Episode 754: The Hunger Games

“I don’t share your confidence in that cane.”

Quentin Collins, former human being, has turned into a snarling werewolf that runs around in the woods, attacking people and causing unrest. Quentin’s nephew Jamison is out tonight, running away from Reverend Trask’s sleepaway punishment school, somewhere on the Collinwood grounds. Trask didn’t say “Release the hounds,” because you don’t have to at Collinwood. The hounds are provided free of charge by the management; it’s just one of the great estate’s many fatal perks.

So now Beth is out looking for Jamison, wielding a gun that she found in a drawer somewhere. She hears a growl, and turns to find the werewolf sitting on a boulder, waiting to pounce. As we all know, people are the most dangerous game, but werewolves have got to be a close second. It just stands to reason.

754 dark shadows barnabas werewolf cane

The creature pounces and Beth shrieks, and luckily all that racket alerts Edward and Barnabas, who are also out searching the woods. They get to her in a flash, because it’s ABC Studio 16 and there isn’t a lot of space for more than one bit of woods.

Barnabas raises his silver-topped cane, and THUNK! THUNK! THUNK! beats the werewolf in a nice little flurry of an action sequence. Alex Stevens has some padding around his right forearm, and that’s what Barnabas beats on — six good, loud smacks with the cane. Barnabas is clearly having a terrific time, because he finally has the chance to whale the tar out of somebody on camera.

Watching it on DVD with a cleaned-up picture and a rewind button, it’s easy to see the padding on the werewolf’s arm, but in ’69 with average TV reception, it must have looked like Barnabas was really going to town on the wolfman. I know I say this every time, but seriously, having a werewolf improves your television show immeasurably.

754 dark shadows beth edward barnabas

Barnabas’ cane chases the creature away, on account of werewolves are allergic to silver, and Edward tends to Beth, who’s injured and needs emergency care.

And then there’s a lovely moment where Barnabas acts like a Dark Shadows character, and Edward responds like a person. Barnabas is about to chase after the werewolf, because that’s what you do on this show, and Edward shouts, “Don’t go after him! We must get her to the house, and call the police.” Beth whimpers, and Edward reassures her, saying, “You’re going to be all right.”

Barnabas asks, “Have you ever seen that creature before?” Edward shouts, “Good GOD, no!” because why are we even talking about this.

Barnabas persists, asking, “Are you sure?” and Edward gives him a look that Dark Shadows characters would get all the time if they lived in the real world, kind of stunned and puzzled and horrified and irritated, all at the same time. He says, “We must get her to the house, before it gets back!” because that is the sensible thing to do.

754 dark shadows beth edward barnabas cane

Beth cries that Jamison is out in the woods, and Barnabas leaps into action. “I’ll look for him!” he says. “You take her back to the house.”

Edward says, “You’ll be killed!” and Barnabas shouts, “My CANE!” because that is how his brain works.

“Help me!” Edward says. “It worked at first, but we need a gun!” And Barnabas says, “I will FIND him!” and then Beth faints, which concludes the symposium. This is a stroke of luck, because honestly they could have stood here and disagreed with each other all night.

754 dark shadows edward barnabas like a man

Back at the house, Edward is loading a rifle and mulling over recent events. “Barnabas, that animal,” Edward says, “if it is an animal — it was wearing clothes! I couldn’t have imagined it, could I? And when he ran away — he ran like a man!” This may be a first for Dark Shadows, and possibly for all of werewolf fiction — an eyewitness who actually tries to process what he’s seen.

Barnabas picks up a bullet, and says, “These will not kill him.”

“What do you mean?” Edward shouts. “What do you possibly mean?”

“They will not!”

“Of course they will. Nonsense!”

Then he hands Barnabas a revolver, and says, “Here, you take this gun, and go out.” Barnabas demurs, and Edward says, “Go on, I insist! I don’t share your confidence in that cane.”

It’s great. Later on, he even calls the police and reports a crime. Edward might be the only person on the entire show right now with a sense of perspective.

754 dark shadows edward laura gun

Plus — and this is truly magnificent, a one-of-a-kind stroke of genius — he carries the rifle aimed downwards, rather than pointing it at whoever he’s talking to, like everybody else on this show. Edward might be my new favorite character.

754 dark shadows barnabas worried

Meanwhile, here’s where Barnabas’ head is at.

