Episode 632: The Owl, the Raven and the Bat

“You will live, as I live — as one of the damned!”

Fall 1968 is a rough time for the Dark Shadows writers, because they’re stuck with a convoluted storyline that just won’t unconvolute. So they’ve embarked on the Great 1968 Wrap-Up, where they shed all of the characters, actors and plotlines that are surplus to requirements, which is practically all of them.

In this time of turbulent change, we turn to the old traditions for comfort. I mean the really old traditions, like dressing up in animal skins and making blood offerings to Asmodeus.

651 dark shadows full moon

The theme of this week is the cycle of destruction and renewal, as we close this story down and start over. We’re going to see a lot of rituals, and murders, and women getting knocked cold by violent attackers. You know, the usual soap opera thing.

So the stakes are high this week, and the only question that matters is who’s going to make it out alive.

632 dark shadows maggie nicholas outfit

For example: Nicholas Blair, the purportedly conniving mastermind, who’s trapped in a storyline death spiral that he’s powerless to prevent.

Nobody trusts him anymore, and his allies have turned on him. What was once a powerful figure has turned into a laughable failure.

So he figures, what the hell. Let’s just hypnotize Maggie, and get this over with.

632 dark shadows chris fiveshadowing

And just to drive the point home, there’s a really good new story coming around the corner. Chris, our brand-new mystery monster man, has come to Windcliff Sanitarium to visit his little sister.

In the waiting room, Chris looks at a newspaper, and sees that there’ll be a full moon tonight. He gets upset, because he’s not good at keeping track of things, and he clutches a passing table for support.

“Not again,” he mutters. “Please, not again!” This is such heavy foreshadowing that it might as well be fiveshadowing.

632 dark shadows amy chris young set

And here comes Amy, a new addition who’s clearly a shout-out to the young set. The middle schoolers are a recent addition to the Dark Shadows demographic, and they’re the target audience for the new Dark Shadows board game, and the View-Master reels.

So far, the show’s cast has only had one core child character — haunted twelve-year-old David Collins — and he hasn’t had much to do on the show since his little ghost friend Sarah disappeared, more than a year ago. That situation is about to change in a big way.

632 dark shadows amy chris present

Now, we’ve seen this actor before — he’s Don Briscoe, who played sexy vampire boy Tom Jennings back in the summer, and that’s basically the only thing from the second half of this year that the producers really feel happy with.

So they brought Don back as Tom’s twin brother, Chris, and they build up a family for him by giving him a little sister, who Tom has been taking care of since their parents died.

Tom was killed and vampirized a few months ago, and since then Amy’s been stuck in a mental hospital, dealing with her trauma. This is the first time Chris has come to see her, because he’s a troubled bad boy who moves around a lot, and also he was just invented a week ago.

632 dark shadows amy chris brother

He’s brought her a present — a box of paints — but she just stares at him with a blank expression. Amy is not having it.

632 dark shadows amy chris fish

She moves across the room for some moody fishacting.

Amy:  Why didn’t you come before?

Chris:  I couldn’t, sweetheart. I wanted to… but I just couldn’t.

Amy:  Nobody came.

Chris:  I know. I stayed away too long. Amy…

Amy:  You did what you had to do. You brought me the present. You can go now.

So that’s what kids are like, in 1968. Amy is hardcore.

632 dark shadows chris amy windcliff

And the lovely thing is that Chris is devastated to see his little sister like this. It’s an incredibly well-thought out move, giving the bad boy a kid to care about. If Amy’s here for the young set, then Chris is here for the housewives and teenagers, and they need to see how sensitive and misunderstood he is.

632 dark shadows amy chris learned

So Chris promises to stay in Collinsport, and Amy tumbles into his arms, sobbing, “Please don’t leave me!” He embraces her fondly, but looks off into the distance, conflicted.

This is basically the perfect three-minute troubled heartthrob scene. It’s almost like they remembered how to make a television show again, and not a moment too soon.

632 dark shadows maggie nicholas heat

Meanwhile, things are heating up over at Nicholas’ place, where we are going to end this damn storyline, one way or another. He’s hypno-proposed to Maggie so effectively that her outfit has magically changed into a wedding gown, complete with a veil and bouquet. There’s a way better storyline percolating across town, and there’s no time to waste.

