Episode 658: Did He Fall, or Was He Pushed?

“I don’t want to sleep! The dreams! The dreams are awful!”

It all started with Nicholas Blair, that scheming mastermind who wanted to steal Maggie away. Nicholas arranged for his pet vampire to keep Maggie’s fiancee occupied, and then Joe Haskell just stood there and watched, as his whole life slipped out of his grasp.

He lost his job, he lost Maggie, and somewhere along the way, he lost his soul. It’s hard to say exactly where, but the night that he helped Angelique kill his cousin probably had a lot to do with it.

Joe tried to commit suicide, and then he tried to kill Barnabas, and then he tried to shoot a werewolf that used to be his cousin. Not the dead cousin, another one. It’s been a bad year for cousins.

And now, look at him. He’s wearing a turtleneck.

Oh, Joe. What have they done to you?

658 dark shadows joe shirt open

But I don’t want to remember him this way, all hollow-eyed and defeated. If he has to die, let him die like a man, with his shirt cut open and killing a dude. Joe was Dark Shadows’ first hot guy, and he deserves some respect.

360 dark shadows joe maggie cake

Now, if you ask pretty much anyone else about Joe Haskell, they’ll tell you about how sweet he was.

Joe was the ultimate dream boyfriend — always handsome, patient and supportive, often has cake. Maggie and Joe were one of the few happy couples on the show, who stayed together all the way through a whole storyline without dying. In fact, the only other one that comes close involves 19th-century gypsies.

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He was an honest, friendly and lovely man on a show that is otherwise populated by monsters and refugees from the nuthouse. He was always there in a crisis, trying to protect Maggie, or help Sam.

And here at the end, when he’s locked up and unravelling, he still insists that he can save the people that he loves. “I tried to get Amy away from there,” he says. “I had her in my arms. Somebody stopped me. They wouldn’t let me.”

He’ll find Amy again, and take her away — Maggie, too, he’ll save them both. Joe Haskell is a hero to the end.

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But for me, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the guy who had a stomach wound that could only be treated by cutting his turtleneck in half with a pair of kitchen scissors, symbolically liberating the men of Dark Shadows from the stranglehold of the mandatory ties-or-turtlenecks dress code.

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He could have been stabbed in the neck with those scissors — it’s Dark Shadows, accidents happen — but he stood firm. There are all kinds of heroes in this world.

658 dark shadows joel crothers lara parker

So what happened? Why did Joel Crothers leave Dark Shadows?

Well, when an actor leaves a soap opera and nobody wants to say why, the classic excuse is that it’s “story-related”, or some similar brand of horseradish. It’s supposed to imply that the only way that a particular storyline could progress is if that character dies, or goes to jail, or moves away.

Obviously, this is nonsense — there are lots of ways that a storyline can go, and if the actor is popular and important, then you figure out a plot twist that keeps him on the show. He escapes from jail, or he has an identical twin, or he comes back from the dead.

658 dark shadows joe patterson julia jail

That’s especially true on Dark Shadows, where it’s starting to dawn on them that they can kill a character and then have him come back and play somebody else. They’ve just discovered the magic of the identical twin, and obviously, coming back from the dead is part of the job description.

Besides, here at the start of 1969, Joe is in a perfect position, storywise. The hot new characters are the werewolf Chris Jennings and his sister, the wide-eyed and spooky Amy. Joe is their cousin, and he’s Chris’ only friend. Plus, Maggie just became the governess at Collinwood, and I bet she could use a guy to talk to over the age of twelve. There’s plenty of room on the canvas for Joe.

607 dark shadows joe mirror screen

So it was actually Joel Crothers’ decision to leave. That’s why they’re sending him off to Windcliff, so they can have him back later if he wants to return. That’s what they did with Willie in 1967, and they’ll do it again when Maggie leaves in 1970. Windcliff has a revolving door; sending someone there is basically just putting a character in storage.

But Joel wasn’t happy, and he wanted to go. In 1970, he told After Noon TV:

“On Shadows, that isn’t really acting. There are no real characterizations. The stress is on the technical effects. The directors just don’t have time to work with the actors on their parts. On TV when I see those old horror movies with the bad acting… Well, now I have a better understanding of why the acting couldn’t be any other way.”

