Episode 915: The Walkback

“You can’t let sentimentality make you careless!”

For the last six weeks, Barnabas Collins has been behaving oddly, even by eccentric millionaire standards. He’s been freezing out his friends, and striking them with cars. He’s revoked his Murder Club membership by warning his family that werewolves are dangerous. He’s appeared unbidden in other people’s dreams, and he’s arranged for the remote involuntary circling of dates on calendars.

But we finally have an explanation for everything. He was being sarcastic!

915 dark shadows barnabas michael long time

But not that sarcastic, to be honest. Today’s episode is a particularly fraught one, recorded out of sequence just five days before airtime. The cast and crew have recently spent a couple months shooting six days a week so that they could build up a stronger backlog of episodes, and now they’re shooting about a month ahead of the air date. But there’s a downside to that decision, which is that it’s harder to course correct when you need to.

And apparently, they need to. For an explanation, let’s turn to The Dark Shadows Almanac, which has a little trivia sidebar headlined “Emergency Leviathan Episode”:

Episode 915 was a special episode created under emergency circumstances. During this time in the series, Dark Shadows fans complained about Barnabas Collins’ return to evil ways. In an effort to appease viewers and to more clearly explain that the Leviathans were responsible for Barnabas’ behavior, this episode was hastily written, produced and aired. The episode stands alone without affecting the continuity of the previous storyline.

Episode 916, which follows, takes up the plot from the end of episode 913/914. After the special episode, Barnabas never again fully supports the Leviathan cause.

Of course, as we know, every episode of Dark Shadows is an emergency episode, hastily written, produced and aired by a team of under-resourced lunatics struggling to concoct the weirdest show they can imagine. The entire series is one long crisis, as they tumble down the stairs five days a week to the delight of a grateful nation.

But one of their core skills has always been their ability to pivot quickly if the story’s not working. That’s how we got a vampire as the star of a daytime soap opera in the first place; they gave him a tryout, and the audience loved him. So if the audience doesn’t take to the current storyline — a mix of H.P. Lovecraft, Village of the Damned, To the Devil a Daughter and mistaken identity amnesia farce — then that needs to be corrected.

887 dark shadows barnabas altar box

I don’t entirely agree with the Almanac’s diagnosis — that the problem is “Barnabas Collins’ return to evil ways”. Barnabas never stopped having evil ways, even at his most heroic. He’s been continuously plotting to murder and kidnap people since he came out of the mystery box three years ago, and the audience loves him for it.

In fact, every time the ratings start to sag, they turn him into a vampire again, and have him tear out the throat of an innocent female on camera — a pattern that continues up to and including today’s episode. When all else fails, the show-stopping crowd-pleaser is Barnabas Collins murdering people with his teeth.

So Barnabas and the evil ways are not the problem. The real problem is that the audience doesn’t understand what happened to him. All of a sudden, his relationships reversed, pulling him away from his friends and connecting him to a series of strangers — hooded figures, antique shop owners, villainous children — who the audience doesn’t know or trust.

And this change happened instantly, during a confusing sequence in a single episode. If you missed that moment where the Leviathans hypnotized Barnabas and turned him into their leader, then you’re probably really frustrated by now, wondering what the hell happened while you weren’t looking. And even if you did see that episode, it was hard to tell what was going on. Barnabas just fainted for no reason, and two strangers gave him something to drink, and all of a sudden he knew all their legends and poems and magical hand gestures. And how do you hypnotize somebody into being your leader, anyway?

Although I shouldn’t actually criticize making Barnabas the leader of this confusing conspiracy, because that’s one of the best decisions that they’ve made. Even with werewolves nipping at his heels, Barnabas is still the star of the show, and he needs to be the center of attention. If they want to introduce a brand new set of scenery-chomping villains, then putting Barnabas in charge is a good idea.

Still, Dan Curtis had his perpetual self-organizing juvenile focus group just outside the studio door, a gang of pint-sized TV critics hanging around after school to provide instant feedback on storyline progression. If the kids at the studio door said they didn’t like Barnabas being under the sway of the Leviathans, then I have to respect that; their opinion mattered a lot more than mine does.

So let’s see how they turn this around. What can they do to make Dark Shadows great again?

915 dark shadows michael barnabas wide open

Well, it begins, obviously, with a staff meeting. If you’re going to address organizational problems, then you’ll need some alignment among your resources, human and otherwise.

The new boss is named Michael, a fourteen-year-old boy who just a few days ago was an eight-year-old boy; the right person can advance very quickly in the soap opera-wrecking industry. Michael’s decided to take charge of the family business, and he’s summoned Barnabas to the antique shop for a strategy session.

Michael wants to discuss Barnabas’ friend, Dr. Julia Hoffman. Yesterday, she noticed the birthmark on Michael’s wrist, and recognized it as the same mark that Alexander had.

“She’s a very busy lady, that Dr. Hoffman,” Michael says, crossing his arms behind him for some theatrical Bond villain backacting. “Her mind is always working. Her eyes are always wide open.”

He spins to face Barnabas. “Well, I want those eyes closed — permanently!

