Episode 1058: When I Am Not With You

“Do you know how the world is? It’s so very light when I’m with you.”

Roxanne is terrible. Dear god, she is terrible.

I’m hard on Barnabas love interests in general; I don’t actually like Josette all that much, either, which I know is a controversial stance. I appreciate her role in the story — obviously, she’s crucial — but when Josette and Barnabas are together, they don’t talk about anything but love. His relationship with Vicki was neutered and unimportant — in that case, he was really just a third-wheel spoiler between Vicki and Jeff. The parade of Josette lookalikes were kind of fun, but only when they were Rachel and Kitty and Maggie; as soon as Josette took over, they got boring again. Really, the only story-productive relationships that Barnabas has are with Angelique and Julia, and everyone else is an also-ran.

But Roxanne is so far beyond anything we’ve seen before. Roxanne is toxic.

I mean, to start with: Who is Roxanne?

When Barnabas first met this girl, she was in a supernatural coma; all she did was flutter her eyelids a little bit. On the strength of that, Barnabas suddenly decided that he was desperately in love with her, a completely unearned postulate that I refuse to accept. At least with the Josette-alikes, there’s some history to fall back on, to explain why he’s into them. But if Barnabas is unaccountably drawn to this red-headed nap-taker, then that makes one of us.

As we’ve discussed many times, there are three steps to making the audience like a new character — make a friend, make a joke, and make a plot point happen. The friend gives the new character value in the narrative, promising that they won’t suddenly disappear with no consequence, the joke indicates a willingness to entertain, and the plot point means that we have a reason to care about what they do.

In this case, they establish a good plot point — when Roxanne speaks, Angelique dies — but once that happens, she’s completed her role in the story, and she’s only said three words so far. She makes a friend — Barnabas, obviously — but in the most cynical and unsatisfying way. The joke is one hundred percent off the table.

Because for some reason, they’ve decided that Roxanne is one of those Star Trek Noble Savage Jungle Girl types, who talk in a weird stagey syntax all their own, with nothing but short, declarative sentences, mostly one- or two-syllable words, and an incomplete understanding of human conversation.

“It was Claude’s, and mine!” she says. “It belonged to the two of us! It brought us together in a way that no two people have been brought together before!”

“He made me take a vow on it!” she continues. “That I would kill anyone who harmed him! And I intend to keep that vow!”

She’s being hypnotized there, but it’s really hard to tell much of a difference. That is Jungle Girl dialogue, and she does it when she’s not hypnotized, too.

Here, I’ll give you another one.

“Roxanne, you’ve got to help me!” Barnabas says, and she says, “I can’t help anyone!”

“Yes, you can!” Barnabas insists. “You can tell Inspector Hamilton exactly what you know!”

She goes blank — or blanker, if that’s possible. “The police?” she asks.

“Yes! You must prove to them –”

“No!” she shudders. “I couldn’t talk to them. I wouldn’t dare!” There is no available information about why Roxanne is afraid of the police.

“But you must!” says Barnabas. He keeps contradicting her. “They won’t harm you.”

“No! I can’t stay here any longer!” she says, not moving at all. “I must go!” Then she backs up a step. “They’d keep me! I couldn’t stand it!”

So that’s straight up Jungle Girl, right? “They’d keep me”? I am savage Jungle Girl, I do not understand your world. The men with fire-sticks will keep me in a cage! I must run free! And she does.

I could do this all day, and guess what, I’m going to. The only way I can deal with a Roxanne scene is to count how many three-syllable words she says. If you don’t count “Barnabas,” there aren’t many.

Here’s her lines from a tense scene in the woods with Stokes, the villain of the piece. He uses words like persuasive, preposterous, obviously and interesting, because he’s a literate human being from the United States of America. This is what Roxanne says:

  • Stay away from me!
  • He didn’t kill Claude! Barnabas didn’t!
  • You don’t give me orders!
  • Don’t make me remember any of that!
  • Secret? What could his secret be?
  • Even if it involves killing?
  • Yes, and you used me to do it!
  • Proud? You robbed me of my life! I know why you follow me! Why you keep bothering me! And I’m never going to let you use me again! Never!

