Monthly Archives: September 2015

Episode 726: The Comeback

“I would’ve thought it idiocy to assume that a praying bigot could turn a zombie into a man.”

Rounding the turn at the 1897 Dark Shadows Character Invitational, we find track favorite Quentin Collins showing signs of weariness. He got off to an astonishing start in the early weeks of the race, even against seasoned thoroughbreds like Barnabas Is a Vampire Again, and Julia Wearing a Wig.

But Quentin called in dead last week, spending Monday and Tuesday flat on his back, and the rest of the week stomping around as a mindless zombie. That’s been interesting and fun, and his bulging, sightless eyes have made for some chilling-slash-amusing moments. But you can’t rely on a gimmick like that for long, and by the end of the week, he’d taken it about as far as it could go. Quentin needs to get back up to speed if he’s going to qualify for the championship.

Stamina is everything on this course, because it’s a race that never actually ends. The horses just keep running around and around the track without stopping, only taking breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the occasional assassination.

Continue reading Episode 726: The Comeback

Episode 725: The Unrest

“Where is this uncle he thinks he is?”

Okay, let’s see if we can summarize.

Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has traveled back in time to 1897, in order to stop Quentin from dying alone, sealed up in his bedroom, and then sitting around and stewing about it. If Quentin dies under those circumstances, then he’ll return as a ghost in 1969, to haunt the family and kill David.

We’re currently a month into this loosely-defined rescue mission, and Quentin has already been stabbed to death. Barnabas decides that this is a mission-critical failure for some reason, and he asks Angelique to use her magic and bring Quentin back to life. As an act of spite, Angelique brings Quentin back as a mindless zombie who attacks the governess and tries to bury her in his own grave. To make matters worse, Quentin’s spirit possesses the body of his nephew Jamison.

Once the governess is rescued, Zombie Quentin leaves the cemetery and goes to the Old House, bashing the door in and fighting his way past several gypsies to make it to the basement, where he sits down quietly in a chair and just kind of chills out. Barnabas and the gypsies try a seance to reunite his body and his spirit, but it doesn’t work, and the zombie leaves the basement, with Barnabas in pursuit. We finished yesterday with a shot of Zombie Quentin on his belly, dragging himself desperately toward his open grave.

Nope, it looks like we can’t summarize this after all. That’s a negative.

Continue reading Episode 725: The Unrest

Episode 724: Exquisite Corpse

“You live in another body now, but your own body waits for you!”

Incipient teen idol Quentin Collins died earlier this week after he was stabbed by his insane ex-wife, which for the Collins family is practically natural causes. But like almost everyone who dies on Dark Shadows, he’s returned for another lap around the track.

Zombie Quentin is being remote-controlled by Barnabas’ insane ex-wife, who’s using him to play pranks on the family. At the moment, he’s scooped up the governess and is carrying her out to the graveyard.

Now, he’s not trying to eat her brain or anything; he’s not that kind of zombie. The flesh-eating cannibal zombie was invented by George Romero in Night of the Living Dead, which was released six months before this episode was made. And they’re not called zombies in that movie anyway; the Night of the Living Dead characters just call them ghouls. It wasn’t until the 1978 sequel Dawn of the Dead that Romero started describing the creatures as zombies, changing the pop culture definition of that word.

So compared to the slavering fiends of The Walking Dead, Zombie Quentin is actually very polite, and exceptionally well-groomed. He doesn’t bite anybody, and his hair and his outfit are in flawless condition, even after busting his way out of a grave covered in cement.

In fact, the only way you can really tell that there’s anything the matter with him is that he doesn’t speak, and he’s always bulging out his eyes and staring straight ahead. The nice thing about Zombie Quentin is that you always know he’s paying attention.

Continue reading Episode 724: Exquisite Corpse

Episode 723: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Vampires

“Now, I want you to stay here, and look after the ladies, take them upstairs, and lock yourself in a room.”

Well, it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down. Handsome rascal Quentin Collins has been stabbed in the chest, in the cottage, and in the prime of life, and that’s three strikes. We watched him bleed out on the carpet, and he’s currently the featured attraction at a swinging wake in the drawing room.

But dark sorcery has brought him back to life, sort of, by which I mean he’s lurching around with a glazed expression on his face. It’s not much of a life, more mannequin than man. Let’s say “life” with air quotes.

Barnabas is in this episode too, and he’s a vampire, so that makes two dead characters out of five today. Although I suppose from the point of view of the 1969 audience, everyone in the 1897 storyline is dead.

Actually, when you really sit down and think about it, we’re all dead — just a pack of not-yet-rotting corpses, advancing inexorably to the grave. That’s why I try not to really sit down and think about it.