915 dark shadows barnabas michael special case

So far, Barnabas has been the undisputed leader of the Leviathan conspiracy; he’s the one who should be bossing people around. This is the first time that anybody’s given him an order, and he doesn’t take to it.

Michael:  There’s no reason to treat her like some kind of a special case! Now that you serve us, you must forget all that happened before!

Barnabas:  I cannot forget that Julia Hoffman risked her life for me! I cannot take her life, and I cannot let anyone else do it either! Do you understand that?

Michael:  I don’t! You can’t let sentimentality make you careless! She is now an enemy!

Barnabas:  I will not regard her as an enemy! Neither will you! Now, the subject is closed!

And then he flounces out, and slams the door behind him. I think a certain antique shop just lost a member of their customer loyalty rewards program.

So let’s unpack this for a second. Michael says “now that you serve us,” which is a significant change to the story as we understand it. For all appearances, Barnabas has been in charge, executing on secret plans that he couldn’t possibly have made. But this is actually the perfect time to move Barnabas into a subordinate position, now that they’ve grown a new leader.

But Barnabas can’t stay in a secondary role like that — he’s the star, he needs to be in charge of things. So he needs an opportunity to cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.

889 dark shadows julia barnabas return

And obviously, the breaking point is Julia. That’s where this story started; the very first thing that Barnabas did when he joined the Leviathans was to reject Julia’s expressions of friendship. This is the entire basis of his villainy. Barnabas and Julia are the most important supercouple on the show, and their interactions, either friendly or unfriendly, are the primary source of pleasure for the audience.

So in this moment of “emergency”, the producers have correctly identified that this is the primary source of discontent. It’s not that he’s involved in an evil conspiracy; that’s what he always does. The problem is that Julia isn’t invited.

915 dark shadows barnabas box

So Barnabas goes home, lights two black candles and picks up a box, and he’s on a direct line to the Elder Gods. Now we know how to do that.

“Whoever you are, wherever you are,” he cries, “I want you to hear me. The boy demanded that I kill a good friend. I refused! He can demand it a hundred times! So can any member of the Leviathans in this world, or any other world that they occupy!”

So, “member of the Leviathans”. Is that what we’re calling them now? Six weeks in, they’re still having a hard time figuring out whether Leviathan is a noun or an adjective. Is “Leviathan” a thing that you are, or a thing that you join? I mean, not you, obviously, but crazy people.

“I still refuse!” he continues. “I will not do things I cannot agree with or understand!” This implies that he agrees with and/or understands all the other things that he’s done, but they can’t fix everything at once.

915 dark shadows adlar barnabas them

Then Barnabas falls asleep in a chair, because defying the Ancient Ones is exhausting. And then what do you know, a bossy guy in a hood shows up.

“Who are you?” Barnabas asks, and the hooded figure says, “I am one of them.”

Now, I have to make something perfectly clear: this guy saying “I am one of them” does not mean that he’s one of They, the dark and shadowy organization that I’ve been keeping an eye on for the last couple of years. Regular readers of this blog are familiar with my crackpot “lost princess” time travel conspiracy theory, about a gang of New England widows who are secretly working to defy time itself, using accidents and exposition.

They is responsible for almost all of Victoria Winters’ problems that don’t arise naturally out of just being Victoria Winters. They dragged her back to the 18th century, and then brought her boyfriend forward to the 20th, giving him a wristwatch and amnesia, and generally making a dog’s breakfast out of the fabric of space and time. They is implicated in the displacement of several time-hopping orphans, including Vicki, Phyllis Wick and possibly Charity Trask; They was probably responsible for Burke’s plane crash; They almost certainly had something to do with Dr. Julian Hoffman’s erasure from this reality; and I’d lay odds that They broke Judith out of Rushmore Sanitarium.

But — and I can not stress this enough — the Leviathans are not They. The Leviathans are a totally different time-travelling death cult. You can have as many time-travelling death cults as you like on your television show, and Dark Shadows happens to have two of them. The Leviathans are the stupid one.

915 dark shadows adlar barnabas one of us

I mean, just try and wrap your head around this.

Adlar:  Originally, you were not one of us. We made you one of us, because you alone could transport our leader through time. We hoped that just the act of making you one of us would be enough, that you would be loyal to us. But you are not. You have dared to break our law.

Barnabas:  How?

Adlar:  Enemies must be dealt with. That is the law.

Barnabas:  I will not hurt her! The boy is cruel!

Adlar:  He is a Leviathan — a true Leviathan! He carries in his mind and in his heart what we believe. You are just an outsider. You must constantly prove yourself, because you will never be above suspicion.

Barnabas:  What are you saying?

Yeah, good question. What is wrong with you people?

Once again, Adlar — his name is Adlar, by the way — suggests several simultaneous contradictory definitions of what “a Leviathan” means. There’s some kind of difference between a “true Leviathan” and an “outsider,” which must be a genetic distinction, especially since Michael came in a box marked “Four-Headed Snake Inside, Do Not Open”.

