Episode 1059: World Beyond the Doors

“I’ll first give you the pleasure of viewing the dead, disintegrating body of Barnabas Collins!”

So, I don’t know. What do you feel like talking about?

“I never thought it would end this way,” Maggie says, taking a last look at the house she helped to destroy. She came to this moldering manse thinking it would be all cocktails and crabmeat, a dream house where she could live with her dream husband Quentin, who’s currently in custody. I don’t know how she thought it would end. It’s not even clear how it’s ending now.

“All the generations of the Collinses who’ve lived here,” Barnabas muses, and then he can’t think of a single thing to say about them. They were all parallel Collinses, who are mostly theoretical.

This is the end of Parallel Time as we know it, just darkness and flute music and regret. This alt-dimension storyline was cooked up to give most of the cast an excuse to go to Tarrytown for six weeks and make House of Dark Shadows, conceding Collinwood to Quentin, Angelique and some also-rans from the Leviathan story. It worked, for a time — plenty of shouting and choking and transforming into dopplegangers, set against a pink-and-orange color scheme — but all the fun leaked out of it before it was over. They started killing off all the characters, one by one, just to see if they could do it, finally winnowing down to a final four, and we’re only one immunity challenge and a tribal council away from the finale.

This is the twilight of a universe as it approaches heat death, a slow fade into stillness. Maggie and Barnabas are shuttering the windows, locking up the hatpins, and closing down the show. Dark Shadows has always been obsessed with the concept of death, and now it’s evoking its own: the extermination of the Collins family, and the end of all stories.

We’ve seen them abandon ship before, of course — a year and a half ago, when the ghost of Quentin Collins chased the family into exile. But they were defiant, in those days. “We’ll be back!” Roger shouted. “Have no doubt about that!” But that was back when the ratings were high, and everyone was bursting with ideas. Of course they’d be back; they had so many more stories to tell.

This time, Quentin isn’t perched on the balcony, the new King of Collinwood surveying his demesnes. They left him in charge of Parallel Time, and look what a mess he’s made of it; now he’s sitting in parallel jail, waiting for someone to come by and bring him a cake with a plot contrivance baked in it.

Do they know it by now, do you think? That the show is essentially over, that they’ve got 38 weeks left to run?

“Who will ever turn that light on again?” Maggie sniffles, as the group shuffles over to the desk to grab a tissue. “Who will ever live here again?”

This is the freedom of a parallel world — the ability to play out the doomsday scenario, to see what happens when you take away the safety railing, and let your narrative universe plunge to a messy death on the rocks below.

Doctor Who did the exact same thing, in the spring and summer of 1970. This was the first year of the Third Doctor, when they exiled him to Earth and gave him a job as the scientific advisor to a United Nations task force dedicated to finding things for Doctor Who to blow up. Normally on Doctor Who, the Doctor has a mystery box that can take him anywhere in time and space, to have adventures on alien worlds or hang out with Winston Churchill or whatever, but in 1970, they locked up the box, and marooned the Doctor in a headquarters filled with ham-fisted bun vendors.

It was partly a cost-cutting measure, keeping the show earthbound so that they didn’t have to create any fantastic inflatable alien dream-cities from scratch. Instead, they’d have stories set in plastics factories and oil rigs and scientific installations, where hideous monsters from beneath the sea would bang on the doors and reveal their secret plan to take over a limited portion of the Earth.

In the spring of 1970, Doctor Who also had a bit of a gap to fill in the middle of a story, and they made the same decision that Dark Shadows did — they sent the main character spinning through a fracture in reality, into a parallel world where people have made different choices. I don’t know why people in 1970 were so obsessed with different choices. It was probably something to do with Altamont. My interest in the history of this era pretty much stops at Altamont and the Beatles breaking up, so it’s either one of those or it’s Watergate, take your pick.

The story was called “Inferno”, a seven-part adventure that really didn’t have enough adventure to fill seven parts. It was about a big loud engineering project to drill all the way through the crust of the Earth, in order to find gold or gas or weird green pudding that turns lab techs into werewolves. It’s Longworth-grade scientific stupidity, really, but what are you going to do?

So the Doctor is trying to tell the lead mad scientist that he’s drilling too far or too fast or something, which he is, but the guy doesn’t want to listen, so at the end of episode 2, the Doctor saunters into Angelique’s room, and runs smack into a time fissure.

