Episode 897: You’re the Worst

“I’m a monster! I have no choice but to kill!”

Megan is alone, on the display floor of her antique shop. Her husband left to buy cigarettes a few moments ago. The room is dim, and cluttered with scattered relics.

Megan is worried. Earlier today, she was suddenly overcome with the unshakeable feeling that someone is coming to kill her. She’s correct; somebody is actually coming to kill her. It’s been a weird day.

What follows is a five-minute solo spaz attack of epic proportions. When I was younger and less discerning, I thought of this as The Worst Scene In Dark Shadows. I’m not sure what I think about it now. I’m still trying to work that out.

897 dark shadows philip megan worst

Here’s the situation: Megan and Philip, the owners of an antique shop in Collinsport, have had their lives interrupted by the Leviathans, a time-traveling cosmic death cult that wants to bring about the destruction of all things. They’ve been chosen by the cult to raise a baby demon-god, and so far they’re not doing an amazing job. The baby is sick, and the ancient book of forbidden knowledge has been stolen. They have failed.

Or at least Megan has, is the view that Philip takes. He spent the whole day hiding behind the bookcase in the Old House, listening to a tape of Barnabas saying “there is no margin for error, punishment is necessary” on a constant loop. Now Philip’s convinced that Megan has committed an error, for which there is no margin.

Meanwhile, Megan’s day has been mostly running around and hyperventilating, trying to hide from an enemy that she’s not quite sure who it is. But she’s glad to have Philip home to protect her, and his plan to leave the shop for a few minutes fills her with a nameless dread.

He tells her, “Believe me, there is no menacing stranger lurking around here in the dark, who’s going to come and attack you,” and then he walks away. From the moment he leaves the screen, there’s a little over five minutes left in the episode, and absolutely nothing else happens.

897 dark shadows megan closes

We’re going to have to walk through this scene in some detail, so bear with me for a minute.

Megan begins the proceedings by drawing the shades and closing up the shop.

897 dark shadows megan knits

Then she sits down to knit; she appears to be making a green and black striped scarf that nobody will ever wear. She acknowledges the futility of it all, by letting out a frustrated whine almost immediately. She knots up the yarn and the needles, and tries to think of something else to do.

She rocks back and forth in her chair a few times, and then the clock strikes, startling her.

It has now been one minute since Philip left the scene.

897 dark shadows megan clock

She jumps up and looks at the clock, and then realizes that she’s still all tangled up in the knitting. She spends a moment yanking yarn and needles off of her, emitting more little frustrated squeals.

897 dark shadows megan bills

Once that’s over with, she decides to calm her frazzled nerves by going over the receipts. She sits on a stool and opens the ledger, and starts shuffling papers around in her hands.

At this point, there’s a loud squeak from offstage, which Megan doesn’t react to. This entire five-minute sequence is basically Megan jumping every time she hears a noise, except she only reacts to the diegetic noises. Inadvertent off-stage noises are ignored. Over the course of the scene, it gets progressively more difficult for the audience to tell the difference.

897 dark shadows flapping

Then the shade over the door suddenly snaps back up, startling Megan. There’s going to be a lot of startling in the near future.  She looks back at the window, relieved that it’s just a simple decor malfunction rather than an axe murderer or whatever she feels like she’s afraid of at the moment.

It’s now been two minutes since Philip left the scene.

897 dark shadows megan pig weasel

She gets up to close the shade and lock the door. The stuffed pig weasel looms above her from a high shelf, the only actual source of menace in the scene right now. She ignores it, at her peril.

She hugs herself anxiously as she steps away from the door, and we hear somebody cough in the darkness. This is another noise that we’re not supposed to pay attention to.

897 dark shadows megan papers

She heads back to the stool for some more unconvincing paper-rattling, when she hears a loud thump which once again makes life insupportable for her.

897 dark shadows megan pictures

The noise was caused by a picture frame falling  to the ground. For some reason, they’ve decided to mount picture frames on their bannister, a fashion-forward design choice that she may have to rethink. She picks up the picture, and hangs it back on the stair post.

