Episode 710: Been Caught Stealing

“Now you’re dead, and you’re going to stay dead.”

Pursued relentlessly by the muffled-tympani sound of a beating heart, black sheep and future poltergeist Quentin Collins races downstairs to the study, to check on his dead grandmother.

This is the first running of the Telltale Heart Grand Prix, and as Quentin applies the brakes and shudders to a stop, he finds Edith sitting up in her casket at the finish line, grinning at him like being dead is the most fun she’s had in years.

So there we are; it’s happened. The haunter has become the haunted.

710 dark shadows quentin haunted

Here’s what all the racket’s about: earlier this week, Quentin stole his grandmother’s will, which was hidden in the lining of her casket for some reason that I’m sure made rock-solid sense at the time. The will is now in his possession, and he’s planning to give it to a gypsy, who promises to forge him a better future. The fact that this kind of behavior is exactly why Edith left him out of the will in the first place is painfully obvious, but it’s too late to do anything about that now.

So eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins, who’s visiting the 19th century on a dare, has decided to use some unspecified vampire powers to place a hoodoo on Quentin, and make him believe that Edith is reaching out from the grave that she’s not even buried in yet.

You see, first he asked Quentin to give the will back, and Quentin said no, so this is step two. This is how people negotiate in Barnabas’ world.

710 dark shadows edith quentin give back

Exhausted, Quentin falls asleep, and things just get worse from there. Edith is all up in his dreams, shaking her finger and yelling “Give back the will, Quentin! Give back the will!”

710 dark shadows quentin teenager

Then there’s this gorgeous little teenage rebel moment, where she’s chasing him around the room, and he suddenly remembers that he’s 19 years old and he doesn’t have to be treated this way anymore.

Just look at that stubborn little face! That’s the look of a young man who’s planning to move into his own place with some other guys from his band, as soon as he saves up enough money from his lifeguarding job this summer.

Of course, the dream ends the way that all teenage rebellions end. He chokes his grandmother and buries her in the woods, and then her shaky hand emerges from the grave, reminding him to pick up all of his records and put on a clean shirt, because we’ve got company coming over.

710 dark shadows quentin evan nervous

So if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Dark Shadows is trying to make their villain a little less villainous. We’ve been in 1897 for two weeks now, and so far, Quentin’s been running the table — sauntering back into Collinwood, insulting his siblings, hassling the female domestics, and playing with knives. He’s the savvy trickster who admits to his own flaws, because it gives him the authority to point out everyone else’s.

And yet, here he is, the rebel with nothing to lose, and he’s losing it. All it took was a kettle drum and a dream.

They’re carving out a little more emotional space for Quentin, to give him room to grow, and the fact that they’re doing it so early suggests that they know he’s not going to be the villain forever. I mean, yeah, he just dreamed about strangling his zombie grandmother and burying her in the woods, but maybe that’s his way of reaching out and asking for help.

710 dark shadows evan friend

Quentin’s friend Evan comes over to smoke pot and play video games, and Quentin tells him that his creepy cousin Barnabas is being super weird all of a sudden.

Evan gets that dangerous gleam in his eye.

Evan:  Why don’t we have a ceremony tonight, at the cottage? Perhaps we can summon a friend of ours, to deal with Barnabas Collins.

Quentin:  What “friend” are you talking about?

Evan:  Someone from the flames of the netherworld…

Quentin:  Are you serious?

Evan:  Of course! If our plea is strong enough, the powers of darkness will respond!

And haven’t we all had a friend like Evan, at some point in our lives, who comes up with awesome ideas like that? Quentin says he’s not sure, and Evan says, look, do you want to do something about Barnabas or not? Because obviously plan A is holding a black mass in your parents’ backyard.

710 dark shadows quentin jamison evan cottage

So, to summarize this half-hour of television: Dark Shadows has decided to take an unstoppable force of supernatural destruction, and rebrand him as put-upon and misunderstood, for the benefit of the nation’s teenagers who have started scribbling “Mrs. David Selby” in their notebooks during math class.

To do this, they’re going to conduct a ritual, to call up another villain to fill that slot in the storyline. So they’ve roped in young Jamison — a symbol of innocence, and another important Dark Shadows demographic — to help them get through this awkward little moment.

710 dark shadows jamison evan candle

Because they’ve spent several months building up Quentin as the Big Bad who grabbed the show and shook it like an Etch-a-Sketch, shaking all the Collinses out of Collinwood and sending them into exile. Turning Quentin into a teen idol and tagging in another antagonist is a risky move, and they need to tread carefully. So Evan’s gathering the young set around the altar, and giving them briefing instructions.

