Episode 978: What’s Cooking

“Aren’t you about to be recommitted to the underworld?”

So it turns out Julia can’t cure vampirism after all, just like she can’t cure lycanthropy or Frankenstein Syndrome or acute-onset Creature of the Black Lagoonism. I’m afraid that universal health care for Universal Monsters is still just a dream.

Now Barnabas is reacting to her anti-vamp treatments by becoming even more of a vampire than he was in the first place, which puts the kibosh on the Nobel Prize for sure. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences does not want to hear your excuses. They want results.

And sadly, the result here is that we had Megan as the sleepy co-dependent vampire blood slave a couple weeks ago, and now we’ve got Sabrina in the same role, which means I’m supposed to watch Sabrina urging Barnabas to drink her blood, and consider that entertainment. Well, I’m not having it. The show has refused to provide me with a single reason to like Sabrina, and if she wants to die from blood loss and neck trauma, then she should go and do it on her own time. This window is closed.

So instead of watching that, let’s go — for the very last time, I’m afraid — and look at a new form of Dark Shadows merchandise.

978-dark-shadows-cookbook

It’s March 1970, and Ace Books is taking the final step in the field of Dark Shadows merchandising innovation — The Dark Shadows Cookbook. It’s a paperback book aimed at the hungry housewives in the audience, compiled by Jody Cameron Malis, a fresh-faced recipe-compiler who will go on to compile The Newlywed Game Cookbook in 1971 and Stan Lee Presents The Mighty Marvel Superheroes’ Cookbook in 1977.

Enticing the reader with promises of BARNABAS’S BEASTLY BEVERAGES and QUENTIN’S GHOULISH GOULASH, The Dark Shadows Cookbook offers “The favorite recipes of your favorite television characters.” We don’t usually see Dark Shadows characters making anything more complicated than tea, so this ought to give us some insight into what they do on their off-hours.

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The copy on the back of the book expands on the premise:

We know — or do we? — what Barnabas feels; what Elizabeth thinks; what Quentin does. Now, with the cooperation of the entire cast, we know what they all like to eat — onscreen and off.

Backed up by menus designed by a noted home economist, each of the Collinwood characters has contributed a favorite original recipe to create the new and exciting Dark Shadows Cookbook, covering everything from hors d’oeuvres to snacks, from hamburgers to steaks, from pre-dinner cocktails to dessert wines.

The instructions are simple: given the ingredients any Dark Shadows fan, of any age, can prepare Eggs Barnabas or David’s Pineapple and Cheese Pancakes.

Now wait until you taste Quentin’s Karate Chops — any creature who can conjure up a dish like that can’t be all bad…

Okay. Well. So many things.

To start with, there’s a lot going on around the concept of authorship; this is taking me back to my college days, and my lit-crit classes about signs and signifiers and the language of self. I mean, just the line “We know — or do we? — what Barnabas feels, what Elizabeth thinks, what Quentin does” could take a couple days to decode.

One thing that’s super post-structuralist about this text is the intentional confusion between the characters, and the actors who play them. It says, “Now, with the cooperation of the entire cast, we know what they all like to eat — onscreen and off.” What does the word “cast” mean in that sentence? Is it the cast of characters, or the cast members themselves?

And then it says, “each of the Collinwood characters has contributed a favorite original recipe,” which, again, what? But that’s coupled with the phrase “Backed up by menus designed by a noted home economist,” which makes the reader wonder: how much influence does the noted home economist have over what fictional characters like to eat?

So this book is creating a sense of intimacy — both with the characters and the actors — which is apparently based on a 17 Magazine style humble-brag about the compiler having access to the entire cast, and learning personal details about their favorite meals. But the “noted home economist” also invokes a kind of traditional authority — someone who’s watching out for us, to make sure that Magda Rakosi’s gypsy grub is safe for us to sample.

704 dark shadows barnabas judith quentin tea party

In the Introduction, they give us some assurances that the book compiler does actually understand how Dark Shadows works.

In the huge, brooding old manor house looking down on Widow’s Hill, the tormented beings who live there (vampires, ghosts, witches and werewolves) haunt the unafflicted as well as each other, under an ancient and ghastly curse — a spell which they cannot control, cast upon them back in the dark depths of another time, for DARK SHADOWS actually encompasses three different centuries — 1795, 1893, and the present — and most of the characters slip back and forth in time, always returning to today.

Now, technically, that’s not strictly correct — it’s 1897, for one thing, and the tormented beings aren’t all under the same single ghastly curse. And it sounds like they’re interpreting the repertory-theater time travel sequences as the characters slipping back and forth in time, which isn’t exactly right.

