Episode 636: The Missing Link

“You can be sure that death is no better than life, so don’t look forward to it.”

And then he was gone. He was ashes, he was memory, he was a dream that never came true. More specifically, he left show business and went into real estate.

636 dark shadows sympathetic monster

Adam Collins-Hoffman-Lang was born on May 10th, 1968, under somewhat adverse circumstances. His father, Dr. Eric Lang, was killed a week earlier, struck by the shrapnel of a previous storyline. His mother, Dr. Julia Hoffman, was a high-strung traveling psychiatrist and blood specialist of no fixed abode.

And Adam’s twin brother, Barnabas Collins, was hoping to offload all of his sins and hang-ups, not to mention 170 years of back alimony payments, and take up residence in his newborn brother’s king-sized carcass.

If this were a story, Adam would be Barnabas’ dark twin — a shadowy figure, terrifying and savage, imprisoned in the basement of a haunted house. Barnabas would keep his other half locked up tight, hidden from the world, trying desperately to repress the primitive instincts that guide his darker moments.

But this isn’t a story. It’s better than a story.

This is driving through a snowstorm, with one headlight out and a quarter-tank of gas, and you don’t have a map or a smartphone, because neither of those have been invented yet, and you don’t really know where you’re headed anyway. And then you hit a patch of ice, and the car starts to slide — and you’re spinning the wheel in slow-motion, desperately trying to remember what “steering into the skid” actually means…

The car comes to a stop, somehow. You’re on the shoulder of the road, and you’re not skidding anymore. So you turn off the car for a minute, because you need to just sit there and remember how to breathe. You’re alive. You still have no idea where you’re going, or how you’re going to get there, and there are more hairpin turns and icy patches in every direction. But you’re alive.

This is that feeling. The Dark Shadows writers don’t know where they’re going, and things have been out of control for a while. So they’re going to do whatever they need to do, even if it’s scary and messy, in order to get through this icy patch. They don’t really know how to do this, or what’s going to happen next, but they’re steering into the skid.

492 dark shadows gun barnabas julia

Pretty much the first thing Adam did after he woke up was wreck the laboratory where he was born, as all Frankensteins do. Then he curled up under a sheet and went to sleep, while his new family made plans for the future.

Barnabas:  Well, he’s made it easy for us.

Julia:  Made what easy?

Barnabas:  Putting him out of his misery.

He didn’t go through with it, of course, because Julia reminded him that Adam is a living human being, sort of, and they’re responsible for him, in a way.

635 dark shadows barnabas julia gun

Seven months later, Barnabas finally pulls the trigger. It turns out your character doesn’t really need a “dark twin” if he’s already pretty goddamn dark to begin with, so Adam is surplus to requirements. Now the only question is, what song are they going to use to play him off the stage?

At the moment, Adam is in the process of [it doesn’t matter], and Barnabas knows that if he lets this continue, then Adam will [don’t worry about it], endangering the life of [she’ll probably be fine].

Faced with a dramatic, high-stakes choice between firing his gun or ever thinking of any other way to solve a problem, Barnabas shoots.

636 dark shadows adam target

Considered as a shooting range target, Adam is making things pretty easy for everybody. He’s six-foot-six, he’s a few feet away, his back is turned, and he’s standing still. Plus, it’s not like this is the only guy Barnabas has ever shot before.

But Barnabas only wings Adam in the shoulder, and then I guess he doesn’t realize that it’s okay to fire your gun twice in a row.

So, as the wounded savage staggers out of the house and through the woods to the safe haven of his faculty advisor’s place, let’s take a moment to talk about Bobby Martin.

636 all my children bobby martin

Bobby Martin was very briefly a member of the original cast of All My Children, which premiered on ABC in January 1970. The Martins were one of the core families in the original cast. When the show began, Dr. Joe Martin’s wife Helen had recently died, and he struggled to care for their three children — Jeff, Tara and Bobby.

Actually, make that two children. Bobby was mentioned several times in the first few weeks of the show, but he only appeared once. Agnes Nixon, the creator and head writer, decided that three was too many Martin children, so Bobby was dropped from the lineup after one episode.

