“If she realizes that her feelings were right about Amy, what about her feelings about herself?”
Weekly To-Do list, from the Desk of Barnabas Collins (deceased):
Tell Elizabeth that she’s not going to die. Take her upstairs, and put her to bed. Take a phone message for Julia. Consult with Julia about Liz’s condition. Blame Cassandra for everything.
Lose track of where Elizabeth is. Lose track of where Amy is. Find Elizabeth and Amy at the mausoleum. Bring them home.
Put Elizabeth back to bed. Tell her that she’s not going to die. Offer a sedative. Tell her that it’s all in her mind. Discuss hiring plans for a new governess. Scold Amy for going outside without permission.
Brief Maggie and Joe on the recent disturbances. Bring Maggie upstairs for her job interview. Go through the onboarding checklist with her. Make sure she has a keycard.
Drive to Maggie’s house to see if Joe’s okay. Scoop up the remains, and drive it back to Collinwood. Deposit blood-stained trauma victim on the drawing room couch.
Insist that Joe stay the night. Prepare a bedroom for him. If you get a chance: ask him what it’s like to have a real storyline.
Continue reading Episode 655: Accidentally Yours
“And after you see what happens, you will never be the same again!”
It’s the day after Christmas, and now on the show, a werewolf is tearing the hell out of Joe.
Continue reading Episode 654: Half-Hour of the Wolf
“He only wants to marry her when he’s normal.”
It’s Christmas Day 1968, and Dark Shadows is taking a break so that ABC can show a basketball game. On pre-emption days, as everyone knows, we spend the day talking about The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Continue reading Time Travel, part 5: Consider Rhoda
“It was the moon! I’m afraid of the moon, Barnabas, and I don’t know why!”
We’re in the dying days of the Great 1968 Wrap-Up, when all of the year’s dangling plot threads are finally resolved, and we can move on with our lives. Today’s episode aired on Christmas Eve 1968, and there’s just a couple more shoes to drop before the clock strikes midnight and we start a new year.
One of the last remaining storylines is the curse that Cassandra put on Elizabeth in a fit of pique, condemning her to do nothing but ruminate obsessively about her own death. This is an incidental story thread that’s been dragging on for more than six months, and for a while it seemed like they might forget all about it. But now Cassandra’s revenge is back with a vengeance, and we’re just going to have to deal with it.
When we left Liz yesterday, she’d wandered out of the house and walked to the graveyard, where she collapsed and pretended that she was dead for a minute. Barnabas went out to retrieve her, and now he’s scooped her up and brought her back home.
The interesting thing, as we close up these remaining story threads, is that Barnabas now appears to be in charge of everything. Liz’s collapse has left Collinwood with a bit of a power vacuum — Roger’s away on business, Vicki’s run off with her husband, and Carolyn has stepped off screen and won’t be back unti Friday. So Barnabas steps in, spending all of his time this week just fussing around and taking care of everybody.
This may be the point in the show when Barnabas the serial killer turns into the redeemed character that people remember — a cross between kindly uncle, butler and babysitter.
Continue reading Episode 652/653: Kill the Moon
“Are there dead people in that building?”
Well, there she goes again. Girl governess Victoria Winters has vacated the premises, dashing off to the 18th century to set a world record for the number of times you can get yourself hanged. She was ashes, she was memory, she was a dream that never came true, and there’s a very good chance that she just created an alternate timeline where Dan Curtis had a dream about Phyllis Wick.
Winner and still protagonist Barnabas Collins and perpetual runner-up Liz Stoddard were live on the scene when Vicki clicked her heels three times and fell backward into the time vortex. Now they’re standing around in the drawing room, trying to process the unprocessable.
“It’s beyond our understanding,” Liz says, “like death.”
Oh, great. Here we go.
“We don’t understand death, do we?” she continues. “Because we can’t. We can only wait for it, knowing it will reach out for us, when it’s ready.”
Yup, that tears it; she’s gone all gloomy again. This is why they never did a blockbuster remake of the Elizabeth Stoddard story.
Continue reading Episode 651: Mother’s Little Helper
“Isn’t it possible that Vicki is her own descendant?”
I’m taking a week off, so that I can concentrate on vengeance, and nothing else. But I don’t want to abandon you completely, because I know what it’s like to feel alone. I’m a Dark Shadows fan too.
So this week, I’ve been posting snippets from The World of Dark Shadows, a fanzine that was very important to me in the 80s and 90s. My favorite part of the magazine was the Collinsport Debating Society, where fans asked open-ended questions about the characters or the storylines, and then everybody speculated. It’s basically what people do now in forums, except it was way, way slower. That means the writers had more time to think about their response, and the readers had more time to wonder what the hell they were talking about.
Today, I’m going to share some excerpts from the Collinsport Debating Society. I haven’t asked anybody for permission, so I hope nobody minds, and here it is.
Continue reading X5: That Troublesome Problem
“This is a time of suspicion, a time when the past seems to penetrate the walls of Collinwood.”
I’m taking the week off so that I can test-drive some exciting new sedatives, but I don’t want to leave you unsupervised all week. You might get up to all kinds of mischief, who even knows. So I’ll tide you over with some strange bits of business that would never fit in a regular post.
Today, let’s talk about Markov chains. Andrey Markov was a Russian mathematician in the late 19th century, who came up with a way to describe systems with no memory — where the next thing that happens is only dependent on the current state, rather than what happened in the past.
You figure out how often the process moves from A to B, compared to when it goes from A to C, and then you can use probability to generate a “Markov chain” — a sample run-through of the process. This is useful in math, and physics, and other smart-people areas.
An amusing but not at all useful application of this idea is a Markov chain text generator. You can put a whole bunch of sentences into the generator — like, for example, the opening narrations for Dark Shadows episodes. Then the generator starts with a random word from the input text, and calculates what word is most likely to come next. Then it does the same with the next word, and so on. You end up with text that sounds like the original, but doesn’t actually mean anything.
So I’m going to input every opening narration from episode 210 through 650 into the Markov generator, to see if we can discover the perfect Dark Shadows introduction. Here we go.
Continue reading X4: An Uncertain and Frightening Journey
“As you lovingly bite my neck, your fangs sink ever deeper.”
Wednesday falls over the great house at Collinwood, and I’m still taking a week off so that I can polish my harpoon collection. So I’m going to post some interesting selections from The World of Dark Shadows, and then hypnotize you into thinking that counts as today’s blog entry.
By the way, did you ever try to find the exact center of a piece of fine crystal? Let the colors flow past you. Keep searching for the center. Yeah, that’ll do.
Continue reading X3: Barnabas Collins and the Poetry Slam
“mausoleum mausoleum mausolem maybe”
Sadly, I have to take this week off, because I’m going to Barbados to learn the secret magic number of the universe. But I don’t want to shatter the ancient truce between the readers and the blog, so I’m filling in with some odds and ends that wouldn’t fit in a regular post.
This would be one of the odd ones.
Continue reading X2: Everything That Julia Says in Episode 361, in Alphabetical Order
“You’re Barnabas Collins, the vampire. You leave me alone.”
Hi, you’ve reached Dark Shadows Every Day. I’m not here right now, because I’m away at a conference this week. But I know you need to fill the days and nights of your tomorrows, so I’m going to suspend time and space, and fill the week with five days of odds and ends that I can’t do in a regular post.
Today, I’m going to present two short stories from The World of Dark Shadows. Allow me to explain.
Continue reading X1: Barnabas Goes to the Circus