“For the first time since I came to this century, I know why I am here. A werewolf, at Collinwood! He must be connected somehow to Chris Jennings. This must have been how Chris’ curse started. But where are the CLUES? I must find him, put him in the mausoleum. Tomorrow, I may know one answer to this riddle.”

So it’s no wonder Edward’s struggling to cope with this caped lunatic. Barnabas, listen to me: You do not know how to cure a werewolf. Locking him in a mausoleum is not a proven course of treatment. The science is not in your favor on this.

In fact, there are two confirmed methods for not curing a werewolf — #1 is chaining him to a radiator, and #2 is locking him in the secret room in the mausoleum. There may be other ways to not cure a werewolf, but those are the ones that we know. Please adjust your strategy accordingly.

Tomorrow: This Means War.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, when the camera pulls back to reveal the wolf, Edward is standing there next to the boulder, facing in the other direction.

When Edward and Barnabas are arguing about whether to take Beth to the house, Barnabas cries, “I will FIND him!” and then spins around to look for the wolf. There’s a bit of a prop branch directly behind him, which touches his face and startles him for a second.

Edward says, “If you’re Lau– if you’re lying, Laura…”

In act 3, Laura causes Barnabas to be seized with agonizing pain, just like she did with Quentin a few weeks ago. Except that was Angelique’s trick; Laura was just a bystander.

During Laura’s confrontation with Barnabas in the final scene, she casts a spell that causes him pain. When that fades, she says, “Now, are you convinced that you can not take my son?” and then there’s a stage wait that lasts almost ten seconds. I don’t know if Barnabas was supposed to have another line, or Jamison was supposed to enter the room earlier, but somebody fell down on the job for a minute.

There’s trouble with the end credits today. The cast names fade and Robert Costello’s producer credit appears, but it fades in and out three times before sticking around and moving on. There are also some gray lines around Sam Hall’s credit.

Tomorrow: This Means War.

754 dark shadows edward werewolf

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

9 thoughts on “Episode 754: The Hunger Games

  1. It was very brave of Beth to go out in the woods to search for Jamison – she’d already seen Mr. Wolf and knew exactly what she’d be up against.

  2. Louis Edmonds characters always keep one of the show’s feet in the real world, bless them. Or as close to the real world as it’s ever going to get.

  3. Someone commented earlier on how Quentin’s wardrobe changes whenever he turns into a werewolf. This has always intrigued me about Barnabas as well, the supernatural capabilities of his wardrobe. Not that they change into different clothes, but that they can materialize and dematerialize as he does. When he changes from a bat into human form when appearing in Laura’s cottage in this episode, not only his physical self is appearing from seemingly nothing, but also his ring and his cane as well as his clothes. His ring and his cane were said to be buried with him, so how can they too have the same transformative powers? There must be a special luggage compartment under the wings of Bill Baird’s bat for when he needs to change and then change back to human form.

    1. Yeah, it’s one of those things that makes sense metaphorically, and not literally. But we don’t press on it, because it would make the story slower. Do we really want to see Barnabas disappear leaving his clothes behind, so he has to come back later and pick them up? Or do we just want him to appear and disappear because it’s exciting and fun to look at?

      The same rule applies to superheroes and science-fiction. How can Superman take off his Clark Kent outfit and have a cape under there? Where does Spider-Man store his gloves and web-shooters when he’s Peter Parker? Why do so many alien species speak English? The answers to these questions are boring and break the story, so we ignore them and move on.

      1. Actually, at least in the early stories, there were often plot points around Peter Parker’s costume–where to hide it in his room, worrying about Aunt May discovering it, hiding it in an impromptu bag made of spidey-webbing when he’s out and about, etc. It even got torn up and dirty a lot. There were actually scenes of Peter Parker in his bedroom trying to sew his damaged costume. That was one of the “realistic” (such as it is in comic books) aspects of Spider-Man and early Marvel comics that made them new and different at the time.

  4. The gray lines around Sam Hall’s name are pieces of Scotch tape. There is a template credit roll, but since the writer credit changes so frequently, they Scotch tape the writer credit. I suspect that Gordon Russell is on the template, so when Sam or Violet are credited, their names are taped over Gordon’s.

    There is a different level of blackness where the Scotch tape is placed so the tape appears as gray lines.

    I also remember an episode where the tape came loose and one writer’s name was dangling over another’s.

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