Episode 1081: Born to Rock

“I never thought I’d have to introduce you to yourself.”

So, here’s where I struggle. I’m looking down the barrel of a whole week of Dark Shadows featuring my current least-favorite characters — young David Collins and his accomplice, Hallie Stokes — and they’re going to keep on doing the same things that I didn’t enjoy watching them do last week.

There’s a villain in here, somewhere — a steel-souled man named Gerard Stiles, who lived and died and turned into a malevolent entity bent on the extermination of the Collins family. He will rise, and the House of Collins will fall. That’s locked-in, it’s flavor-sealed. We’ve already seen it.

And somehow, that’s connected to these two dopey dead kids, Tad Collins and Carrie Stokes, who died in 1840 and still haven’t adjusted to the experience. They seem to think that an appropriate way to handle dying young is to grab a couple descendants of the same age, gain control of their brains through the use of magic hypnoclothes, and then — what? Turn them into Tad and Carrie, and then just go on with their lives, as if 1970 is 1840? Are they going to get drivers’ licenses? And why does Gerard care whether these kids turn into those kids?

It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand what Tad and Carrie get out of it, and I don’t want to watch David and Hallie try to get their brains around the ungetaroundable. I’m sick of all four of these kids, and I don’t want them on my television show anymore, but here we are.

So do I even want to get into the weeds on this? Hallie’s spent the last couple weeks putting on and taking off Carrie’s 1840 party dress, and on Thursday, she yelled at David when he refused to don his own mid-nineteenth ensemble. “You don’t want to make me happy!” she screamed. “You don’t want to make her happy!” It was a whole thing.

And now here she is, entering the magical 1840 playroom, and she sees David sitting on the rocking horse, wearing exactly the clothes that she was talking about.

“David, what’s the matter with you?” she says. “You know you’re not supposed to be here! And what are you doing in those clothes?”

And the viewers at home say, how do you not understand what’s going on here?

She leaves the room in a huff, and who’s there in the hallway but David, which is such a cast-iron shock that it’s worth a Friday-afternoon cliffhanger. And then on Monday, they have to explain that that was actually a ghost, which we already know, and we are not impressed.

Because this is clearly not going anywhere for a while. They can talk, again, about how they’re going to tell the adults what’s going on and blow this thing wide open, but we’ve already seen that, it didn’t work the last three times, and there’s no reason for us to think they’re going to accomplish it now.

Last Wednesday, the ensorcelled Quentin tried to tell Julia about Daphne, but she appeared at the window and stared him into stopping. And on Friday, David and Hallie tried to tell Elizabeth about the ghosts, but they stopped short when they saw the model ship that the spirits are using as a marketing gimmick. The ghosts are gradually getting a better hold on the kids, and they’re not going to suddenly break that pattern now.

When David tells Hallie that he wants to tell people, then that’s a dead end, and when she tells him that they just have to promise each other not to go to the haunted playroom anymore, then that’s a dead end too. This story already has a shape, and they’ve proven through repetition that this shape is going to keep repeating in concentric circles.

So when Hallie says, “Oh, David, I know they’ll leave us alone! I feel different already!” then that makes one of us.

Hallie leaves, David sits down and tries to read, he hears the carousel theme song, he looks around and shouts at the ghosts, his dresser drawer magically opens, and ta-dah, the hypnoclothes.

Yes, we get it. We got it, like, four iterations ago. Kid, ghost, theme, hypnoclothes, Tad wants to live again through David. Don’t know why, don’t care, and where did all of David’s robots go? I could seriously use a shot of those robots right about now.

And then — I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, it’s so stupid — he drops the clothes on the floor, marches out of the room like a zombie, and goes straight to the playroom, where he promised Hallie he wouldn’t go. Then Hallie realizes that she’s lost track of David, so she goes to the playroom, and there’s David sitting on the horse, rocking it.

She marches into the playroom and says, David, what are you doing, and he says, What did you call me? and she says, What’s happened to you? and oh my god are you even kidding me? Are we really going to have a whole other scene where he calls her Carrie, and she acts like she’s never heard the name Carrie before?

I can’t take this, I just can’t. I don’t know what to do with myself.

