Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

“The trouble, I guess, is that soaps are rather subterranean.”

Here’s a story that isn’t true:

In some ways the situation wasn’t unusual for a soap opera. A girl and an older man, in the process of eloping, had been hurt in an auto accident. However, the condition of the still-unconscious male patient baffled the examining doctors at the hospital. Although he had suffered only a minor head wound and was breathing normally, his veins were almost empty of blood and no heartbeat or pulse could be detected.

The treatment — massive transfusions — was already underway when the patient’s personal physician and a friend arrived at the emergency ward. “What do you think will happen to him?” asked the friend in a desperate whisper. “Who can tell?” was the M.D.’s equally tense reply. “After all, no one’s ever given massive blood transfusions to a vampire before.”

And then “a burst of eerie music is followed by a denture-adhesive commercial, and one more episode of Dark Shadows comes to a cliff-hanging conclusion,” except it didn’t happen that way.

612 saturday evening post nov 30 1968

That’s the opening to an article about Dark Shadows in the November 30, 1968 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. We’re going to take a close look at this article today, because it perfectly captures the popular image of Dark Shadows during this period of the show.

This is a special issue for The Saturday Evening Post on the past, present and future of television, which they’re calling “Reflections on the Golden Eye”. (The title is a reference to Reflections in a Golden Eye, a 1967 movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando that nobody liked.)

I’m not sure why they think “Reflections on the Golden Eye” has anything to do with television, but The Saturday Evening Post was first published in 1821, and they’ve been teetering on the edge of senility for more than a century. At a certain point you just stop paying attention.

612 sat evening post special

The section kicks off with an article called “Oh, Mass Man! Oh, Lumpen Lug! Why Do You Watch TV?” which is as good an explanation as any for why The Saturday Evening Post no longer plays a key role in American tastemaking.

The girls on the cover are from Laugh-In, which is featured in an article called “Where TV Comedy Is At,” and there’s also a super right-on trend piece called “Black Is the Color of TV’s Newest Stars.”

The future of television is addressed in “Tomorrow’s Many-Splendored Tune-In,” another head-scratching title. “TV sets will be 3-D, wall-sized, aglow with brilliant color,” the article says. “They will do your income tax and produce the morning newspaper, but will they still be showing Bonanza?” This is how people working for The Saturday Evening Post actually talk.

612 dark shadows love and happiness

But for our purposes, the important feature is a four-page article by George Fox called “Can a 172-Year-Old Vampire Find Love and Happiness in a Typical New England Town?”

Since the summer of 1967, various journalistic organs have attempted to explain the Dark Shadows phenomenon to a baffled American public. These articles all take the same bemused tone, and they usually have strained titles that indicate exactly how square the editors are, worked out to several decimal places.

“Vampire Excites Wives, Young Set” says the Des Moines Daily Register, while the Tuscaloosa News says “Mothers and Kids Love the Vampire”. The Arizona Republic claims, obscurely, that “Barnabas’ Camp Is Vamp”, and the Eugene Register-Guard wonders, “When Will Barnabas Zap Again?”

But none of them can compare to The Saturday Evening Post. George Fox spent four days living among the Dark Shadows team, like Dian Fossey studying a particularly emotive troop of mountain gorillas, and he’s produced an article that is part tribute, part hatchet job and part fever dream.

466 dark shadows heartbeat barnabas lang

So let’s look at that opening again.

The treatment — massive transfusions — was already underway when the patient’s personal physician and a friend arrived at the emergency ward. “What do you think will happen to him?” asked the friend in a desperate whisper. “Who can tell?” was the M.D.’s equally tense reply. “After all, no one’s ever given massive blood transfusions to a vampire before.”

Fox is talking about the April 1968 episode that introduced Dr. Lang, when Barnabas was first released from his vampire curse. But that description is clearly referring to Julia and Willie worrying about Barnabas, and Willie wasn’t on the show during that period. Willie returned to the show in May, and they didn’t develop that confidant/gal-pal relationship until June. Also, there wasn’t any dialogue like that, and that wasn’t the way the episode ended anyway.

Fox visited the set in early May, but his article didn’t appear until November, so somewhere along the way, the actual scene mutated into a false memory, based on second-hand recollections and journalistic license.

467 dark shadows pain 4 lang

But there was no way for anyone to verify these #FoxNewsFacts at the time, because the actual scene that Fox is describing exists on a videotape master somewhere in storage, and the VCR wasn’t even invented until the early 70s.

