Episode 940: Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Give an Ascot

“We’ll have to use trickery, or force!”

“I think it would be appropriate that we seal our agreement with a drink,” says Barnabas, which is the sneaky code that fictional people use for I am about to poison you.

So he goes into the back room of the antiques shop, which has no functional furniture except for a flat surface that’s holding a decanter and two glasses. This is the alcoholic equivalent of the radio on Gilligan’s Island that only has news reports about Gilligan’s island related material.

Barnabas pours out two glasses of whatever liquid that happens to be, and then adds a generous measure of deadly nightshade that he’s carrying around in an inside pocket for just such an occasion.

Stepping back out into the open air, Barnabas hands the poisoned drink to Jeb Hawkes, the negasonic teenage warhead currently threatening everything that he holds dear. Jeb proposes a sinister toast and raises the glass to his lips, and then we go to the opening titles.

When we come back, Jeb gulps down the poison and says mmmm, yummy, and he doesn’t die or get sick or even notice that anything’s amiss, and everyone just forgets about it, because Jeb is the new hotness and shut up.

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Jeb is the new handsome alpha monster, a previously rare breed that’s become increasingly common these days. In the summer of ’68, we had Don Briscoe playing sexy vampire Tom and then sexy werewolf Chris, followed by David Selby as sexy zombie and sexy werewolf Quentin in March ’69, and now there’s Christopher Pennock as sexy space octopus Jeb in January 1970. That’s three hunky monstrosities in a year and a half — four, if you count the twins separately — which means sometime around late spring, we should probably expect a scorchingly attractive nightmare clown to pop its head over the horizon.

Jeb, by the way, is based on a combination of two characters from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror — Wilbur Whateley, who was “dark and goatish” with a teratologically fabulous midsection, and Wilbur’s brother, a mostly-invisible pile of squirming tentacles with mouths on the ends of them. But they’re always better looking in the biopic, aren’t they?

Of course, it’s always hard on the previous occupant when the new creature shows up, and oozes its way into the dressing room. Don Briscoe responded to David Selby’s arrival by falling entirely to pieces. They gave him a new character, prim quisling schoolmaster Tim Shaw, who combed his hair the wrong way and scolded children about their math homework, and he was so grating that I don’t think they even remembered to kill him at the end of the storyline. He’s back to playing Chris again, but the thrill is gone. 16 Magazine doesn’t show up at his apartment for surprise photo shoots anymore, no matter how many pairs of glasses he wears while reclining next to his bookcases.

But nothing bad is going to happen to David Selby, obviously, because he’s special. Quentin Collins is the best thing that ever happened to Dark Shadows in the super hot boy department. He is the unchallenged king of 16, the man with multiple trading card collections and a hit single. Quentin is untouchable.

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Except oh my god WHAT ARE YOU WEARING

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I mean, I can’t decide what’s worse, the ascot or the tweed.

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I’m kidding of course it’s the ascot obviously IT IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THE ASCOT

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Oh, and look at the blocking. Quentin and Julia are having a conversation in the Old House about all of the Leviathan conspiracy nonsense, because Quentin has to listen to recap now, and then Barnabas comes in, and all of a sudden it’s a Barnabas/Julia scene, and Quentin has to stand in the back and try to look interested.

Here’s how the scene progresses:

Barnabas:  We have so little time, perhaps not even enough.

Julia:  Enough for what?

Barnabas:  To get Carolyn away from Collinsport!

Julia:  Do you think we could persuade her to leave?

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Barnabas turns to face Julia.

Barnabas:  I’ve already tried that, but it didn’t work. We’ll have to use trickery, or force!

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Then Quentin pipes up.

Quentin:  If we do succeed, where could we take her?

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Barnabas looks at Quentin for a moment…

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… and then he turns back to Julia and resumes the conversation.

it’s because of the ascot obviously NOBODY RESPECTS A DUDE WEARING AN ASCOT

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I mean, seriously, if Barnabas has any more of that poison, then I am suddenly extremely thirsty. They’re taking the man that I love, and choking him to death with his own neckwear.

And then they send him over to Carolyn for a scene that makes me sad. Here’s where he breaks the stop-press news that he’s not actually Grant Douglas; he’s the great-grandson and namesake of Quentin Collins, which pretty much puts a pin in any storyline juice left in the character. She asks why he introduced himself as Grant Douglas, and he says, “Well, I’m a writer, and I’ve used Grant Douglas among many names as pseudonyms,” which is not an answer to her question.  So she says, “I see,” and then they talk about something else.

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The point of the scene is that Quentin is supposed to ask Carolyn out on a date, as a pretext to get her out of the house somehow. This apparently qualifies as trickery.

But why is he putting his leg up? This is not a sexy move. Stop doing that. No more leg ups.

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But I guess this is what happens when your dreamboat is sneaking up on a century; by my calculations, Quentin is ninety-nine years old. At that age, it’s tough to compete with the younger model, even when the younger guy is nine weeks old. Selby needs to up his game, a journey that begins at wardrobe. Seriously, dude, the ascot. It’s not okay. This is a problem that needs to be corrected swiftly.

