Episode 939: My Father’s Killer

“Do you know why I brought you back from the grave?”

Who needs coffins? Coffins are for wimps and losers, say the grief-stricken loved ones of Sheriff J. Davenport.

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So that’s a choice, I guess, just sifting maybe a centimeter of dirt over the deceased and calling it quits. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, especially if you don’t plan on reburying him every time it rains, but it does make things easier at a moment like this, when Sheriff Davenport rises from the grave — sits up, really — and goes out to find someone to play with.

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Oh, and look at his sad little zombie face! He seems really disappointed, and with good reason. He just got promoted from Deputy to Sheriff a couple weeks ago, and now he’s been busted all the way to Zombie. It’s like people don’t think Sheriffs have feelings.

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And then there’s Carolyn Stoddard, the poor little rich girl, who’s recently lost her father and now everybody’s trying to backseat-drive her grief process. She’s currently in the “I will find out who or what caused his death, somehow I will” stage, and holding.

But today she’s attending a support group for young women whose fathers were killed by monsters, and it’s not helping. “The police will do that,” says Maggie. “Even the state police have been called in. Let them worry about finding your father’s killer.” By the way, the police did not find the guy who killed Maggie’s father; they didn’t even get close. Also, the police have been killed, and now they’re wandering around in the cemetery. This does not inspire confidence.

But Maggie says, “I think you should find something to take your mind off his death,” and Carolyn agrees.

“I may go back to work in the antiques shop,” she says, and then Maggie says, “Well, do you think that work is the answer? I mean, that particular kind of work?”

And Carolyn says, oh my god, can I make one decision? Christ. My dad just died, and everybody’s busting my chops.

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Meanwhile, out on the terrace, the police are here — or, at least, the zombie police, which is the only available flavor. And you know what? I think he actually is looking for Carolyn’s father’s killer. Turns out Maggie was right.

Zombie Davenport walks across the lawn, staring at the lighted windows in the house — and then he hears a door opening, and he quickly ducks into the shadows. This is a whole new concept in horror fiction: the bashful zombie.

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So Carolyn comes outside for a breath of fresh air, and maybe catch a couple minutes to herself where people aren’t telling her what to do and how to feel. It doesn’t work. She’s not catching a lot of breaks lately.

“What are you doing here?” she says, to the latest towering man-animal who’s decided to loom nearby and make decisions for her.

“I was drawn here by an irresistible force,” he says. “You.”

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So this is one of those meet-cutes that isn’t that cute, where a guy kills your father and then drops by with some post-funeral pick-up lines. This is Jeb Hawkes, who arrived in town a couple months ago with some assembly required. Carolyn’s known him under several different names — Joseph, Alexander, Michael — as he’s quickly grown into what is presumably the feature-complete version of whatever he’s supposed to be.

Carolyn:  Oh, I hope you’re not going to tell me that fate brought us together.

Jeb:  I believe in fate, very strongly.

Carolyn:  Well, so do I, but I don’t think it had anything to do with our meeting this afternoon.

Jeb:  Ah, but it had everything to do with it. You’ll see tomorrow.

Carolyn:  What happens tomorrow?

Jeb:  We’re going to be married.

And he just stands there and looks at her, the big dope.

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Then Carolyn Stoddard gets that look on her face that sends the clued-in scurrying for the storm cellars.

“You and I are going to be married tomorrow?” she says, snapping her fingers. “Just like that!” Then she takes a few steps away, because she is going to need some open space for this response.

“You have decided that I’m going to marry you. The fact that you and I don’t even know one another is an obstacle that you can apparently overcome with ease. I’m a bit more complex!”

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Frustrated, he tries to explain things to her. This is not a promising survival skill.

“But when I saw you,” he says, “I knew!

“You knew what?”

“I knew that you were a person who needed a whole new life, a whole new existence, and that I was the person who could give it to you!”

She turns, and smiles. “And what am I supposed to say to that? Well, Carolyn, this is really your lucky day, isn’t it?”

“You’re not taking me seriously at all, are you?”

She adopts the command voice. “If you don’t leave very soon, I’ll take you seriously, and have you thrown off the estate!”

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She walks away, and he grabs her by the arm and spins her around, saying, “I haven’t finished talking to you!” and oh, don’t do that. That is not a thing that you should do, not with Carolyn on the other end of it.

He says, “You don’t know who you’re talking to!” and she looks him in the eye, and snarls, “Are you going to let go of my arm, or am I going to scream?”

And then she stares him down. This is a six-foot-four class-A supernatural alien threat from beyond time who has already murdered a member of her family, and she stares him the hell down, because she is a soap opera heroine, and that is how this genre works.

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He lets her go. He is the Ancient One, from the wells of night to the gulfs of space, and from the gulfs of space to the wells of night, ever His praises and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods, and he can not compete with this.

Carolyn Stoddard, annoyed. The guy doesn’t have a chance.

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Once the combatants have left the arena, Zombie Davenport emerges from the underbrush, and follows his master to town. I don’t know why the zombie was hiding in the bushes during that scene. He just was.

So that’s our show, today and every day: a parade of love and monsters, ambling around with no supervision. That is Dark Shadows.

Tomorrow: Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Give an Ascot.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Not really a blooper, but it’s cute: at the end of the first scene, when Zombie Davenport walks out of the shot, he brushes a branch out of his face.

Somebody in the studio coughs when Maggie tells Carolyn that the police will find Paul’s killer.

When Zombie Davenport looks through the gate at the Collinwood terrace, you can see a stage light at the top of the screen.

