Episode 662: This Is the Night

“I am not dead, as you can plainly see.”

Aunt Em had just come out of the house to water the cabbages when she looked up and saw Dorothy running toward her.

“My darling child!” she cried, folding the little girl in her arms and covering her face with kisses. “Where in the world did you come from?”

“From the Land of Oz,” said Dorothy gravely. “And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I’m so glad to be at home again!”

662 dark shadows barnabas vampire

Yes, Barnabas Collins has clicked the heels of his ruby slippers, using the magic powers of a vampire which he isn’t even one anymore, and he’s quantum leaped himself home.

A few weeks ago, girl governess Victoria Winters followed her time-warped husband Jeff back to 1796, where — to precisely no one’s surprise but her own — she’s managed to get herself sentenced to death all over again. Barnabas wants to save her from the tragic destiny that she seems intent on provoking, hence the magical wish-based time travel.

Today’s opening narration says, “He has transcended the barriers of time and space, and returned to the 18th century,” and if you need any more details about the time mechanics than that, then I’m sorry, hard sci-fi fans, but we are not going to be able to accommodate you. This is as hard as we get.

But Barnabas hasn’t just gone back to the late 18th. He’s taken the whole show and turned the clock back to April 1968, nine months into the past. Dark Shadows wants a do-over on the last couple episodes of the 1795 storyline, to see if they can make things turn out differently.

662 dark shadows ben barnabas plotting

Barnabas’ servant Ben approaches, surprised to see him just standing around in the woods showing off his fangs to the ladies and gentllemen. Barnabas takes a moment to check the yearometer.

Ben:  I thought you went into the village to find Lieutenant Forbes.

Barnabas:  Then I have come back on the right night! Perfect.

Ben:  Mr. Barnabas… what are you talkin’ about?

Barnabas:  This is the night that Forbes sent my mother to the tower to find me, isn’t it?

622 dark shadows barnabas history

This is, indeed, the night, and Barnabas turns to face the audience with a wild look in his eyes.

“I’m going to do something tonight that no one else has ever done,” he announces. “I’m going to change the course of history!”

And then the opening titles come up, and we hear, “Today, the part of Victoria Winters will be played by Carolyn Groves.”

So he’s done it already — history has been changed! That hardly took any time at all; now we have the whole rest of the day free.

662 dark shadows carolyn barnabas wake up

But I suppose changing history is one of Dark Shadows’ core competencies. That’s going to come in handy right about now, because there are changes that need to be made. The show has just completed a comprehensive narrative house-cleaning process that I’ve been calling The Great 1968 Wrap-Up, and now they need to stick the landing.

662 dark shadows barnabas nathan gunplay

So here we are, watching the tragic destiny of the Collins family re-unfold. That child-murdering rascal Nathan Forbes has told Barnabas’ mother the horrible truth about her son’s night-time activities, and she’s so horrified and ashamed that she drank poison and died.

Now, Barnabas has a strict policy about killing members of his immediate family, namely that he’s the only one who’s allowed to do it. So here he is, wasting perfectly good governess-rescuing time, in order to set up his revenge plot against Nathan.

This is the big confrontation scene at the Eagle, where Barnabas gets Nathan’s attention by breaking some glass with his cane, and says Nathan’s responsible for Naomi’s death.

662 dark shadows barnabas nathan glass

Now, if you believe Barnabas’ assertion that this trip is all about rescuing Vicki, then this is a colossal waste of time.

For some reason, he’s still going through with his plan to lure Nathan back to the Collinwood study at 9pm, knowing that Nathan will try to shoot him with a crossbow. The only difference between attacking Nathan right now and attacking him at 9:00 is that this gives Nathan some extra time to be scared, which made Barnabas feel better at the time but is not super relevant to the current rescue plan.

But this trip isn’t really about saving Vicki. It’s about reminding the audience what a badass Barnabas used to be.

662 dark shadows barnabas on fire

And it is totally working. It’s been a long time since Barnabas got to play the undead sadist, and Jonathan Frid is clearly enjoying the opportunity. A few days ago, Barnabas was the family butler, tucking people into bed and arranging for sedative prescriptions.

Look at him now. He provokes Nathan into shooting him at close range, and then he spits out the bullet and says, Is that all you got?

It’s a nice reminder that Barnabas really is a dynamite villain. He’s intense and scary, and making him passive is just leaving money on the table. Dark Shadows didn’t become popular because it had a vampire. It’s popular because it had this vampire.

