Episode 626: The Amazing New Phenomenon

“You want to keep track of me? The amazing new phenomenon? The ghost who breathes?”

As the black-robed executioner opened the door to Vicki’s cell, her lover looked into her eyes, and promised her every last thing he could think of.

I love you, Vicki, he said. That’s all that matters.

The hangman grabbed her shoulder, and pushed.

Somehow you managed to travel through time, and find me. Somehow, I’ll find you. No matter what happens, I will find you.

She was led from her cell, down a dark corridor, to the gallows.

Our love will transcend time, her lover cried, shouting desperately over the squeal of the waiting crowd. We are stronger than time! We are stronger than death!

The hood was placed over her head.

Remember me!

It was a promise, and a prayer.

I will find you!

It was the only thing she could hear, as the rope tightened around her throat.

I will find you, through the centuries, and we will be together again! Our love will never die!

And as it turns out, that is exactly what happened, so I don’t know what the hell he’s complaining about now. That’s a three-pointer if I ever saw one. That was nothing but net.

626 dark shadows jeff roger box

But Dark Shadows has committed to what is apparently a long-term postmodern deconstruction of the melodrama, where the star-crossed lovers are thrown a big fancy wedding in a huge mansion, with an extensive guest list of well-wishers and family friends, and instead of saying, awesome, thanks very much, the bride and groom dash off in opposite directions, and make what appears to be a completely cold-blooded and logical decision to entirely lose their shit.

So here comes the groom, or what’s left of him, single-handedly tearing up the Eastern seaboard, armed only with a small shovel, a crowbar, and the tattered remnants of a rented tuxedo.

626 dark shadows mystery box

But Jeff has found himself a mystery box, and you know how much fun those can be. He’s decided that he used to be Peter Bradford, the 18th-century lawyer and post-mortem Houdini, who apparently got hanged and buried, with a gravestone and everything, and then kind of slipped out the back patio and hitched a ride to the late 1960s.

Now, as I said, digging up Peter’s coffin and finding that it’s empty should basically be the confirmation that Jeff has won the tragic romance sweepstakes. He beat the odds, and made it back alive.

Remember me! he shouted, and she did. I will find you! he said, and that’s crossed off the list too. We will be together! he promised, and what do you know? Three out of three! I don’t know if that’s an all-time high score, but it’s certainly a personal best, and more than enough reason to get his ass back up to sea level. What is the matter with people?

626 dark shadows roger jeff grave

Roger is also having a hard time understanding the finer points of the scenario.

“You’re being completely irrational,” Roger declares. “Why should anyone have to be in that coffin? Haven’t you ever heard of grave robbers? The body could have been stolen!”

And that’s a good point. Jeff is actually a grave robber himself — he spent a couple months scavenging body parts for Dr. Lang’s mad science experiments.

In fact, Adam, the creature that Dr. Lang brought to life, was built out of parts that Jeff…

Hang on. I just thought of something. What if Adam is Peter Bradford too?

Damn it, you guys, you can’t all be Peter Bradford! This is going to get confusing. Some of you are going to have to agree to be somebody else.

626 dark shadows jeff ties

Anyway, Jeff eventually heads home and starts to pack, because that’s what you do after you dig up your own grave and find out that you’re somebody. You take inventory.

And here’s where we get a glimpse of the home life that Vicki will be missing out on. Jeff currently has three ties deposited on the bedframe, and a further two ties hanging off the lampshade. There are five different ties in this shot. Then he opens the drawer in his bedside table and starts pulling out brand new dress shirts, still in their packaging, with the pins and everything. This seems like a fairly haphazard way to organize your wardrobe, but maybe Jeff has his own routine.

626 dark shadows jeff vicki new york

Vicki comes over, and Jeff just keeps on packing, because apparently the our love will transcend time thing only applies to the immediate post-execution period. She tries to express interest.

Vicki:  What are you going to do?

Jeff:  Does it matter?

Vicki:  Yes.

Jeff:  Why? You want to keep track of me? The amazing new phenomenon? The ghost who breathes?

Vicki:  Stop that!

Jeff:  Your favorite freak?

Vicki:  I don’t want to hear any more of that!

Jeff says, “Yeah, I guess you don’t,” and then he just keeps on folding ties, because there’s probably another sixty or seventy strewn about other parts of the room, and we’re burning daylight.

626 dark shadows jeff books

Then there’s a whole drama around the books. He starts scooping up piles of worn, dusty hardcovers, which he’s accumulated along the way and seems determined to hold on to.

626 dark shadows jeff vicki books

“Look… just don’t,” he sighs, struggling under the weight of the collected works.