But in a larger sense, that is how the story works. You could interpret the supernatural happenings as being the result of a single curse cast upon Collinwood, and all of the individual characters are suffering under sub-curses. And it does slip back and forth between 1795, 1897 and the present. This feels to me like text written by someone who understands the spirit of the show.

839 dark shadows barnabas quentin gods

The introduction continues:

Perhaps the most well-known member of the family is Barnabas Collins, the 175-year-old vampire and family forbear who has returned to Collinwood. But let’s not forget Quentin, who can stand up to man or beast when it comes to setting female hearts aflutter — those not pinned down by stakes, that is.

So that’s just amazing, the mention of the hearts aflutter. It sounds at first as if they’re referring to the hearts of the females in the audience, but it takes a sudden swerve back into fiction at the last moment.

And then there’s another tribute to Roland Barthes’ The Death of the Author:

Since most of the supernatural characters in this fascinating series have their “normal” moments, both off-camera and on, it is to be expected that they would eat “solid” foods to sustain life (as well as whatever it is that beasties and ghouls eat when that certain feeling comes over them). And like most of us, they have their favorite dishes, which they were kind enough to pass along to their fans.

Once again, this blurs the boundary between off-camera and on, where it’s really hard to tell whether the “they” in the last sentence refers to the characters, the cast or the cross-time conspiracy that I invented myself. I’m going to assume it’s the latter.

978-marvel-cookbook-iron-man

This approach gets even more convoluted in Stan Lee Presents The Mighty Marvel Superheroes’ Cookbook, where apparently the characters eat what their creator eats. It’s not clear whether Iron Man is saying “Same as Stan Lee!” in the above excerpt, or whether that text comes from the great and powerful compiler. I don’t suppose we’ll ever find out, one way or the other.

978-cookbook-contents

Anyway, the food. Just the contents page is enough to transport you into another world, where Angelique makes hors d’oeuvres, Carolyn serves fiendish fish, and Maggie makes witches’ brew fondue.

The book uses 11 character names, including both present-day characters and the 1897 cast — Barnabas, Angelique, Quentin, Beth, Professor Stokes, Elizabeth, Carolyn, Magda, Maggie, Julia and David — and these are sprinkled around the recipes willy-nilly. So we get Quentin’s Karate Chops, Beth’s Haunted Castle Casseroles, Prof. Stokes Eggs Fetale (sic) and Julia’s Just Desserts. It’s marvelous.

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Obviously, the chapter on Barnabas’ Bloody Mary and Other Beastly Beverages is the most true-to-life, because as far as we know, nobody at Collinwood ever eats anything, but they sure do know how to drink.

The chapter includes Beth’s Lime Vodka Highball — “pour lime-flavored vodka into a highball glass, add ice cubes and soda, and stir.” — as well as Julia’s Whiskey Sour, Quentin’s Old Fashioned, Angelique’s Mad Manhattan, Elizabeth’s Dry Martini and Prof. Stokes’ Grasshopper. They don’t tell us about David’s beverage of choice, but somebody must be drinking all that sherry they have lying around.

This brings up a question about the target audience for this particular piece of merchandise. The back cover said that any Dark Shadows fan, of any age, can prepare these recipes, so presumably if we give the middle schoolers a jigger of brandy and some creme de menthe, they could whip up a Magda’s Stinger.

But they’ve always had this curious situation of a TV audience composed of housewives, teenagers and the young set in roughly equal parts, and the publication of this book marks the last time in the original run that anybody tries to thread that needle. The line of gothic novels will continue up to March 1972, and the comic books series will run all the way to 1976, but after December 1969, nobody bothers to come up with any new ideas for Dark Shadows merchandise.

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We’ve talked before about the trading card sets, the board games, the View-Master reels, the postcards and the soundtrack albums that sprang into unlikely existence starting in the summer of 1968, and there was another wave of Dark Shadows merch, cresting in late ’69.

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There were the mysterious Dark Shadows jigsaw puzzles — one with Barnabas skulking in a cemetery, and the other with Barnabas skulking in a basement, accompanied by a lady to whom we have not been introduced.

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There were the Giant Pin-Ups by the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corporation, in a last spasm of bubble gum merchandising.

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There were Magic Slates by Whitman, which could be written on and then erased by lifting the plastic sheet.

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There were Barnabas and Werewolf model kits…

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and the Vampire Van model kit, which included a little Barnabas and a coffin for him to rest in.

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And there were the Horror Heads, throw pillows which defy any known rules about how people want to decorate their homes. All of these were intended for the middle-to-high schoolers, with the comic books taking up the slack on the teenage market.

