“The cards — they have anticipated you!”
But that’s the thing about epic tragedies, you know? You don’t need spoiler alerts, because everybody knows how this is going to go.
Against all odds and two decades later, Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis managed to sell NBC on a prime-time revival of the show, reintroducing the characters and the stories that America once loved so deeply and temporarily. But this time, the show would have prime-time network production values, like shooting on film and doing retakes and thinking about things in advance. And they could tell the story properly now — introducing the vampire right from the start, and making sure that Josette is the lookalike of the right person.
And it’s here, in episode 8, when the show gets noticeably better. They’ve got some grown-up writers at last, and a tighter focus on the more appealing members of the cast. They know where the story’s going, and they don’t waste time trying to introduce two simultaneous female vengeance fire demons, like they did in episode 4. Things are finally starting to go uphill.
But we know what happens when things go uphill, especially if it’s Widow’s Hill. That road leads to a messy death on the rocks below, which is exactly what happens to our star-crossed revival.
Yes, the show gets better, here in the back half of the season, but not better enough, and it’s too late anyway; the ratings have sagged to such an extent that the gods have already decided the series’ fate. After this, NBC gives 9pm Friday to some equally doomed comedies, and then the NBC Friday Night Movie, and then Dateline. Twenty years after the lights go out on the great estate at Collinwood, NBC will finally manage to put a successful fantasy drama in this timeslot, but I’m afraid it’s going to be Grimm.
There’s more astronaut action, by the way, that’s why we’re not watching real Dark Shadows. Today’s episode was pre-empted by coverage of the Apollo 12 splashdown, with another courageous crew of moon-botherers returning to their home planet, and on pre-emption days, we watch an episode of the 1991 show. Here’s the other 1991 posts, if you need to catch up.
Actually, there’s two pre-emptions this week — Apollo 12 on Monday and Thanksgiving on Thursday, so we get to watch two 1991 episodes, lucky us. Then there’s Christmas next month, and New Year’s right after that, so we’re going to be finishing up the revival series before you know it. That’s the good news.
So here’s where we are: A seance has been held at the great house of Collinwood, a seance which has suspended time and space, and sent one girl on an uncertain and frightening journey, and so on. Girl governess Victoria Winters has taken the red pill, sending her tumbling through time to the year 1795.
It’s all Barnabas’ fault, of course; we wouldn’t have to go through this if he’d just settle down and be a decent character. But frankly, he’s gone off the rails completely — shouting and sneering and consuming his cousins, and not taking any positive action to further his own interests. He’s completely stuck, and Ben Cross is taking that frustration and turning it into a kind of super-entitled obnoxious one percenter fury. It’s just not working.
But slipping backwards through the centuries has given them a coherent story to tell, and things have started to click. The last episode was the least bad so far, and this one is even more least bad, so they’re going in the right direction.
There are a couple reasons why the show is improving. For one thing: the grown-ups are here. There are three new writers this week, and they actually know what they’re doing.
So far, the episodes have mostly been written by the producers, who are not actually writers, and even the writers haven’t been good writers. Steve Feke, who contributed to episodes 1, 4 and 6, wrote the 1988 film Mac and Me, an E.T. ripoff with a well-deserved 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jon Boorstin, who wrote episodes 2, 3, 6 and 7, had previously written a James Spader thriller called Dream Lover, and an episode of Deadly Nightmares, which I am not familiar with. They also had Sam Hall, one of the best writers on the original show, but he left the series angry, and his episode was heavily rewritten by the producers.
But here’s the new team: William Gray, M.M. Shelly Moore and Linda Campanelli. Gray wrote a bunch of horror movies, including the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis slasher movie Prom Night, which isn’t amazing but at least it’s not Mac and Me.
Moore and Campanelli were a writing team who co-wrote some episodes of not-terrible mid-80s TV, including Misfits of Science and Newhart, and then became executive story editors for the semi-popular slash-fic sensation Beauty and the Beast, a late-80s romantic confection about a savvy New York attorney gradually falling in love with a shaggy, lion-faced Ron Perlman.