Towards the end of that episode, Joe told Bobby to go upstairs to the attic and wax his skis, and he’d be up in a minute. Bobby went upstairs, and nobody ever mentioned him again.

The joke among All My Children fans is that Bobby is still up there somewhere. In fact, there was an episode in the 1990s that involved Opal being locked in the Martins’ attic, and during her ordeal, she came across a skeleton wearing a ski cap that said “Bobby”.

636 dark shadows adam limping

Adam is our Bobby Martin. This is the Great 1968 Wrap-Up, red in tooth and claw, and the sight of a wounded Adam limping towards safety is the tidiest bit of symbolism you’ll ever see.

Serialized narrative is a fierce battle of high-speed natural selection. Short-term characters that engage the audience can stay on the show much longer than anyone expected — they can even take over the whole thing, if they play their cards right — but if a once-promising character squanders his story points and bores the audience, he can disappear before the next commercial break.

In fact, that exact thing happened to Dr. Lang, seven months ago. He suffered a heart attack halfway through the first mad science experiment, and when we came back from commercial, Barnabas and Julia were just standing around in his lab, wondering what to do next.

Dr. Lang’s body simply evaporated while we weren’t looking, and they never mentioned a funeral, or a police report. Barnabas and Julia just went on with the scene.

Come to think of it, Dr. Lang is basically Adam’s father. I guess vanishing mid-episode is hereditary.

636 dark shadows stokes adam skis

Anyway, Professor Stokes comes home, and he finds a gunshot Frankenstein crashing on his couch.

“You need a doctor,” Stokes says calmly, as if this happens to him all the time. For all I know, maybe it does; he wakes up in the morning and finds a unicorn in the garage, and then discovers a bunch of goblins nesting in an old shoebox in the closet.

This is a Sam Hall episode, so Stokes is delightfully quippy. “I won’t even ask you what has happened,” he says. “Curiosity is a most boring obsession. I’ll see that you’re taken care of.”

And when Adam screams that he wants to die, Stokes scolds, “You can be sure that death is no better than life, so don’t look forward to it.”

This is absolutely the right approach. If this must end, then let it end with Stokes.

636 dark shadows stokes adam end

So the Professor makes a noticeably sketchy phone call.

“Hello, Carl,” he says. “I’m glad to find you there. Stokes here, in rather an emergency. Can you come over immediately? I’m afraid I can’t explain — a gunshot wound, I should think. Yes, I know I can rely on your discretion. Good. See you soon.”

And then he hangs up, which is marvelous and strange. What the hell goes on around here, when we’re not watching?

636 dark shadows stokes adam worse

Adam lurches over to the fireplace, and Stokes says, “Don’t move, you’re only making it worse,” but he’s been moving this whole time, and it’s already worse. This is about as worse as it’s going to get. Location is not the issue.

636 dark shadows adam stokes skis

So yeah, Adam’s about to take that long walk upstairs to the attic, but his last scene with Professor Stokes is actually a lot more touching than his sudden exit implies.

Stokes doesn’t just patch up Adam’s perforated shoulder. He gives him a nice new shirt, and a pep talk.

Adam:  Professor, I’m too ugly.

Stokes:  That’s the simplest thing to remedy. Nowadays, anyone can make himself handsomer, if he wants to. I know a clinic —

And that’s when Professor Stokes gets a wonderful idea.

Stokes:  Yes! If you don’t like the old Adam — we’ll make a new one! I need a project.

So damn it if Stokes hasn’t figured out the solution to this whole mess. Adam has to leave the show; the ruthless logic of serialized narrative natural selection demands it. But before he goes, Adam can receive the one gift that a smart, eccentric, fourth-dimensional character like Professor Stokes can bestow: a happy ending.

636 dark shadows adam skis

So whatever happened to Adam?

Well, first somebody’s got to go upstairs and polish those skis, that’s prio number one. Nobody can concentrate properly with dirty skis lying around; we’re not animals.

Once that’s squared away, Stokes will introduce Adam to one of his many shady medico acquaintances — could be Carl, it’s too early to tell — and they’ll scrape the Hollywood ugly off. Then Stokes probably gets Adam a postdoc at Amherst.