But then Adlar says “we made you one of us,” and describes the Leviathan-ness of Michael in terms of “what we believe.” So it’s a religion. Maybe.

Also, “we made you one of us” implies that Barnabas’ conversion was done to him, rather than something that he chose to do, but if that’s the case, then why does he have to constantly prove himself?

I honestly think the writers don’t know the answers to these questions, that they’re currently struggling to invent and reinvent an explanation for what’s been happening on the show for the last six weeks. That’s okay with me, actually, because that’s how serialized narrative works.

915 dark shadows adlar laughs

They didn’t know what they were getting into; people seldom do. They knew they were going to grow a monster in the antique shop a la The Dunwich Horror, and they knew that Carolyn’s father would come back to town and reveal that twenty years ago, he unintentionally promised to deliver her to the Leviathans. Those are clever ideas that so far have worked out pretty well.

But I don’t think they had a plan for Barnabas’ participation in the storyline. They knew they needed to put him at the center of the story, and they wanted to make him dangerous again, so that he wouldn’t drift back into the role of harmless gay uncle that he was playing in the months before 1897. So they activated him as a sleeper agent for the Leviathans, and sent him home to stir up trouble.

They clearly don’t have a long-range plan for what Barnabas is supposed to do here, and they never have, and this “emergency episode” is the explanation for why. You don’t make long-term plans for a daily serial, because reality intrudes. You realize that the guy who’s playing Philip isn’t very good, so you push him into the background. The kids outside don’t understand why Barnabas is evil, so you hastily write a new episode that explains that you were only kidding.

Making detailed long-term plans for exactly what each character will do in the story has an insufficient return on investment, because that process takes time away from dealing with the latest emergency, i.e. whatever we’re writing right now, because every episode is an emergency episode.

915 dark shadows adlar barnabas shapes

By now, we’ve gone all the way through the end of the first act, and when we come back from commercial, the guy in the hood is still yammering on. This is the trouble with people who talk about conspiracies; once they get started, you can’t shut them up.

“Let me ask you,” he says, “do you know who we are? Who we really are?”

Barnabas says, “No, I don’t,” in a tone of voice that suggests that he couldn’t be less interested.

So here we go, strap in for the origin story. “Before man,” the hooded figure explains, “in the time before he existed, we ruled. When there was only essence, and intelligence, and nothing more. None of these shapes! that human beings wear today.”

He really hits the “None of these shapes!” hard, because apparently shapes really stick in this dude’s craw. Don’t you just hate shapes, is the prevailing attitude. I’ve had it up to here with shapes.

“Then man was formed,” Adlar continues, pacing around the room. “He became dominant. We had to submit — or be destroyed.” So that tells you something right there about the anti-shapes movement. He says there was only essence and intelligence, but I have a feeling it was more essence than intelligence.

915 dark shadows adlar box

God, he’s still talking. “Some of us did, outwardly, but in our hearts — we were waiting.” He approaches the box. “Silent as the serpent!” he says. “Swift as the snake!” which is another word for serpent. “Tall as the Leviathan!” which how tall could it be, since it travelled to this time period inside a box.

He picks up the box. “Some of us did not choose to take on what you call human shape,” he spits. “They went underground, and kept their true shapes. Demons! Fiends! Creatures of the night! And of darkness! And of evil!” And so on, and so on.

So what have we learned about the Leviathans? Well, they’re sore losers, for one thing. There was some kind of competition between the human race and a vague essence of darkness and evil, and the humans won, quelle surprise. In a contest between shapes and essence, the smart money’s on shapes.

But they’ve managed to get some of their essence inside Barnabas and Liz and David, and that’s the problem we’re dealing with now. Maybe a juice cleanse could help.

915 dark shadows barnabas bat

So Barnabas goes outside and gets bitten by a bat, which is the first smart thing anybody’s done all day. A bat bite is exactly what we need right now.

It would be great if we could get Barnabas turned back into a vampire, because he’s at his best when he’s on the back foot. As I said, I don’t have a problem with his evil ways, but he’s been super smug lately, giving people orders and acting like he knows more than anybody else. Turning him into a vampire would give him a weakness, and get him back to what he does best, which is punching above his weight.

It doesn’t last, unfortunately. He’s only a vampire for the rest of this episode, which he thinks isn’t a dream anymore even though it totally still is.

915 dark shadows audrey barnabas fangs

This vampire moment gives them an opportunity to pander directly to the kids outside, who want to see Barnabas with fangs.

The show has done this before — there was a period in summer 1968 when Barnabas was cured and the ratings were slipping, so they arranged for a flashback to 1795, where we could see him bite people again. It’s a sure-fire cure for whatever ails the show, and it always works. I love a good Barnabas bite.

915 dark shadows audrey face

So he kills a woman on the docks, who comes back almost immediately as a crazy vampire lady, and she walks into the Old House without an invite. She proceeds to make a variety of unbelievably goofy faces, which call into question the entire project of this episode.

915 dark shadows audrey barnabas what

I mean, think about it: the Dark Shadows production team has decided that there’s a problem with the show that needs to be corrected immediately, and what do they do? They bring on the bug-eyed vampire lady.