And hey, speaking of huge hairy animals, that’s the other improvement on the show this week: they’re using Adrian Paul correctly.
I spent a lot of the last 1991 post complaining that the first half of the season completely wasted some of their best cast members. Lysette Anthony, who’s playing a super-crazy wild-eyed Angelique, and the hunky Adrian Paul, who makes a visually appealing Jeremiah, were both held back in the first half of the season, when they really could have perked things up. Instead, the show doubled down on Carolyn, who’s played by one of the worst actors in Dark Shadows history.
Plus, they’re putting Joanna Going front and center, in the dual role of Vicki and Josette. I’m not crazy about either character, but if you’re going to decide that Vicki is the female lead of the show, then you should point the camera in her direction and give her some lines, which they really didn’t do for most of the series so far.
So they’ve got new writers with romantic-fantasy experience, and a tighter focus on the actors and characters that matter. These are both very helpful.
Unfortunately, the new team was handed an episode with a cliffhanger in the wrong place, which they now have to deal with.
The big exciting story that’s happening right now is that witch-vixen Angelique is fatally jealous of her rich mistress, Josette, who’s coming to Collinwood to marry the rich and presumably handsome pre-vampire Barnabas Collins. Determined to win Barnabas for herself, she casts a love spell on Josette and Barnabas’ brother Jeremiah, who suddenly can’t keep their hands off each other.
This is a fantastic soap opera premise, and clearly the cliffhanger in last week’s show should have been the beginning of that fateful curse, with Josette and Jeremiah giving in to their forbidden passion. Then we’d come back this week to see if they could manage to hide their betrayal from Barnabas. That’s soap opera dynamite, just sitting there waiting to be lit.
Instead, they decided to end last week’s episode with Josette arriving at Collinwood, and Vicki noticing that they both look alike. Josette turns, and takes off her hood — and Vicki, watching from the balcony, gasps, “She’s me!”
That was a ridiculous cliffhanger, because not only is it not a surprise — we already knew that Vicki looked like Josette from the last six episodes — but it’s not even meaningful to the story. It’s not like they’re about to switch places or develop a synchronized swimming routine. There are a couple scenes this week where people say, “gosh, you two look a lot alike,” and that’s it. So the “she’s me” cliffhanger is a dud.
And then they hand this damp fizzle to the new grown-up writers, who have to squeeze the entire romantic quadrangle into a one-hour episode.
This is what they have to establish:
* Barnabas and Josette are madly in love, and they’re made for each other.
* Angelique casts a spell on Josette and Jeremiah.
* Josette and Jeremiah are drawn to each other, against their better instincts.
* Josette and Jeremiah decide to run away together.
* Josette and Jeremiah actually run away together, and get married.
* Barnabas finds them, and challenges Jeremiah to a duel.
* Barnabas shoots Jeremiah at the duel.
* Jeremiah’s funeral.
* Abigail accuses Vicki of being a witch.
There is no earthly reason why they have to do all of that in an hour, and they even take time off in the middle for an unnecessary “meanwhile, in the future” sequence set in 1991. This is several weeks of storytelling, squeezed into three quarters of an episode.
But this absolutely positively has to get there overnight, so here’s what they do.
First up: Barnabas and Josette are super horny for each other. He greets his newly-arrived fiancee in the foyer, and one scene later, he’s got her pushed up against the door.
The scene begins with him giving Josette a music box, as an early wedding present. She asks why he’s giving it to her now, and he says, “Because I just couldn’t wait.” He stares into her eyes. “All my control is concentrated somewhere else.” She finds this terribly romantic, as naturally you would.
Within moments, they’re pawing at each other, and he whispers, “Meet me outside, now.” She asks where, although in my opinion the immediate question is, how can I meet you outside now when it already is now, and I’m not there?
But they figure it out somehow, probably with mirrors and a vortex manipulator, and we find the young lovers leaving the enormous mansion with lots of unused bedrooms, so they can grind on each other in public.
We don’t really get to know Barnabas and Josette as a couple, and we have no idea what they have in common. This is the only private conversation that they have in the whole episode, and the only thing they talk about is how much they want to bone. But they don’t have a lot of time for establishing things, so they use a sex scene as shorthand for they love each other.
