Episode 633/634: All Our Dead Have Turned Into Skeletons

“Your powers, Mr. Blair. Where are they now?”

Okay, so that happened.

Nicholas Blair, who we might as well call the Big Bad until something Big Worse comes along, has realized that he’s going to be transferred back to the home office in the Netherworld pretty soon, and if he wants to hold on to his girlfriend Maggie, then he needs to put The Ring on it.

So he does what any young lover would do, namely: drug her champagne, carry her downstairs to the bloodstone circle, and recite a romantic selection or two from the Malleus Maleficarum.

Yesterday’s episode is the example that I cite whenever I’m trying to explain how unbelievably weird Dark Shadows can be, because it’s pretty much the furthest they ever go in this particular direction. Not because it doesn’t work (although it doesn’t, really) — just because at this point there is literally nowhere left to go.

You’ve just shown America’s children how to perform a Black Mass. The only thing you can do after that is run away, screaming You’ll never catch me alive! and laughing maniacally.

633 dark shadows julia barnabas eve

But guess what! It’s only Wednesday, and they’ve still got a TV show to produce, so we descend once again into the darkest recesses of the Old House basement, for yet another spin around the mad science track.

Nicholas has threatened Barnabas and Julia into re-reanimating Eve, the female corpse monster who was recently strangled by her male counterpart Adam, and dumped in a closet. Now he wants her back, but with a different life force. Don’t even ask; it’s a whole thing.

If you’ve been reading the blog lately, then you know that my patience for explaining this ridiculous storyline has diminished considerably over the last few weeks, and the only thing keeping me from saying the hell with it and just talking about the Beatles is that it’s Nicholas’ last episode, and I probably ought to pay attention.

But this is the week that the White Album came out, and I bet I could do something with that, given half a chance. Well, let’s see how it goes.

633 dark shadows maggie nicholas experiment

Nicholas arrives for the mad science show, and he’s brought the old ball and chain — Maggie, whose life goals have undergone a significant change, now that she’s joined the legions of the damned or whatever. She’s volunteering to provide the life force for the experiment, which has an excellent chance of being both fatal and pointless.

It’s her wedding night, by the way. This is apparently what people do instead of a honeymoon in this town.

633 dark shadows adam barnabas julia

Barnabas refuses to endanger Maggie’s life, which sets off a round of yelling and threatening finger gestures. Honestly, none of these people can stand to be in the same room with each other.

633 dark shadows nicholas adam basement

Nicholas decides to move things along by pressing a finger to Adam’s chest, and magically increasing his blood pressure. We’ve never seen him use this particular power set before, but at this point who even cares.

There’s six people in this scene, counting the patient, so everyone has to stand in a line and face the camera, which somehow makes this grim scenario feel even more theatrical and upsetting.

633 dark shadows adam nicholas sleep

Nicholas says, “Now, to avoid any further arguments — Adam, come with me.” He leads the guy over to an alcove, which is equipped with a cot for some reason, and puts him into a hypnotic sleep trance.

Now that I think of it, it feels like they’re assembling this episode like John Lennon made “Revolution 9,” just random bits of self-important wackiness strung together with no real logic.

In fact, here — you might as well listen to “Revolution 9,” as you read the rest of today’s entry. It makes as much sense as anything else right now.

633 dark shadows lackluster experiment

So they embark on a noticeably lackluster run-through of the experiment, and it’s obvious that their hearts just aren’t in it anymore. There’s no weird lighting or psychedelic camera tricks this time. They don’t even bother to plug in most of the machines. The apparatus isn’t bubbling, and the Mark 7 respirator is sitting unloved on a cabinet.

And I can’t blame them. They’ve been going back to this once-thrilling spectacle so often that it’s actually become routine. To the extent that it’s possible to phone in a Dark Shadows scene, that is what they’re doing today. I forgot that was even an option.

By the way, while I’m thinking of it:

Julia, Julia
Ocean child calls me
So I sing a song of love
Julia

In November 1968, there is a sizeable percentage of the Beatles’ target market that thinks about vampires and mad science every time they hear “Julia”. I’m just saying.

