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 Stopping-Off Place with Schrödinger’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.


So let’s give a thought to the bored housewife, who usually switches off the set after One Life to Live, but decides on a wild hair that she’s going to try out Dark Shadows today. She’s never seen it, but she’s heard there’s a vampire, which sounds intriguing. So she stays tuned, and this is what she sees.

As soon as the theme song ends and the show begins, we’re close up on a young woman’s urgent fight for life, already in progress.

“NO!” she squeals, struggling for breath. “PLEASE! LET GO!”

Cut to a two-shot, revealing the other side of the argument: a huge black mustache in a trenchcoat, screaming, “Why should I let you go? You’re like ALL THE OTHERS!” He gets a nice firm grip on her thorax. “You need to be TRAINED!” he growls.

There’s no available information about who “all the others” are, or what happened to them, but apparently this girl is just like them. She’s one of those.


She shrieks “NO!”, and breaks his hold, for less than a second.

“I let you go deliberately!” he announces, grabbing her forearm with one of his enormous meathooks. “You’re like a DOG, you have to be HIT to learn!”

“Let go of me, PLEASE!” she begs, as he twists her arm behind her back, grinning as she squirms in agony. It’s currently 4:05 in the afternoon. This is on television.


“I’m not going to let go,” he declares. “You haven’t learned your LESSON yet!”

She cries out again. “You’re HURTING me!”

“Only a little,” he purrs, and you suddenly realize that he thinks this is seductive. “Just a little. Just so you’ll learn to do what I say. You will, won’t you?” He twists harder, and she jerks her head back in agony. “WON’T YOU?”


“YES! YES!” she screams, and he lets her go, as the arm-twisting sequence finally concludes. Probably. For now.


The woman slumps into a chair, and just sits there, and sobs. And I have to say, I’m glad it’s 1970, and women in this parallel universe already have equal rights, because if they didn’t, then this would be kind of upsetting. I mean, at least she’s not getting 59 cents on the dollar for this.


The man kneels in front of her and grabs at her face, sneering, “Ohh, how pretty your tears are!” And then the scene goes in kind of a weird direction.


The girl shouts, “You’re INSANE!” and turns away. “Oh, NO!” he corrects her. “I’m not insane! I know how to LIVE! I know how to GET THINGS from people! How to make anybody do what I say! That’s an invaluable thing to know! Something you must learn, unless…”


“Unless you want to live the rest of your life… like THIS.” He waves his hand, indicating: this.


She turns, hesitantly, and he says, “You don’t, do you?” and all of a sudden, we’re doing Fifty Shades through a false mustache.

Her lower lip trembles, and she says, “What do you mean?”

“I want to give you the finest things. I want to give you money, and furs, and riches! I’ll give you anything!” He gets real close to her face, and breathes, ” I want to make sure that you have everything!” which is fine, but I’d want to see the furs in advance.


She pulls away, and he advances on her, and then it’s like, screw subtext. Let’s dance.

“Oh, you don’t want me to know how much you want them, do you?” He chuckles. “I know you better than you know yourself! And you will know that soon.”


“You don’t know me at all!” she insists.

“What a pointless thing to say!” he observes, and then he just goes and touches her face, like he’s Snidely Whiplash in the large economy size. “But, you know, I’m not angry that you’re fighting me. I’m not bored, either.”


She retreats again, yelling, “Get OUT of here!”

He sneers. “Oh, gladly. Because you need time –”


“– to THINK!”


She stands her ground. “Don’t come back, leave me ALONE!”

“I’ll be back!” he announces, as he swaggers toward the exit. “I’ll be back, and soon, you won’t be able to wait until I walk through that door. Which will be soon! Very soon!” And then he picks up his sword cane, and exits.


So I don’t know what the bored housewife makes of all that, but there you go; that’s what Dark Shadows offers to the world today. Nuttiest show on TV.

Tomorrow: The Absence of the Disturbances.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

I cleaned this up above, but what Yaeger actually says is, “I’ll be back, and soon, you won’t be able to wait until I walk down, through that door.”

Sabrina is off-mic for the first word in the sentence “Cyrus always stays at that hotel in New York.”

At the end of Buffie’s scene with Steve, she leans against her bedpost, and someone can be seen in the background, crossing behind her.

Behind the Scenes:

We saw the colorful afghan a couple weeks ago on Bruno’s piano, and today, it’s in Buffie’s room. Buffie’s also got the Raggedy Ann doll, which we last saw with Nora in August 1969.

