Episode 623: This Is Happening

“All we know is, she was hanged. But whether she died or not is something everyone in Collinsport is still wondering about.”

Gosh. So much to cover, and I can’t explain any of it. The Great 1968 Wrap-Up is in full swing, and I don’t have the energy to take care of bystanders today. If you aren’t completely up to date on the ins and outs of the spine-tingling nonsense they’re passing off as a storyline these days, then there is honestly very little that I can say that would help.

If you’re super brand new to the blog, then you might be better off reading yesterday’s post. Wait, sorry — yesterday’s was even goofier than today’s. I don’t know, there’s a lot of posts to read. Pick a number between 210 and 623. Okay, now put it back in the deck. Was it 497? Damn it! I suck at card tricks.

623 dark shadows eve chromakey

So there’s this, for one thing. Somebody’s been tampering in God’s domain, creating a Bride of Frankenstein in a mad science lab, using the spirit of a dead lunatic as the animating life force. Her name is Eve, and she has never had a boring scene.

While Eve was out making trouble one night, she caught sight of a man who she recognized as her 18th-century lover, Peter Bradford. Not content to stalk him in the present day, she’s now being sent back in time by sorcerous soap vixen Angelique, so that she can —

Hang on. Didn’t I just say I wasn’t going to do this? This storyline can not be explained.

Anyway, she’s magically traveling back to the past, and when they really want to express themselves on Dark Shadows, they say it with Chromakey. They’ve been getting a lot better with their brand new blue-screen technology, except for today, when they get a lot worse again.

623 dark shadows gaol

And here we are in the past! Angelique apparently has the power to send people tumbling backward through time just by thinking about it for a while, because she is a witch and a vampire, plus she pulled the secret magic number of the universe out of Barnabas’ cell phone when he wasn’t looking.

So now, with very little warning, we’ve jumped back to 1795. It’s a few weeks after girl governess Victoria Winters was hanged as a witch, and catapulted back to her own century.

Now Vicki’s defense attorney boyfriend, Peter, has his own execution scheduled for dawn. That’s how you can tell how guilty she was; even her lawyer gets the death penalty. You have to break some serious laws to rate that level of scorched-earth jurisprudence.

623 dark shadows tom gorman james shannon

And here are the stars of today’s show — Tom Gorman and James Shannon. We might as well get to know them, because we’re going to be spending a lot of time with them today.

Tom Gorman has been on Dark Shadows for two years now, mostly as a non-speaking extra. He first appeared as a Blue Whale customer in November 1966, and since then he’s been a jailer, a bartender, a judge at Vicki’s witch trial, and a ghost.

Tom has been acting on TV and on the Broadway stage since 1939, which is probably long enough. This episode is actually his last television appearance. Watch closely, and see if you can figure out why.

The other guy is James Shannon, a personal favorite. You remember James — he was the hottie Deputy from a few months ago, the one that Angelique tried to seduce and vampire-bite. He doesn’t have any lines today, but he makes up for it by being cute.

623 dark shadows tom james devil

So they’re standing around chatting about Peter’s upcoming execution, when a great wind roars through the room — the chandelier sways, the candle goes out, and a mug drops off the desk.

Tom is alarmed, and stammers, “What the devil is happening here?” James goes for the tankard, because obviously the most important thing to do in a supernatural emergency is to secure the tableware. James works in Collinsport law enforcement.

623 dark shadows eve tom door

And here’s Eve! Back in time, and twice as crazy. She’s grinning like a mad thing, dressed up in clothes that I don’t know what century she thinks she’s dressed for, but whatever. She doesn’t look the way that she did back then — this is her new body, stitched together from 1960s dead people — but, again, whatever. If Eve doesn’t care, I don’t care.

623 dark shadows tom face

Oh, this is what Tom looks like, by the way. Get used to this. It’s not makeup or special effects; this is just what his face does. You point a camera at it, and it happens all by itself.

