Episode 1086: A Sense of Something

“I don’t want to encourage them, and their ridiculous prophecies.”

There’s a mystery door in the west wing of Collinwood, as I’m sure there is in many of our homes, and when you open it, you either get a linen closet, or a malevolent playroom that eats children. This is an inconvenient way to run a corridor, especially if you just want to put the towels away.

But today, instead of the two usual options, David and Hallie discover a third — a magical stairway into time, operated by ancestors. The ghosts of Tad and Carrie are standing at the top of the phantom staircase, urging their descendants to — well, I’ll let them explain.

“Come! Please, come!” they say. “Hurry! Hurry! Don’t keep us waiting, please!”

“Follow us! Come! Please, come!” they continue, further refining their message. “Hurry! Follow us! Please, don’t keep us waiting!”

“Hurry! Hurry!” they recapitulate, hearkening back to a previous motif. “Please, come! Come! Come with us, please!” This must be what an elevator pitch used to be like, back before there were elevators, and you had to do it on the stairs.

This sequence is a lot like being on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and getting your car stuck right at the end, when the ghost lady says, “Hurry baa-ack, hurry ba-aaack! Be sure to bring your death certificate” over and over while you just sit there and watch, except that the Dark Shadows version is actually trying to kill me.

Because I am already this tired of the 1970 storyline, and the show has so much more of it to share with me. The kids don’t hurry, as it turns out, so the ghosts just vanish and turn back into a linen closet. There is no further information on what the ghosts wanted them to do, and why they wanted them to do it. They just staged a puzzling Improv Everywhere flash mob, and then disappeared into the crowd.

The kids, at this point, have given up on ever understanding this or doing anything about it. There are some token attempts at resistance coming up over the next week, but on the whole, David and Hallie seem resigned to their fate: they will do what the ghosts tell them to do.

And, honestly? I don’t really know if I even want to stop them. It’s not like they have anything else to do. If they’re not interested in retaining control of their own personalities and wardrobes, then I don’t know how I can help from here.

And it’s not like the adults have a better handle on things. Here’s Liz, flip-flopping on warnings from the beyond.

Liz:  Do you know where Julia and Barnabas are?

Quentin:  They’re down at the Old House, poring over papers and books.

Liz:  I didn’t want them to overhear me. I don’t want to encourage them, and their ridiculous prophecies.

Quentin:  What might encourage them?

Liz:  Oh, nothing very important, but… I must admit, I do feel a sense of something in this house.

Quentin:  Like what?

Liz:  I can’t explain it.

Quentin:  But you do feel a presence, or something.

Liz:  No, no, nothing like that.

Quentin:  Well, have you seen or heard anything?

Liz:  Quentin, please! Save the ghost stories for Julia and Barnabas!

Well, then what are you talking about, you mad woman? You can’t just go around saying that you have a sense of something, and then snap at people who try to clarify. You need to get your story straight.

It turns out she’s uneasy about today’s horoscope, which says “A loved one is going to meet a stranger.”

“A loved one could be anyone in this house,” she muses. “A stranger… Quentin, you haven’t seen any strangers on the grounds today, have you?” I don’t know why the idea of a stranger is agitating her so much. It’s possible that all of these people need to spend more time outside of the home.

Except the ghosts are expressing opposition to that idea, too. David and Hallie regroup in David’s room, and decide that maybe they’ll consider thinking about making a plan to form a committee to study the feasibility of proposing alternatives to standing around in David’s room and waiting for ghosts to eat them, and as soon as they take a step towards the door, they hear the lock click into place.

David tries the handle. The door is locked. They are trapped in a bedroom.

Within seconds, they’re already acting like they’re cut off from civilization and have to start building a new society. Hallie instantly bursts into tears. David comes up with the wild idea of knocking on the door and calling for someone to let them out, but Hallie says that they can’t possibly do that, because how would they explain who locked them in? I agree that would be awkward, but if the alternative is eating the decor and writing a new constitution, they should probably try the knocking thing and see how it comes out.

It gets so bad in the room that David basically jumps out a third-story window to get away from Hallie. He just climbs onto the latticework and makes a break for it, while she stands by and wails, “David, don’t! David, it’s dangerous! David, let me come with you! David, I don’t want to be alone in this room! David, please! Please don’t go! Please be careful! Please!”

She doesn’t say anything about hurrying or keeping people waiting, but it feels like Hallie and David are basically running on the same platform as Carrie and Tad. I remember the days when you could lock David up in a mausoleum for two weeks, and he’d come out just as determined as ever.

Naturally, as soon as David starts rappelling down the side of the building, Liz hears Hallie crying and unlocks the door. And then they do one of those depressing sequences where a character asks a question that gets at something another character wants to keep secret, and we have to watch them extemporise, like coming up with a decent lie is a heroic endeavor that we all have to be involved with.

Obviously, we know that this isn’t the moment that cracks the whole case wide open, because a) Liz is a secondary character, b) it’s halfway through Monday, and c) locking a door is not even a thing that ghosts do. This is just pointless time-wasting, and I for one am sick of the entire scenario.