632 dark shadows chris clerk

So let’s get back to Chris, who’s just realized that there’s a full moon tonight, and he needs to take steps. He asks the clerk at the Collinsport Inn if there’s an isolated room he can move to, far away from the other guests.

632 dark shadows chris clerk shabby

The clerk brings him up to a shabby room in the attic, which Chris says is perfect. Then he outlines his plans for the evening.

Chris:  Can you do me a favor?

Clerk:  What’s that?

Chris:  Lock me in here. And another thing — if you should happen to hear anything during the night, just noises, or —

Clerk:  Noises?

Chris:  Uh, I sometimes move around and act out what I’m writing, kind of gets me into it. Don’t pay any attention to anything you hear.

The clerk is puzzled, but he lives in Collinsport, so this probably isn’t the strangest thing he’s heard lately. Dude wants to be locked into his room? Sure, why not.

632 dark shadows maggie nicholas drugged

I’m kind of rushing through the episode, because all this malarkey sets up one of the most extraordinary sequences that we’ve ever seen on Dark Shadows — a third-act cross-cut between two utterly ridiculous events.

First up: Nicholas drugs Maggie’s champagne, knocking her out. This is the second time this week that a female character has been rendered unconscious, and there will be lots more examples, because obviously women are very sleepy.

632 dark shadows clerk door

As the full moon rises, it’s back to the Collinsport Inn, where the hotel clerk treats Chris’ request for privacy with the same contempt that all hotel employees display towards their guests’ explicit instructions.

So he’s getting all concerned, just because his guest is screaming, “Oh, no, not now!” and knocking over the furniture. I guess some people take customer satisfaction seriously and some people don’t, and that’s all there is to it.

632 dark shadows clerk room

The clerk enters the room, which is a bit of a mess, although it was kind of a dump to begin with, so whatever.

632 dark shadows clerk mpov

Then we get what I believe is our first Monster Point of View shot as the snarling beast advances. This means that the clerk walked straight past an angry, violent monster without noticing it. Again, typical hotel employee behavior, so you can hardly blame him for it.

632 dark shadows nicholas maggie black mass

And then ABC Daytime just goes ahead and broadcasts a Black Mass, sealing Nicholas and Maggie’s union by offering up her soul for eternal damnation.

“The ceremony will begin,” Nicholas intones, holding up a goblet, “and you will be my bride throughout time.”

632 dark shadows werewolf kill clerk

And then we go straight back to the Inn, where the hotel clerk is splattered with fresh, dripping blood. (There’s also some mysterious blue streaks on his face, see the Footnote section below for an explanation.)

The corpse is dragged across the floor by his ferocious, unseen attacker, and then it’s back to the wedding.

632 dark shadows nicholas maggie anoint

The thing that I love most about this scene is that it feels like they were saying, you know, it’s a little weird to show a Black Mass to an audience that we’re currently marketing to middle schoolers. Maybe we should find something else to cut to, so that it doesn’t seem so weird. And then their answer was werewolf kill.

632 dark shadows nicholas maggie bride

Now, sometimes when there’s a soap opera wedding, one of the soap magazines will print the wedding vows, so fans can relive the romance and magic of this moment.

Nicholas:  Maggie Evans… I anoint thee with the blood of the owl, the raven and the bat. You will dwell with me forever in the land of the dead. You will live, as I live — as one of the damned! Your spirit has united with mine!

He kisses the bride.

Nicholas:  LET THE LEGIONS OF THE DAMNED SALUTE YOU!

And you know what? They do. It’s just that kind of show today.

Tomorrow: All Our Dead Have Turned Into Skeletons.


632 dark shadows werewolf kill clerk

Footnote:

The mysterious blue streaks on Mr. Wells’ bloodstained face have excited some comment over the years, and the explanation is quite simple: Mr. Wells is one of the Deep Ones, ocean-dwelling monsters from H.P. Lovecraft’s 1931 novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

The Deep Ones are humanoid, with rubbery blue-gray skin, which Wells has clearly disguised with makeup on his face, neck and hands. The violent werewolf assault has rubbed off some of the disguise, exposing a few small patches of his real skin.

Therefore, “Mr. Wells” must be an advance operative of the Leviathans, working under deep cover, and tasked with keeping his glassy, bulging, unblinking eyes on the people of Collinsport.