623 dark shadows james hit

And look how cute James is. I know he’s not, like, super pretty or whatever, but I actually have kind of a weird thing for dudes who look like monkeys. I’m serious, I would hit that in a hot second. I know you don’t care. I’m just saying.

623 dark shadows gloria winters

Eve announces that she’s here to see Peter.

Tom:  Are you related to the prisoner?

Eve:  At one time, we were going to be married, but I’ve been away for six months.

Tom:  Married… that is most interesting. A few short weeks ago, it appeared that he might marry another young lady. Unfortunately, she was found guilty of practicing witchcraft, and was hanged.

Eve:  She was someone who lived here, in Collinsport?

Tom:  Her name was Gloria Winters!

Which is fantastic. The episode’s only been on for a minute and a half, and already I have a favorite part.

623 dark shadows james tom indicating

Eve says, “Victoria Winters died here?” and Tom has a very Dark Shadows-y answer.

“All we know is, she was hanged,” he says. “But whether she died or not is something everyone in Collinsport is still wondering about.”

James indicates his neck, because he wants to contribute.

623 dark shadows eve came back here

Eve turns toward the camera, and says, “So — she came back here, and fell in love with him!”

Tom leans forward, and asks, “What did you say?”

Eve smiles, and says, “Nothing,” and then she changes the subject.

So I think that’s a first on Dark Shadows — an actor who just goes ahead and does a pantomine villain aside to the audience. It’s an innovation that I think underscores the actual time travel that’s happening here. Eve is acting like a Dark Shadows character from November 1968, and the others are acting like Dark Shadows characters from April 1968, which is when the original 1795 story wrapped up.

This level of furious camp acting just didn’t happen seven months ago — they were playing it a lot straighter back then. Seeing Eve in this context accentuates how far the show has drifted from normal afternoon television.

If you’re not a regular here, you may be wondering why the acting style would change so dramatically over the course of a year. The short answer is that it’s been a pretty weird year. The long answer involves Addison Powell, and requires a tremendous amount of patience.

623 dark shadows eve peter cell

Eve says that she needs to see the prisoner, so Tom just shrugs and lets her right on into the cell. He says, “Well, there are no rules against it,” which seems amazingly casual considering they’re half an hour away from an execution. The guys in charge of Death Row might want to invest in some rules.

623 dark shadows peter eve chest

And now we get another welcome departure from the April ’68 style — Peter’s wearing a loose shirt wth the top unbuttoned, revealing a tantalizing slice of a hairy chest.

I know, we’re not supposed to be into Peter because he’s so scowly and weird, but it’s exciting, because it demonstrates how far we’ve come in the three weeks since Julia cut Joe’s turtleneck in half, symbolically breaking the crushing tyranny of the Dark Shadows ties-or-turtlenecks mandate. Death to turtlenecks!

623 dark shadows eve history

And then the rest of the scene is just Eve going crazy.

Eve:  They think they’re going to hang you, but they’re wrong.

Peter:  Yeah, why?

Eve:  We can go away… leave Collinsport together, and change the course of history! She said if I stayed more than six hours…

Peter:  Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Yeah, we don’t either. Angelique told Eve that she only had six hours, not that she’d be stuck here if she stayed longer than six hours. But this is a universe where crazy ladies make the rules, so who knows. She’s probably right, she’s crazier than I am.

623 dark shadows joshua ben bromance

And then, just when you least expect it — Joshua and Ben. I told you there was a lot today, this is why I’m rushing through it.

These two are the survivors of the 1795 storyline — practically the only characters who made it out of the furnace alive and sane. And here they are, as if they just kept on living their lives after the cameras followed Vicki home.

And look how close they’re standing to each other! They started out as bitter enemies — Joshua was the cruel master, and Ben was the oppressed indentured servant. But they went through the war together, and they both lost so much, and now they’re here, talking about their problems like they’re a family. This is one of the most legitimately touching moments in the whole series.

623 dark shadows joshua ben paradox

Joshua knows that Peter’s going to be hanged today — one last sacrifice on the dark altar of Angelique’s witchery — and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. The world turned out to be much darker and stranger than he was prepared for.

