Episode 617: Roger to the Rescue

“I was just having one of my moments of inexplicable hysteria.”

Here’s what the world sounds like before Roger shows up:

“I don’t understand you, Jeff, really I don’t!” says girl governess Victoria Winters, starting off the episode inexplicably petulant.

Jeff flashes a casual grin. “Well, I don’t know what could be plainer. I think we should get married next month, at the latest.”

“You know what I mean,” she frowns, and he doesn’t, and neither do I.

How exactly could you get yourself into this particular conversational logjam? Jeff comes bounding in, all smiles, and she’s just staring daggers at him. Jeff says, Hello, Vicki! So happy to see you. He gives her a kiss. She glowers at him. He says, Guess what I’ve been thinking about. She sighs and frowns. He persists: I think we should get married next month, what do you say?

And that, apparently, is where we came in. I can’t really picture it. It’s possible that I’m over-thinking this.

617 dark shadows eve vicki jeff

But it’s a Ron Sproat script, and it’s Vicki and Jeff, and they’re pretty much doing a reprise of every conversation they’ve had for weeks, and then Eve is outside staring in the window for almost no reason at all.

I know I said some nice things about Sproat yesterday, but now he’s just taking advantage. He’s basically coming in and saying, I think Vicki and Jeff should talk about getting married, what do you say? And the viewing public says: I don’t understand you, Sproat. Really, I don’t.

617 dark shadows vicki jeff head

So Jeff and Vicki stand there and say more words to each other, and Jeff indulges in some faceplay. Jeff spends a lot of time rubbing his head for one reason or another, but when he has some spare time, he’ll touch other people’s heads too. It kind of depends on whose head is in range at the moment.

617 dark shadows eve jeff remember

Eventually, he goes out onto the terrace, and there’s Eve, a stunning redhead Bride of Frankenstein type monster in a flowing black evening gown. I don’t know how people on this show manage to sneak around all over the landscape wearing these kinds of outfits. It’s not like Eve lives in the mansion next door; she’s staying at Nicholas’ place, which is all the way across Collinsport. I can’t remember the last time I tried a cross-country trek in a flowing black evening gown, but I have to imagine it wouldn’t take long before somebody noticed. Does she even own sweatpants?

Anyway, she’s here because she’s stalking Jeff, who she’s decided is actually the reincarnation of Peter Bradford, an 18th century lawyer who has magically transcended the limits of time and death in order to make good on his promises to a time-traveling governess. She believes this because she is pants-crappingly insane. I mean, it does happen to be true, but that’s probably just a coincidence. Everybody makes a lucky guess once in a while.

617 dark shadows jeff eve head

So now the dialogue goes like this.

Jeff:  Stop calling me Peter. It’s not my name, and it never was.

Eve:  Never? Far, far in the past?

Jeff:  No, never.

Eve:  Yes. In the past. A long, long time ago.

I don’t know if people on other TV shows talk about “the past” as much as they do on Dark Shadows, because I’ve been watching this stuff so long that I can’t really remember what other shows are like. It’s tough to make this dialogue sound natural, especially for these two.

617 dark shadows jeff eve love

I mean, I love Eve. Absolutely love her. She can sashay around and make weird faces anytime she feels like it. But everybody has to stop touching everybody’s face for a little while.

617 dark shadows eve jeff roger kiss

And then, from out of the past, comes the thundering hoofbeats of Roger to the rescue!

617 dark shadows jeff roger back

Startled by Roger’s arrival on the terrace, Eve dives into the underbrush and disappears. That’s a good tactical move, because it turns out Roger takes exception to people hosting speed-dating events on his property.

Roger:  What a stunning woman. Who, may I ask, is she?

Jeff:  I don’t know.

Roger:  Really? I had the distinct impression that you were rather well acquainted.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Roger-to-the-rescue episode, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy them. This is actually one of the things that Sproat does well, these little slices of sarcastic melodrama.

617 dark shadows jeff roger sitting

It’s not really going anywhere in particular — either this episode, or this blog post — so I think I’m going to follow the show’s advice, and just fill up the empty space with Jeff touching his head and Roger being wry.

Jeff:  All right, then. Think what you want to. But it was a mistake.

