“At least the companions I pick are human!”
So here’s the method: First, you take a chemical synthesis. This can be homemade, or delivered from a chemical synthesis company. Either one, it just has to be worryingly potent. Turn on the apparatus, set those fluids bubbling in their beakers. Add some powder to the synthesis. Now it’s a compound. Approach some truths that are better left unknown. Pour the result into a juice glass, and down the hatch.
It’s a simple dramatic recipe, but I do have a few questions for the reckless chemist, starting with: Why test this on yourself first? You literally have a guinea pig right there in the room with you. Wouldn’t it be easier to jot down observations, if the composition that’s getting reoriented isn’t yours? Also, what were you expecting to happen? What was the beneficial outcome you were aiming for?
But never mind the sensible questions. The answer is always going to be: it’s more fun this way. Nobody wants to watch the careful mad scientist, putting on gloves and protective goggles before tampering gently in God’s domain. We want action.
Cyrus here is a bit of a prick, patronizing, arrogant, thinks he’s better than everyone. He’s the kind who steeples his fingers while he considers how to put things in layman’s terms. He natters on, and then apologizes for nattering on, which is somehow even worse.
You want this smartypants to get smacked upside the head by unintended consequences, and that is exactly what he’s smacked by. Serves him right, too, the big stiff.
This tale is familiar territory for showrunner Dan Curtis; he was working on a TV-movie adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde in 1967, while everyone else was casting Jonathan Frid and making Dark Shadows watchable. Imagine his surprise when he got back, and discovered it was a good show all of a sudden.
Dan’s version of Dr. J starred Jack Palance, who’s a famous actor except name three movies he was in. It can’t be done. Jack was fine as eyewear-inhabitant Dr. Jekyll, but it’s obvious that playing Mr. Hyde was a lot more fun. He’s more fun to watch, too. Hyde’s the guy who goes to bars, loosens up some already loose women, parties till dawn. Jekyll just stands there and doesn’t feel sufficiently repentant.
So that’s the suspense of this moment, when lip touches liquid. Suspense is the feeling that something is about to change the story you’re following, but you don’t know whether it’s going to be a good change or not. As always, you’re not afraid for the imaginary people in the story. You’re afraid that you’re going to be bored.
For this first attempt, we’re left to sit in that suspense for another week. All we see is the drinking. He shoots, he scores, he falls to the floor, and the next thing you know, it’s morning, and we’re surveying the damage.
This is the opposite of the Strange Case that Robert Louis Stevenson made up, back when he didn’t realize he was on the Dark Shadows writing team. In the original, we hear about Hyde trampling over an eight-year-old girl, and the name Jekyll isn’t even mentioned for another four pages. But the adaptations have their own agendas.
The sequence in the teaser today is taken directly from Curtis’ 1968 version — Dr. Jekyll finds his smashed glasses on the floor, sees that his desk has been messed with, and then finds an IOU, signed by the other guy. Jack Palance had a bunny in a cage in the TV-movie, too. The original novella didn’t mention rabbits even once, which is just another thing that Stevenson didn’t understand about his own story.
So here’s Cyrus, in full brow-furrow. He mixed himself a DIY cocktail of Red Bull, tequila, Viagra and DayQuil, and now he can’t figure out how there could be any adverse effects. Drinking stuff is an important part of the scientific method.
“Who is John Yaeger?” he furrows further, referring to the signature on the IOU. “He could be someone I met last night, after I took the compound! But I can’t remember anything about last night! Why? What could have gone wrong?”
So that’s where we are, personal responsibility-wise. It turns out 1886 was part of the 60s, too. Any sentence that includes “after I took the compound” is pretty much guaranteed to place the blame somewhere entirely else.
If anyone’s interested, here’s what went wrong, as of two episodes ago: a true tale of lab coats in love.
Cyrus: Now, one thing I must warn you, Sabrina — you’re very aware of my work habits.
Sabrina: Of course I am.
Cyrus: And you know how I tend to concentrate very heavily on my work.
Sabrina: Of course, I know all that.
Cyrus: And you don’t mind?
Sabrina: Why should I?
Cyrus: Well, some women would. It seems that my whole life is centered about my work… all my energies, and thoughts…
Sabrina: Your devotion to your work is one of the things I like about you. Not the only thing. But one of them.
