“Now, the background of the Collins shipping interests is, in many ways, even more fascinating than the family history.”
I’m going to be honest with you, because there are no secrets between us: I don’t have a damn thing to say about today’s episode. It’s all about a secret plot between Barnabas, Julia and Professor Stokes to invite Nicholas over for the most boring dinner party of all time. The first half is basically just describing what’s going to happen in the second half, and then the second half is doing what they said they were going to do in the first half. I can’t even discuss it.
If only there was something unusual happening in October 1968, which would provide some context for the period, shedding light on Dark Shadows’ pop cultural environment. That would give me something to write about. I just wish I could think of something.
Continue reading Episode 605: The Crazy World
“You were convinced that I was dead — and I was, for a while! I was actually dead!”
Hey, you know how Elizabeth has been telling everyone for weeks that she’s going to lose consciousness, and everyone’s going to think that she’s dead? Well, guess what: it happened! And she’s still upset about it. I guess there’s no pleasing some people.
Continue reading Episode 604: The Sedating Game
“Knowing the man you love is also a part of love.”
Yesterday’s Dark Shadows episode ended in what is objectively the most exciting cliffhanger they’ve had in a long time. Barnabas Collins has been free of his vampire affliction for six months — a direct challenge to Angelique, the saucy sorceress who married him and cursed him. Now she’s become a vampire herself, and yesterday closed with the startling announcement that Barnabas will be her next victim.
It’s the kind of ending that basically dares you to miss the next episode. The whole reason that anyone would even bother to watch Dark Shadows is to see Barnabas the vampire, and we’ve been denied this simple pleasure for so long. The only thing we want to see is his lunatic ex-wife coming at him with fangs.
And that’s why, on October 16, 1968 at 3:55 in the afternoon, you see a thick crowd of children sprinting towards their homes, desperate to get to their television sets by four o’clock sharp. The housewives of America silence their vacuum cleaners, and leave the evening meatloaf to prepare itself for a while. This is the episode that you do not miss.
Continue reading Episode 603: Television Without Pity
“And in another house, nearer the sea, the emotion is rage.”
I don’t usually take the time to appreciate the voice-overs that open each Dark Shadows episode, but every once in a while, they simply demand attention.
On this cold, clear night, one can hear the sound of the ocean at the great house of Collinwood — a sound which means peace to some, but rage and fury to others.
And in another house, nearer the sea, the emotion is rage — rage because one of the many plans conceived there is in danger of being stopped by a violent death.
I mean. You have to give it up for that. And today, I am filled with love for everything, even the weird voice-over. I’ve been pretty hard on our little cow-town spook show for the last few weeks, but today’s episode is super enjoyable.
In fact, I would say that this is pretty much a perfect episode of Dark Shadows, if by “perfect” I mean that it’s fundamentally flawed in several amusing ways. And I’m a Dark Shadows fan, so obviously that’s what I mean.
Continue reading Episode 602: The Neuralyzer
“It’s happening, Julia! The spirit of Philippe Cordier is killing Adam!”
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present — for one night, and one night only — the insubstantial spirit of Monsieur Philippe Cordier.
Now, for people who are just joining us, I’d like to give you a brief introduction to Philippe, so that you understand his role in the current storyline. Unfortunately, this is impossible. He only showed up at the end of Friday’s episode — and by “showed up”, I mean he possessed Barnabas at a seance and ranted in French for two minutes — and in today’s episode, he’s banished forever, immediately following the opening titles.
An explanation of who Philippe is, and why he’s on the show right now, would involve at least six character names, two Universal Monsters references, an anagram, the French Revolution, the phrase “life force”, and maybe a couple of Doors songs. You basically need a Ph.D. in Dark Shadows to approach this particular plot point.
Continue reading Episode 601: The Last Days of Ron Sproat
“Let’s just hope that what we suspect isn’t true.”
Danielle Roget, the notorious 18th-century murderess — the most evil woman who ever lived! — has been resurrected by unholy means, and she now inhabits a freakishly strong body created in a mad scientist’s lab. So here she is, a one-woman weapon of mass destruction, posing a clear and present danger to everyone in glowering range.
Today, we find her sitting on the couch and staring off into space, bored out of her everlovin’ mind.
Continue reading Episode 600: The Mate That Fate Had Me Created For
“He must have had a plan — and it must have been diabolical!”
The one great misconception that everyone believes about Dark Shadows is that the lead vampire, Barnabas Collins, gets “redeemed” once the show reveals how he was cursed to become one of the living dead. The idea is that Barnabas started out on the show as a cruel, remorseless villain, but then we go to the 18th century to see his backstory — and by the time we come back, he’s become “sympathetic,” and we’re supposed to like the guy.
In fact, Barnabas’ only real pivot in 1968 is that he starts out as a partially inept villain, and becomes a totally inept villain. Apparently, if you’re bad enough at being a bad guy, you can circle back around to good guy.
Continue reading Episode 599: Live, Die, Repeat
“Where did this woman come from, all of a sudden?”
There’s a moment in today’s episode where you can see the edge of the sky.
Continue reading Episode 598: The Great Sproat Caper
“How strange you all are, to spend your time this way.”
It seems so obvious now, in hindsight, that it’s incredible nobody thought to mention it before.
Adam, the local teenage Frankenstein monster, has fallen for a girl who just wants to be friends, and he’s decided that the only way that he’ll ever be loved is if somebody invents a mate for him. So he’s spent the last two months browbeating Barnabas and Julia, demanding that they set up a mad science lab in the basement, and create a made-to-order corpse bride for him.
They had objections, of course. For one thing, they weren’t sure they knew how to put a body together. Then they had to find someone willing to die in order to donate her life force to Adam’s mate, which took forever. The whole process was basically one long hassle, and they took every opportunity to voice their concerns.
But nobody thought to explain to Adam that you can’t just wake up a brand-new woman and tell her that she’s your mate, and expect her to instantly fall in love with you. That’s not how women work. Women are super complicated.
Continue reading Episode 597: The Three Faces of Eve
“I know you are men! She is a woman! I know this is a basement!”
They said we were mad, those fools at the Institute, but who’s laughing now? We found a loophole in the laws of nature, thumbed our nose at God — and what’s more, we’ve done it twice. Barnabas and Julia, those celebrated myth makers, have once again stolen fire from the heavens, and gamma-radiated a brand new monster.
And so, with a scream, a sizzle and a sigh, we offload a tedious day player, and zap some life force into our Corpse Bride. At long last, mourning becomes electric.
Continue reading Episode 596: Spook Fortresses