599 dark shadows joe angelique

He had good reason to resent the characterization on Dark Shadows. We’re almost at the end of the period that I’ve been calling The Great 1968 Wrap-Up, when Dan Curtis and the writers realized that the convoluted storylines that dominated 1968 just weren’t working anymore. The show is dropping eight characters in two months, some of them very abruptly.

In late October, Joe Haskell was in the middle of the most active storyline he’d ever had — mad and wounded, desperately in love with his vampire mistress and horrified by the monster he’d become. They invested a good deal of time in Joe’s gradual disintegration; it was the best material he’s ever had on Dark Shadows.

Then he suddenly dropped off screen for a little while, left in a hospital bed with a murder charge hanging over him.

658 dark shadows joe chris mausoleum

Two weeks later, Angelique went to Hell to tattle on Nicholas, and she never came back. The next time we saw Joe, it was mid-December, and he was totally fine — wiped clean, and smiling again. He never got to resolve any loose ends with Angelique, and he only had half a scene with Maggie. They acknowledged what happened, they decided not to reconcile, and then Maggie took a phone call.

This must have been incredibly disappointing — months of character progress, just forgotten.

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Plus, he never even got the chance to be a monster. Here’s another quote from After Noon TV:

“The show is high camp, but I enjoyed playing Lt. Forbes more than Joe Haskell. He was a rascal. He got killed at least six times. I always wanted to play a vampire, but they’d never let me. I guess they leave that to Don Briscoe.”

Don actually got to be two monsters — a vampire and a werewolf — which had to be discouraging for Joel.

654 dark shadows joe hysteria

In fact, when Joel says that “the stress is on the technical effects,” he’s kind of talking about the werewolf transformation scene from last week. There’s Joel, desperate and shaky with his gun, just acting away, while everybody else is actually paying attention to the werewolf effect.

The only reason they’re focusing on Joel at all is to give them time to get Don and Alex Stevens in place, so they can do the transformation — which is basically just a big close-up on Don’s face.

607 dark shadows barnabas julia joe ritual

Joel was Dark Shadows’ first hunk, and he clearly enjoyed having the chance to be a heartthrob. In that cut-open turtleneck episode, he spends a lot of the day angling his torso toward the camera, to make sure everybody gets a good look at him.

But last week, Don was the one who got the big exciting shirtless scene, while Joel was stuck with bandages all over his chest.

658 dark shadows joel crothers moods

There’s another big factor that played into Joel’s decision to leave Dark Shadows — the growing audience of teenage girls, and the teen magazines encouraging their readers to “get to know the real Joel Crothers”.

As we get into 1969, the features in 16 and Flip are getting more intense, printing intimate pictures of the male actors at home, and practically inviting their over-eager readers to stalk their favorite stars.

658 dark shadows joel crothers tv dawn to dusk

As the original Dark Shadows pretty boy, Joel gets his share of attention from the young ladies.

In 1970, he told TV By Day, “I had teenage girls calling me up at three in the morning and saying dirty things. I had no idea little girls talked like that. Of course, I had the number changed. But it was nothing like what Jonathan Frid went through.”

The comparison to Jonathan makes a lot of sense, because Joel and Jonathan both had a big secret that they didn’t want anybody to know.

Here’s another quote from After Noon TV:

“It’s the invasion of your private life that I don’t like. Take a look at Hollywood people who have made it. Elizabeth Taylor can’t even go to a restaurant without a million people gawking at her and shouting at her. She said many times how afraid she is just to go out!

“I had a taste of that when I was on Dark Shadows. Kids would bother me constantly. You know, there’s a myth that soap stars earn a lot of money. Well, I still can’t afford to take taxis every time I want to go to my house or to somewhere else in the city.

“But while I was on the show, I couldn’t even dream of using the subways. It would have caused a disturbance. It’s much, much different now that I’m on The Secret Storm. Occasionally someone will say, ‘Oh, there’s Ken Stevens!’ but I’m never really bothered.”