That’s not to say Adam’s new life will be easy. He’s still connected to Barnabas, through some kind of make-believe homeopathic midi-cholorian kung fu, and Barnabas is a loose cannon.

Six weeks from now, Barnabas is going to time travel back to the 18th century, and that means Adam’s coming along for the ride. He’ll get involved in some time travel shenanigans of his own, and then, just as they’re about to hang him — you know the 18th century, and hanging people — Barnabas jumps back to 1968, and Adam does too.

In fact, the next couple years are going to be a bit confusing for Adam, as Barnabas hops between the centuries, and off into parallel dimensions.

What would that do to a guy — getting tugged back and forth from one year to another, with no warning and no explanation, just an accidental tourist in the space-time vortex? Would it drive him insane? (Before you answer, keep in mind that he’s kind of insane already.)

And that’s nothing compared to 1991, when Adam turns into Ben Cross. And after that, he’ll become Alec Newman, and Johnny Depp, and Andrew Collins, and a whole bunch of comic books.

That’s the thing about dark twins, they don’t shake easy. For as long as Barnabas Collins exists, Adam will be there — sulking in the background, polishing his skis, and plotting his revenge.

Tomorrow: Bury Me a Little.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the beginning of act 1, the music cue fades as Julia pulls the switch, which makes it seem like the switch controls the soundtrack, too.

How did Professor Stokes magically procure a new outfit that fits Adam? And why didn’t anybody give it to him seven months ago? He looks amazing.


Behind the Scenes:

Robert Rodan didn’t have much of an acting career after he left Dark Shadows. As attractive and personable as he is, nobody had any use for a 6’6″ romantic lead. He did get a leading part in one movie — 1969’s The Minx — but the director couldn’t find a distributor, so he sold it to a porn producer who wanted to add some more sex and turn it into an X-rated movie. There’s a whole story about this in Barnabas & Company, which I’m not going to spoil, because it’s funny and you should already own Barnabas & Company.

Rodan moved to LA, where he landed a couple of commercials for Cheer detergent, and not very much else. He married, had three kids, and became a real estate broker in Southern California. In 2006 and 2007, he appeared in a couple of Big Finish Dark Shadows audios. He didn’t play Adam, but maybe someday Big Finish will get around to that.

The screenshot above is Mike Bersell, who played Bobby Martin on All My Children. I couldn’t find a picture of Bobby, because he only appeared in one episode in 1970, so that’s a screencap from a Rub’n’Glue commercial that I found on YouTube. Bersell has been a Chef de Cuisine at Disney World since 1988, which is delightful.

Tomorrow: Bury Me a Little.

636 dark shadows adam telephone

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

39 thoughts on “Episode 636: The Missing Link

  1. Even though Sam Hall said different, I always imagined the bond between Adam and Barnabas was broken when Barnabas’ body vanished from the old house basement in the fall of ’69.

    Even though I grew to hate Adam towards the end, I liked Robert Rodan and I find myself a little sorry to see him shoved off the show so quickly. But as you wrote, at least Stockes suggests a little happy closure for his character.

    1. I did not like the way Adam was portrayed. In the end he was not done right at all. When Stokes said he would have his scars removed, why didn’t he? Since Adam had learned how to talk and think like a man, why didn’t they expand his character to reflect that? I also wonder why he was not cast as a character in one of the parallel times?

  2. Sam Hall suggested an even happier–and dignified–closure in his 1971 TV Guide wrap-up.

    Much has been said about how Dark Shadows had become a kind of repertory company where actors would be brought back to play other parts. For an actor who appeared in 82 episodes over several months as a main character, it’s surprising that Dan Curtis never called him back, one of the few such main players to be permanently dropped.

    It could be that his height was a definite disadvantage, or maybe his wall count had dropped too far.

      1. Davis returns as Ned Stuart, I think, about a month or so after his last appearance as Peter Bradford/Jeff Clark. Putting aside any issues with the actor, it created narrative stumbling blocks of people saying, “You look just like Jeff Clark!” which was an unnecessary callback to the previous storyline when they were otherwise starting fresh.

