Episode 1012: Trapped in a World (Not Mine Own)

“Nothing must disturb the sleep or sully the name of that other Barnabas Collins who died in this time.”

Trapped in a false dimension and freshly liberated from a chained coffin not specifically his own, the strange and brutal Barnabas Collins, fugitive vampire in a world he never made, is onboarding a new employee.

“Please let me go,” Will pleads, “and I won’t tell anyone anything about you.”

Barnabas gives the trainee a lopsided grin. “Go, if you want to go.”

Will concentrates. “I can’t get away!” he grimaces. “You know I can’t.” He stares helplessly into a future he doesn’t care for. “What are you going to do with me?”

It’s a close-up so we can’t know for sure, but the smart money says Barnabas is steepling his fingers. “Surely you’ve learned enough from our conversations recently to realize the position that you’re in.”

“I must do your bidding?” Will gulps.

“Precisely. Your agonizer!”

Will takes a step backwards. “No. Wait!”

Barnabas is firm. “Your agonizer, please!”

We’re currently caught in the whirlpool of Parallel Time, a narrative collision between two versions of Dark Shadows that can’t make sense of each other. The new timestream that we’re in is exactly like the one we’re familiar with, except people have made different choices, and compared to the Barnabas Collins we know, the parallel Barnabas must have been the world champion of choice-making.

Our Barnabas managed to take a fortune, a fiancee and a fish factory, and whiz it entirely down his leg, but the PT Barnabas must have been taking night classes or something, because he figured out how to get all the way through a wedding without shooting a family member directly in the face.

Flash-forward to the recent transporter malfunction in the east wing, and out crawls an evil twin from the dark dimension. I don’t think there’s any way to view this scenario without admitting that our Barnabas is the one wearing the goatee.

Parallel universe stories are fun, because they create illuminating contrasts, presenting a new perspective on the core continuity. Except on Dark Shadows, of course, where it’s just another opportunity to assault and enslave people.

Meanwhile, in an even more parallel timeline, there’s a version of Dark Shadows that airs weekly on Friday nights, and calls itself Star Trek. As we’ve seen recently, Star Trek and Dark Shadows are basically the same show — or at least they will be, by the mid 70s — so we might as well see what’s happening on the other side of this coin.

Specifically, I want to look into “Mirror, Mirror”, a season two episode that aired on October 6, 1967. In our reality, Dr. Woodard encountered the ghost of Sarah in the mausoleum that day, but in this alternate band of time, four members of the USS Enterprise crew are spending the afternoon negotiating a treaty with some conceited jerks called the Halkan Council.

The Halkans are yet another tedious space race who own an entire planet and still can’t figure out how to stop wearing tunics. They sit around on little benches positioned on the lawn at odd angles, patiently explaining to passersby how much better they are than anybody. For some reason, these space hipsters have been put in charge of a planet chock full of dilithium crystals, and they refuse to give any of them to Starfleet because it might violate their race’s history of “total peace”, which is not even a phrase. Honestly, the Halkans look like humans from Earth, so who even sold them the franchise to this planet in the first place? They’re just being bitches about it.

That thrilling space adventure turned out to be a colossal waste of time, so the fearless foursome beams back up to the Enterprise, travelling through an unexpected ion storm, which sounds like lightning from the surface but actually happens in space somehow. As everyone knows, beaming through bad weather creates unexpected space-time fissures; ion storms are basically the east wing of space.

So when Kirk, Uhura, Scotty and McCoy manage to materialize on the landing pad, they step into a worst-case scenario they never saw coming. They’re in the Mirror Universe now, which is exactly like ours except people have made different choices, mostly in the areas of grooming, decor and human resources.

In this universe, the Federation has been replaced by a bloodthirsty Terran Empire, where everyone is constantly murdering everyone else. It’s all the same guys, except everyone’s a Bond villain, plotting and scheming, and torturing henchmen for making careless mistakes.

Stenciled on the walls is the logo of the Terran Empire — a sword slicing through the Earth — instead of whatever it’s supposed to be. People get promotions by assassinating their boss, everyone is required to carry a personal agonizer, and nobody has any patience for the Halkans’ do-gooder bullshit. This is what happens when the crazy supervillain who says he’s going to take over the world actually takes over the world.

Worst of all, Mr. Spock’s got a goatee, and he’s even more frowny than usual. Oh, and Kirk has some kind of magical invisible killing machine called a Tantalus Field, which nobody’s ever heard of but allows his girlfriend to instantly murder anyone she’s watching on TV.

The good guys catch on pretty quick, so they keep shtum and pretend to be their looking-glass counterparts while they try to figure out what’s going on. Luckily, they have their own positronic Professor Stokes to explain things.

