Episode 1033: Follow the Money

“Not even the jaw of the wolf itself is more devastating than this cane, when it’s in my hands.”

Let’s see if we can figure this out, together. Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins is in a parallel dimension, as you know, and he’s convinced that Maggie’s in terrible danger, which she is. But all he knows is that she’s gone, and that’s not much to go on. She’s probably being held somewhere by someone, but if so, then where, and by who?

Barnabas stamps into the Old House and shouts for Will, his blood slave and parallel landlord. “Will, are you here?” he hollers up the stairs. “I need you!” No answer. He crosses over to the back parlor. Still nothing. Then he approaches the bookcase, flips the hidden switch, and opens up the secret panel.

Question: Why does Barnabas think that Will is hiding behind the bookcase? It doesn’t seem super likely, and I’m not sure why he even wants Will in the first place. Will is a drunk, he hates Barnabas, he doesn’t care about Maggie, and he has no missing persons expertise. What value does he bring to the operation?

I mean, obviously the answer is that Hoffman needs to find out about the bookcase, and this is how she finds out. Angelique sent the hostile housekeeper out on a fishing expedition, and she’s currently outside the window, sniffing for secrets. The writers have a particularly thrilling Friday cliffhanger in mind, but it depends on Hoffman knowing that Barnabas has a secret, and it’s hidden behind that bookcase.

This is how serialized narrative works, I’m afraid, when you’re out of ideas and under the gun. You need to improvise a reason to get to a particular plot point, and sometimes that’s going to be brilliant and sometimes it’s just not. So you give Elizabeth a dream sequence, and you remind yourself it’s not supposed to be literature.

And if we have to have a swing and a miss, then it might as well happen today, because this is one of those episodes where the show basically just disintegrates before our eyes. Everybody gets things wrong today — the plot logic, the cameras, the dialogue, the set construction. It’s one of those super-messy episodes that turns afternoon television into the challenging intellectual experience that the audience needs, in order to grow as human beings.

But that’s okay. Today, everyone can do silly, illogical things in order to progress silly, illogical plot points, swallowing their lines and teleporting magically from one set to another. Do whatever you need to do. Just remove Sabrina Stuart as a factor in my life.

So Hoffman skedaddles, holding half a secret, and Barnabas strikes a pose in the private space behind the bookcase that ought to have a coffin in it but suddenly doesn’t.

“I shall have to find Maggie without Will’s help,” Barnabas says in thinks. Then he looks at his silver-handled cane. “If I find the one who’s hiding Maggie, I can use this, rather than take the chance of revealing my powers. Not even the jaw of the wolf itself is more devastating than this cane, when it’s in my hands.”

Question: Sorry, what?

Did Barnabas just decide that he’s going to beat somebody to death? And if using the cane is better than using his powers, then why doesn’t he use it all the time? And why is the cane more devastating than anything else he might use?

While we’re at it, why does Barnabas carry a cane around anyway? It doesn’t help him to walk. What does he use it for? Does he keep it handy in case he wants to bludgeon somebody? And why am I just thinking about this now, after three years of hanging out with the guy?

Barnabas leaves the room and shuts the secret panel, giving us a clear view of the coffin that absolutely isn’t there, while we lurk behind a light fixture. That lamp on the right stays in shot for almost fifteen seconds, which is marvelous but hard to figure. It’s just an extra bit of visual interest, if anyone wants some.

On his way out, Barnabas pauses and looks around quizzically, like he’s trying to remember if he left the oven on. By the way, that secret panel is getting less secret every time they use it. Look at the seams around the bookcase; they might as well put a doorknob on it.

It’s that old alchemical axiom: as above, so below. For the alchemists, transforming base metal into pure gold wasn’t just a get-rich-quick scheme; it was a way to achieve spiritual perfection as well. The idea is that the pattern at one level of a system is repeated at all levels, so the alignment of the heavens indicates a similar alignment on the earth. If the alchemists could purify lead into gold, then they could use that knowledge to purify the race of man.

And that principle is operating here, in this episode. Maggie is desperate to escape from her prison, just as the writers are scrambling to extricate themselves from a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde storyline that has nowhere else to run. That chaos and confusion in the writer’s room is then reflected in the show itself, which is why the cameras can’t focus and nobody knows how to say their lines properly.

“I feel so stupid,” Sabrina tells Liz, as they clomp down the stairs of the laboratory set. “I’m sorry I caused you all this trouble.” I do not accept her apology.

