“You oughtn’t to go, until you take something more to them than what you’re taking now.”
They opened the box, and read the scroll, and lost the book, and had the dream. And now they have a baby, which is not how it works.
Antiques Roadshow refugees Megan and Philip Todd are the brand-new foster parents for Joseph Gordon-Leviathan, a baby-shaped cosmic creature that will someday clear the Earth of its inhabitants. The increasingly eccentric Barnabas Collins gave the Todds a mysterious wooden box the other day, and when they opened it, an evil spirit was released. Now they’re supposed to take care of some dark starchild, while it grows itself a body.
The child came with a set of instructions, in the form of a huge leather-bound book, but it’s written in a bizarre script that Megan and Philip can’t even identify. They flipped through the volume, but couldn’t make heads or tails of it, so they put it down on a table and forgot about it.
Unfortunately, one of the occupational hazards of living in an antique shop is that anything you put down becomes merchandise. Last week, somebody bought the coffee that Philip was drinking; he just set it down for a second, and a savvy shopper snapped it right up. They’re doing brisk business at the shop; their new circular says there are special markdowns on whatever they happen to be holding in their hands.
So the book is gone — sold, or stolen, or marked for clearance. Now they’re going to have to get another one on eBay.
They’re standing around in the shop trying to figure out where it could have gone, when suddenly Megan snaps to attention, and takes a step towards the staircase.
“He wants me upstairs!” she cries. “I can feel him calling me!” Don’t get excited about the telepathy; that’s a pretty safe bet with babies. People don’t usually leave newborns on their own that much anyway.
So Philip putters around for a minute, and then Megan rushes back downstairs, baby and all. “Feel his head, he’s burning up!” she shouts, directly into the child’s face. The kid just lies there, not making a sound. I assume he’s breathing, at least, but it’s hard to be sure.
She suggests calling a doctor, because she still has half a foot left in normal human civilization, but Philip insists that they have to find the book instead. It would be helpful if the baby could be the tiebreaker, but he’s apparently too wrapped up in his own concerns to really engage with the problem.
By this point, Megan has almost entirely unraveled. She calls up Carolyn Stoddard, the shop’s new employee, and asks if she knows what happened to the book. Carolyn remembers the book that Megan’s talking about — heavy, written in an alien alphabet, left on a display table without a price tag — but she can’t think of where it could have gone.
“Look, Carolyn,” Megan yelps, “you were in the shop all afternoon, if you could just remember who else was here!”
I don’t know, Carolyn thinks, apparently not you? Who left me in charge of the lending library?
Megan apologizes for shouting, and explains that she’s upset; the baby is sick. Carolyn asks if Megan’s called a doctor. Megan has not.
Carolyn hangs up on Megan, because how long can you be somebody’s crisis hotline, and she recalls that her little cousin David was in the shop today, skulking around the forbidden artifacts display. David’s always running some kind of scheme, a heist like this would be right up his alley.
David engages his usual cycle of responses — firm denial, followed by why do I always get blamed for things, followed by a distraction and a counterattack. He did steal the book, as it happens, but Carolyn doesn’t catch on, because this is how David reacts to any given stimulus.
So that’s how Barnabas hears about Megan and Philip losing the book and endangering the baby; he just happens to be in the room when hostilities break out. Barnabas is supposed to be in charge of all this Leviathan business, so it’s a little embarrassing that he’s getting his progress reports through eavesdropping. To be fair, nobody told him that this globe-spanning supernatural conspiracy was going to involve inventory control.
So Barnabas heads to the antiquerie, and this is the moment in the episode when things get complex, human resources-wise.
You see, Megan and Philip got recruited in their dreams — that’s when Barnabas went through the onboarding checklist — but they’ve never talked about it in their waking state, so they’re not consciously aware that he’s their supervisor. When he walks in, they think he’s just another customer; he’s like a secret shopper.
Acknowledging the half-pint, he asks how the child care’s coming. Megan heaves a sigh.
“We’re supposed to look after him for a while,” she confesses, “but I’m afraid we haven’t been doing too well. He started running a fever a little while ago.”
