Episode 1007: Saving Dark Shadows

“I’ll have to live all over what happened last year.”

“Cyrus Longworth is John Yaeger, and John Yaeger is Cyrus Longworth!”

The rest is silence.

At least, that’s what it was like for me, in October 1986, as New Jersey Network reached the end of the Dark Shadows syndication package, and abandoned us here, in Parallel Time, with kinescope Chris Pennock staring into the camera for a fade-out that lasted six years.

You see, during the 1980s, clever and ruthless Dark Shadows fans had managed to convince otherwise rational public TV stations that broadcasting a vampire soap opera was in the public interest. It was a pretty sweet scam, but our luck had to run out at some point, and it turns out that point was episode 1006.

I wrote about New Jersey Network’s role in Dark Shadows syndication history a few months ago, in “A Limited Number of Tomorrows“, but here’s the gist: Dark Shadows is a very expensive show to rerun. Any show is, if it has more than 1,000 episodes, which is why on the whole people don’t do it. Making a package of episodes available for syndication for the first time requires a big up-front cost, to pay residuals for the actors, writers and directors. Once you’ve made that investment, you want a package that you can run again next year. But with Dark Shadows, once you’ve shown one year — episodes 736 through 1006, for example — then the audience expects you to pay residuals for a whole new batch of episodes.

New Jersey Network paid for the release of the mythical Third Year of Dark Shadows syndication, but at this point — “Cyrus Longworth is John Yaeger, and John Yaeger is Cyrus Longworth!” — they came to the rational decision that the station’s mission was to provide cultural, educational and public-affairs programming, and Dark Shadows was not super on-message. The fact that they were correct was not consoling in the least. NJN was the biggest and richest public TV station interested in showing Dark Shadows, and if they didn’t want to pay the residuals, then nobody would, and as far as we knew, we’d never see those episodes ever again.

We were determined to Save Dark Shadows, and it turns out that we actually did, just not in the way that we expected. We called and wrote letters and stamped our feet, and actually held protest marches in front of public-TV stations — in 1986 against New Jersey Network, and in 1989 at WNYC, who also picked up the show and then dropped it before we wanted them to. Public TV didn’t give in to our demands, but the demonstration of mass fan passion encouraged MPI Video to start releasing Dark Shadows on videotape in 1989, and when the Sci-Fi Channel started broadcasting in 1992, their opening slate of programs included Dark Shadows — two episodes a day, starting with Vicki on the train in episode 1.

So we got to see the Fourth Year after all — on video in 1992, and on Sci-Fi in 1995 — and now here we are, with the whole show available on DVD and YouTube. What lies ahead in the Fourth Year is kind of a mixed bag, but what the hell. We have nothing better to do. Let’s go ahead and save Dark Shadows.

But screw Cyrus Longworth and John Yaeger, and John Yaeger and Cyrus Longworth, is my way of thinking. For weeks, the Dark Shadows cast has been in Tarrytown, New York, making a feature film at an ersatz Collinwood, and leaving a skeleton crew behind to keep the TV show running.

There’s two current storylines, running more or less independently. On one track, there’s an adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Jeb as Cyrus and Sabrina as Sabrina, and co-starring a couple of nobodies from the Leviathan storyline. Yesterday, my patience ran out and I declared war on the Jekyll and Hyde storyline, so those people are going to have to save themselves; I’m not going to bother with them.

Meanwhile, Quentin and Angelique are headlining a murder mystery mistaken-identity ghost story, which is a lot more fun and has a bug-eyed skeleton in it. If we’re going to Save Dark Shadows, then clearly this is the bit worth saving.

The inmates at Collinwood have discovered that a former houseguest named Dameon Edwards was murdered and stuffed into a basement cupboard about a year ago, and Angelique has just sent Dameon’s unresting spirit back to wherever it is irritating houseguests go, once you’ve kicked them out. AirBnB, probably.

