Episode 628: Horrible Bosses

“I summon you in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings!”

Angelique has had enough. She lights a candle.

Prince of Fire, she says, I call upon the flame to summon you. I call up all the dark creatures of nature to summon you here to me.

I summon you in the name of the seven plagues, in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings, to rise out of the darkness of the earth!

I call you forth from the mouth of the dragon, and of the beast, and of the false prophet! I call you forth from the subterranean rivers of blood, from the smoke of torment which rises forever and ever!

In the name of every evil spirit — evil, and obedient only to you — I invoke you! Appear to me NOW!

And then she erupts into a furnace of psychedelic Chromakey flames, screaming and pleading for her life.

This is Wednesday, by the way. This is what we do on Wednesdays now.

628 dark shadows angelique hell

So here’s what all the racket is about.

Angelique, the sorcerous soap vixen, used to be an independent contractor for the Lord of the Flies. But right after she became a full-time employee earlier this year, the org structure changed, and she started reporting to a new manager.

It hasn’t been a great fit. Her quarterly objectives have changed several times, with very little warning. She was moved into a new position that’s outside her core competencies. She’s been alternately unsupervised and micromanaged.

628 dark shadows angelique diabolos desk

Now, I know that it sounds like I’m just doing a funny riff on the situation, but I’m not. Angelique calls on the Prince of Fire, in the name of the seven plagues and the subterranean rivers of blood — and when we see him, he’s sitting behind a desk. This is actually what’s happening on this television show.

So today’s entry is going to be a bit of a struggle for me, because my usual lit-crit comedy tricks may not be sufficient to account for the head-baffling conceptual chaos of this moment. Angelique literally has the boss from Hell.

628 dark shadows diabolos angelique fire

So: this guy, right? What in the wide world of sports is this even supposed to actually be?

They never say his name on screen; they just call him “Master” and “Prince of Fire” and similar horseradish. In the script, he was referred to as Balberith, but in the end credits he’s Diabolos.

Ba’al-berith is a name that goes back to the early Jews in the Bronze Age, and more or less means “God of the Covenant,” although who even knows with the early Jews. The name was picked up in Christian demonology, who described Balberith as one of the princes of Hell — Satan’s secretary, basically, and the keeper of the public archives.

Or something like that. It’s hard to do research on this, because all of my Google searches just bring up characters from Final Fantasy games.

628 dark shadows diabolos angelique repented

Basically, he’s a shouty guy from Inhuman Resources, and Angelique is tattling about her hostile work environment.

Angelique:  Well, you know Nicholas was sent to save me, when I had been exorcised by a man called Trask.

Diabolos:  YES. AND YOU WERE TO BE PUNISHED FOR YOUR INEPTITUDE.

Angelique:  I was! But after that, Nicholas became vindictive… unreasonable! Instead of helping me, he continued to punish me — to torment me!

Diabolos:  FROM WHAT I KNOW, YOU DESERVED IT. YOU BROKE YOUR PACT WITH HIM. YOU FOLLOWED YOUR OWN SELFISH WILL.

Which is a problem how, exactly? This is the hard thing about fictional depictions of Evil with a capital E — if your core business values are about being unkind and spiteful and traitorous, then it’s difficult to follow any kind of rational staff development program.

So there’s not a hell of a lot that you can do with henchmen, in the long term. Bond villains and wolves of Wall Street are always betrayed by their own employees. This is not a surprise.

628 dark shadows diabolos angelique boss

So Angelique’s going to have to try harder than that. Luckily, she was born crazy, so this is her area.

Diabolos:  I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE. HE SERVES ME WELL. HIS PLAN FOR CREATING A SUPER RACE WHICH WILL FOLLOW ONLY ME IS EXCELLENT.

Angelique:  But that’s what I came to tell you about! He is failing in that plan — failing miserably!

Diabolos:  FAILING?

Angelique:  Yes. Because of his stupidity, one of the beings chosen for the plan has destroyed the other.

628 dark shadows angelique human love

You can tell that this scene is super urgent and exciting, because Angelique is using a lot of dramatic clarification, repeating the word that she just said, but with greater emphasis.

Diabolos:  HOW COULD HE LET THAT HAPPEN?

Angelique:  Because of a weakness — a human weakness!

Diabolos:  SAY IT.

Angelique:  Love — human love!

628 dark shadows diabolos angelique love

That hits a nerve.

Diabolos:  LOVE? HOW COULD ONE OF MY FOLLOWERS LOVE?

Angelique:  He has learned. There is a woman in the town of Collinsport. He thinks only of her. He spends all of his time with her — a human! He was away with her when the murder occurred.

Diabolos:  HE LEFT HIS TWO PEOPLE ALONE?

Angelique:  Yes. The experiment is no longer important to him.

Diabolos:  WELL, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ME! I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED BY LOVE — THE MOST CARDINAL OF SINS!

628 dark shadows plan 9

So if this wasn’t already in the top three weirdest depictions of the Devil, that would have clinched it.