633 dark shadows barnabas experiment

At this point, things go a bit helter skelter. Barnabas gets frustrated and starts smashing up the equipment, which sends Nicholas into a rage and inspires him to start choking Adam for some reason.

633 dark shadows eve skeleton

Adam wakes up, and Nicholas runs away, and then it turns out Eve has crumbled into a skeleton with a wig on. Then there’s more shouting, and Barnabas rushes out, and Julia tries to revive Maggie, and it’s a whole deal.

633 dark shadows maggie julia music box

And then there’s the most head-scrambling moment that they’ve done in a long time, the absolute Revolution 9 nadir of nonsense.

Maggie wakes up confused, and Julia realizes that she’s lost her memory, which I don’t even know why it’s a concern because that happens to her every couple of weeks anyway.

So Julia takes Maggie upstairs, to try and get her to snap the hell out of it. And what does she choose to trigger some memories? Josette’s goddamn music box, which is just sitting around in the Old House drawing room, despite the fact that it’s crucial physical evidence in Maggie’s unsolved kidnapping case.

Julia is the person who originally hypnotized Maggie to forget all of that, so the sight of her actually holding the music box right up to Maggie’s face and urging her to remember it is just everyone of them knew as time went by they’d get a little bit older and a little bit slower, but number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine, number

It all ends in fire and shouting, of course. Nicholas runs out the door and straight to the top of  Widow’s Hill, where he screams defiance at the sky.

It goes a little something like this.

633 dark shadows nicholas defiance

You say you want a revolution?
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

600 dark shadows eve adam bored

You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

525 dark shadows nicholas portrait

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

579 dark shadows jeff vicki grate

Don’t you know it’s gonna be

575 dark shadows nicholas mirror

All right

549 dark shadows adam carolyn love

All right

548 dark shadows angelique nicholas stronger

All right

633 dark shadows nicholas revolution

You say you got a real solution?
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan

629 dark shadows viewmaster netherworld

You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can

623 dark shadows eve performance

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother, you have to wait

632 dark shadows nicholas all right

Don’t you know it’s gonna be

632 dark shadows barnabas all right

All right

632 dark shadows nicholas fire

All right

629 dark shadows viewmaster nicholas stake

All right

632 dark shadows nicholas flames

All right

581 dark shadows angelique step out

All right

632 dark shadows nicholas the plan

All right

632 dark shadows barnabas grin

All right

633 dark shadows nicholas done

All right

Tomorrow: Another Dark Shadows Every Day Thanksgiving special!
Time Travel, part 4: I Was Just Noticing Your Harpoon Collection.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In act 1, Nicholas brings Adam to a little alcove in the Old House basement, where there’s a cot for him to sleep on. Why is it there, and how does Nicholas know it’s there?


Behind the Scenes:

This episode has a double number (633/634) because they always do that when there’s a pre-emption, to keep the numbering consistent. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 1968, so stay tuned for another trip in time to the far-off year of 1991.


Footnote:

I could have worked in a reference to “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” if I wanted to. I just didn’t feel like it, that’s all.

Tomorrow: Another Dark Shadows Every Day Thanksgiving special!
Time Travel, part 4: I Was Just Noticing Your Harpoon Collection.

632 dark shadows humbert revolution

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

33 thoughts on “Episode 633/634: All Our Dead Have Turned Into Skeletons

  1. I find it really odd that Barnabas, who wanted Maggie to serve as the life force for Eve in the first place, suddenly won’t put her life in danger. I mean really?

    Yes, trying to revive Maggie’s memory with the music box is pretty lame brained. I suspect they were already toying with Maggie being the new Josette again, this time willingly. I’d say it was in response to the recast of Vicki, but it’s such a fast turn around that I don’t know how it could be that. They knew they would lose Moltke when she went on maternity leave, and she was giving large, broad hints that she had had it with Vicki’s character arc, bringing in Maggie as love interest for Barnabas may have been plan B. But it sure doesn’t track with Barnabas’ earlier actions.

    1. Yes, Barnabas is suddenly concerned about Maggie’s safety. He even sabotages the experiment when it could mean his death (he didn’t know about the deadline Nicholas was under and the immediate price he’d pay for failure).

