Episode 1004: The Way Home

“There’s a spirit at Collinwood that will not let you do what you plan!”

Haunted homeowner Quentin Collins strides down the hall in the east wing of his enormous mansion, headed for the suite occupied by his sister-in-law. Flinging open the doors, he finds himself face to face with an episode of Dark Shadows.

Quentin knows this room well; he’s in and out of it all the time these days. It’s mostly orange and pink, with a portrait and a piano and several dreadful secrets. But the doors have flung him into an unfamiliar space — the same room, but dark and empty and underutilized.

His son Daniel and niece Amy are standing in the middle of the room, having an argument. They don’t hear him when he calls, and he’s held back by some invisible barrier that he can’t penetrate. All he can do is stare in amazement at this new, grittier reboot.

This isn’t the television show that Quentin knows, but you can tell that it’s daytime programming, because the boy says, “Maybe if we stand here, something will happen!” and the girl says, “But I don’t want anything to happen!” That’s the new ad campaign for Parallel ABC Daytime.

And that’s how Quentin discovers Parallel Time. If he could somehow cross through into this strange desert otherworld, he would find a house still occupied by his family and friends, but they’ve made different choices, by which I mean that they all stayed put, instead of fleeing the house to make a movie somewhere.

I know that we’re accustomed to thinking of Quentin’s world as the one that’s Parallel, but really, it depends on which side of the door you’re on. We’ve spent the last five weeks making ourselves at home in this dimension, and it’s not very polite to suddenly switch sides again, at the first sign of an exit ramp.

So Quentin gets a bulletin from classic Dark Shadows, where Dr. Hoffman has been going around telling everybody that Barnabas is trapped in another band of time. Apparently, everyone in otherspace is already hep to the existence of alternate timelines; some universes are more up-to-date than others.

Quentin calls to the kids, and then whirls around to find them standing behind him, wearing different clothes. They’re not better clothes, necessarily. They’re just different.

Obviously, the children don’t know anything about the scene he was just looking at; these kids are products of the parallel education system, where there’s more school choice and fewer AP imaginary science classes.

Quentin asks Amy if she knows anything about Barnabas Collins, but she doesn’t — another strike against parallel charter schools, I’m afraid — and Daniel asks why Quentin wants to know.

“No reason,” Quentin answers, but Daniel insists, “There’s got to be some reason.”

“Daniel, please,” Quentin sighs, “just do as I told you,” which means go find somewhere else to play, up to and including in traffic. Then Quentin opens the doors again, and it’s back to his own insane world of nightmare problems.

But obviously there is a reason for asking these questions, which is: when is Barnabas coming back? He’s the main character of the show, and we haven’t seen him for over a month, ever since he passed through the looking-glass and got himself encased in another padlocked coffin. Then he and most of the cast took off upstate to make a Dark Shadows movie that takes place in a third dimension, with another Barnabas and another Dr. Hoffman, and a whole different continuity to contend with. Meanwhile, we’ve been stuck here in otherspace, which is nice enough but the novelty is starting to wear off, and how long is it going to take to get the vampire back on our vampire show?

The viewers probably don’t know where everybody’s been for the last month, because this is April 1970 and they don’t have the internet yet. If the viewers want up-to-the-minute backstage bulletins, they have to wait for the next issue of 16, or possibly the issue after next, so they’re stuck with a mysterious spring break that nobody has bothered to explain. All they know is that the show is less good than it was five weeks ago, and that was already kind of less good, so we could really use some Barnabas and Julia right about now.

But finally, the show is starting to acknowledge this frustrating gap in service, starting with Quentin’s mad vision of multiple existence. The kids at home are asking where Barnabas is, and finally, the kids on the show are asking too.

Rooting around in the attic for new story ideas, Daniel runs across a familiar-looking parallel portrait, repainted and covered in dust. And then we hear that magical sound — the thumping heartbeat which serves as our version of the bat signal, telling the audience that the vampire’s not on the shelf yet, but we’re currently restocking.

At the sight of America’s grooviest ghoul, Amy falls into a swoon, and she’s given a dark vision of the future, because that’s what fainting is for.

“Chains… trapped… chains… trapped…” she murmurs, and she’d probably keep it up indefinitely, given the chance. Like all teenagers in April 1970, she’s dreaming about Barnabas, that mysterious visitor from another world.

Once again, we find that Dark Shadows doesn’t work without Barnabas Collins, an inconvenient truth that we’ve had to learn several times over. The kids understand this better than anyone, and that knowledge is not kind. Overcome with longing for a show they used to love, and rejecting this backdoor spinoff that nobody asked for, the children slip to the floor, lost in dreams of the world they once knew. One of these days, we’re going to have to pop open the mystery box and make those dreams come true, for a time.