And then The Dark Shadows Cookbook, with its hors d’oeuvres and casseroles, and Stan Lee’s beef liver. The rest is silence.

I’m not sure why everybody suddenly agreed to give up on making Dark Shadows stuff in 1970; it’s like they all woke up on New Year’s Day, looked at their lives, and made adjustments. The show has another year to run, and Paperback Library, Gold Key and the hard-drinking housewives are still hanging in there. As far as everyone else is concerned, Dark Shadows is over.

Tomorrow: Jeb Hawkes Must Die.


Footnote:

Thanks very much to John Johnson for scans of The Dark Shadows Cookbook, and Alan James Gallant for the Giant Pin-Ups!


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Barnabas is lighting the candles, a camera shadow passes on the left.

Barnabas and Jeb both struggle for their lines during their scene in act 1.

When Angelique lists Nicholas’ fallen colleagues, she pronounces Megan as “Meegan”.

Barnabas tells Angelique, “You know, you owe an apology to Jeb. He’s the one who told you about your husband. You may never have known the truth, it would have been too late.” Actually, Barnabas told Angelique that Sky was a Leviathan; I have no idea what he’s talking about here.

When Quentin pushes the doors to the PT room open, the left door bangs against the wall and bounces back; Quentin has to put his hand out to steady it.

Once the PT room has changed back to its empty state, there’s a boom mic at top left when Barnabas and Quentin enter the room.


Behind the Scenes:

This is the last time we’ll see some of these characters in present-day Collinwood. Don Briscoe and Lisa Richards both leave the show during the Parallel Time story, so it’s the last episode for Chris and Sabrina. This is also Angelique’s last appearance in the present day. Lara Parker has lots to do over the next year, but during the month that takes place in 1970, Angelique doesn’t appear. Tomorrow is Roger’s last episode in the present day, too; he doesn’t show up during the 1970 period.

Tomorrow: Jeb Hawkes Must Die.

978-marvel-cookbook-mr-fantastic

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

34 thoughts on “Episode 978: What’s Cooking

  1. Oh, man, how is it I’ve never seen the cookbook? Love it! I have seen a pic of Marie and Jonathan working in the kitchen together, and heard something about recipes, but I have never seen the actual book–and I’m not sure if this was the cookbook they were supposed to be working on. There is actually a lot of merchandise I have not personally seen from those days–which means a lot of it didn’t make it to the Chattanooga area. I do remember the 1st Dan/Marilyn Ross book I found, which was in a bookstore that I only remember going in once with my mom. The place smelled nauseatingly like cigars, but I was so excited to see the book in my hands.
    And by the way, my parents were nondrinkers, but lots of teenagers could easily get alcohol at home. I imagine some parents even allowed the kids to make those recipes, and let them have “one little sip.” It was very much a different time and age.

  2. I suppose the candle in front of Barnabas’s face on the book cover is supposed to be sitting on a table prepared for an elegant dinner party.

    What, no claret cup recipe from the Old House costume party?

    Searching for that on Google turned up a blog called “Cooking in the Shadows” where most posts are a recreated food item from a Dark Shadows episode, and the latest post (from 2014) is a list of episodes featuring food items:
    http://mhowardds.blogspot.com/2014/03/guide-to-dark-shadows-memorable.html

    In December 2013 the blog’s writer, who calls himself “The Collinwood Mystery Chef” created recipes from the 1989 “Dark Shadows Celebrity Cookbook” published by the Dark Shadows Festival:
    http://mhowardds.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-collinwood-mystery-chef.html

    “Dark Shadows Celebrity Cookbook”
    https://fanlore.org/wiki/Dark_Shadows_Celebrity_Cookbook

  3. I think we’ve known for many years that Julia can’t cure vampirism. It was Dr Lang who concocted the anti-vamp serum and he gave Julia the formula as I recall. Even so it was only a temporary.cure. Julia really only backed into the 1968 “cure” by screwing up the Adam experiment. In 1897 we can assume she used Lang’s formula again (she must have had it committed to memory). But since Barnabas was bitten by this super-bat raised from the depths of hell the Lang formula just wouldn’t do. Or like some antibiotics the oversuse of Lang’s formula made Barnabas and the writers resistant to it

    1. I do think, though, Dr. Hoffman should not be faulted entirely – after all, it IS a soap opera, where resolutions to problems don’t usually come off, and she IS dealing with the chronically crisis-oriented Barnabas Collins! And that buttinsky Nicholas Blair, cocktails with Professor Stokes, who has time for research?
      I think she might need someone to look into her billing system, too; when’s the last time she got a payment? (Oh, I know, she’s been getting room and board, and Ohrbach’s overstocks for free, but she’s got expenses, too! Cigarettes, sedatives; and mink eyelashes and new hairstyles don’t just buy themselves, y’know. Is she just charging it all on Barnabas’ MonsterCard?)