And he’s still got this impossible book, a Collins Family History that Vicki brought back with her from the 1960s, filled with predictions that didn’t quite come true.

The book frightens him, and appalls him — but he doesn’t want the world to know about the shameful disaster that almost exterminated the family, and the lies printed in the book are so tempting…

“I have gone over it very carefully,” he explains. “Strangely enough, there are certain statements which are not true. However, I plan to make them part of the family history in any case.”

Ben says, “I don’t understand,” and Joshua raises his voice.

“Do you think I want the world to know the evils that have been perpetrated here?” he shouts. “No! I certainly do not. They will never know the vile and pitiful thing that Barnabas became.”

623 dark shadows joshua ben hates

Astonished, Ben says, “You’re not going to — rewrite your own history?”

The answer is yes. It’s what this family does. Apparently, there’s an instinct deep in the Collins DNA that makes you look at a history book, and immediately grab a pen.

“I’m going to take it from these printed pages!” he declares. “And set it down in my own hand.”

Obviously, that’s going to create some kind of history-cracking paradox fissures, but he doesn’t care. Look at his expression. He really hates this fucking book.

623 dark shadows ben eve meet

Okay, still a lot left. Joshua tells Ben to take the devil book outside and burn it, which is the first sensible thing anybody’s said all day. But nothing comes easy for Ben.

Eve:  Ben!

Ben:  What are you doin’ here? You weren’t ever supposed to come back!

Eve:  I had to come back when I heard that Peter was in trouble!

This is another example of this brand-new old-time retroactive history that makes this crackpot storyline so unbelievably difficult to describe. She wasn’t part of the actual 1795 storyline, but they’re pretending that she happened to leave town right before we came in.

That’s totally fair, and absolutely standard practice in long-running serialized narrative, although it makes you wonder what Ben’s life must be like. First, this crazy lady bossed him around, and just when he finally thought his life might get back to normal, Angelique showed up and did the same thing.

623 dark shadows ben eve tonight

Eve is planning a jailbreak for Peter, and she wants Ben to find a getaway horse, and keep the motor running outside the lock-up. He says that he’s busy, what with the book burning, but she just grabs the book out of his hands and tells him to get a move on.

This is what life is like for Ben Stokes, just an endless series of high-strung dames, demanding his participation in another lunatic scheme. He probably never gets a moment to himself.

623 dark shadows eve performance

As she marches back to the Collinsport Gaol, Eve takes the opportunity to browse through the book for a while.

Eve (thinks):  I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would. Victoria Winters actually came back in time, and brought this book with her. This could be very valuable to me — very valuable!

So, here’s a pop quiz: What the hell is she talking about? Her plan, as far as I can tell, is to break Peter out of stir, jump into whatever mode of transportation Ben’s managed to string together at short notice, and make for the border. When exactly will knowing the names of unborn Collins family members come in handy?

623 dark shadows eve prep

But who even knows with this broad? She’s a force of pure chaos, a hurricane in a hat. Her prime directive in every single conversation is to unsettle and perplex everyone she comes across, up to and including me.

She makes writing this blog an absolute waking nightmare, because every time I think I’ve got a handle on her crazy plan, it shifts again, pivoting inexplicably and sprinting off in a whole new direction. I shouldn’t even be calling her Eve, because her 1795 name was Danielle Rogét, which is a whole other thing that I just can’t explain.

She’s going to do it. Eve is going to break Dark Shadows, and she’s going to break me, and I love her so much that I can hardly even express it in words.

And then she does the following:

623 dark shadows eve tom shuffles

Tom:  He says he needs another minute; then he’ll see you.

Eve:  I don’t mind waiting.

Tom:  You can sit down, if you like.

Eve:  No, thank you. I’ll stand.

623 dark shadows eve tom happening

Tom sits down, and starts to read. Eve sashays over to his chair.

Eve:  I suppose you won’t want me around, when it happens.

Tom:  A hanging’s a gruesome thing, not a sight for a lady.

Eve:  What about… after the hanging?