It’s now been three minutes since Philip left.

897 dark shadows megan tree

Walking back to her stool, the camera swings wide and shows the edge of the set, revealing a bunch of interesting things, including a stage light and a tree. The director quickly cuts to another camera, which is also showing a stage light on the other side of the set.

897 dark shadows megan mouth

Arriving back in the middle of the room, Megan leans her elbow on something and plays with her lower lip for way longer than you’d expect her to.

897 dark shadows megan door

Then she turns, slowly, to stare at a door that’s not doing anything in particular. Suddenly convinced that somebody’s hiding there, she opens the door to confront her tormentor. Nobody’s there.

897 dark shadows megan agitated

Slamming the door, she drifts back to the center of the room, whimpering and fretting. Suddenly, she hears another door slam from upstairs.

897 dark shadows megan hidden

She screeches, “Who’s UP THERE?” and then she turns around and starts to sob. They cut to a camera that can’t see her because there’s a stair post in the way, and they commit to that shot for five seconds.

Four minutes so far.

897 dark shadows megan phone

Now in full panic mode, Megan scrambles through the phone book and calls the apothecary. She asks if Philip’s still there, but she’s told that they haven’t seen him. She shouts, “But he just went there a few minutes ago to buy some cigarettes!” This doesn’t help.

897 dark shadows pig weasel

Then there’s a huge CRASH from outside, which makes Megan shriek in terror. The camera cuts to the back wall, and pans from the deer head to the stuffed pig weasel, which is biding its time.

897 dark shadows megan surprise

Finally, she turns and makes a surprise face as she hears somebody at the door…

897 dark shadows slow doorknob

And we close on a shot of our old friend slow doorknob, which turns back and forth as the music goes DUNN DUNN DUNNNNNNNN! and that’s the end of the episode.

897 dark shadows megan window

So. Then. What are we supposed to make of that?

I mean, obviously, Worst Scene Ever. Right? A bad idea, badly staged, featuring an actress who has a hard time with nuance. It’s not scary, it’s a waste of time, it doesn’t pay off until tomorrow — and when it’s resolved the next day, it doesn’t make any sense.

897 dark shadows philip strangle

In tomorrow’s episode, they do a three and a half minute reprise of that scene, but with an ending: Megan opens the door, and Philip lunges for her throat, furious with the desire to choke the life out of her.

Which — what?

I mean, I appreciate that this time, there’s an actual payoff, unlike Monday’s episode. Monday ended with Carolyn staring in horror at whoever’s coming in the door, which on Tuesday turned out to be Julia, who says hello, and then it’s a Carolyn/Julia scene.

This time, they actually deliver on the promise of something scary on the other side of the doorknob, but nothing that happens in the whole five-minute scene has anything to do with Philip. The window shade flaps up, the picture frame falls down. Upstairs doors squeak open and slam shut. These are ghost tricks. How would Philip have accomplished any of that?

Also, obviously, if he’s supposed to strangle Megan because there’s no margin for error and punishment is necessary, then why does he pretend to go out for cigarettes? Was he hoping that she’d spend the extra few minutes finishing the scarf?

897 dark shadows megan worst

So yeah, it seems like the only thing you can say is, Worst Scene Ever.

But I’m struggling to define an aesthetic framework of “good” and “bad” that would put this scene into the “bad” group, and leave the rest of Dark Shadows as “good”. This scene is so deeply Dark Shadows-y that it poses a challenge for how you think about the show as a whole.

Because this is more or less what the Leviathan storyline is like. Gloomy, half-hearted, trying to build a growing sense of unease, and landing instead on Halloween haunted-house spooky. So if I casually throw around the phrase Worst Scene Ever, then that potentially means that the Leviathan story is the Worst Storyline Ever. Which it may actually be, but if so then I don’t want to do that in passing.