Tumbling into the mirror universe, the Doctor finds that it’s the same world — well, the same set, really — but everybody has an agonizer, and they’ve joined the Terran Empire. His friend the Brigadier is the Brigade Leader in this universe, with an eyepatch and no mustache and limited patience for eccentric strangers claiming to be from another world.

So the Doctor has a whole new set of peril options on the other side of the rainbow, and he spends episodes 3 through 6 dodging soldiers and trying to convince everybody to turn off the goddamn drill. Meanwhile, the Earth’s crust is leaking Do Not Touch juice, and everyone who rubs up against it turns into John Yaeger, and starts beating on barmaids.

As we’ve learned, parallel universes are good for two things: #1) Filling up the time between episode 2 and episode 7; and #2) Staging a catastrophe. Ordinarily in serialized narrative, you have to stop the countdown at exactly two seconds before the really bad thing happens, but these flammable dimensions were born to burn. It’s an opportunity to blow past the countdown and see what it feels like to fail, which in “Inferno” is the end of the world, and in Dark Shadows it’s locking up Julia in the basement and not having her on the show anymore.

So here we are, at the back end of everything, closing up Collinwood and putting a period at the end of a sentence we’d hoped would never end.

“It’s over, Barnabas,” Maggie says, thrusting the hatpin into the base of the skull. “All these years of Collinwood, over for all of us.” And Barnabas stands there and fusses with the doors, as he always has and always will.

They pull back from this, because it isn’t really the end of the show, not for another 38 weeks. They take a deep breath and move on, and find ways to fill up the time. But if this was a possible ending for Dark Shadows — quiet, melancholy, buried in lava — then this is what it would have looked like. Now we know.

Tomorrow: Dreams of Manderley.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the end of yesterday’s episode, Maggie said, “It’s over, Barnabas, all these years of Collinwood. Over for all of us.” In today’s reprise, she says, “Oh, Barnabas. All these years. All these years of Collinwood are over, for all of us.”

When Barnabas tells Maggie, “I can’t get over the fact that Julia’s gone,” someone in the studio coughs.

On his way out the door, Barnabas throws Hoffman’s scarf onto a small table, and it immediately falls on the floor.

Roxanne tells Barnabas that Stokes is “out looking for you”, but Barnabas went from Collinwood straight to the Old House, and then to Roxanne’s house, where Stokes started from. How hard is he looking?

During her trance, Roxanne tells Barnabas that she sees a woman. “Do you recognize her?” Barnabas asks, and Roxanne says, “It can’t be!” Barnabas takes a look at the teleprompter, and then says, “What, Roxanne? Tell her!”

After Roxanne leads Barnabas and Maggie through the foyer, we see Julia sleeping on her cot. The shot lingers, and Julia opens her eyes, to check if they’re still filming her.

Just after Barnabas and Maggie walk down the stairs to the basement, something crashes in the studio.

Julia tells Barnabas that Angelique killed Bruno, and “the doll with Bruno’s ascot in it is in a drawer in her room!”

Roxanne tells Barnabas, “I don’t want to remember but — what Claude made me do.”

In act 3, you can see that the clock on the mantelpiece in the Old House says 1:00. When Stokes walks in at the top of act 4, the clock on the table next to the door says 1:30. The mantelpiece clock still says 1:00. After Stokes leaves, there’s a close-up of the 1:30 clock, to indicate that time has passed. Also, that table is the one that Barnabas threw Hoffman’s scarf on, and it didn’t have a clock on it then.

Roxanne asks Barnabas what happened in town, and Barnabas announces, “Clentin — Quentin is cleared!”

Julia calls Barnabas and says that Maggie is coming back from the police station. Barnabas says, “I should have stayed with her, until — until I was ready to go!”


Behind the Scenes:

We don’t get a close look at it, but it looks to me like Roxanne owns a stuffed raccoon.

Tomorrow: Dreams of Manderley.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

44 thoughts on “Episode 1059: World Beyond the Doors

  1. On the bright side we’re heading back to the Home Dimension, where Roxanne has a storyline that isn’t dependent on her being in awe of Barnabas and little else.