There’s a bitchy little edge to that line — “Well, it’s important to me!” — and it reminds me of Bunny Breckinridge’s alien leader in Plan 9 from Outer Space, all eyerolls and satin curtains. I guess the Devil really does wear Prada.

628 dark shadows diabolos angelique devil

But the thing that I love the most about this entirely bonkers sequence is that Diabolos is the only character in this entire fictional universe who has rules for how people are supposed to behave.

This is a world where people are assaulted, murdered and turned into cats on a weekly basis, and no one is ever arrested, and justice is never done. The legal system hardly exists — the only trials that we ever see are kangaroo courts for trumped-up witch hunts. Crimes are solved by ghosts, or not at all.

So this is what we have, instead of laws and morals and values. We have Satan, and the cardinal sin is love.

Tomorrow: In Many Somber Colors.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There’s a boom mic overhead during Angelique’s scene with Diabolos, right after the “love, human love” part.

There’s so much smoke in the Hell set that it drifts over into the set for Nicholas’ house, which appears to have a developing weather pattern in the drawing room.

Julia and Adam talk over each other in act 2. Julia says, “Eve was an evil, vicious woman, and I’m glad she’s dead,” and then Adam says “You’re glad?” at the same time that Julia says “Do you believe me?”


Behind the Scenes:

Diabolos is played by Duane Morris, who appeared in May as the headless body that was later brought to life as Adam. He came back for an episode in July, when Nicholas raised the spirits of two guys whose bodies were scavenged for the Frankenstein experiment. He plays Diabolos today and tomorrow, and that’s his last time on the show. He appears in nine episodes total, and we never see his face.

Tomorrow: In Many Somber Colors.

628 dark shadows bunny breckinridge

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

19 thoughts on “Episode 628: Horrible Bosses

  1. The Devil has a cool office. His desk is small, but surprisingly evil.

    Isn’t this the one where Dark Shadows actually got into trouble for going too far? For depicting Satan as someone you might actually go to work for? Cut deals with? Luring little Christian children into the clutches of The Devil, in the middle of the afternoon?

    I was thinking there was a controversy over this one, now that Dark Shadows was big enough to matter. Anyone know about this?

    1. There are references to a controversy in a couple of books, but nobody has any details — I’d love to see a contemporary newspaper or magazine article about it. Back when I started the blog, I spent a while trying to track down the Jack Chick evangelical tract that calls Dark Shadows “Satan’s favorite TV show”, but all I could find was the version that targets Bewitched.

    1. Wow! That is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for — how exciting, thank you!

      I knew that there was a tract that had Dark Shadows in it and then was changed to Bewitched. I looked at a bunch of books about Jack Chick, but the only relevant tract listed was called “Bewitched”, and I couldn’t figure out if it had a different name when it was focused on DS. That forum post answers all of my questions.

      Hooray, that actually just made my life better.

      1. This Jack Chick “person”, and what a charming, sophisticated name,
        seems to be some sort of evangelical terrorist,
        although I believe the technical term is “whack-a-ding-dong-doodle”.

        Instead of picking on one show, he could have inspired more Christian anxiety, paranoia and terror, by going after ABC itself, squawking about how they have Angelique The Witch on Dark Shadows in the daytime, and Samantha The Witch on Bewitched, at night. Oh no! It’s witches, day and night, over at ABC! ABC is CBA spelled backwards! They’re the witching network! Run for you lives! Everybody panic! Etc!

        Bewitched was so harmless, barely even about witchcraft, more about modern marriage, whereas Dark Shadows…….oh, there may have been a few seances held in our basement. A few candles lit. We contacted a spirit that was fluent in Pig Latin.

        1. Yeah, Jack Chick is a complete wingnut. He believes that practically everything is a tool of Satan, and that the only acceptable way to spend your day is to constantly evangelize to everyone, even if you’re a doctor, a teacher or a judge.

          For Jack, the problem with Bewitched, Dark Shadows, Harry Potter, Charmed, The Wizard of Oz, True Blood, Once Upon a Time, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and any other story that has harmless “good” witches is that there is real magic in the world, and it is practiced by Satan and his demons. If we teach children that they shouldn’t be afraid of people who practice magic, then Satan will ensnare them and they will be damned to Hell. Jack is very, very concerned about this.

  2. We’re deep in View master territory now. I think you can tell they had the View master in mind for this; there are so many objects in the foreground giving the Hell room some forced perspective.

    For me, this episode is tied with one other for the top “bat shit crazy moments on Dark Shadows”, the other one is late in the Leviathan period when we come upon a Zombie sheriff flogging a chained up werewolf in a crypt. I remember both times saying, “Wow this is light-years away from Jason McGuire blackmailing Liz Stoddard, or even Barnabas sneaking into bedrooms.”

    1. I’ll take Barnabas sneaking into bedrooms – outside of the visual spectacle this plot is too much in the realm of the absurd – countdown to Quentin and the next truly great storyline starts at this episode for me..

