“What kind of life do you lead, Mr. Jennings?”
Two weeks ago, Dark Shadows entered a period that I’m calling The Great 1968 Wrap-Up, a long overdue narrative house-cleaning. Soap opera storylines are always a bit of a tangled web, but if you’re not careful, the structure becomes so dense that it collapses in on itself, and becomes a dangerous gravitational singularity.
- Barnabas Collins isn’t a vampire anymore, because his life force is shared with
- Adam, a Frankenstein monster who’s trying to start a family with
- Eve, a female monster who’s animated by the life force of
- Danielle, a French Revolution-era murderess, who’s madly in love with
- Peter, the 18th-century lawyer who’s traveled through time to follow
- Vicki, the Collins family governess, who was just left at the altar by
- Jeff, who’s discovered that he’s actually a reincarnation of
- Peter, and he’s not very happy about it.
Obviously, that’s a complex set of facts and relationships for the audience to keep in mind, especially because the one thing that absolutely everybody knows about Dark Shadows is that it’s the story of Barnabas Collins, who yes he is a vampire, what are you even talking about that he’s not a vampire anymore?
So that’s the level of mess that we’re dealing with here. We’re currently two weeks into this massive clean-up project, and we’ve now reached the stage where they’re just strangling cast members and leaving them in the closet.
In fact, this episode is the perfect example of the Great Wrap-Up at work, because this is actually an accelerated version of several planned episodes.
One of my DS-nerd bibles is the Dark Shadows Almanac, a huge grab-bag of facts and trivia. The Almanac includes the writers’ synopses for four episodes — 628 through 631 — which were squeezed down into about one and a half. As originally planned, the aftermath of Jeff and Vicki’s aborted wedding was supposed to ramble on for more than a week.
In the original, expanded version of these episodes, Jeff strangles Eve, but takes pity on her, and lets her live. Angelique spends several days shaking Adam’s confidence in Nicholas, and they spy on Eve and Jeff for a while. Eve finds Jeff’s bus schedule, and packs a suitcase. There’s a pointless confrontation between Jeff and Elizabeth, a pointless scene where Angelique bites Joe again, and it all wraps up with the eternally pointless Sheriff Patterson, questioning Jeff about Eve’s murder.
Eve was supposed to be killed for this week’s Friday cliffhanger. Instead, they killed her at the end of Monday, so we’re already way ahead of the game.
So, the question is: Why did they hit fast-forward like this?
Well, for one thing, Vicki’s leaving. I should probably make a bigger deal out of this than I am, because one of the themes of the blog so far has been the ongoing war between Victoria Winters and the audience.
She’s the main character, the girl from Dan Curtis’ dream. Every episode of the show used to start with the words, “My name is Victoria Winters,” even if it was an episode that Vicki wasn’t actually in.
But that was several monsters ago, and the world has changed. Barnabas, Julia and Angelique stepped onto the stage, snarling and snapping their jaws, twisting their necks into impossible positions in order to find their light. It was the Age of Kaiju, and all the attention shifted to the big, theatrical characters with tragic storylines and not much in the way of self-awareness.
As it turns out, Vicki wasn’t really able to compete in this new environment. They sent her back in time to the 18th century, and she was the only character in the entire original cast to appear on the show for four months — and she still ended up offstage most of the time, hiding in an attic or locked up in jail.
They’ve tried their best to keep her involved — Dan is incredibly loyal to the people that he likes, and Vicki is the girl from his dream — but Alexandra Moltke knows that this isn’t going anywhere. In the Saturday Evening Post article from a few weeks ago, she complained about being stuck in a five-year contract, playing a dumb character who’s constantly being upstaged by mental patients.
So she did what any smart actress would do: she got pregnant, and told Dan to go to hell. You can’t really tell, but she’s been pregnant for two months, and today’s her last day in Collinsport.
According to the synopses, the original plan for this week had the whole climax of this story thread happening after Alexandra Moltke left. Jeff would be alone when he discovered Eve’s body, and he’d have a long discussion about it with the useless Sheriff.
Part of the decision to speed things up must have come from a desire to have Vicki in the room when this all blows up. It avoids a long, agonized thinks monologue for Jeff, and it allows the wounded almost-newlyweds some dignity, before Vicki ducks offstage and gets recast.
Then we’ve got the Adam/Angelique sequence, which was supposed to fill the better part of three episodes, and instead is condensed to about three minutes.
Yesterday, Adam strangled Eve as a momentary impulse, and left her in Jeff’s closet because for some reason he thinks you’re supposed to stuff dead people into closets. This has actually come up before; it’s the central pillar of Adam’s post-murder protocol. But Angelique is determined to pretend that she has the slightest idea what’s going on, and she makes like it was her idea in the first place.