She manages two three-syllable words — “remember” and “bothering” — so congratulations on that. Meanwhile, “I know why you follow me!” is probably the most Jungle Girl line ever spoken.

She runs back to Barnabas, appearing silently next to him in the Collinwood drawing room like Natty Bumppo in The Leatherstocking Tales, not letting a twig snap beneath her feet.

“You’ve come back!” he sighs.

And she looks him straight in the eyes, and says, “I am afraid when I am not with you!” which opens up a whole other issue.

The current storyline is essentially a catalog of things that make Roxanne afraid. Barnabas feels standoffish, because he’s suddenly remembered that he’s a vampire and she has blood, and her response to him turning away for two seconds is, “When you act this way, I’m afraid, even when I’m with you!” So she’s got a pretty simple worldview, which is that some things are light, and they make her happy, and other things are dark, and they make her afraid.

I seriously can’t figure out what the writers think they’re doing with her. This is Sam Hall writing today’s episode, and he knows how to write characters. He didn’t just hit his head and forget how adults talk. So what is going on?

The best I can figure is that they’re being sarcastic. Dan decided that they needed a new girl for Barnabas, and he’ll fall in love with her before she speaks to him. That’s a terrible idea, and Sam pushed back on it, but Dan says, we’re casting her, go make a girl. So Sam decides to write this character so badly that the audience will hate her, and he’ll be able to get rid of her.

I mean, think about it. “You treat me as a child, and I am not!” That’s an actual line in the script.

And the love dialogue is absolutely unbearable.

“Oh, Roxanne, I love you so!” Barnabas sighs. She gasps, “Oh, Barnabas!” and tries to hug him, but he turns away.

“I want you to hold me!” she demands, and he says no.

Outraged, she asks, “Is it WRONG to LOVE?”

So, I mean. Right? She’s terrible.

And the most terrible part is that the best character on the show is locked in the basement. All this time that Barnabas and Roxanne are standing around the drawing room chattering about love and being afraid of things, Julia is waiting to get rescued.

It’s obvious that one of these two women is going to travel with Barnabas back to his home dimension, and pretty much the whole week is about Barnabas slowly giving up on the idea of ever finding Julia. She has a dream about Barnabas and Roxanne going home without her, so it’s obviously on the table.

We know that’s not going to happen — they do a lot of crazy things on the show, but they wouldn’t let one of the leads quietly starve to death without some kind of dramatic payoff. But those are clearly the two choices the show is giving us — either Roxanne lives, or Julia does — and obviously we would pick Julia.

So it’s got to be on purpose, right? They want us to hate Roxanne. I just don’t see any way around it.

Tomorrow: World Beyond the Doors.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In act 1, the camera jostles awkwardly when Maggie says, “When I think how eagerly I looked forward to coming here…”

Maggie runs upstairs to get something from Hoffman’s room. As the housekeeper, Hoffman’s room would probably be downstairs.

In act 4, when Barnabas and Maggie are closing up the house, and Barnabas muses, “Of all the generations of the Collinses who have lived here…” a shadow passes by.

Tomorrow: World Beyond the Doors.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

51 thoughts on “Episode 1058: When I Am Not With You

  1. Sad to say I realized watching this again that when I was 11, Donna Wandrey’s Roxanne became fixed as my feminine ideal–the eyes, the teeth (God, the teeth), the hair (color and length), the, um, carriage. It’s a shocking insight into myself–especially in light of her vacuousness and the fact that during the majority of her screen time she is unconscious. That said, I’ve always dated quite willful women, so I never actually found my Roxanne.

    It does remind me of the attractive lawyer my age who observed a friend flirting with a Roxanne-like waitress and bitterly opined that she hated it when older, accomplished men were captivated by that type–as opposed to what she was offering (plenty). That’s plainly what Julia must have been thinking when Barnabas (who seemed to be warming up to her) suddenly put Julia and the entire frigging show on hold for an unconscious woman.