Evan:  I want you to stand right there, and to look directly into the flame.

Jamison:  What for?

Evan:  Because it is an important part of what I must do, that’s all. Now, while I’m talking, I want you to try to concentrate very hard. Can you do that?

Jamison:  I’ll try.

Evan:  Good. Now, you keep looking directly into that flame, and do not take your eyes away, because if you do, the spell will be broken. Do you understand?

Yeah, I think so. This is going to be a Blue’s Clues black mass, where the kids at home are instructed to play along with Jamison.

710 dark shadows quentin evan jamison black mass

So it’s just another day of irresponsible afternoon television, where we call upon the raven and the viper and all the dark creatures of nature to pretty please come and make our show even more surprising and bizarre than it already currently is. And all we have to do is to be like Jamison, and keep our eyes locked on the television, no matter what happens.

Just keep watching, kids. I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

Monday: Let’s Twist Again.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Quentin tells Evan: “There is someone who suspects us. A man who claims he’s a cousin. Barnabas cousin — Barnabas Collins.”

Evan tells Sandor: “That won’t do. Suppose you pinish — finish por — forging the will, and then we can’t agree on a price.”

Monday: Let’s Twist Again.

710 dark shadows skull flames

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

22 thoughts on “Episode 710: Been Caught Stealing

  1. As far as I know, Humbert Astredo didn’t have many bloopers, and yet here he actually comes up with a “spoonerism.” At least, that MIGHT be the right name for the mistake in that line – it’s close, anyway.)

    1. He had a few in his various roles on the show, and they all seemed to follow the same pattern. He tends to think ahead in his lines, keeping in mind what he has to say before he actually says it, and occasionally a word that’s suppose to come toward the end of a line will be started in the middle. He pauses in mid-syllable, corrects himself, and then says the word that’s supposed to come later correctly.

      My favorite spoonerism on the show is by Anthony George as Burke Devlin. Barnabas has just brought over yet another antiquarian tome from his library, and Burke, perhaps jealous, advises Vicki that she should get off this “history kick” that she’s been on, only he says “hickory stick” instead before correcting himself.

      1. My favorite flub was when Roger was telling (Burke?) in the mausoleum about his “incestors” (instead of saying ‘ancestors’), but craftily corrects himself by poking fun at his own blooper. He says, “My incestors…. [realization of a mistake as he turns to look at Burke] my ANCESTORS are buried here. I’d like to take a look around” and continues on with his roll, ultimately giving off the effect that the flub was actually part of the script. Great come back!

  2. Quentin as the “villain” of 1897 was already a stretch because he is just too damn sexy (“charming” if you want a euphemism) and funny. He takes command of the show from his first “speaking” episode (far more so than even Barnabas in 1967, I’d argue).

    Sam Hall seems to like “film noir” (one of his first episodes featured Jerry Lacy as Bogart, after all). Now we see the series firmly settling into “film noir” conceits rather than the rather staid concepts of “good” and “evil” that directed the series originally. The 1897 cast is a straight out of film noir — everyone has an angle, an agenda. Quentin comes off like Mike Hammer in KISS ME DEADLY in this context — an outright bastard in a different milieu but among pompous assholes, pious spinsters, deranged practical jokers, Satan-worshipping lawyers, and bloodsucking vampires, he’s almost an audience identification character. This helps him, I think, escape the Nathan Forbes spiral into pantomime villain — that and we like seeing Quentin manipulate this Collins family, and the natural chemistry between Selby and Hennesy also warms us to him.

    As another villain will later comment, Quentin is the most honest member of the family.

    This episode marks the introduction of a new antagonist, and we’ll see this continue — Rev. Trask, Laura Collins, the werewolf (technically Quentin but yet not Quentin), Dirk, and Petofi/Aristede.

    Speaking of our so-called protagonist Barnabas Collins, whenever I’ve discussed 1897 with fans, most will argue that the most villainous and evil act is one that Barnabas himself will later commit.

  3. Does anyone know if the FCC ever threatened ABC executives with censorship/fines given some of DS’ themes? Was there any credible public backlash against the show (besides the Christian comic book calling it “Satan’s favorite TV show”)?

    1. This isn’t an answer, but I’ve always wondered how the cast and also other people felt about the casting of the 1795 timeline, since Bennett and Edmonds went straight from playing a brother and sister to playing a husband and wife. And whether there were any complaints about that. Not from people taking it all too literally, just from people maybe finding it in some kind of “questionable taste.”
      (This might not be the right place to ask a question about 1795, but I came to the blog pretty late.)