Kirk:  Correlate following hypothesis: Could an ion storm of such magnitude cause a power surge in the transporter circuits, creating a momentary interdimensional contact with a parallel universe?

Computer:  Affirmative.

Kirk:  At such a moment, could persons in each universe, in the act of beaming, transpose with their counterparts in the other universe?

Computer:  Affirmative.

Kirk:  Could conditions necessary to such an event be created artificially, using the ship’s power?

Computer:  Affirmative.

And then Kirk switches it off and he’s like, see, you guys? The magic candy machine agrees with everything I say.

But the real point of this phenomenon is to show how Kirk and Spock can connect with each other across any known reality, because they’re super best friends with a bond that transcends facial hair.

Spock:  I do not threaten, Captain. I merely state facts. I have found you to be an excellent officer; our missions together have been both successful and profitable. However, I shall not permit your aberrations to jeopardize my position.

Kirk:  Do you think we should destroy the Halkans?

Spock:  Terror must be maintained, or the Empire is doomed. It is the logic of history.

Kirk:  Conquest is easy, control is not. We may have bitten off more than we can chew.

Of course, Barnabas isn’t worried about that; he can chew just about anything. Who needs Halkans anyway? Up till now, we’ve been getting along fine without Halkans, and if they were destroyed, I for one don’t see how it would make the slightest difference.

But Barnabas has basically the same hallway conversation with Parallel Quentin, who’s usually a whiny dick but is suddenly super approachable, because Barnabas and Quentin are cross-time bros.

It’s the first time they’ve met, and once again, Barnabas is using the portrait in the Collinwood foyer like a driver’s license, introducing himself as the descendant of the Barnabas Collins that Will wrote about. This time, the phony “cousin from England” backstory is even more make-believe than usual.

Quentin:  You’ll have to forgive me if I seem tongue-tied. Why haven’t we met before, Barnabas?

Barnabas:  You no doubt read the book of Mr. Loomis’, in which he spoke of one of the sons of Barnabas Collins who went in search of Andean gold.

Quentin:  Yes. He died in Peru.

Barnabas:  Well, my disappointment in contradicting you is matched by my pleasure in telling you that he survived!

That’s an unbelievable line that I encourage you to go back and read to yourself a couple more times, because it gets better the more you look at it. Once again, it’s that combo of exquisite manners and borderline-incomprehensible Fridspeak that lets them get away with any lunatic plot contrivance they feel like putting across. The next bit is great, too.

Barnabas:  Oh, in obscurity and poverty, I must admit, but with sufficient vigor to sire four sons of himself! One of who was my grandfather.

Honestly. Nobody can do this quite like Frid. Nobody even tries.

So, Peru — that’s the story we’re going with, this time around. This iteration of Barnabas Collins is from the Peruvian branch of the family, who I guess eventually figured out where the Andeans were stashing their gold, and now, here he is.

“Is it true that I am speaking to one of my cousins?” says this false Frid, and Quentin introduces himself, giving his new friend that special Quentin smile that makes you feel like the luckiest person in the world.

So the starship captain and the star-crossed vampire want the same thing — to return to their proper time band, using whatever materials are close at hand — but the underlying motivations are a bit different.

James T. Kirk wants to make the galaxy a better place, no matter how many astonishingly beautiful women he has to make out with. He doesn’t just want a leap home; he also wants to save the parallel Halkans, and reform the Empire, and generally make everyone nicer.

But Barnabas has no concern to spare. He just wants to wangle an invite to the east wing, and the ion storm therein. To the extent that he changes the timeline, he’s a corrosive influence. He’s already changed Will’s life for the worse, burning his manuscript and destroying the only thing that he really cares about. This is a whole new Collins family to wreck, and Barnabas grasps the opportunity with both hands.

The emotional arc of “Mirror, Mirror” is that Kirk redeems people, just by caring about them. The emotional arc of Parallel Time is that Barnabas makes everything worse until he burns your house down.

Okay, we’re about three-fifths of the way through a Star Trek episode, which means it’s time for an urgent call from Mr. Scott in Engineering, announcing a meaningless countdown.

Scotty:  We’ve got another deadline too, sir! The two-way matter transmission affected the local field density between the universes, and it’s increasing, we’ve got to move fast!

Kirk:  How fast?

Scotty:  Half hour at the most!

Kirk:  If we miss?

Scotty:  We couldn’t get out of here in a century!