    2. On reflection, I think they just wanted to have a scene with Julia trying to help Maggie regain her memory, but they’re in the Old House.

      Maggie’s hardly ever been in the Old House, except during the kidnapping, so they reached for the only prop that could possibly connect Maggie to that setting. But it’s still a baffling scene.

    3. Barnabas never really wanted to use Maggie in the original experiment. He only said that she was the candidate to get Willie to pick up some parts.

  2. It is strange to see Barnabas suddenly turn into Maggie’s avenger after months of plotting to sacrifice her. This might be one of the instances where we, the viewers, feel the connection between two characters more than the characters do. Maggie IS a double for Josette, to the point where she could be her reincarnation, and we can accept that because the same actress plays the parts. Vicki and Barnabas had about as much chemistry as a brick and broccoli.

  3. Long before the media reinvented The Beatles as John Lennon, we Beatles fans regarded the group and John AND Paul. Plus George and Ringo. In fact, it was mostly Paul’s songs–Yesterday, For No One, Hey Jude, Lady Madonna, Let It Be, etc.–that gained the group its reputation for excellent songwriting among the group’s older peers in the biz. Those were the huge, huge Beatles tunes. Lennon wasn’t even a close second in that regard.

    What I’m saying, I guess, is that your generation is showing. Everyone’s generation shows, of course. And every generation’s take on pop culture becomes yesterday’s point of view. People my age experience that truth in droves. (“But, but… Burt Bacharach IS a rock composer. So’s Jimmy Webb. Er, aren’t they?”)

    1. When I was writing that sentence, I looked at the Wikipedia article about “Revolution 9,” and it says: “The sound collage, credited to Lennon–McCartney, was created primarily by John Lennon with assistance from George Harrison and Yoko Ono.”

      So I figured saying “like John Lennon made Revolution 9,” was easier than saying “like John Lennon made Revolution 9, with assistance from G. Harrison and Y. Ono.”

      But it is absolutely true that my generation is showing, because I have to go look at Wikipedia articles to find out who wrote the songs rather than already knowing it like a real Beatles fan.

      1. My point is that the Beatles have been rather aggressively reinvented in our pop culture as John Lennon plus three other guys. This has occurred more on your generational watch than mine. The four Beatles titles you chose are by Lennon, despite the fact that the best known Fab Four songs from any period were by McCartney, or–in the case of “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”–George Harrison.

        Don’t you consider it at least slightly possible that your take on the Beatles has been influenced by the media’s reinvention of the Beatles as John plus whoever?

        1. Oh, I just used the songs from the White Album that I could work into the post somehow. I do like Paul very much; but John was the one who wrote a love song called “Julia”. 🙂

          1. I enjoyed that very much. It’s as if you made a video of Revolution for Nicholas departure. I love the way the final “all right” of the song is really said with disgust, as in “all right, already!”
            I love the Beatles, they were doing some interesting stuff towards the end.

            Soon it will be 1969: The Rolling Stones, Quentin’s Theme, more Beatles, man on the moon, Nixon, Woodstock, Hell’s Angels, Manson, Altamont, King Crimson’s first album.

            1. I’m glad, for the sake of his reputation, Lennon never wrote a song called “Evolution.” He didn’t believe in such stuff. His take on Darwin: “Nor do I think we came from monkeys, by the way… That’s another piece of garbage. What the hell’s it based on? We couldn’t’ve come from anything–fish, maybe, but not monkeys. I don’t believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men.”

              That’s one of my favorite celebrity quotes–up there with Frank Sinatra praising “the bulk of” rock and roll as ” the most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear.”

              Two of pop music’s bad-boy rebels in action.

              The Beatles’ experimental stuff was a replay of the early-1950s “tape music” of Vladimir Ussachevsky and others, and it wouldn’t surprise me if George Martin pushed them in that direction (he was into such things), though John Cage protege Yoko may have been behind “Revolution 9.” I always considered “9” a major comedown after “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

              1. …Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, The Smothers Brothers, Classical Gas, Age of Aquarius, Rowan & Martin, Brian Jones, Jesus Christ Superstar, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?