Now they’re left with the corpse, which has somehow divested itself of all of its flesh and organs and yucky parts, leaving a complete middle-school classroom skeleton model with wires holding all the bones in place, plus big staring bug-eyes and a hinge at the top of the skull so that you can open it up and look inside, and yes of course that’s how skeletons work, what do you even know about how skeletons work?

So Angelique brings Quentin downstairs to view the remains, and he’s upset, which is understandable; there are a lot of dusty storage rooms in Collinwood, but that doesn’t mean people can dump unclaimed carcasses all over the place. It’s not hygenic, and it has a negative impact on staff retention.

“We’ve got to call the police!” Quentin says, in a rare moment of Collins family lucidity.

But Angelique is standing by, with the usual Dark Shadows challenge to civilized values. “The police?” she cries, as if this is a brand-new concept. “What will you tell them?”

“I’m going to tell them that Dameon Edwards was murdered in this house!” says Quentin, which is apparently not the correct answer.

“How will you explain knowing that these are Dameon Edwards’ bones?” Angelique retorts. “It’s a story too incredible for the police to believe!” So apparently in Parallel Collinsport, the police department expects you to file a detailed explanation for each dead body they pick up at your house, and if any aspect of the case is hard for them to believe, then they’d rather you just handle it on your end.

Quentin says, “But he was murdered!” and she snaps, “Angelique was murdered. What are you doing about that?”

And she’s got him there. He doesn’t know where to look. Nobody told him there was going to be this much domestic police work.

But hey, look who’s back! Julia and Liz were let out of school early — Julia was strangled, and Liz disappears about two-thirds of the way through House of Dark Shadows — and Lyndhurst’s loss is our gain. Roger will be back on the show later this week, and then Carolyn, Willie and Barnabas next week, which means that we never have to care about Cyrus, Sabrina, Buffie or Horace Gladstone ever again, except that we do, for weeks, but whatever.

Now, in Parallel Time, they call Julia “Hoffman” and expect her to do all the housework, so this isn’t as sweet a gig as it usually is, but at least they’re not squirting her with a hose and telling her it’s raining. At this point, it’s just nice to be indoors.

But Hoffman’s return to active duty is strangely muted, in a way that I can’t quite figure. Basically the only thing that we know about Hoffman is that she’s convinced that her former employer, Angelique, will come back from the grave, and return to take her proper place as mistress of Collinwood. When Angelique’s twin sister Alexis arrived for a visit, Hoffman insisted that it was actually Angelique, to the point where they had to ship her off to make an MGM feature presentation, just to get her out from underfoot.

While she’s been away, Hoffman’s fondest wish has come true — this really is Angelique, back from the grave, taking her proper place and everything — so you’d think this would be a pretty big moment for everyone concerned. And besides, when Angelique returned to Collinwood last week, she specifically said that she wanted to get Hoffman back, so she’d have an ally in the house. And yet here they are, reunited, and Angelique refuses to break the ice.

In fact, there’s an utterly peculiar moment where Angelique is in the foyer talking to her crazy Aunt Hannah on the telephone, just babbling out loud about their underhanded secret murder plans in the middle of Collinwood’s busiest transportation hub — “Don’t worry, there’s no one who’s going to suspect the truth!” she announces, over an insecure line — and then she turns around and Hoffman is standing right there!

It’s one of those “Can’t Let Me Know What” moments that daytime weepers generate for exciting act breaks, where a character says, “Whatever happens, we can’t let Blair know!” and then Blair comes in and says, “Can’t let me know what?” and everybody freezes, as we stay tuned for a word from Ken-L-Ration 100% nutritionally complete dog food. This is a totally acceptable bit of soapcraft, but the whole point of Hoffman is that you can let her know everything, and why are you still talking to Aunt Hannah? Hoffman is back! Engage with Hoffman! I don’t get it.