662 dark shadows vicki barnabas jail

One positive thing that they’ve learned this year is that Barnabas works best when he’s got some friends. If we’re supposed to care about him as a character, then he can’t just be a twenty-four hour nightmare machine. So they’ve established that he’s working with Ben, and now he’s come for a conference with this girl, whoever she turns out to be.

This is Carolyn Groves, the new substitute Vicki. We’ve had three of these in the last six weeks, and the joke is wearing a bit thin.

According to Barnabas & Company, the producers asked Betsy Durkin to come back for another lap around the track, but she’d planned a Christmas trip to Europe with her husband. Betsy says that she would have cancelled the trip if they were going to give her a full-time gig, but she didn’t want to come back for just a couple more days.

662 dark shadows vicki barnabas groves

So we’ve got this Groves girl, who makes the unexpected acting choice of smiling while she’s telling Barnabas how hopeless everything is.

“There’s practically no time at all,” she beams. “They’re going to hang me tonight!”

Barnabas protests, “They’re not going to hang you at all.”

“No,” she grins, as if this is the most wonderful news, “everything’s been tried, it’s too late to stop them now!” I don’t know what she’s so happy about.

662 dark shadows vicki barnabas happy

She keeps it up, too. Barnabas has a moody moment about Vicki and Peter Bradford, and she chirps, “Barnabas — he’s going to die on the gallows, soon after I do!” And she’s just smiling away. It’s the most peculiar thing.

By the way, I don’t know where the hell Phyllis Wick is supposed to be. According to the procedure that we’re familiar with, she should be parked in the Collinwood drawing room waiting for the clock to tick, but nobody’s managed to locate her yet. I don’t think they even tried.

662 dark shadows nathan crossbow

And it doesn’t really matter, anyway. This is Barnabas’ night, not Vicki’s. So they spend the last ten minutes of the episode just working Nathan’s nerves, freaking him out with some self-extinguishing candles and trilling violins.

To be honest, it goes on for way longer than it should; it’s one of those “Barnabas plays with his food” scenes. But we haven’t had any of these for a long time, and that’s the point. For one week, Barnabas gets to be the bad guy again, and I have to say, it feels good.

Tomorrow: Being This Way Again.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Nathan rushes into Collinwood, he tries to close the doors behind him, but they swing open behind him. As Nathan and Ben talk in the foyer, the front door is pulled shut by an unseen stagehand, because Nathan needs to open the doors and look outside a few seconds later.

Behind the Scenes:

Carolyn Groves had previously appeared on CBS soap The Edge of Night in 1963, and a bunch of early-60s anthology shows: The United States Steel Hour, Armstrong Circle Theatre, and The DuPont Show of the Week. In 1965, she was in a road company of Nobody Loves an Albatross, and from March 1967 to January 1969, she was an understudy for You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running, a successful show of four unrelated one-act comedies by Robert Anderson.

After Dark Shadows, Groves appeared in a peculiar 1970 film called Pound, which cast humans in the role of dogs, cats and a penguin, waiting to be put to sleep. She played “Pedigreed Bitch,” if that enlightens you at all. In 1978, she was well-received in Say Goodnight Gracie, an Off-Broadway play. Then she had a bit part in the film version of Six Degrees of Separation in 1993, and that wraps up all the information I have about Carolyn Groves.

Tomorrow: Being This Way Again.

662 dark shadows nathan barnabas choke

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

38 thoughts on “Episode 662: This Is the Night

  1. I think you mean April 1968 rather than April 1967. The latter is when Barnabas Collins first appears on the show, and the former is when Vicki returns from 1795. I doubt they planned it, but there’s a nice symmetry in the show officially becoming all about Barnabas within a year.

    This flashback also reminds me that 1795 was when the series let loose with Barnabas as a vampire. It was much more discreet about it during 1967. He talked about killing but rarely did so. I do think the series starts to understand how best to use Barnabas — he’s not merely a dead-end villain who has to become human and dull or killed off. The fans enjoy seeing him be a badass vampire, but one whose victims are less likable (outright villains like Forbes or prostitutes — the latter is a bit troubling, but it was a different time).

    The Barnabas Collins we are seeing now, and will see in 1897, 1970 PT, and 1840 recalls the “hero” of Westerns, film noir, and later comic book characters like The Punisher and Wolverine. Classic horror films (Universal, Hammer, and so on) are ultimately too “black” and “white” for what DARK SHADOWS is becoming. The villains might be compelling but they are wholly evil and must be destroyed. For DARK SHADOWS, the “villains” drive the show.