Roger:  I agree with you there. But, fortunately, it was a mistake that has been discovered in time.

Jeff:  What do you mean?

Roger:  Apparently, we’ve all been more than a little mistaken about your character.

Jeff:  Look, I’m not talking about my character.

Roger:  But it would be a greater mistake not telling Vicki.

Jeff:  You’re going to tell Vicki?

Roger:  Really, Clark. Did you think for a second that I wouldn’t?

Jeff:  Look, I’ll have to ask you not to do that.

Roger:  Well, it would be an exercise in futility.

It’s lovely. This is one of the reasons why daily soap operas can be fantastic; there’s practically no limit on the tone. You can do terror and romance and farce and suspense and whatever the hell this is, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s not consistent from one scene to another.

The once-a-day-forever format gives a soap opera a lot of space to fill, and the overlapping storylines means that everything has to slow down, and take place in more or less real time. You see the characters wake up in the morning, go to work, have lunch, and so on.

There’s so much detail that it starts to approach a representation of a real person’s life — and everybody knows that a real person’s life doesn’t keep a consistent tone all day long. House of Cards always has to be intense, because you only see the moments when people are doing intense things. After they push somebody in front of a train, you don’t follow them to lunch.

617 dark shadows roger vicki jeff inside

So we all head inside, and Roger tells Vicki that he has something distressing to tell her, and it concerns someone who’s very dear to her. Jeff stands by, not touching anyone’s head for a change, and reminds Roger that what he’s going to say will ruin the happiest moments in Vicki’s life.

617 dark shadows roger vicki important

Roger looks at Vicki — the girl that he inexplicably thinks of as a member of his family — and he can’t do it. She’s so happy, and he can’t bear telling her about what he’s seen.

Instead, he does this.

Roger:  It’s about Barnabas.

Vicki:  Barnabas?

Roger:  (chuckles) Yes… it’s nothing that can’t be discussed later.

Vicki:  What’s happened?

Roger:  Oh, probably nothing.

Vicki:  Please, Roger.

617 dark shadows roger vicki couch

He sits down with her, and assumes a cheerful expression.

Roger:  Well — it’s just that I went to the Old House to see Barnabas, and I… I couldn’t find him. It’s as simple as that, you see.

Vicki:  You went to the Old House, and —

Roger:  Yes, I looked for him, and I couldn’t find him. I expected him to be there, and — and he wasn’t!

Vicki:  Do you think something’s happened to him?

Roger:  No! I was just having one of my moments of inexplicable hysteria. Now, what reason would Barnabas have to be there, simply because I expected him to be? There’s none at all.

617 dark shadows roger vicki jeff laugh

It’s adorable, and Roger Davis has to turn away and try to keep himself from laughing.

Vicki:  But you sounded so concerned.

Roger:  Well, it was just my temporary hysteria, unfounded and ridiculous. Please forgive me.

617 dark shadows jeff vicki roger happy

So it all works out okay, for Jeff and Vicki and the audience. We got a nice, funny Roger routine, we don’t have to hear Vicki grieving over her broken engagement, and Jeff gets to stand there and touch his head all damn day if he wants to. The end.

Tomorrow: Stop Trying.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the beginning of the first terrace scene in act 1, the water in the fountain isn’t flowing. A second later, you can see the water get switched on.

When they go back to Liz and Vicki in the drawing room, you can still hear the water flowing from the other set.

Arguing with Jeff on the terrace, Eve turns and finds that a branch is in her face. She sweeps it away dramatically, and continues the scene.

In act 2, Roger is clearly a lot more on point than Jeff is with the dialogue. At one point, Jeff says, “Why?” — and seeing that Roger is pausing, says, “Look, wait.”

There’s a loud squeak when Roger says good night to Vicki.

In act 3, a music cue starts too late during the transition from Jeff and Vicki in the drawing room to Liz and Roger upstairs. The cue has to be cut off early.

Roger is apparently sleeping in a room with at least three lamps on.


Behind the Scenes:

The minister glimpsed briefly in Roger’s dream is played by Timothy Gordon, a regular fill-in actor who’s mostly been seen as Zombie Jeremiah, most recently at Barnabas’ ghost trial in June. We’ll see him again as a spectator at a hanging in January.