That’s an important critique, with the potential to reverberate back and forth along the 50-year history of Dark Shadows, creating structural vibrations that could lead to a dynamic instability, like the aeroelastic flutter that took down the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

897 Tacoma_Narrows_Bridge1

The confounding thing is that my core framework for “good” and “bad” is: surprising is good, and boring is bad. For example, the Dream Curse storyline was bad, because it took a dream sequence — a Dark Shadows feature that’s usually surprising and fun — and turned it boring, through constant repetition and recap. It drained the dream sequence of all meaning, until it didn’t matter which character was dreaming. So it’s easy to say that the Dream Curse was a terrible storyline; it made an interesting Dark Shadows thing into a boring non-Dark Shadows thing. You can identify that as “bad”, with no negative impact on the show as a whole.

But this scene is not actually boring, in that sense. We’re watching an unstable woman in fear for her life trying to attend to the bookkeeping, while her environment plays “I’m not touching you” games. I don’t think there’s any other examples of this genre. Looking at Megan, running an agitated hand through her agitated hair as she yelps and whimpers and rattles the pages is not boring. It’s bonkers.

But the bonkersness of it all disrupts the purpose of the scene, which is to create “atmosphere”. If you wanted to construct a redemptive reading of this scene — a way to claim that this is actually a good sequence — then “atmosphere” would be one of the first words out of your mouth.

897 shining hallway

Atmosphere means that they’re trying to generate a particular feeling in the minds and hearts and central nervous systems of the audience. We should be going on an emotional journey with Megan, from mild anxiety to full-blown terror, and we should feel that way even if the actual content of the scene wouldn’t generate that feeling on its own.

For example: a character walks down a long, empty hallway in a slasher movie. She’s looking for something, and she has to open various doors. She doesn’t realize that there’s a killer lurking in the shadows somewhere; she just thinks this is an ordinary day, and she wants to find whatever she’s looking for.

But we know that this character is in danger, because the movie is giving us televisual clues — music and lighting and camera angles, and eerie pauses at significant moments. That’s atmosphere.

And that difficult-to-define feeling of escalating unease makes us identify with the character. Your heart starts beating faster, knowing that she’s in danger, and it makes us feel like we’re in danger, too.

897 dark shadows megan dumpster fire

That is not how we feel about Megan Todd. She is not an audience identification character. She’s been broadcasting alarms on all frequencies for the entire time that we’ve known her. She transitions from calm and pleasant to absolute scrambling panic and back again in almost every episode, with no apparent stimulus. We can’t feel what Megan feels, because we don’t know what’s setting her off, and because she is ridiculous.

So the difficult question is: If this is “atmosphere,” then does this scene mean that Dark Shadows’ way of generating “atmosphere” doesn’t work?

897 dark shadows slow doorknob

Megan is jumping at every little squeak and bang, because the scary thing could come from anywhere. The threat might emerge from upstairs, or under the table, or around the corner; even the flapping shade is a possible attack vector.

But when the actual attack comes, they signal it with a slow doorknob, and then you have to wait until tomorrow. Not only is this not “getting attacked with no warning,” it’s the most warning anyone has ever received. We could see this one coming 23 and a half hours in advance.

So the show is not actually doing the thing that it’s pretending to be trying to do, and the real concern is whether the housewives and middle schoolers sitting at home are going to lose patience with Megan, and turn off the set. There is no margin for error. Punishment is necessary. Come back tomorrow for the unsatisfying conclusion.

Tomorrow: Executive Child.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, David slightly misquotes the poem: “The water shall nourish each grain of sand, wedged between the sacred ancient stones.” It’s supposed to be “wedged between ancient sacred stones.” Not that it matters.

At the top of act 1, Chris has a hard time opening the cottage door for Carolyn.

The boom mic peeks into view during Carolyn and Chris’ conversation, when he turns to grab the mantelpiece.

As the act break for act 1, Chris picks up a gun — but they cut to the wrong camera, and the audience only gets the vaguest glimpse of a gun. It’s mostly just a shot of Chris’ face and then an unexplained dramatic sting.