So that’s a laugh. Twenty minutes ago, Scotty didn’t even know there was such a thing as parallel universes, and all of a sudden he’s totally on top of the optimal amount of field density. I wouldn’t worry about it, if I were you. This is one of those TV countdowns where you have exactly one second longer than however long it was going to take in the first place. I’m pretty sure they’ll be fine.

Meanwhile, terror must be maintained, so Barnabas visits the cemetery to sully his mirror counterpart’s grave.

“I should have had a grave like this,” he moans, “my Josette and I. Peace should have been mine, and hers.” He picks up a hand full of dirt and regret, and allows it to slip through his fingers.

“If there is a spirit here who looks kindly upon me, I beg his help!” he cries, appealing to himself. “I am lost among strangers, trapped in a time that is not my own! I do not wish this curse of mine to affect anyone here! Help me if you can!”

And then his parallel dad shows up, still swanning around in his fabulous purple Gallifreyan robe, and he basically tells Barnabas to go fuck himself.

Joshua:  I command you to leave this place, and trouble my son’s spirit no more!

Barnabas:  You do not know that I am trapped in a world not mine own! And I want help, wherever it is, wherever it could come from!

Joshua:  I know only that evil is in this place!

Barnabas:  My name is Barnabas Collins, and Joshua Collins is my father!

Joshua:  Do not profane those names!

So, yikes, when you’re not even good enough to pass the entrance exam to be Barnabas Collins, you have made some serious errors in your comportment.

Kirk’s in kind of a lecturey mood as well, so he gives the goatee a piece of his mind.

Kirk:  The illogic, the waste, Mr. Spock! The waste of lives, potential, resources, time. I submit to you that your empire is illogical, because it cannot endure! I submit you are illogical, to be a willing part of it!

Spock:  You have one minute and twenty-three seconds.

Kirk:  If change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial — doesn’t logic demand that you be a part of it?

Spock:  One man cannot summon the future.

Kirk:  But one man can change the present! To be the captain of this Enterprise, Mr. Spock! What will it be — past or future, tyranny or freedom? It’s up to you.

So Kirk is correct — this style of weird Bond-villain mismanagement scheme where everyone’s constantly backstabbing each other is doomed to failure, even if you happen to be the President of the United States, because everyone is too stressed-out and paranoid to get anything useful done. This is how you end up with an unconstitutional Muslim ban, and a health insurance bill written by people who don’t understand health insurance. It’s not a rocket-sled to results.

But the funny thing is that if that’s true, then the Terran Empire should have imploded a long time ago. Apparently the instability hasn’t kicked in yet, because the mirror Enterprise is literally in the exact same place as the regular Enterprise, doing exactly the same thing with exactly the same staff. I’m not sure what the expiration date is supposed to be on the tyranny, but something’s holding it together. There might be a problem with the field density.

Anyway, Kirk and the crew transport themselves home, and the Halkans probably get killed, which serves them right for being so stuck-up and hogging all the dilithium. Barnabas doesn’t get that far, but he does get a glimpse of his own universe, which is so evil that even the evil people have evil counterparts, and Barnabas sees the evil mad scientist who protects his evil secret yelling, “Barnabas! Has the whole galaxy gone crazy? Barnabas! What kind of uniform is this? Barnabas! Where’s your beard, what’s going on, where’s my personal guard?”

Tomorrow: What Does a Crazy Woman Want.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the reprise, Barnabas has his fangs in while he talks to Will, giving him a noticeable lisp.

When Barnabas releases Will and throws him to the floor, a metal object drops out of Will’s hand, and makes a sound when it hits the floor. Once he’s on the floor, Will puts his hand over the object.

In act 1, after Barnabas says, “It is time you do precisely what I tell you to do,” Will looks to the teleprompter for his reply: “No.” Then Barnabas has to turn and look at the teleprompter too.

Barnabas tells Quentin, “I don’t want to interfere with any private matter. But I do know that… Mr. Loomis is telling the truth, when he says that his… his latest novel is… quite fictitious.” Then he looks at the teleprompter for five seconds.

Someone in the studio coughs at the very beginning of act 3.

In act 3, Joshua is using a special echoey ghost mic, and Barnabas has a regular mic — but when Barnabas talks too loud, he gets picked up by the reverb mic. On the first word that he says — “Barnabas!” — there’s reverb. He follows with “Barnabas Collins?” and he’s picked up by the correct mic. There are a couple more lines later in the scene where Barnabas gets some inappropriate reverb, including “wherever it might come from,” “My name is Barnabas Collins!” and “Wait!”

