Monthly Archives: March 2016

Episode 842: Graduation Day

“Does he even know you are not, shall we say, an ordinary being?”

So once again the bat/man arrives on the scene, for a last-minute rescue. The supervillain has kidnapped Barnabas’ time-tossed best friend, and locked her away in a secret chamber hidden in the old mill. She’s bound to a chair with her mouth gagged, looking straight down the barrel of a revolver. There’s a string tied between the doorknob and the gun’s trigger, so that whoever opens the door becomes Julia’s executioner.

And how does Barnabas save his friend from this diabolical trap? Well, he doesn’t, obviously. He just opens the door, and the gun fires, and Julia dies. Duh. This is Barnabas Collins. He fails at everything.

Continue reading Episode 842: Graduation Day

Episode 841: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

“He revels in every form of torture and bloodshed known to the mind of man!”

“It’s the third one,” says Dr. Julia Hoffman — blood specialist, hypnotherapist and the world’s most adaptable person. “The Kun hexagram.”

“What does it signify?” her captor asks, and Julia consults the reference material.

Julia’s flipped back in time to the late 19th century, where she’s currently assisting mad god Count Petofi, the Butcher of Ozhden, as he attempts to bend space and time to his implacable will. He needs to take his legendary magical hand to the far-off space year of 1969, and he’s going to use the I Ching, a Chinese divination technique that he has no prior experience with. So now he’s casting the I Ching wands, and Julia is looking in her Junior Woodchucks guidebook to see which of the 64 hexagrams he’s laid out on the table.

She’s doing this under duress, if that helps. Julia does a lot of things under a lot of things.

“There will be great progress and success,” she reads, and Petofi’s face lights up. “The character Kun shows how a plant struggles, with difficulty, out of the earth, gradually rising above the surface.” Petofi is utterly thrilled, but there’s more.

“The top line is divided,” Julia warns. “The horses of the chariot are obliged to retreat. There are weeping tears of blood.”

Petofi grabs the book out of her hands, and snarls, “I will hear no more!” Then he sits down in front of the hexagram, meditating furiously.

Now, this is where Count Petofi and I part ways. If it was me, the weeping tears of blood would give me pause. But what do I know, I don’t even have a legendary magical hand. I just have regular default hands. I didn’t even know magical hand was an option.

Continue reading Episode 841: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Episode 840: The Grown-Ups

“What could there possibly be new about falling in love?”

At this point, Count Petofi has just about had it. All he wants to do is get away from this crummy burg, with his legendary magical hand still attached at the wrist. He’s tired of being stalked by aggravating gypsies who shake tambourines and threaten him with scimitars, and he wants a ticket out.

He happens to know that Barnabas has the ability to travel forward in time to 1969, and if Petofi can tag along, it would give him a nice seventy-two year cushion when maybe the gypsies could calm the hell down. But Barnabas insists that he doesn’t know how to travel in time, despite the fact that he absolutely does know and I have no idea why he keeps saying that he doesn’t.

And now one of Barnabas’ friends pops up — having traveled exactly through time, thank you very much, like she can obviously do — and she still won’t tell Petofi how it works. I mean, at a certain point, they’re just being dicks about it.

Continue reading Episode 840: The Grown-Ups

Episode 839: The Gods Laugh Sometimes

“It’s all right. You’re here with us, in the past.”

Good news, everyone! Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has pulled off another daring rescue mission, reaching all the way back into the late 19th century, to prevent angry ancestor Quentin from turning into a broken telephone. This heroic customer service call lasted six months, with time out to pick fights with grandmothers and fire demons and lawyers and crazy ex-girlfriends. Naturally, it all came down to a miraculous last-second save, which Barnabas had nothing to do with and doesn’t even know about yet.

Quentin has passed through the ill-fated tenth of September and come out the other side, releasing the Collins family of 1969 from his terrible vengeance. Today is the first day of the rest of his life, which means we can all go home and celebrate by moving back into Collinwood, and finding a new monster to tangle with.

Except we’re not going to, because the 1897 storyline is so much fun that we’re going to stick around for weeks. So now we have to face the question that always haunts long-running serialized narrative, namely: What happens to a story, when the story is over?