Still, I can’t complain about an episode that has a high ratio of skeleton-related sequences. I don’t think there’s ever been a boring skeleton scene on Dark Shadows; it’s absolutely sure-fire.

Now, Dr. Cyrus Longworth, as we’ve established, is a leading expert in the field of Villainology with a minor in being truly two, but this is Dark Shadows, where anybody with a flashlight and a master’s degree can perform a long-distance autopsy from six feet away. Watch and learn.

“It’s hard for me to be scientifically minded today,” says the forensics expert, “but my layman’s opinion is that this man did not die from the bullet wound. The bullet is lodged here, in the rib. The man probably died from loss of blood.”

I’m going to give you a minute to sit with that concept.

This man did not die from the bullet wound.

The bullet is lodged here, in the rib.

The man probably died from loss of blood.

As you can clearly observe, with the help of this trusty flashlight.

And then Quentin says, “Do you think I ought to call the police?”

So, I mean. Come on! How could New Jersey Network possibly say that this program doesn’t align with their educational, public-affairs programming?

Cyrus:  Quentin, I can’t make that decision for you.

Quentin:  Well, if I do, what will happen? He was Angelique’s “friend,” everyone knew that. I’m not afraid what the police will ask me, I didn’t kill him. It’s my guess Bruno did. But if I say something, it will simply stir up more talk about Angelique.

Cyrus:  Yes, it will do that.

Quentin:  And I’ll have to live all over what happened last year, and I don’t want to do that. And I would have to, and so would Daniel. And what would happen? Edwards would still be dead.

Yeah, this is why you’re not allowed to make your own decisions in this area. There is a process which is specifically designed to not let specifically you do specifically this.

Cyrus:  And Bruno?

Quentin:  Well, I’ll find out. Then I’ll take care of Bruno myself. You’ll help me bury the remains?

Cyrus:  Yes.

Quentin:  Whether I’m right or wrong, I’m simply tired about hearing all of this.

So, wow. They never talked like this on Classroom Close-Up. Honestly, you don’t really need a ballistics report to determine the cause of death for Dark Shadows on public television. How can you save a show like this, when it clearly doesn’t want to be saved?

And then we see the boys come back from disposing of the deceased, still wearing jackets and ties, and it’s straight to the magic drinks cabinet.

“Well, the deed has been done,” Cyrus sighs, post-felony.

“Yes,” Quentin agrees, helping himself to the adult beverages. “Another thing to feel guilty about. I’m getting pretty good at accumulating guilts.” Because obviously this is all about Quentin’s feelings.

And that’s pretty much the last we hear about the life and death of Dameon Edwards, murder victim. Everybody seems to suspect that mad piano man Bruno Hess was the perpetrator, but nobody wants the hassle of dealing with the killer in the cottage, even though he tried to strangle Alexis, and will almost certainly commit another outrage on the public weal any minute now.

So there’s a gap here, some kind of time-skip across the space where murder matters. Quentin and Cyrus can dispose of the remains with no wear on the wardrobe, because it turns out the Dameon subplot was just a puff of smoke. Sure, Bruno probably killed him, or Trask did, or it was Angelique or Sabrina or he tripped and fell down the stairs or maybe he was a skeleton the whole time just pretending to be a guy. This may be unique on soaps, a murder mystery that everyone’s already solved and nobody cares about.

And meanwhile, in 1986, Young Danny figures that episode 1007 is probably where the whole Dameon Edwards kerfuffle snaps into focus, with an all-hands manhunt for the killer, which exposes the treasure trove of secrets and shatters the fragile peace of the great estate at Collinwood. Or something. But Dameon fell through the cracks, somewhere between 1986 and 1992, and he’s probably still there, unmourned and unloved, stuck in a stack of Bart Simpson T-shirts.

And in the strange half-light of the east wing, Quentin stumbles upstairs and finds a stray chunk of Dark Shadows.