Tomorrow: What Does a Crazy Woman Want.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

27 thoughts on “Episode 1012: Trapped in a World (Not Mine Own)

    1. It’s misspelled on the long credits (that roll), but it’s spelled correctly on the single page shorter credits.

  1. Hate to be a nerd, (ah, actually I like being a nerd) but here’s the answer to how long the Terran Empire would have lasted with out Kirk’s influence. In the episode, Kirk says to Spock “How long before the Halkan prediction of galactic revolt, is realized?” Spock says 240 years, and that it would overthrow the Empire. This lead Kirk into his “Illogic of Waste…” speech.

    This was a great post, I’ve wanted to do a kind of compare and contrast blog about all the crazy 60’s shows that were all airing at the same time, and this was just the kind of thing I was thinking of.

    Thanks for a great read!

  2. The comparison to STAR TREK reminds us how similar DARK SHADOWS was to the prime time sci-fi/fantasy series of the period (including THE PRISONER, THE AVENGERS, DOCTOR WHO, LOST IN SPACE, and so on). What’s interesting is that all the ways DS is different from these shows and more like a soap opera (serialized narrative/story arcs/running subplots) have now become almost standard for post-BUFFY series these days. I’ve always enjoyed this particular episode (partly because I was so happy to see Barnabas back but also because the story really seems to be kicking in again). Watching it now, I’m struck by how modern it feels — far more so than even the best episode of STAR TREK with its limited ensemble participation (Scotty/Sulu/Chehov’s appearances don’t build to anything over time — they have no ongoing story arcs) and predominately done-in-one episodes that could be shown in almost any order. Vicki going to the past, Barnabas entering the I-Ching, Collinwood burning to the ground… these could all be “season finales.”

    I know Danny watches SUPERGIRL and that show is very much an example of how TV is a “natural selection narrative.” No one sat down and plotted out the first two seasons and said, “Kara will initially have a crush on James Olsen but move past that and then when we introduce Mon-El, they’ll fall in love and be starcrossed lovers!” No, the writers clearly adapted to the lack of chemistry between the actors who play Kara and James and the off-the-charts (and apparently so off-screen) chemistry between Kara and Mon-El. That’s how TV works best.

    And I think it’s perhaps why the past few weeks of Parallel Time have been weak — the natural selection didn’t happen. Or rather the remaining cast members didn’t adapt or thrive in their new Barnabas-free environment.

    1. Yes, It’s fascinating how the chemistry between Quentin and Angelique or even Quentin and Maggie doesn’t work without Barnabas and Julia in the story too.

      However, If I were the show runner back then I would have probably made the same decision, that Selby and Parker could carry the show for six weeks. But they obviously didn’t.

      On camera Chemistry is an interesting thing.

      1. Actors need scripts that provide them with interesting things to say and do. Without that, it all falls apart. Angelique/Alexis has no victim to overtly torture (Maggie/the “Josette” of the story is gone) and Quentin has no Edward/Judith/Trask to needle with witticisms and no Beth/Amanda to romance. So, you know, dish water dull time.

        1. Stephen, I think this is the reason that the Quentin character never worked as well once 1897 was over (and I’m including the 1840 Quentin in this). What made Quentin fun to watch was his quips with his sister and brothers. He was a great smart ass.

          1. Yeah, Gabriel in 1840 had more of that early 1897 smartass Quentin edge. Removing the rogue from Quentin removes a lot of his unpredictability.

        2. I got the impression there was a good deal of “treading water” while everyone was at Tarrytown, and the PT scripts suffered.

  3. I derived a great deal of pleasure in these episodes in which Barnabas turns the tables on Will and turns the shows momentum around…at least temporarily. Once again you manage to make this even more fun with your side-by-side Star Trek-Dark Shadows parallel universe critiques.
    A couple things here. I love Fridspeak. You’re so right that the dialog as spoken by Jonathan Frid often only makes sense when he says it. It could very well be that he’s flubbing his lines but like someone who bends notes when they hit flat ones, he manages to recover.
    My belief is that there was but one bad choice that originally separates Barnabas-Prime and the Barnabas of PT 1795. “Our” Barnabas had fling with Angelique and PT Barnabas resisted temptation.

      1. Yes, the implication — though I’m not sure if it’s deliberate — is that Angelique married Stokes and the Stokes family we see in 1970 PT are their descendants. Of course, it seems like everyone but Alexis took after their maternal ancestor Angelique.

      2. I’m not sure if PT Angelique from Martinique was a witch, but since she didn’t seduce PT Barnabus, it’s a Moot Point b/c she vanished into historical obscurity.