    It’d have been interesting if the show used someone from Parallel Time escaping into the main Time Band and causing trouble there. It plays with are they or aren’t they if it’s the counterpart of another character being used and any inconsistent characterisation can be attributed to the other one.

  2. We don’t get a close look at it, but it looks to me like Roxanne owns a stuffed raccoon.

    Pigweasel cub?
    (Please be a pigweasel cub!)

      1. Roxanne “Just oiling my traps, darling.”
        Bruno in the Agony Booth.
        Angelique using the Tantalus Field to vaporise her foes.

        Would have made PT a lot more fun…

  3. I’ve wondered why Barnabas was so set on the idea that Angelique must have hidden Julia in Collinwood? Why hadn’t the thought never entered his mind that perhaps Julia had disappeared because she had gotten caught in Angelique’s room in the east wing at a time when the room became unstable, and that Julia might be back in 1970 RT?

    Actually, why hadn’t the writers thought of that?

  4. Danny, I just wanted to thank you for doing this blog for all of the members of the Dark Shadows ” extended “family”. You are leaving us with such an enormous gift of your time and talents. I could never begin to thank you enough!

    1. I agree. If I ever meet young Mr. Horn in person by some wild chance, he’s due a nice dinner out as the least I can do to thank him for all the fun he’s given us!

  5. There are two important quotes in the episode that just kind of say it all:
    Barnabas tells Roxanne, “Listen to me…Don’t try to understand.” which has been the philosophy of DS from the beginning, i guess. (Seems to work in current politics, too! 🙂 and then Julia tells Barnabas and Maggie, “It’s important we get it all over with.” Yeah….

  6. I find it terribly amusing that Julia actually packed a suitcase for her trip into another time dimension, including even a piece of costume jewelry!

    Some folks really know how to parallel time travel in style. 🙂

    1. She didn’t pack a suitcase. They just put her Dr Hoffman clothes in a suitcase when she started wearing the Hoffman uniform. The most I cab see her bringing was a handbag …maybe the brooch was in it or in a jacket pocket. If anything I would hope she’d have a medical bag with her.

    2. Just wait until 1840 and her resourcefulness really shows. Impromptu time travel and she still produces sedatives. I’m waiting for the Qwick Mad Scientist Lab (With Seven Colors of Randomly Flowing Liquid!)

      1. …and all fitting into an underground room with a tiny opening. How did she get all that stuff in there? Somebody once suggested that she shopped at Ikea and assembled it underground.

  7. When I re-watched this episode recently I found myself yelling at the screen, telling Barnabas to just shut up and let Roxanne concentrate. By the way I don’t it was too much of a stretch to give Roxanne psychic abilities. I’m sure Claude North used them to his advantage. Also there was considerable popular interest in ESP, people who were legitimate psychics etc. During the last nine months of Dark Shadows there was always at least one character with psychic abilities. That said Roxanne was using psychometry here and once she put down the brooch her psychic connection should have been broken. The brroch was just ab excuse to use blue screen effects. I was amused she used it like some kind of compass or geiger counter to track Julia

    1. Even in the early days, David seemed to display psychic sensitivities beyond just seeing ghosts. Things like knowing Burke was going to die.

  8. It was pretty reasonable not for Barnabas to realise Roxanne was handling something of Hoffman’s instead of something of Julia’s. Still, it padded out a storyline on life support, but not long now until the plug is pulled on 1970 Parallel Time.

  9. One thing not addressed here is how they treat poor Julia who has been without food or water for days: a huge snifter of brandy to take the chill off ! Dr Hoffman should have known better. I’m surprised that she wasn’t too drunk to talk at the police station

    1. Ain’t it the truth? They did the same thing to Vicki when Matthew had kidnapped her. No one person took her to the kitchen for food.

      1. What about when Vicki got back from 1796, with a bullet in her shoulder, a dress she’d been wearing for a month, and likely smelling like a sty because she hadn’t had a bath in weeks? Get the girl a sandwich, maybe some Fig Newtons!

        1. LOL! Of course in soap operas (at least back then), no one had to go to the bathroom, characters were rarely seen eating (drinking – yes!) and body odor was never a problem. Too bad real life can’t be something like that!

          1. And yet so many of the commercials were for soap, shampoo, deodorant, and bathroom cleaners…and sometimes even for food!