        It also wonder if audiences at the time was misled into thinking it was Peter Bradford/Jeff Clark or some relation to him. Stuart denied it, but he did the same thing as Jeff Clark. It was an odd storytelling decision and casting choice. And at the time, casting Davis in this role was new terrain: Previously, an actor playing a another character was explained as a “reincarnation” or “past life” or “ancestor.”

        By 1897, they don’t even bother having Barnabas comment on the resemblance of Rachel Drummond to Maggie Evans (she just looks like Josette) or Dirk Wilkins to Jeff Clark or Carl Collins to Willie Loomis and so on. Don Briscoe is cast as Tim Shaw even though Chris Jennings was a key factor in Barnabas’s return to the past and to the Quentin storyline. And Rachel and Dirk both get killed and both return as different characters with no comment about their resemblance to those characters. By this point, the assumption is that we’ll just catch on and move on.

  3. There is one source, a soap opera message board, that mentions Rodan’s request for higher pay as the reason for his being written out of the show and not asked back:

    http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=154531;article=38583;title=danfling%27s%20Cancelled%20Soap%20Opera%20Messagboard%20%28includes%20The%20Edge%20of%20Night%29%20%3CBR%3E%20%3CBR%3E

    The poster also suggests this as the reason for Craig Slocum’s departure.

    One has to wonder what Rodan had been expecting, since all actors were paid a modest flat per episode rate. A Joan Bennett biography (The Bennetts: An Acting Family by Brian Kellow) and her IMDb page list her starting per episode salary as $333 in 1966, and she had been a major movie star for decades.

    Still, there appear to have been no hard feelings on either side over the years. In 2001, when the cast gathered to be honored by the Museum of Television and Radio (now on DVD), though not an invited guest Rodan emerged from the audience to step up on stage while Dan Curtis was giving his introduction for the event. Curtis embraced him warmly and invited him to take a seat and Rodan was allowed to sit in with the panel. Even Mitch Ryan was invited and appeared at this event.

    Here’s a Tumblr page devoted to Robert Rodan as Adam, which includes an amusing photo, for comparison, of Richard Kiel’s Frankenstein’s monster portrayal from a 1967 episode of The Monkees TV show:

    https://www.tumblr.com/search/robert%20rodan

    As a footnote, Robert Rodan’s IMDb page lists his height as 6 foot 4, which would make him just 1 inch taller than David Selby, so it couldn’t have been his height that was a factor against his being recast. So if it wasn’t the salary issue, then it must have been that his wall count had dropped too low. Dan Curtis kept track of actors’ wall counts on a daily basis.

    1. It’s possible that he was written out because he wanted more money. Barnabas & Company doesn’t give a reason for his departure; it just says “With little notice, Adam was off the canvas, and Robert was out of a job.”

      Either way, I think an important factor in him leaving is the 1968 Wrap-Up. The storyline with Nicholas, Angelique, Eve and Adam is closed as of today, and Jeff/Vicki are on their way out, too. Adam is the old monster, Chris is the new monster.

      If Rodan did want more money, then this was the worst time for him to ask.

      1. Yeah, the wording “with little notice” is interesting to me.

        Astredo and Wallace are invited back for 1897 as new characters, but Rodan is not. His imposing height would have served him well as Dirk Wilkins, for example.

      1. Fans used to write the names of their favorite stars on the wall at the front entrance to the studio, with Flair pens or something like that. It was an alternative to fan mail, as a way of measuring a star’s popularity. If your wall count “went down” that meant they didn’t love you anymore.
        Dan Curtis kept an eye his actor’s wall count.

      2. Oh, it’s something that Dan Curtis discusses in the 2001 cast gathering for the Museum of Television and Radio. Even Alexandra Moltke attended this event for her only post-Dark Shadows public appearance. The DVD made from this event is called “Dark Shadows Reunion“:

        http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Shadows-Reunion-Jonathan-Frid/dp/B0000AOV8K

        The wall count refers the wall outside the ABC television studio. According to Curtis, the kids that would swarm outside the studio on a daily basis would write the names of their favorite actors on the wall in front of the studio and he got to counting the names as a way of gauging the popularity of the cast among fans, adding that he would warn people if their “wall count” was dropping.