“I think you were right to kill Eve,” says the woman who spent several episodes gaining Eve’s confidence last week. “She was an evil woman,” she continues, which is a non sequitur, plus look who’s talking.
Angelique launches into her sales pitch. “When Nicholas finds out that Eve is dead,” she explains, “he’ll think that Jeff Clark killed her, which is exactly what I want him to think, because it will fit in so well with my plans.” This is utter nonsense.
And then, in one of those marvelous onstage/backstage correspondences, her gaze flickers toward the teleprompter, which is basically admitting that she has no idea what her devious plan is supposed to be.
“What I want you to do,” she says urgently, “is go back to the house, as though nothing had happened, and when Nicholas tells you that Eve is dead, then you must pretend to be shocked — stricken with grief — and do anything he wants you to do.”
Again: nonsense. As we’ll see a little later, Angelique goes straight to her secret hideout crypt, and summons the Devil to report on Nicholas’ activities. Her plan has absolutely nothing to do with whether Nicholas thinks Jeff killed Eve or not. This scene is just a vestigial leftover from the old version of these episodes, where it actually mattered what Angelique wanted Nicholas to think.
Then Angelique tells Adam to hurry. “We have very little time,” she says, which is the only sensible thing she says all day.
And then we move on. This is still act 1, by the way; we’re just tearing through the plot points today.
Next we go to the hospital, where Joe is still recovering from a self-inflicted stomach wound. As we join him today, he’s being observed through the window by a mysterious figure, for basically no reason at all.
Enter: random nurse. There are nine people in the credits today, including Eve who’s just lying on the floor dead, which is practically a record for Dark Shadows. There’s only a handful of episodes with eight speaking parts, and it typically happens in episodes like this, where they’re determined to break through to the next storyline, and they’re willing to pay extra for it.
The nurse asks if Joe would like to rest now, and Joe says yes, even though he’s already resting about as much as you possibly can. It’s kind of a waste of a nurse, but whatever, it’s their money.
But then the most wonderful thing happens.
The door opens, and a man enters the room, and all of a sudden, Joe starts to scream: “No! NO! You’re DEAD! You’re DEAD!”
And, hooray! It’s sexy vampire boy Tom Jennings.
Tom was kind of an experimental character that they tried out a few months ago, when they suddenly realized that men were made out of meat, and it might be possible to turn that to the show’s advantage. So they cast a good-looking guy, got him vampire-bitten a couple times, and then turned him loose on the viewing public, all hair and fangs and smoldering eyes.
It worked, obviously, and the teenagers of America were appropriately smitten, but the writers couldn’t quite figure out what to do with him, so they put a stake through his heart and killed him. Now they’ve spent the last two months trying to figure out where to put all the fan mail asking when the sexy vampire boy is coming back.
So he’s back! Except this isn’t Tom; it’s his brand new identical twin brother Chris Jennings, who’s just as appealing, plus he can be out in the daytime. He wasn’t around when Tom was killed, because of mysterious backstory that we’ll spend the next couple months digging into.
And look at this, he’s not wearing a tie or a turtleneck or anything, in direct contradiction to previous Dark Shadows fashion mandates. Free access to the neck area, that is the Jennings family philosophy.
I know that my recent focus on open collars probably makes me sound like a pervy Victorian getting overheated thinking about a woman exposing her ankles, but this was material social progress for 1968 daytime television.
Also, just look at the man. Joe has been the title holder for Only Hot Guy on the Show for quite a while, but Chris is outclassing him right out of the gate. His clothes, his Southern drawl, the way that he stands and pouts and smolders — this is actually new for Dark Shadows. He’s got a little bit of that Jim Morrison “Young Lion” energy, a kind of casual and confident sexuality that is right up to date for 1968.
It is possible that I am overstating the appeal of Chris Jennings. If that bothers anybody, then all I can say is that you’re going to have to put up with it until at least March 1969, when I will transition into obsessing over the appeal of Quentin Collins. The invention of sexy boys is going to be a major theme on the blog for pretty much the next year, and there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it, so there we are.
While I’ve been chattering away, Joe and Chris have been pitching in and establishing backstory.
Chris: I’m sorry I scared you, Joe, I guess I shoulda sent word in that I was here.
Joe: When did you get into town?
Chris: Early this evening.
Joe: It’s too bad you couldn’t have gotten in for Tom’s…
Chris: Yeah. Sorry you couldn’t find me. You know me, I’m never in one place very long. Joe — I want you to tell me how Tom died. I mean, what killed him?
Joe: That’s… that’s still a mystery.
Tom’s death isn’t a mystery to us — it was vampires, we saw the whole thing — but Chris has some intrigue of his own. Where has he been all this time? Why was it hard to reach him? Is it possible that this is the tormented bad boy we’ve been waiting for, ever since they domesticated and neutered Burke Devlin?
So they spend a couple minutes establishing a storyline for Chris — he wants to find out what happened to his brother, which puts him on track to interact with all of the important characters.
