Monthly Archives: January 2016

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Episode 815: The Time Television

“Count Petofi, do you think this is some sort of a carriage ride?”

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a mad god, an assassin and a vampire walk into a basement. The mad god says, “Look into that cupboard, Mr. Collins! What do you see?” And the vampire says, “I see the inside of the cupboard.”

All right, it’s not that funny, but you have to admit you haven’t heard it before. It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re hearing it now.

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Episode 814: Another Thing Coming

“Only I know that… and the gypsies. Those deadly gypsies!”

In his secret lair in the basement of an old mill, Count Andreas Petofi waits for his magical Hand to be returned to him. The mad god’s spirit is currently inhabiting the body of young Jamison Collins, while his mortal form lies unconscious, biding its time. Soon, the boy will bring the Hand, just as he’s planned, and Petofi will rise.

But time may be running out, for Petofi and Jamison. The boy is weak, confused, lying helpless in the clutches of the Count’s frenemies. Barnabas and Quentin have the Hand now, and they don’t know what to do. Must they offer the Hand to Petofi, to save Jamison’s life?

So obviously, that’s super exciting. We have a lair now. Dark Shadows has an actual lair!

Continue reading Episode 814: Another Thing Coming

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Episode 813: Happy Haunts

“It suddenly occurred to me that you might be telling the truth.”

Meanwhile, in the other spooky old haunted house of the American imagination, 999 restless spirits were settling into their new digs on the opposite coast.

This is the week that Disneyland opened the Haunted Mansion, a long-awaited E-ticket attraction that invites theme park guests to tour a post-mortem retirement home for the corporeally liberated. This is the old house, abandoned by the family after the dark and terrible tragedies of the distant past, now left available for whatever ghouls care to move in and set up housekeeping. I wonder if Quentin knows about this one?

To be honest, the Haunted Mansion has nothing to do with Dark Shadows, but I love Disneyland, and there’s no way I’m going to ignore the other spook sensation of ’69.

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Episode 811: Deadbeat Dad

“There can be no happiness for anyone at Collinwood!”

I think Quentin Collins must be running for president, that’s the only way to explain it. When we met him five months ago, he was a heartless scoundrel working his way through a list of every pretty woman in Collinsport, including the married ones, and especially including the married ones who were married to his brother. He’s also currently threatening a young woman’s life, saying that he will murder her if she tells anyone that he’s a monster who murders young women, and by “currently” I mean literally two scenes ago.

And yet here he is, worried sick about the health of his infant daughter, who he didn’t even know existed until he murdered her mother, and who he’s expressed precisely zero interest in ever seeing. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Father of the Year.

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Episode 810: The Most Dangerous Game

“Satan is determined to take over Collinwood!”

In the summer of 1969, the young set gather every afternoon at four o’clock to watch one of the great pioneers in educational programming.

Not Sesame Street, of course; that doesn’t start until November. For the summer, at least, the kids’ choice is Dark Shadows, and what they’re learning is that murder is awesome, and you can totally get away with it.

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Episode 809: Twice Burned

“She called your name, and then she became unconscious again.”

One nice thing about being a soap opera character — and overall the benefits are not numerous — is that every once in a while the writers need you to figure something out in a hurry, so they hand the entire solution to you on a platter, whether it makes sense or not.

For example: the Dark Shadows writers have decided that straight-laced Charity Trask needs to know that Quentin, her prospective fiancé, is a werewolf who murders people on the regular. So they’ve arranged an educational tableau for her to discover, on her morning walk through the woods.

Lying on the turf is the unconscious Quentin, with his shirt all ripped up and decorated with blood spatters. A couple feet away, there’s a young woman who we haven’t seen before and aren’t likely to see again, because she’s sporting the telltale fang and claw marks of a werewolf victim.

Feebly, the girl mutters Quentin’s name, and Charity finds the crucial piece of evidence in his hand — he’s clutching a piece of taffeta, torn from the young lady’s dress. There isn’t a sign that says WEREWOLF with an arrow pointing to Quentin, but Charity’s a bright girl. She can put two and two together, especially if one of the two is currently bleeding out on the green burlap that everybody’s agreed to pretend is the ground.

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Episode 808: Twisting

“I don’t understand how to believe these things.”

I talk a lot on this blog about how serialized narrative is natural selection for stories, and when I say that I talk about it a lot, what I really mean is that it’s my incessant catchphrase that I’m really hoping will catch on, because otherwise I don’t know what to do with all these T-shirts I’ve printed up.

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Episode 807: Dickens Without Poor People

“Well, you know how he gets when he possesses someone.”

Behold the educated viewer, watching an episode of Dark Shadows. Charity Trask is looking at the unfinished portrait of Quentin Collins, on the night of the full moon. To her surprise, she sees the portrait change before her eyes, the painted face transforming into the image of a werewolf.

“Ah,” one nods appreciatively, “an allusion to The Picture of Dorian Gray.” One says this to oneself, because nobody else can stand to be around one while the television is on.

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Episode 806: FML

“I say that Lucifer is trying to undo the good that I have done in this house, and that you and all the others are acting as his accomplices!”

Today, I walked into the drawing room and found my daughter reading something on a piece of paper. I said, “Good morning, my dear Charity,” but as she turned to face me, I saw not the smiling, placid face of my beloved child. In its place was a startled, hunted look, the shocked visage of an innocent staring into the endless fiery pit, and recoiling from the grisly sight. My eyes darted to the page that she held in her nerveless grip — and there saw the cursed document that Evan Hanley tricked me into signing last night — the paper that I saw burning in the fireplace not ten hours ago! This terrible, damnable lie — somehow, it survived the furnace, and now, my Charity — my dear one, my own — looked at me with eyes filled with hatred and revulsion. “It’s a confession,” she gasped. “It says that you and Mr. Hanley murdered my mother!” #FMyLife

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