626 dark shadows jeff vicki don't

“Don’t what?” Vicki asks, as he tries to cram the books into his traveling case. “Don’t tell the truth?”

626 dark shadows jeff vicki sure

“No!” he says, closing the lid of the suitcase and hoping for the best. “Don’t make what’s impossible seem possible.”

Man, he really wants those books. He must be halfway through a whole stack of Agatha Christies, and he can’t stand the thought of never knowing who all the murderers are.

626 dark shadows jeff wardrobe

Vicki’s still hollering at him about their future, and Jeff just keeps on hate-packing as hard as he can. As he crosses the room, we see that he’s got sport coats scattered everywhere, including one on the back of the rocking chair, and another one hanging from a light fixture.

626 dark shadows eve closet

Then Jeff opens the closet door, and you know what? The more that I see of Jeff’s lifestyle, I’m starting to understand Vicki’s point of view. Some guys just aren’t cut out for bachelor life.

Tomorrow: Bad Moon Rising.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Roger is talking to Jeff at the graveside, he gets stuck behind a branch for a couple of lines. He delivers the line about grave robbers through a face full of leaves.

As Jeff runs from the cemetery, he puts a hand on a plywood gravestone, which wobbles.

Liz asks Vicki, “Would you like me to make sure that Rog — that Jeff — that Roger hasn’t come back?”

Vicki steps on Roger’s line. She asks, “Is he coming here?”, pauses, and then says “Well, is he?” as Roger says, “No.”

Jeff pauses as he’s taking books down from the shelf, and one of the books slips out of his hand, and crashes to the desk, and then to the floor.

Behind the Scenes:

Jeff’s apartment is laid out differently than the last time we saw it a few weeks ago. For one thing, the door to the apartment is on the left side of the set, instead of the right.

That’s probably James Shannon playing the executioner in the flashback sequence today. He was on the show last week, and he usually plays these law enforcement roles. But he’s got a hood on today, so it’s hard to be sure.

Tomorrow: Bad Moon Rising.

626 dark shadows vicki jeff scream

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

26 thoughts on “Episode 626: The Amazing New Phenomenon

  1. I think the problem with Jeff Clark/Peter Bradford is that of not having a counterpart in the time he was traveling to. Everything should have been golden, he time traveled, found the one he loved, so he should just be pleased with that accomplishment and happy that he was able to have found Vicki, but instead he is fraught with amnesia and can’t accept that he comes from another time. It’s the same thing when Barnabas and Julia travel to 1897. When Barnabas goes there he has no such memory lapses. He knows who he is and why he has gone there, because he has a counterpart (his vampire self in the secret room of the mausoleum). But when Julia goes to 1897, she arrives disoriented at first, unable to speak, no knowledge of who she is and why she went there, because she doesn’t have a counterpart in 1897. Vicki was able to avoid this problem in going back to 1795 because she switched places with Phyllis Wick, and therefore had a counterpart in that time. Peter Bradford did wind up traveling time and finding Vicki as he promised he would, but in so doing and not having a counterpart, he instead had to find himself, and by the time he does so, it will be too late, for both of them.

    1. Didn’t someone (Barnabas?) allude to the possibility that there was a ‘real’Jeff Clark wandering around in the 1968 world and would still be there when ”fake’ Vicki and Peter/’fake’ Jeff go back to 1795 – so therefore Peter had a doppelganger in 1968 whose body he ‘borrowed’ until he could grab Vicki and take her back to his world. Also wouldn’t Vicki need a counterpart in 1795? She sure cant use Phyllis Wick again – look at what a ‘cluster’ that turned out to be.

      1. Yes, I think it’s mentioned on more than one occasion that there is a real Jeff Clark, though it’s unclear whether Peter actually took over his body or just assumed his identity somehow. The whole thing is quite muddled, which is one of the many reasons why ultimately this storyline doesn’t work. That and the fact that Jeff needs to be convinced he’s Peter over and over and over again before it finally sinks into his fat head.

    2. You know that makes actual logical sense. It’s really well thought out.

      And thus, of course, has no place in a Dark Shadows storyline. 😉

  2. Help, there’s someone in my closet and it’s not me!

    Poor Eve, caught up in another deadly game of hide-and-go-seek, gone wrong.

    1. Ned doesn’t have anything to do with Peter or Jeff, other than to make people scream when he knocks on the door. I’ve heard Dan Curtis thought of Roger Davis as his “pet”. I guess Dan found him amusing and didn’t have to act with him.