But the problem isn’t really the kids, it’s about what this sequence does to Barnabas and Julia, otherwise known as the main characters of the show. They came back from a distressing vacation in the future with six random phrases to help them figure out how to stop the impending. By now, three of those clues have come to pass — the eclipse, the picnic and the unfinished horoscope — and they are zero percent closer to noticing the noisy crisis taking place just upstairs.

This is a sign of bad faith with the audience. The main characters are supposed to be driving the action, but so far they’re just sitting in the drawing room looking at old tax records, and the story is really driven by the actions of — who? David and Hallie? Tad and Carrie? Gerard and Daphne? Or, most likely — no one at all?

At this point, we know way more about what’s going on than the main characters do, and the shape of this story clearly dictates that they won’t figure it out until ten seconds before it’s too late. The thrill of seeing Barnabas and Julia confronting the ghosts in 1995 has drained all the way out of the show, and I’m wondering if it was a mistake coming back. Maybe we should have just stayed in the 90s and started over with a new family.

Tomorrow: You Don’t Have to Put on the Red Light.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Hallie tells David about seeing Tad: “I talked to you — but you just stood there, playing with that boat!” He was on the rocking horse, no boat involved. This episode was taped four days earlier than the previous one — episode 1081 was taped on August 7th, and episode 1080 on August 11th — so they must have changed the boat scene to a rocking horse, after this episode was already in the can.

Barnabas tells Carolyn, “We all know how important that chance is in our lives.”

After Carolyn asks Hallie if she believes in horoscopes, someone slams a door in the studio.

Hallie tells David, “You know Julia and Doctor — and Barnabas are trying to find out about it!”

The folder with Carolyn’s horoscope says “CAROLYN STODRARD HAWKES”.

Sebastian tells Barnabas, “I’m an astrologist, Mr. Collins, not a doctor!” Then he says, “The only shoeman that tells me what I must do is me!”

Tomorrow: You Don’t Have to Put on the Red Light.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

35 thoughts on “Episode 1081: Born to Rock

      1. I am so sick of this spot in the storyline. I feel I am also stuck on that blasted carousel, going round and round and going nowhere for the rest of eternity.

        1. I was thinking, as I watched, that the carousel was a singularly apt representative of this story. As is the rocking-horse, going back and forth and getting nowhere.

          And I knew as soon as Roxanne was mentioned that she was going to pop in again. Quelle surprise! So we get to go in that circle too. Least we know who’s answering the phone and misspelling names on file folders.

          1. Yeah, the carousel and rocking-horse symbolism is getting anvilicious, isn’t it? I remember Roxanne showing up but I thought she appears in 1840. I have great difficulty remembering what happened after the Leviathan story.

  1. Is it meant to evoke The Rocking Horse Winner where the kid–SPOILER ALERT–

    rocks himself to death?

    That would be fun to see and make a change from Turn of the Screw: Electric Boogaloo. I don’t remember that happening, though. Hindsight is the biggest spoiler of all.

  2. I’m pretty sure this has been mentioned before, but the pic of a 12-13 year old boy (which is David Collins? Anyway, he’s in puberty) sitting on a rocking horse is as ghastly as the dialogue. If this is what Gerard Stiles is making them do, there is something seriously wrong with this ghost. I mean, beyond the haunting aspects.

    1. Henesy and I both turned 14 in Oct., 1970 and I can guarandamntee it would have taken a LOT more than a scowling, angry ghost to pry me away from my TV at that age. If hanging out in that toddler’s playroom meant I’d have to miss The Mod Squad, The Partridge Family, Laugh In, Get Smart, Mary Tyler Moore, Bewitched, etc., not to mention my daytime soaps during summer vacation and most importantly, Dark Shadows after school every day – well, Gerard could just go jump off Widow’s Hill and take Ms. Lilacs with him.

      1. I’m gonna tale a wild guess that your upbringing before that point was a lot different than David’s, though, if what we saw of his life from age nine on was any indication.