“When I think of the way Barnabas just disappeared!” Elizabeth shudders, worrying about the exodus to Tarrytown. “We should close this room completely!”

“No!” Julia insists. “This room is his only chance of coming back to us!”

So the show is just as worried as the rest of us about the way they all ran off and abandoned the audience, and it’s working through a growing pile of accumulated guilts. It takes six weeks for Barnabas to come back, and six years for this episode to surface, and at this point, even the characters on Dark Shadows are concerned that they’re missing episodes of Dark Shadows.

“Barnabas, can you hear me?” Julia calls, to a man who’s currently upstate, chewing his way through the Collins family. “Are you standing in that hall in the other time, watching me, unable to make me hear you or see you, or has your curse, that terrible curse, been discovered?”

And she narrows her eyes, trying to squint through the space-time vortex, and catch a glimpse of 1007. “If only I knew!” she moans. “If only I knew!”

So there we are, all of us — Julia and Hoffman, Dameon and Young Danny. All we want is for Barnabas to return, to cast his dark shadow and make this nonsensical story make sense. And there they go, the lost children of 1970 and 1986, running home from school to watch a show that isn’t there.

Tomorrow: This Terrible Truth.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Cyrus tells Gladstone, “I gave that check to Longworth, as a loan.” He means he gave it to Yaeger.

Dameon’s skeleton is hanging from a wire in the hidden cupboard, and when Angelique opens the panel, the skeleton rotates a bit.

When Hoffman emerges from the drawing room at the end of act 1, you can see Quentin’s shadow through the other doorway, waiting for his cue to enter.

During an argument about Maggie, Liz tells Quentin, “She wants nothing but the assurance of your love.” He replies, “Isn’t she interested enough to find out?” which doesn’t make any sense; he must have skipped ahead a couple lines.

Quentin tells Cyrus, “I’m simply tired about hearing all of this.” He means “tired of”.

There’s a loud bang from the studio when Quentin tells Cyrus about the Parallel Time room.

Just before Quentin opens the doors to the Parallel Time room, we can hear Julia mumbling something off-mic.

Liz tells Julia, “I didn’t believe Roger, when he tried to explain this — this Time Parallel.”

Tomorrow: This Terrible Truth.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

48 thoughts on “Episode 1007: Saving Dark Shadows

  1. “Barnabas, can you hear me?” Julia calls, to a man who’s currently upstate, chewing his way through the Collins family. “Are you standing in that hall in the other time, watching me, unable to make me hear you or see you, or has your curse, that terrible curse, been discovered?”

    They do now! #ThanksJulia

  2. Quentin: Whether I’m right or wrong, I’m simply tired about hearing all of this.

    Well, SOMEBODY had to say it.

    And the skeleton DOES have the eyeballs in?
    So Dameon was actually blind and had two glass eyes. That he could actually see with.
    Either that; or Bruno, after shooting Dameon, rendered the flesh from the bones, reassembled the bones and wired them together, sawed off the top of the skull and reattached that, then hung it up in the secret room and put in some fake eyeballs for that spooky effect.
    And puts the bullet back in the ribcage.
    Seems like a lot of work for something he was expecting to be hidden forever. (Don’t know why Bruno didn’t also roll up a sheet of paper and put it in the jaws, so it looked like the skeleton was tokin’ a big doobie – that’s what the class clown in my high school biology class always did.)

    Then, the unkindest cut of all – Dameon gets no justice, his tomb is found and quietly cleared out (off-camera, no less), he’s dumped in a hole, the matter is toasted with a brandy or two and forgotten. (And OMG, I have got to find me a magic drinks cabinet!)

    That’s how they roll in The PT.

    1. I like that bug eyed skeleton – reminds me of Jeff Dunham’s dead terrorist puppet. Which begs the question – how did the DS actors manage to keep straight faces when forced to play aserious dramatic scene with a party gag skeleton?