Also: Who cares? In the 1960s, television was something that happened once and then disappeared, never to return. The actual experience of watching Dark Shadows was ephemeral. The episode as broadcast only existed for half an hour — just the beginning of its life cycle, which otherwise took place entirely in the audience’s memories.

Fox’s version is just as valid as anyone else’s — better, actually, because it’s written down and published in a magazine. This is probably the only Dark Shadows cliffhanger that anyone in the audience ever saw described in print, except for Willie opening the mystery box. As far as the 1968 audience is concerned, the broadcast episode is a distant legend; Fox’s description is now the canonical version.

That’s why this article is so important. It’s creating an official public narrative about Dark Shadows that helps people understand how to watch it. Fox reinforces the common themes that have come up in the previous “Vampire Excites Wives, Young Set” articles, invents a couple of new themes, and then makes them official. From now on, this is what Dark Shadows is about.

612 dark shadows dan curtis jonathan frid

Theme #1: How Dan Saved Dark Shadows.

The first theme in the saga of Dark Shadows is about producer Dan Curtis dreaming up the show, watching it stumble, and then saving it from ruin with an audacious Hail Mary pass.

“We were totally bombing,” admits Dan Curtis, the independent producer who packages the show, “so I figured, to hell with it. If I’m going to fail, I’ll at least have a good time. I went wild, tossed in witches and ghosts, you name it. But that vampire made the difference. Two weeks after he came on, the ratings began to climb.”

Okay, whatever. Like the “massive blood transfusions” anecdote, this story is not technically correct for reasons that are too nitpicky and boring to get into, but it’s correct in spirit. This is the version that they’ll print in The Saturday Evening Post, and it’s Dan’s show, so he might as well write the history.

612 dark shadows barnabas halloween costume

Theme #2: The Sensation.

In all of these what-the-hell is Dark Shadows articles, there’s a traditional recitation of the Three Pillars of Vampire Soap Opera Success.

The first step is the ratings increase:

Surveys made early in 1967 showed that it was being watched in only 2,750,000 homes, as against a whopping 4,480,000 today.

Then they rattle off a list of merchandise, often with a nod towards how confusing the audience demographics are:

In recent months the show has become something of a national fad. Barnabas Collins board games, posters, Halloween costumes, masks, capes, coloring books and bubble-gum cards are being rushed on the market. One entrepreneur is even preparing Barnabas Collins plastic fangs, adjustable to any juvenile mouth.

And then there’s the ceremonial counting of the fan mail. These estimates have been steadily rising, every time the ritual is invoked.

In July 1967, The New York Times asked, “What, for instance, makes 300 people a week write to and about the vampire?” A year later, Jonathan Frid is telling The Deseret News, “I had to hire a full-time secretary when my mail hit 1,500 pieces a week.” The Saturday Evening Post rounds the estimate up to 2,000 letters a week, and in December, The New York Times will trump everyone by announcing that Frid gets 6,000 letters a week.

That appears to be the all-time top bid. In October 1969, at the peak of Dark Shadows’ ratings, The Robesonian hedges on the issue: “His fans shower him with mail, he points out, at the rate of 1,500 a week, with the figure jumping to 4,000 on peak weeks.” This undignified waffling on the issue convinces no one. I guess at some point you stop counting and just send everybody a picture.

612 dark shadows jonathan frid backstage

Theme #3: Jonathan Frid Is Super Classy.

The most important theme in all of these articles is that the show may be sordid and sinful, but it’s okay for people to watch, because Jonathan Frid is a calm, thoughtful man who’s just pretending to be deranged. Off screen, Frid stands at a safe distance from the gruesome crimes against nature that his character commits, aloof and mildly puzzled by the spectacle.

This ritual also has three charms to invoke: he’s old, he’s Canadian and he’s done so much Shakespeare that he’s basically Richard III. Here’s how Fox puts it:

“That vampire” is, in reality, a 44-year-old Canadian actor named Jonathan Frid, a tall, attractively homely man with a face like a gardening trowel.

So: ouch. A gardening trowel? Seriously?

The great thing about that sentence is that Fox clearly wrote “a tall, homely man with a face like a gardening trowel,” and a merciful editor dropped in the word “attractively” as she flew by in a helicopter.

But the Shakespeare! Get to the Shakespeare.

“I portrayed so many conspirators in Shakespeare’s historical plays that even today my only real political allegiance is to the House of York,” Frid says.