This is the thing that needs to be rushed onto the air, double asap. This is the reboot. Just think about that.

915 dark shadows adlar barnabas josette

As a finale, Adlar does some more hocus-pocus, making Josette’s portrait appear above the mantelpiece. Barnabas asks what’s going on, and Adlar smiles.

“You remember your lost love, in that other time?” he sneers. “Where you were supposed to meet her? You never made it, did you?”

“No,” Barnabas says. “Because you stopped me!”

WE stopped her, too!” says the hooded figure. “WE sent you here! WE kept her as hostage, our assurance that you will continue to do exactly what WE tell you!”

915 dark shadows adlar barnabas we

Which means — my god! It’s so obvious now. The Leviathans aren’t They! They’re WE!

Tomorrow: The One of Us.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There are a lot of tape edits all over the episode, which looks like it was cut to bits and reassembled. There are some very obvious jumps, including the moment in act 1 when Barnabas suddenly looks at the fire and thinks, “What is happening to me?”

There’s an exceptionally cute blooper when Barnabas finishes his appeal to the Leviathan gods. He puts down the box, picks up a snuffer and tries to put out the two black candles on the table. He puts the snuffer on the left candle, which doesn’t go out, and then he puts it on the right candle, which also doesn’t go out. He actually does a double-take, and then he has to wrestle the candles to the ground. Go and watch this one; it’s adorable.

When Barnabas wakes up from his bat attack, you can see the top of the set, and a studio light creates a lens flare.

As Josette’s portrait appears on the wall, a bar of gray also appears across the bottom of the frame — an artifact of some mistake that they made with the Chromakey. Also, Barnabas says “Josette’s portrait!” before it appears.

When Barnabas wakes up from his dream at the end of the episode, Audrey is still hiding behind the curtain.

Behind the Scenes:

Adlar was played by Pierrino Mascarino, in his only appearance on Dark Shadows. This was one of Mascarino’s earliest screen roles; he was also in The Edge of Night and Another World in the 60s. Mascarino appeared in the Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh in 1973. Starting in the late 70s, he made dozens of appearances on TV comedies and cop shows, including Kojak, Soap, Taxi, Diff’rent Strokes, Cagney and Lacey, Hill Street Blues, Knots Landing, Columbo, Seinfeld, Mad About You, and so on. He was basically in everything.

Audrey was played by Marsha Mason, an entirely famous actress who I’m not really sure who she is, but everybody says that she’s a famous actress who was on Dark Shadows. I’m sure they’re right; they usually are. So, let’s see: she’s been on Broadway a bunch of times, including The Good Doctor and Happy Birthday, Wanda June. She was nominated for Academy Awards four times, for Cinderella Liberty and three Neil Simon films: The Goodbye Girl, Chapter Two and Only When I Laugh. She was married to Neil Simon for a while. Soap opera-wise, she appeared in Love of Life, Where the Heart Is and One Life to Live. She had a recurring role on Frasier, and she’s appeared on The Middle a bunch of times. I still couldn’t pick her out of a lineup, but I’m sure she’s great.

Neither Adlar or Audrey’s names were mentioned on screen, and there are no credits at the end. The names are listed in The Dark Shadows Almanac and The Dark Shadows Program Guide.

Starting today, Dark Shadows’ timeslot competition changed — NBC replaced Letters to Laugh-In in the 4:00 slot with a game show, Name Droppers. CBS was still showing Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. reruns at 4:00.

Tomorrow: The One of Us.

915 dark shadows barnabas take

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

50 thoughts on “Episode 915: The Walkback

  1. This, to me, is where the Leviathan story goes all wrong. It COULD have been great. They COULD have figured another way for Barnabas to revert back, preferably through Julia (and maybe Quentin, too). Reminding a man gone wrong of his Scooby past always has good results. Instead, the origin or Barnabas the Leviathan gets completely rewritten just a few weeks after it happened.

    You make a good point, though, Danny, one which you’ve made before about these shows passing through once and that’s it. As I watched the entire Leviathan tale (and it’s happening to me now with Parallel Time), I realize that I must have missed oodles of episodes when this first aired. There’s so much I don’t remember, and oddly, the more piecemeal version that I DID see seems to have made more narrative sense than the entirety of the series! 🙂

  2. If they didn’t think Chris Bernau was good playing Phillip, I wonder why they just didn’t recast the character.

  3. This was somewhat similar to the Carolyn ‘reset’ after Barnabas bit her and had her help him terrorize Julia -first Carolyn was all for his idea of ‘killing her’ but by the next episode Carolyn rediscovered her conscience .. the story feels short circuited at this point

    1. Well Barnabas apparently had a wave of conscious as well, when the little demon child told him to kill Julia. Barnabas drew the line there, regardless of their salty relationship at the moment, which means that he cares about her, somewhere in his subconscious mind. He misses her.

      1. Also, he does NOT take kindly to kids sassing their elders, Leviathan Elder God or not! I think at least part of his huffy “Now see HERE” reaction is the fact that this snotty brat is ordering him to do anything, let alone murder his best friend (that he’s been treating like absolute cat shit this whole time, but how dare this little punk!)