The agent’s murder probably set the Leviathans’ plans back a bit, which is why they don’t show up for another year. This also explains why the Leviathans are so afraid of werewolves.

You see? Perfectly straightforward. All you had to do was ask.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, after Nicholas casts his hypnotic spell on Maggie, there’s a lot of shuffling around in the studio.

The clock in the Collinsport inn says that it’s 12:45, but the scene takes place not long before dusk.

There are a couple of ugly tape edits today. In act 1, the scene of Chris talking to the Windcliff nurse begins very abruptly, as if the beginning of the scene has been edited out. At the end of act 2, there’s an obvious edit after the Inn clerk leaves Chris alone in his room.

Maggie says that she’s nervous about the upcoming wedding, and Nicholas leads her to the couch. “I have an antidote…” he announces, and after a long beat, finishes the sentence: “for that.” Maggie chuckles a little during the pause.

As Nicholas raises the goblet and begins the Black Mass, there’s a clank from the studio.


Behind the Scenes:

Amy is played by Denise NIckerson, who was eleven when she joined the show. She’ll be around through mid-1970, playing several characters in different time periods. Denise’s first acting job — at age two — was a commercial for a Florida home heating company. Her parents were relentless about pushing her to perform, and she was appearing at fashion shows and in regional theater by age four. She spent several years in a touring company for Peter Pan, and after that, her parents sent her to live with her older sister in New York City and try out for more stage roles.

Denise’s first television appearance was in a March 1965 episode of the dolphin-focused adventure series Flipper. Then she appeared on NBC soap The Doctors, as she continued her stage career. She’ll still be working in theater during her run on Dark Shadows. If you recognize her, it’s probably from her role as Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Today’s episode also features an appearance by Conrad Bain as the hotel clerk. Conrad was in the first episode of Dark Shadows as Mr. Wells, who greeted Burke on his arrival at the Collinsport Inn. He returned for a couple more episodes in 1966, and now they’ve brought him back two years later, for one last episode.

Conrad recalled his time on the show in the book Barnabas & Company: The Cast of the TV Classic Dark Shadows:

“It’s amazing that they refer to me being on the show at all,” he said in 2002. “I did three episodes, then when they wanted me again, I was not available, and then that sort of petered out. Then one day, a year or two later, I got a phone call, and a young woman’s voice said, ‘Mr. Bain, this is Dark Shadows.‘ I said, ‘Yes?’ She said, ‘Were you ever eaten by the werewolf?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t think so. I would remember that.’ She said, ‘Oh, we’ve got to get you back then.’ So I had to go back to get eaten by the werewolf. And that terminated that.”

Bain later became a well-known actor on popular sitcoms, with a six-year run on Maude, from 1972 to 1978, and then a co-starring role on Diff’rent Strokes as Philip Drummond from 1978 to 1986.

One more cast member to mention — the nurse at Windcliff is played by the winner of a Miss Polish America pageant, in one of the show’s many strange promotional gimmicks. Her name is Bobbi Ann Woronko, and she’s terrible, which explains the abrupt tape edit at the beginning of her scene. She ends up only saying two lines in the broadcast episode, and then she exits.

But Bobbi Ann is very proud of the role, and she has a website where she sells Nurse Pritchett T-shirts. Seriously, go check it out. It’s amazing.

632 dark shadows bobbi ann

Finally, a few props notes: The Ralston-Purina lamp is on the front desk at the Collinsport Inn; the extremely portable lamp was last seen a couple weeks ago in Roger’s room.

In the first Windcliff scene, there are two Raggedy Ann dolls sitting on the mantelpiece in the Windcliff waiting room. One of them is the doll we saw in Sarah’s room last December, during the 1795 storyline. Raggedy Ann dolls were originally produced in 1915, so this one is clearly a complex space-time event. Just to underline their reality-warping powers, the dolls are inexplicably replaced with flowerpots during the commercial break.

There’s also a print of Van Gogh’s Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers on the wall.

The fish tank is the same one we saw in Julia’s office at Windcliff back in July 1967, and it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since. The prop goldfish are probably new.

Tomorrow: All Our Dead Have Turned Into Skeletons.