So, yes, he’s taking the lead role in a sinister campaign to seduce our children and transform them into tools of the Horned One, but he’s so decent and respectable that it hardly even counts.

To find fame and fortune as a vampire in a soap opera, his manner hints, is improbable almost to the point of hallucination.

Yeah, it sure is. Let the nightmares begin.

612 dark shadows barnabas cane

Theme #4: Jonathan Frid Descends into the Underworld.

So now we follow this noble and selfless man as he descends into the subterranean netherworld of 1968 daytime television production.

I first met him in the Dark Shadows studio, a rancid-yellow structure the size of a two-story commercial garage. A warren of cramped dressing rooms and production offices — drenched with antiseptic pale light — fills the top floor. The effect is a little like being trapped in a submarine.

I love the phrase “drenched with antiseptic pale light,” which makes it sound like they’re not allowed to have healthy, normal light in their dressing rooms. The one-two punch of rancid-yellow and antiseptic drenching makes it sound like this is the Mos Eisley Cantina.

But in this toxic atmosphere, you rely on the 44-year-old Canadian, and he will guide you to safety.

“I suppose women see Barnabas as a romantic figure because I play him as a lonely, tormented man rather than a Bela Lugosi villain. I bite girls in the neck, but only when my uncontrollable need for blood drives me to it. And I always feel remorseful later.”

This is not true. There is maybe one girl out of twelve that he bit because he really needed the blood. Most of the time, he bites girls because he wants control over them, and he’s evil.

612 dark shadows frid backstage

But there’s a deeper level of reassurance here, which you only understand if you follow Jonathan backstage.

Paradoxically, his off-screen mannerisms — sweeping gestures, eyebrows arching almost to the hairline — are more florid than his acting style. Frid’s vampire is more restrained almost to the point of rigidity, as if fighting to hold himself back from some dark, nameless act.

“Off-screen mannerisms”, if you’re not aware, is a code phrase. So are “eyebrows arching,” and “dark, nameless act”. They add up to the reason why Frid can be trusted with the nation’s teenage girls.

“There was the fan mail, of course,” he went on. “It’s up to two thousand letters a week now, mostly from women. They even send me nude pictures of themselves.”

They always mention the nude pictures. Always. It’s a super important part of the Dark Shadows legend — that the unfulfilled housewives of America express their dark passions to the only man they can trust — the vampire and serial rapist, Barnabas Collins.

And why is Mr. B. Collins the safe repository for their secret fantasies? Because of the off-screen mannerisms.

“Personally, the success of the show hasn’t meant all that much,” he said, rising and brushing a spot of talcum powder off the collar of his cape. “I got a raise when I signed a two-year contract, but that’s it.”

So he’s gay, basically. Jonathan Frid is America’s gay vampire uncle, and he poses no threat to your impressionable daughters and your frustrated wives. It’s 1968, so nobody says it out loud — the Stonewall Riots don’t take place for another year, and it’s not okay to out a famous television star.

But even if you don’t pick up on the not-that-mysterious code words, Frid’s bemused attitude to the naked housewives says it all. This happens in every article, and every interview. He mentions the nude ladies, with a completely flat affect which indicates that he takes no particular pleasure in looking at nude ladies. The blood-soaked ghoul is a perfect gentleman.

612 grayson hall night of the iguana

Theme #5: The Menagerie.

The Saturday Evening Post also takes some time to introduce us to the wider cast of characters, who take the opportunity to carefully position their Dark Shadows roles in the context of their careers.

Grayson Hall is slumming:

Redheaded Grayson Hall implied that her main reason for staying with the show is professional laziness. A gifted actress with a solid stage-and-screen reputation, she received an Academy Award nomination several years ago for her performance as a schoolteacher in Night of the Iguana.

“I guess I could have gotten more Hollywood work,” she said with an easy laugh, “but it meant living out there and going to the parties and everything. Movie people can’t separate an actress from her role. To them I’m still the crazy dyke who chased Sue Lyon all over Mexico. Anyway, this show is comfortable and I get to work with my husband, who’s one of the writers.”

Joan Bennett is a good sport:

“I hated the job at first,” she admitted in her familiar, tartly suspicious tones. “All that getting up early and eating soup in a paper cup for lunch. But now I don’t mind. After all, poor Jonathan does most of the work. Isn’t that amazing about him? Some of it has rubbed off on all of us. A month ago I was in the Midwest, narrating a fashion show, and the teeny-boppers just inundated me. I felt positively like a Beatle.”