      1. I’m in 1840 now, and I agree. She got better in RT 1970, and then even better in RT 1840. (Although we all agree that PT Roxanne is an extremely low bar).

    1. I rarely dreamed about Dark Shadows during the years I was watching it on ABC, but in one dream I still remember vividly from 47 years ago, I was Barnabas standing in the Parallel Time room waiting for it to change back to Regular Time. Even in my sleep I wanted to get away from the Parallel Time storyline.

      the attractive lawyer my age who observed a friend flirting with a Roxanne-like waitress

      A Dark Shadows fan I knew many years ago told me of a distant cousin who showed up at a family gathering with a new wife who was one of those Roxanne-like women. When my friend spoke with his cousin and the wife, it turned out his cousin’s wife really was Donna Wandrey.

    2. I still stumble and blush to recall how young adolescent me bought Roxanne’s mewling adoration of Barnabas as an image of the Real Thing I should be looking for in heterosexual pairings. Like Yvonne DeCarlo and Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments, it was total commitment at once, no need to actually court the woman or sort out your own feelings–a complete agreement is suddenly there for no reason at all. I cannot describe how this magnifies the pain of seeing it again. Make it stop!

      1. I call it “Dramatic Love” – it usually is accompanied by a rush of incidental music and the inexplicable appearance of subtle key lighting and soft focus. There are those who claim that they experienced it when they met Their One Love, so I suppose it must exist (outside film and TV); I have even been flattered that someone felt it on meeting me, but I hadn’t any such feelings for them.

        I feel a rush of Dramatic Love about once a month (I guess it makes me a drama queen?), by now I just try to ignore it – it only embarrasses or angers the object of my affection.

        Just consider yourself lucky to have outgrown it, if that helps.

  2. There is the popular myth of Barnabas as a “romantic” character, which I suppose is true in a classic sense — he works best as the forever longing tragic figure. During 1967, we get the impression that Josette never had any real interest in him and he was the vampiric stalker of a married woman. It was a great parallel to his similar relationship with Vicki (with Burke filling in the Jeremiah role).

    When we go back to 1795, the writers decide that Barnabas and Josette were truly in love. This was a sudden change from just literally a couple weeks earlier. Frid and Evans have zero chemistry together, and really Josette works best as a foil to Angelique. I’d go so far as to say that she is only interesting in relation to the maid who secretly loathed her and wanted everything she had. The writers would forget this (or perhaps just disagree with me — nobody’s perfect, after all) and write the Barnabas/Josette romance without the key Angelique element.

    It’s interesting to me that we’re more often shown Quentin as married, when he’s arguably far less interesting in that state. He is a truly Heathcliff-ian type character: “Romantic” Quentin is fun, “Married” Quentin, especially in PT isn’t. But “married” Barnabas is a compelling character, and really Barnabas and Julia were always written best as a married couple*. Roxanne is almost a distraction to the true triangle in 1840 of Barnabas/Julia/Angelique.

    *Marriage, here, I define as a “settled” state rather than the “will they won’t they” starcrossed lover state. And married couples also can be intimate without overt sexuality — perfect frankly for Frid.

    1. I truly believe that Mitch Ryan melted down at exactly the wrong time for the 1795 story. The writers had to know that Anthony George wanted out as soon as possible, so they couldn’t tell the original story of Josette at least not without ANOTHER recast. So they went with Josette and Barnabas in love from the get go. I do think it might well have worked better with 1) Jeremiah and Josette being an arranged marriage. 2) Barnabas falling for Josette at first sight and she returning the love, but refusing to cheat on Jeremiah. 3) Jeremiah falling for Vicki (taking on the Peter Bradford role. 4) Angelique being a witch in love with Barnabas who retaliates when he moves on to Josette. That combination might well have worked better, at least in giving Josette motivation. Plus it would have tracked with the story as we had been told it. It also would have given Vicky a far stronger role in 1795, instead of being a passive bystander who didn’t have the brains to put everything together. Instead they had to write Jeremiah out quickly, make Josette drippy and Vicky clueless.