Sabrina Stuart is my current least favorite character on Dark Shadows. As Leona Eltridge might say, I dislike her for a variety of reasons, all of them, I think, quite valid. For one thing, she’s not very observant. She’s the lab assistant for the local Jekyll, and apparently that involves wearing a white coat and not paying attention to anything her boss is doing.

Cyrus Longworth — her head chef, fiancee and engagement ring retrieval service — has spent years researching a chemical compound which, when taken internally, splits man’s dual nature into its component parts. For the last couple months, he’s been chugging that magic potion on a daily basis, handing himself a license to rape women, steal clothes and beat people to death with his cane. (Note: Everyone who carries a cane is a psychopath.)

And Sabrina ignored it all, just wafting about the laboratory cleaning the blood off the countertops and not asking questions. She didn’t catch on until he went and changed into a monster, right in front of her eyes. In fact, she still hasn’t caught on, not really, and at this rate, I doubt she ever will.

And she can’t even keep track of her personal possessions; tonight, she ruined an evening out at the theater with Elizabeth by leaving her wallet on a table at work. I don’t know why she took her wallet out of her purse in the middle of the laboratory; what did she think she was paying for? But she did, and here it is.

“I’m as stupid as I thought it was,” she says. Indeed.

And then here comes John Yaeger, the Hyde to Cyrus’ Jekyll, apparently coming to the office to have a word with Sabrina, who’s out at the theater. He introduces himself to Elizabeth, while Sabrina looks directly at the camera with a weird, pinched expression. I don’t understand what Sabrina does with her face most of the time. She acts like she just got it recently, and she hasn’t figured out how to use it yet.

They chase Liz out, and then Yaeger turns on Sabrina, asking why she’s bringing guests to the murder lab.

“We went to a concert,” she says. “I left my purse here. We came back.” This is not actually the case. She had her purse, she left her wallet. There’s a lot wrong with this scene; I’m just running through the issues.

For instance: Yaeger opens the wall safe, retrieving a sheaf of bills. There’s a nice clear boom mic shadow on his back as he waggles the money at Sabrina. Then somebody in the studio coughs.

Then Yaeger opens the locked cabinet and reveals his secret clothes closet, saying, “Have you ever seen, Sabrina, the wardrobe of the sartorial John Yaeger?”

There’s more. Yaeger sits down to write a check, and you can see the shadow of a camera as it moves into position.

When he’s done, he closes the checkbook and slams it down, which makes the stack of dollar bills on the desk fly into the air.

Then Yaeger gets up, hands the check to Sabrina, and leaves the money on the desk. These people are really not good at holding onto their valuables.

There’s a confusing stab at dialogue — “you’ll miss me whether I go or stay, because Cyrus is never coming back” — and then Yaeger exits. Sabrina stands there dithering for about ten seconds, and then she turns off the lights and follows him out the door, leaving the safe open and the money on the desk, and she’s forgotten to take her purse again. Honestly, this girl; she hasn’t learned a thing.

The next scene starts with a complicated camera move that ultimately doesn’t work that well. The shot starts on the fireplace, pulls back to show a tea set as Hoffman pours for Liz, follows the cup as Liz takes the tea, stays on Liz as she sits down for a sip, and then swings around behind the chair to show Hoffman standing by the couch.

There’s no reason why the camera blocking has to be that complicated; any other soap would do a wide shot and call it a day. But Dark Shadows has to be ambitious at all times and in all ways, and it almost works.

The problem is they can’t stick the landing, once they’ve done all the maneuvering and come to a stop behind Liz. First the camera is too low, cutting off Hoffman’s head, then it drifts to the left and needs readjustment, and then it swings too high, bobbling around for a couple of seconds.

Once their conversation is over, the camera swings all the way back around from behind the chair, casting a shadow on Liz as it moves.

And then Liz puts down the tea, emits some concerned thinks, and falls right the hell to sleep. Just loses consciousness, right in the middle of a perfectly good cup of tea.

The dream sequence which ensues begins with mysterious green fluid dripping on an incline. This is a new concept in dream sequences that they’ve just thought of this minute.

The camera follows the dripping fluid to its source, and we see that we’re in the laboratory, where a tangled scientific apparatus has been rent asunder, leaving a beaker full of green liquid bleeding out onto the table. This is stylish and fantastic. I like this dream sequence a lot.