This is basically the most perfect thing they could do on the show right now, a huge step forward that’s going to solve a lot of the current storyline problems. At the moment, the show is chock full of exciting, larger-than-life creatures, but they’re all tangled up in that impenetrable continuity-fest.
Chris is easy to understand. His brother died under suspicious circumstances, and he wants to find out what happened. He has a secret backstory of his own, which we’ll want to learn more about, but you don’t need an episode guide to explain why he’s standing here. This is exactly what Dark Shadows needs right now.
Plus, he comes equipped with his own problems to brood over.
Joe: Have you seen your sister?
Chris: No… I haven’t seen her yet. How is she?
Joe: Molly kind of fell to pieces when Tom died. She needed you then.
Chris: Where is she now?
Joe: She’s in a hospital not very far from here, a place called Windcliff. Dr. Hoffman had her taken there for treatment.
Chris: What kind of treatment?
Joe: Well, losing the only person in the world that cared anything about her was a little bit too much for her; she’s been in a state of shock ever since.
Chris shakes his head, and looks gloomy. “I didn’t know,” he says. “I just didn’t know.”
And then who should walk in but Dr. Hoffman herself, who takes one look at the newcomer and screams, “Aaah! Tom, NO!” So that’s enjoyable.
They’re doing the speed run version of this episode, so Chris doesn’t really react to Julia freaking out. He just introduces himself, and they go on with the scene.
And check out what happens next.
Julia: How do you do, I’m Julia Hoffman.
Chris: Oh, Dr. Hoffman, you’re one of the people I want to talk to. Do you have a few minutes?
Julia: No, I have to get back to Collinwood.
Chris: Well, I have a car outside. Suppose I drop you off, we can talk on the way.
So that’s awesome. Julia just met the new boy twenty seconds ago, and he’s already offering her a ride home. Julia is a rock star.
Julia asks for a moment to talk to Joe, so Chris leaves the room. As soon as he’s gone, they start talking about him, because what else could you possibly want to discuss.
Joe: He’s not an easy man to locate. He keeps moving around, never stays in one place.
Joe: It’s a strange story. We went through high school together, he was always a very bright guy. He went on to college — study architecture. Then something happened to him.
Joe: Nobody knows what. Whatever it was, it seemed to change his whole personality. He dropped out of school, alienated all of his friends, started going off to the mountains for weeks at a time. Finally, he just disappeared from Collinsport altogether. Didn’t even come back two years ago, when his parents died.
Man, that’s a shame; he must be really messed up and damaged and sensitive and misunderstood. I bet all he needs is somebody to take care of him, somebody to open up to. Maybe someone like you, or every other member of the Dark Shadows audience.
So they’re zipping through all of the Vicki-Jeff-Peter-Adam-Eve-Angelique-Nicholas material as fast as they possibly can, tying everything up and punting it offstage, because this is what they want to spend time on — a new character, with a storyline that you can actually understand.
And to make him even more delicious and appealing, he has a little sister that he’s now responsible for, which also checks off the “moms” and “kids” boxes on the Dark Shadows demographic Bingo card.
Julia: She’s doing very well, and getting very good treatment at Windcliff, but it would be very good if she had someone close to turn to.
Chris: Meaning me?
Julia: You’re her brother.
Chris: Yes, I’m her brother, but the kind of life I lead, it’s… it’s all wrong for her, that’s all.
Julia: What kind of life do you lead, Mr. Jennings?
That’s the big question, which we’re going to spend the next several months investigating: What kind of life does Chris Jennings lead? And what kind of life will Dark Shadows lead, once we’ve ditched the girl governess?
She comes back, by the way, for a hurried conversation with Julia. Jeff’s in jail, apparently; they locked him up while we were busy flirting with the new guy. Vicki gives Julia an update, and then exits to find Roger. It’s a weird, muted finale for the original star of the show.
Later on, they asked Alexandra Moltke to return to Dark Shadows, and she said no. She’s told interviewers that she might have stayed if they’d done something interesting with her character, but she didn’t want to do the same dull things over again.
The way that she talks about it, it’s obvious that she thinks that she had all these hidden depths as an actress that the Dark Shadows crew didn’t take advantage of. That’s where Alexandra Moltke and I disagree. Vicki was dull because Alexandra was dull, and that’s all there is to it.
Jonathan Frid was supposed to be on the show for thirteen weeks, and then get staked by Dr. Woodard. Grayson Hall was supposed to be on the show for six weeks, and then get strangled by Barnabas. Lara Parker wasn’t supposed to survive past 1796, and Thayer David was supposed to rest in peace when Matthew Morgan was frightened to death by ghosts.
But all of those actors — the true stars of Dark Shadows — were able to connect with the audience in surprising ways. They brought more to the part than just saying the words on the page — they jumped to life, and the fans responded, and those actors stayed on the show right to the end.