      1. I think it had more to do with the changes in the writing team in addition to the unexpected rise in popularity of the Barnabas character. Angelique came along soon after Sam Hall started writing for the show — in fact the character debuts in a Sam Hall episode. By that point the original series bible (Shadows on the Wall) written by Art Wallace was no longer being followed. I doubt if Sam Hall ever even read the series bible. A new writer comes along who doesn’t understand the intentions of the original writer who created a character like Vicki, and before you know it a full-dimensional character who once had hopes and dreams and a story to be told becomes instead a more generic girl in permanent peril. It’s enough to make any actress bored enough to retire from acting.

        1. I watched an interview with Sam Hall on one of the 1840 discs, and Mr. Hall said he apologized later to Alexandra Moltke for the dreadful material he gave her.

      2. Unfortunately, I don’t think Frid could sell Barnabas falling in love with KLS’s Josette no matter how the script was written. The best KLS/Frid got was when they were sort of functioning as a “married couple” with Angelique the homewrecker. Once there was a “starcrossed lovers,” Josette and Barnabas never worked for me.

        I suppose we could delve deeper into why Frid was able to make Barnabas’s relationship with Angelique sizzle: She was someone he was attracted to despite society ultimately rejecting such a union, and there was a hint of self-loathing regarding his attraction to her.

        1. I think it’s more likely that Parker was working her butt off, doing the work of two. It was what she was projecting onto him that made it seem like an electric connection. Frid was too worried about the lines among other things. And he could play repressed much better than ardent.

    2. Whenever Barnabas is in love with his latest I Can’t Believe It’s Not Josette, he reminds me of Alexis from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer:

      “Father, I am welling over with limpid joy! No sicklying taint of sorrow overlies the lucid lake of liquid love, upon which, hand in hand, Aline and I are to float into eternity!”

  3. I like Roxanne in RT 1970 as a vampire, the most interesting thing being that Foxy Roxy mainly bites… other women.

    A bold move for television at that time. Another Hammer Films influence, perhaps? The first of “the Karnstein Trilogy” of vampire films, The Vampire Lovers, would be released that October. Coincidence?

    1. Prisoner, I really am not sure that the writers had planned on making Roxanne a vampire until practically the point it is revealed that she was one in RT 1970. Remember that we kept seeing only the silhouette of the vampire wearing a hat (and it appeared to be a man’s hat) in Maggie’s room before the Roxanne revelation. And, or course, Roxanne being a vampire creates another time travel paradox, but we can discuss that when the blog gets there.

    2. I think you nailed it. Vampire Lovers was relatively big and stills from Lust for a Vampire were all over the monster mags that I suspect Curtis was reading. He was a monsters guy at this point and would be for the whole decade so the stuff he was throwing at poor Sam Hall (who couldn’t have cared less about monsters) was more with an eye for that than the 16 readers. Was Karlen was off shooting Daughters of Darkness while DS was on?

      1. Apparently. There’s a New York Times review of the movie dating from May 1971, and Karlen was back on the show as Willie Loomis by September 1970.

        http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9E03E4D71230E73BBC4151DFB366838A669EDE

        So that movie must have been in production during the months in 1970 that Karlen was away. Karlen and Curtis had become good friends obviously, so Karlen might have been in touch with Curtis about this project, may have told him the details, etc. That alone could have piqued Curtis’ interest enough to explore a new avenue of vampirism on the show. Dark Shadows was always pushing the envelope after all. So, why not? Foxy Roxy as daytime television’s first lesbian vampire? How could it not be true? I love it, and want it to be true even if it really wasn’t. 🙂

        1. Funny image.

          Karlen: Hey, Dan. I just did this girl-on-girl vampire picture with Delphine Seyrig. So hot. I get killed at the end cause they don’t need me or any man.

          Curtis: Lesbian vampires. I love it.