An offscreen bucket gets kicked over just at the moment that Sabrina enters the shot, because Sabrina ruins everything.

The lab is a disaster, just wreckage everywhere; there’s been a world war, I think, and then a pack of timberwolves stopped by. Sabrina bends down, picks up a book off the floor, and then looks at the title on the spine. Is that really the most important thing going on right now?

Sabrina sets a chair back on its feet, and then picks up the telephone and returns it to the desk. No idea why we’re looking at this. Why is Liz dreaming about Sabrina cleaning up?

Then Sabrina turns, and executes one of her super-fake screams that I for one do not find dramatically compelling.

But then they do something amazing. The camera pulls back and there’s Maggie, lying on top of a heap of broken lab equipment, all bent up and twisted in the wrong directions. Add the lighting and the dream effects, and it makes a really disturbing image, so ten points for that.

Now, that’s clearly Sabrina’s dream, but Liz wakes up, all riled up over someone else’s nightmare. Realizing that something awful has happened to Maggie, she jumps up, puts on her coat and dashes out of the house, to go… where?

Next up: Maggie finally breaks through the lock on her prison door, and carefully sneaks out, making sure that nobody’s around to see her. Meanwhile, you can hear people in the studio walking by, and then a door slamming. Also, over Maggie’s shoulder, you can see past the edge of the set, where the orange and blue lights from the dream sequence are still flashing.

Yaeger catches her, naturally, and throws her back into the cell, where you can see past the edge of the set on the left. “I wasn’t trying to escape!” she claims, and he sneers, “Well, now, do you believe me to — do you expect me to believe that?”

Enraged, Yaeger grabs Maggie and ties her up. You can see electrical cables on the floor.

But, surprise: Sabrina’s there, she’s followed him all the way to the farmhouse, and now she’s hiding on the other side of the basement door. Well, sort of hiding, in the sense that she is absolutely within Yaeger’s line of sight and he pretends not to notice.

When we last saw Barnabas, he couldn’t find Will, so he rushed out of the Old House in search of Maggie. And now he’s back in the Old House, with his coat off, casually greeting visitors. This is where Liz was hurrying to, by the way, when she woke up and ran out of the house.

Liz tells Barnabas about her dream, and for some reason, they both act like it’s evidence. She should get more sleep, who knows what kind of crimes she could solve. The police should have her on the payroll.

“Do you think Yaeger has something to do with Maggie’s disappearance?” she asks, and Barnabas mutters, “There’s only one way to find out.” Really? Cause I think there’s probably a dozen ways to find out. Which one does he mean?

Then he turns — and trips over something on his way to the door. I swear, this episode. The whole show is like that today.

As Barnabas and Liz open the Old House doors, the scene switches to Maggie, tied up in the farmhouse. Then we hear them close the Old House doors.

As Yaeger bundles Maggie onto her cot, Sabrina tries to sneak away — but she makes a noise, and he rushes out to see who’s there.

On the stairway, he finds the check that he gave to Sabrina, which must have fallen out of her pocket, and oh my god Sabrina, this is why you should have your purse. God damn it!

In the next scene, Barnabas breaks into Cyrus’ lab, and the scene begins with a shot of a magnifying lens, with Barnabas and the lamp reflected upside down. They really were trying to make this episode exciting and au courant, and look what happened, the poor dopes.

Barnabas paces through the lab, and look! The wall safe that Sabrina left open has magically closed itself. It’s even covered by the picture again.

Barnabas finds Yaeger’s wardrobe, and has another burst of thinks: “Clothes! But they wouldn’t belong to Cyrus… Yes! To Yaeger! But why here, in Cyrus’ laboratory? There’s a connection!”

So there you have it, after all this time, Barnabas is the only person who didn’t realize that there’s a connection between Cyrus and Yaeger. Everyone else has been talking about it for months. I suppose the main character is always the last to know.

We hear a car pull up outside Collinwood, and then Sabrina rushes in, screaming, “Quentin! Elizabeth!” She’s discovered that Maggie is Yaeger’s prisoner, so she hurries to report this crime to… her friends?

Sabrina picks up the phone, and suddenly Yaeger is upon her, grabbing her and pulling the phone lead out of the wall. He tries to deposit the phone on the table instead of just dropping it on the floor for some reason, so it takes a little extra maneuvering.

He throws Sabrina into the drawing room, slams the doors, and pulls this phone lead out of the wall too. He tosses it onto the credenza, and it hits the lamp, sending a piece of glass flying.