Alexandra Moltke didn’t take those opportunities. Vicki was exactly what she seemed to be. In the end, that just isn’t enough.
So Victoria Winters fades away as Chris Jennings arrives, and the world belongs — as we always knew that it would — to the monsters.
Tomorrow: Horrible Bosses.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the reprise teaser, the furniture, books and clothes that were scattered around Jeff’s room have magically been packed away. The rocking chair is gone, and so is the sport coat, which was hanging on the light fixture next to the closet.
In the hospital, when Chris takes a note out of his pocket, a camera peeks into shot on the right.
Chris offers Julia a ride back to Collinwood, with no prompting. How did Julia get to the hospital in the first place, and how did Chris know that she didn’t have a car?
When Joe fills Julia in on Chris’ backstory, she tries asking “Why?” during two different pauses, and doesn’t really manage to get the word out either time.
The camera moves slightly during the closing credits.
Behind the Scenes:
Alexandra Moltke gave birth to her son Adam on June 27, 1969 — coincidentally, the third anniversary of Dark Shadows’ premiere. She didn’t do a lot of acting work after this — she was married to Philip Isles, a lawyer who was connected to the New York investment bank Lehman Brothers. She worked behind the scenes in theater for a while, and with the Museum of Broadcasting.
In 1981, she was involved in a huge national scandal — she was reportedly having an affair with Claus von Bülow, a New York socialite who was accused of attempting to kill his wife Sunny. There were various trials and legal proceedings dragging on through 1987. Alexandra’s part in the story was actually pretty minor, but it’s a weird connection for anybody who remembers the trials.
In the 1990s, Alexandra became a documentary filmmaker, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She made two films about the Holocaust — The Power of Conscience: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews (1994), and Porraimos: Europe’s Gypsies in the Holocaust (2002), and one about the McCarthy era — Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist (1998). Her films were shown at film festivals and at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and they were broadcast on PBS. So she turned out to be a lot more interesting than you would have guessed, from watching her as an ingenue on a lunatic vampire soap opera.
The nurse in today’s episode is played by Greta Markson, who doesn’t have a lot of credits that I can find in the one minute of Google searches that I feel like spending on her. She appeared in an episode of The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse in 1954, and she’s got a couple of late-50s Broadway credits. Then she was in an episode of The Defenders in 1965, and Dark Shadows in 1968, and that’s all I know.
A couple other notes: Tom and Chris’ sister is referred to as Molly in this episode. She’ll be renamed Amy Jennings by the time she makes her first appearance next week.
Also, Chris is clearly supposed to be Tom’s identical twin, but they never actually use the word “twin” on the show. They just say that he’s Tom’s brother. And that is just about everything I need to say about this episode. At last.
Tomorrow: Horrible Bosses.
— Danny Horn
58 thoughts on “Episode 627: Bad Moon Rising”
“The invention of sexy boys” for an ENTIRE YEAR?!? Oh the pain… the PAIN! (Sorry, wrong sixties TV show).
You’re actually thinking of a ’70s show, “Fantasy Island,” right?
Nope, I’m quoting the great Jonathan Harris from “Lost in Space”!
I remember liking Vicki. I was 14, she was pretty and started out spunky and intelligent. I loved Gothic novels and the character was straight out of a Gothic novel. She also had pretty good chemistry with Mitch Ryan’s Burke. To be fair, I think Mitch Ryan was someone who could have chemistry with a rock, even when drunk off his gourd. Mitch getting fired was the worst thing that could have happened to Vickie’s character. The recast was atrocious, as was the one for Vickie, and there was no chemistry between Anthony George and Alexandra Moltke. After that, they didn’t have anywhere to go with Vickie. Sending her back to the past was a great way to show why Barnabas became a vampire, but it could not do anything for Vickie’s character. She couldn’t put together all the facts, because that would mean exposing Barnabas and they spent all those months redeeming Barnabas. But if she didn’t put it together, she looked like an idiot. Then they had her behave like an idiot in 1795. Maybe, maybe if Mitch Ryan had stuck around, or if the recast had gone better, they could have gone with the way the Collins Family History Book laid things out. Jeremiah doesn’t die in the duel. He falls in love with Vickie making THEM the soulmates throughout history, but as it was Vickie got thrust aside by better actors in better written storylines.
I don’t dislke Alexandra Moltke’s acting the way you do, but I do agree that Nancy Barrett and Katheryn Leigh Scott drew me in much more. The actors you noted Frid, Hall, Thatcher David and later David Selby were much better and more compelling. The one thing Vickie leaving convinced me of is that Dark Shadows was absolutely awful at recasting. I can’t think of any good recasts, except John Karlen as Willie and Willie #1 wasn’t around long enough to remember and was before the Barnabas storyline which most people haven’t even seen.