And Alexandra Moltke is not being challenged artistically:

With three more years to go on her five-year contract, boredom has set in. “Victoria is so dumb,” she said with an exasperated grimace. “All I do is stand around saying, ‘I don’t understand what’s happening.’ Jonathan has hypnotized me into eloping with him, tried to cut off my boyfriend’s head to stick on that goofy monster they made, even sent me hundreds of years into the past during a seance. And I still haven’t figured out that he may not be quite normal.”

490 dark shadows life adam barnabas

And then there’s the rest of the cast, who Fox enjoys poking with a stick.

The actors talk a lot about wages and working conditions. Daytime serials, some of which have kept the same character for 18 years, are the closest thing to real job security an actor can find, although the 13-week option clauses add a certain amount of suspense.

The week I watched the show, the action revolved around a Frankenstein-type monster, played by a young, six-foot-six-inch actor named Robert Rodan. The role required him to spend most of his time as an inanimate, stitched-together hulk lying on a lab table. Having just come from a talk with the show’s writers, I remarked that they were planning to throw him off a cliff in a few months. He sat bolt upright. “Do I get killed?” he said.

Oh my god, can we stop trolling Robert Rodan? It’s his first week on the job; he doesn’t need this kind of stress. Leave Robert Rodan alone.

612 dark shadows jonathan frid bob costello 1969

Theme #6: Does Dark Shadows Exist?

But if Dark Shadows has offended, think but this, and all is mended:
That you have but slumber’d here, while these visions did appear.

The Reverend Mr. Trask, as it happened, was organizing a mass execution of suspected witches at the time. Emerging from his coffin one night, Barnabas learned of the enterprise and immediately denounced it as “superstitious nonsense”.  (How a man who had been turned into a vampire by a witch could be so certain the reverend’s victims were innocent was never explained.)

That’s another false memory, a jumble of half-remembered incidents presented in the wrong order. The show that Fox describes is not the real Dark Shadows — it’s a jigsaw puzzle of half-remembered parts that dashes itself to pieces on the rocks below Widow’s Hill, like apparently Robert Rodan will someday.

Here’s Jonathan again, posing the toughest question of all.

“The trouble, I guess, is that soaps are rather subterranean. The people you want to impress are working while you’re on. Somehow, this sort of thing just isn’t real…

That’s the true purpose of the article, to help America untangle the basic conundrum: Is Dark Shadows real?

Here’s Dan’s take on it:

He smiled tolerantly. “We have the only show on the air that kids can accept all the way as make-believe,” he said. “If you watch it regularly, you’ll see what I mean. Nobody ever really dies.

Even Jonathan — careful, trustworthy, fastidious Jonathan — can’t really focus on what’s happening around him.

“This is the only time I really relax,” he said, “when I know I’m not on the next day. You asked me earlier what direction I’d like my career to take, and I couldn’t give you an answer. Actually I was trying to keep the day’s lines straight in my head.”

With the typical humility and self-consciousness of the nation’s gay vampire uncle, Frid tries to focus on what he’s going to be when he grows up and stops pretending to bite people.

There is no question of whether this soap opera will run for decades, as other soap operas do. Nobody brings it up. This show will end, as all things end, in darkness. Frankly, it’s amazing that it’s on in the first place.

“Well, I’d like my own repertory company someplace. I’ve never been all that ambitious, though I enjoy being a big frog in a little pond. The biggest kick I ever had as an actor was playing Richard III at a college in Pennsylvania. They really liked it, appreciated what I was trying to do. A show like this pays well enough, but — well, you know…”

612 dark shadows frid is experienced

Frid never completes that thought. He doesn’t have to. But if the reporter had kept the tape running for another minute, this is what he would have heard:

A show like this pays well enough, but it’s an illusion, a shared dream state that only exists in the sense that it provides the marginalized and the dispossessed with an outlet for exploring our darkest fears and our nameless perversions.

I am not just the 44-year-old Canadian actor with a face like a gardening trowel that you see before you. I am the God of Hellfire. I am the Lizard King. I am the walrus. I am the crazy dyke who chased Sue Lyon all over Mexico. I get up early and eat soup in a paper cup. I have seen your wife naked.

Every afternoon, I whisper to your children. They are slipping out of your control, turning into something that you don’t expect and can’t even recognize. Already, they are more mine than yours. By the time you realize it, it will be too late.

It is already too late.

Tomorrow: Joe Haskell Must Die.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Julia tells Barnabas, “He’s young, and he’s strong. His system is able to endure a great med — deal.”