  3. I recall DARK SHADOWS’s abrupt removal from the local independent station (a FOX affiliate) in 1989, just as the Adam storyline was starting. What had been a daily ritual for my mother and me over the past year had ended without notice. There was a sort of “DS wilderness” period for me for the next three years or so (a brief period in retrospect but at the time FOREVER). I remember excitedly recording HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS when it aired on cable a year later — as I hadn’t yet actually seen Barnabas and Julia become BFF supernatural sleuths, the film seemed an extreme version of the show I remembered. I bought the DARK SHADOWS COMPANION and read with enthusiasm the synopsis of episodes I hoped to someday see but felt I never would. I stumbled upon the Gold Key DARK SHADOWS book at my local comic shop. I bought a couple of MPI tapes.

    Sci-Fi premiered when I started college with DARK SHADOWS and DOCTOR WHO airing back to back. The latter began with the most popular run for Americans: The Tom Baker years, but the former chose to start a year before the magic box opening when the series had only a slim connection to the theme of the network. I found other things to do at 11 a.m. (like going to class!) but came back in time for the Phoenix storyline. I drifted away again during the Dream Curse — as it became harder to schedule classes around my vampire soap opera (which some might argue was silly). Around my junior year, I think, I switched on the set at 11 a.m. and caught a summer of 1970 episode (Roxanne is chained up in a coffin in the Old House secret room). It was wildly out of context but also a real shock to the system of where the show would go (Sebastian Shaw was so 1970s!).

    From that point, DS was always “available” to me. Even when it went off the air for a while in the mid-90s, I had episodes recorded off Sci-Fi that I could watch. Sci-Fi also made owning the entire series (or at least a bulk of it) feasible. Then came the DVDs…

    Twenty-five years ago, it never occurred to me that Sci-Fi was showing so much of the show for the “first” time in syndication. I remember the old DS newsgroup on Google where folks would discuss the episodes as they aired. And of course in the 1990s, it was possible for so many of the kids who watched the show originally to only be in their mid-to-late 30s.

    1. I remember alt.tv.dark-shadows! I don’t remember if I ever posted there, but I definitely lurked on a regular basis while watching DS on Sci-Fi. It was a lot of fun. That was back in the old days, when ISPs included NNTP server access. They also included (limited) space in case you wanted to build your own website. So I did. My first try at hand-coding html was a collection of dozens of DS screen caps with captions & hover text, plus a few introductory paragraphs. For a first try, it didn’t look too awful.

    2. Even some of us Dark Shadows OGs got the rug pulled out early. My local ABC affiliate – and many others, I believe – saw the Shadows on the wall early and pulled the show from their line-ups five or six months before the network actually pulled the plub. I seem to recall my Dayton station calling it quits right around the time of the HODS release, so fall of 70 rather than spring ’71. I definitely remember watching the Longworth/Yaeger storyline, and maybe up to the 1995 flashfoward, then nothing. DS was replaced by a local kiddie show that aired Stooges shorts and cartoons. I survived, barely

  4. “At least they’re not squirting her with a hose and telling her it’s raining.”

    I get so tired of that OTHER version of the same expression that “squirting with a hose” is a pleasant switch.

    (Now if I could only stop hearing about someone “pulling an idea out of my ass,
    ” and hear some other version of THAT one!)

  5. I certainly do sympathize with your frustration at discovering DS and then having to wait six long years to see the last year. My frustration tale is longer and took more twists and turns before satisfaction. I only started watching DS as a kid during the last year of its original run. I had little knowledge of what came before so it didn’t seem repetitive or confusing. It would take nearly 20 years to catch up storywise and see what I had missed

    1. I had even less exposure to the series during the original run (see the ABOUT page in this blog for lots of back stories); I actually started by way of the Marilyn Ross novels. Then WGPR-62 in Detroit started running the series (an odd choice for them, as their call letters stood for “Where God’s Presence Radiates”, and they ran mainly religious shows) in the 1980s, so I finally saw the ‘real thing’.