Alexandra Moltke’s approach to Vicki was, it always seemed to me, understated to say the least. Vicki is on a mission to find herself and she has a somewhat pragmatic nature. But she is also a romantic at heart and tends to go forward with an openness that propels her into the story very naturally. In the end she ultimately has the strength to accept her fate. I always felt Alexandra took her character very seriously. She often found a way to make Vicki strong in spite of always being put into damsel in distress situations.
I totally love that Julia doesn’t suffer from the Same Face = Same Person malady that constantly plagues Barnabas no matter what timeline he is in. It takes her 20 seconds to adjust to the fact that this is Tom’s twin brother and not Tom returned for more neck biting. And a minute or two later she’s taking a car ride with Chris. For me, this is further proof that Julia is the only logical, sensible, sane person left in Collinsport and well suited to her voice of reason role.
Moltke was definitely not the actress Nancy Barrett was (I certainly couldn’t see the former as Charity Trask or Pansy Faye), but even Barrett’s dullest character (Carolyn) had more meat on the bone than Vicki the literal “dream girl” of Dan Curtis. Curtis refused to allow her any soap opera skullduggery and that makes for dull characters. I’m not sure Meryl Streep could have saved the role.
Prior to Julia’s arrival, even during the Barnabas storyline, Vicki was still the Nancy Drew character. I think the true end for her was when Barnabas shifted his attention to her after Maggie. She fell into victim mode and remained there.
I liked Moltke and could understand her frustration with the role. Once Barnabas is on the scene, Vicki loses more of her intelligence and drive, practically by the episode. The writers have no interest in a Jane Eyre story when there are so many monsters to play with. I still resent to this day the offhand way we find out Vicki’s ultimate fate during the Leviathan story. It just seemed as if the writers wanted to be cruel to the show’s fans and the actress herself.
I get what you’re saying, but Vicki was D-U-L-L from the moment they introduced her. After she was gone, the show in no way suffered for it–if anything, it got better because it got rid of its weakest main actor.
As an additional footnote to the strange life of Alexandra Moltke Isles, in the 1990 movie Reversal of Fortune, which documented the Claus Von Bulow story, Alexandra was played by Airplane’s Julie Haggerty.
Haggerty is not even given a credit as Alexandra.
After she left there was some talk about Moltke returning, but she wanted to play a monster or something along those lines that would be more interesting and Dan Curtis refused. Guess he didn’t want his “dream girl” turned into a nightmare.
Say what you will about Moltke’s acting ability–and I can’t recall her ever flubbing a line the way some of those “true stars” of the show did more than just occasionally–but if you were casting or recasting for the part, exactly who would you have chosen in her place? I can’t think of anyone else myself. Alexandra Moltke is one of the faces of Dark Shadows. Alexandra Moltke is Victoria Winters.
If I were to cast Vicky today I would choose Anna Silk of “Lost Girl” (But then her character is a curious mixture of BOTH Barnabas and Vicky, with more brains than the two put together)
I 100% agree with you PrisoneroftheNight – I never had a chance to watch the early episodes in real time back in 1966 and actually never knew they existed before I started watching the Barnabas episodes on HULU – I think Alexandra Moltke portrayed Victoria Winters EXACTLY the way that Dan Curtis envisioned her. Actually I remember having a fight with one of my older cousins when we were discussing Dark Shadows back in the 70’s – she was trying to tell me about a character named Victoria Winters and I (never having seen the early episodes) argued that there was no character named Victoria Winters and that the character she was referring to was Daphne Harridge (Kate Jackson). Anyway I just wanted to post a tribute to the lovely, classy lady Alexandra Moltke – there was definitely a void in the show when she left and I will miss her.
This reminds me of a complaint I have with modern TV — it seems like everyone, especially women, looks like covergirls and fashion models. And they are often dressed to match. Moltke was believable in both physical appearance and costume as Vicki, as was Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie (cute small town girl). Neither would be cast that way now.
DS had lots of interesting and real faces, I thought. Perhaps it was another way the show felt like theater.
Moltke looked too intelligent. Soap heroines who don’t look like bimbos are death to the form. Nothing against KLS or Barrett, but they had the dumb look Moltke lacked–in droves. And so KLS became the replacement Vicki, with Barrett on an as-needed basis.
Carolyn is believable as someone who could date Chris and never figure out his secret. Vicki, not so.
With all due respect, if you think KLS and Nancy Barrett had “dumb looks,” then you and I were watching different shows. I appreciate the love for Moltke, but there’s no need to slam the other actresses as bimbos.
Y’all are getting feisty in the comments these days. I like it.
I never appreciated Moltke until we were introduced to Betsy Durkin. Yegads! I didn’t care what happened to Vicky. I just wanted her gone. Of course, my barely pubescent soul just knew Barnabas was meant for me.