Hiding in the woods, Harry sees Barnabas leave the Old House, and Harry reminds himself that that’s what Nicholas said he would do. Actually, in yesterday’s episode, Nicholas said that Barnabas would be asleep.

Barnabas seems to have some trouble with the doors when he leaves Collinwood. He’s blocked from the camera’s view, so it’s hard to say what the problem is, but it takes him a long time get the door open and then shut it again.

The end credits aren’t cued up properly — when they begin, the last cast member credit is on screen, and it instantly flashes to Dan Curtis’ producer credit. The copyright date says 1966.


Behind the Scenes:

You can read the Saturday Evening Post article yourself on The Collinsport Historical Society.

The photo of Jonathan Frid and Robert Costello on the Collinwood set was provided by excellent friend of the blog Prisoner of the Night. The photo of Frid making smoking backstage was taken from Stuart Manning’s Dark Shadows News Page.

Also, a note about the merchandise list: I don’t think they ever actually made any Dark Shadows coloring books.

Tomorrow: Joe Haskell Must Die.

612 dark shadows jonathan frid fangs 2

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

23 thoughts on “Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

    1. Oh, I didn’t realize! That’s a cool milestone to hit.

      It’s not the midpoint for the blog, because I started with 210. I just figured out the other day that the Dark Shadows Every Day midpoint is in April 1969, a month into the 1897 story. So I still have some miles to travel.

      But yeah, this is the halfway mark for the show. And it’s hardly even gotten good yet! I’m excited about what’s coming up in the next couple of months…

  1. They were right about the (eventual) wall-sized TV monitors (“aglow with brilliant color”–that’s a foretelling of HDTV) and seem to have predicted the Internet and its interaction with the central entertainment space of one’s living room. With an Internet-TV connection you can do your taxes, read the morning newspaper, and watch Bonanza all at once. I say we should bring back the Saturday Evening Post so we can find out what 2050 will be like.

    Regarding the “off-screen mannerisms” as a code for Jonathan Frid’s alleged leanings in real life, well, he did hang out with Louis Edmonds an awful lot. They would go clubbing together in Greenwich Village, Jonathan was a frequent guest at Louis’ home on Long Island (the Rookery), and so on. The book Remembering Jonathan Frid has the following anecdote from Louis Edmonds’ live-in nurse: “In the restroom of the guest house there was a framed photo of Barnabas in heavy eye makeup that Jonathan had autographed for Louis, inscribed, ‘To my dear Louis. Best Wishes, Joan Crawford.'”

    None of this has any bearing on how I perceive his portrayal of Barnabas… however, I’m reminded now of his scene with (Anthony George’s) Burke Devlin in the Blue Whale and suspect that just for that one moment those off-screen mannerisms might have crept their way on-screen, hinting at some “dark, nameless act” as Barnabas says to Devlin, “You thrust, I parry; I thrust, you parry.”

  2. I didn’t realize Jonathan Frid was a smoker – Barnabas never smoked on the show – on the review topic, I’m sure Danny will be going back to review the pre-Barnabas episodes after he completes episode 1245 🙂

    1. Joanne, don’t lie to the nice people! 🙂 Joanne knows this, but for people who don’t know the Official Policy on Life After 1245 — I will not be writing about the pre-Barnabas episodes.

      As I clearly explained in one of my most obscure posts: “There are 1,245 steps to complete the ritual. One of the steps is missing. The ritual has only been completed once.”

      1. Pre-Barnabas DS is a curiosity that’s of interest solely because of the Barnabas episodes that followed. I recall wading through them back in 1992 when the Sci-Fi Channel debuted and aired the series in its entirety. It was this weird half hour that had no relationship to the larger theme of the cable channel other than “what was to come.”

        Laura Collins sort of fits the spooky theme but she’s more interesting in 1897. Her storyline there is like a superior polished version of a Beatles demo.

        1. I know I’m in the minority but I still love the pre-Barnabas DS. Sure, they can be tedious and flat at times, but I love David tormenting Vicki, Roger being an a-hole, Carolyn dancing, Mrs. Johnson going undercover, crazy Matthew, Doctor Guthrie, Laura’s constant staring into fire, Maggie saying “Pop” an average of 11 times an episode (I counted), the real Burke Devlin, Vicki doing something, the Collinsport diner and Maggie’s bizarre sundaes…Is it the same show as Barnabas’ Dark Shadows? Absolutely not. Is it a bad show? No. I do think there’s plenty good stuff, though I understand why Danny skipped it and doesn’t want to revisit for the blog, but they’ll always inhabit a special place in my heart.