Joel and Jonathan were both gay, in a time when there was exactly zero space in the world where that was a safe thing to be. In 1968, being gay wouldn’t just get you fired and evicted from your apartment; you could actually be arrested for it. The police raided gay bars all the time; that’s what the June ’69 Stonewall Riots are about.

So when Joel says he would cause a disturbance every time he goes “somewhere else in the city,” there are some “somewhere elses” that are more disturbing than others.

658 dark shadows joel crothers' mind

It’s true that Jonathan Frid got a lot more attention than anyone else in the cast — but when interviewers got too close to Frid’s life, he’d just look dreamy and say something about Shakespeare. Joel is putting himself on display as a sex object, and he has nowhere to hide.

Here’s another heartbreaking 1970 quote:

“I’m not good at long-lasting romantic relationships. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to be married to someone — ever. I’m happy now the way I am. You know, marriage to me is just a financial thing. It’s a sort of money agreement between two people. Children are part of that agreement. And I’m not interested in ever getting myself into a financial agreement. The basis of it all should be love, not legality. Above all, that’s what I would want.”

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And here’s another, from a 1971 TV Dawn to Dusk interview:

“He’s not involved with any special young lady at the moment, but something just ended, and he doesn’t want to talk about it.

“‘I guess I’m just not ready to settle down. I’m financially ready for marriage — but not emotionally. Besides, I’d rather not talk about my private life because I don’t want to read about it in a magazine. Even an actor is entitled to a little privacy.'”

658 veleka gray joel crothers

So Joel did what gay guys did back then, which was try to be straight. In the late 70s, he had an on-and-off relationship with Veleka Gray, a female costar on Somerset.

Here’s a quote from Veleka’s post-breakup interview in 1979:

“We did become very close for a while last fall, and really talked and really got to know each other, and the end result was that we discovered a lot of reasons why we should remain friends and not be together. I’m happy about that, because now we both know for sure that it was a dream and that an actual life together wouldn’t have worked.

“I still love him and support him as much as ever, but I’m not in love with him now and am dating other men.”

Yeah, dating other men does sound like a better option, for a lot of the people involved.

658 dark shadows joel crothers afternoon tv

After Dark Shadows, Joel never had trouble getting work. He walked out of DS and into The Secret Storm, and he had meaty roles in Somerset, The Edge of NIght and Santa Barbara. By the early ’80s, he was one of the most popular men on soaps, and he appeared on a lot of soap magazine covers.

To change his boyish image, he grew a mustache. “I wanted to play a villain for a change,” he said. “I was tired of playing nice guys. Then, when I finally got to be kind of a villain on Somerset, they suddenly turned me into a nice guy with a villainous mustache.”

658 dark shadows joel crothers torch song trilogy

In 1982, while he was on Edge of NIght, Joel appeared in the original off-Broadway production of Torch Song Trilogy, Harvey Fierstein’s eye-opening show about gay love and heartbreak. Joel played Ed, Fierstein’s bisexual lover, who manages to score with just about everyone in the play, including Matthew Broderick’s character, Alan.

This must have led some people to wonder about his sexual orientation, but the soap magazines played defense. According to Barnabas and Company, Soap Opera Digest even ran a full-page story about Joel’s appearance in the play in March 1982. However, the gay storyline of the play was not mentioned — nor was the fact that Joel played a bisexual character, and the only photo from the play showed him in the embrace of an actress.”

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The Dark Shadows fan gatherings were few and far between in the early ’80s, but Joel did attend one in 1983 — the first Manhattan Shadows convention, along with Jonathan Frid and Addison Powell.

658 dark shadows joel mustache

In August 1985, Joel joined Santa Barbara, where he played attorney J. Stanfield Lee, who was abducted and replaced by his sinister lookalike cousin, Les Cooper. But the storyline suddenly sped to a conclusion in September, and Joel disappeared from the show for a while.

When he came back, he was a lot thinner. Joel had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, an opportunstic disease that was a common cause of death for people with AIDS. He died on November 9, 1985.

So we lost him, at 44 years old.

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He should have been here with us all these years.