Tomorrow: People Trying to Talk Sense to Dameon Edwards.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Dameon speaks to Quentin and Angelique in the drawing room, there’s a boom mic at the top left.

At the end of that scene, there’s a problem with the mic during Dameon’s last couple lines — it sounds like something’s brushed against it, or he’s breathing too heavy on it.

Behind the Scenes:

The stand-in for the hanging Quentin is Joseph Mosca, whose only appearances are today and tomorrow. He also appeared in a couple episodes of The Mod Squad, in 1969 and ’70.

Tomorrow: People Trying to Talk Sense to Dameon Edwards.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

77 thoughts on “Episode 1004: The Way Home

  1. to make a Dark Shadows movie that takes place in a third dimension

    Many consider “Night of Dark Shadows” to be in Parallel Time, but I’ve never heard of “House” being considered PT. But, if you’re actually serious and not just off the cuff here, Parallel Time is all over the text of DS so everything but the original timeline on DS66 could be considered Parallel Times (the reboot series, the failed 2004 pilot, 2012). It’s a clean solution and leaves the original wrapped up in its own nice, neat little bow.

    1. I think that every time they reshoot the last scene of the previous episode, it’s a different parallel universe from that point on. So the original DS has somewhere around 1,000 different continuities.

      1. Your “multiverse” theory of Dark Shadows works when considering the movie versions, the TV shows, the DS novels, comics strip, and comic book series. I still prefer to think that Collinwood-Prime is one universe but it has so many continuity problems it’s like a jigsaw puzzle missing pieces

      2. I thought you said you disagreed with me when I said something like this a few months ago? :}

  2. There was speculation in a previous post that the portrait of Barnabas used here in PT is different from the “original” — but this is the original, with the non-Frid thinner, elongated neck, etc. In the movie they only needed the portrait for the one scene when Barnabas shows up at Collinwood to introduce himself as having just come over from England. Rather than incur the expense of commissioning a new portrait they would have just shuttled the one they had from the movie set, which is what it appears they did.

    So true about the show being all about Barnabas and not being able to get far without him. They don’t call it a “vampire soap opera” for nothing. When Barnabas first arrives on the scene in 1967, the show was on life support with the patient having just 13 weeks to live. Then in 1971, when Frid decides he will be Bramwell instead of Barnabas, the show will have… 13 weeks to live.

      1. Ah, I hadn’t been to that page before, and I can now see the differences. But it does still seem to be patterned on the original outline of producer Bob Costello. The expression on Frid’s face is different though.

        If I’m not mistaken, on the complete DVD set there’s an interview with John Karlen somewhere with the Barnabas portrait in the background, and I’m pretty sure it looked like the original, so it must have been recovered at some point. If I recall, it was even sold at auction in recent years.

        1. On the subject of the portrait, here’s something I’ve wondered about. When we first see the portrait in 1967, Willie is staring at it, hearing a loud heartbeat, and then, the eyes in the portrait begin to glow. Now it appears to me that in these first few episodes, the glowing eyes effect is accomplished somehow with a small light shining from the back of the portrait. Its very creepy looking. Later on, when David starts seeing the eyes glow, it’s nothing more than a light from the grid shining down on the portrait and not nearly as effective. So what’s the story? Was the first effect done with a different portrait as well?

          Take a look at the teaser from episode 209:

  3. If you had a room in your house that you knew was a portal to a different time band, wouldn’t you lock the door to at least keep the kids out??

    1. Now, sure. But back then we played with Jarts and rode our bikes without helmets and didn’t wear seatbelts! 🙂

      1. And we didn’t tell our parents where we were going when we wandered off by ourselves, sometimes for miles, just so long as we didn’t get into trouble and got back home in time for supper.

        1. I know. Wish I had lived to see the 21st Century…flying cars, daily rockets to Mars, undersea hotels… 🙂

            1. Puts me in mind of one of the all-time great movie closing exchanges, between Marie Dresser (Carlotta) and Jean Harlow (Kitty) in Dinner At Eight:

              I was reading a book the other day.

              Reading a book?

              Yes. It’s all about civilization or something. A nutty kind of a book. Do you know that the guy says that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?

              Oh, my dear. That’s something you need never worry about.

              1. That is a hysterical moment in a lovely movie. Plus Marie Dressler does a genius double-take when the Harlow character says she was reading a book.