          Karlen: Yeah, apparently it’s a thing over there–boob on boob biting.

          Curtis: Let’s do it! SAM, get the hell in here!

        2. If only the censors had been a little looser a little sooner, we could have seen Barnabas sinking his fangs into Lt. Forbes’s beautiful, wicked neck.

  4. Roxanne’s braless and wearing a sheer dress so she doesn’t need to make friends, tell jokes or create storylines.

  5. Presuming that Barnabas’ curse follows him (that those he loves/love him die) then Roxanne is doomed anyway. Let’s save Julia and get the h. e. double hockey sticks otta there.

  6. It’s interesting that Roxanne (and Donna Wandrey, whom I actually quite like) gets such a build up, and then she’s abandoned almost immediately, and with very little ceremony, before 1840 has even begun to run its course. And there’s no place for Roxanne in 1841 PT (even the unlikable Samantha gets to be a nurse for a hot second).

  7. I hope they did want us to hate Roxanne, because even 16 year old me hated her. I couldn’t see what the heck Barnabas saw in her. Now, 60+ year old me thinks falling in love with someone in a coma is hella creepy and makes me doubt Barnabas even being rational. Josette may not have done much but at least she could TALK and move.

    I admit to having a certain fondness for Josette, mostly because I did watch the episodes before Barnabas appeared. In those episodes Josette was sticking around and doing what little she could to protect the Collins family. If you tie it to the 1795 storyline, she is quietly, peacefully dead. Barnabas calls her out of the grave and then rejects her because she is ugly. He wants her right up until she reveals her smooshed face. She tries to go back and can’t, so she sticks around and tries to take care of the family that got wrecked because of her loving Barnabas. Then Barnabas shows up again, and she finally is able to get back into her grave, since he’s Josette hunting with other women. She can’t fight him, maybe because she loves him, but she finally decides to not try to possess someone into becoming her.

  8. You’re right about Roxanne’s dialogue and her stilted delivery. I think the writers and the director were purposely trying to give her this other worldly persona. Probably their idea of someone who has basically been in a coma and is learning to function again. I don’t think the writers wanted us to hate her as much as they wanted us be frustrated with Barnabas once chasing after an illusion of love. DS borrowing yet again from literature, namely, the Sleeping Beauty/Snow White fairy tale set-up. Think about it. The handsome prince smitten with a girl he doesn’t even know and who awakens because of him

  9. ”As the housekeeper, Hoffman’s room would probably be downstairs.”

    When Mrs. Johnson first came to work at RT Collinwood, she and her luggage were taken to an upstairs room. Not that that proves anything, but it does set a precedent for 20th century Collinwood staff sleeping upstairs.

        1. Might be the services were shut off in the servants’ wing, it being out of use for eighteen years. Or (like the chauffeur’s quarters in Sunset Boulevard) there was a leaky roof. But the dark side of me likes to think that one of the servants, on being pink slipped, committed suicide and is haunting that part of Collinwood.

  10. Toxic Roxanne – another tongue twister to say five times fast.

    With her plot ground to a halt, she now becomes story-reductive, as Barnabas forgets that he is capable of supernatural doings! Suddenly Roxanne and her newly retconned psychic abilities are going to save Julia – and Barnabas suddenly doesn’t even think that they might be using the wrong scarf? (THAT must be what Roxanne did before Claude sold her to Stokes, she had a storefront with a big neon hand in the window, “Psychic Reader Fortune Teller Madame Roxanne”.)

  11. Even in its decline, for all its flaws, at age 14 in 1970 if I had to choose one and only one TV show to watch, it would have been Dark Shadows.

    1. Oh, I stuck with it until the last two months – I stopped watching to soften the blow of the cancellation – then watched the final week.

      The thing is, soaps can go into decline and then bounce back. General Hospital is a classic example of being near cancellation and then WHAM! a new producer and head writer brought it all the way to #1. Same thing with Guiding Light when the Dobsons became the head writers.

      I kept hoping that the show was going to morph into something that would become very popular again.