After this meeting of the gardening club, we get a scene of Josette, lovestruck and happy, cooing about her conquest with Angelique, who would rather talk about absolutely anything else in the world.
Josette is a spoiled rich girl at heart, who thinks of her ladies’ maid as a friend — call me Josette, she says, like they’re equals — but it never occurs to her to give any thought to what Angelique’s life is like, following her mistress around and not really having a life of her own. This all happens in the bath.
They’re doing this very economically, because they have a lot of plot points to burn through. Every scene ticks a box, and then we move on to the next thing.
Jeremiah is the next thing. Angelique has spiked some rosewater with love potion, which she pours into Josette’s bath and sprinkles all over Jeremiah’s bed. When they go to sleep that night, they share a passionate sex dream.
They haven’t actually established who Jeremiah is, in this episode. They haven’t had time to show him actually meeting Josette; he hasn’t even appeared on camera so far. But here he is, sweaty and heaving, because this is what Jeremiah is for. Time elapsed between sex scenes: 2 minutes and 10 seconds.
And they really go for it, too. The writers and the director have come to the inescapable conclusion that Adrian Paul is made of meat, and there must be some way to leverage that. So they drench him in glisteny chest moisture, and that is the focus of the scene.
Josette’s body is remarkably low in the mix here; she’s wearing a tasteful nightgown, and the camera doesn’t linger on her at all. In the early stages of the sequence, when we see them each tossing and turning in their sleep, he’s got his shirt open and pointed in our direction, while she’s got a heavy blanket pulled up to the neck.
Once the dream begins, Jeremiah’s chest gets all the good lighting, and then she rips his shirt off and starts chewing on his shoulder area.
Then he picks her up, and lays her down on the bed, like Tarzan the ape man with his long hair and moist torso. Then we get a shot of his sweaty back. It’s basically the cover of every romance novel.
And then there’s a little scene of them looking at each over the breakfast table, which he can stand for about forty-five seconds before he has to excuse himself. I guess they have to put their clothes on sometimes, because otherwise the wardrobe department is just sitting around idle.
And then, bafflingly, they spend five and a half minutes on Phyllis Wick, the 1795 governess who’s changed places with Vicki. She’s lost and terrified, struggling to understand why everybody is suddenly talking funny and wearing indecent clothes and driving horseless machine-beasts.
This is a pure 1991 innovation, cutting back and forth between the past and the present, rather than freezing the 20th century family between two ticks of the clock, as they did in the original show. It’s a clever idea, because we get to see the characters that we know all worried sick about what’s happened to Vicki, plus a traumatized Phyllis makes for some interesting comic relief.
Unfortunately, we don’t really have a lot of time to waste this week, when we could be showing Barnabas and Jeremiah interacting with each other, which they basically don’t. Plus, Sheriff Patterson’s irritatingly thick Maine accent is just unbearable.
Oh, and also Phyllis has diphtheria, so that’s a lucky break for the 1795 family; it’s a lot safer here in 1990s Collinwood, where everybody has vaccinations. But Barnabas doesn’t see it that way, because he’s worried that if Phyllis dies, then Vicki will be trapped in the past forever, whatever “forever” means under these circumstances. Julia tells him that Phyllis may not recover, and he says You’d LIKE that WOULDN’T YOU DOCTOR! and it’s another terrible narcissistic rage scene.
You know, I’ve been reading up on pathological narcissism lately, for presidential election-related reasons, and it’s basically a character description of 1991 Barnabas. He’s got an exaggerated feeling of self-importance, and a lack of empathy for others. He fails to acknowledge that his behavior is the root of his own problems. And when anything happens that he doesn’t like, he’s prone to shouting, fact distortion, making groundless accusations, and threatening his potential allies. 1991 Barnabas is doing his best to make America great again.
And then he sneaks into Carolyn’s room for some weird semi-consensual blood-based sex play, because 1991 Barnabas is seriously the worst.
Time elapsed between sex scenes: 7 minutes and 40 seconds.