Monday: When Something Happens.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Julia asks Barnabas if the plan is to bring Carolyn to Jeb tonight, and Barnabas says, “I’m here, to have her here at eight o’clock.”

Angelique moans, “Silly of me even to ask. You could only have found out through Julia Hoffman, and she gave me her word she wouldn’t tell me!”

More pronoun trouble later in the conversation: Angelique objects, “Carolyn knew me as Cassandra!” Barnabas says, “But she won’t recognize her; you had dark hair!”

When Carolyn walks to the front door, someone in the studio coughs. A moment later, when Quentin asks if they can go into the drawing room, something falls.

Quentin interrupts Barnabas and Julia’s briefing, and Barnabas says, “Quentin, I’ll explain to you in a mumment!”


Behind the Scenes:

On the day this episode aired — January 30, 1970 — Joan Bennett appeared on the daytime talk show The Mike Douglas Show.

Monday: When Something Happens.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

36 thoughts on “Episode 940: Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Give an Ascot

  1. Were they trying to back burner Selby for Pennock? And poor Briscoe, he’s off the range completely – bet that didn’t help his psyche.

    I don’t even think it’s actually an ascot; only a kerchief. Ascots have more fabric, like a scarf, covering the upper chest in a bib. (Just ask Roger.) Looks like Quentin has a knotted bandanna on. I expect that it was very fashion forward (no matter how fruity it looks). And my guess is that the costume department was trying for a ‘classic’ look, since Quentin was from another time – mostly 1890s, with some Mod bits tossed in. Anyway, it looks horrid. Maybe the turtleneck isn’t so bad after all (oh my god I can’t believe I just said that).

    Do you suppose any of the cast ever went into Wardrobe and said, “…I am NOT wearing this…”?

  2. How do we know for sure it’s not right out of Selby’s own closet?
    Didn’t that guy who played Pete on the Mod Squad wear knotted bandannas around his neck, too?

  3. I’m watching “Medical Center” with hunky Dr. Joe Gannon and he always has something tied around his throat – sometimes just a thin strip of fabric. For about two seconds in 1970, it was apparently considered cool for men.

  4. Of course! They’re trying to make Quentin into Fred from Scooby Doo. After all, he’s in the Junior Detectives now…

    Sure, Chad Everett could ROCK a neckerchief and not look swishy! Try and find something he didn’t look good in. (Excuse me – some funny familiar forgotten feelings are walking all over my heart.)

  5. “She won’t recognize you, you had dark hair!” was one of the lines that in re-encounter made me laugh out loud–doubtlessly a build-up from many, many conversational absurdities in this episode.

    1. I know, right? A black wig…the perfect disguise! Better than Clark Kent’s glasses.

      I also love when Angelique insists that yes, she MUST hear the whole back story of the Leviathan plot. I fully expected that we would have to hear it again, too, just to drive home the fact that Barnabas WAS NOT GUILTY. Instead, we switch to Julia telling back story to Quentin.

      Then there’s Carolyn’s question, “Did you know you were Quentin Collins before you lost your memory?” Which, what kind of question is that, even?

  6. I’ll join the neckerchief chorus. I confess to wearing one briefly in my 20s during a Miles Davis phase (though I was not Miles Davis and the neckerchief didn’t help matters). Anyway, it does have a sad Fred from SCOOBY DOO effect on Quentin.

    The neckwear Quentin wore in 1897 was closer to an ascot, and it looked awesome along with the frock coat. It’s superficial of me, but the loss of the Victorian dress and sideburns was a major blow to the character. And the show’s struggle to figure out what to do with a time-displaced Quentin seems to play out in his wardrobe, especially in these episodes. Should he dress like any other young man from 1970? That doesn’t feel quite right and Quentin isn’t any other young man from 1970.

    Quentin himself now doesn’t serve any role that Chris Jennings couldn’t have. Chris just never learned Barnabas was a vampire so wasn’t granted full membership in the secret society. But he’s also still a werewolf, whereas Quentin is just… normal (his immortality is just a plot device not a story generator).

      1. Quentin tells Carolyn he’s a writer, which is something we’ll never hear about again. What does Quentin do? It’s not irrelevant. Julia is a classic TV doctor (expert in most fields of medicine, psychiatry, and a dash of mad science as necessary). Stokes is the classic TV professor (expert on arcane matters). Barnabas is literally an “eccentric millionaire.” When he first appears, he even has a “project” beyond blood-sucking vampire: He restores old homes. He could have been on HGTV. His suits also fit this persona, especially the slightly European cuts.

        1897 Quentin was the prodigal son. He’s more inexplicable permanent house guest in 1970 and he’s written as suddenly wealthy. But more in a “we can’t be bothered to give him a backstory” way rather than actually deciding to run with the idea that he’d made a fortune over the years. (It would have been a neat reveal if we’d seen him living like Sky Rumson.)

        The amnesia storyline was a disaster because it required wiping clean the decades Quentin lived between 1897 and 1970. They just didn’t matter. He apparently was a drifter who couldn’t even locate his own portrait. And whatever story potential might have existed there was never explored. The “Barnabas as Evil Cult Leader” storyline was equally disastrous but wasn’t fatal to the character because they were so easily able to shift back to “Barnabas as Eccentric Millionaire.” Heck, Barnabas as Evil Cult Leader, much like Barnabas as Vampire, still at least fits in the “Eccentric Millionaire” concept. He lives a strange life.