        1. Oh, that’s amazing. Why haven’t I watched that? I think it’s on the coffin box set. Man, I don’t know anything about Dark Shadows. Thanks for mentioning it…

            1. At first, this being “Dark Shadows” and given the way Adam was written, I thought “wall count” might refer to how many walls an actor damaged or destroyed before it was no longer cost effective to retain them.

          1. I just checked my coffin box set, and didn’t realize that, since I’m on disc 84 of that set, but yeah, discs 127 to 131 contain all the special compilation discs that have been released separately before. So now I have two versions of the Reunion special. That Reunion disc is really great. It starts out by having cast and crew members introduced one by one, including Robert Cobert, Sy Thomashoff, and Lela Swift, and then there’s a lengthy compilation of favorite scenes spanning the entire series from first episode to last put together by Jim Pierson, and finally there’s a 45-minute Q&A session between the audience and the panel, during which John Karlen is in rare comedic form. Jonathan Frid didn’t attend, but a lot of the core cast did, including Mitch Ryan, Alexandra Moltke, Nancy Barrett, and even Kate Jackson. The bonus features include the 1969 Merv Griffin interview with Jonathan Frid and the 1970 Merv Griffin interview with Joan Bennett and some original 1969 Dark Shadows promos featuring Kathryn Leigh Scott. Whenever I finish a run through of the series I watch the Reunion special a few times before diving back in for another run through of the series.

            1. “I just checked my coffin box set…”

              Heh, heh, heh… how many other show’s fans get a chance to utter phrases like that? 🙂

              1. The one talk show/promotional appearance I really wish we still had a record of was Lara Parker’s appearance on The Tonight Show. Reportedly she brought her vampire fangs with her and showed Johnny Carson how she’d slip them on in the middle of a scene.

                1. Lara Parker has the tape of her appearance on the Tonight Show, so at least it still exists.

                  There was a short write-up in The Des Moines Register (November 25, 1968; page 27):

                  When Laura Parker went on the Tonight Show, she bit Johnny Carson on the neck. “I’m a lady vampire,” she explained.

                2. I’ve seen that episode of Johnny’s Late Nite Cocktail Party For Swingers, but it’s been a long time. I may have seen the original broadcast. Fuzzy Memories.

      3. I was a studio kid in 1969, during the height of the 1897 storyline. I have a great picture of myself (I was 14) with my buddies with George the guard at 433, and the “wall” is visible. You can see it covered with “I love (name of male cast member)” written in indelible marker in a rainbow of colors.

        In descending wall count order: David Selby, Jonathan Frid, David Henesy, Don Briscoe, Roger Davis. All of whom, by the way, were awesome to us studio kids. I remember hearing an old radio interview with the cast and the interviewer asked Selby if he was bothered by the fans who hung outside the studio. Selby said he would be bothered if the fans WEREN’T there.

        As a matter of fact, all of the cast, male and female (WITH ONE VERY NOTABLE EXCEPTION), were great with the fans.

        I took so many pictures with my Polaroid Swinger and Kodak Instamatic. And so many autographs (except from THE VERY NOTABLE EXCEPTION). So few survive after 48 years. In the early 2000s, I was in a bit of a financial bind and sold a lot of my memorabilia on eBay. But I still have some.

        If there were just three or four of us outside, which was often the case mid day after the casts morning break and before the 4 PM cast switch ( The cast from me episode they had just taped would leave and the cast for the following days episode which show up for a dry reading) Thayer David and lighting director Mel Handelsman would bring us inside.

        I cannot even describe the feeling of being in “the greatest estate of Collinwood.” I still have some pictures… my friend Jeffrey and I at the top of the foyer stairway, me by Barnabas’ coffin in that cave, Charity Trask’s room….

        In the early 1990s I returned to NYC and decided to stop by the studio. They were taping The Montel Williams Show there. As hard as they had tried to erase the wall, some remnants of it remained…. forever showing the love. Tears literally flooded my eyes.

