Monthly Archives: February 2017

Episode 1000: Back From the Death

“I never once believed that she could survive death — until tonight!”

It always starts with a box.

You try your best. You bury the dead. The evil twin dies, and you say thank goodness that’s over with, and then you put her in a box and plant it in the dirt. You figure it’s a one-way trip, no refunds and no returns. At that point, it’s someone else’s problem.

It always starts with a box. It often ends with one, too. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell beginnings and endings apart.

Continue reading Episode 1000: Back From the Death

Episode 999: The Dead Wife

“What would you do if that woman upstairs is your dead wife?”

It’s been three weeks since Alexis Stokes came into our lives, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned in all that time, it’s that she’s actually her twin sister Angelique, unless she isn’t. The evidence for Team Alexis is that Angelique died six months ago and was buried in a crypt, with a funeral and everything, and if she was still alive, then they probably would have noticed.

The evidence for Team Angelique is: What if someone could come back from the dead? It’s tough to answer a what-if like that, because whatever you say, the other person can still say, Yeah, but what if they could? A conversation like that could go on indefinitely, and we’ve only got 22 minutes a day, not counting the occasional sales pitch for Spic and Span.

Continue reading Episode 999: The Dead Wife

Episode 998: The Absence of the Disturbances

“Somehow, the absence of them is more frightening than the disturbances themselves.”

I don’t know about you, but Quentin Collins has spent the evening jumping from one crisis to the next. He began by questioning his butler about the murder of Dameon Edwards, a mysterious gigolo who everyone had pretty much forgotten about, until he suddenly started projecting his essence around the house and conducting post-mortem piano recitals.

Then Quentin went downtown, where he found the mysterious John Yaeger beating a romantic rival with a cane, a spontaneous act of pointless violence which is somehow connected to Quentin’s friend Cyrus, a mad scientist who’s been writing mysterious thousand-dollar checks to cover other people’s bar fights. Quentin chased Yaeger from the docks to the bar, and from the bar to Cyrus’ lab, and then to a barmaid’s boarding house and finally back to the lab, where he almost cornered the guy but lost him at the last minute.

Now Quentin’s come home after a long, weary night, and Alexis, his mysterious sister-in-law, rushes to his side as soon as he walks in the door.

“Quentin!” she cries. “Thank god you’re back!”

Quentin goes on alert again. “Why, has something happened?”

“No, it’s not that,” she pants. “It’s just this house.” Which is typical.

“There haven’t been any more disturbances, have there?”

“No,” she admits, “but somehow, the absence of them is more frightening than the disturbances themselves.”

“What do you mean?”

“This house — it’s so quiet!” she breathes. It’s like the calm before the storm!”

Or maybe everything’s fine, Quentin thinks, and you need to cut back on the espresso.

Continue reading Episode 998: The Absence of the Disturbances

Episode 997: Fifty Shaves

“He hasn’t kidnapped anybody, otherwise he wouldn’t be bothering me like he does!”

Carolyn and Maggie are away from home, filming House of Dark Shadows. Josette and Rachel and Kitty are dead, Millicent and Pansy are mad, and Vicki is long gone. Beth jumped off a cliff, Amanda never existed, Phyllis is trapped in the vortex with Schrodinger’s cat, and Sabrina is Sabrina.

Instead, we present the continuing adventures of Buffie Harrington, our temp soap opera heroine, who’s here on contract while we’re waiting for the more appealing, Ohrbach’s-approved heroines to come back from vacation.

She doesn’t get benefits, and she needs somebody to sign her timecard, but she’s here. If we need a girl to get groped on camera, then Buffie is the next available representative.

Continue reading Episode 997: Fifty Shaves

Episode 996: Love Potion No. 9

“When was the last time I became myself?”

We’ve all had nights like this, haven’t we? You’re living the wrong life, working at the wrong job, engaged to the wrong person. You long for the taste of something different on your tongue, something that gives you the power to flirt with strangers, and knock over tables, and tell people what you really think of them. Something that tastes like freedom. So you unlock the wall safe and grab that bottle of Do Not Touch juice, and you suck down way more than you probably should, and you go out looking for trouble. We’ve all done that, right? I mean, I haven’t, because I have self-respect. But your way is fine, too.

Continue reading Episode 996: Love Potion No. 9

Episode 995: I’ll Bite Anything

“It is difficult to rechannel my thoughts after three years of thinking about nothing but you.”

So it’s not the late 60s anymore, is what I’m saying, and eventually a show that’s as adamantly late 60s as Dark Shadows is going to run into trouble when it tries to outlive its environment.

As you know, the difference between the 1960s and the 1970s is that in the 70s, America discovered the concepts of responsibility and safety. In late 1969, the innocent flower children of Woodstock met the lawless, murderous Hells Angels of Altamont, and the good trip became a bad one, to our lasting disadvantage.

At that point, the American people decided that maybe giving their children exposed metal hot plates as toys wasn’t such a great idea, and maybe we should try wearing seat belts, and using child-proof caps, and not letting the Manson Family stay in the guest house. You know, the whole actions have consequences, gravity is real, sometimes people are assholes thing that ruins so many promising utopias.

