Monthly Archives: September 2015

736 dark shadows laura urn fire

Episode 736: All About That Vase

“We are looking for an urn. We do not know what it looks like, or what it contains, or even why we are looking.”

New Jersey Network — bearer of warmth and fire, giver of life, provider of the third year — may your name be praised. May it be written in the fanzines and the websites; your deeds shall not be forgotten.

Somewhere on the great estate, there’s a magical Egyptian urn that holds an eternal flame, which keeps freelance arsonist Laura Collins alive and simmering. This supernatural service is provided courtesy of Amun-Ra, the ancient Egyptian god of the sun, who is apparently still active and open for business, go figure.

Quentin Collins knows that the urn is the source of his sister-in-law’s artificially extended lifespan, and in today’s episode, he and his gypsy sidekick Magda are searching the grounds for this mysterious artifact. They find it, as it happens, and Quentin pours sand into it, extinguishing the flame and destroying Laura forever. There, I just saved you twenty-two minutes, you’re welcome.

Continue reading Episode 736: All About That Vase

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Episode 735: The Punishment Book

“I’ve always thought the telephone an instrument of the Devil. Haven’t you?”

Two months ago, in the early days of the 1897 storyline, eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins went down to the Collinsport docks and attacked a young woman named Sophie Baker. Or was it Sophie Barnes? She said Baker, but the credits said Barnes, and it’s too late to ask her now. It’s just one of those gaps in the chronicles, another unsolved mystery.

Anyway, he was hungry and frustrated, and she was a day player, and you know how that story goes. He stuck his fangs in her, fed on her precious life essence, and then — what? Killed her? Spared her? Told her he would call? It doesn’t matter either way. He bared his fangs, they cut to commercial, and when we came back, Sophie Baker Barnes was no longer a factor.

And as far as I can recall, nobody’s mentioned that women are being attacked on the streets of Collinsport. There are no consequences to murder anymore, not on this show.

When Jenny stabbed Quentin a few weeks ago, the police showed up, but they didn’t do a very thorough job. Judith told them the murder was probably committed by a sailor that Quentin met in the village, and if they were quick, they still might be able to catch him. They scurried off obligingly, and Judith went back to scolding the survivors.

Not that we actually saw the police; that all happened off-screen, and we heard about it later. They don’t have police officers on Dark Shadows anymore, because they’ve figured out that investigations are tedious and take up valuable time that could be spent on further mayhem.

Law and order mean nothing on Dark Shadows now. There is no justice. This is what we have instead.

Continue reading Episode 735: The Punishment Book

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Episode 734: The Tragedy of Tim

“Children are animals, but with one important difference.”

The schoolteacher sighs. “Ah, Jamison, why?” he says to a recalcitrant pupil. “Why did you do this? To hand in a blank sheet of paper… I know that you knew some of the spelling words, and the mathematical sums really were very simple.”

It’s a sad moment, but not because of Jamison. I mean, if the mathematical sums are really that simple, then I’m sure he’ll pick it up somewhere. Jamison will be fine.

The problem is Mr. Timothy Shaw, the mild, fussy tutor at Trask’s malevolent punishment school. Tim is played by werewolf teen idol Don Briscoe, who used to be the hottest thng on the show, breaking new ground in afternoon sex appeal by regularly tearing off his shirt on camera.

They spent all winter building Don up as a tormented bad boy serial killer, and then when the 1897 story started — nothing, for two months. He just disappeared from the show.

This week is his return, and it’s a damp squib if I ever saw one. His shirt is buttoned all the way up to his chin, and he’s got wire rim Benjamin Franklin spectacles.

And worst of all, as far as the young set is concerned, he’s scolding a child about not doing his math homework. This feels like deliberate sabotage of a once-rising star.

So it looks like it’s time for another round of our backstage guessing game: Did He Fall, or Was He Pushed?

Continue reading Episode 734: The Tragedy of Tim

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Episode 733: Pretty People are the Devil’s Playthings

“It would break his heart, just as it would break your neck!”