        We saw that he had no fear of or compunction about ordering Alexander around and telling him to stay in his damn room, so I can also see this 18th century man, who called his own father “sir” when he was a full grown adult, really getting shirty with this.

  4. It does beg the question of how one can be a “leader” and yet still a captive at the same time.

    The main reason why the Leviathan story doesn’t really work overall is because the “monsters” in this case are outside forces, that is, something emanating not only from beyond the confines of Collinwood, but also from outside Collinsport — in fact, outside of earthly existence itself. Every past ghost, spook, or monster on the show has had some local connection. Laura the Phoenix and wife of Roger, Barnabas a member of Collins family past, Angelique the former mistress of Barnabas and maid to his new fiance. Adam was assembled from bodies in local graveyards by a local doctor and became something Barnabas could use to escape a curse. Quentin and the haunting thereof, another old family secret and legend, something that could make Collinwood seem genuinely spooky. The werewolf was also a local boy.

    Sure, Nicholas Blair was from the underworld, but he had a relationship with Angelique/Cassandra, who was working to restore the curse to Barnabas. He was able to insinuate himself into Collinwood and become a resident of Collinsport, but then became too big for himself with his world domination scheme through a race of artificially created superbeings. Then there was Petofi, who could also insinuate himself into Collinwood and whose powers were formidable as well, but who also became something of an overambitious bore with his preoccupation with transcending time. Blair and Petofi each represented a threat to Barnabas as well as to the survival of the Collins family, but he was never merely a pawn to either; instead they battled one another with cunning and guile, and of course neither Blair nor Petofi lasted long.

    But these Leviathans are everywhere and yet nowhere — they are merely an all-consuming force, and their innate inability to integrate themselves with Collinwood/Collinsport will make their stay a short and ultimately disappointing one. Still, lots of fun and memorable moments throughout. I’ve watched the series straight through three times and I always like this episode.

    One would think that Barnabas would eventually wake up to the fact that he’s not the leader of anything and that he was merely being used as a pawn, because as a wealthy Collins he has always been one to forge ahead with his own destiny, even if a spiteful witch has placed a vampire curse on him.

    Discontinuity alert: So, the Leviathans have been holding Josette, or the spirit thereof, hostage since 1796 Mach II… which means that Josette was unable to intervene and stop Matthew Morgan from killing Victoria Winters in 1966, which also means that Barnabas would never have met Vicki and never would have “eloped” with her in 1968 only to get in that car crash which led to Dr. Lang curing Barnabas of his affliction and using Adam to keep him cured, which further means that Angelique/Cassandra would have had no reason to return in 1968 to try and restore the curse, and that Barnabas would have just returned to 1969 as a vampire anyway just as he was when he headed off to 1897, all because of how the Leviathans were preventing Josette’s spirit from remaining in Collinwood the whole time. I mean, the Leviathans, with that one plot suggestion, ultimately erase the last three years of the show, with the exception of Quentin’s haunting of Collinwood, and maybe Chris Jennings as the werewolf, not to mention Barnabas’ assorted shenanigans of 1967. Also, David Collins would have been consumed by fire in 1967 by the victorious Phoenix, who would not have been discovered by Vicki and Dr. Guthrie, who in turn would not have been brought in because Frank Garner wouldn’t have found out through Vicki about all the supernatural goings-on at Collinwood. And with David Collins not alive in 1969, that removes 50% of Barnabas’ reason for traveling back to 1897 in the first place. And with Barnabas less likely to travel back to 1897 at all, the Leviathans effectively cancel their ticket to the antique shop to hatch their snake child(ren). So, it’s probably not a very good idea to mess with Josette’s place in history, because, as I’ve mentioned before, going back to the early months of Dark Shadows, she is a core part of Collins family legend, in addition to being the very first supernatural figure to appear on the show.

    Yes, I suppose the Leviathans will have to go, and soon.

    1. No way is that the “real” Josette whom the Levs have. Surely the Levs created that whole 1795-II scene so they could snatch Barnabas from 1897. (What happened to his body anyway? Is it in the coffin awaiting Willie or in the basement with the IChings or is it here?). 1795-II is a ghostly puppet show set up as part of the brainwashing. Hence Josette is still a cliff suicide in 1966 and not a poison victim. That’s how I see it anyway.

      This episode is actually not a bad idea. Being ordered to kill Julia by the new leader of the Levs snaps Barnabas back to himself and so the Levs use their backup plan, saying they are holding the (fake) Josette. It’s a good way to shift the story but they kind of bungled it. (or am I missing something?)

      1. That’s another reason the Leviathans must go — you can’t trust or believe anything they say, it’s all bluffing. Nicholas Blair may not have been as effective a plot agitator in the end, but he was no bluffer: When he would tell Angelique that if she didn’t fall in line, then they would sit together in his drawing room and watch the sun rise… and one tended to believe that he would force her to do so, as did Angelique.

        The Leviathans are actually Lightweightathans — when one sees how ultimately easy it is to destroy both them and their cause, it almost makes them seem like a collective MacGuffin.