As above, so below: The lamp, and the lens, and the doors, and the cables, everything is  falling to pieces. They’re running around, tripping over things, and all they really care about is telephone placement.

Somebody’s rifled the safe of the sartorial John Yaeger, and snatched Sabrina’s purse, and grabbed the loose change off the desk, and who knows what they’ve done with all that money? We were going to use that to make Dark Shadows with. What are we supposed to do now?

Tomorrow: Mistakes in Justice.


Behind the Scenes:

This is Lisa Richards’ last episode on Dark Shadows, thank goodness; when they return from Parallel Time, the regular-time Sabrina has left town with Chris and Amy. Richards has had a very active career since Dark Shadows, including some soap operas, lots of primetime TV appearances, some Broadway shows, and parts in a lot of movies I never heard of.

Here’s a quick sample: on TV, she was a cast member on One Life to Live and Where the Heart Is, and appearing on CHiPs, Fantasy Island, Falcon Crest, Lou Grant and Moonlighting. On Broadway, she was in The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks and Jumpers, and revival productions of Mourning Becomes Electra, Sweet Bird of Youth and Our Town. As for movies, she was in Heaven Can Wait and Mr. Mom, and then a whole string of things like Return and Scenes from the Goldmine and who knows what.

She’s also appeared in several of Big Finish’s Dark Shadows audio plays, most recently 2015’s Deliver Us From Evil.

Tomorrow: Mistakes in Justice.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

32 thoughts on “Episode 1033: Follow the Money

  1. At a Dark Shadows fan gathering in LA many years ago, Lisa told the group that her agent started hounding Dan Curtis to give her a raise. He considered her ungrateful and fired her. She claimed that she had no idea that her agent did this and was shocked when she was written out.

    I watched One Life to Live when Lisa appeared on the show. She was fine in her role of Susan Barry, who wound up accidentally killing Tommy Lee Jones’ character.

  2. “While we’re at it, why does Barnabas carry a cane around anyway? It doesn’t help him to walk. What does he use it for? Does he keep it handy in case he wants to bludgeon somebody? ”

    Definitely in case he wants to bludgeon someone.

    Phew. Another round white lamp down, only 50,000 more to go. Thanks Yaeger. Doing your bit to whittle down the numbers.

    1. To address Danny’s question, canes were an important fashion accessory for upper-class men in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, regarded by cultural historians as symbolic holdovers from the swords that their counterparts would routinely wear at their sides in preceding centuries. In other words, well-heeled men would often carry canes even when they didn’t need them simply because it was “part of the look.” And, yes, it could serve as a handy weapon for self-defense if the circumstances called for it, just as the old sword used to. It just wasn’t socially acceptable any longer to carry a sword around with you all the time. In some ways, a modern parallel is neckties, which don’t serve any function whatsoever anymore except to be “part of the look” of a well-dressed man in formal or semi-formal situations. So the fact that Barnabas continued to carry a cane in the twentieth century is simply a holdover of his “native” eighteenth-century culture. That and the fact that it was indeed a useful tool for physical assaults.

      1. The cane was often incorporated into the storyline. Barnabas used it for whompin’ werewolves but early Barnabas also used it to beat poor Willie – which quickly demonstrated for us the sinisterside of his character he wouldn’t dare display in front of the family. To them, that cane was just an eccentric fashion statement. WE knew better.
        Remember the first time he met Maggie in the coffee shop? He left the cane behind so she’d have to return it to him at the old house. Fortunately, she had Joe drive her out there so Barn wasn’t able to bite her that night.

        1. How could I ever forget? That is part of the reason I got into this mess! In Zippy the Pinhead, Zippy says “Dark Shadows is on! I think the vampire forgot his umbrella!” And Zibethicus said “Dark Shadows…I wonder what that is?”, found it on YouTube, I got hooked, and whoops – there went my life!

  3. That particular secret room has a space-saving Murphy coffin. It unfolds out of the wall when you pull on the book I Am Not a Vampire, by I
    M.A. Vampire.

    Barnabas carries a cane because he is an 18th-century dandy. His “descendant” gets away with it because he is meant to be an early 20th-century English dandy in the style of Bertie Wooster, who was never fully dressed without his whangee at his side.

    ”Why is Liz dreaming about Sabrina cleaning up?”

    Don’t we all fantasize about Sabrina doing something useful for a change?