      1. I think everybody saw it as being like a repertory company — a group of actors who switch roles from one play to another. There was definitely a question about whether the soap opera audience would follow the show across time periods, which is why the opening narration kept stressing that Vicki was back in time, and “lost in a sea of familiar faces.”

        I don’t think anybody was worried about Joshua/Naomi specifically. Everybody knows it’s a show.

        1. Well, in two lifetimes they were brother and sister, 1967 and 1897 and in another Husband and wife. Its no more strange than Laura being Roger’s wife and grandmother.

    2. Apparently not even the network executives were aware of the content of their highest rated daytime show. There was no way that they could be, since there were no VCRs and the only way to watch a show would be as it aired, but that was when the execs were all still in the office.

      There’s a story about how the executives, three or four of them, finally convened one day in a conference room with a TV to watch an episode of Dark Shadows for the first time–this was 1969 or so by this point. They watched in silence and when the episode was over they abruptly broke off the meeting and left, without a word.

  4. I’m just glad I never had an uncle who liked me so well that he used me as bait in a Black Magic ritual to conjure him up a demon helper from Hell.

  5. Hi Danny, I was wondering what you think of The Haunting of Collinwood DVD that was released several years ago. I’m not really a DS fan (I got into it by listening to Bloodlust), and I don’t have time to watch all the episodes(especially since most of them aren’t available on hulu), so I was wondering if the DVD was worth checking out since its an abridged version of this story.

    1. I think the benefit of “The Haunting of Collinwood” is that it’s really inexpensive, currently $8 on Amazon for a three-hour overview of the storyline. It’s hard to beat that price. The thing that’s weird about it is that it’s packaged as a Quentin story, when Quentin doesn’t actually talk in that storyline. He’s just a silent ghost that glares at people — not the funny, sexy Quentin that people love. That storyline is mostly people talking about Quentin, and the compilation ends before they get to 1897.

      If you want to see the real intro of Quentin, and an overall excellent chunk of Dark Shadows, you can start with ep 701 — the beginning of the 1897 storyline, and the point where the character really becomes Quentin as we know him. MPI is selling episodes on YouTube for $1.99 each, or $40 for 40 episode “seasons”. If you’ve got eight bucks to spend on an intro to Dark Shadows, then buying the first four eps of 1897 will give you a much better idea of what you’re in for.

      1. How do the YouTube videos work? Once purchased, do I need an Internet connection to view them like any other YouTube video? Or can I watch them offline like downloaded iTunes videos? (I’d love the chance to fly with a bunch of DS eps without bringing along a portable DVD player).

        1. I haven’t bought any on YouTube, but my understanding is that paying unlocks the ability to watch the video on YouTube, so you’d still need an internet connection. But maybe someone with more YT streaming experience will correct me.

      2. wow, thanks. I was wondering why it was called ‘the haunting of collinwood’ since I assumed at least part of it was the 1897 story. It does make me wonder why you would choose that story arc as one to ‘abridge’ into a DVD since you made it out to seem so dull. I would buy the episodes, but I have so many shows I’m in the middle of watching as well as ones I want to watch, and I don’t really have the money, and very soon the time to sit down and watch something that has as many episodes as a soap opera, even if it’s only part of one.. although you did convince me to check out episode 701. It was pretty good, brown face aside. Its kind of funny to here David Selby talk, I’m used to the much more gravely voice from big finish.

    1. Oh, funny. I can’t really argue with 10+, although I know the show was popular with the young set at the time. But obviously there are positive messages (mostly about determination in the face of adversity e.g. not having your fangs the right way up) and positive role models (showing young girls that they can grow up to be a couch-surfing blood specialist tampering in God’s domain).

      1. When SciFi (before it became SyFy) ran DS like 20 years ago, I taped it and got up early in the morning to watch before my husband and daughter got up. One morning my 5 year old got up early and snuck down and watched it. After that she insisted that I hold the episodes until we got home at night, so she could watch it too. We saw the entire run and she loved it. Then when SciFi reran it again, we watched it again. Some of my best memories are my 5 year old daughter snuggled against me watching DS and loving it. So I don’t go along wtih 10+. I know she enjoyed it more the second time around, because then she noticed things like the bloopers, but she had a great time even when she was little.

        1. And here I am, a 50 year old, watching the show for the first time. Dark Shadows certainly appeals to all ages, doesn’t it!

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