      1. I always figured that, if the show had survived, 1841 PT would have become the rule; perhaps they would have returned to the future, but the supernatural stuff would have faded away. Or maybe they would have stayed in the past. I FINALLY watched the last episode (I’ve had the coffin set for going on two years) and I was struck by those leading up to it, and how, in the voiceovers, the narrators stopped referring to 1841 Parallel Time, and called it, merely, “1841”.

    2. Me, too. I was 14 in 1970 and ran home from school every day to watch the show, right up til the end of the series. I never dared to dream that someday, I’d own my own copy of the entire show! Or that I’d stumble upon this fantastic blog where fans are keeping the torch burning brightly.

  12. Will this story ever end???!!! I guess they needed to stretch it to Friday; it’s always good for keeping viewers in suspense over the weekend, and Sy Tomashoff must have needed the weekend to “destroy” Collinwood for 1995.

  13. All the stuff everyone’s been saying about Roxanne is completely true. Add to that as the awful cherry on top of the sundae that incredibly ridiculous color they had her in. When she was dressed that is. Beige are you kidding me? She’s supposed to be gorgeous. Put her in something that pops. Every time I get to this point in the cycle I don’t think about her specifically. I think to myself: “Here comes the awful beige dress.”

  14. I am in love with the idea that Sam Hall wanted us to hate Roxanne. This truly happens on soaps all the time – to this day – an actor/pairing is forced on writers who hate it. Ick. It makes so much more sense now that Roxanne doesn’t.

    Also, I have recently (and frequently) quoted the 3 rules about a new character on a modern soap. It works perfectly. Unfortunately the soap is on a 6-month delay, so by the time they figure out the character stinks, they can’t fix it.

    1. I think it was such a mistake for Days of Our Lives to get that far ahead in recording. I don’t know how they justified it, but it seems so counterproductive for the reason you cited.

  15. Some of the comments here are very telling. I also turned 14 in the last quarter of 1970 and obviously looked at Dark Shadows back then with a different set of eyes that we do now. Purposely or inadvertently the writers were writing to our young teen naivety on the nature of love at first sight. Barnabas was so much the fickle adolescent teenager. Dark Shadows started out as a “gothic soap opera”, an alternative to the rest of the daytime dramas, but realistically it was written for the same audience: housewives. Had Dark Shadows aired earlier in the day I think it would surely have been cancelled. The fact that it was aired during after school hours I could imagine kids and young teens coming home and seeing mom watching this and becoming interested when they saw the appearances of ghosts and Laura. And of course there was our peer David Collins. I wonder how many were glued to their TVs when Barnabas as introduced and how quickly they told their friends in school about a vampire TV show. Adolescents and teens save Dark Shadows so of course the show was written to them. Of course teens get older and look for different entertainment closer to their real lives such as the newer soap operas One Live To Live and All My Children. It just seems to me that as soap operas go it was hard for DS to have a jumping on point for new adolescents and teens. Of course there were DS devotees of all ages (like myself) who stayed until the end. But the show really had lost its bite, so to speak

    1. I was one of those who started watching One Life to Live and All My Children at this point. The former had a really good crime story going on in the summer of 1970. AMC had just premiered and has some colorful yet relatable characters.

      1. Re-watching DS like this I can really see how the lack of a longterm strategy and daily tinkering with storylines can make such a difference in pacing. The Jason McGuire storyline, one of the last pre-Barnabas subplots took so long to conclude I thought I would go mad. The resolution of PT is also maddening ironically the “last day” (the next episode) is so rushed there are all kinds of flubs….including one of the biggest continuity errors that even my young eyes caught when in happened in 1970

        1. It would have gone on even longer if Dennis Patrick hadn’t wanted to break his contract. They were writing him ahead, and one of the plans under consideration was to reveal him as Vicki’s father.

                1. I bet those two did that kind of stuff all the time.
                  “You wear the mustache today, I’ll wear the hat.”
                  Reminds me of a Shirley Jackson story, One Ordinary Day With Peanuts.

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