        1. One must be very careful with the “secret magic number of the universe.”
          Put the decimal point in the wrong place, and KA-BOOM!

      1. Danny, perhaps a sedative….
        Let’s peek into Dr Hoffman’s little black bag of tricks while she’s napping, and see what we find.

    1. Barnabas Collins is one of the more noteworthy anti-heroes of the late 1960’s.

      Good and Evil had always been pretty clear cut, but in the late 60’s, everything was tossed into the air, and nothing could be taken for granted, anymore. Heroes were no longer perfect.

      Although it didn’t happen until 1970, the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar blew people’s minds for daring to suggest that Judas Iscariot was not a monster, but, to paraphrase Morrissey, was “human and needed to be loved, just like everybody else does.” That sort of thinking was in the air.

      It’s true, in the old horror classics of the 30’s & 40’s, Good and Evil were thought of as such pure things, such opposites, so mutually exclusive. By 1969, that had never been more muddled. Barnabas Collins was completely “of his time”, of this time of anti-heroes, ambiguity, iconoclasm and experimentation.

      To be honest, once I knew about Angelique, I could never ever think of Barnabas as a villain, again. Any evil he had came directly from her. It takes a lot of…..I don’t know what….. to turn someone else into a villain.

      1. Barnabas slept with a servant girl, plied her with impulsive passionate promises, then dumped her because she was beneath his station. He was a cad. How many other servant girls had he used? How many more? Until Angelique put a stop to it. Hell hath no fury…

        1. Really? In the version of Dark Shadows that I’ve seen, these events were neither depicted nor described. It’s left quite vague as to what really happened, although I suppose we can trust whatever the serial killer, Angelique, has to say about it. We really have no idea what happened between Barnabas and Angelique, it’s deliberately vague.
          It’s possible he was impressed by her beauty and disappointed by her as a person. Maybe he simply didn’t love her. And since she ends up killing everyone he loves, maybe not getting involved with her was the only sane possibility. This “cad” business makes no sense to me. Gerard Styles is more of an actual cad, before meeting Judah Zachary.
          I remember the human Barnabas as trying to help the lost Victoria Winters. He, like Jeremiah, was a considerate enlightened gentleman who was interested in the welfare of strangers. Barnabas was more like his mother, than his father. I never got the feeling that he was just trying to get Victoria into bed. I get the feeling his biggest “sin” was simply being a man. And there’s a lot more tragedy in Angelique destroying a good man, than a bad man.

          1. I don’t understand the position that horror movies of the 30s and 40s were about “pure” good and evil, and were so “black and white.” It’s true that Universal’s Dracula had few if any redeeming qualities except for his charm, but Larry Talbot is about the most tortured character you could imagine (even to a fault). And the Frankenstein monster, even in some of the later iterations but certainly in the early ones, was played sympathetically and just wanted to be left alone or have a friend. Yes, he became murderous but he was driven to it in part by his “abby normal” brain (What hump?) but also because “regular” people were incessantly cruel to him. Even the Creature from the Black Lagoon just wants to be left alone.

          2. Exactly – this idea that Barnabas was a cad is just an assumption by some people. The show never explicitly says exactly what happened in Martinique. One fact we do know is that Angelique had stolen other suitors for Josette (Angelique says this herself). Given the facts that we know, it’s just as likely that Angelique used her powers to sabotage a potential relationship with Josette before it got started, and then lured Barnabas into a relationship.

          3. Barnabas did learn a big lesson on having a one nite affair. He is a guy who was searching for love all the wrong way in just being a man. He used to killing people first, then asking questions. He had not had a woman who actually came to him, until Julia. Now its a funny feeling when all of a sudden here is a real woman, and he at first could not handle it. Now, he cant do anything without Julia.

  2. In Danny’s first screen shot I can totally see a resemblance between Carolyn Groves and 1968 Alexandra Moltke – if they had cast her instead of Betsy Durkin they would have probably kept Vicki as a long term character.

    1. Say what you will about Groves’ smiling, but Moltke had a wonderful smile when she started the show, and towards her exit, never did…..that I remember….with the exceptions of Bradford scenes…in favor of perfunctory readings and awkward stare-downs of opposing characters….No surprise, as her Victoria had devolved from sympathetic to pathetic.