      Really never had any idea that fifty years on, I would be able to connect with people around the world, and share ideas (or whatever it is I’m pulling out of my, um, assessments) this way.

      1. That’s fascinating ad I agree I never thought that we’d be able to connect with people whose DS experiences are so varied. Even though it seems that last year of DS isn’t held in high regard that’s where I started and where I was hooked. After the show was cancelled my interest in what I had missed was voracious. It was very long and winding road before I finally saw all the shows I had missed.. The story is very long so I can’t bore readers with it here. Suffice to say it took decades but the wait was worth it

        1. I watched when it was originally aired but my local station stopped showing it before the end of the 1840 storyline. I had no idea that there were fanzines or that there was any information about it available. It took 40 years to find dvds by accident at my library and finally see the end of the series!

  6. There’s two current storylines, running more or less independently.

    Just like the two-track Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at 1970’s Walt Disney World. And pretty soon, we’re all gonna be hit by that midnight train and go straight to hell.

  7. Sorry Danny, but you’re not going to be able to completely ignore Cyrus/Yaeger for the rest of the story. But maybe you’ll be happier that it comes to have something more to do with the main story, anyway. Even if…oh, never mind.

  8. I just came across this cool documentary about Chris Goutman directing an episode of As the World Turns. (He was also the executive producer.) He credits Dark Shadows/Ryan’s Hope director Lela Swift with teaching him how to direct with a three-camera set-up. (He alludes to Swift being quite a character herself.) Of course Dark Shadows was recorded straight through and didn’t have the luxury of doing the block/tape set-up that As the World Turns and current soaps use today, but it’s still cool to watch Goutman in action, taking what’s on the page and putting it on tape.

    1. Goutman mentions learning from Lela Swift at 20:22 in the documentary. He also talks about former Dark Shadows / Edge of Night director John Sedwick helping him on his first day of directing an episode of Edge.

  9. “Cyrus Longworth is John Yaeger, and John Yaeger is Cyrus Longworth!”

    What, so Gladstone doesn’t find it plausible that this total bastard Yaeger would’ve taken the painting just because he felt like it, and given it to Buffie?

  10. Cyrus Longworth is John Yaeger, and John Yaeger is Cyrus Longworth, and Ralph is really the Captain, and the Captain is Ralph!

  11. Everyone has been sharing their stories of Dark Shadows Interrupted. Here’s mine:

    In the final months of DS, Boston was a day behind the rest of the country. The local station had pre-empted the show at some point for some news reason during the final months of 1840PT.

    When the show was cancelled, I was, of course, ruined. My favorite show, gone.

    On that Friday, the local channel aired the last episode – well, for us, the next-to-last episode. Glumly, I set off for my Cub Scout meeting. Couldn’t dodge my responsibilities as much as I wanted to.

    Later that night, my sister and brother told me what had happened. Without any warning or notice, the Boston channel aired the series finale immediately after the regular episode, pre-empting the start of the Merv Griffin show. They screamed from the windows for me to come back but I was already gone down the block.

    It took me about 30 years to see that final episode. Oddly, that’s the highlight of my scouting career, too. .

  12. I watched both iterations of DS on SFC but am not sure if they played it to the very end on the second run. I may have watched an ep or two in college and on V32, a brand new TV station in Lakeland Florida, b/c I discussed it with a teacher.

    1. They ran the show through at least 2 times complete, but they did end in the middle of a story on the third/fourth run. (I was told that they started the first run on SciFi with #210, but Mr. Horn says no, and he’s the authority, and that would make 3 full runs on that channel.)

      1. Are we sure about this? That would mean the pre-Barnabas episodes were first repeated on Sci-Fi Channel, but i seem to remember having to buy the MPI video releases to see them first.

  13. I watched DS intermittently between ’69 and ’71, but I was so young all I really remembered for years was that Barnabas was a Vampire and Quentin was a werewolf. However, thanks to the Comic books and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and occasional airings of House of Dark Shadows on the CBS late movie, I never forgot about it.

