X5: That Troublesome Problem

“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.

583 dark shadows maggie vicki sitting

Who is the right woman for Barnabas?

This was the most common subject in the Collinsport Debating Society columns, popping up in issues from 1984 through 1995. Everybody had an opinion about this, based on just about any criteria.

Dave Brown: I’d say only Josette. That was a once in a lifetime (no matter how long that lifetime is) love. Maggie was a wonderful girl, but does not measure up to being the lady Josette was. (#37, May 1984)

Kay Kelly: Josette truly loved Barnabas, but sex was a very small part of her idea of love. She intended to be a wife to him in every way, and she thought of sex as a “wifely duty”, like supervising the household staff. Julia was the only one who shared his maturity and was his intellectual equal. But I think the poor man had an embarrassing problem in relating to her. I suggest he had never had sex with a woman over 30, and he was “turned off” by the thought of it. Julia, unlike Josette, was a woman for whom sexual desire was very much a part of love. (#71/72, Aug 1995)

Adriana Pena: Maggie, Vicki, Rachel and Kitty just remind him of Josette — not a good reason to start any relationship. Julia… well, it could be possible if Barnabas did not see her as a mother figure. He’s just not Freudian enough to think of her in a sexual way. (#37)

Jane Lach: I cast my vote for Dr. J because she was so different from the other love interests. An interesting person in her own right, and not just a pretty appendage on Barnabas’ arm. (#37)

398 dark shadows behind angelique barnabas

Jack Jackson: Maybe I’m alone, but I say Angelique! Josette may have been perfect for Barnabas at the beginning of 1795, but what happened later? In her own frame of mind, she went as far as jumping off Widow’s Hill rather than stay by him. Maggie Evans? He tried making her into Josette, and she ran away from the Old House. Victoria Winters? He wanted to marry her, and she turned him down for Jeff Clark. Dr. Julia Hoffman? Friend and confidant only. Carolyn Stoddard? He was never interested in her as a mate. If given the chance, Angelique would be a perfect wife — totally devoted. And Barnabas would have the love he seeks, and his curse would be removed. (#46, Dec 1986)

David Cooper: Include my vote for Victoria Winters. They have a mutual appreciation of the past and for things of beauty. Victoria wouldn’t endanger or dominate Barnabas, or bring him unhappiness, and she does not listen to discouraging people warning her. She does try to reason things out before panicking. She’s just a lousy driver is all. (#37)

Jay Keaveny: I’d pick Maggie Evans as Barnabas’ ideal. It was Barnabas’ most lasting relationship with a woman, and from 1968 on, it was a mutual relationship. (#37)

635 dark shadows barnabas julia sedative

Sue Guentner: For a day-to-day wife, it’d have to be Julia. Not only did she know more about him in every way than any other woman, but she went from being his enemy to his unwilling accomplice to his partner to his close friend. (#37)

Kay Kelly: When I was watching the show years ago, I always felt that Eliot Stokes was in love with Julia — that while she was hopelessly yearning for Barnabas, Stokes was hopelessly yearning for her. Do other fans feel that way? I can’t point to any evidence for it. (#71/72)

Virginia Waldron: I do not think Barnabas has a right woman, and I think that to tie him too tightly to any of the many female heroines or villainesses is to diminish Barnabas’ character. He is a combination of the sinister reclusive figure and the romantic Byron or Heathcliff character. As such, it is essential that he have great tragedy in his past, and dark secrets; he must be brooding and mysterious and sensitive and, in a certain way, vulnerable. (#52/53, May 1989)

The funny thing is that I don’t think anybody ever said “He shouldn’t be with anyone, because he’s a bad person.” I mean, Maggie Evans doesn’t measure up? Barnabas kidnapped, tortured and fantasy-metaphor raped her, and she’s not good enough for him? But these discussions happened 30 years ago, when the world was different, and time travellers should always tread with caution.

425 dark shadows fangs josette

What if Josette had returned as a vampire?

Carl Nicastro: She’d probably go on a bloodbath of appalling viciousness. Maybe even Barnabas and Angelique would have to unite to stop her. (#46, Dec 1986)

What happened to Tony Peterson?