Switching back to the late 18th, Jeremiah is sitting around in the stable having sweaty sex dream flashbacks, and then Josette joins him, and what is happening to us, it’s so strong? “No, we must not, Jeremiah,” she whispers, and then they totally do.
Time elapsed between sex scenes: 3 minutes and 50 seconds.
Meanwhile, between love scenes, Vicki actually gets some screen time, which is nice. They put her on screen every chance they get — she gets a “we look alike” scene with Josette, and then she sees Jeremiah and Josette going at it in the stables. She tells Natalie about Josette’s betrayal, and in a few minutes, she’s going to be the one who sees the pair scuttling out of Collinwood en route to a justice of the peace.
And she’s not telling everybody that she’s from the future all the time, which is a step up from the 1967 version. Abigail does start piecing some clues together and suspects that Vicki is a witch, but they don’t overdo it.
Keeping a journal is a pretty dumb move in-universe, because the prosecutors are going to love getting their hands on it, but they don’t have a lot of choice. If she’s not going to talk to anybody about her predicament, then she needs some way to express herself.
She’s even asking the right questions. “But if one moment of history is changed,” she writes, “how much else changes with it? And will I then be permanently trapped in this time?” There’s a big thunderclap at that moment, which is only fair.
So the new writers are doing everything they can to make this show work, fixing many of the mistakes made in the first half of the season. They’ve decided who the main characters are, and we spend most of our time with them. They also know what the tone is supposed to be — Angelique is spooky, Abigail is threatening, Josette and Jeremiah are sexy, Millicent is comedy relief. Barnabas in the present day is still a complete mess, but for the 1795 segments, at least, you can see what they’re aiming at.
Oh, and there’s more of this. Time elapsed between sex scenes: 4 minutes and 10 seconds. These Beauty and the Beast people are really excited about showing how passionate these people are. But I understand where they’re coming from. They never got to do this on Beauty and the Beast, because Vincent was a weird lion man and apparently that’s a problem. Now they can get down to business, and they do.
So they keep on sprinting through the rest of the story, every scene a big plot point. Josette and Jeremiah run away together, Barnabas discovers that they’re gone, and before you know it, he’s tracked them down in Boston somehow. He finds them together and he just whales on Jeremiah, grabbing him and pinning him down, because I swear to God, nobody on this show can keep their hands off Jeremiah for five seconds.
By the end of the scene, they challenge each other to a duel, and the next thing you know, it’s duel day. They’re really hurrying their way through as many plot points as they can manage.
The big highlight of the episode is Angelique, who’s up on the roof dry-humping a gargoyle, gyrating and moaning in order to get Satan’s attention.
“Spirits of chaos,” she gasps, scarcely able to control herself. “Spirits of the air! Come to me! Enfold me in your strength! Consume me!” And then she falls down on the roof, in ecstasy. All that, just to stick a bullet in Barnabas’ gun, and make sure Jeremiah dies.
The weird thing is that it’s not clear why Angelique wants Jeremiah to die right now, because it doesn’t help her at all. Josette is now safely married to another dude who she’s apparently really super into, which leaves Barnabas on his own. She should be shipping Josette and Jeremiah like crazy right now. So what does killing Jeremiah do for her?
Unfortunately, that’s true for the whole series, too. Jeremiah should not die in this episode. It’s another example of the show’s relentless self-sabotage.
They have two brothers, both in love with the same woman, and a magical soap vixen stirring the pot. This is good soap opera. Dallas and Knots Landing would kill for a hot scenario like this. So even as the show gets more interesting and better written, there’s still a huge problem hanging over it — a slavish imitation of the original show, repeating plot points that don’t actually make this a better story.
This would be a way more interesting story if Jeremiah lives, and Barnabas had to deal with Jeremiah and Josette as an actual couple. The only reason that Jeremiah died in the duel in the original show is that Anthony George was desperate to leave. He hated being on Dark Shadows, and wouldn’t even stay a few extra days so he could die on screen. They had to wrap bandages around a day player’s head, and pretend that Jeremiah was shot in the face.