  4. Dear Nicholas,

    Friday nights at the Disco Bermuda Triangle will be a dull affair, with you. No one does the Frug better than you, and your pope jokes are hilarious: “Let there be light!” That one cracks me up, every time.

    I’ll never forget the valuable life lessons you taught me, like “always keep a trash bag in your car, and when it fills up, just throw it out the window”.

    Until we meet again,
    and I know that we will,
    I’ll save you a seat in my sepulcher.
    Yours truly,
    Maniacal Laughter

      1. Feel free, it would be a great honor if you used it, someday. Michael Stroka was good with the maniacal laughter (especially as Bruno), if that helps, but use it as you see fit. Quentin and Petofi both had maniacal giggles, at the very least, at some point. There’s also Angelique.
        Thanks for fixing my format, I was going to ask for help with that.

  5. So Maggie became a bride and a widow on the same night?? It will be good to take a break from this ill-conceived lunacy to visit 1991 – it’s probably a good thing that the Revival series was cancelled before they had to recreate the ‘Adam and Eve’ storyline…

  6. The reason that Nicholas is choking Adam is because Nicholas’s satanic witchcraft powers have gone kaput. He’s trying to zap Barnabus to stop Barnabus from smashing the mad-science equipment, but it’s not working. So under the strange life-force sharing theory, Nicholas starts choking Adam so that Barnabus will also experience the choking. It’s the get-Adam-to-get-Barnabus principle in action.

    Regarding the Black Mass ceremony, someone mentioned this was coming up in the blog comments several episodes ago. It was not what I expected, and I think it’s a stretch to say that this relatively short ceremony with Maggie would somehow teach the chlldren of America how to conduct a Black Mass. I expected more hooded robes, a horned-goat statue, reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards, etc. For me, the scariest part of Nicholas’s Black Mass was when he drugged Maggie’s champagne and knocked her out. It’s too much Bill Cosby for me … Maggie is not marrying Nicholas of her own free will, she is unconscious. This is coming perilously close to rape, and it is scarier than any watered-down Black Mass could ever be. (Does anyone know — is Nicholas really quoting the Malleus Maleficarum?)

    1. Don’t know. I do know that the origin of the Malleus is that it was sort of an anti-wicca equivalent to the Protocols of Zion in that it was made up by a pair of monks who really didn’t know what witches did in their ceremonies.

  7. Regarding why there is a cot in the room adjacent to the laboratory and why Nicholas knows it is there, my answer: Workers in a an “experiment” like the one carried on here need to be fully alert as they execute their procedures, so if they get drowsy it is important for them to be able to take a quick nap. Nicholas understands this need and so assumes there will be a bed nearby.

  8. Couple of stray moments here kinda got me while watching. First, I was unprepared for how fierce Maggie was when she confronted Barnabas and Julia before the experiment; I don’t think I’ve ever seen her sound so damn tough. I never saw the very early eps in which she was a saucy waitress, so perhaps this wasn’t a new thing, but it was interesting and even shocked me a little.

    Second, what about that weird shot of Jonathan grinning while Nicholas is begging for a second chance (and getting the answer)? Did Barnabas ever grin like that before or after this ep? I don’t know whether he looked goofy or scary. I see a screenshot above, but no mention of this weird moment. Seemed oddly out-of-character, at least to me.

    As for B. smashing the instruments (I mean equipment), I think the motivation was good old-fashioned jealousy, not concern for Maggie. He kept thinking about the little “Nick and Mags are a couple” sound-bytes, and just couldn’t take it. It wasn’t the experiment he objected to, it was the unity of purpose the newly “wedded” couple so brazenly paraded.

  9. Hey, it’s young widows’ week. I won’t spoil it. I spoiled a lot with my comments yesterday, but I left out somebody important who’s leaving. I won’t spoil that now, either, but, yes, it’s young widows’ week. (“Hello, young widows, wherever you are….”)

  10. Wait, I just realized what everyone failed to mention: Why are the drapes that half cover Eve half-soaked in blood and filth? Barnabas and Julia just run a sloppy mad science lab.

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