Something’s wrong with one of the cameras; there’s a horizontal green stripe across the middle of the screen that appears intermittently.

When Chris reaches for the gun on the mantelpiece, something clatters as it falls to the ground.

There’s another boom mic at top left when Crazy Jenny tells Chris that he mustn’t die.

Megan jumps when the clock strikes nine, but that clock always says nine — it doesn’t work, so it shouldn’t strike the hour. I guess it’s true, a broken clock is right twice a day.

When the credits begin, you can see a stagehand pouring a bucket of dry ice into the smoking urn.

Behind the Scenes:

In yesterday’s episode, Julia asked David to deliver a note that she’d written to Barnabas, on canary-yellow stationery. Today, Chris writes a note to Carolyn on the same stationery. We’ll see it tomorrow, too.

Tomorrow: Executive Child.

897 dark shadows credits blooper

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

44 thoughts on “Episode 897: You’re the Worst

  1. Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, this seems like an attempt to re-do episode 361, ” The one where Julia looses her mind.”

    1. But episode 361 had Julia in it, and Julia is the greatest character in fiction. I don’t even understand the comparison you’re trying to make.

      1. All I asked was “compare and contrast” and I got the answer. It was a better character, and the terrorizing was grounded on her previous experience, feelings, and character

  2. I never made a connection between this and episode 361. In that episode, we know who is menacing Julia because there was already a previous building up to the scene. Barnabas feels that he has been betrayed by Julia. And we know what it is that is rattling her nerves in the scene — her extreme guilt over the role she played in Dr. Woodard’s murder. Everything is clear and tangible. The only question is, will it work?

    Here in episode 897 it looks more like they are reaching for the Gothic roots of the show, where random unsettling occurrences become menacing, the sort of things that would happen to Vicki Winters early on: a hooded figure appearing in the drawing room doorway during a blackout; a shudder banging in the wind; a book falling to the floor behind the closed drawing room doors; a shadowy figure opening the door to Vicki’s room while she sleeps. We don’t really know what is after Megan Todd or why, or what error she has committed that requires punishment. Unlike previous storylines, the implications presented in the Leviathan story so far are decidedly vague.

    Is the Leviathan story the worst ever? Well, the show did lose 2 million viewers between the end of 1897 and the end of PT 1970, so who knows? Also telling is that after 10 years or so the folks at Big Finish don’t seem to have enlarged on the Leviathan story for any audiobooks. Then again, there are many who seem to think that Dark Shadows began in 1967 with episode 210 and who find the 1966 to 1967 early episodes extremely boring (and therefore “bad”) — but I think that period is great.

    Oh, by the way, that clock by the door looks exactly like the one that was in the rectory of 1897.

    Funny things occasionally happen during the credits — can’t wait ’till we encounter “the chewer”.

    1. There are a couple of audios that link into the Leviathan arc, but they’re more like codas (Curse of the Pharaoh with Carolyn still dwelling on Jeb) or connected only by the fact the Leviathans are involved rather than an expansion of this storyline (The Crimson Pearl or Harvest of Souls).

    2. We featured the Leviathans themselves in The Harvest of Souls and the birth of Megan Todd in The Fall of the House of Trask so I’m not sure how much more we could expand on it? Personally speaking, this is a storyline I disagree with Danny about. I think it’s fab, especially once Elizabeth gets possessed. It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers! And I love the utter madness of Megan and Philip. I think, after 1897, this is a show that doesn’t have room for sane characters any more. I think both actors are doing exactly what’s required of them!

      As for thinking the early episodes are extremely boring or bad, I’m not sure where you got that from? I can’t speak for every writer we’ve ever employed but I certainly don’t think that’s the case. And Red All Over… is pretty much a love letter to those first 200 episodes and we just brought back Laura in Blood & Fire. I’m not sure what else we could do as we’re usually trying to move the story forward?