623 dark shadows eve tom mind

Tom:  After? You — you want to come and see the body?

Eve:  No. That’s not what I had in mind.

Tom:  What did you have in mind?

Eve:  Meeting you.

623 dark shadows tom meet

Tom:  Me?

Eve:  I’m sorry. I’ve shocked you, haven’t I?

Tom:  Well, uh… no.

623 dark shadows tom eve trolling

He gets up again, and she follows.

Eve:  Well, it’s just that I believe in speaking my mind. Do you know what I mean?

Tom:  Listen, I — I guess he’s ready for you now.

Eve:  Who?

Tom:  Mr. Bradford.

Eve:  You don’t seem to understand. I’m not ready for him.

It’s unbelievable. This isn’t even part of her plan. She’s just doing this. She’s trolling the 18th century.

623 dark shadows eve tom evangelical

So I have to say, I feel sorry for people who don’t watch Dark Shadows. I really do. I wonder what they think television is for.

Tomorrow: Lost and Foundling.


(More) Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Louis Edmonds trips slightly at the beginning of the opening voiceover: “This is — Collinwood in the year 1968.”

Mr. Prescott tells Eve, “A few short weeks ago, it appeared that he might marry another young lady. Unfortunately, she was found guilty of practicing witchcraft, and was hanged.” Peter actually didn’t meet Vicki until she was already accused. It doesn’t seem super likely that people would have thought of as engaged, under the circumstances.

In the cell, Eve tells Peter, “Just be ready when I come to get you. I’ll arrange everything else.” Peter is still waiting for his cue, so after a moment, she looks at the teleprompter. She continues, “I have the chance to give you your freedom, on the condition that you’ll go away with me.” Peter still doesn’t respond for about three seconds, and then he mutters, “I don’t know.” Eve looks at the teleprompter for help again.

Joshua trips twice in two lines: “Because she was herself condemned to hang. And did hang. They thought that she was simply protecting — trying to protect Bradford.”

A couple inconsistencies: Joshua refers to Millicent as his niece, but in the 1795 storyline, he referred to her as a cousin. Also, Joshua says that he never thought that Vicki was a witch. He did, but then realized he was wrong.

Peter repeats a line with Mr. Prescott:

Peter:  Look — I’m a condemned man. I’m entitled to a last request. Now, there’s something I need.

Prescott:  Something you need?

Peter:  Yes. Please. I am a condemned man. Give me a chance.

Peter pretends to write a note using a quill, but it’s obvious that there’s no ink in the inkwell. When he’s done, he throws the supposedly inky feather down onto the blanket, rather than using blotting-paper. I mean, he’s about to be hanged, so he doesn’t really care about the laundry bills, but still.

At the end of act 3, Mr. Prescott steps on Eve’s line:

Eve:  We will be together —

Prescott:  Listen —

Eve:  — in another time!

Prescott:  I don’t think you’ve been feeling well.


Behind the Scenes:

So that’s the last we’ll see of Tom Gorman, sadly. After this, he appeared on Broadway in a 1969 production of Hadrian VII, which maybe it was one of the great lost classics of our time, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

We’ll see James Shannon and his monkey face again in two months, when we return yet again to the Collinsport Gaol.

Tomorrow: Lost and Foundling.

623 dark shadows eve tom eccentric

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

23 thoughts on “Episode 623: This Is Happening

  1. Ben: What are you doin’ here? You weren’t ever supposed to come back!

    Says Ben to a woman he’s never seen before because Danielle Roget was blonde and French and didn’t look a damned thing like Eve! Of course by this time Ben is used to the world being just generally WEIRD so why not just decide that this woman he never met is really a non-magical serial killer who left town looking totally different. He gets to do it all over again when Vicki comes back looking totally different as well.

    I actually have a vision of Ben finding Mrs. Stokes, so that we eventually get Professor Stokes. He must have had a checklist 1) vampire if yes, find right kind of branch, if no proceed to next question 2) witch, if yes get something to burn her with if no, proceed to next question, 3) crazy lady from the future if yes find her a horse and hustle her out of town, if no proceed to next question.