632 dark shadows bobbi ann woronko

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

41 thoughts on “Episode 632: The Owl, the Raven and the Bat

  1. The goldfish are probably new since nobody’s bothered to feed the previous fish after Julia took up rent-free residence in Collinwood! 😜

  2. Let’s not forget that the hotel clerk is Conrad Bain in a droopy moustache (reprising a role from a few earlier appearances, including the first show). Thus killing off the possibility of that “Different Stokes” spin-off.

    I always liked Bain’s anecdote (which like so many DS cast stories, is probably misremembered, but still neat), how he hadn’t been called up for “Dark Shadows” in a long time, and then they rang and said “When you were on the show, were you killed by a werewolf?” “No, I think I would have remembered that.” So they brought him back for this. To me, it’s the most amusing day player casting until we get to Abe Vigoda.

      1. I’d been counting down the episodes to “the one where a werewolf mauls Conrad Bain.” I love that shot of him gazing into the gaping maw of death the only way one can, with eyes bulging out of spectacles and moustache flailing in the wind.

        Of course this will probably just increase the number of e-mails from Amazon asking me to buy The Complete Maude.

          1. I don’t mind Maude, but I have a friend who absolutely loves the show. At one point, we were chatting online, discussing the Three Caballeros. Then suddenly he says “Arthur is wearing a Tyrolean hat.” And it takes me a few seconds to realize he suddenly switched to watching Maude on YouTube.

            So I personally blame him for the Amazon e-mails.

  3. The Raggedy Ann doll was in the 1795 storyline? It might be a dumb question, but were there actually Raggedy Ann dolls in the Eighteenth Century, or is that an anachronism?

  4. Denise Nickerson sells the pain here and then some. It’s almost too difficult to watch. What a great addition to the show.

  5. In the early ’90s, MPI started to release DARK SHADOWS on VHS. I bought one of the early Barnabas episodes — excited to see them again after discovering the show a few years earlier. The syndicated reruns I’d seen hadn’t gone far past 1795, so I recall being blown away by the promo “trailer” for the home video release at the start of the tape. I had no idea the series would become this flat-out crazy. Werewolves! Black masses! Nicholas Blair himself hollering about the “legions of the damned” felt like something from a completely different series.

  6. A couple episodes ago when Maggie showed up at Nicholas’ house only to become a ventriloquist dummy for Diabolos, there was a striking change in her wardrobe. All of a sudden she looked chic, in a close-fitting brown mini with a decorative gold belt. And then we never see that outfit again. Up until that episode, 628 or 629 I think it was, Maggie Evans was always seen in the frumpiest and least attractive outfits, and it won’t be until Junior Sophisticates comes along in 1969 to save the day and provide her with the sort of look that truly flatters her.

    And here again in this episode we see Maggie back with her flaky outfits that only someone’s grandmother could love. Exactly what is that white thingy with the thin blue and red stripes–is it the kitchen towel, or a cloth napkin from a restaurant that Nicholas has recently taken her to?

    Of all the female characters on the show, only Mrs. Johnson has a more homely dress sense than Maggie, but has a passable excuse as a 50-year-old widow who works as a maid.

  7. Are you talking about her sailor suit? The outfit she’s wearing today? That’s a smart little outfit, one of her best. Maybe they don’t show it from a good angle, but that’s a very hip little outfit.

    1. I don’t know if dressing as Olive Oyl from Popeye the Sailor Man is exactly a “smart” outfit, but it certainly isn’t as dumb as that big bathroom rug she was schlepping around the Evans cottage in this year, but each to their own taste. I’m a fan of the Junior Sophisticates minis with the multi-necklaces that make Maggie seem more contemporary and modern. You’d never see Carolyn or even Vicki wearing half the things Maggie has been attired in over the first two and a half years of the show. Until she makes the governess transition, there always seemed something more Saturday Evening Post 1950s about her overall appearance, just too straightlaced, dull, and square for the sort of brassy persona that Maggie first presented us with when the show began. It makes you wonder what a diabolical warlock like Nicholas would have seen in her to begin with. Maybe all he wants out of (after)life is to just sit at a soda fountain in a small-town diner with a girl who dresses like she’s modeling for Miss Norman Rockwell 1968.