And having Anthony George leave the show screwed up the relationship between Jeremiah and Vicki, which was obviously the path that the story was supposed to take. When Vicki first arrived in the past, Jeremiah found her at Collinwood, and she ran to his arms — because this was Burke, her presumed-dead fiancee. That’s where the story could have gone.
In the alternate universe where Jeremiah lives, he realizes that he and Josette aren’t right for each other, that some outside force has taken control of his feelings. He’s married to Josette, and he needs to stay with her — but his heart actually belongs to Vicki, the mysterious time traveler, who he’s strangely drawn to, as if he knows her well.
When Vicki is accused of witchcraft, it’s Jeremiah who leaps to her defense, putting him at odds with the rest of his family. He represents her in court, until he falls victim to the curse that wipes out anyone who loves Barnabas. And Jeremiah’s tragic death — just at the moment when Vicki needs him most — is what sends her to the gallows. And then Burke returns from the dead or becomes Jeff Clark or whatever.
With Anthony George gone, they had to draft a new guy to help Vicki — Peter Bradford, a total unknown, which means Vicki’s story hardly interacts with the Collins family at all. Vicki languishes in prison for months, while everybody else is doing whatever they do. It’s not effective storytelling.
The revival could have fixed that problem, the same way that they substituted Vicki for Maggie as the Josette lookalike. Instead they fixed the wrong thing. Jeremiah still dies in the duel, but the guy who has that early scene with Vicki at Collinwood is Peter, who’s played by one of the worst members of the cast.
There’s no reason why they need to hang on to the duel plot point, when they could have just looked at their cast and made the appropriate adjustments. But that’s the tragedy of the 1991 series, the fatal flaw that leads to certain doom. They could have made this work. But they’re following the history book, heading towards their certain destruction, and all we can do is watch.
Tomorrow: Curious People.
Next pre-emption special:
Time Travel, part 9: Frequent Flyers.
— Danny Horn
29 thoughts on “Time Travel, part 8: She’s Me”
And to think that if this reboot had continued, Adrian Paul would have been the new Quentin. We were cheated. Cheated.
Yeah, but we got several years of Duncan McLeod of the Clan McLeod instead. Not a bad trade… Duncan got Quentin’s Quickening…
For many years I lived with a deep, personal secret that I never told anyone and could barely admit to myself. I was a fraud pretending to the entire world that I liked 1991 Dark Shadows.
I was stoked (ahem) for it months in advance. I made a scrapbook of every review and magazine article I could find. I taped it on VHS sans commercials and made copies for myself and friends. I bought the videos and DVDs. Occasionally I would watch it, enjoying the parts I liked. I can look at Joanna Going all day long, and Adrian Paul isn’t bad on the eyes either (especially in that screen shot of them embracing). Abigail was great and Joshua didn’t turn into a cat. Um, the music was good.
But now I can admit my true feelings, and you Danny Horn have helped me come out of that wretched closet of hypocrisy. 1991 Dark Shadows is not only a pale imitation of the original, it does not understand or appreciate the original for what made it original in the first place. I feel better having said that. Thank you.
Another brilliant essay in a recent string of brilliance.
One nit-pick: I don’t think you meant Barnabas “wails on Jeremiah,” unless he was making like a banshee. “Whale” means “strikes, hits, physically attacks.”
Oh, you’re right about the whales. I’ll go fix that. You’re also right about the brilliance, obviously, I guess.
Nobody dast blame you, Kevin Brown.
You wanted DS91 to be good, because of the original. Perhaps in time it might have found a way to be like the original, but television doesn’t work the same way as it did in 1966; that was one of the things that ‘saved’ the original from obscurity as a short-lived Gothic soap. That, and Barnabas and Julia.
Maybe someday they’ll get a DS reboot right; but there can only be ONE original.
Are you sure about that? I have never seen it spelled “whale” before, always “wail”, presumably b/c it’s accompanied by the pummeler screaming.