        1. True, unlike me, David was a home schooled rich kid who grew up in the Haunted Mansion! Still, his loneliness and isolation should have made him yearn even more for exposure to the world outside Collinwood – especially by 1970. It’s too bad Dan Curtis didn’t give Hallie & David a teen storyline instead of sticking them in that childish playroom. Couldn’t Gerard have possessed them just as easily if they’d been making out behind the drapes in the drawing room?

          1. Amen to that, comrade! David H. had proven I’m the 1897 story that he could handle any grownup material that was thrown at him. And as a younger kid, David Collins had always been portrayed as frighteningly precocious. I guess we’re supposed to fanwank his brain was damaged from all that childhood possession? Or maybe he found the Professor’s stash of “herbs from the far East.”

            I do remember knowing families when I was a kid in the 80s, who were still snobby about not having TV in TV in the house. So I can buy Roger and Liz not allowing it.

      2. Hey! I turned 14 in October 1970 too. Because of that identification factor this last hurrah of David Henesy held my interest then more than now. And thanks go to Danny who expresses so well why this storyline is just disaster. I suggested on another post that i thought it might have been better had they avoided 1970 altogether and gone from 1995 to 1840 and avoided all this convoluted nonsense,.

  3. I think David and Hallie need to track down an antique fountain pen to liven things up!

    Danny, given how you and most folks feel about the David/Hallie focus, maybe it’s a good thing their roles as Tad/Carrie in 1840 are greatly diminished.

      1. Interesting thing with David and the time travel arcs:

        A crisis with David, in part or whole, sparked all three major time travel events on DS: 1795 / 1897 / 1840. And he was prominently featured in each of the storylines leading up to the actual travels with his sanity on the line for 1795 and his actual life on the line for 1897 and 1840.

        But the only one of the three where David Henesy had much of a role in the actual past was 1897. And even then, he was not getting the airtime he got in “the present.”

        And then when they get back to the present, the David crisis in the present is completely dropped, even in 1795 when no more than a minute passed in Collinwood.

        1. Someone has to survive the end of storyline massacre and keep the family line going. If Jamison was killed in 1897 then Liz and Roger wouldn’t have been born. No Liz means no Paul and no Jason at Collinwood, thus no blackmail storyline and Willie isn’t there to open the coffin. Thus Barnabas is still in the coffin when he should be up and about, causing a massive paradox. There’ll be more on paradoxes later.

          1. David Henesy was one of the few core actors who didn’t benefit from the time travel.

            Nancy Barrett, Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds all got to sink their teeth into more expansive roles. But Daniel / Jamison / Tad wasn’t featured too much and really weren’t different kind of boys (except when Jamison was possessed — and DH did that well).

          2. 1840 is different from the other flashbacks in that the Collins heir isn’t present but far away in boarding school, neither seen nor heard, not even his name is mentioned. Therefore, there isn’t any worry about the family continuing to the present.

      2. And for all the relationship buildup between Daphne and the children they are only in one scene that I can recall. That scene is more about the Daphne/Quentin/Samantha triangle than anything else.

          1. The Gerard Daphne connection came in pretty late as well. The stuff with Jeremy Grimes felt inconsequential, there to give Kathy Cody something to do. Unlike Amy Hallie didn’t really have a family connection you could emotionally invest in. Chris and Amy were great together. Stokes is barely around, let alone spending much time with Hallie.

                1. You’ll like the audio Tainted Love. It’s about the love triangle between David, Amy and Hallie (and no, its not about Hamie).

              1. Another good thing about Amy is that she went looking for what wound up summoning Quentin. There’s no reason Gerard had to be active at this point in time, thus David and Hallie are robbed of any agency at all in this storyline. Everything they do to try get out of it is blocked at every turn, for the sake of keeping the story going.

  4. Seriously Danny. How are you going to do this every day between now and the end? There are a few interesting moments ahead, but very few, and the continuity paradoxes just make it all seem so fake and contrived and irritating. I don’t envy you. And just imagine when you get to 1841 PT and you have to write about Catherine and Bramwell and Morgan as if anybody on the entire planet cares.

    1. Still, we do get to hear Hallie tell Uncle Elliot that everything’s “groovy” at Collinwood. That should count for something, even if it isn’t anything very much.
      See? There are compensations. 😉

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