Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Episode 594: Weak Shoddy Adversary

“The one that she will try to kill will be you. So, you see, your presence is vital.”

So I guess it’s fair to say at this point that the current Bride of Frankenstein storyline is not setting any land speed records for Dark Shadows. It’s been dragging on for weeks, and the Bride is still just a bandaged-up mannequin, lying on the lab table and not even bothering to decompose.

Still, it’s part of Dark Shadows’ nature that even in its darkest and most shadowy hours, they’ll find something to do that justifies our patience.

Today’s episode is weird and disappointing in several ways, but the cliffhanger sets up one of my favorite lunatic plot contrivances. When I am old and gray, and the world has taken everything from me but my basement murder lab and my hypnotic medallion, I will think of today’s cliffhanger, and a flicker of a smile will play across my careworn features.

Continue reading Episode 594: Weak Shoddy Adversary

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Episode 593: Missing Persons

“It is true that he tried to kill you, but he was only acting out of fear.”

Carolyn Stoddard is dead, killed by a freak mad science experiment. And that’s just the beginning; the evening gets worse from there.

Choked with rage and grief, Adam the enormous Frankenteen tells Barnabas that he’s heading straight to Collinwood, and he’s going to murder everyone he can find. Then Adam punches Barnabas in the gut, drops him like a bad habit, and makes for the wide open spaces.

Barnabas tries to stagger after the crazed killer, but he can’t even make it to the front door before collapsing into Julia’s arms. She leads him to a chair and tries to help him recover, but Barnabas is desperate. There are three people living at Collinwood — more than that, if you count the help — and they are moments away from being entirely massacred. There’s not a moment to lose.

And hey, you know what? This would be a great moment for somebody to own a fucking telephone.

Continue reading Episode 593: Missing Persons

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Episode 592: And The Walls Fell Down

“I felt it in that room! I felt LIFE being drawn out of me!”

Oh, thank God you’re here.

Seriously, I’m really glad you showed up to read the blog today. Every once in a while, I get scared that everyone will stop reading at the same time, and I’ll be all alone here, just me… and the episode.

Continue reading Episode 592: And The Walls Fell Down

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Episode 591: The Sound of Science

“Adam, this is exactly the conversation I didn’t want to have.”

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

We’ve got an empty basement, they said. We’ve got an apparatus, and some electricity, and a Mark 7 respirator, and a whole lot of spare time. Let’s go downstairs and make a human woman.

Continue reading Episode 591: The Sound of Science

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Episode 590: This Old House

“You have brought me to the edge of disaster, and I must find a way back.”

This week, we hit another minor milestone in our uncertain and frightening journey through Dark Shadows. It’s one of those trivial production changes that probably nobody notices when they’re watching the show on DVD, but which I will now spend the next few minutes trying to convince you is critical to understanding this period of the show.

The change is: each episode has four commercial breaks, instead of five. I know, I probably should have asked if you were sitting down before springing it on you like that. I hope everybody’s okay out there.

Continue reading Episode 590: This Old House

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13 Reasons Why You Should Buy “Bloodlust”

Today’s the release day for the 13th and final episode of Dark Shadows: Bloodlust, the fantastic new Big Finish audio drama miniseries. I’ve written about the series a couple of times so far, and I want to mark the final release day with a list of 13 reasons why Dark Shadows fans should listen to and enjoy Bloodlust.

Continue reading 13 Reasons Why You Should Buy “Bloodlust”

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Episode 589: In the Fewest Words Possible

“Did you see his face?”

It’s a Ron Sproat episode today, which means that nothing really happens, and the dialogue is functional rather than decorative. Plus, it’s Thursday, so they’re really just setting up for the Friday cliffhanger.

I have now watched this episode three times, trying my hardest to find something worthwhile to say about it, and it simply can’t be done. The first act is the same thing that happened yesterday, the third act is the same thing that’s going to happen tomorrow, and the second act is an entirely inert substance.