      Groves gives me butterflies.

      I saw no reason why they could not continue her storyline after her release from Angelique’s spell.

      Since witches don’t really die, a new storyline could have been her new life, being persistently harassed by postmortem Angelique, and I would PAY to see THAT.

      1. I actually really liked Groves’ smiling as she tells Barnabas that it’s all right that she’s going to die. And the way she treated her other world as like a dream she’s just woken up from, and this is her actual life. It’s like the character has finally accepted that this is where she was always meant to be, in The Past — even if her life is doomed to be short, this is the life she is meant to have. There’s no place like Oz.

        And then of course Barnabas has to mess it up so she lives. At least for a little while longer.

        Fits rather neatly with your “Victoria Winters and Phyllis Wick were switched as babies by Them” theory, Danny — for the first time, time is actually happening as it’s meant to. This is Victoria Winters not wrecking everything…

  3. I agree with Stephen Robinson about nearly everything except the “different time” part. Entertainment is STILL very good at punishing people with the “wrong” kinds of morals. And not just entertainment written by religious people and political conservatives and homophobes, because they’re just the ones who get “called” on it more often!

  4. i’m so confused. Why can’t B tell V that he is 1969 Barnabas, that he got her message and came back in time to get her out of jail? And what happened to the 1795 Barnabas when 1969 Barnabas arrived? Are there two of them running around now?

    1. Maybe the 1795 Barnabas is wandering around 1969 Collinsport very confused about where he is and what has happened to his fangs?

      1. I think it’s like when he goes back to 1897 via I Ching Airlines. His 1968 spirit has taken over the body of the 1796 Barnabas, temporarily. Yes, his body disappeared from 1968. But it did that during the 1897 story arc, as well.

    2. I think he felt like he needed to avoid the whole fictional issue of the original Barnabas vs the “I’m his direct descendant” 60s Barnabas. V expect the “original” Barnabas to be in the 18th century, but doesn’t know that “both” Barnabases were immortal, blood-sucking vampires who killed Dr. Woodard, Maude Browning, and half the other women who worked the docks, kidnapped Maggie and tried to turn her into Josette, with disastrous results to he mental welfare, and all that. He’s afraid that she might think less of him for brainwashing Maggie and sending Willie to the mental hospital prison to pay for Barnabas’ crimes… but then got him out so that he could grave-rob up enough body parts to make a Frankenstein monster, and matching monstress. You and I know that all that is really OK. But V might not understand.

  5. And poor Phyllis Wick is ping-ponging through time; chased by an amorous Neanderthal – jumping into the icy North Atlantic off of RMS Titanic – washed away by the tidal wave that destroyed the Minoans – sacrificed on an Aztec altar.

  6. I’m in agreement with Joanne, Pedro, and Chris. Carolyn Groves is the superior Vicki replacement. As a 1960s viewer, I missed her episodes back then, though I did see the Betsy Durkin attempts, and was horrified.

  7. What I don’t get is Victoria doesn’t seem to remember living in the future. She think Barnabas is dead. She doesn’t seem to realize he’s from the future also.

  8. Would that Barnabas travel back in time just a few weeks and have given Betsy Durkin’s car a flat tire so that Carolyn Groves could’ve become the new Victoria. When they cast Durkin, they broke the Moltke.

  9. Also, Gordon Russell has an easy gig for once. He’s just done two episodes in which he largely has to retype Nathan scenes which were already written by Ron Sproat, and just throw in the odd line!

  10. This entire sequence of episodes returning to 1795 just makes me angry. If Barnabas has the power to return to his own time, wouldn’t his first priority be saving Josette? and Jeremiah? and Sarah? and Naomi? Instead the writers give him the motivation to save a character who was the least interesting character in the entire 1795 storyline and with whom he barely has any relationship with at all! Why they keep pushing Barnabas at Vicki when she loves, has married and gone back in time with (!) another man is just ludicrous. At this point in the series, Vicki is just superfluous to DS. The only motivation I would believe for Barnabas to return to 1795/6 would be to save one of the aforementioned characters that he loved and who truly loved him.
    The first time around, 1795 was magical and romantic. This time it’s just a waste of costumes and acting on a ridiculous premise.

    1. I LOVED the first visit to 1795, but I don’t like this revisit either. Totally messes with the momentum of Quinten and the werewolf, which are both more interesting at this point.

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