    Cut to 1982 when NBC started airing DS at 4:00PM weekdays, I watched it every day I could, until they took it off and began broadcasting it at 2:00AM. Well, such was the allure of Dark Shadows and not having a VCR yet, I would, as often as possible, set my alarm for 1:55AM, get up, and watch the episode and go back to sleep. That wasn’t always great, because many times I would forget that I even watched it. Alas, that NBC run ended sometime around the death of Doctor Woodard.

    I was very upset, because even though I didn’t know for sure at the time, I was certain that the presence of the ghost of Sarah Collins meant they were going to go back in time soon, a period of the show I had only read about and never seen. It was the part of the show I wanted to see the most!

    Cut to 1984 and DS is on New Jersey Network, but by the time I found out about it, they had just finished the 1795 Flashback, I literally tuned in the day Vicky was at the gallows. Arrggh, I thought I would never see 1795!

    I kept on with New Jersey Network and certainly remember watching episode 1006 sometime in 1986, and then that was it until 1989 and the MPI VHS tapes.

  14. During the original run, I missed many of the Cyrus/John episodes–I think our TV was on the blink, and we were pretty poor at that point. So I was pissed, come 1986 or ’87 when the Toledo, Ohio PBS station stopped airing DS (poss. at the same story point Danny reports) due to the rental prices going up too much. That was their explanation. They said they’d love to keep showing it but that it had been priced out of consideration. Sounded reasonable at the time, anyway.

    It wasn’t until the Sci-Fi showings that I finally got to see the 1970PT episodes I’d missed, include Yaeger’s demise–plus the 1995 ep.’s, which, on their original airings, my grandparents had filled me in on.

    DS’s final show was one of the biggest let-downs in TV history, imo. Ending in parallel time, with none of the regular characters, and an utterly lame final narration. We were supposed to be happy with a vampire reference and a flash of lightning. I don’t recall whether or not I flipped off the TV–I should have.

      1. I think the final lines were too tongue-in-cheek, also–something DS never was. Lara Parker pointed out in an interview that for DS to work, it had to be played to the hilt and with total conviction. Like all horror, really.

        Going out with light humor was the most wrong thing they could have done, and they did!

    1. The last episode of the 1840 storyline feels so much like a “proper” series finale that I refuse to accept it as anything else. 1841 PT is like a weird, less successful spin-off: the AFTERMASH or JOEY to classic DARK SHADOWS.

      Of course, there are things I enjoy about 1841 PT (Brutus Collins is like crazy ass insane), but there’s clearly no way “back” to the DS we knew (every other “alternate time” story had an anchor to the “real” Collinwood but this one didn’t).

      1. Even though we’re jumping the gun regarding a discussion of 1841 PT there are couple things I would add, At one poi t during the opening narration they stop referring to 1841 as PT. Instead they simply say “Collinwood in the year 1841…” This is a signal that the end is coming. I would also agree that without a “real world” anchor there’s no way back..or so it seems. I have an idea on how to segue from that Thayer David narrated epilogue to real time. But I’ll wait until we reach that point in this blog

  15. I was a very lucky Dark Shadows fan. I watched from day 1 through the bitter end on the Birmingham ABC (1966 – 71). In the area where I lived, we were able to pick up the show on three stations: the local ABC affiliate, plus two other out-of-town stations (both CBS and ABC secondary) that ran the show at 3:30 and 4 p.m. and on a one-week delay. So if I missed a Tuesday episode on ABC, I could see if the following Tuesday on one of the other stations.

    The show returned for one year in syndication in 1976-77.

    I moved to Los Angeles in ’84 and was able to see the three-year syndication package on an Anaheim independent station.