          1. I feel the same way. Pre-Barnabas was short on thrills but heavy on mood and atmosphere and characters/dialogue. I think the show was at its best during early Barnabas because you still had the vestiges of pre-Barnabas but at increased pacing.

  3. JF made an appearance on Merv Griffin in 1969 (?) when he acted the opposite. As he introduced and about to sit, there was a very attractive blonde haired lady next to Arthur Treacher and Jonathan made a statement about wanting to bite her “lovely neck”.

  4. I recall a TV critic using “homely” to describe Jonathan Frid when comparing him to Ben Cross. Frid isn’t an ugly man by any measure. His features allowed him to photograph well — probably far better than some of us who might look “better” than he does in real life. He ha an “interesting” look about him, which was key to the role. He also “looks” like a classic vampire, which allowed the audience to “fill in the blanks” about him during the early days when the series was more subtle.

    I would also argue that Barnabas Collins the character shouldn’t be “leading man” attractive. It was another thing that felt “off” about Ben Cross as Barnabas or Alec Newman. Quentin Collins is written (and really only works) as a handsome rogue (preferably drop dead gorgeous), but Barnabas can have a serious, quirky and yes perhaps slightly “homely” look.

    And perhaps the housewives of the period “rooted” for the underdog: After all, none of the leading ladies actively found Barnabas appealing — certainly not the one he adored (Vicki). We would not see real chemistry between Barnabas and another female character until Angelique appears (Barnabas and Julia would later develop a charming intimacy but prior to 1795, I can’t say there was anything romantic about their relationship, since Barnabas kept trying to strangle her).

  5. About 20 years ago, I’d have friends over and we’d get out the wine, etc, and watch “Reflections In A Golden Eye”. Oh, sure, it’s awful, but we both had a weird sense of humor. Great scene were Elizabeth Taylor can’t stop smacking her husband Marlon Brando, in the face with a riding crop at a party, in front of everybody. It’s like one big disturbing hallucination, not for everybody. If you can see it as a weird comedy, then it sort of works. Brando plays an uncle in the military.

  6. I wonder how many naked photos he actually got. I’m thinking maybe it was a handful over the years, but it was a good enough story that they embellished it. Remember this is pre-taking photos of yourself on your phone that you can instantly send. In 1968, first you’d have to get someone else to take the photo or set up a timer or a long distance shutterbulb all of which could be problematic. Then you’d have to take the film to be developed which wouldn’t have been by machine like today. A real live person would have to print every one. Polaroids were available, but expensive and you’d definitely have to get someone to take a photo of you with one of them. (I can see that conversation – “Honey, come take a naked photo of me so I can mail it to a vampire.” – “You bet! Sounds like a fine plan to me.”) Also naked photos back them were kind of risque. The “know it when I see it” Supreme Court ruling was only mad 4 years before. So maybe it didn’t happen at all or only once and they seized on it as a publicity angle.

    1. Joan Bennett does become one of the superfluous members of the cast. She and Alexandra Moltke were the leads in 1966 and by 1968, it’s clearly the Barnabas and Julia show.

  7. I always wondered what my father must have thought about this show–he knew his young son was a big fan (he bought me the board games and the plastic models), but it’s also a show he simply never had a chance to see for himself–just like the rest of 9 to 5 America!

    1. I never let my parents know ANYTHING about the show, but that is what killed the ratings, parents finding out “what that kid does in the basement with the curtains closed every day at 4.”

  8. Excellent think-piece (though you’re a little tough on the Saturday Evening Post- it had a sterling reputation for decades, but the ‘Sixties were tough on traditional organs like SEP; trying to retain the older readers while covering enough “hippie” stuff to hopefully interest new readers).

    The Gay-ness of Jonathan Frid fascinates me; it seems to be a real hot-button topic amongst old first-gen fans like me. As a child of ten in 1968, I didn’t pick up on the “gay”, but I did pick up on the alienation Barnabas seemed to project.

    Watching 1795 a few months ago, I was struck at how awkward and unpassionate those forced kisses were. IIRC, Frid was kissing KLS and Lara Parker both in a short span of time. Did the kisses only seem terrible to me now because I know the truth of Frid’s real inclinations? Or were they really as awful as they looked?

    Frid shouldn’t be kissing the girls- he should be the eternal outsider, who can only dream about intimacy.

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