      1. Oh I give her credit for committing Dr Lang’s formula to memory. I didn’t even mention she had the good sense to carry her purse with her on various time trips. But for someone who has spent a good deal of her life doing research she didn’t do it when she really needed to do so

  4. So, in another words, in the spirit of “method acting”, we have as well “method eating”, a way for fans to “consume” the viewing experience that is Dark Shadows.

    Myself, as a method eater when I sit down to watch the very first episode from 1966, I’ll have a roast beef sandwich and a slice of apple pie — because that’s what Vicki has at the Collinsport Inn restaurant in that episode. Then I’ll have beer — because that’s what Burke Devlin and his trusty private eye Wilbur Strake are having at the Blue Whale, also in that episode. In fact, I’ll then just stay with beer, because you see a lot of those foamy-headed mugs of brew being served at the Blue Whale as the characters chat — those early episodes of the show are practically a drinking game unto itself.

    Then there’s the Burke Devlin Club Sandwich (episode 24): ham and cheese — butter and mustard, no lettuce.

    Little is known about the actors and their off-screen eating habits, except that Joan Bennett sustained herself through the long workdays by eating chicken soup out of a paper cup. Probably the most interesting of the off-screen actors’ recipes is the Thayer David Hell’s Kitchen greasy spoon full breakfast special: eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausage, a bowl of soup, apple pie a la mode, chocolate malt, a six-pack of Seven-Up, and chocolate cake.

      1. And nary a word on Mrs. Johnson’s culinary delights! And she’s the only one on the show who cooks (except Maggie’s cakes, and there hasn’t been any mentioned since Joe went to Bedlam-er, Windcliff).

        1. They certainly did eat a lot more in the old days. Joel Crothers said that he left because they weren’t doing enough character development anymore. He probably also didn’t like the idea of his character starving to death!

      1. The actual fruit types are never mentioned for “the Burke Devlin special”, only that it’s a blend of a couple of different fruit juices. Given the color, I’d have to guess that one of them is pineapple.

  5. “When Angelique lists Nicholas’ fallen colleagues, she pronounces Megan as “Meegan”.” – Thank you, Lara Parker. The only time it was pronounced normally on the show. You weirdos. 😛

  6. This new dark entry is a revelation. As one of the small cabal of lunatics who has spent the last few years debating the canonicity of the legendary Jon Pertwee Recipe Book on the Doctor Who boards, this has me thoroughly intrigued.

    Though to be accepted as canon, i feel that the book’s cover should have a speech bubble above Barnabas saying something like: “Men may go shooting off to Parallel Time these days, but it’s really their inner spaces that matter the most. I’m sure i’m not the only one who likes to be adventurous at mealtimes. When the meal i’m eating is home cooked, and doesn’t cost the earth, i know i’m getting the best of all time bands!” Says Jonathan Frid, ABC TV’s Barnabas Collins.

  7. Well Barnabas must have something cooking in this episode, because a whole lot of smoke wafts in front of the screen while he is talking to Jeb and Quentin. (Probably just some crew member smoking, but you know….)

  8. RE: Merchandising

    As with other commenters, this new learning amazes me. I’ll guess that the cookbook is usually in the Home Economics section in used book stores; the pillows would all be disintegrated by now, or abused enough to not be in a yard sale; similar tale for the jigsaw puzzles and “magic” slates; the “giant” posters look fairly lightweight as well. I’m guessing there might be a few tatty items on eBay, but I’ve done searches for ‘Dark Shadows’, and NEVER have had any of these things come up. Truly ephemera in collectibles.
    Only item that I do remember were the MPC models, I had a Barnabas kit which had adverts for the other two (I had a HUGE collection of SF & horror models) – and the “flexibility” of the arms was greatly exaggerated! Though the glow-in-the-dark bits were in a really cool purplish shade. Never saw an actual werewolf kit, and hadn’t any interest in the hot rod, it seemed feeble pandering to the straight boys who watched The Munsters. (Now, if Barnabas had been driving THAT when he ran down Quentin, it might have been another story!)

    RE: Episode

    It’s mentioned in the DS Wiki, but worth reiteration; Sabrina has bites on both sides of her neck now, and will need a bigger scarf. When Barnabas goes into PT, I presume that his psychic link to her is severed, otherwise she’ll be hanging around in the East Wing, too!