He smiles, indulgently. “Well, that’s not unusual, is it? Children often get sudden high fevers.”
“I don’t know,” Megan shrugs. “Ask me about antiques, not about babies.”
Yeah, it doesn’t really seem to be your bag, Barnabas thinks. Remind me why we hired you, exactly? It’s a big day for sarcastic thinks.
Enter Philip, who’s come all the way downstairs to put a wet rag on the baby’s head. Philip’s had all afternoon to find a way to contribute, and that’s what he’s come up with so far.
Barnabas smiles. “He’s a beautiful baby, Philip.”
“Yes, and a very sick one, I’m afraid,” Philip moans. “If we could only find some way to help him!” This episode is set in a parallel time where babies were just invented. They’re really doubling down on the not calling a doctor.
Barnabas decides it’s time to step in, but there’s a staircase and a couple of Todds between him and the teleprompter.
“Well, perhaps,” he begins, and then stops to reassess. “Perhaps what is needed is, uh, to find out why he’s sick. Perhaps you must find out what is happening.” This doesn’t really achieve anything.
Abandoning that line of thought, he says, “Philip, I’ve decided to sell you that Hitchcock chair. You can come with me right now, to pick it up.”
Philip tuts. “If it were any other time, I’d be at your door before you could change your mind. But I can’t go tonight!”
“Yes, you can go,” Barnabas says, on firmer ground. “And you will.”
Megan looks at him like he’s crazy, which is a good guess. “Mr. Collins, you can’t expect Philip to leave the baby on a night like this!”
He fixes them with a look. “I expect you to do what must be done… exactly as it must be done.”
The Leviathan music cue starts up — cue 31, with the kettle drums and the snakey woodwinds line, the spookiest of all.
“You speak of time, my children,” Barnabas purrs. “There is only one time for us — the time of the Leviathan people.”
They instantly snap into hypnomode, which Megan is particularly adept at. She’s been practicing, you can tell.
“The time of the Leviathan people,” Philip repeats.
“And that time is now.”
So the cosmic cat is out of the bag. Barnabas has outed himself as the keymaster, and everybody knows what’s up.
But then they snap out of it, and Philip goes back to baseline.
“Megan, I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he says.
She smiles. “Oh yes, of course!”
“With Hitchcock chair in hand.”
“Oh — one more dream come true!”
So apparently, there are two possible states — regular, and hypnozombie — and they’re expected to alternate between the two. This gets even more uncomfortable, just watch.
Barnabas and Philip drive all the way over to the Old House, where we fade in on Philip and his dream come true.
“It is a very beautiful chair,” he coos. “It’s something I’ve always wanted!”
Barnabas smiles. “And now you have it. But — for how long?”
So, jeez. Are you guys still talking about the chair? Did we not move beyond this?
Barnabas tries to redirect. “Sometimes we have things that we don’t take very good care of, and we lose them, much to our everlasting regret. Has that ever happened to you, Philip?”
“Well, yes,” Philip says, at a loss. “Of course.”
And Barnabas changes course yet again. “Well, I’m sure you’re anxious to get back to Megan and the baby,” he breezes, and then switches back to menacing. “But you oughtn’t to go — until you take something more to them than what you’re taking now.”
Philip just stares at him, obviously. I oughtn’t to what, now?
Before you know it, we’re in the woods, approaching the weird stone Leviathan altar. Philip is taking this all in stride. This isn’t the first night he’s spent walking around in the dark, going home with a guy, and admiring his taste in furniture; he’s just doing it in a different order this time.
“Do you know why you are here?” Barnabas asks.
“Yes, master. Because I have failed in what I was to do.”
“Do you know what must happen now?”
“I must be punished.”
You see? Philip is phenomenal at this; he knows the dialogue and everything.
He looks at the altar. “But how, master?”
“In time,” Barnabas says, “you will find that out.”
Now, I hate to break up a party like this, but I have to wonder — shouldn’t we be helping out with the baby right now? I mean, fun’s fun, but the kid’s got a fever, and I don’t think we’re any closer to finding that book. Is there another chair we should go and get?