Just after Carolyn runs upstairs in the foyer, there’s another cough from the studio.

Tomorrow: Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Give an Ascot.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

14 thoughts on “Episode 939: My Father’s Killer

  1. I watched the previous episode back to back with this one; in 938, the sheriff’s grave is between two others, and in 939, he’s been moved back a row!

    When Z-Dave ‘claws his way from the bowels of the grave’, he tilts his head forward to get the dirt off his face before opening his eyes. As he rises, he has a little ‘raccoon eyes’ mask of dirt, which disappears before he shambles into the Collinwood garden. (Say, where is that caretaker, anyhow? Shouldn’t be be wafting around, moaning about the dead’s rest?)

    I know you mentioned it, but enquiring minds want to know…WHY does Z-Dave go all the way to Collinwood?

    Then there’s Jeb, bringing home strays. Do you even care how hard it is to get graveyard dirt out of the rugs? And if he starts decomposing on that Hitchcock chair, there’s gonna be Hell to pay, young man! (Well, at least that bell is back up over the door.)

    Jeb then threatens his ‘first recruit’ with what disobedience will get him…he’ll be sent back to his grave, FOREVER! Call me ignorant, but that does not seem an enticement to stay in line. Jeb, honey, he’s already a corpse! I bet he was quite satisfied with where he was, and would as soon return there as go off on YOUR cockamamie quests.

    And last, Barnabas has…ANOTHER PLAN! This one can’t fail!
    Look how sly he is, covertly slipping that ‘Mickey Finn’ into the glass! If there is only ONE thing I have learned from TV, it is to NEVER drink a toast with someone who has been giving you problems in the past. EVER. Clearly, nobody on TV has learned that…

  2. The actor who played Sheriff Davenport deserves some special recognition for taking a substantial risk to his personal health by allowing his face and eyes to be covered with a layer of “dirt” or whatever substance they used on the set at that time to be the “dirt.” [Stop reading! Spoiler alert coming next!] The same recognition should also go to those actors who later played the many zombies who were brought back to life in the cemetery by Gerard to destroy Collinwood. Some of the actors who were offered these uncredited “bit parts” as zombies — which roles required being buried with dirt covering over their faces — actually turned down the parts due to real health concerns, for example, the possibility of developing an eye infection from the dirt. Aspiring but as-yet-unknown actors like these were of course hoping to succeed as a few of their classmates like Kate Jackson had done. But despite a strong desire to work as an actor, they drew the line at being buried with dirt on their faces!

    1. In one of those Dark Shadows DVD extras interviews, I think it was with Lela Swift, she speaks high praise for the actor (Timothy Gordon) who played Jeremiah’s ghost in that episode (392) where he pokes his hand up out of the grave, saying that he was literally “taking his life in his hands” with the way he had to lie under this layer of dirt with his only source of air being a thin straw to breathe through that he held in his mouth and which barely projected above the surface. It’s quite a claustrophobic situation when you consider it.

      Unfortunately, Ed Riley doesn’t get much of a mention in Barnabas and Company. You’d figure he’d get a paragraph or two in the “Supporting Actors and Day Players” section, but his only mention is way in the back in “Appendix #1: ABC TV Cast List 1966-1971”, which reads:

      “Ed Riley…Deputy (1969), Sheriff Davenport (1970), Voice of Harrison Monroe (Charles Delaware Tate) (1969)”

      But that’s what the comments here are for, where we can add a bit more in the way of acknowledgment and appreciation than have the published books thus far.

  3. I remember reading something back when the show was originally airing about how the zombies and undead on DS were actually buried under peat moss – which was not as heavy or gritty as real dirt. Also, their feet would be sticking out and a stage hand would tap them on the bottom of the shoe to let them know the scene had started and it was time to RISE from the grave.
    Surely they put a towel or something over their faces til time to stand up.

    1. I would think that any of these scenes where actors’ health was at stake were pre-recorded so that the actors wouldn’t have to wait around for their cue during the show. But who knows?

  4. Oh the grief, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth. I have now watched all the way through Dark Shadows for the first time. I can never watch it for the first time again. It is all over. Help me, fellow travellers. SOMEBODY HELLLP ME!

    1. I also watched the little special at the end of the disk “Beyond the Shadows”…which ended with a photo montage to a cute tango version of the theme song…our last dance…

  5. Despair not, Coda, you can’t possibly remember all 600+ hours and when you watch it the second time you will be pleasantly surprised by plot twists and appearances by minor characters that you had forgotten about. I’m speaking as someone who has sat through the entire show 4 times and will start the 5th go-around (not counting bits and pieces that I saw in the original run and in syndication) early next year. And also, it’s like re-reading a classic novel like Lord of the Rings, you’ll come away each time with new insights and appreciation

    1. Thanks Emily. I kind of get to watch through with my 10 year old daughter for her first run through, which is nearly as good. It’s all very exciting at the moment, because we recently had “the Julia episode” then went back in time. She’s so excited about uncovering the different roles the cast are all in now. And then she reads the blog after watching. I can’t help feeling sad though.

  6. Blooper update: When Jeb returns to the antique shop, he brushes up against a bush/vine next to the entrance, which gets stuck to the back of his coat. As he unlocks the door, the bush comes detached from his coat and shakes.
    Jeb flubs a line: (To Barnabas): “Well, what brought this sudden about face about?”
    Barnabas gives the wrong glass to Jeb–the one he poured poison into was actually the one he kept.

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