  2. I always like seeing Joshua – he’s one of DS’ genuinely tragic characters, not born of supernatural means but real loss, tragedy and hubris, and Louis Edmonds gives him such gravitas. His best role, IMHO.

  3. Now that Thayer David is playing Ben again, when I began watching the series all the way through on DVD I was surprised by how well spoken and erudite his portrayal of Professor Stokes was. Thayer David was so believable and real as Ben Stokes, until I encountered the Professor Stokes character I always thought that David talked like Ben Stokes in real life as well.

  4. I remember Tom Gorman from his barfly days at the Blue Whale – he was always good for a chat with Burke or Sam Evans or Jason while they were awaiting the arrival of the characters they were actually in a scene with..there was so much hoopla over the Barnabas character after Jonathan Frid came to DS that many fans overlooked the acting genius and versatility of Louis Edmonds, my personal favorite on the show.

    1. True, like Edmonds the best and it was the Joshua character at the end of 1795 with all the sorrow and grief and interacting with Frid in 1988 that changed me from Frid to Edmonds as one of the best. Thayer David is always good.

  5. I’m not sure your inconsistencies really count as inconsistencies here. A lot of people, especially older men (my great uncle springs to mind), once they are convinced by overwhelming evidence that they were completely, utterly, and beyond belief wrong, will immediately claim that they never thought or said any such thing even when you have witnesses to the contrary. 🙂 Also, for reasons I’m not clear on, when you start doing genealogical research you discover people were remarkably sloppy over what specific relation somebody was to them, even in writing. So that might just them being period correct – OK I know the show enough to know there isn’t a ghost of a chance that’s actually the case, but could be.

    I have a similar experience to the one people have been commenting on about Louis Edmonds and Thayer David. I used to think Leslie Howard WAS exactly like that idiot Ashley Wilkes he played him so convincingly and then I saw Howard in the Scarlet Pimpernel and I was blown away. I think people who like the 1795 part of DS might enjoy Howard’s SP. Nobody is revealed to be a witch, but there are reveals over a woman being a traitor condemning friends to the gallows and a secret identity superspy. Plus the period costumes are nearly as bad. 🙂

    1. Joshua retconned the family history concerning Barnabus. What’s to stop him from claiming he knew who the witch was all along? 😉

  6. Hi there, I was wondering if you could tell me what other episodes of DS Tom Gorman appeared in. IMDB says he appeared in 104, 207, 267, 269, 401, 410, 427, 433, 435, 437, 512, 607, and 623. That is 13 total episodes, but you mention he appeared in 18. Do you know which 5 IMDB is missing? Let me know when you get a chance! Thanks!

    1. The total of 18 episodes comes from The Dark Shadows Almanac: Millennium Edition, which is the most trusted source for information like this. I don’t know what the extra 5 episodes are — my guess is that it was more appearances as either the Blue Whale bartender or a customer, but I don’t know the episode numbers.

      1. Ah, I see. So, in the almanac, it just says that he appeared in 18 episodes, but not what roles he played? Does the almanac include his bio or other information about him as well?
        Tom Gorman is of great interest to me and he’s had such an extensive television career – it’s said he was in 800 live TV specials, not to mention his film, stage, and pre-recorded TV work. I’m doing my best to try to archive/discover any appearances I may have missed.

        1. Yeah, there’s a complete list of actors, with an episode count, a list of parts that they played and the year/storyline time period they appeared in.

          The entire item in the Almanac’s list is:
          Tom Gorman (18): Blue Whale Customer (1967), Blue Whale Bartender (1967-1968), Servant (1795), Mr. Prescott (1795), Judge (1795), Ghost of Ezra Simpson (1968)

          So the episodes that I know are:
          104: Blue Whale bartender
          207: Blue Whale customer
          267: Bartender
          269: Blue Whale customer
          401: Mr. Prescott
          410: Second Servant
          427: 3rd Judge
          433: 3rd Judge
          435: 3rd Judge
          437: 3rd Judge
          512: Ghost of Ezra Simpson
          607: Bartender
          623: Mr. Prescott

          Those are the 13 episodes on your list, so there’s 5 left over.