Ah, Victoria, I couldn’t surrender a syllable…..
Alexandra Moltke was perfect for Victoria Winters, for as long as Victoria Winters was perfect for Alexandra Moltke. Turned out to be a little less than two years.
As Danny has mentioned, Dark Shadows went through changes. It was one thing in summer of ’66, something very different, by the end of 1968.
To begin with, it was in black and white, which was very agreeable with Alexandra Moltke. She was probably the most ethereal actress on the show. She wasn’t the larger-than-life type of stage actor. She was a natural for the close-up intimacy of the small screen. She looked good, staring out the window of a train, riding through the night, with that faraway look in her eye. There was something about her.
Something that, as it turned out, got a little drowned-out when the train became a rocket, a rocket to crazy town.
My favorite part of Miss Winters story is the first visit from Roger’s wife, the mysterious Laura. That whole story is one of my top favorite bits of DS. So creepy. This was before they turned up the heat. I felt a chill.
Vicky really gets in touch with the ghost of Josette, has to put two and two together, and go to spooky, jasmine-scented crypts, in the middle of the night.
Before Julia Hoffman came along, it was Vicky’s job to figure out the mystery. I never thought of it this way before, but I suppose you could say that Victoria hands the torch, or baton, or whatever, to Julia.
And then Julia teams up with Barnabas to form the supernatural crime fighting duo, Batman & Scully, and things go in a new direction.
Poor Victoria, a little too good for her own good. Hard to compete with Angelique, that evil new cheerleader, who, guess what, looks good in color, with her big blue eyes. Rhymes with witch.
Here’s to you, Miss Winters, wherever you may be.
very nice, Richard. very nice.
” I appreciate the love for Moltke, but there’s no need to slam the other actresses as bimbos.”
Hm. I’m never sure how to respond when a comment about acting is taken as a comment about the actors themselves. I wasn’t calling KLS or Barrett bimbos, simply saying they convincingly played same. KLS, especially, is a terrific and versatile actress but DS wanted her to act dumb and pretty, and she wanted the job, and so Maggie was born. I understand that’s how the biz works.
“That whole story is one of my top favorite bits of DS. So creepy. This was before they turned up the heat.”
Actually, I’ve always felt the Laura story was when the story turned the craziness up to 11. I managed to miss most of those segments during the original run (though I remember Laura’s giant face looming in David’s room) and was astonished by their sheer, pure-DS looniness, with the supernatural front and center. The usual account–which will probably never change–is that Curtis nudged things gently into the weird zone with the fire ghost plot, got higher ratings, then dug up Barnabas. Rather, the show lost its mind in one fell bat-swoop. Ha, ha. One fell bat-swoop.
And I’ll always contend that Laura was the prototype for Angelique. Same spells, same alto flute cues, same joy taken in tormenting foolish mortals, etc. When Frid showed up, the pace slowed painfully.
Oh, and the upside-down flames during Laura’s 1967 death–priceless. How do you live-matte something upside down?
“How do you live-matte something upside down?”
Here’s one guess: Have a flame about 2 or 3 feet off the ground. Have a big mirror, either flat on the floor or overhead. Point camera toward upside down reflection and do double exposure.
Or they could film a normal flame in one room and flip the image upside down in the control room, along with the double exposure.
Agree. There’s a lot of Laura Collins in Angelique, though there’s a calculating, maturity about Laura that contrasts nicely with Angelique’s reckless, youthful impulsiveness. And Diana Millay is fantastic.
I agree – Vicki could be a dull character, but that was how she was written. She had to be the dull, dumb goldfish ingénue. The author’s assessment of Alexandra is one of the few points on which I disagree with him.
I had to cheat and skip up to these episodes because they’re some of my favourites. Julia’s “Aaach! Tomno!” is one of my all-time absolute favourite bits of the show. I need to find it as a ringtone!!
I also found it interesting that they credited Eve and didn’t use the Dan Curtis Dummy.
My very first contribution to the Dark Shadows wiki was an addition to the screenshots for ep. 627, of Alexandra Molke’s final Dark Shadows credit, just like this post’s concluding image.
When Victoria runs up the stairs to Dr. Hoffman, it SOUNDS like she says Roger must have turned off his cell phone. I realized even Victoria could not make a mistake 30 years in advance, and on closer inspection she actually says Roger must have turned off his telephone. But the telephones we had in l968 could neither be turned off or unplugged. In earlier times you could just leave the receiver off the hook, but by the late l960s they’d invented that really loud annoying signal to warn you you’d left the receiver off the hook (as if nobody would have done so on purpose). Your only hope of escape was to take the receiver off the hook and stuff it under the mattress. I know, our phone number was only one digit off from the local garage, and people called us from the scene of various auto accidents breakdowns no matter what time of the day or night…
It was jarring to hear Victoria say Roger must have turned his phone off- more time travel? But actually, in 1968 at my house we had one of those avocado green wall phones; it had a little tab at the bottom to adjust the ring volume, so you could turn it “off” by sliding the tab all the way to the left.