      1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Joseph Lister!! Invasion of the Body Snatchers! That’s what I’ve been telling everyone, but nobody listens!

        1. Now, Brad, of COURSE we’re listening. You’re getting a little…stressed, just need to relax, just sit down and close your eyes, just rest a few minutes, have a little nap. Now, I’ll just leave this pod outside in the hall, you’ll feel much better in a few minutes…much better… 🙂

          1. John, this is when I wish there was a “love” button on Danny’s site! You’re just the kind of guy I’d like to go shopping for walnuts with!

      2. Thanks for replying, Joe. I’ve only recently discovered the Big Finish audiobooks, having first been made aware of them through Dark Shadows Every Day. I’m listening to Bloodlust this very moment (episode 2 [which has ended while writing this comment, so I’m now set to pop in episode 3]). I absolutely love And Red All Over… as well, as those first 200 episodes are among my favorites overall as is Mitch Ryan’s Burke Devlin. I’ve begun collecting the early Big Finish episodes as well: Clothes of Sand is great, and Kathryn Leigh Scott doing impersonations of Grayson Hall while paraphrasing Dr. Hoffman is priceless! It was also a pleasant surprise to hear Jonathan Frid reprising the role of Barnabas in The Night Whispers. Angelique’s Descent Part 2 arrived in the mail today, but will have to wait until Part 1 arrives (it’s in shipment). Also soon to be shipped is Echoes of Insanity. Thanks for correcting my comment on Leviathan-related Big Finish productions, as I haven’t yet read the synopses for all the audiobooks. In Blood & Fire, will Laura be played by Diana Millay?

        As for the mention of the early episodes being boring, that comes from comments some have made here, who, for instance, have no patience for how the filigreed fountain pen “drags out”. Viewers like myself who speak fondly of the early pre-Barnabas episodes are referred to in this blog as “1966-ers”. Those early episodes have rich atmosphere, sharp characterizations, excellent dialogue punctuated with witty humor, and an overall approach that suggests the influence of a Hitchcock mystery thriller, at least before the supernatural elements are introduced.

        I was going to direct this question to Danny, but since you are here in the comments section of this blog, I’ve lately been wondering if the Big Finish approach to updating Dark Shadows stories was inspired by, or has been influenced by, the 2003 audiobook Return to Collinwood?

        Thanks again, Joe, to you and the folks at Big Finish for making Dark Shadows current again. 🙂

        1. Hi PrisoneroftheNight! Glad you’ve started getting the audiobooks and are hopefully enjoying them!

          Blood & Fire is our 50th Anniversary Special – sadly, Diana Millay, wasn’t available so the younger version of Laura is played by Joanna Going. You can hear all our trailers and a number of interviews on our SoundCloud page – https://soundcloud.com/darkshadowsbfp. We’re also on Twitter @DarkShadowsBFP. Hope you continue to enjoy them!

          As for Return To Collinwood, we definitely see that as being part of the same continuity. The character of Jessica (played by Marie Wallace), for example, was first seen in Return To Collinwood but we gave her an introductory story in Kingdom of the Dead (you’ll have heard her in Bloodlust). There have been other little links as well.


    3. I thought I read that DS started losing viewers toward the end of 1897. It had gotten confusing or at least impenetrable to casual viewers. I don’t think this storyline addressed that problem and also added dullness into the mix, hence the continued decline.

      1. The source I was referring to is from Jeff Thompson’s book The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis, where the author cites figures from the Nielsen rating “sweeps” periods of February, July, and November:

        “After the record-high ratings of 1897 saga, the ratings began dropping significantly. The viewership fell from 18 million during the 1897 saga [February to November 1969] to 16 million during the Leviathan storyline and the 1970 Parallel Time period [November 1969 to July 1970] and finally to 12 million during the 1840 and 1841 Parallel Time plotlines [July 1970 to April 1971].”