One of my favorite props, the Ralston-Purina lamp, is standing on an end table in Roger’s room.

Tomorrow: Stop Trying.

617 dark shadows jeff eve disturbed

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

14 thoughts on “Episode 617: Roger to the Rescue

    1. Eve would have been an ideal love interest for Roger – he was already married to a Phoenix and a Witch/Vampire so pairing him up with man-made woman Eve would have been a logical next step – regarding Vicki it seems like she is no longer acting as governess to David – there is really no interaction between them anymore – being with Roger Davis has completed the destruction of Victoria Winters.

      1. Then again, the writers haven’t exactly found a way to integrate the David character among the escalating whirlwind of spook figures that have lately populated the show, and when he does appear his interaction with and knowledge of new characters like Adam is inconsistent to the way it was written before. During the summer David Henesy was absent from some three dozen episodes in a row, leaving one to wonder if he hadn’t finally just run away from Collinwood at some point. He won’t be a regular player again at the center of a storyline until Quentin’s ghost.

        1. Yeah, they decide to give David another kid to talk to, and suddenly he’s part of the show again. I think Daniel was the one who really got left behind — we didn’t even see him on screen until the last few weeks of 1795.

  1. The seemingly random decision to link Danielle Roget and Peter Bradford is hilarious when you consider that Roget was originally depicted as a raving psychopath — hardly someone who would fall in love with bland do-gooder lawyer Peter Bradford. Roget and Forbes, I could see — even before Forbes’s “face heel turn” when he was “lovable scoundrel,” you could imagine some chemistry between the two.

    Of course, this further punctures the ridiculous notion — one that some people still hold, I’m afraid — that a gay actor is not believable in a romantic scene with a woman. Crothers had great chemistry with every female actress he worked with (Nancy Barrett, KLS, and Lara Parker) but the very straight Roger Davis made no sparks with any of his leading ladies.

  2. And on this day in 1971….no, no, if I think about, I’ll have “one of my moments of inexplicable hysteria….”

    True story: The Boston market was a day behind airing DS. So on that last day, I watched the penultimate episode of my favorite TV show in its regular timeslot on that Friday in 1971 and then, figured, oh, well. I guess that’s all there is. I had to leave for a Boy Scouts meeting.

    My brother and sister continued to watch the channel: In an unprecedented and unannounced move, the local affiliate aired the last episode immediately following. By that time, I was long gone.

    Took me another 25 years or so to see the last episode of “Dark Shadows.”

    1. I was 16 when the last episode aired. Very concerned Parallel Time 1841 was concluding with no new storyline being introduced. Stunned, I staggered into the kitchen and told my parents: “I think that was the last episode of Dark Shadows!” My father still tells this story – the day my world stopped spinning. It was the end of an era.

      1. I watched Dark Shadows on public TV in the mid-80s, so my “last episode ever” was Episode 1007, in the middle of 1970 Parallel Time. At the time, all the DS fans were saying that if New Jersey Network didn’t pick up the fourth year of reruns, then we might never see those episodes again. I will probably get unreasonably nostalgic and self-absorbed when we get into that period on the blog.

        1. That as the same for me Danny. I was watching the run on the New Jersey Network ( from Brooklyn) and suddenly it was over. I didn’t see anymore until the VHS started coming out in 1989.

          1. The first time I saw my “last episode” circa 1978 or so, Dr. Lang flung open the curtains in the hospital and announced “IT’S 4 O’CLOCK … IN THE AFTERNOON!”

            Barnabas crumples into a scream and it’s all over. I had no idea that on Monday, “Brady Bunch” reruns would take over the spot.

            Now, I was actually old enough to remember very very hazily the last couple of years of DS, so I knew there were many episodes left to be had. But when I saw that curtain fling open and then never saw another episode, I thought it was curtains for me and “Dark Shadows.”

  3. House by the Sea was on the other side of town?

    I thought it was on the grounds, up the coast, with paths along the beach.

  4. HMS Pinafore mash-up…

    Jeff: Stop calling me Peter. It’s not my name, and it never was.

    Eve: Never? Far, far in the past?

    Jeff: No, never. Well, hardly ever!

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