      2. Speaking of puppets, another goof is when the bat comes for Barnabas; you can see the puppeteer’s hand working the sticks in the lower right hand corner for a second.

    2. “It does beg the question of how one can be a “leader” and yet still a captive at the same time.”

      It’s called ‘Middle Management”! 🙂

  5. In that particular screenshot, Adlar bears a striking resemblance to Observer from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I guess it’s only fitting, since he spends so much time discussing his contempt for bodies.

    1. Adlar is the metal version of an Observer, with his black hooded cloak and leather wristbands. Also, he’s so metal he doesn’t bother carrying his brain around in a bowl because who needs a brain OR a body!

  6. THAT was Marsha Mason?? Man, she was a huge big deal movie star – remember she was in the Goodbye Girl with Richard Dreyfuss.

    1. Jonathan Frid wasn’t the only Barnabas she encountered. The movie “Nick of Time” centered on Johnny Depp’s being coerced into attempting to assassinate Marsha Mason.

      I spent about 20 minutes one afternoon at Barnes Ignoble flipping through Marsha Mason’s autobiography in search of any mention of her Dark Shadows appearance. I couldn’t find any reference to it and there was no index to provide help.

    2. She looks FANTASTIC as a vampire. The second she showed up on screen I knew they would vamp her–that face was made for fangs.

  7. Danny, not to say your episode entries aren’t always entertaining, but this one was particularly fun! I think you hit the nail on the head–in the absence of reruns and the face of kids who got off the bus late and missed what was going on with Barnabas the show had to do something. To be honest, the Leviathan story always annoys me after 1897 was so much fun. Breaking up Barnabas and Julia in order to reunite them must have seemed like a good idea to the show runners, except since they weren’t actually a typical soap couple there couldn’t be an affair or an underground city to be trapped in. (I also loved OLTL!) The problem at this point in the story is there is no way to back out gracefully with a soap plot point. You can’t throw the pregnant woman down the stairs when the kid came out of a box. The good news is the kid will be full grown shortly…

  8. I recall thinking when I watched the episode where Barnabas confronts Paul Stoddard that if you’d watched that episode right after any post-Barnabas, pre-1795 episode, it would seem a natural transition: Barnabas as sinister antagonist who poses as an upstanding member of the community but is pursuing a nefarious scheme.

    Of course, the Barnabas of pre-1795 has no world conqueuring aspirations. The “stakes” for him are of survival and love. I’m mostly referring to the period after Maggie Evans escapes, when Barnabas sets his eyes on Vicki. Previously, he just a monster who was generally five steps ahead of everyone. Once Julia arrives, there is the danger of exposure (which is why Julia’s cure proposal was a signicant plot twist). And he genuinely loves Vicki — in a sick, twisted turn you into my dead girlfriend way but the notion of trying to cure himself to be with her rather than turning her into someone like him flips the script. He becomes a romantic figure. Evil, selfish, yes, but romantic in motivation, which is his primary appeal. Just as Julia’s primary appeal is being the sly detective digging up secrets. I enjoy her more in those scenarios than when she’s trying to hide Barnabas’s secret.

    The Leviathan Barnabas is no longer a romantic. His stakes are those of power, which tend to be among the least compelling for leads — even villains. Note that even Nicholas Blair was given stakes of love.

    It’s also interesring to me that Blair is brought back to basically be what Barnabas had become (though with more charm).

  9. I think they used the wrong word. They didn’t want Barnabas to be a leader; they wanted him to be a regent, to stand in for the Leviathan offspring until he was old enough to rule. That time hasn’t quite come yet, but we’re entering the stage where a young monster wants to be able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, and hand over the car keys while you’re at it, old man!

    “In my time, nightmares walked among us. Walked and danced, skewering victims in plan sight, laying their fears and worst desires out for everyone to see. This to make us laugh . . . .

    “I lived seven lives at once. I was power in the ecstasy of death. I was god to a god. Now… I’m trapped on a roof… just one roof, in this time and this place with an unstable human who drinks too much whiskey and called me a Smurf . . . .

    “I traveled all of them as I pleased. I walked worlds of smoke and half-truths, intangible. Worlds of torment and of unnamable beauty. Opaline towers as high as small moons. Glaciers that rippled with insensate lust. And one world with nothing but shrimp. I tired of that one quickly.”

    I think the Leviathans came from the shrimp world.

      1. Personally, I think the Leviathans are really sea monkeys. It would explain a lot, including the aging factor and how odd their recruitment pitches seem.

  10. Marsha Mason is also listed in Barnabas & Company, among the rest of the day players, in “Appendix #1: ABC TV Cast List (1966-1971)” on p. 536. The episode number is not listed, and beside her name is merely “…Audrey (1969)”.

    Like many here, I remember her as the middle-aged actress from those Neil Simon films. I’m always surprised to be reminded that she had a part on Dark Shadows, and when viewing the series through I’ll look for her, but always miss her, because in the role she has she is not recognizable from her popular film roles from years later.