        About the Leviathan story, Thompson also writes:

        “The ‘Leviathan’ storyline proved to be a thematic misstep for the show and one from which it never recovered… fans tended to dislike the portrayal of Barnabas as the pawn of some greater power. They proved to be more interested in the archetypes of classic horror, the vampire, the witch, the werewolf than in off-camera suggestion.”

    4. The “Crimson Pearl” and “The Harvest of Souls” are each Leviathan stories from Big Finish.

    5. My favorite will always be during the Adam storyline with Thayer in full Stokes At Home smoking jacket wandering onto camera, startling and then backing off.

  3. C’mon…a non-working clock strikes nine? That’s pretty spooky. My folks have an antique clock that needs repair, and if it started striking while I was there alone at night, it would have scared the pigweasel out of me!

    The biggest issue I have is that this part doesn’t make sense. It’s scariness for the sake of scariness, just to waste five minutes and create a cliffhanger, and doesn’t move the plot forward. In fact it kind of defeats the purpose for the Leviathans.
    Suppose Philip strangles Megan. What then? The Leviathans are down one babysitter, and probably two (since this isn’t a crime at Collinwood, the police might reasonably be able to figure out that Philip did it); what becomes of the precious little bundle of evil? Maybe they could have the Eagle Hill caretaker and his wife Bathia take the wee’un.

    unless that stuffed shoat’s started smoking (maybe that’s why Phil had to run to the tobacconist) he has a baby tusk. Those who guessed boar are right! Thank goodness that’s settled.

    Boar weasel, boar weasel, where ya been all day?
    (Apologies to Teresa Brewer.)
    (And everyone else.)

      1. So THAT’s the Collinsport High mascot?! Think about all the pics in the yearbook of Joe, Tom & Chris Jennings wearing their Pigweasel football helmets, Carolyn in her PigWeasel “Spirit” cheerleader outfit, Maggie workin’ the concession stand, selling soda and popcorn in “Go PigWeasels” booster cups.
        I wish I could buy a PigWeasels sweatshirt!
        Go TEAM!

  4. When there’s a sale on yellow stationery at the Collinsport stationery store, the line goes clear to the docks!

    1. And on Black Friday when they do the door-busting sales at the store that sells all those green shaded lamps… Don’t even try to go to work that day, downtown is a mess.

    2. The shop is called “Yellowsheets.” They sell bright yellow sheets of paper and bright yellow bedsheets. It’s a very specific market, but in a small town they’ve got kind of a captive audience.

  5. The Megan scene did remind me of Show #361, which was actually a retread of an episode of “Never Too Young” that Ron Sproat had also written minus supernatural stuff. Anyway, I rather liked this change of pace scene. I think its goal was to create suspense, not atmosphere. It has been a long time since DS featured a scene with just one character on camera for a period of time being terrified of every little sound he/she hears. The payoff certainly wasn’t there when Phillip enters the shop, but I think the show could have used more suspenseful scenes.

    1. Wow, someone else who remembers Never Too Young. I do vaguely remember the scene with one of the main female characters was in the bar? Thinking she had killed someone? Because he tried to rape her? (I think she hadn’t killed him. She just hit him and knocked him out and then later her aunt(?) came in an finished him off). And the jukebox came on at one point playing the song that was playing when she hit him over the head?

      Actually NTY was a pretty good show. It was slightly before demographics became big and it was on ABC, which was still considered an upstart network. It may have been up against Edge of Night, which was a really good show and a ratings powerhouse for some of it’s run.

      Gosh, I’m old.

      1. Well, Percysowner, I never saw NTY when it aired, because DS was the first soap that I watched, but I saw the episode in question on YouTube, though I don’t think it’s there anymore. That episode, written by Ron Sproat, was very suspenseful. NTY aired at 4 p.m. (Eastern) opposite Secret Storm (on CBS) and Match Game (on NBC). Storm had very high ratings at that point. DS replied NTY.