I figured Roger must have a ring volume setting on his phone, ergo a way to turn it “off”.
I am watching it but swear I am hearing “turned off his CELL phone”. Now that would be real time travel for Victoria. Going back up Tubi and make sure my ears are playing tricks.
Maybe he just told his secretary to hold his calls? I think if you dial your own number you get a busy signal on a landline. If anyone called you, they wouldn’t be able to get through.
If you turn over the desk phone, there is a silver knurled dial in a slot in the base about in the middle under the cradle.That is the volume control for the ringing bell and it can be nearly silenced or annoying loud by rotating it a few notches. Or just unplug the 4 prong plug at the wall.
Any truth to the story that Alexandra left the show because Dan Curtis wanted to write her pregnancy into they show by doing the Dark Shadows version of Rosemary’s Baby?
What I understand from “Barnabas & Co” is the opposite — that Alexandra Moltke’s pregnancy helped her get out of the show before her contract was up. Vicki was unmarried and pretty clearly a virgin when Alexandra Moltke left. Thinking of it in 1969 terms, there’s no way Dan would have wanted to tarnish the girl from his dream by having her pregnant out of wedlock.
Emily not sure about that, but I do know that Alexandra said she did not return to the show after her pregnancy because Dan wanted her to play a part she didn’t want to play.
Lara Parker’s eyes have been GREEN in every shot that I have seen.
Her portrait in 1970PT has them blue.
And the dialogue of the show says blue.
But they’re green.
I know. I thought they looked green sometimes, too. But Lara Parker has blue eyes. It’s even a plot point in “Return to Collinwood”, the 2003 audio drama.
I’ve always felt that Victoria’s extreme blandness as a character was deliberate – it perfectly highlighted the “crazy” in other characters and worked well as a background for all of the mystical shenanigans going on.
It’s too bad that the actress herself did not feel that way. Oh well!
Alexandra Moltke is a classic beauty. She and Joan Bennet always have great hair. I thought Victoria Winter’s refinement and grace came naturally from Alexandra. i liked how one commenter noted she never flubbed her lines or searched frantically for the teleprompter. That one scene with Barnabas in the car was so compelling…and utterly disturbing.
I think part of the irritation with her character/storylines/dialogue came from the parts she had to play opposite. Poor Roger Davis is almost uncomfortable to watch, although there did seem to be some chemistry between them.
Those last scenes with surrogate parents Elizabeth and Roger on her botched wedding day were very touching.
fabulous, Danny Horn. quite simply fabulous.
As a lad watching DS in its original broadcast, I always liked Victoria, but Angelique was my crush. Re-watching the show now, fifty years later, with the added delights of this blog, it’s interesting to see how certain characters (Vicki) and certain actors (Roger Davis) catch a lot of flak.
I also got a little irritated with Vicki when she seemed a bit slow to understand certain situations. The worst, for me, was when she first arrived in 1795, and it seemed to take her forever before she didn’t expect each new character she met to be their 1968 counterpart, just pretending to be someone else to mess with her.
But I’d like to say farewell to Alexandra, like the rest of you. She will always be remembered for embodying Dan Curtis’ vision of the perfect ingenue.
Despite being an Alexandra fan, I must say a few things that might seem less than appreciative, but I am just telling the truth as I see it. The character she plays is supposed to be a New York City orphan. Only in Dan Curtis’ fantasy would such a person be the patrician Alexandra Moltke, whose regal posture and proper speech proclaim what she is: diplomat’s daughter, descendant of advisers to kings, cousin to poets and generals. But she is so exquisite to look at that I am glad for Dan’s conceit.
While I admire the fact that, though she might step on lines occasionally, she rarely if ever flubs or forgets them. But this was a necessity. If you look at the video tribute to her above, you will notice several pictures of her wearing glasses. For some reason, the myopic Alexandra would not wear contacts, so she had to memorize her lines for every single episode because the Teleprompter was useless to her.
Two stories suggest the craziness of DS fandom that extended even to her:
Once when she was coming out of the studio, a female fan came up to her, grabbed her long dark hair, and pulled some out. Moltke did not appreciate it.
She was walking down a street in New York beside Peter Fonda. They both noticed that people were turning their heads to look at them. Fonda suggested that they were recognizing her rather than him. She told him that was insane.
Not only were Chris and Tom never identified as twins but the show actually indicated that they had been born in different years. In episode 564, Joe visits Tom’s grave which gives his dates as 1944-1968. In Episode 676, Chris tells Barnabas the story of his first transformation into a werewolf. He stated this occurred seven years earlier, just a few days after his 21st birthday. Since this episode aired in 1969, this places the birth year of Chris Jennings in 1941.