    If she makes no mention of it in her autobiography, it’s only because it was a very minor one-off job she once had before making a name for herself, nothing that was instrumental in advancing her career and not something where the general public who know her from subsequent starring film roles would place her.

    Likewise with Harvey Keitel in 1966, who was a Blue Whale customer in two episodes (#33 and #34). He was also in Hogan’s Heroes that year, but how many people know that? Instead, your associations begin years later alongside the likes of De Niro and Scorsese.

  11. I actually like Adlar. We get to see his sense of humor, unlike disco dancers Oberon and Haza, who I’m sure are hilarious, we just don’t get a chance to see it. I love his peculiar way of expressing himself: Shapes! Oh, you need time to think about it? etc.

    What did the Leviathan say when he got on the rollercoaster?

    If I’m not mistaken, this is the last time we see one of the old-school robed Leviathans. You’d think we’d see them one last time, around the climax, but I guess Nicky Blair pretty much fills in for them.

    1. We’ll see Oberon once more in another “walkback” episode coming up that has flashbacks to Barnabas’ time travel from 1897 to the present.

    1. But she played it for camp, and even Adlar thought it was hilarious.

      I quite enjoy it.

      Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.

  12. I think the main problem isn’t so much that Barnabas is “evil”, but rather his motivations for being “evil” are not in keeping with his character. That is, as crazy, selfish, and bizarre (and at times stupid) as his plans have been, they were HIS plans – and they were done for his benefit. So, even when he was being cruel or nasty to other people (Julia, Maggie, Willie, et al), you at least understood his reasons and what he had to gain on a personal level (romance, vampire cure, etc.).

    The problem with this storyline is a) he’s acting on behalf of others [who we don’t know anything about], and b) we don’t understand why he’s even doing it. As someone said above, if it’s for “power”, not only is that boring but very at odds with Barnabas’ prior motivations, which have always been for very concrete (and relatable) goals.

    1. Yes, it’s hard watching Barnabas being a brainwashed puppet, a Manchurian Vampire.

      Poor Julia Hoffman, and we, the audience, are surrounded by people who aren’t themselves, anymore.
      Quentin has amnesia, and Barnabas is brain-washed, which has its similarities to amnesia. Leviathans are turning people into pod-persons.
      It’s like the discombobulation Victoria Winters felt when she first went back to 1795. Faces are familiar, but everyone is a stranger, only here, no one went back in time.

      Julia Hoffman walks into the Blue Whale.
      The jukebox plays People Are Strange, by The Doors.
      Julia mingles with the crowd.
      People ARE strange.

      1. I am very proud of Julia here. She is showing she is her own woman and can think on her own. She doesn’t have to put up with stupid stuff. I like she can distance herself from dumn shit like what Barnabas is throwing at her now. I am sure any love lust she had may have gone out the window. There is a thin line between love and hate.

    2. Yeah, you could sub him with Nicholas Blair in the early Leviathan episodes. It would work just as well but also be more entertaining because we enjoy seeing him manipulate the “muggles.” Barnabas isn’t having much “fun” doing so.

      Pedro, you’d mentioned that Barnabas’s plans were for his benefit primarily, which I’d agree is the case for everything Barnabas does until Vicki leaves the show. Even his first mission into the past is to “save” her. I don’t consider his efforts on Vicki’s behalf necessarily “noble” because he’s in love with her. However, he does reveal a degree of unseen compassion and altruism when he starts to aid Chris Jennings and later when he risks his life while using the I-Ching to save David. The character is a bit more compelling when he’s at least as interested in the welfare of others as Julia. We see this more in Parallel Time (when he refuses to leave for his own safety in order to help virtual strangers), 1970, and 1840.

      1. Yes, you’re absolutely right. I should have specified, I was thinking more of his earlier plans that were ….morally ambivalent shall we say….as opposed to the later “save the family” plans, where he does show more compassion. As in, Barnabas’ Leviathan phase is not really a “return” to pre-Vicky Barnabas, so I don’t think viewers were upset that Barnabas was behaving badly necessarily, just that it wasn’t consistent with (or as compelling as) his earlier naughty self : )

        1. I think that he turned against Julia in a not very nice way was weird. She has been faithful to him up to this point then he wants to come off like a complete moron towards her. How much more should she take from him. Who does he think he is? Julia in mind should catch him by an alley, grab his ass and bitch slap one or two time to bring him back to reality…lol. Barnabas is so shallow and confused, he would welcome that.

  13. Hmm, despite the majority complaining that Barnabas’ motivations are too murky here, I have to disagree, at least with the original intent (as it were) of the Leviathan storyline. Here’s why:

    1) The 1897 storyline lasted a year, during most of which Barnabas was never sure that he could return to his modern, non-vampire, time and whether he could solve the destruction of Collingwood by Quentin. Finally after a long, drawn-out climax, he DOES succeed. Not only that but he makes a new friend in Quentin AND he gets the chance to rewrite history and get Josette back. And it really DOES look like this will work. Yet, in true soap opera fashion, we get a satanis ex machina in the form of the Leviathan altar to interrupt Barnabas’ chance at happiness. This is GREAT soap form because not only does it keep the tension of Barnabas’ goals unresolved, it also propels us into the next story.