        1. It was a very suspenseful episode. I lived close enough to my school that I was able to get home before Never Too Young started. I’d make myself a snack and watch it. When it got cancelled, I kept the routine and watched Dark Shadows. So I saw episode 1 with Victoria Winters on the train, coming to Collinwood and being determined to figure out her heritage. I will admit that even back then, when I was like 13-14, I couldn’t quite figure out how pretty, white baby Victoria never got adopted and instead was raised in a frickin ORPHANAGE. Especially since someone kept sending money to help support her, but I let it slide.

          I liked Never Too Young and it had a few stories that I can still vaguely remember, so either I was impressionable, or they were pretty good. Although since one I remember revolved around record royalties, I suspect I was impressionable. Ron Sproat may not have been a great fit with DS, but he did fit in with the writing sensibility of soap operas back in the day.

    2. It tells you how exhausted Sam, Violet, and Gordon were, so wrung out, that they recycled an old Ron Sproat idea, but without anchoring it properly in character and plot.

  6. Just thinking of the line where Megan screams ‘BUT HE JUST WENT OUT TO GET SOME CIGARETTES!’ just sounds strange in today’s ‘smoke free’ society. This also reminded me of the episode (pre-Barnabas!) where David is sneaking food to Matthew Morgan when he had Vicki hostage in the Old House – David manages to also swipe Mrs Johnson’s cigarettes (after she blows a waft of smoke into his face) and when he goes to the Old House he yells to Matthew ‘I BROUGHT YOU SOME CIGARETTES’ – amazing that this never seemed out of place when I actually experienced this era firsthand..

    1. Also in the 60’s I remember my friends father actually giving us (8 year olds) money to ‘GO THE CORNER TAVERN AND GET HIM SOME CIGARETTES’.. the good old days…

    2. It must have 1960 or so when my dad sent me to the store to buy him a pack, thinking (erroneously) that someone would sell cigarettes to a 7-year old.

  7. I was one of those people for whom this storyline was indeed the beginning of the end. Not that I stopped watching DS. I did continue watching on a regular basis through to its conclusion. But it ceased being “must-see TV” (to use a much more modern expression) during the Leviathan sequence. All the way from the introduction of Barnabas through the 1897 storyline, I couldn’t bear to miss a single episode (although the Adam plot did try my patience — blessedly ending, however, before it became fatal). But it was during the Leviathan story that I began to stray a little, no long as rapt a viewer as before. For the first time, I could miss episodes now and then and felt none the worse for it.

    For one thing, Megan and Philip themselves always irritated the hell out of me. And soon (at the risk of SPOILERS) Jeb, whom I never could abide, would be thrown into the mix. (The actor, would, however, have one later role on the show that I did like.) And, yes, I intensely disliked this “phase” of Barnabas. In fact, the Leviathan plot, for what it’s worth, improved dramatically when — oh, getting ahead of myself. I’ll shut up for now.

    (All just my personal opinions, of course.)

  8. I saw the drop in viewership repeat itself. My teenage son had been watching the VHS tapes with me from just before the 1795 episodes until about 3 days into the Leviathan story. Then he suddenly said, “This is weird”, and left the room never to watch again.

  9. I found the Megan”suspense” scene absolutely dreadful, mainly I think because we’re given no reason to think that Megan, herself, has anything to be scared about. She just comes running into the shop at one point, shrieking that someone’s coming after her to kill her. Then, as Danny mentions, there are so many off-stage noises mixed in with the “diegetic” ones, that whatever atmosphere might have been created is ended before it can begin. Bah.

  10. This episode has a laugh-out-loud moment- when Carolyn hears the tape of Barnabas repeating over and over “There is no margin for error. “Punishment is necessary,” he breezily dismisses it as an “experiment in electronics,” and that satisfies her. Sure, he’s going to get a telephone and that’s going to be the outgoing message on his answering machine.

    1. I think there’s another blooper in that scene as well. Unless I missed it, the only shot of the tape recorder shows that everything is on the take-up reel. Barnabas rewinds and replays without rethreading.

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