The next morning, Megan shows up at Barnabas’ door, and she’s even more unglued, if that’s possible. Her husband didn’t come home all night, so she’s come to collect him, if Barnabas is done with him.
Obviously, Barnabas tells her that everything’s fine; Philip’s tied up with some top secret Leviathan business right now. But that’s how things go sometimes for us Leviathan people, what with the world-bending conspiracy that you and I are both totally part of.
Except he doesn’t. Instead, he opens the door and says, “Hello, Megan. How’s the baby?”
She grimaces. “No better. Mr. Collins, do you know what happened to Philip?”
“What do you mean?” says Barnabas.
So that’s where things stand right now, in this weird little knot of a plot point. Apparently this is how the show works now. Barnabas is going to reveal himself as the Leviathan master and take control of his little charges, and then a moment later, they’ll act like everything’s totally normal — until he decides to re-reveal himself, in an endless cycle, several times during the same conversation.
I have to say, I hate to Monday-morning quarterback on somebody else’s team practices, but it’s possible that the line staff may not be entirely responsible for the current snafu. This looks to me like a problem with the management structure, and I’m sure the board of directors would agree, if they ever get the opportunity to remember exactly who they are.
Tomorrow: Help Wanted.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In act one, when Carolyn tries the drawing room doors, you can see a huge scratch across the left-hand door.
David unlocks the doors, and lets Carolyn into the drawing room. As she enters and looks around, the boom mic peeks into the frame overhead.
This isn’t technically a blooper, but the box for Amy’s puzzle is weird and gross-looking. They’ve covered the name of the manfacturer with brown packing tape and spray-painted around the sides with gold paint, and the bottom of the box is dirty and water-stained. It’s a seriously unsavory looking prop.
Barnabas is pouring himself a brandy while he’s listening to David and Carolyn talk, and he’s trying to time it out to create an interesting reaction shot — putting the glass to his lips just at the moment that David mentions the antique shop. But there’s too much time and not enough to do, so keep your eye on him while he’s pouring the brandy — you can see him deliberately slowing things down to a crawl.
When Barnabas approaches the altar, you can see the edges of the burlap floor covering.
Behind the Scenes:
There was a planned pre-emption for Thanksgiving last week, so this episode is double-numbered to make up for the skipped episode. Unfortunately, there was also an unplanned pre-emption — Monday’s episode was pre-empted for the Apollo 12 splashdown — so the numbering is still off by one episode. Fridays should always have a 5 or a 0, but the Apollo 12 pre-emption knocks things off by an episode for the next five weeks. There’s two more pre-emptions coming up, too — one for Christmas, and one for New Year’s Day. They don’t get the episode numbers on track until they do a triple-numbered episode in early January — 919/920/921.
Tomorrow: Help Wanted.
— Danny Horn
32 thoughts on “Episode 894/895: Love of Chair”
That story about the puzzle makes me miss all the TV and movies before product placement got to be huge (even though some amount or other has always existed), because here they’re actually COVERING UP a brand name. It also makes me think of an ODD COUPLE I saw recently where they found a great way to cover up a Miracle Whip label – they smeared it with the mayo itself, since it belonged to Oscar!
Yes, I believe Danny here in this blog when writing about the Big Finish production Bloodlust found it refreshing that they actually mentioned a brand name cereal they liked to eat in Collinsport — Lucky Charms. But they couldn’t have done this in the original Dark Shadows show because of budget restrictions. Although, in late 1966, when David is helping Matthew Morgan who is hiding out at the Old House and grabbing stuff from the cupboards of the Collinwood kitchen to take over there, you can almost make out the designs of the fronts of the cereal boxes that are stacked on the shelves, but the camera never does zoom in on them. It was, of course, revealed that Mrs. Johnson would shop in the regular markets in town, but of course Collinwood was such an alternate universe unto itself that they just ate toast and drank coffee, and in the drawing room had brandy or sherry, and at the Blue Whale they sold beer or whisky, and at the Collinsport Diner they served cheeseburgers and coffee and pie and lobster rolls — but I’m sure it was all great, no chemical preservatives or additives. And, of course, you couldn’t beat those prices, not at 15 cents a beer you couldn’t, no sir.