Wow. I am surprised by the outpouring of feeling for Alexandra Moltke.
I am totally, 100%, unequivocally with Danny on this one. She’s just… not very good. Her lines are delivered like she’s just reading them off an autocue – even when she isn’t – and doesn’t invest the part with any kind of personality.
I get that she was bored of the part, and Vicki is written bland. But compare her to those long stretches where Maggie or Carolyn get stuck with bland, uninteresting stuff to play; KLS and Nancy Barrett still find a way to make their characters watchable, and – as far as they can – actual people. They’re never just attractive props with dialogue casually falling out of their faces. It’s an actor’s job to fill in the blanks. At the start of the show, when Carolyn was a brat and Maggie was stuck making endless sundaes, Barrett showed us an underlying sadness and Scott occasional glimpses of something between the cracks of her determined cheerfulness. Vicki had actual plot, proper mysterious plot to explore, and Moltke still drifted about like she’d just been shaken awake in the break room.
And as to that persistent theory that Dan Curtis wanted to preserve his dream girl, cruelly denying Moltke the chance to play something more interesting?
Maybe he just knew she couldn’t.
There’s so much craziness going on that it’s easy to overlook the invention of an entire family for Tom Jennings, when it was previously stated that he had no relatives.
For some reason (probably the hair) the nurse reminds me of Ruth Buzzi, so in my personal wiki she’s now known as Nurse Buzzi.
As for Alexandra…not the greatest actress in the world but also very poorly served by the writers and the executive producer.
Victoria Winters was the audience identification character from the start, so it was hard to see her marginalized, recast, dropped, and killed off in a dumb way. I was watching back in 1967-1970. Also frustrated was that they wrote it such that, even when she understood Barnabas did NOT go to England but was killed in Collinsport, she never asked how the modern Barnabas came into being. It would have been kinder to the audience if, before she vanished into the past, she told Barnabas that she realized, as a time traveller herself, that the two Barnabases were somehow the same man which endeared him to her all the more. Just my two cents.
Having your lead go back in time to the very timeframe in which Barnabas became a vampire, presumably for the purpose of showing the audience that crucial part of history, and somehow not have her discover that Barnabas is a vampire seems to me like a breathtakingly poor narrative choice. The 1991 remake at least fixed that part.
I first tuned into Dark Shadows when the Victoria in the past storyline was rerunning, but I never was able to watch every episode so I didn’t see the conclusion, and I was really surprised to read (relatively recently) that she didn’t find out about Barnabas. That just seemed like the obvious consequence of that storyline.
A heartfelt farewell to Victoria Winters Collins. When she arrived at Collinwood she came home, but tragically, she never knew it.
I can’t believe Eve is dead! Though knowing this show maybe she’ll return.
I thought Alexandra Moltke was beautiful and a good enough actress, I just think she wasn’t given anything to work with. It’s sad that she won’t be back.
Angelique starting on fire was shocking! And her invocation must’ve sent people over the edge who may have been turning channels and stopped to watch the beautiful lady talking to a candle.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard Don Briscoe as Tom Jennings speak, but did he sound as drug-addled as his Chris does? Made me wonder if in between the two roles Don B. had begun ingesting more of whatever it was he was ingesting.
According to the book Dark Shadows Memories David Henesey alludes to the fact that Don Briscoe smoked pot on set.
Alexandra brought to Vicki a center of the world of Collinwood. It was the character which the madness and horror revolved around. But after the 1795 storyline it was time to move on. Vicki was the center of of the revolving madness, but not its progenitor. In a sense, the show outgrew Vicki. As I am on my first run-through of the complete series, I shall, however, miss Alexandra.
I’ll miss Alexandra Moltke. The Vicky character was dull and kind of obtuse, but Alexandra was so beautiful and classy, I could forgive the character’s shortcomings. And the replacement Vicky was just dreadful. I’m glad to see Chris Jennings, Don Brisco was smoking hot.
I never understood the big deal made over those Jim Morrison young lion photos. He looks so scrawny – and goofy.
The key to really appreciating Alexandra as Victoria Winters is to watch her in the pre-Barnabas episodes. Dan really missed an opportunity, not getting Prell as a sponsor and having Alexandra do the commercials. Her gorgeous hair would have sold tons of Prell.
How differently the show might have been if Kate Jackson had been replacement Victoria (though I guess she was still studying acting when the role came open).
Alexandra Moltke was hired because she looked like her character’s mother, Elizabeth Stoddard. She was pretty but quite dull IMHO. It was never revealed on DS that Elizabeth was Vicky’s mother, but Joan Bennett disclosed it in an interview some years later. And if you go back and watch the pre-Barnabas episodes, she all but says so to Carolyn. Moltke wasn’t hired for her acting ability.