Dark Shadows 1991 fails because it tries too hard to be a typical soap opera (i.e., exploitation of the actors and their characters through constant sex scenes), whereas the original show was not so much a soap opera in the conventional sense as a gothic theater production, headed by a man who had never made a soap opera and didn’t even know what went into the making of a so-called soap. And being a gothic presentation, bringing in darker, edgier subject matter was always a possibility. In the first few weeks they have a 9-year-old boy who tries to kill his father and then plant evidence so that others may be blamed — and what’s more, in the end he actually gets away with it and is even protected, never punished. Not even Peyton Place would have dared sail into such forbidden, uncharted waters.
The 1991 remake also brings nothing new to the table in the way of supernatural tropes, whereas the original show forever changed the way a vampire could be portrayed, opening up the possibility of a vampire with a soul. Whereas previously the vampire had appeared as cold to the point of being bloodless (in Christopher Lee’s second outing as Dracula in 1966, he has not one word of dialogue, but instead just hisses and growls his way through the entire film), with Jonathan Frid the vampire becomes akin to a Shakespearean antihero.
What’s more, to enjoy the original show you need not necessarily be a soap opera fan. Personally, I’ve never been interested in soap operas, yet Dark Shadows remains my favorite show. But the appalling, dreadful images above of Dark Shadows 1991 reminds me why I avoid soap operas in general. The sex scene business (reading the above post I actually lost count of how many sex scenes they managed to cram into this 1-hour show) is a soap opera cliché, which makes this series a borderline parody of, rather than a tribute to, the original show.
Something as groundbreaking as the original Dark Shadows (Dark Shadows 1966-1971 was an experiment, Dark Shadows 1991 was contrived) is bound to create a timeless legacy in itself, and should just be left alone — excepting, of course, in the case of Big Finish.
I agree completely. The irony, at least as I see it, is that the original DARK SHADOWS hits a lot of the soap opera tropes, but in supernatural form. I’ve argued that Barnabas has a more direct line to Victor Newman than to Angel or Nick Knight. Same with Quentin and Jack Abbott. Angelique is a classic soap opera villainess in the league of Erica Kane or Lucy Coe but she is literally a witch. Barnabas and Julia are a classic super couple and so on. The 1991 DS has none of this. It seems to treat the supernatural plot elements as “gold” to mine again but the original DS was hardly, well, original. It sampled different narratives and stories like a version of PAUL’S BOUTIQUE.
I am a fan of prime time soaps, from DALLAS to MELROSE PLACE, but the key element in those series is humor and dark comedy. There’s not a trace of humor or wit in 1991 DS, not even camp.
You know, Stephen, one name you mentioned there does actually resonate with me — Erica Kane. In my post above I indicated that I wasn’t interested so much in soap operas, but in the summer of 1982 I did begin watching regularly All My Children — well, you know, I was 16, in a strange town, had no friends in high school, was a bit of a shut-in at that time, so… I got to appreciate Susan Lucci’s talents, and then, of course, what a surprise and a treat to find that Louis Edmonds was a character there also, as Langley Wallingford/Lenny Wlasuk. Because certain other stuff such as House of Dark Shadows was also playing on TV at the time, I just wanted to shout through the TV set at Phoebe Wallingford, “Hey, if only you could have seen Langley/Lenny back in 1970, you’d have been impressed!”
Well, such is the power of a good soap. Great actors making those characters come alive so much so that they seem practically real.
Now, Lucy Coe, I don’t know… I’ve just looked up on Wiki that that was starting in 1986… Well, I was just starting college around that time, and also stopped watching TV around that time, both daytime and prime time, which is why I didn’t know about Dark Shadows 1991 until long after the fact, because there’s only one Dark Shadows for me, and it’s that show with the intro of the waves and the gothic lettering that shows a house with a dozen chimneys that looks like it’s immersed beneath 60 feet of green sea water.
Now maybe if in 1991 they’d cast Susan Lucci as either Victoria Winters or Maggie Evans or both….
Lucy Coe and Angelique? My first thought was: “No, if Richard Simmons had jumped out of Angelique’s dressing room closet they way he did to Lucy Coe during General Hospital’s 50th Anniversary celebration, Angelique would’ve made sure Simmons would disappear from the face of Earth.”
Then I realized Richard Simmons pretty much has disappeared since the ambush of Lucy Coe. Maybe Lucy = Angelique is a good comparison.