    2) The writers are trying something a little different. Yes, I wish that for once they had thought things through and I also wish they hadn’t caved into the child fans who clamored for “good guy” Barnabas to return. There was great tension seeing Barnabas reject his best friend and, one by one, lead the family who trusted him into the darkness. The threat may have originated with the Leviathans, which is new, but the catalyst was possessed Barnabas and that was a great entry to get David and Liz hooked. If only they had kept this going and made more of Paul’s terrible bargain. I don’t know yet why they killed Paul off so quickly! It was a terrible mistake, given how beautifully the scenes between Paul, Liz and Carolyn had been playing. We deserved to see a scene where Carolyn learned why she was destined to be a Leviathan. We deserved to see Paul suffering as he learns what the Leviathans have done to Liz. This was all wasted opportunity, but the set-up for it was good.The other thing that I wish had happened was that Joe came back from the sanitarium, married Maggie, and that they became the “host” to the Leviathan baby. Giving KLS a chance to play evil, giving Joe a whole new reason to break down and leave the show, giving Jeb a true rival for Carolyn in Maggie . . . all of that would have been so great to watch.

    Honestly, folks, from this point on there is a lot to complain about the Leviathan saga, which picks up speed in its plummet right off the rails. But up till now, I think they had the potential to do something new and interesting with their main characters, and the idea of a cult as the villain was VERY ‘in’ in the late 60’s/early 70’s!

    1. Brad, I don’t want you to think I hate the Leviathan storyline, because I don’t. I agree with you on many of the points: I think alot of the ideas are solid and I love Paul’s return – especially as played by Dennis Patrick. And I also wish they hadn’t killed him off so early. I don’t even object to the return of bad Barnabas – I just wish they had done it differently. I think what was needed was something personal at stake for Barnabas (no pun intended), and something that would give him some inner conflict – a key character trait that is noticeably lacking. I think that would have been enough to placate viewers and also get us more involved in the story.

      1. Pedro, Perhaps if the Leviathans had REALLY kidnapped Josette – they were right there, after all – they could have forced Barnabas to do their dirty work. I myself have always been drawn to “pod people” stories, and so I’m pretty okay with what they did. But this could have actually been a great redemption story for Barnabas as, one by one, his actions cause the ruination of the modern Collins family, causing Barnabas to realize that he actually DOES care about them, leading to him becoming fully human again, in mind and spirit, not just in body.

      2. I am not understanding why they killed Dennis Patrick off. They did see to run him crazy with the Leviathan antics. I would have liked to have seen him stay on. He is nice looking too.

    1. I have no idea if Alexandra Moltke would have been able to pull off evil, but we know KLS was capable. Too bad they didn’t get the chance to at least try and have the fun that many of the rest had playing different kinds of people.

  14. I’ve enjoyed the Leviathan story much more than I thought I would have. I do agree with the assessment that a basic problem is the Leviathan threat is so far removed from the Collinwood/Collinsport closed universe. The closer you stay to the drawing room and foyer of Collinwood, the better your story.

    I do like the idea very much of a cult taking over some members of the Collins family and pitting them against the rest. For instance, “evil” Liz is great fun. I think this idea was more an issue of execution than a truly bad idea from the start.

    I think a Trask descendant would have made for a great cult leader — you have a tie to the history of the show and a personal grudge/motivation as well as a family of egomaniacal individuals. They could have operated out of “Worthington Hall” for that matter.

  15. This is one of the episodes that I still remember from when I watched it in 1969 as 9 year old kid. It must have made an impression on me. Watching it now, I can see why – it’s a great stand alone episode. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really necessary – I think the Leviathon story is doing just fine so far and this ends up muddying the waters. Up to this point, Barnabas has been brainwashed by the Leviathon and that’s something I understood even as a 9 year old. Now, it looks like he is being forced to do it against his will – a form of blackmail.

  16. Prisoner of the Night and Andrew Leal make me think of two related points. 1) Why do these supposedly brilliant villains want to start their world domination by taking over little Collinsport, Maine? 2) Maybe it is because they are sea creatures and Collinsport is on the ocean, although that does not seem like enough of an explanation.

  17. This one was way too heavy on the extortion. Every scene is one threat after another. And the rusty-knife videotape editing doesn’t help anything. it’s as if the show has descended to a new level of technical incompetence.

  18. After one of the edits it looked like Adlar wasn’t wearing his pasty white makeup, but it may have been just a lighting issue.

  19. I had a crush on Adlar from the moment he appeared. I wish we could’ve had more of him. Pierrino Mascarino was also on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He played… get this… a monk named Thelonius! XD

  20. I liked Adlar and his exposition about where they came from. It has a basis in Mormon theology that before we all existed in our mortal state, even before pre-mortal spirits, we were intelligences. Too bad nothing comes from this. Adlar reminded me of the Emperor from Star Wars.

    I was excited when Michael said he wanted to off Julia. She is my least favorite character.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s