer in his former life as Peter Bradford, Jeff Clark detests physical labor.

    1. What exactly does Jeff Clark – it was mentioned he goes ‘to work’ and later Roger offers him a job as a cannery intern (which he turns down) but he always comes across as a deadbeat. Vicki’s former fiance Burke Devlin also had a vague job description but he came across as a successful businessman (with a little bit of a ‘gray area’ as to how he started out) – in the early episodes he was described as an ‘importer/ exporter’, a failing business ‘flipper’ and as having struck oil (as indicated in a photo of him that was stolen by little David) – a true renaissance man.

      1. Yeah, there was a brief mention of “work”, with no details. I think that in 1968 you didn’t need to have a job, as long as you wore a tie in social situations.

      2. Since Jeff Clark blew into 20th century Portsmouth with only a strand of rope in his pocket and his only present-day work experience involves his activities with Dr. Lang, it would seem the only real work he would be qualified for is that of a gravedigger. I think the writers keep details about Jeff Clark deliberately vague because they want for him to be as much of a mystery to the audience as he is to Vicki, especially since he is ultimately a supernatural character. As for Burke Devlin, he was running an investment company. But in his series bible, Art Wallace does not explain how Devlin came to be so prosperous over those five years after prison and instead leaves the possibilities open according to “some who say” which runs the gamut from “striking oil in South America… diamonds in Africa, supporting a revolution in the Far East, running guns in Cuba. Burke gives no answers.” And neither does Art Wallace.

        1. I think the writers keep details about Jeff Clark deliberately vague because it honestly never occurs to them to care. Jeff is a man-shaped figure who can be a love interest for Vicki. Nothing else is required of him.

          Art Wallace’s concept of Burke’s backstory sounds a little like Uncle Scrooge’s — digs for gold in the Klondike, drove a riverboat, searched for treasure in Indonesia. He was tougher than the toughies, and smarter than the smarties.

  3. You made me think of all sorts of things today. First “deciding jacket” reminds me of “This hand is a fighting hand.” Second, Work! at end of this clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqzpQPDSr2s Third, you put Duck Tales in my head. Well, played, well, played. Kudos to Jeff for being the 1st person in who knows how long actually comes up with a reasonable plan when faced with a problem.

  4. What R U Doing? Why do I always get treated like a newcomer when I’m paying you monthly? And why are you making it so difficult to watch Dark Shadows? I couldn’t get to Episode 568, then after being skipped (by years) to Episode 736, I can’t log into Episode 737. What the fuck are you amateurs doing? Why can’t you recognize me when I log on?
    I demand an answer – why couldn’t I have access to 737 – after you’d forced me to skip years of episodes?

    1. Hi William, it sounds like you think that this blog has some connection to Hulu. It doesn’t, this is just a blog about Dark Shadows. You should contact Hulu if you’re having a problem with that service.

    2. William, please get Amazon Prime and you can see ALL the episodes anytime you want, whenever. It is great for marathon watching, with no commercials.

  5. On a sartorial note, were wide ties in style in 1968? The brown tie Jeff wears with his non-deciding jacket is way wider than the narrow tie Willie wears. Barnabas’ tie looks relatively narrow too, from what I can see.

  6. In the late 1960s, wide ties and wide lapels were in, yes. Necktie/lapel narrowing didn’t return (Ties and lapels had been narrower in the early ’60s) until the late 1970s.

    Danny is “Right On” (another sixties thing mentioned here a few episodes ago) about Jeff’s “think” in the teaser. Whereas at the end of yesterday’s episode, Jeff thought, “They have Lang’s instruments” and picked up an instrument; “and his journals,” and he picked up a journal. In today’s teaser, he picks up an instrument and thinks “and his journals.” Only a little later does he pick up a journal.

  7. I found myself distracted by the way both Adam and Jeff refer to the kidnapping/build-a-bride plots as having started “two weeks” ago. It seemed oddly specific for a show with an uncertain internal chronology that relies heavily on the phrase “…the other day”.

    That, and Jeff’s ridiculously massive comedy tie. It’s bigger than his admittedly teeny head, and has a proportionately similar grasp of emotional range.

    1. Here it is, a year since I last watched Dark Shadows (and read this awesome blog) but as soon as I caught a whiff of autumn in the air, it awakened my desire to delve right back in here!

      Watching this episode currently and it provoked a new LOL moment for me with the following scene 07:45 mins in:

      Barnabas: Roger!

      Roger: I’m sorry to disturb you at this hour of the morning, Barnabas, but I can’t find Julia Hoffman. She isn’t in her room at Collinwood. Is she here by any chance?

      Barnabas: Yes, she’s staying here for a few days.

      Roger: Really?!

      …Ha! Love it! Need an animated gif of Roger’s askance expression in response to Barnabas’s bold declaration. 😂

      1. Here it is, a year since I last watched Dark Shadows (and read this awesome blog) but as soon as I caught a whiff of autumn in the air, it awakened my desire to delve right back in here!

        Watching this episode currently and it provoked a new LOL moment for me with the following scene 07:45 mins in:

        (wind howling; an exterior shot of the old house in the early morning light. The sound of someone knocking on the door. Interior shot of the old house with Barnabas coming down the stairs to admit Roger.)

        Barnabas: (surprised) Roger!

        Roger: (clutching his hat anxiously as he steps past Barnabas into the foyer) I’m sorry to disturb you at this hour of the morning, Barnabas, but I can’t find Julia Hoffman. She isn’t in her room at Collinwood. Is she here by any chance?

        Barnabas: (unapologetically) Yes, she’s staying here for a few days.

        Roger: (arching his brows while looking Barnabas up and down) Really?!

        …Ha! Love it! Need an animated gif of Roger’s askance expression in response to Barnabas’s bold declaration. 😂

        1. Yes, I love that scene! The Collins family must have wondered about their relationship, with all the late night visits back and forth.

    2. Ha! Love your observation about Jeff’s tie, Clay.

      Watching these episodes again, I recall now how much Jeff annoys me (or, rather, that actor in almost all his DS rolls). Actually “annoys” doesn’t begin to describe it. His are definitely may least favorite DS characters.

  8. Good lord, both Jeff and Julia are SOOOO annoying in their overacting! And is it just me or did it look like there was simply a rectangle shaped wire underneath the sheet where the female body was supposed to be?

    Also Julia’s room is so green!! Like headache inducing! But Barnabas’ purple smoking jacket looked great in it!

  9. “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”–Douglas Adams
    At least you stuck with it, Danny.

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