        1. Forgive the typos in the post — talk-to-text is far from perfect, and I neglected to proofread ha ha .

  4. I feel about Adam the way most viewers felt about Vicki – he was generally very annoying and maybe the story line precipitated my dislike for him. Anyway may he live long and prosper (in some other universe).

    1. I thought the story line was awful. And then making him a monster type, with impossible demands. That really grated and irritated my nerves.

  5. This is the last we see of Adam? While I admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the character, we needed closure and an explanation for what happened to him. While I am just getting over the fact that witch trials existed in the late 1700s Dark Shadows Universe, this is a major continuity error.

  6. Since this is the episode when Adam reveals to Barnabas that if he (Adam) dies, Barnabas will return to being “what he was,” it’s a good time to ask a question that has been bugging me: Has anyone done a count of how many episodes in which Barnabas is a vampire and how many he is not? I suspect he was NOT a vampire more than he was. (And it’s interesting that the newspaper article that Danny posts at the beginning of this entry identifies Barnabas as the 175-year-old reluctant vampire, when at this point he is no longer one of the living dead!)

  7. A couple of continuity/blooper issues:

    Why is Julia still wearing her trench coat when she is sleeping in the chair in Victoria’s room?

    How does Victoria get to Professor Stokes’s so quickly from Collinwood, especially in a raging thunderstorm? She is in bed and is awakened as Jeff/Peter starts calling to her during the “herb ceremony” with Professor Stokes. When the scene switches back to Professor Stokes’s apartment, she suddenly bursts in.

  8. And what’s the deal with the end credits on this episode? Over on the Dark Shadows Wiki, someone said there were no cast and crew credits for this episode, but the version I just watched online does have them. However, it has only the crew credits, no cast, and the background is just a picture of the Old House, not a set from the day’s episode, which is usually the case.

  9. What ever happened to Adam? It’s my uunderstanding that he is hiding out with a Russian mobster in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. That’s were television’s dangling plot lines go to die.

  10. I couldn’t stand Adam and to this day boo at the screen when he shows up. How many did he kill? I loved the character of Eve and the actress who played her. When Adam killed her I hated him more. The characters on the show who had sympathy for this thug were a pretty sad lot.

  11. I didn’t particularly “like” Adam, in the sense of wanting to hang out with him, but I enjoyed the way the actor played him. He wanted things, unlike most of the other characters, and that made him interesting to watch for me.

    On another note, I wonder that the script writer would bring up the Barnabas/Adam life/death connection in this episode, given that would be the last time we’d see Adam, as well as be left with zero information on what happened to him.

  12. Is it wrong of me that when Stokes brings out the “herbs” I think Jeff should smile boradly and say “let’s get wasted!”

  13. What inn-teresting fetes Professor Stokes must host! He knows so many fascinating characters, who seem available to stop by at a moment’s notice. And now, TE’s got the ‘project’ of manscaping Adam into a perfect man; probably why we never see him again is because he’s spending all his time at the gym.

    Only real nitpick in this episode (for me anyway) is, Adam has been shot in the shoulder, yet there seems to be no damage to his sweater and absolutely no bloodstain on him. Maybe he heals quick? Or has no blood?

  14. Are you seriously telling me that this was Adam’s last appearance??

    I haven’t seen these shows in 50 years, and I missed most of them back then due to the annoyance of being in Junior High School (as we called it then). Hard to believe the writers felt this was an appropriate way to end a story arc.

    I actually think the Adam story had the potential to be touching and meaningful. What a parable: he is brought into the world for the selfish purposes of others, who consider killing him immediately. He then is alternately tormented or fostered, along the way developing a healthy mistrust of most people. He desires love and a mate, and is denied real companionship. He becomes a kind of arrested development teenager, mentally, constantly indulging in self-pity and anger. Yet he has a great capacity for learning.

    Somehow, perhaps because the format wasn’t the optimum one for telling that story, Adam mostly missed becoming loved by us, or of any real concern to us. Which I suppose is actually one of the sadder things in a pretty sad story arc.

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