  4. Danny, I hoped you would do a ‘Mirror, Mirror’ c&c! Now you’re talking my language!
    Always bugged me that the Alternate Halkans were just the same as the weenies in ‘our’ universe, and why Alternate Kirk would have troubled to beam down to discuss anything instead of just wiping them out and taking their dilithium. That, and why Mr. Kyle looked just the same…he needed a different hair helmet, and maybe an eye patch – along with a pirate accent (“Arrr, Mister Spock, not me agoniser! “).

  5. I love these two contrasting snippets of dialogue :

    “Kirk: Correlate following hypothesis: Could an ion storm of such magnitude cause a power surge in the transporter circuits, creating a momentary interdimensional contact with a parallel universe?”

    The Star Trek is such a complete fabrication from an imagined reality. They did so much of this kind of stuff it earned its own name, Treknobabble.

    “Barnabas: Well, my disappointment in contradicting you is matched by my pleasure in telling you that he survived!”

    While the Dark Shadows could almost have been lifted from an 18th c. novel or play. Full on charm which also seems vaguely condescending.

    Between them these two lines cover about 500 years of fact/fiction.

    1. So if ST has Treknobabble, may we look upon Jonathan Frid’s occasional script divergences as Barnababble? Or did JF have line trouble when he played Bramwell, too? In that case we have to stick with Fridspeak… 🙂

  6. No chemistry between Parker and Selby???? What are you guys talking about????? They are great together and this Quentin has a short fuse. Add Yeager and they do carry the show.

    1. Well, as Stephen pointed out above, it was probably due more to the writing then their on screen chemistry. They just weren’t very interesting to me in this parallel time story, but I did love them together in 1897.

    2. I actually enjoyed the first third of 1970PT episodes without Barnabas for the most part. It felt refrishingly more soap operaish (a nice change of pace from the monster heavy Leviathan story) and we were focusing on the characters’ emotional lives. The main problem was that Maggie left WAY too early. That and I wanted Barnabas to meet the real Alexis and have a romance with her. Which would have led to an awsome plot twist when he’s the first person to figure out that Alexis was murdered and replaced by Angelique.

      1. I wanted Barnabas to meet the real Alexis and have a romance with her. Which would have led to an awsome plot twist when he’s the first person to figure out that Alexis was murdered and replaced by Angelique.

        Oooh, wouldn’t that be interesting if she tried to steal his warmth and nothing happened?

  7. Danny, I don’t know if you’ve thought ahead to what you’re going to do once you’ve run out of Dark Shadows episodes to blog about… but have you thought of writing a Star Trek blog instead? Judging by your take on “Mirror Mirror” it would be a joy to read!

    (And if you were to do “Doctor Who Everyday” I’d follow it in a heartbeat!)

  8. I just finished watching all of the 1970 Parellel Time episodes (and not a moment too soon because seemingly ALL Dark Shadows episodes on Youtube are now copyright blocked). I won’t spoil anything as we proceed, but it will be interesting to retread this storyline now with the rest of you.

    This is something I will go more in-depth on in later episodes, but I wanted to bring up the common perception long-time fans have of Barnabas being a sympathetic “reluctant” vampire. As Danny’s blog has pointed out, this was not the case during the early years of the show, even during 1795. Until this point, Barnabas has been more of a conflcted but selfish protagonist. I think what people are thinking of is this particular version of Barnabas that is featured in 1970PT. Without spoilers, Barnabas does a lot of things in this storyline that are more along the lines of that perception.

  9. Oh yeah, and PT Joshua was an awesome suprise. When I first watched the end of the previous episode, I originally thought the ghost was going to be PT Barnabas Collins. And that would have been our first glimpse of Jonathan Frid after he finished filming House of Dark Shadows. Missed opportunity?

  10. LOVED the “Mirror, Mirror” write-up, which is one of my Original Series favorites from “Star Trek.” And gosh — Uhura is HOT in the top pic with one leg hiked confidently and disrespectfully upon the Halken platform.

    “Deep Space Nine” and especially “Enterprise” went on to further mine the good times to be found the Parallel Universe of “Star Trek.” (In fact, “Enterprise” would have been better if set there the entire series.)

    Back in Collinsport: Glad to hear some minority voices saying they’ve liked PT so far. I’m in that camp. It’s not the best storyline of DS, but so far, so good to me. I haven’t missed Barnabas and the original crew so terribly much. And enjoyed the twist of PT Willie chaining up Barnabas instead of setting him loose. And for me, the Jekyll/Hyde storyline is an acceptable B-plot.

    In some ways, Parallel Times hails back to the early DS Prime days for me. Like someone noted, it has a little more a “real” soap opera feel that benefits the show.

    Finally, I’m so thrilled to be catching up to Danny. I started from Episode 1 and it’s been more than two years of running way behind the blog and having a one-way conversation. Almost there.

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s