                1. So terrific (on the part of both actresses) it deserves a YouTube link. It may be the best 19 seconds of media you see today:

        1. I always used to joke that the transporter operators on Star Trek probably don’t get bathroom breaks, because they can just go in the being and it’ll all just be transported into outer space.

          1. Yeah, I want to see Kirk come dashing into the transporter room, shouting orders, then having to wait for the technician to ‘spend a penny’ before he can get beamed down. “Uh, I’ll just use that transporter pad instead, and you’d better requisition some Lysol from Ship’s Stores.”

          2. I think at some point on Voyager they used the transporter on a pregnant woman in lieu of giving birth the old fashioned way.

            1. Yes, I always thought it would be useful to do surgery via transporter, just ‘beam out’ a tumor, or knit a broken bone back together.

    2. What am I even saying?? It’s Collinwood – not only would the family not take precautions to limit access to any of their spook chambers, they would probably set up a full blown sĂ©ance in there – and Thanksgiving dinner as well.

        1. The Dwarves and Elves of Middle Earth have little use for guardrails, either. If you don’t know where the sides of the Bridge Of Khazad-dĂ»m are, you deserve to plunge into the abyss…

        1. “Shtay close to de candles; de shtairs can be…tweachewous.”
          Frau BlĂĽcher, in Young Frankenstein

      1. Also a couple of I Ching trances for good measure—just in case the ghosts they were trying to contact weren’t cooperating with the seances.

    3. Yeah, I wondered about that and them discussing the nature of the room while in it. If memory serves, it comes back to bite someone in the arse later.

  4. I stand by perhaps my unique opinion that the Barnabas-free period of 846 to 866 is solid and that Selby is at his peak as Quentin/Petofi. Of course, though Frid isn’t present, the character of Barnabas has a great impact on the narrative, which is the problem with Parallel Time. He showed up and vanished. Arguably, the “Barnabas went missing” storyline going on in *Real Time” is more compelling to the existing audience than the murder mystery of a character we are less invested in.

    But ultimately, though I usually resist “correlation as causation,” I must concede that from the evidence, DARK SHADOWS doesn’t work without Barnabas Collins. Heck, it didn’t work before the character existed. Pre-210 DARK SHADOWS, with its pens and manslaughter stories, is like one extended Parallel Time period before Barnabas arrives and slowly transforms the world into the DS we know and love.

    1. I thought it worked once Laura Collins showed up. Vicki was still in Nancy Drew mode and she had her boyfriend Frank Garner as straight man to her loopiness, and it was suddenly a new show. I would have liked to see DS continue in that mode, but of course Frank left, Laura flamed out, and the craziness subsided for a while. I’ll never understand why that happened. Had they maintained that kind of weirdness, with Vicki remaining a proactive character…. But they didn’t.

      1. Gurlitt, I agree that it worked with Laura Collins and even before that with the ghosts saving Vicki’s life when Matthew Morgan was holding her hostage. It’s unfortunate that the Laura story had nowhere to go. When Barnabas arrived, it did take the show to a different level, but as a kid watching the original ABC broadcasts, I was convinced that Barnabas would be destroyed. It happened with Matthew and Laura, so I figured that Burke Devlin and/or Dr. Woodard would somehow rid the town of the evil vampire.

        1. That’s interesting. For reasons I don’t remember, I stopped watching DS right after the Widows’ Hill ghosts got Matthew; I picked up again upon Vicki’s return from the past! When I first saw Frid (sitting at the seance), I thought, who is this weird-looking guy? (His expression is what got me.)

          Circa 1990, I finally saw the Laura episodes, and, because I was weaned on the narrative that everything was slow and boring prior to Frid, I was blown away by the over-the-top spookiness (Joe digging up a grave!), the fast pace, the Angelique music cues, etc. And, because I loved the Frank/Vicki pairing, I could have handled DS continuing in that mode (for one thing, we could’ve found out about V.’s past). Then again, DS as we know it IS DS with Barnabas, so….

          But it may have succeeded without him. Or without his becoming DS. In some parallel time band, Vicki and Frank got married, Barnabas was staked, Don Briscoe got professional help, Chromakey technology advanced more quickly, and Ryan’s Hope never happened because DS was still going!

          1. The first Laura plot line has one of my all-time famous “freeze-before-commercial” moments, when the door to the crypt opens and the camera shows Joe and Guthrie staring in with utter shock. They really pulled that off.

            Another favorite freeze moment is later, during the Liz–Jason plotline: the episode where Burke brings his report results to Liz and Jason invites him to the wedding and walks out of the drawing room. then we get three luscious freeze shots: Vicki looking forlorn, Burke looking shocked, and Liz staring downward in utter dejection and self-disgust. Truly extraordinary. The music was great for that moment, too.