Which is interesting, because Sabrina — despite working in Cyrus’ lab with him, every day — doesn’t actually know what his work consists of. It’s not like he’s devoted to curing sick orphans or anything; he’s inventing a potion that makes people evil. A little due diligence on Sabrina’s part before accepting the proposal could have made all the difference.
And now she’s traumatized and sitting in a chair, which I think is where we came in, as far as Sabrina is concerned. The first time we saw her, back in the other time band, she was gray-haired and freaked-out, and communicated mostly through a series of pained expressions. She finally got over it, thanks to a mixture of love and L’Oreal, but here we are again. Sabrina has lapped herself.
Here’s what happened: A brutal man broke into her apartment late last night, all hopped-up on some compound. The intruder grabbed her, choked her, and pulled the engagement ring all the way off her finger, and then he ankled, without even leaving an IOU.
Carolyn’s nearby, wearing an unbelievably up-to-date outfit, impatiently keeping an eye on the patient.
Carolyn: Sabrina, is there anything I can get for you?
Sabrina: I want Cyrus.
Carolyn: I’ve been trying to reach him all night, but his phone doesn’t answer.
Sabrina: I don’t understand!
Carolyn: Neither do I. I’d better try him again.
So she picks up the phone, and in the middle of dialing the first digit, there’s a knock on the door and Cyrus comes in. That is some stunning phone service.
But some people just live to complain.
Sabrina: I’ve been waiting for you.
Cryus: Oh, Sabrina, I’m sorry! But I’m here now. Can’t you tell me what happened?
Sabrina: It was evil. Evil! It makes no sense! My ring! My ring!
Cyrus: He took — your engagement ring!
Sabrina: I don’t understand!
So I’m sorry, but I need to ask: what part of this is difficult to understand? A burglar stole your engagement ring. I mean, it’s shocking and terrifying when something like that happens, and I’m not trying to blame the victim or anything. But saying that it makes no sense is silly. It makes sense. You just don’t like it.
Besides, her boyfriend is supposed to be this big expert on good and evil; that’s why he’s doing all that work he’s so devoted to. Somebody in this couple has got to start understanding things.
Or, I don’t know, maybe marriage isn’t such a hot idea for these two. There are a whole bunch of ways you can call off an engagement that you regret, and I suppose this one isn’t unknown in the annals of science. You get blackout drunk, you go over to your fiancee’s place, and terrible things ensue. You don’t need to be a scientist to figure out where this relationship is going. How blinded could you get?
Tomorrow: Let It Burn.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Paxton tells Cyus, “Nothing is impossible for an accomplished burger — burglar.”
In act 1, when we fade from Cyrus’ puzzled look to Sabrina sitting on the couch, they’re using a music cue that’s more appropriate for a pitched battle with a ferocious werewolf. It’s completely wrong for what we’re looking at, which is Carolyn keeping an eye on a motionless Sabrina, and they have to fade out, once Carolyn starts talking.
As act 2 starts, Sabrina is supposed to be asleep, but her eyes are open.
In the dream sequence, the camera pans down to the attacker’s feet, and we can see yellow marking tape on the rug.
When Will and Alexis hold hands, you can hear someone running in the studio — possibly Carolyn, on her way from the Collinwood set to Sabrina’s.
Cyrus looks for a cue, before he reads from his notes: “I’m certain that this foundation can control and shake to the very foundation the mind of man.”
Behind the Scenes:
Frank Paxton is played by Stanley Grover, in his only episode. Grover appeared in a number of Broadway shows that I never heard of in the 50s and 60s, including Wish You Were Here, Time Remembered and Let It Ride! In the 70s, he was an understudy in the original Broadway production of Company, and he appeared in The Desert Song and Don’t Call Back. He also appeared in the 1976 film Network. During the 70s, he started to appear on television regularly, first on soap operas — The Edge of Night, The Best of Everything and Somerset — and then primetime. He had guest roles on lots of shows, including Barnaby Jones, Dallas, Lou Grant, Falcon Crest, Hill Street Blues, Murder She Wrote, all kinds of things. He had a recurring role as a judge on LA Law, and that’s pretty much the limit of my interest in Stanley Grover.
Tomorrow: Let It Burn.
— Danny Horn