He should be goofing around with Kathryn and Lara at the Dark Shadows Festivals, shaking his head in amazement at the crazy, stubborn people still watching the silly spook show that he thought he’d left behind.

After a while, he’d probably be appearing a couple times a month on Days of Our Lives or As the World Turns — his sexy rascal character finally domesticated, giving advice to the 22-year-olds who are suddenly playing his grandchildren.

648 dark shadows joe amy set up

But at the Dark Shadows Festivals, everyone still thinks of him as the beautiful 27-year-old who lost his mind and went off to Windcliff. For one weekend every summer, Joel Crothers is young again.

Every year at the Festival, someone always asks the big question: Did Joe ever come back to Collinsport and reunite with Maggie? Joel meets Kathryn’s eye, and they both grin, astonished every time. These paper-thin characters that they played are still alive, on VHS and public TV.

He should have been here. He should have felt that.

I don’t know if Joel had a lover when he died, but I know he was loved. He was gorgeous and sweet, a successful actor in a popular genre, and a lovely guy. He must have left a trail of broken hearts, everywhere he went. And here they are, all these years later, still broken.

Tomorrow: Gone Girl.


Many of the quotes from today’s post are from the excellent Barnabas & Company: The Cast of the TV Classic Dark Shadows, which should already be on your bookshelf by now, if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes story of DS.

There are also some quotes and information from a couple of Dark Shadows fanzines: The World of Dark Shadows and Transcending Time.

And if you’re puzzled by some of the references in today’s post, you should check out the following:

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, when Chris is on the phone, a shadow passes behind him. It happens when Julia says, “You may be the only one who can quiet him down.”

This isn’t a blooper, just something fun to watch for. The jail cell only has bars on one side, because they don’t want to have to shoot all the jail scenes through bars. So they have to get a little creative in the way that they frame shots, to make sure that they don’t show that there’s a big open space where Joe could just walk out of the cell.

They didn’t bother with constructing very much of Chris’ room, either. When Chris talks to Julia on the phone in the teaser, it’s shot in a very tight closeup, because they didn’t bother to put most of the set together. There’s just a mirror and a bit of wall, with the suggestion of a bedframe behind him.

Tomorrow: Gone Girl.

658 dark shadows patterson joe chris jail

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

49 thoughts on “Episode 658: Did He Fall, or Was He Pushed?

  1. One of my favorite Joel Crothers quotes on Dark Shadows is from episode 254 when Joe tells Carolyn his opinion of her then boyfriend Buzz Hackett: “That guy looks like about as much fun as a bag full of spiders.”

  2. Great post on Crothers today. It provides a historical context for anyone who complains about a celebrity who comes out as “no big deal.” I recall people saying something similar when Joel Grey came out publicly last year. You’d like to think that if Crothers had lived he might have enjoyed the ability to be open personally and professionally without the fear that haunted so many other actors.

    It was especially difficult for actors like Crothers who were otherwise “leading man” types and not comic relief (Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly, Tony Randall — the latter I believe was in fact straight despite the roles he played) or slightly asexual “confirmed bachelor” who always had a quip at the ready (Prof. Stokes is perhaps an unintentional example of this trope. There’s even a scene where he admits to being unable to really advise Adam regarding his crush on Carolyn). The Jonathan Frid interview you posted recently, which goes into detail about his “tastefully decorated” apartment and his clearly unromantic affection for certain actresses would have had a different impact if it were Crothers. Perhaps it was because Joel was much younger and, well, American.

    It’s interesting to look at his departure from a different angle: That teeny bopper fame was the last thing someone wanted whose livelihood depended on a degree of anonymity and discretion.

    Oh, and tangentially, that photo of Crothers with Lara Parker — my God! She’s stunning. We all know this when you watch the show, but for me, it’s like seeing Alex Stevens walking around NYC in werewolf makeup. You expect werewolves on DARK SHADOWS, as well as women who look like Angelique, but in the “real world,” the sight makes your jaw drop.

    1. I agree about Lara Parker, her face has an amazing structure. I’ve never seen anything like it, she’s unique.
      I live in Hollywood and have rubbed elbows with all kinds of much more famous film and music stars, but when I met Lara Parker, she was the most effortlessly intimidating. Childhood fears of Angelique were probably still lurking.