        1. Maybe Quentin really had become a writer at that point. And I imagine you could build up a pretty decent Investment portfolio over the course of 90 years.

          And I’m going to have to disagree with Uncle Danny on one thing: I think Quentin totally carries off the leg up pose. I’m not sure any other man could.

    1. Is there any ‘backstage’ info on what Don Briscoe’s future on DS was at this point? This episode is filmed in January 1970, Briscoe leaves in April 1970, with only one episode filmed after his part in HODS. Did they bring Quentin into this story line with the thought of pulling (or curing) Chris Jennings? Since both were werewolves, who could destroy the Leviathan Jeb…and they only needed ONE. And Briscoe only appears in three of the Alternate Time episodes, in a part that could have been given to a day player (or Roger Davis). I know that planning ahead was not a strong suit on DS, so was Briscoe’s departure in the works, or a ‘snap’ decision? Was casting him in HODS kind of a ‘last chance’ for the actor?

      1. I think the only public info is the broad strokes, same as Mitchell Ryan. There were backstage problems, some combination of drug-related and mental health-related. David Henesy makes a joke in (I think) the DS Almanac about Briscoe and pot-smoking.

        Looking at the evidence in the show, they’re keeping Sabrina in the cast right now as a love interest for Chris, so that’s a sign of confidence in the character and the storyline. Ned just disappears, but Sabrina starts walking and talking — which is important, since he’s not connected to Carolyn’s story anymore.

      2. Quentin is no longer a werewolf, though. It’s interesting to have watched 1897 again while reading this blog and noticed how Quentin’s lycanthropy is one of many “phases” he goes through (“ghost,” “zombie,” “immortal”). In some ways, I’d describe him as a werewolf in the sense that I’d describe Angelique as a vampire.

        I did like Chris as the werewolf and regret that whatever troubles Briscoe had caused him to leave the series.

  7. I’ve wondered if the Leviathan storyline could have worked just as well if not better if set in 1897 (soon 1898). Our real link to the present day is Barnabas and Julia, and she could have returned to aid Barnabas in 1897 (after Magda leaves Collinsport or gets a dramatic death scene). Of our top tier stars, Barnabas, Julia, and Angelique work well in other timelines, whereas Quentin — the “real” Quentin — works best in 1897 where he can play off his family.

    Of course, Jeb is the compelling argument for returning to the present day. He is so overtly the 1970s youth made flesh.

    1. Chris Pennock on Dark Shadows always reminds me of characters in early ‘ 70s D.C. horror comics (I’ve only ever owned a few, but they made a real impression), so to me, that’s another reason the 1970 setting works.

  8. Maybe it’s easy to pick on some big tradition that you’ve never been a part of, but to me, an ascot has nothing on a necktie when it comes to being conspicuous. The necktie “iconoclasts” say that it serves no clear purpose, and i can never help agreeing. (Actually, that isn’t completely true – in physical comedy, its purpose is to get CAUGHT in something, and even OUTSIDE of physical comedy that should be a genuine worry.) And yet, THAT’S the male clothing item that doesn’t go out of style, and doesn’t get gay jokes made about it, and so on!

    In the tongue-in-cheek movie MARS NEEDS WOMEN, even the Martian spies dislike wearing them, because they went out of fashion on that planet some time earlier!

  9. No one complained when Barnabas was wearing one during his passive parlor book reading phase during the summer of sixty-eight… Well, I recall having made a comment or two.

    Here’s a Jonathan Frid publicity photo from around the time of House of Dark Shadows:

    1. I don’t war on all men’s neckwear, although I’m never a huge fan. But it is not the right look for the young romantic hero. They need some space to spread out and express themselves. It is 100% wrong for Quentin here.

    1. Only Quentin Collins has the cojones to pretend to be his own great-grandson in order to woo his grandniece away from his real great grandson.

  10. Briscoe with the glasses is damned sexy! In the classic marry, f, kill I’d chose Briscoe to marry, Selby to f— and Pennock to kill. Selby was the best of them as an actor with the most twinkling charisma but Briscoe was the most likeable, ruined by the schizophrenic and boring Tim Shaw character they gave him in 1897.

  11. I was in late grade school/early jr. high at about the time when late DS was broadcast. Smaller scarf-like neckwear was very popular–and cool–at the time. My big gesture to this fad was a paisely (!) “Apache scarf”–you put a metal ring (of varying elaborateness) over the two ends of the scarf and pull it up toward your neck. (Looks like you can still get them: http://www.mrboots.com/western-apparel-cowboy-scarves-and-western-ties-western-scarf-ties-c-43_299_301.html .)

  12. Good to have Angelique back. I liked how, after opening the door to Barnabus, she then had to take two steps forward before suddenly “recognizing” him. About her saying she still had all her “powers,” that sounded like a bit of a retcon; I’d gotten the impression that she’d given them up.

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