“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.
— Danny Horn