Rachel Drummond, girl governess and Nancy Drew cosplay enthusiast, has had just about enough of this nonsense. She’d just managed to put her difficult past behind her and move on with her life, when who should walk in but her difficult past, and his wife.

Rachel is an orphan, as all governesses are, and she was raised at Worthington Hall, an oppressive work camp run by the odious Reverend Trask. After years of confinement, she managed to sneak past the barbed wire and light out for the territory, and now, by some grotesque mischance, the gendarmes have found her at Collinwood, and they want to drag her back to the Hall.

But Rachel has no patience for this. She has no intention of going anywhere with these people, and she’s ready for a fight. So it turns out that Rachel has a personality after all; it must have been stuck in baggage claim when she first arrived.

Continue reading Episode 733: Pretty People are the Devil’s Playthings

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Episode 732: Rules of Engagement

“Don’t you ever do that to me, or you’ll find yourself beyond the borderline of death!”

This is how Barnabas’ life is going these days — he walks into the cottage, and finds his ex-wife Angelique standing over Quentin, who’s out cold on the carpet. And Barnabas just sighs, and says, “Is he dead?” in the resigned tone that you use when the puppy’s peed on the rug again.

After all, this is the second time that Quentin’s died, just in the last two weeks. It’s like the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow, except the aliens are sarcastic women and it all takes place in the same house.

Continue reading Episode 732: Rules of Engagement

731 dark shadows laura urn

Episode 731: Mrs. Burns

“You saw me die? What a bizarre thing to say!”

Okay, get this: There’s an urn.

Inside the urn is an endlessly burning flame, obviously, because that’s what you do with fire, you put it inside an enclosed space and then it just keeps on going forever, without oxygen or any material to burn. But listen to me, trying to explain how fire works.

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Episode 730: How I Met Your Mother

“I’m their mother; they’re as much a part of me and everything I feel as they are of you.”

Nora is absolutely thrilled to see her mother, which makes one of us.

“I knew I would find you here!” she says, hugging Laura.

“You had a dream,” Laura nods, and when Nora asks how she knew, her mother chirps, “I had the very same dream!”

Nora says,”That’s so strange!” And Laura just smiles, and says, “I know,” and that’s the end of that particular topic of conversation.

As you know, there are no secrets between us, so I’m just going to put this right out on Front Street: in my life, Laura Murdoch Stockbridge Radcliffe Collins means precisely nothing. I don’t like her, I don’t care about her, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s the Cybermen.

Continue reading Episode 730: How I Met Your Mother

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Episode 728: The Pacer

“I understand a great many things, including her desire to kill you!”

Quentin says, “A lot has happened while you were away, dear brother,” and isn’t that the truth. Dark Shadows has been sprinting through plot points for weeks now, and if you need to catch up on current events, this is all the help you’re going to get.

“One night, my dear wife escaped from wherever you had her locked up. She found me in the cottage. Well, you can imagine how surprised I was at seeing her. But that was nothing, compared to how I felt when she put the knife in my chest.”

Edward cries, “Good heavens!” and Quentin just smiles, because Quentin is magical and lives entirely on surprise. “Rather shocking, isn’t it?” he says. “You know, at one point I was actually declared dead?”

“Dead?” gasps Edward, horrified. “Yes,” Quentin says, “but let’s spare the grisly details,” and then he just starts talking about something else.

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Episode 727: Nick and Jane

“Does something evil change to good for no reason?”

Okay, time to hit the books again. The new Dark Shadows writing team has decided that it would be cool to introduce a new subplot every week, just to see what happens, and they’ve gone back to the library for material.

They’re not content to just do a simple Turn of the Screw time travel sequel starring Count Dracula, like normal people would. Over the last six weeks, they’ve also introduced characters and plot points from Jane Eyre, The Crucible, The Telltale Heart and Nancy Drew.

And just when you think you’ve got a handle on what’s going on, there’s a knock at the door, and who walks in but a deluxe combo of Mr. Brocklehurst from Jane Eyre, and Mr. Squeers from Nicholas Nickelby. It’s like freshman English all over again; we should get course credit for this.

Continue reading Episode 727: Nick and Jane