But, hey, speaking of a certain “odd couple”, how funny is it that Oscar Madison loves to eat hot dogs on the show, and that the headquarters of “Oscar Mayer” have been, since 1919, headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin? Who knows, maybe Neil Simon was taking a knock against food he didn’t consider to be kosher. I mean, only slobs would live on that stuff, right?
Yes – also in the ‘early days’ the Blue Whale was a full service restaurant as well – Roger bought VIcki there for ‘steamers’ and I think Burke brought her there for ‘the best lobster in Maine’ as well.
It strikes me as odd that we amateurs can plot points better than Sam, Gordon, and Violet. It would make sense if David was meant to steal the book, since he does become the interpreter of Leviathan law . . . sort of the Moses of the Leviathan people. In that case, Barnabas SHOULD know about this, and rather than punish Philip, reassure him that hypnozombie reinforcements are on the way.
Those writers were given, at the longest point, twenty-eight days to come up with finished scripts. It must have been like working in a pressure cooker, with Dan Curtis providing considerable heat.
We have had forty-odd years to come up with plot points. Of course we’ll be able to do more! Maybe someone will read all this and use it to make a proper reboot of DS.
If that happens, John, we will have made the world a better place. There will be no more wars . . .
But, what about Naomi?
Oh, that’s crazy. It turns out that “Naomi” was a reference to Naomi Foner, a producer on the show who happens to be Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s mother.
I loved the classic TEC. I’m friends with Melanie Henderson, who was one of the original Short Circus members. She played “Kathy” in seasons 1-4.
She’s a nice lady and very down to earth. She enjoyed working with Denise.
That bothersome background beastie at the shop is a wild pig (unless we get a close enough look to see tusks, then it’s a boar). Legs and snout are wrong for a bear. I bet they have a little tableau of stuffed frogs signing the Declaration of Independence, in tiny wigs and costumes.
And how is it possible that you didn’t mention one of the fruitiest gems of this episode (and a top ten for the series)! After Barnabas shoos Megan away from his door, he turns and goes back into the drawing room, where we find Philip – still in hypnorobot mode – apparently kneeling down near the fireplace. Barnabas stands directly in front of him and intones,
“Are you beginning to understand, Philip? Are you beginning to understand…what…must…happen now?”
The camera closes to a shot of Philip, who seems to be silently expressing that yes, he knows, but that he has kind of a strong gag reflex.
Brings an interesting difference to the idea of ‘Leviathan’.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this?
See, this is what I’ve been saying. Pig weasel!
And yeah, the last shot of Philip is crazy. I actually saw it as: he’s sitting in the Hitchcock chair — and is that why Barnabas wanted to give him the chair — but the post was long enough.
Say, what’d you call me?! (No, I kid. I kid because I love…):-)
But the chair? He’s sitting in the CHAIR? Doesn’t he know it’s a HITCHCOCK chair? You can’t just SIT in them! They’re antiques!
And (at the peril of brown-nosing) your posts can never be too long. Thank you for sharing what is plainly a ‘labour of love’ with all of us.
I think it’s a young boar, but I love “pig weasel”. It’s one of those fun things to blurt out every once in a while, like “were-weasel!” or “weasel-octopus!”
She sure does. She also screeches.
I still think a great opportunity was missed not pairing Marie up with Roger Davis.
Let’s see him put his hands on HER face – he’d draw back a stump.
Fans accuse Kathy Cody of being shrill as Hallie Stokes, but Marie as Megan totally outshrills Kathy.
When they were paired as Eve and Peter/Jeff, he threw her out of a scene. She was not amused, but apparently even decades later, he was. I’m amazed she ever agreed to work with him again, but I think they had some scenes together as Dirk and Jenny. I’m not sure where he is now, but he was playing Sabrina Stuart’s brother the last time we were in this time period.
The boy is going.
The boy is going good.
Good going, boy!