Julie Illescas: After successfully defending Dr. Hoffman in a malpractice suit, he invested the proceeds from the lucrative settlement in Treasure Salvors, Inc. When the company successfully located and salvaged a previously uncharted wreck off the coast of Bermuda, he became independently wealthy. This enabled him to purchase choice parcels of oceanfront real estate in the Collinsport area, and he ultimately ended up owning Collinwood. (#46)

Where did Vicki come from?

Frank Pittarese: My theory is that since Vicki was placed on the doorstep of the foundling home with nothing but a note with her first name on it, and grew up to become involved with the Collinses, ending up returning to the past to live… Isn’t it possible that she is her own descendant?

If she married Peter and had children, and eventually grandchildren, etc., then it’s possible that somewhere at the end of the line a little girl named Victoria was born. And this little girl had to be given up, to insure that Vicki’s family in the past may yet be. (#45, Aug 1986)

306 dark shadows sarah recorder

What’s up with Sarah and London Bridge?

Judith Johnson: Before the 1795 flashback, Barnabas goes crazy at the mere mention of the song “London Bridge” because supposedly it was Sarah’s favorite song. Yet, in the 1795 flashback, Sarah is never once shown singing “London Bridge” or playing it on her flute; in fact, she is never shown playing the flute at all.

Possible explanation: Phyllis Wick played the flute, but since she was Sarah’s governess for only a short time, she got to teach Sarah only one song, “London Bridge”. When Victoria went back in time, she didn’t play the flute, so she never got to teach Sarah even “London Bridge”.

Victoria did play the piano, but apparently she didn’t get far enough with Sarah to teach her that “London Bridge” played in the key of F requires a B flat, and that’s why the ghost in the scene with Julia played the wrong key. Or, maybe the ghost just got confused because of the switch from the clavichord to the piano.

Why was Julia allowed to stay at Collinwood?

Caroline Miranda: While conducting experiments on Barnabas, Julia developed a technique to expand dead sardines, allowing the Collins cannery to pack fewer sardines in a can but maintain the same weight. In return for her formula, the Collinses let her stay rent free and covered her expenses, hoping for other discoveries to emerge from her dark work in the bowels of the Old House. (#52/53, May 1989)

What happened to Adam?

K.A. Stewart: With no identity, no background, and very little knowledge of the world, he probably ended up living on the streets or perhaps in a commune or crash pad. He undoubtedly made friends, friends who could help him get a new identity, easily possible with draft dodgers commonly going underground and paper-tripping. From there, with a phony birth certificate, social security card, etc., he could have gotten on welfare or looked for a job, possibly as a dockworker. Who knows, he may even have found a girlfriend with “love in her heart and flowers in her hair”, someone who reminded him of Carolyn, possibly. (#67/68, July 1994)

465 dark shadows car barnabas vicki

And then this is one of my all-time favorites — a detailed, creative answer to a question that I can’t recall anybody ever asking.

Kay Kelly: I have a suggestion for that troublesome problem of how the vampire Barnabas can be injured when Victoria’s car crashes. This isn’t ideal, but it’s the only answer I think works at all.

When the car crashes, Barnabas — seated on the passenger side — is thrown out. (I realize he has the power to transform into a bat, or simply dematerialize. But he doesn’t react quickly enough to do either.) He lands on his hands and knees, momentarily disoriented — looks up — and sees, incredibly, “Peter Bradford!” Barnabas freaks out, and lunges at “Bradford” with fangs bared.

Jeff Clark, terrified, reacts instinctively by grabbing something that’s lying close at hand — a tree limb, he thinks — and flailing out at the attacking vampire. He hits Barnabas over the head — and knocks him unconscious!

Horrified, Jeff decides that means the man can’t possibly be a real vampire. And that means — his perceiving him as a vampire, and attacking him, is actual evidence for Dr. Eric Lang’s claim that he, Jeff, is an escaped homicidal maniac! He’s appalled. But to him, Barnabas appears to be dead or nearly dead — and Vicki is safely unconscious. So he decides to lie about what happened — claims he pulled this accident victim out of the car alive, and hope that if the man isn’t already dead, he’ll die without regaining consciousness.

Jeff never realizes that the reason he was able to knock a vampire unconscious was that he hit him over the head with Barnabas’ own silver-headed cane, which had also been thrown out of the car!