Okay, as someone who literally makes his living watching and writing about soap operas, I’m going to have to step to the plate and defend the genre. What you’ve done here is admit that you’ve never been interested in the genre and then believe the very worst stereotype of it.
Soap operas are not about sex. In fact, the very best soap operas are actually about the exact opposite. They are about longing and passion and, when done right, putting off the actual deed as long as possible. A current example: The Bold & The Beautiful’s Ridge/Quinn/Eric/Brooke story. In a nutshell, Ridge is lusting after Quinn, who is married to his father, Eric. Ridge is also (or was, until recently) engaged to his on-again, off-again love of three decades, Brooke. A while back, Ridge and Quinn’s absolute hatred of one another turned into a game of sexual cat-and-mouse. They never slept together, yet spent weeks on the verge of doing so. Eventually, during a trip to Australia for a family wedding, the pair shared a kiss… which was seen by his bride-to-be, Brooke. There have been months of longing-gazes and relatively chaste kisses and much talk of lines which must not be crossed. They have gotten months of story out of this non-couple, all because the pair has NOT had sex. If they’d made love, the story would have — excuse the pun — climaxed.
Bad soap opera writers — and there are many out there — rely on sex to get the audience interested. But even in those circumstances, it is usually a plot point with a greater goal in mind. A who’s-the-daddy storyline or the destruction of a marriage. Occasionally, people have sex just to have sex. But the fact of the matter is that soaps are not the non-stop sex romp that people — especially those who want to disparage the genre — like to say they are.
Okay, rant over. Five months after everyone else left this post behind. LOL
What is Jeremiah even doing at his mother’s breakfast table in his shirtsleeves? Is he a pig farmer now or something?
He’s trying to dry off, evidently! He shpritzes something dreadful…
Yeah, why is his vest made from a tapestry? Where did they get the orange juice?
It’s the 1991 version of the leaf coat. And Melissa, you are right, showing up to a meal without a coat is just rude!
It would have made even more sense to have Vicky become Josette when she travels to the past. Vicky and Josette don’t have to be two separate people. In the original series, they could have had Maggie Evans travel to the past and become Josette, but Dan Curtis couldn’t let go of his dark-haired girl on a train, so Vicky still had to be the point-of-view character, and she had to go to the past, even though this was no longer her show. Ironically, our point-of-view character spends most of her time-trip in jail (“gaol”), and doesn’t witness most of the story. If she had learned that Barnabas was a vampire, and had been able to take that knowledge with her back to the present, it would have made her a more interesting character.
I also thought, as Vicki looked like Josette, she could have switched with her instead of Phyllis Wick. Bonus: Josette in the 20th century.
Quite by accident, I met Ben Cross and Adrian Paul at Ports, (now called Jones) at 7205 Santa Monica Boulevard, in West Hollywood, shortly after the cancellation of the new Dark Shadows.
A friend and I had just stopped in a for quick drink on our way to something else. As I stood at the bar, ordering drinks, I pulled out a cigarette (this was during a very brief, yet strange, period when I actually smoked cigarettes) and as I was looking for my lighter, before I knew what was happening, the man next to me whipped out a lighter, and lit it for me. It was Ben Cross. I was impressed. What a gentleman. I’ve never had anyone light my cigarette quite like that before.
I must have said something like “Thank you. Hey, you’re Ben Cross. I really enjoyed the remake of Dark Shadows. As a fan of the original, I thought you made a great Barnabas….”
He was friendly as could be, very cordial, and seemed happy to talk about the recently cancelled show. I told him I thought it was in an awful time slot. He mentioned that the Gulf War had created a major distraction, and wrecked havoc with the show’s schedule.
As we talked, I mentioned Adrian Paul, not realizing he was just down the bar, on the other side of the two young ladies they were with. As soon as Ben pointed him out, Adrian leaned forward, out of the shadows, to shake my hand. Adrian Paul has big hands.
Not wanting to monopolize their time, we told them how cool it was to meet them, and that, as fans of the original, we had enjoyed the remake, wished there had been more of it, and we were gone.