      My best friend, Kevin, in the 80’s used to know her son, Rick, who sang for Lions and Ghosts, at local clubs, here in Hollywood. I had a many opportunities to see them play live, and I knew Lara was his mother, and that the band was good, but for some reason, I never made the effort. I should have.

  3. Joe Haskell’s nightmare is Dark Shadows at its Dark Shadow-iest and the best dream sequence in the entire show.
    First, he gets to re-live cousin Chris’s metamorphosis, which already sent him off the deep end, then he flees to Collinwood, cause that’s such a safe place to be, only to find cousin werewolf waiting for him on the balcony. Alex Stevens does another one of his spectacular leaps to the floor below, which is still as amazing as the first time I saw it back on day one of the Year of Fire. (I know we talked about all the fire of 1968, but for me, it was always 1969 that was the real años de fuego.)
    Joe manages to momentarily fend off the wolf, only to find another Horror in the Foyer: It’s Dr Hypodermic, I’m mean Dr Hoffman, with a hypodermic! Holy Shitpants! This is getting scary. He tries to tell her what is happening, but people in dreams never get the point. Unfortunately, she has something pointy and wants to give it to him, so he runs away again.

    Here comes the classic bit, and great work from both Joel Crothers and Don Briscoe.
    Joe ends up lost in the wrong cemetery, the one with vampires.
    When he enters the Collins mausoleum, he comes face to face with what looks like his cousin Chris, no longer a werewolf. They have a very strange conversation, Joe tries to explain, but people in dreams never get the….yada yada yada, mistaken identity, I’m not Chris, I’m Tom. The Vampire.
    Tom breaks out the fangs and Joe goes running again, out of the mausoleum, through the cemetery, into the waiting arms of the werewolf. He turns to run back, but Tom is right there. He’s surrounded, and they’re closing in for the kill! He realizes he’s never going to make it to the bathroom in time. The werewolf is growling and the vampire is snarling and Joe screams “Oh, no! This is NOT what I was looking for on Craigslist!” and then, with a searing sound effect, he wakes up screaming, in a nice white straight jacket.


    It’s one of my top favorite segments of the show. Joe definitely goes out with a Bang. And a scream. And a whimper.
    I’m sorry to see him go like this, he was a good man, but there’s nothing I can do.
    It’s like that film by Polanski, where Lawrence Walsh says to Jake Gittes:
    “Forget it, Jake, it’s Collinwood.”

    1. I do love the “I’m not Chris, I’m Tom” moment. It takes too long to get to the punchline, but it’s a fantastic punchline, and we get one more look at Don Briscoe’s wonderfully extroverted version of a vampire. He might have been the guy who invented the hissing vampire thing, or he would have, given enough time.

      1. I think the first hissing vampire, also from a Dan Curtis production, came after Dark Shadows in the form of Barry Atwater’s Janos Skorzeny in the Night Stalker pilot movie (1972). Perhaps Atwater’s characterization was given to hissing because he didn’t have a single line of dialog throughout.

      2. The moment he says, “I’m TOM…” Was the greatest facial transformation ever, from sincere to friendly to sinister then hissing and chomping…..scene of the week!!

      3. Tom likes to play with his food. They way he gradually modulates from friendly to malevolent is quite chilling. While there’s nothing Hitchcockian about the subject matter, this particular moment is totally Hitchcockian in that there is a stunning “slow realization”, or “SR”, by Joe Haskell.
        The SR was one of Hitch’s most favorite motifs, as was showing close-ups of the dead person’s feet, or shoes (to emphasize the clumsiness of murder), using knives or long sharp scissors, as opposed to guns (because it’s more up close and personal), having the murderer be quite charming (the better to get close to you, my dear), and so on.
        The SR is a top moment, it’s when the Good Guy/Heroine finally figures out the horrible reality of the situation they are in. There’s always a long shot of the frightening epiphany slowly registering on their face. It can be a moment where they finally figure out who the killer is, or when one realizes someone they trusted is trying to poison them slowly, or that there really is a body in the box under the buffet you just ate.
        In Joe’s case, it’s figuring out “it’s not Chris after all, it’s Tom, but Tom was…….
        a vampire and, oh crap, still is.”