Continue reading Episode 839: The Gods Laugh Sometimes

Episode 837: The Trip

“She’s got doom and disaster written all over her face!”

Edward Collins finds an unconscious stranger, just outside his front door. It’s a woman, with a strange hairstyle and an unfamiliar style of dress. He helps her to her feet, but she’s groggy and unsteady. Edward brings her inside, and she looks around like she’s in a daze, squinting and blinking as if she’s never seen the inside of a house before.

She’s docile, at least — clearly not a danger to anyone — and he’s able to lead her into the drawing room, and park her on the couch. Slumping in her seat, she stares at Edward, a puzzled look on her face.

“Can you hear me?” he asks, patiently. “Can you understand what I’m saying?” She just looks at him. He persists. “Why did you come here?” No reply. “Who are you?” Still not receiving.

At a loss, Edward cries, “Where have you come from?”

She squints up at him, and says, “I don’t know, man. I mean, where does anybody come from?”

Continue reading Episode 837: The Trip

Episode 836: Murder, She Wrought

“I thought killing him would help me release from loving him. But it didn’t.”

Terror stalks the great estate at Collinwood this night, just exactly as it has for the last 189 nights in a row. The terrifying specter of Quentin Collins still rules the silent halls, while the family is couchsurfing at the Old House, waiting for it to blow over. Young David is still leaking get-up-and-go, teetering semi-permanently on the brink of death.

Hoping to resolve this difficult problem, Barnabas Collins used an ancient Chinese divination technique to contact the spirit of Quentin, and negotiate a cease-fire. It’s now six months later, and the problem has not been resolved in even the tiniest way. I think Barnabas needs to step aside, and let somebody else take a crack at it.

Continue reading Episode 836: Murder, She Wrought

Episode 835: Meanwhile, in the Future

“It is my fervent hope that this letter will somehow survive time.”

Meanwhile, on Dark Shadows: Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has been time traveling for almost a year now, in one direction or another. He’s been slipping back and forth through the centuries, popping his consciousness in and out of his own body and sticking post-it notes all over his five hundred year diary. At this point, I think we’re up to three simultaneous Barnabi, but I’m not an expert at counting Draculas.

Continue reading Episode 835: Meanwhile, in the Future

Episode 834: The What’s-Thatters

“Death runs faster than any man.”

A memo from young Icarus to his father, re: altitude. What are you talking about, Dad? These wings that you made from feathers and wax are working great. Why do you say that I’m flying too high? You’re supposed to fly as high as you can, that’s the whole point of flying!

And so, as Icarus sinks slowly in the west and learns some valuable lessons about swimming, let’s turn to Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis. In defiance of good taste and common sense, Dan has turned his poky little soap opera into a five-alarm spookshow spectacular, delighting the teenagers and housewives of America with larger-than-life characters, hair-raising plot twists and inventive special effects. The ratings are still climbing, which makes Dan wonder: What can I do for an encore?

Today, we see Dan’s first answer to that question — Dead of Night, a primetime pilot for ABC that tried to adapt the Dark Shadows formula to an hour-long nighttime drama. Dan produced this pilot in late 1968, with several members of his Dark Shadows family — director Lela Swift, writer Sam Hall, composer Bob Cobert, and actors Thayer David and Louis Edmonds.

ABC finally broadcast the hour-long pilot in late August 1969, because they’d already paid for it and you might as well. While he’s been waiting for it to air, Dan’s scaled his ambitions up even further — he’s currently pursuing a deal with MGM, to make a Dark Shadows film. So before that kicks off, it’s useful for us to take a look at this pilot episode, “A Darkness at Blaisedon”, and see Dan’s first attempt to bring Dark Shadows to a wider audience.

Constructed haphazardly out of feathers and wax, Dead of Night introduces a trio of new characters — psychic investigator Jonathan Fletcher, his live-in chum Sajeed Rau, and the beautiful young heiress Angela Martin — and throws them onto a haunted house set, to see how far they can fly. Icarus, you are cleared for takeoff.

Continue reading Episode 834: The What’s-Thatters