“We’ve both lived before, only you’ve came back looking the same, and I’ve come back looking different!”
Now, if I were to say to you that today’s episode of Dark Shadows involves a French Revolution-era psychopath named Danielle Roget, who’s recently been reincarnated as a Bride of Frankenstein monster so that a demonic magician can breed her to an inhuman creature that’s sharing a life force with an ex-vampire and create a new race of beings dedicated to serving Satan, and that she looks out the window and sees the guy who’s waiting for the Collins family’s governess to get ready for their date, and she realizes that he’s actually the unwitting reincarnation of a lawyer that the governess fell in love with when she traveled back in time and was on trial for witchcraft, then how would you react?
Yeah, I thought so. I’m sorry. I just don’t know what else I can say.
Now, if you’ve ever read this blog before, then you know how much I love the lunatic plot contrivances, so this is a big day for me. Today, Dark Shadows unleashes the single most preposterous plot twist that they’ve come up with so far.
If you haven’t read this blog before, and you don’t happen to be familiar with about fifteen different converging Dark Shadows storylines, then none of this is going to make any sense to you at all. I mean, I’ve been writing about Dark Shadows every day for the last year and a half, and I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around the inexplicable brilliance of this moment.
So let’s play a little game. Imagine that you’ve never watched Dark Shadows before, and you don’t know anything about it.
Clear your mind of everything that you know about the show. It’s the mid-1980s, the show’s been off the air for fifteen years, and you’re a teenager who just happened to switch on your local PBS station, which is showing a rerun of some old TV show you’ve never heard of.
We’re going to go through this two-minute scene of actual broadcast television. Whenever you see a picture, ask yourself: Based on what you’ve seen and heard so far, what do you think this show is about?
All right? Clear your mind; here we go.
Man: What did you call me?
Woman: Peter Bradford.
Man: Who are you?
Woman: It doesn’t matter.
Man: But that isn’t my name. Peter Bradford, it —
Woman: Yes. Yes, it is! I know you, even though you’re dressed so strangely. Everything else about you is the same.
Man: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Woman: Oh, I thought we’d never see each other again, because — because you were dead! I watched you die!
Man: I don’t know who you are.
Woman: You should.
Man: No, I don’t… I’ve never seen you before in my life!
Woman: You can’t pretend you don’t know me!
Man: I’m not pretending.
Woman: You must be!
Man: This is a joke, isn’t it? Ha. It’s a joke.
Woman: No, Peter.
Man: Look, don’t call me that.
Woman: But it’s your name!
Man: No, it’s not my name. My name’s Jeff Clark — Jeff Clark, do you understand?
Woman: Oh — of course! You don’t recognize me, because I don’t look the same now as I did then.
Woman: Whenever it was we knew each other.
Woman: You see, we’ve both lived before, only you’ve come back looking the same, and I’ve come back looking different.
Man: What are you doing in Collinwood? Why are you here?
Woman: I don’t know, I — I can’t remember anything, except you!
Man: Get outta here. Get outta here, and don’t come back!
Woman: I can’t do that, Peter, now that I’ve found you again!
Man: No… Stop it! Stop it!
Woman: If you don’t believe me, why are you getting so upset?
Man: I’m not.
Woman: Yes, you are. You’re upset, and you’re frightened. You have nothing to be afraid of, Peter.
Man: Look — will you please get it through your head — you just made a mistake, you got the wrong name. You made a mistake.
Woman: Perhaps there could be two people in the world who look exactly the same.
Woman: No. You won’t convince me that I’m wrong! I don’t know how I know who you are, I don’t know why we’ve been brought together again — my memory’s so dim, and it was so long ago — but I haven’t made a mistake. You are Peter Bradford! My Peter Bradford! And I won’t rest until we’re together again!
And then she just runs offscreen. That’s the end of the scene.
Monday: The Love Object.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Jeff asks Eve, “What are you doing in Collinwood, why are you here?” He either means “in Collinsport” or “at Collinwood”.
Vicki tells Liz that she and Jeff are going to be married. Liz says, “Then you’ve resolved all your difficult — differences. And difficulties.”
When Vicki comes out onto the terrace at the beginning of act 2, the camera starts to follow Jeff — and bumps into the fountain.
After Eve runs off, the camera lingers on Liz as she watches the mysterious woman go. It lingers too long, until Liz finally turns to peek and see if the camera is still on her.
Monday: The Love Object.
— Danny Horn