            1. Mr Wells tells Sam Evans: “Your hair is fine,,, it’s your breath.” So at least Dark Shadows acknowledges the need for mouthwash.

      2. As evil as Barnabas was in his early days he at least gave Maggie food and water when she was held captive. I would assume that Willie let her use the “facilities” but I wonder what that like was at the Old House?

    2. Just one more important skill to add to Dr. Hoffman’s already impressive resume – she’s a broad who can handle her booze.
      She could probably drink Quentin and Roger under the table.
      Makes me like her even more.

      1. Quentin, Roger, Naomi, Nathan, Johnny Romano (AND any three of his Gypsy pals), Foster Brooks and Dean Martin! Julia is the original “last one standing”. (And I bet she could still say the alphabet backwards.)

  10. Hi Danny and fellow DS lovers,

    I re-discovered Dark Shadows a few months ago, while I was searching for some version of Parallel Time in which He-Who-Should-Not-Be-President was in fact NOT PRESIDENT. Like many Americans (I’m in fact an ex-pat, living in England for 21 years) I became obsessed with election news and was picking up my kindle in the middle of the night trying to find a scrap of hope and/or to assure myself that the missiles were not on the way. It was a horror show and I was addicted to it: my mental health was suffering. And then I found DS again. I have been cured of my news addiction and am now nursing a DS addiction. I’m so much happier.
    First of all Danny, like all of your other follwers: I love you – in a motherly sort of way so don’t worry too much about that and anyway, I’m in England and it’d be tough to stalk you from here. For I am old enough to have watched DS the first time around – not the boring blackmail pre-spook storyline – but I tuned in as soon as I learned about the vampire story. My BFF and I were two of the kids who ran home and settled down in front of the TV for a half an hour of murder, mayhem and Chromakey.

    I love the vampire/witch/horror and a lot of the general syfy and fantasy genres. But most, if not all, vampire related shows and stories leave me anything from a bit dissatisfied to totally disappointed. Since the rediscovery, I now understand why: the mist, the dognoise, the mausoleum as office water cooler location, THE CONSTANT THUNDER AND LIGHTENING were all missing but I didn’t know it. I’m home now, back in a world where every single Gothic trope is used as much as possible and with glee. And Barnabas, my first crush. I didn’t know Frid was gay until I read the blog. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we live in a world where people do not have to hide their authentic selves – poor Jonathan having to stand looking totally out of place in front of the Playboy Club. But I am glad that when I was 10 years old I could still imagine marrying him (Barnabas, not Jonathan, obvs), in an innocent and platonic sort of way. I mean really, who wanted a non-vampire husband? And it’s super fun now to watch Edmonds, Frid and Selby in some of the super gay scenes. I just watched 741 for the first time, but certainly not the last.

    The opening credits, the music, the sound effects all take me back to that time in my life. Looking back, I now know that DS and Star Trek have given me something I prize very highly – my complete and willing suspension of disbelief – which has enabled me to enjoy science fiction and fantasy more than any other genre. Also my taste in men: I also wanted to marry Mr Spock. On Vulcan. Pon Farr. Healthy escapism – we need it now more than ever. I could go on but let’s talk more about the blog and you and my fellow Dark Shadows Every Day fans.

    I love the blog for its mixture of total DS fixation, humour, and film critic/media studies/ film and TV history erudition. I am an admirer of the BBC and their mission: to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain. Your blog does those things too and in spades. I only have one question: with your eye for costume details, to my knowledge you have never mentioned the women’s nightwear, especially in the 1797 story. Yeah, the dresses are great, but the nightgowns and robes, oh my god. Not only are they perfect in terms of vampire victim attire, they are also works of art in and of themselves. My collection of nightgowns over the years has certainly been influenced by DS – although I may not have realized it until the re-discovery. Except for that awful yellow thing that Vicki is wearing when Barnabas bites her for the first time. One of my favourite scenes, ruined (even more than a normal Vicki scene) by her garish yellow ill-fitting nightgown. It looks highly flammable as well.

    So, if you ever get a minute and it’s episode appropriate – give a nod to those of us who are fans of the dressed-up-to-look-good-while-being-vampire-bitten-crowd. I cannot be the only one.

    And thanks again, for making my DS re-discovery so much more fun than it would have been on its own.

    –Debra

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