Oh, finally, I see what is meant by “pig weasel”. Along the far wall, at the top of the shelf, its head is pointed to the left, toward the door, but in future episodes we’ll see it pointed toward the right. It looks like a wild boar, and by the size of it a rather young one, not yet rounded and fattened up with maturity. Perhaps in previous generations it would have been presented on a platter with an apple in its mouth at a Collinwood feast.
But a weasel, on the other hand, is more like “vermin”, more rodent like, and would have been raiding the Collinsport farms of the time for poultry, and so likely wouldn’t have been prized as a taxidermied and stuffed commodity in an antique shop, because they were more like pests. But what is shown there in the antique shop, that specimen, is definitely more from the pig family, more specifically, a wild boar, which does not originate from that region, but which is wide ranging and adaptable, as an ancestor of pig breeds, and which has a long association with humans ranging for thousands of years. So, perhaps the “pig weasel” is in actual fact a more symbolic prop, given what is to emerge from that antique shop eventually.
The old, beat-up puzzle must be something of Amy’s from back on the farm before she went to Wyndcliff.
There was a show in the eighties (I think) about an antique shop, where the owners were always running off on sort of scavenger hunts after wierd artifacts. It was never on when I was home, so I don’t remember much about it. (But I bet THEY didn’t have a Hitchcock chair or a pig-weasel thing! Although they may have had a certain filigreed silver pen.)
That was Friday the 13th, the Series. It had some interesting gross out moments, but it was formulaic and badly written and would have benefitted from a pig weasel thing in the shop or a barely sane “normal” couple with a devil baby running the place.
Okay. I Googled, because it seemed kind of an odd stretch for Jason Voorhees to be running an antique store in between slaughtering horny teenagers and battling Freddy Krueger (but we all need our ‘quiet place’). Had nothing to do with the movies, just ‘borrowed’ the scary title. And Jason’s probably not the kind of guy who’s going to help you put that lovely 18th century buffet table into the back of your Escalade anyhow.
Believe me, if Jason and his mother had run that shop, I would have enjoyed the series a whole lot more . . .
All the items were cursed, (so if you bought that buffet table, everyone who ate at it would get uncontrollably fat while you stayed thin), but everyone who bought a cursed item deserved to be cursed and paid for it with their lives!!!!!!! It got very heavy-handed in the morality department. After a while, you just wanted a guy in a hockey mask to go from room to room in the shop, butchering teens as they were having sex.
Sounds like they needed a sign on the door;
‘Caveat Emptor. All sales final.”
There’s the problem! Too many antiques, not enough teen antics…
I loved that show! I lost interest, tho, when they replaced Ryan, who had literally been turned into a young child, with a boyfriend of Robie’s. It made the whole dynamic suffer plus we didn’t really care about the wellbeing of the interloper.
I remember at the end of the ’80s Swamp Thing movie, Dr Anton Arcane (played by Louis Jourdan) drank a potion to turn into a strange were-boar creature. I am now going to officially think of this particular man-in-a-suit creature feature as a ‘pig weasel’.
Clearly, it is an ornament of he that the Todds have acquired, to go with their other (cough) ‘Arcane Antiques’.
(Waits to see if people get the ‘Acorn Antiques’ reference. Ice Ages pass.)
I’ll get me coat…
I got it! Love Victoria Wood!
I want to give a shout out to David Henesy. I was a bit worried after several months of his portrayal of nice, well-adjusted Jamison. But he’s snapped back perfectly into that little psychopath David.
Every time Barnabas addresses Philip as “Philip,” I see a little twinkle in Jonathan Frid’s eyes. By 1969, female impersonators had been imitating Bette Davis’ commands to Leslie Howard in OF HUMAN BONDAGE, where his character’s name is “Philip,” for thirty years. I knew gay men who were still making each other laugh as late as the 1980s by quoting lines beginning “Philip!” If Bernau hadn’t stayed so perfectly in character, I doubt Frid would have been able to keep from a giggling fit that would have brought the house down.
I was glad to see the picture from “Psycho,” Danny, as that was first chair I thought of when I heard “Hitchcock chair.” I wonder if it’s ever been put up for auction, and how it would have been described by the auctioneer?