Continue reading Episode 995: I’ll Bite Anything

Episode 994: Polterguest

“Blood in this room. Why? First the piano playing, then downstairs, the picture of Bruno in the drawer. Blood there, too. Then Dameon in the chair. And here again, blood. But why?”

We’ve been spending the last several weeks settling into this new Parallel Time storyline, which takes place in a separate universe where everything is the same, except that people have made different choices, including the choice of whether to make their soap opera make sense or not.

They’ve boxed up the vampire, the crossover character who is technically the only person in this storyline from ABC-TV’s Dark Shadows, and they’ve put him into cold storage while the actor scurries upstate to appear in the Dark Shadows movie, leaving us with a handful of pinch-hitters from the other side of the sun.

The A-story these days is about Angelique — what she was, how she died, and whether she’s come back as a ghost, or a twin sister, or not at all. There’s been a decent amount of forward progress in that story lately — so much, in fact, that yesterday they slipped some important story information in the middle of a conversation about something else, and then acted like they didn’t even notice. But there’s still quite a bit of time to kill, and they need to slow things down a bit.

So today, they unveil the exciting plot twist that nobody saw coming: Dameon Edwards is back!

Okay, clearly you didn’t hear me. I said, Dameon Edwards is back!!

Continue reading Episode 994: Polterguest

Episode 993: All I Know Is Danger

“You must try to expect nothing from me!”

Angelique Collins was murdered. We all agree on that, right? Stroke, no; murder, yes.

It’s not our Angelique, of course. I’m talking about the Parallel Time alt-universe Angelique, who was murdered six months ago, at a midnight seance in the drawing room. We know that she was murdered, because last week, they re-enacted the seance, and a ghost-possessed dental hygienist pointed at Angelique’s identical twin and shouted, She’s dying, she’s dying, murder, murder, murder. Apparently the spirit speaking through her was re-enacting too.

The other reason that we know Angelique was murdered is because of course she was murdered, this is a television show and they’ve been talking incessantly about her death for weeks. ABC Television isn’t funding this daily blastoff into the uncharted regions of tormented space just to tell the story of a woman who happened to die of a stroke.

After the seance, everybody did what people do in Collinwood after an accusation of murder; they went about their normal activities. If the Collins family stopped to investigate every single mysterious death that happens on their property, life as we know it would grind to a halt. When somebody dies, that means there’s one fewer person in the cast to have conversations with, and the survivors have even more on their plates.

So Quentin and Alexis have been going on as usual, grooming houseplants and making up excuses for things. In this version of reality, Quentin used to be Angelique’s husband, until she was murdered, and Alexis used to be her twin sister, until ditto, unless it turns out that Alexis actually is Angelique, back from the dead to reclaim her rightful place at Collinwood, which would mean that everybody needs to update their entries on Dark Shadows Wiki.

Continue reading Episode 993: All I Know Is Danger

Episode 992: Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t

“Remember, the dead can return in many ways!”

Here’s Aunt Hannah, who we’ve never heard of before, and that’s a shame, because she’s crazy. She uses a sharp pencil to draw a rectangle on an astrology chart, and then she taps her overly bejeweled fingers, tap tap tap tap, like she’s waiting for the celestial bodies to bring her a corned beef sandwich. She’s sitting in a dark room, wearing dark makeup, and pretending that she knows what she’s talking about.

Bruno asks what she sees, and Aunt Hannah replies, “Stars in opposition, the heavens in turmoil… signs in disarray.” She shakes a finger at him. “You must beware,” she says. “Some alien force is at work against you.” She doesn’t sound super worked up about it. It’s not really a warning, more a general observation, like, if you were wondering what was at work against you? It’s an alien force. So keep that in mind.

Bruno leans forward. “Can this alien force be of the spiritual world?” he asks.

She leans back. “I can only conjecture,” she allows, “but my answer is: yes.” That’s a pretty cut and dried conjecture.

He presses her, and she says, “You want to know if it’s the spirit of my niece, Angelique, don’t you?” He does. She smiles. “You know as well as I do that the charts contain nothing of that meaning.”

In other words, the heavens have gone out of their way to put themselves in turmoil, just to make Bruno mildly suspicious, which he already was. That’s the thing that I don’t understand about astrology; it seems to be a lot of work on the celestial bodies’ part, for very thin results.

I mean, you’d think if astrology and tarot cards really worked, then the people who believed in them would be running the entire world by now, and yet they don’t. Weird, right?

Continue reading Episode 992: Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t

Episode 991: Parsing Sabrina

“There is a evil here!”

It started with radio, of course, this war of the words, with Painted Dreams and Just Plain Bill and The Romance of Helen Trent. All those listening women needed something to listen to, and radio soaps offered fifteen minutes of pure uncut conversation. But there comes a time when even soap opera characters need to admit that they don’t know what they’re talking about, and pipe the hell down.

Take the parallel Sabrina Stuart, spouting nonsense at one of those pop-up seances which they construct on the fly in high-traffic areas on the Collinwood estate. “She’s dying, she’s dying!” Sabrina cried, pointing at someone who wasn’t dying. “Murder! Murder! MURD-ERRRR!” It wasn’t clear whether she was pro or con. It probably doesn’t matter, one way or the other.

Continue reading Episode 991: Parsing Sabrina