          The cast lists for day players, extras and stand-ins is pretty well documented, between the Almanac, the Dark Shadows Program Guide and the information on Dark Shadows Wiki. Knowing from the Almanac that Tom G played a servant, it’s easy to see that 410 is the episode that had an extra servant, and that’s him.

          But as far as I know, nobody’s taken the time to document the extras in crowd scenes — mostly Blue Whale customers and Collinsport Diner customers. So if Tom Gorman has some episodes that aren’t accounted for, and we know that he was a Blue Whale customer in 1967, then the extra five episodes are very likely to be Blue Whale ’67 appearances.

          If you want to be an absolute completist about it, and track down every single appearance, then the way to do it is to look at the 1967 episodes that have Blue Whale scenes and see if he’s there. (Dark Shadows Wiki should be able to help you identify which episodes have Blue Whale scenes.) He’s got a very recognizable face, so if he’s there you shouldn’t have much trouble spotting him. If you already have the DVDs, it shouldn’t be hard. A lazy Sunday afternoon fast-forwarding through Blue Whale scenes ought to take care of it.

  7. Sorry – does anyone remember who Vicki shot in the 1795-96 time frame? I thought she was hanged for witchcraft, not for shooting some guy. Which ep has her shooting someone? What were the circumstances?

  8. As I’m watching the show for the first time all of this is new to me and I don’t know where it’s heading. It doesn’t seem the writers did, either, so I’m in good company.

    Although Angelique having the power to send Eve back in time makes absolutely no sense, I love it as a new plot contrivance. It seems to imply that DS is getting more supple with its use of time travel. This seems good for future plot elements and good for the actors. Louis Edmonds is always marvelous, but particularly reinvigorated by playing Joshua again, and doing it so well. I hope going forward the show thinks of past and present storylines as more actively integrated. This might also help mitigate the death spirals the show seems to go into when they run out of steam in a given historical plot.

  9. “And here we are in the past! Angelique apparently has the power to send people tumbling backward through time just by thinking about it for a while, because she is a witch and a vampire, plus she pulled the secret magic number of the universe out of Barnabas’ cell phone when he wasn’t looking.” Hey, don’t forget she also took Nicholas’s magic tie tack out of his desk drawer, too.

  10. About Eve coming “on” to the jailer, wasn’t there something about her being told to put some sleeping potion in the jailer’s tea or something? No? Okay, maybe I dreamed it.

    In a related note, I like that the jailer replies “No” to Eve’s asking if she’s shocked him.

  11. In all this historical histrionic hilarity, I have but one question…

    Has Eve really only got ONE dress? That rag’s got to be stanky as hell by now, she’s been wearing it 24-7 since she got brought to life! Maybe she’s got two gowns just exactly the same? I’m hoping while she’s off in 1795-6-whatever, Angelique took the frock to an overnight drycleaner just to get the smell out; or perhaps Julia left out the sweat glands when she put the body together.

  12. Eve thinking that the book might be valuable makes perfect sense in the larger context: she came back to the past to find something to convince Jeff that he is Peter. She gets even luckier later with Peter’s letter.

    Does anyone have a theory as to how Peter died, got out of his coffin and came to the future as amnesiac Jeff?

  13. James is cute. There’s something of a Sliders-era Jerry O’Connell about him. I like how he keeps chucking in facial expressions and mannerisms in lieu of an actual part, and that bit at the end of his scene where he tests the strength of the rope… ooof.

    I’ve decided, apropos of very little, that Ben Stokes is one of those people – “children, animals and morons” – that can see things beyond this mortal veil, so he easily recognises Danielle Roget where Peter doesn’t. It’s really the only way to explain this staggering inconsistency – I can accept forgetting between episodes that Eve and Danielle look different, but having two relationships in the same episode, one dependent entirely on remembering this detail and the other on forgetting it, is just bad form…

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