        2. One of my two very favorite scenes in DS is during the ghost Molloy/hostage storyline, or rather just before, when Vickie’s rescued from the room David locked her in and they find the seaweed on the floor.

          Liz and Roger have a hesitant, not looking at each other conversation about where it could have come from, and Collinwood in general, and what they talked themselves out of, over and over, growing up in it. You can tell it’s the very first time either has admitted that they know this house is Not Right–that you keep seeing things out of the corner of your eye, or that door is open when you know you closed it, or somebody keeps turning the sheet music on the piano.

          1. I love that scene. Is it the one where Roger says to Liz something like “Don’t tell me you’ve never seen strange things in this house. I know better!” ?

    2. I agree with you about eps 846-866. Had Barnabas really been killed, I don’t know whether the plot line could have been sustained.

      But I think Dark Shadows pre-Barnabas almost worked with the first Laura storyline. She played the role with a little ambiguity—as if she didn’t always understand what was happening or why she was running out of time—and played it very well. Of course, this plot line also begins to show Vicki exploring her “I don’t understand” persona.

  5. Of course Dark Shadows suffered without Barnabas but it also suffered without Jonathan Frid AS the Barnabas to whom fans had become accustomed. I would include the early Leviathan period as a Barnabas-less time too.

  6. I remember feeling the rush of the show’s energy and coherence picking up with the resurrection of Angelique and the promised return of Barnabas: it was as if the grownups realized the ship was adrift and started to right the course: Gordon Russell for character quirks and details (maybe a gift strengthened by his friendship with Welles), Sam Hall for the most efficient plot-propelling you could ask for, Joe Caldwell for a kind of writerly elegance.For me, there was hope, and rewards for hanging in with a wounded show I nevertheless loved.

  7. Not only is Barnabas gone from these eps, but there’s barely a Quentin and Angelique either.
    Quentin is flapping his arms and spinning in circles trying to figure out what’s going on. That’s hardly how we liked him before. Even as a cursed werewolf, the character had a center. Not this guy.
    And although Angelique is back — finally — the issue with her having to kill to survive keeps her from being the threat she was previously.
    Pretty surprising all in all. I would have bet money that Selby and Parker could carry a few weeks of show no matter what.

    1. I think we have to accept that Dark Shadows is the Barnabas Collins show. Frid playing another character later does not work either. It’s the character that matters, not the actor. As much as I enjoy looking at Selby, this Quentin is seriously unappealing. He lacks a sense of humor. He lacks charm. I’m wondering what Angelique and Maggie saw in him….other than the obvious. I am trudging through this. I can’t wait for Barnabas to return!

  8. Having Quentin cross over into ‘our’ Collinwood would have been fun; plus, there would be two Quentins now! Selby Stereo! Though I don’t know what would happen to the space-time continuum when they meet…

  9. …go find somewhere else to play, up to and including in traffic.

    Interestingly enough, this is a lot safer to do in Parallel Collinsport, because Barnabas isn’t driving up and down Main Street past the antique store with one set of tires on the sidewalk.

  10. By the way: I haven’t posted anything in a few days, because I’ve been working on a House of Dark Shadows post that’s going to come between ep 1010 and 1011. It will be kick-ass and worth the wait. Just so you know.

  11. How many eps are left in the 1991 revival to cover?

    The last one was part 11 so just one more, unless there’s a recap post beyond the individual episodes, but considering that the source material has already been discussed extensively in the existing 11 posts I’d doubt that.


    1. Yeah, there’s just one more episode of 1991 coming up for the next pre-emption, which is in October 1970 (about five months after this post). There’s four more pre-emptions after that, for three holidays and an Apollo splashdown. I’m not sure what I’m doing with all of those — definitely the Tim Burton movie, towards the end. I want to see if I can find the unaired WB pilot. And then the others may be Lara Parker novels or Dynamite comics or something.

  12. This episode’s reminder that the current plot exists in a parallel timeline has highlighted what’s wrong with PT to me. I LOVE that everyone plays a new part, that this is a monster movie version of Rebecca; I even like that some of the B players get to stretch their legs.

    But unless we see PT in parallel—meaning that the show moves across the parallel narratives—then we just have a different show on the same set of our beloved previous show featuring a handful of its actors. I was hoping the two worlds would coexist, or at least brush up against one another. That sounded like a good idea. And characters like Barnabas and Angelique (who cannot be bound by the rules of time) crossing the worlds is a potentially great idea. This is just an extended pilot for a show I probably wouldn’t keep watching.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s