    This brings up the convention that’s been used with the PT portal; once Barnabas is in the alternate reality, do we ever see (for instance) Julia or Stokes making attempts to break through? Or watching helplessly from ‘outside’? Until now, we’ve been seeing ‘through’ the doors, to both realities – I will guess it stops once Barnabas gets in. Since it’s only about Barnabas.
    And how long, may one presume, has this strange temporal duality existed? The East Wing must have been occupied at some point, yet this phenomenon went unremarked? I know the Collins family has a history of ‘Goldfish Syndrome’, but it does seem that some incestor-er, ancestor might have left a note on the door…though the anomaly would explain why the wing went out of use.

    1. My theory is that the vibratory shields between Collinwood-616 and Collinwood-PT were weakened by all of the ludicrous and unnecessary time travel that’s happened over the past few years, especially Vicki going back in time to be with Peter, and permanently displacing Phyllis Wick.

      The ghost of Peter Bradford that we saw last week was clearly from Parallel Time 1795. Barnabas wasn’t a vampire in that time band, so the Leviathans didn’t have anybody to bring the Naga box to 1969. So they did the best they could in 1795, raising their own PT-Jeb, but they were foiled by PT-Peter and PT-Vicki. Then PT-Peter’s ghost leaked into our universe, and tried to mess with our monster.

      I just made that up ten seconds ago, but I am absolutely sure that’s what happened.

      1. Poor Phyl. Still don’t know where she landed…
        The time is (indeed) out of joint.
        And I was going to ask why it was that Peter didn’t seem to know anything about the Leviathans and Vicki’s death on his LAST visit, but your explanation clears it all up beautifully. Well played, sir!

    2. I was lucky enough to find one of the Giant Pin-up bubble gum “cards” at a toy/memorabilia show recently – still sealed and complete with gum! (Which I did not eat.) I did open it however and was a bit deflated to find a pin-up of Jamison Collins when I was hoping for a Quentin. Oh well.

  9. And here I was thinking the Graceland Cookbook and the WWF Cookbook were the ultimate in cool – how I’d love to have that Dark Shadows cookbook!

  10. My copy of the Dark Shadows Cookbook disappeared decades ago. A friend in college prepared some of the recipes for me and I know she returned it, but it has vanished like a vampire in sunlight. I’ve tried to acquire a replacement copy, but the book goes for absurd prices now: 40-60-80-100 dollars and sometimes higher!

    For DS culinary advice, I will remain content with Diana Millay’s “I’d Rather Eat Than Act” cookbook.

  11. For those seeking bargains on the above-mentioned items, there’s bad news; my sister worked for a time at a Salvation Army Thrift Store, and told me that ANY questionable item that had obscene, irreverent or ‘Satanic’ connection was thrown away by the sorting staff. There was an extensive list of unacceptable merchandise, and I am sure that any DS-related items got the push (despite what they might be worth to a collector). Even Halloween costumes are not resold, except ‘nice’ ones like bunnies and princesses.
    Despite this, she told me (gleefully) of a few oversights in the process; a large vibrating errr…device she found in with the plush toys, biographies of Oscar Wilde, Liberace, George Cukor, and Ramon Novarro, even a book of Mapplethorpe photographs.

  12. Quentin’s Karate Chops?

    If they’re half as spectacular as his mutton chops, I’m in.

    And about his ‘other meat dishes’ …
    Forget it. Too easy.

  13. Early onset Creature of the Black Lagoonism! Personally, I’d have watched DS episodes in which the mysterious Uncle Leander appears, with a tendency to take really long showers and occasionally longing to kidnap Julie Adams.

    And I hope those hard drinking housewives are getting smashed on Magda’s stingers. (Poor Mrs. Johnson doesn’t get to participate, unless she fixed some of the salads without acknowledgement.)

  14. Well, I don’t have enough chopped Angeleeks for the Burke Devlined Eggs, but the Elizabeth Collard Stoddins greens are coming along nicely and people can have Chrispy noodles and Tom Collins if they’re hungry. I’ve got to get started on the Barnabas Foster; can you hand me the Karo-lyn syrup? And somebody check on the Chicken in a Trasket; I want it to go out with the Cassandarole and the Charles Delaware Tater Tots.

        1. Y’know, that Shaw-berry pie doeslook good; maybe with a scoop of Daph-neapolitan ice cream?

          (Okay, I think that’s all I have…don’t need to Stokes the fire any more!)

  15. Like cover albums whether you could actually sing well or not, cookbooks for TV shows and books were a big thing in the 1960s-1970s. I own a Nancy Drew one which kind of ticked me off because Nancy Drew only got a cookbook and the Hardy Boys got a detective handbook.

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