Continue reading Episode 723: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Vampires

Episode 722: Uncle Deadly

“Grandfather always said that I would be killed by a woman, and he was right. A woman murdered me!”

“Please, Quentin,” says the young set, staring straight through the television screen, their eyes glazed with grief. “Don’t be dead. Please, don’t leave me alone!”

They move, as one, to approach their antiquated music machines — the gramophone, the turntable, the cassette player.

“You liked that music,” they say. “It was your favorite! I’m going to keep playing it, over and over again!”

Maestro? If you would?

Continue reading Episode 722: Uncle Deadly

Episode 721: Dead Again

“If he stays dead now, then the course of history will be changed.”

Well, that didn’t last long, did it? They just let Quentin show up alive five weeks ago, and now he’s flat on his back, dead all over again. It looks like we’ve solved the big mystery of how Quentin died. It was the wife with a knife in the cottage.

We didn’t actually witness the stabbing, but Jenny came straight home and told Beth all about it, case closed. So this isn’t a whodunnit as much as a what are we gonna do about it.

Continue reading Episode 721: Dead Again

Episode 720: Halfway

“And there it was… a MYSTERY BODY!”

The story so far: I began writing this blog two Labor Day weekends ago, starting with Barnabas emerging from the mystery box in episode 210. Now it’s Labor Day weekend again, and by some cruel trick of time, my journey into the past has reached the halfway mark.

This is the midpoint between episode 210 and the end of this uncertain and frightening television show, and to mark the occasion, I should probably say something profound and clever about this episode that sums up what these last two years have taught us about vampires and storytelling and character development and natural selection and chromakey and why you should never give a gun to an actor, even an unloaded prop gun, because honestly, they will find a way to hurt themselves.

Unfortunately, it turns out that I don’t have very much to say about today’s episode, except that this is the one where, for one tantalizing moment, it looks like Quentin and Barnabas are about to kiss.

Continue reading Episode 720: Halfway

Episode 719: Haunt You

“Anyone who believes in voodoo must believe in me!”

Let’s talk for a moment about the tremendous advantages of having a gypsy on your television show.

Number one, obviously, ethnic, which means there’s all kinds of comic value just sitting there for the taking.

Number two, ethnic, which means you can always kickstart a plot point by showing her something that she wants to steal.

And number three, ethnic, which means that if you can’t think of an exciting way to end an episode, then she can just run into the room, point at a cast member, and scream The MARK! The mark of DEATH! Soon! SOON! You will DIE! and then you superimpose a Chromakey skull over the guy’s face.

And yet I can’t think of a single other show that has a gypsy. I swear, it’s like people don’t even want to make good television.

Continue reading Episode 719: Haunt You

Episode 718: Other Than My Wife

“You are such a coward that the only way you can kill is with dolls!”

Ladies and gentlemen of the Dark Shadows audience, I would like to introduce to you a new member of our cast: slow doorknob.

Good ol’ slow doorknob actually made its first major appearance at the end of yesterday’s episode, because that’s where the career opportunities are, doorknob-wise. Let’s say you want to end an episode with an unexpected character at the door, but you don’t have the money to pay the actor just for the last two seconds. Who do you turn to when nobody turns up? A slow-turning doorknob, that’s who.

A twist to the left, a twist to the right, a couple rattles, a slow glide open, and then you cut to a cast member looking surprised, or horrified, or whatever actors are supposed to look like once you’ve stopped filming the fixtures. It’s kind of an IOU for the actual surprise, payable tomorrow.

Continue reading Episode 718: Other Than My Wife

Episode 717: Mommy Weirdest

“They’re dolls! Plain ordinary breakable dolls! She has dozens of them, and can’t tell the difference between them.”

Mad Jenny Collins is loose in the haunted corridors of ABC daytime television, eyeliner askew and ready for adventure. She’s been locked up in the tower room for god knows how long, and from the looks of her, it hasn’t been a soothing experience.

She keeps breaking out of her cell and setting fire to people’s bedrooms, which isn’t a productive use of her time, and at the moment she’s got hold of a pair of scissors that must be left over from the Jurassic era. You know how they tell you not to run with scissors? You shouldn’t even walk with these. That’s a pair of scissors where you close the door and turn the lights off and hope it goes away.

It’s not easy to explain just how insane this situation is, so let’s see how Charlotte Brontë described it, in Chapter 20 of Jane Eyre:

What crime was this that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion, and could neither be expelled nor subdued by the owner? — what mystery, that broke out now in fire and now in blood, at the deadest hours of night? What creature was it, that, masked in an ordinary woman’s face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, and anon of a carrion-seeking bird of prey?

Well, I mean. You have to give it up to Charlotte B for that. I can’t speak for anybody else, but in my opinion I think she nailed it.

Continue reading Episode 717: Mommy Weirdest