As I said, I’m not claiming this is an ideal solution to the problem. But we know a vampire can be killed by a silver bullet. So it seems reasonable the cane could injure him — but not, I would think, if he simply hit up against it while both he and the cane were tumbling around in the car. I think it would require someone’s actually striking him a hard blow with it. (#67/68, July 1994)

So, there you have it. Problem solved.

Monday: Mother’s Little Helper.

465 dark shadows road peter

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

16 thoughts on “X5: That Troublesome Problem

  1. Barnabas probably feels no one woman is enough for him – he’s a ‘real catch’ (in his mind) and believes women should be dropping (literally) at his feet in adoration. He would probably want Josette and Angelique cat fighting for him in 1795 but he would also spend time with the women along ‘the docks’ as well. Maggie and Vicki and Carolyn would not fall for him in 1968 (my opinion only). Vicki loved Burke and Maggie loved Joe and Carolyn loved Burke and Joe (and Buzz). Julia is the one who really had romantic feelings for him and after he gets over himself he would probably realize she’s the one for him.

    1. This is really the only sensible response about Barnabas’ love life that I’ve read. Didn’t one of the writers for the show write a summary and epilogue where Barnabas and Julia get wed in Singapore? (after the show ends)

    2. Julia is the match for Barnabas. Barnabas spent his life trying to get what he wants with the wrong people. Income Julia. Not a youngster, stepping to him in such a way, he steps on his dick for the longest before he gets the message. She was smooth with it. While she did confess her interest, she still mind fucked him to the contrary and he did not know what to do with her at first.

    3. Joann I am totally in agreement. Vicki, Maggie, Angelique were just not for him because he wanted everything his way. Julia on the other hand, showed him that she was her own woman, and while she was in love with him, she still stood her ground. He grew to actually love her, just not showing it from a romantic or sexual way since Dark Shadows was a children’s program. And the fate of the characters has them marrying and living happily ever after. Now there was one scene where they were actually holding each other and looking at each other lovingly. For a moment, they probably each thought about it…ahhh..ohhh..Barnabas started feeling more than his fangs quivering and Julia just looking all beautiful smiling…lol…If Julia would have laid some of her loving on Barnabas, Barnabas would not be gay no more. Further, he would never leave Julia.

  2. Feeling weak, disoriented…must have mythopoetic postmodern lit-crit insight soon, or will expire.

  3. It’s a fool’s errand, but my take on Barnabas and women: he was afraid of real sexual intimacy, so therefore always idealized some unattainable woman. It allowed him to experience the drunken pleasures of “being in love” while never having to face the disappointment of real-people failings, perhaps especially his own.

    One could go further (stop me) and say that Barnabas was actually homosexual or bisexual, but the world he inhabited gave him no framework for those urges. He thought he should be attracted to women. All his complex plans to turn various women into Josette were subconsciously designed to fail, so that his inability to consummate never need trouble him.

    He had a great platonic relationship with Julia because it didn’t threaten to force him into demonstrative love-making.

    Only real problem with this theory is that it was implied that he and Angelique once had a hot night of passion. Perhaps she slipped something into his drink that night.

    1. I love this idea. Angelique and Barnabas eternally locked together in hate because both of them are in severe denial about the latter’s sexuality. Would’ve been great to have seen Barnabas coming to terms with his gayness as he realizes he’s falling in love with Quentin.

      1. Have you seen the movie DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS? It features John Karlen as a character who, at first, seems like he’s living one of Willie Loomis’ fantasies. He is newly married to a beautiful woman, spends lots of money, and presents himself as the son of a wealthy English aristocrat. It turns out that he is in fact living a life very much like Willie’s. By the end he is the slave of a vampire, digging a grave by moonlight.

        What reminds me of it is a scene in between these points. We discover that Karlen’s does not live in his family’s ancient and splendid mansion ruled by his eccentric mother. Rather, he is the kept boy of a rich man who dresses in purple, wears makeup, eats orchids for lunch, and pets his middle-aged male servants on the head as if they were well-behaved dogs. So I’m thinking that was their take on the right relationship for Barnabas.

  4. Around the turn of the century (~2001) I was part of the Dark Shadows newsgroup. The best part was we were pretty much all on the same episode at the same time because SciFi was running it. 🙂 Oh, the arguments….

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