Minnie Duval is played by Camila Ashland, who appeared back in January as Mrs. Hutchins, the batty old bird lady who pretends that she knew Michael’s parents. She’ll come back for one more episode in October, as Mrs. Purdy.

Tomorrow: The Absence of the Disturbances.


Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

31 thoughts on “Episode 997: Fifty Shaves

  1. Just like the original “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” this is the simplified version of multiple personality disorder. And as we’ve seen in The 3 Faces of Eve, Sybil,etc the stronger of the personalities retains the memories of the weaker one ad the weaker personality has no knowledge or memory of what the stronger one is doing. So Yaeger’s mentioning of “all the others” are women Cyrus knew. So who knows what happened to Cyrus at an early age. Maybe Mama Longworth was an abusive strumpet and/or stood by as Daddy Longworth or one of her boyfriends abused Cyrus. What an interesting twist it might have been if we learned later that John Yaeger had been coming out to play for years well before Cyrus (or John subconsciously) created the potion to give him a different appearance.

  2. June, moon, loon! And that should put you in the mood for The Raping Game. It’s Wild Arm Twist Day on The Raping Game as John Ogre tries to grope himself a partner, and you’re invited to join the fun, weekdays at 4:00, here on ABC.

  3. “We saw the colorful afghan a couple weeks ago on Bruno’s piano, and today, it’s in Buffie’s room.”

    Buffie is hogging BOTH afghans AND she has the only TV in all of Collinsport! That girl has everything!

    1. On the other hand, her dating criteria seem to be a bit thin;

      “He hasn’t kidnapped anybody… “

      Buffie, maybe just a BIT pickier than that?
      She really ought to raise her standards.

    2. I love how she’s living in this gorgeous wood paneled enormous apartment with stained glass windows that would cost easily ten thousand a month in New York nowadays, but it’s supposed to be this ratty hellhole she wants to escape

  4. I’m not sure how weird this would be to the tuning-in housewives…I suppose it depends how sheltered a life they have led so far…but let’s face it, most women have to deal with this kind of shit at some point. I imagine a lot of tuning-in housewives thinking more along the lines of “yeah! Someone telling it like it is for once!” and going off to join the women’s movement.

  5. Snidely Whiplash in the large economy size.

    Oh, Danny, just when I think I can quit you…
    you make me laugh until I cry
    and I fall in love all over again.

  6. I think Pennock is terrible in a terrible storyline. The main PT storyline has its problems, but it’s Shakesepeare compared to this. This is a cartoon. And one of those cheap ones with the same background always repeating itself as the characters run around.

  7. I wonder if they took Yeager from Chuck Yeager. We’re still at the end of the golden age of space and people like Yeager were still a lot more on people’s minds. He broke the speed barrier I could see a connection with a no holds barred type of guy.

    1. Makes sense. I suppose they also could have been going for a variation of “Jagger,” if they wanted the character to have the same sort of rough, dangerous charisma as a rock-and-roller.

  8. OMG. PT is brutal. Chris Pennock has killed Dark Shadows. And all the makeup and hair people must be in Tarrytown as well as the major cast. Arghhhh. Chris probably had to put that nose on himself and sometimes I swear I see his blond hair sticking out the back of his wig. Bruno seems to get his false eyelashes on ok by himself though. Maybe he has had a lot of practice at that….

    1. All the women are wearing the same hairstyle, aren’t they? Oddly, this would have been an appropriate hairstyle back in 1897 but the first person wearing it was Angelique during the Leviathan story.

  9. Elizabeth Eis passes the same test Jonathan Frid aced in 1967- her character’s behavior makes no sense and she gets some wretchedly written dialogue, but she’s such a blast to watch none of it matters. Such a shame she didn’t work far more than she did.

  10. Minnie Duval. A parallel time descendant of Miranda duVal? I find it interesting that the DS writers reuse surnames (Guthrie, Findley, Shaw and DuVal) when there are so many to choose from! They must be related. See Danny’s post on the Guthrie Brothers (episode 949).

  11. Buffie has an awfully nice room for someone who works as a waitress in a dive waterfront bar.

    Seems like someone forgot to properly light the scene where Quentin confronts Yaeger in the laboratory.

    1. He only wore the nose a couple of times. Pennock said that his face sweated too much, so they got rid of the fake nose right away. Anyone who is offended by the prosthetic nose can just wait an episode or two and it will be gone. It’s amazing how easily offended everyone here is by a bit of bad makeup that they stopped using! Sheesh!

  12. Worst episode of DS yet, a new low. Unappealing supporting characters; flimsy evil makeup on Yaeger, etc. If one episode of DS can be marked where the series “jumped the shark,” 997 may be the one.

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