    1. Ah, Melissa beat me to the punch about Barnabas’s 18th-century cane-carrying habit. I posted my own assessment before I scrolled down further and read hers.

  4. Movies you’ve never heard of? How could you have forgotten her performance as Card Player #2 in Mr. Mom???

  5. Not to beat a dead horse, lol, but one more thing about the cane: I was impressed with it when i was a kid…and quickly wished i had one or two bullies up with. Alas! all i had was an umbrella. But it occurred to me that the cane Barnabas carried was approaching two hundred years old. Not many antique canes could stand up to being used as a weapon. One swat and the wolf head is rolling around on the floor. But who am i to challenge the wisdom of the DS creators?

    1. It’s made of silver and gold. Burke Devlin comments in the Blue Whale when Barnabas allows him to handle it how heavy and solid it seems and remarks that a man could develop quite a swagger carrying around something like that. As with the Old House, it would endure so long as there is a Collins to live with it. 🙂

      1. If the shaft is wood, it’s probably one of those super-tough, now-endangeted tropical hardwoods that older clarinet and oboes are made of.

  6. Sabrina’s concerned that she hasn’t seen Cyrus lately? Since YESTERDAY, when she saw him change into Yaeger?

    I always kind of hoped that Barnabas had a sword sheathed in his cane; but even without that feature, the wolf-head cane is totally super cool, and I am sure that each and every DS fan wishes they had one. I know I do.

    If there is an overall term to describe this episode, it would be “contrived”. Barnabas has no reason to go into the secret room (except so Hoffman can see there’s a secret room), and I feel that his immediate concern should be where the blazes his coffin is at! (Comes to it, where’d that coffin come from? Did they just dump Parallel Barnabas out of it, and leave his bones in a heap in the corner of the Collins family crypt?)
    Sabrina’s forgotten wallet, oh, I don’t even want to discuss it. CONTRIVED. At least it gives Paralliz a chance to meet Johnny. And sense his evil.
    So, suddenly Yaeger’s plan is to “go to New York”? Is he going to just send Maggie via FedEx? Why bother with the farmhouse basement? (Oh, right…J-Yae lives in the moment, planning ahead is for wimps.)
    Why does Liz feel the need to rush over and tell Barnabas about her dream? Contrived! (In any reality, Liz seems to have the best psychedelic dreams; wonder what’s in that tea! Pekoe and peyote, Hoffman’s special blend.)

    There’s a scene in Death Becomes Her where Helen is watching a movie scene where Madeline’s character is being strangled, then rewinding and watching again and again, while giggling. I have the oddest feeling that that’s just what Danny did while watching Yaeger throttling Sabrina (and possibly, as he watched, eating a can of cake frosting). I know I did. (Double Chocolate Fudge, with mini chocolate chips.)

  7. John makes a good point wondering where the double hockey sticks Barnabas’ coffin comes from. It’s too bad we can’t take the basic themes of DS, work out the kinks and knots and produce a horror show that either 1) scares the bejebbers out of people or 2) makes them wonder about the existential possibilities of life. 🙂

  8. Question for the next episode: Whose rather nice legs were used so that they didn’t have to pay Sabrina for another episode?

    1. Stab in the dark – Kathryn Leigh Scott? She’s in the episode already…only thing is, KLS has plumper legs (though lying down would tend to conceal that).
      Yes, I have noticed Kathryn Leigh Scott has good legs!
      I might be gay, but I’m not dead.

    2. It may well be Kathryn Leigh Scott as John points out. There are two authoritative source books that have all the information about stand-ins for actors — Barnabas & Company and the Dark Shadows Almanac, the latter co-edited by Jim Pierson who worked very closely with Dan Curtis for a number of years and had access to the primary source materials. Neither has a listing of a stand-in for Sabrina Stuart.

      For instance, the ghost of Josette has several listings where uncredited actors were used, but some episodes where the ghost of Josette appears don’t have those listings because instead it was KLS doubling in an uncredited role.

      https://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/darkshadows/images/5/54/294c.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/120?cb=20120607091146

    1. If you mean voice-overs while the camera was on a medium close-up or extreme close-up of the characters, yes, they did. I remember it happening regularly on One Life to Live, All My Children, and The Edge of Night back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Henry Slesar, who wrote the story and scripts for The Edge of Night had the killers (it was a crime soap) voice-over thoughts explaining why the killer felt his/her actions were justified. It could be much more creepy than Dark Shadows.