        Can’t remember if Christopher Lee did any hissing in The Horror of Dracula (1958), because he had dialogue, but he had no dialogue in 1966 when he reprized the role for Dracula: Prince of Darkness, so I think there was definite hissing involved. Probably hissing in Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, too (1968). Time for me to re-watch these, soon.

        Don did make a great, scary vampire. While Barnabas retained his aristocratic gentility as an un-dead, Tom did the wild thang.

        1. Yes, you’re right about Christopher Lee. I completely blanked on that. In Horror of Dracula when Lee comes home bloodstained from a hard night at the office and sees the wife supping on their house guest Harker he erupts in a fit of rage and is all hissing shrieks as he muscles her out of the room, knocking Harker out cold in the process as he tries to intervene.

          I suppose the hissing in Lee’s Dracula was to make him seem more feral, which seems fitting as he is more animated and agile than previous Dracula incarnations. So, the influence of yet another Hammer Films nuance finds its way into Dark Shadows.

          1. So, he did do it from the first film, thanks, I need to watch it soon again, anyway. One of the all time great endings.

            Hammer’s objective around that time was to turn horror up to “eleven”. I’m pretty sure David Peel, who played the vampire in Brides Of Dracula (1960) was “hisser.” Even Lugosi does kind of a hiss and run ( vampire can get a ticket for hiss and run), when Van Helsing shows him his fancy crucifix.

            1. Turning horror up to eleven indeed. Hammer essentially revived the horror genre, which had taken a backseat when sci fi became king after Hiroshima and the ever present fear of nuclear annihilation produced tales of mutant reptiles, insects and atom age vampires. Bela Lugosi spent the second half of his film career doing comedy movies culminating in the reprisal of his Dracula role as second fiddle to the likes of Abbott & Costello.

              So when you see in the beginning of Horror of Dracula those drops of blood spattering down on Dracula’s sepulchre, that was an intentional device–to stop the audience from laughing–because blood had never been seen so up close and matter of fact in film before, least of all in dripping red technicolor. At the premiere the audience cheered and laughed as the opening credits rolled, but the moment that blood starts dripping down it shut them up and made them take it seriously.

              So, essentially, Hammer Films spurred the resurgence in the horror genre that would make a show like Dark Shadows possible as well as viable a few years later.

  4. I hate to see any the original characters leaving – Joe, Vicki (Alexandra, not Betsy), Sam, Burke, Sarah – they even had to kill off Mr Wells the Collinsport Innkeeper. And it’s even sadder watching it all these years later because viewers who were watching it real time still had a glimmer of hope that some of these characters would return – it’s the same for any other classic show I watch on Netflix of HULU – for example I’m currently watching the 60’s – 70’s sitcom Here’s Lucy – after the third season I was heartbroken that Desi Jr left the show. Same thing with Flo the waitress on Linda Lavin’s ‘Alice’.

    1. Yeah, I hate to see them go, too, but not much of a story, if the stakes aren’t high, if the price isn’t ultimate. Dark Shadows was never one to spare our feelings, quite the opposite. Dark Shadows was mostly angst, anger, aggravation and anxiety.
      To quote Seinfeld, “that was brutal!”

      All these deaths, not unlike real life, as far as unexpectedness. Maybe a lesson in loving those around us while we can.

      We do have some amazing characters to look forward to soon. I’m crazy about Magda, Petofi, Quentin, Kitty Soames, Aristede, Dirk, Laura in Color, Angelique the Ally, Gregory “Senor Bastardo” Trask, Carl “spot the looney” Collins, Minerva “oh my god, what a fucking #@%&” Trask, and so on.

      1. Aristide? Stroka should have played it for laughs instead of stupid and arrogant.

        Stupid and funny so betta.

        Stupid and arrogant…are contradictory.