    2. Surely, Ned Stuart is Jeff Clark’s astral twin, a term used to explain Jeb Hawke’s look-alike, Sebastian Shaw (if I am not mistaken).

  3. Maybe my standards got low during the Dream Curse and 1968, but I’m enjoying the tale of this storyline. Victoria in her final days is getting back to the gal we first met, at least some.

  4. A fitting exchange for Vicky’s (well, Alexandra’s) next-to-last episode: Vicky: I don’t understand. Elizabeth: But you’ll never understand. Another blooper: Eve obviously got into Jeff’s apartment OK, so it must have been open. When Adam comes following Eve, he just opens the door. When Jeff arrives later, he unlocks the door (suggesting he would have locked it earlier). Also, when there’s a close-up of the bottom of Jeff’s apartment door as Adam approaches, you can see that the floor is cement (which a studio floor would be). What apartment has cement floors?

  5. I’m months behind the blog. I laughed hysterically when I noticed the old suburban train timetable that Jeff pulls out as his first scene opens. The prop master found a local New York train schedule and said, here, use this! No trains from Maine on that route, I know.

  6. Vicki and Liz express the emotional truth that Vicki has always seemed to be a part of the Collins family, even though they don’t make it explicit that she actually is a member of the family in some parallel universe that DS never got around to exploring. (I know, nobody cares anymore.)

    Eve seems to be dead (unless Nicholas can revive her), but in my postmortem (she deserves two having died twice) I would ask what was all the shouting about Eve being the most evil woman who ever lived? She never seemed that bad to me. She was a minor bitch. Angelique is worse, and I don’t consider her the worst woman who ever lived.

    “Jeff, is that you?” Eve spent the past two weeks trying to convince the character played by Roger Davis that he is Peter and not Jeff; so why does she keep calling him Jeff when she is in his room?

  7. Well call me a dumb fanboy but I actually enjoyed this episode. The graveyard scene was good – someone robbing a grave actually gets DIRTY for a change – and God help me Roger Davis convincingly delivers an appropriately nutso performance. I thought Adam’s murder (?) of Eve was well staged and very effectively lit. And as someone mentions above, Vicki’s developing a little late-inning gravitas. Am I detecting a bit of melancholy in Alexandra Moltke’s final performances or just imagining it?

  8. Why isn’t Elizabeth still obsessing over her death? Has it been eclipsed but her matron of honour duties?

  9. Notable for being the first episode to use the improved end credits music, where instead of clumsily repeating the Dark Shadows theme and fading out, they add a flute-lead chorus that ends when it should.

  10. Oh, and further bonus points for using Vicki’s flashback to suggest that she might be one of the living dead too… raising the possibility that what Roger’s dream was about, is that the reason Peter was “allowed” to come back was not because their love could transcend time, but because if he marries her he will be able to drag her back to the grave along with him.

    Which I suppose is kind of where it ends up going…!

  11. My first post seems to have been eaten! Repost in case it doesn’t show up…

    “Now, as I said, digging up Peter’s coffin and finding that it’s empty should basically be the confirmation that Jeff has won the tragic romance sweepstakes.”

    Actually, Jeff’s pscyhology here makes perfect sense to me. As far as he’s concerned, Peter Bradford may have won the tragic romance sweepstakes, but Jeff Clark hasn’t won shit.

    Jeff still has no memory of being Peter, he’s deeply invested in being the person he is, and he’s not in the slightest the kind of romantic figure people keep telling him Peter was. He knows he’s in no way an idealistic and brave young lawyer who was willing to die to save the woman he loved — no, he’s an amnesiac vagrant, press-ganged graverobber, and occasional vampire victim who’s seen so much bad weird shit and hasn’t even handled it very well.

    And this woman he’s in love with, who idolises Peter… he’s finally convinced himself that somehow she might actually love him for himself, but now this… if he marries her and she spends the rest of their life together being starry-eyed about how she married her Peter, when he knows he could never, ever live up to that… of course that’s unbearable.

    He hates himself too much to ever be Peter.

    Evidence that he has to be Peter is a burden he has to live up to, not some sort of cosmic triumph of love over time.

    And no wonder his first thought on finding out is that being a resurrected spirit means that something could drag him back to hell at any moment. Why not? Everything else in his life does.

    Basically, full marks to Sam Hall in this ep for making me see that kind of depth in a character I’d long since written off. And to Roger Davis for, for once, playing the hell out of Jeff’s meltdowns. And to the director this week, who between Eve’s murder and the POV flashback was really on fire. Hell, even Alexandra Moltke gets to sink her teeth into some good stuff for once.

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