  9. Sometimes this blog about Dark Shadows, particularly during the flame-out that is Parallel Time, reflects what’s happening on many current soaps. Notably, Days of Our Lives, where it’s like they’re not even trying anymore, they only do one take (essentially live-to-tape and LOTS of errors slip through), and they’re down to six or seven modular sets that even I can see through (and I’m a close listener, not a close watcher). Though at this point I wouldn’t mind everyone on Days being killed off and starting in a new time band.

  10. When Dark Shadows was good it was VERY good. But when it was a mess, it was an absolute trainwreck as it was here.Fortunately we have your wit and writing talent to make it all better. I couldn’t agree more about Sabrina Stuart in Collinwood-Prime or Parallel Time. Definitely not one of those characters who made good choices in either time band. Would have been better for her to be involved with non-werewolf Chris Collins who was obviously more stable. One has to wonder if his twin brother existed in PT and saddled with the unfortunate name of Tom Collins

  11. My first thought about the sloppy camera work in today’s episode was that it was the beginning of the summer vacation season. ABC had what was called the Summer Relief Program, in which the network hired non-union and sometimes less experienced technicians to fill in while the regular workers were on vacation. A former co-worker of mine got some work from ABC that way.

    Then again, maybe everyone had been partying too hard the night before. Generally, I think that Lela Swift’s episodes are smoother than were John Sedwick’s or Henry Kaplan’s. But they both went on to do very good work on The Edge of Night and All My Children respectively. And Lela won an Emmy for directing Ryan’s Hope.

  12. Mr. Mom was actually a big box office hit. And Heaven Can Wait was a big movie, too, though clearly her parts were minuscule.

  13. Here’s the deal with Sabrina: She’s too good to be bad, and too bad to be good.

    I think that’s why we have a hard time with the actress and the role. This is a show where most of the cast is either really good or notably bad. And she’s neither. So we don’t know what to do with her.

    She’s not comically bad or over the top, like say Noah Gifford or Dr. Lang or Roger Davis’ many SHOUTY AND GRABBY characters. And she’s definitely not on the A-team like Nancy Barrett or Lara Parker or Thayer David, etc., or even the B-team like Alexandra Moltke or Don Briscoe (actors who had a memorable presence even if they weren’t stellar).

    She’s in a netherworld — an acceptable “sidekick” character/actress who simply can’t carry a front-burning storyline because she has no charisma. She’s just bland — and that’s not a good thing to be on DS. It’s almost better to be truly awful. And when there are six characters on a show on a good day, your blandness really comes into play.

    I liked her best when she was gray-haired and immobile and almost speechless in the wheelchair. She was effective and shocking then. Carolyn’s makeover was the beginning of the end of Sabrina.

    1. Then, do you think that another actress could have carried off the role better?

      I think the fault had more to do with the written character than the actress playing the part – an example of that is Vicki, who started out as a more interesting person in the pre-vampire days, then quite literally “faded away”.
      Or Joan Bennett as Elizabeth, a quite good actress given nothing to do after the initial ” Liz Blackmail” plot, relegated to offering tea and recaps. Fortunately, the storyline jumps that gave her new characters to play also gave new chances to shine.
      At least Don Briscoe, after his stories backburnered, was nice to look at (well, when he wasn’t licking his fingers).
      PT Sabrina was just Sabrina, both were pretty colourless..

      1. Hey John — it’s rather hard to say, isn’t it? Both RT Sabrina and PT Sabrina were written as rather bland characters. And then Lisa Richards just didn’t bring any spark of her own.

        I’m just now seeing Donna Wandrey as Roxanne for the first time. I wonder if that actress would have given Sabrina a little more oomph, and in turn inspired the writers to give Sabrina a little more oomph. They don’t look all that different, but Donna and Roxanne have a little more pizzazz.

        It’s a little easier when an actor gets a better role (Joel Crothers, for instance) to tell when it’s the actor and when it’s the writers/directors.

  14. As for Don Briscoe: I don’t think he was really all that good. For him, it was more about good looks and charisma.

    And then he got lucky — he had the just right part at the right time. As Chris, he filled the void left by the departing Joel Crothers as resident good-looking young guy, and his storyline was such an improvement over the nonsense with Nicolas Blair and crew.

    But once they went to 1897 and he was saddled with Tim Shaw, you could see he had limits.

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