  16. And Melanie wakes up, bolts up into sitting position eyes wide, and screams,
    “I’m the girl on the train!!”

  17. Hoffman is back! Engage with Hoffman! I don’t get it.

    It occurred to me that Angelexilique might have thought better of letting Hoffman in on the Big Secret (for the moment, anyway); given the way Hoffman was blathering on about her mistress’ comeback, I’m sure there’s no way she would have been able to resist dropping some loaded hint or smartypants remark about how “things would be different now that…(knowing smile) well, you’ll see… “. Couldn’t be trusted. And you know soap vixens, they can bide their time…

    1. At risk of spoiling anything, I thought she eventually did tell “HOFFMAN!”, but who would take “HOFFMAN!” seriously at this point after the way she’s been blathering about Angelique and after they exhumed her body?

      1. Well, of course Hoffman found out, the rules of soap opera dictate that any secret must be discovered. But for the present (parallel) time, Angelexis has A Plan (unless that bossy Nicholas Blair shows up and wrecks everything…)

  18. The series bible says Angelique ultimately fails at just about everything in the end.

    A Plan is moot.

    She can only show up, and die, show up, die, show up, die.

    Twice sometimes.

    They could have gone for three!

    That is, three different deaths in the same timeline.

    We never saw her at the stake, on the gallows, in a tree, head on a block.

    So many great ways to die.

    1. “What are you talking about, Sabrina? Everybody knows there were always three Stokes sisters. Who says there were only two Stokes sisters? That’s ridiculous and patently false. If there were only two Stokes sisters, where would I get this portrait of the third Stokes sister?”

  19. I don’t think there’s ever been a boring skeleton scene on Dark Shadows; it’s absolutely sure-fire.

    Hmm. I can think of ONE exception – came about the twenty-thousandth time through the DREAM CURSE…

  20. I started watching when I was ten years old and a friend said, “You’ve gotta see this show with a ghost.” The ghost was Josette — not the Josette we came to know, but the jasmin-smelling Josette that David or Vicky would occasionally see. I watched steadily for several years until the Leviathans. At 13, I had other interests. I looked in on DS sporadically but couldn’t get into the stories. I did turn in to the last episode, as if to say goodbye, but none of the characters I knew were there! It was disappointing. Of course, as I watched DS as a young gayling, I knew Dr. Julia Hoffman was the true star. (And imagine my surprise and amusement when, decades later, the ostensible star cruised me on two different occasions, once emerging from a low-hanging fog.)

    1. it was so nice hearing all these stories (and Jonathan Martin, what interesting revelations you went and spilled!) another gayling, me, who stumbled upon Cassandra fretting by the clock in the summer of 68, when i was ten and she was trying to tell Nicholas she’d learned the reason her curse didn’t work. on the night of April 2nd, 1971 i had a dream that Julia came and told me there’d be a way to have the whole series, in these strange magic film strip cases, in my possession. and believing her, i awoke convinced i merely had to bide my time. * sigh *

  21. “‘ All we want is for Barnabas to return, to cast his dark shadow and make this nonsensical story make sense.”

    So we are relying on Jonathan Frid for something to make sense?!

    Dark Shadows is soooo doomed!

  22. I loved reading all of your fan experiences with the show. I’m a relative newby to the series being introduced to it by my friend about nine years ago when she showed me the episodes of where Willie released Barnabas. She had DVDs of the series that she got on eBay that she gave me several years after that when she bought the big box set and I watched 10 or so more episodes until I got to one episode, which I think involved Joe or Nathan Forbes, that wouldn’t play. So years passed, the pandemic hit, and I discovered the series on Tubi. I watch at least two episodes every week day on my lunch. In fact today we’re having a wonderfully spooky rain and thunder storm and I wish I were watching those earlier episodes where Barnabas was introduced however it’s nice that he’s become the central focus of this episode.

  23. I get a Columbo vibe from Gladstone in this episode. He comes complete with a notebook, musty overcoat, five o’clock shadow, and interrogation.

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