  5. At the time (age 11 in Jan., 1969), I thought this was the best-ever DS installment. I don’t agree that the punchline is too long in coming–it’s essential that WE know something is terribly askew, and the longer it takes Joe to realize that, the better. It’s Hitchcock-level suspense and weirdness.

    At the time, I hadn’t figured out that the guy in the werewolf get-up wasn’t Don Briscoe, so of course I wondered how the werewolf and Chris/Tom could be in the same scene.

    The only thing that bothers me (and it bothered me then, too) is the way Chris’ self-concern trumps any feeling of horror or sympathy for Joe’s condition. Doesn’t he care that his cousin is flipping out? All he cares about is whether or not Joe exposes him. Morality, DS-style.

    I think it’s been noted before, but Chris’ selfish attitude (who cares who croaks, so long as his secret stays safe) is Barnabas-esque in the extreme. Maybe, for the moment, Chris Jennings is an extension of Barnabas, leaving B. free to play butler, lawyer, custodian, head of Collinwood, etc. Apologies if this has been suggested already.

    1. It’s true that Chris doesn’t go far enough in his concern for others, but to me, you’re overstating Chris’s selfishness. Yes, he’s ultimately selfish and is desperate to keep his secret, but he is rather tortured about it whenever something terrible happens. He is even willing to die, as he asks Joe to shoot him (revealing his own weakness that he can’t do it himself during the day). “Who cares who croaks”? Yes, Chris does care…but obviously not enough.

  6. “… or some similar brand of horseradish.”

    One of my biggest pet peeves in the world is overused slang, so I’m incredibly glad to read the expression “horseradish”!

  7. The Collinsport Players have done a parody of this episode based on the ’60s sitcom starring Patty Duke, in which she played identical cousins, one of whom was from London, the other from New York. The show’s theme song was “They’re cousins, Identical cousins all the way.
    One pair of matching bookends, Different as night and day.” OMG it was so funny and spot on!

  8. Oh, MERCY! That shot of Joe & Maggie! There’s the guy we all fell in love with!

    Ironic that Joe Haskell’s departure is because of the kind of thing that Joel Crothers was complaining about. The events that drive Joe to madness are all external, Joe DOES nothing to make the nightmare. A nice guy, and nice guys don’t drive soap opera plots.

    Even Nathan Forbes, the bonnie rascal, only got a ‘b-list’ plot; he only got to the top because everybody else in 1795 was dead, and he was the only villain left.

    Goodbye Joe. You were too good for your own good.

  9. Thank you, all, for your lovely comments and memories of Joel.

    At the end of his life, in January / February 1985, he moved to Los Angeles where I had temporarily relocated to be on “The Young & The Restless”. We started dating again, and he soon asked me to marry him. We loved each other very much, and he had decided he wanted a child with me, and we made plans to move in together.

    He then dropped out of sight for three weeks and I had no idea what had happened to him when his friend Dan Hamilton finally contacted me in September to let me know I could find Joel in the cancer ward at Cedars Sinai. Soon after that tragic news, I had word that the woman to whom I had sublet my New York apartment was in the process of claiming it as her own, and bulk my things were there. So I went to New York to fight for my home, and while I was gone, Joel died. He died on the very day that I learned that that woman had won the court case against me… double agony.

    Joel didn’t just look like a hero. He was a hero to me and others with his perspicacity, his kindness, his moral fiber, and his humor. I will always love him and am sure I’ll see him again, in the next life or in Heaven.

  10. Joe Haskell was never an interesting character for me. Never. Sorry, I realize that he is a favorite with some fans, but I found him tedious and distracting.

  11. I’d like to encourage all Joel Crothers fans to seek out the audio books he narrated. The books I’ve found read by Joel include a lot of Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Mark Twain, among others.

  12. What a beautifully written entry.

    On a less somber note, boy does he remind me of Burt Reynolds in that picture above with Veleka!

  13. I agree with Richard and everybody that this was one of the best dream sequences in the entire series. It was scary because it actually made sense in terms of the character. (Similarly, the only Dream Curse dream that made any sense was Sam Evans’ dream in which he saw his own funeral; nobody else in that storyline had a dream that really spoke to their real terrors.)