  8. It’s good to see Conrad Bain and the old Collinsport Inn lobby again – I remember the three previous episodes he was in – in Episode 1 Burke gave him the cold shoulder when he welcomed him back to Collinsport after Burke’s jail stint and in the second episode he plied Sam Evans with coffee when Sam wandered into the restaurant drunk and lastly when Sam ‘became David Ford’ Mr Wells refused to him a letter that he had given Maggie to put in the hotel safe which would have implicated Sam in the Burke Devlin/Roger Collins vehicular manslaughter affair). Poor Sam would have been horrified to see what has happened to his daughter Maggie since his untimely demise.

  9. When this episode first aired in 1968, many people still believed that de-oxygenated blood was blue. Among them was my grade school science teacher who had told us so a few days before this episode was telecast, At the time, I thought it was pretty cool that something I learned in school proved useful for understanding Dark Shadows a few days later. Deoxygenated blood on the Innkeeper’s face! Now I know it was all a lie.

    After seeing Conrad Bain slaughtered by a werewolf, at least I finally understood the references to Wolf’s Bain….

    1. I think the real reason for the blue is that the make-up was done by someone with more theatrical experience, than television experience. Theatrical make up is more exaggerated and looks fine on a stage. The blue is probably just there to bring out the red. For television, it has to be toned-down, it has to look real.

    2. Denise Nickerson was Peter Brady’s date on the Brady Bunch, when it first aired I knew she was familiar.
      Took a trip through DS a few years later to pin point her.I also think the BBrady Bunch was one of her last tv appearances.
      She was a heart tugging little actress.

  10. WOLF’S BAIN–TOO HILARIOUS!!!! Fortunately I’d no coffee nearby! I knew I’d seen Violet B. somewhere else… just never followed-up. Denise, has the best d*mn song(I WANT IT NOW!) in the W.W film she deserved an OSCAR+GRAMMY both. P.S. Speaking of odd color make-up whoda’ thought Denise in head-to-toe PURPLE!!! P.S.S. I was a 11 y.o. watching since Ep. 1, so the the mkt. research done was pretty spot-on, just wished D.S. had aired a 1/2 Hr. later @ 3:30p.m. on ABC-7 CHICAGO (that marathon jog home from school 5 days ea. wk. WHEW!!!). My mom baked so I didn’t mourn missing every show opening too much-CINNABON has nothin’ on her sweetrolls!!! MIKE

    1. I think Veruca Salt is the character who had the “I Want It Now!” song.

      I remember Denise Nickerson from her role as Liza on “Search for Tomorrow.”

  11. Besides the mysterious blue streaks on Mr. Wells’ face, there are red streaks as well. I’m guessing the make-up artist tried (unsuccessfully) to display scratches (i.e., the red streaks) and bruising (i.e., the blue streaks).

    Diff’rent Streaks eventually became Diff’rent Strokes.

  12. The blue could have been accidental.
    Time was flying between alive Bain and dead Bain scenes.
    No time to fix it, so they said, wtf, run with it, nobody will see it again…

  13. Wow. That’s a lot going on in one episode. The Chris Jennings storyline feels like it’s going to me much more focused and on a human level vs. all the Nicholas/super race/Diabolas stuff.

    1. There is such a lot in this episode that my jaw dropped when I saw Ron Sproat’s name in the credits. How could Ron be the writer? Stuff actually… happened!

      It was oddly appropriate to have Conrad back. We’re going through such a transitional time what with the recast Vicki and the introduction of the Jennings family. It’s only right that we slaughter an episode 1 character for good measure.

  14. Oh Lord. After being shut out due to Hulu, Amazon Prime now has all the seasons and I have been able to return to the show. And what a god damn doozy of an episode. I’m so happy to be watching again that I might just treat myself to a Nurse Pritchett t shirt.

  15. In making a list of the changes between episodes 627 and say 639, I forgot Conrad Bain/ Mr. Wells. Back just in time to check out for good.

    Also checking out in rapid fashion: Eve, Nicholas*, Adam and Tom. Recasting: Vicki and later on Harry** (and Vicki again). Losing track of Angelique but she’ll be back in a month. Introducing: Chris, Amy and (in spirit, anyway) Quentin.

    *He won’t be back for more than 300 episodes!

    **Soon Harry will be entirely gone but we won’t speak of that.

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