It’s the kind of episode that you can recognize as being an example of the thing that it is, but it’s so ordinary that it ceases to exist as soon as the credits roll. In other words, this is the Jeremy Renner of Dark Shadows episodes.

So you know how some days I manage to scrape together a blog post that’s a beautiful little slice of postmodern lit-crit poetry, with funny observations and random 1960s trivia and it leads up to a stunning insight that makes you look at the show in a new and surprising way? Well, this is going to be the other kind.

Continue reading Episode 589: In the Fewest Words Possible

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Episode 588: Maggie Evidence

“Sometimes I was frightened of Barnabas, and sometimes I wasn’t.”

So, yeah. It’s been a weird couple weeks on Dark Shadows, and it was already a pretty weird show to begin with. We had some fun vampire time for a while, but that seems to have passed, and now we’re back in detention with the Bride of Frankenstein story.

Adam, our resident Frankenstein, wants Barnabas and Julia to create a female creature for his bride. They’ve got the body assembled, but now they need a woman to provide the life force to get the new girl up on her feet. This part of the process has been exactly as much fun as you’d expect.

The most perplexing thing this week has been this odd little plot cul-de-sac with girl-next-door Maggie Evans. Barnabas decided that Maggie would be the life force, but Willie’s got a crush on her, and he’s determined to protect her. So Willie’s kidnapped Maggie, as you do, and now they’re hiding together in the secret room in the Collins mausoleum.

This has jogged Maggie’s suppressed memories of being abducted and brainwashed by Barnabas last year, back when he was an evil Dracula. He’s cured now, and trying to put those days behind him, but if Maggie remembers what actually happened, then she’ll expose him, and he’ll be destroyed. So they’ve been doing some flashbacks to the 1967 story, showing us what Maggie remembers about her ordeal.

The puzzling thing about this sequence is that it doesn’t seem to be affecting the mad science story in any meaningful way. By the time Adam found out that Barnabas wanted to use Maggie, she was already gone. And it doesn’t even matter, because he wants to use Carolyn for the life force anyway, so it seems like the Maggie thread was just a pointless side trip.

But we’ve got it backwards. The “Maggie in the mausoleum” story isn’t here to support the Adam story. It’s the other way around — they’ve added a litle bend in the Adam story, so that they can do the flashbacks. Maggie’s flashbacks are the whole point of this week.

Continue reading Episode 588: Maggie Evidence

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Episode 587: In Which I Just Can’t Even With This

“I would have thought your thoughts? I find that hard to believe; I can’t even understand you now.”

Barnabas Collins paces around the room, and tries to explain.

“I’ve considered the question of who is to be the life force very carefully,” he says, “and I’ve finally decided on Maggie Evans.”

He pauses for a reaction, but the six-foot-six reanimated Frankenstein who Barnabas is addressing doesn’t even bother to look up. He just sits there, and continues to play solitaire.

Now, I know that new people discover this blog all the time, and every post is probably the first time for someone out there, so near the beginning of every entry, I try to provide some kind of brief previously-on-Dark-Shadows recap so that newcomers have a fighting chance of understanding what the hell is going on.

But, dear newbie, there are days when the kindest service I can render is to direct your attention to the boxes in the sidebar to your immediate right, and suggest that you help yourself to any of the previous three hundred and eighty-one posts instead, because today is the day when I honestly just can’t even with this.

Continue reading Episode 587: In Which I Just Can’t Even With This

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Episode 586: The Invisible Woman

“It is so complex that no one could do it before you. Now, think about that.”

For the last several weeks, Adam’s been threatening to kill Vicki if he doesn’t get his way. At press time, he hasn’t gotten his way, so it’s probably best if he just kills her now, and then we can all move on.

So he sneaks into her room while she’s sleeping, and just reaches out and strangles the life out of her. She doesn’t scream, or even struggle very hard. She just kind of sighs and breathes heavy for a second, and that’s it. Vicki was an idiot.

Continue reading Episode 586: The Invisible Woman