    Not really a blooper by Shadows standards, but Julia spends way too much time rubbing alcohol on Joe’s arm in preparation for an injection of her patented sleepy juice. After she rubs for a while, the camera cuts away and then goes back to show Julia still rubbing Joe’s arm. This is at least unnecessary and probably ill-advised. One rub is enough. In this context, anyway.

    The sequence showing the werewolf’s face while Joe is in a cell with Julia and the sheriff is confusing. They might have done better if the sequence clearly began with Joe’s terrified face, then going to the werewolf’s face to show what was going on and that it was in Joe’s mind, which becomes clear after a while, but at first I didn’t know what was supposed to be going on. If he was supposed to be imagining the Sheriff turning into a werewolf, then they also needed to show the transformation. I say “if” because I don’t know.

    This is the episode where I figured out who Don Briscoe sounds like. I cycled through Jeff Daniels and then acknowledged there is a little of Jimmy Stewart’s drawl in Briscoe’s voice, but finally I realized that he sounds something like Anthony Perkins.

  14. A blooper I caught is when Julia is going to sedate Joe and he says, “the dreams… the dreams are awesome.”

  15. Joel was just so damn good. It’s a crying shame the show tried to keep him in the solid good-guy mould, just like it tried to keep Vicki in the ingenue role – every time he was given something to work with he was utterly fantastic. The Joe/Angelique arc contains some of the best acting on the show so far.

    And it sounds like Joel himself was such a nice, warm guy, which is both delightful and heartbreaking.

    So cheers to Joe, and to Joel – we’ll miss you both.

  16. Joel Crothers just acted the hell out of this episode, taking Scale 10 terror and ratcheting it up to Scale 15. It really was a marvelous way for him to depart the show, giving the performance of his DS career and REALLY selling Joe’s descent into hellish madness — and in a great dual-act with Don Briscoe who’s also fantastic here. We’ve even got Grayson Hall as the comedy relief character in the nightmare, acting a bit doped-up herself while chasing Joe with the syringe. I’d rate this episode as Crothers’ finest appearance in the series.

  17. Danny Horn, I tip my cap to you for honoring not only Joel Crothers, but the reality of being a gay man in an earlier era. I remember it well…yep, I’m that old. It wasn’t pretty. We lived in fear. Gay people had to find each other in secret and at night, with all the inherent dangers. There was great excitement and eroticism, true, but most of what I remember is anxiety…and that was before AIDS! I deeply appreciate what you have written, Danny, because it’s seldom discussed and forgotten by most, apart from those who never knew. The freedoms we have won are precious and need to be protected. Finally, Joel Crothers was a very good actor (and a hot man). And this was a very cool episode.

  18. Very good send off for Joel Crothers. I’m very sad that he won’t be back because I liked him.

    This was one of the scarier episodes especially when Chris jumps off the balcony.

  19. I spent this whole episode grieving over the fate of the sweet man that was Joe Haskell and then, reading this, over that of the sweet man who played him.

  20. Farewell Joe, and RIP Joel. His acting in this episode, and the fight with ChrisWerewolf in Maggie’s place, were first rate.

  21. Love this tribute. Not sure what I can add. I don’t remember this episode, which is weird, because at age 11, I was running home from school to watch Dark Shadows! I’m trying to read through your blog in chronological order, but tubi has a bunch of episodes streaming. I’m in the Adam/Dream Curse storyline now and I’m debating jumping around through your blog. But I think I’ll let myself be surprised. Oh, so, yes, I enjoy your extra details on an actor making their last appearance.

    You’re also correct that the producers did everything to make male actors on the show look unattractive (ties and turtlenecks, indeed!). Even as a burgeoning gay boy, I could tell that sex was weirdly unimportant to the producers. Even the female actors were dressed matronly! But you can’t hide faces! Anyway, I crushed on him. I didn’t know he was gay. I’m surprised how many gay men I crushed on who I didn’t know were gay. I just hope he had people around him at the end. He deserved that.

    Anyway, I also had a thing for sideburns, so David Selby’s Quentin Collins became my new sex symbol! Okay, so, I would fall for straight men, too.

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