It occurs to me that if 1991Barnabas was really anything like 1966Barnabas, there would have been no duel. His fixation with women who look like Josette would have had him glomming onto Vicki and trying to turn her into a new Josette even with the old Josette right there.
Frid’s Barnabas also doesn’t fire a blank pistol. He sets out to kill his uncle and best friend because of his self-centered pride. It is a major character moment. I’m not sure why the revival removed from Barnabas not just the choice to willingly kill Jeremiah but the decision to have the duel in the first place.
Can you even imagine the sense of security he’d have with a spare Josette in the trunk? They tend to be on the fragile side.
It might even have been fun to have Jeremiah wake from his ‘wet’ dream, then come upon Vicki-who-looks-just-like-Josette and think that SHE was his fantasy girl.
See? Missed opportunities.
Oh, I really like this! They could have done a whole identical-cousins riff! That would have given the show some life!
“Josette’s been most everywhere,
from Martinique to Berkeley Square.
But Vicki’s only seen the sights
a girl can see from Needham Heights;
what a crazy pair!”
I actually was excited about the 1991 show because I’d never seen the original and I was disappointed. I think I might have stopped watching before the end though.
I have to say about half the cast was amazing. Definitely having the producers write was a major issue. Just Monday morning quarterbacking this series is way too tempting.
Since we’re playing if I was going to reboot I wouldn’t do as much in the present at the beginning. After all these people just suffer from absolutely freakish family resemblance, they aren’t the same characters from the past so we really don’t need to know anything about them in the now to care about the characters back in time. So I think I’d do a couple of scenes and a montage establishing Burke and Vicki via flashback and the fact that his plane went down and he’s been declared dead. Somehow Vicki sees Collinswood in a photo or painting or something and feels inexplicably drawn to it. In mourning and with a substantial inheritance from Burke, Vicki comes up with the story about writing a family history to establish herself in the house despite an odd and haunting sense that she’d been here before. Through out we get intermittent slow progression shots toward a coffin in a deserted mausoleum. At quarter til the hour it starts to shake and in the cliffhanger we get a shot to show it’s someone in the coffin an eye, a hand pushing the cover up, a howl of pain, dealer’s choice. We get a shaking coffin shot at beginning of the next episodes but no more information and in episode 2 Vicki thinks she sees Burke through a door or an arch in a garden or what have you, she races after them, and finds herself in the past. Things play out and the 1st episode back in the present we have Willy freeing Barnabas as the money shot. And when he walks in the door as an English cousin Vicki knows him, but is he really a look alike as is everyone else or do those odd memory’s he accidentally slips show he’s really Barnabas, but how is that possible & it’s only then you get the reveal he’s a vampire who has been attacking farm animals and hookers and made Willy his servant.
There that’s my turn. Anyone else want to play?
I always considered DS to be a parody of daytime soaps. Let’s start with Laura the Phoenix … a child custody battle carried to extreme extremes. The Vicky/Peter/Barnabas love triangle … one is a ghost, the other is a 200 year old ex-vampire. The incurable illness that plagues the romantic couple … lycanthropy! Good and evil twins … that’s coming up in 1970 Parallel Time. My all-time favorite though is when child actors are ‘aged-up’ to give them more interesting story lines, for instance, the cute 8-year old who goes off to summer camp in May and comes back in August as a rebellious 16-year old. In his book about horror, Stephen King calls this “the kid trick” and the DS version of that is coming up very soon, too.
Great analysis, Danny! It makes you wonder why, in 1967, they simply did not recast Burke/Jeremiah when Mr. George decided to leave.
Knowing Dan Curtis, he’d probably have given the Burke role to Roger Davis who was waiting in the wings at the time. So things would have been just as bad!
Reading this years later and the start and the reboot wasn’t picked up at the CW. Though I had my concerns about it being turned into team dream boys, I think the reincarnation angle they were talking about was interesting. In my version Vicki would be a smart one, who remembers her past incarnations. She and Josette and Angelique would all live at the same time. Josette would be more like Kitty and Angelique would have some real resentment that she was made an indentured servant to her sister. Maybe she could pass but her mother couldn’t and she resented that which is what started her on stealing her sister’s men.