    2. Yeah, there’s a direct shortcut from the 1968 wrap-up to the Leviathan wrap-up. Nicholas’ plans falling apart, Carolyn romantically attached to a cliff-jumping monster, desperately trying to transition into the next storyline… and then Peter Bradford shows up.

  3. Diablos sure was a hard ass. He also didn’t seem to like tattletales, so he still ended up punishing Angelique — and maybe Lara Parker fans.

    Episode #628 marks the end for quite some time of Lara being a real core member of the DS cast.

    This might surprise some since we know Lara remains with the show for the rest of its run, but, as it was with other cast members, her degree of involvement could fluctuate dramatically over the next few years.

    To sum up: Parker started in November 1967 and was a regular for the next two months as Angelique wreaked havoc in 1795/1796. Even though her character was eventually killed off, she still put in a few more appearances over the next month as a… ghost witch? She was then off the show until Cassandra Collins appeared in present-day Collinswood. After that, Lara worked regularly for the next eight months until her character literally “went to the devil” in November 1968 (marking one solid year of steady employment).

    After that, Lara was still with the show, but her appearances became less frequent and not as prolonged. For much of the next 16 months (encompassing all of 1969), she would come in for a few days or maybe a solid week of work and then be gone again for an extended period of time. While Angelique is a part of the Big Fun that is the 1897 flashback, her character is often peripheral to the main action and tends to disappear for long stretches of time. She also makes a few appearances in the Leviathan storyline, but she isn’t central to it until near its end.

    It wasn’t until the commencement of the Parallel Time storyline in April 1970 that Lara once again became a main lead. As most of us know, this became necessary since much of the main cast were away making the House of Dark Shadows movie. After all, Lara, along with David Selby, wasn’t a part of the initial Barnabas vampire storyline, so they were left to carry the daily show.

    However, once Parallel Time Angelique is killed off, Lara is then off the program for the next three months, the longest stretch without her making a single appearance since she became a part of the show. The 1995 Flash Forward and the Summer of 1970 storylines all take place without her.

    Angelique finally returned in the 1840 flashback, and Lara would then remain with the show, working steadily, until it ended five months later.

    1. Angelique had about a full year as a major villain. That’s longer than any other villainous character. And she was demoted to “Starscream” to Nicholas’s “Megatron” for the past several months.

      She starts as a potential major player in 1897 and then becomes a wild card — hardly a good guy but usually allied with Barnabas and Quentin. I loved this version of her and regretted her regression during 1970.

      She’s great in 1970 PT and in 1840, though she swings from the extremes pure evil to devoted ally.

  4. During the scene where Angelique is talking to The Secretary, the music in the background kinda sounds like “Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs & Orchestra” by György Ligeti. It’s the music that was used in “2001, A Space Odyssey” during the Stargate sequence, and also recently in the “Godzilla” (2014) while the military folks were divin’ through the sky.

    Of course I may be completely wrong about this.

    There is another very DS-sounding piece layered over it, but I could swear it’s in the background. – No, I listened to it again – it’s there.

    Heavens t’Betsy.

    Thanks again for your blog, Mr. Danny, I don’t think I could get through some episodes without it. ((lol)) 🙂

    /lub,

    Sat

  5. Danny, I read in some DS book that Diabolos was never supposed to be Satan himself, although that certainly was implied, but was actually more the “Vice President in Charge of Witchcraft.”

    Yes, I heard the Diabolos presence got some fundamentalist anti-DS tract going (which was inter-changeable as an anti-“Bewitched” tract) — and the controversy probably helped the ratings, so both Dan and ABC did not mind too much probably.

    I have a theory as to what inspired the anti-Bewitched tract. An early first-season episode (an odd one) had a very young (very hot) pre-Batman single eligible Adam West work as a graphic artist for Darren’s McMann and Tate ad agency. Samantha had a single female friend who was not a witch, but certain coincidences would happen and Darren assumed Sam’s friend was a witch. Somehow, Adam West and Sam’s friend hit it off and were looking like they would be a couple. Darren, oddly here, because we all thought he really loved Sam (despite sometimes being exasperated by all the witch stuff and supposedly having a “no witchcraft” rule in the house [with a multitude of exceptions each week]), tries to break up Adam West and Sam’s friend because he does not want Adam West to end up marrying a witch like he did — he somehow wants to prevent all that trouble. Sam is understandably ticked and gets wise to Darren’s plot and says sarcastically to Darren: “Yes, while you’re at the office, all the wives here on Morning Glory Circle (street where Sam and Darren live) all bow to the glory of Beelzebub” (or words to that effect). It is my personal theory that the reference to Beelzebub raised the fundamentalist anti-Bewitched ire…

  6. if it hadn’t been for the petulant tone of Ba’al-berith, this would have been a very dark moment. i was feeling a little squeamish until i heard his “bitchy” voice, but then again i am watching this crazy show in the middle of the night…

  7. I just want to say how pleased I am to come here and find you all chatting about Chick tracts. This blog is an oasis to me sometimes.

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