Once that blows over, Liz wanders downstairs and finds Quentin reading his great grand-uncle’s diary, and they kid back and forth about that for a while, and then Liz heads back upstairs to make sure that David’s asleep in his bed, which he is.

And then the day is saved, by the most unlikely person.

Because Gerard is back! Hooray!

All he does is give David and Hallie a scary dream and then appear in the hallway, but I’m thrilled to see him again. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I didn’t realize how much I missed him.

Because Gerard does things! He’s the one ghost who actually moves the story along. Daphne hypnokisses people and leaves cryptic notes, and Carrie and Tad just pop in and out of existence to no real purpose, but Gerard drops heavy things on people’s heads, and causes heart attacks. Barnabas and Julia spent two weeks on that 1995 time trip — the highlight of the last six months on the show — and that was basically all Gerard.

And yes, he’s hot; I’ve decided to just go ahead and find him attractive. Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome, but right now, his face is offering me entertainment value, unlike most of the rest of the show. So that’s the happy ending for today’s episode: the return of my hero, the man that I love: Gerard Stiles. Maybe he’ll kill the kids.

Tomorrow: Stranger Things.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the end of act 1, David tells Hallie, “It’s locked! Shomebody locked the door!”

David tells Hallie, “I’m sorry,” and then Liz tells him, “I want you to apologize to Hallie.”

Liz reads in Q40’s diary, “Tomorrow, we bury Carrie and Todd.”

In David’s dream, Q40 says, “Elizabeth, we did all we could,” but the character he’s talking to is presumably Flora.


A reminder: Dark Shadows Every Day readers get 25% off the entire range of Dark Shadows audiobooks when you use the code DSED25OFF. That offer lasts until December 31, 2017, and you can read more about that (including my personal favorites) on my post about The Flip Side.

Tomorrow: Stranger Things.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

29 thoughts on “Episode 1086: A Sense of Something

  1. the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and getting your car stuck right at the end, when the ghost lady says, “Hurry baa-ack, hurry ba-aaack!

    Disney World. Disneyland’s “Little Leota” is on the moving ramp up to ground level after one has already exited the ride vehicle.

  2. Why in the world would the two ghosts (Tad and Carrie) want David and Hallie to come with them up the stairway through time? What would this accomplish? Was it supposed to be a way to expedite their possession? It this were airing today, ABC would have been on the phone to Dan Curtis Productions and made demands, wanting to see storylines projections.

    P.S. I do think that Gerard (James Storm) has an amount of hotness. So did his brother Michael.

    1. And now we can fanwank the reason why Gerard & Company haven’t manifested before now – it required someone who looked like Carrie to arrive at Collinwood.
      It’s all Hallie’s fault.

      My question is, why did Carrie’s ghost lead Barnabas and Julia back to 1970?
      Okay, questions. Why isn’t the Staircase Into Time behind a fluctuating door in the playroom, as we saw in 1995? And where’s the linen closet gone to? I need to change my bedsheets!

      PS While I must admit David Selby is catching on with me, I’m still not seeing the attraction of James Storm.

    2. It doesn’t make one scrap of sense, and not in the “mysterious, tell me more” way, but in the “my coworker WILL NOT stop telling me the same damn joke” way.

      I did like them vanishing and leaving the stairway through time as their gift with purchase for David and Hallie, though.

  3. At the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World, Orlando, in Summer 1972 (I believe one year after Disney World first opened), I remember seeing a witch inside a crystal ball – her head was 3D as we moved around it. As I recall, It was a 3D image of elderly character actress Estelle Winwood, dressed as a witch, on some kind of endless loop. I think she was reciting some kind of spell, conjuring the ghosts or something. I honestly don’t remember whether she was at the beginning of the ride or at the end. What I do remember is that my family and I (I was 11) somehow got to Disney World early in the morning first thing one day, and we rushed to the nearest place that had no long lines yet (Haunted Mansion) and got in with no long wait at all. As soon as we were out, the long lines were already there for all the other rides.

    1. Just for the record, it wasn’t Estelle Winwood (although she played that type often enough). The character is Madame Leota, named after Leota Toombs, who was a Disney designer/”Imagineer” and her face was used for the character (and her voice for the “LIttle Leota” at the end). Madame Leota’s voice was Eleanor Audley, a radio veteran who was Cinderella’s stepmother and Maleficent for Disney (and popped up on several sixties TV shows, including as Oliver’s snobbish mother on “Green Acres”).

  4. That’s the problem with 1970 in a nutshell. The only character driving the plot forward is a mute ghost making sporadic visitations when someone needs spooking. We never really get any answer for Tad and Carrie spooking their descendants because they’re almost non-entities when we will should have been getting that answer.

    The most Barnabas and Julia are doing is seeding names for the upcoming visit to 1840. At least with the Quentin haunting Julia was working on Chris (and I know how that sounds). The whole Roxanne thing ends up being so inconsequential it’s there to pad out the storyline, ditto the Sebastian Shaw stuff. The only thing of consequence is to give Kathryn Leigh Scott something to do and she’s gone for good (as far as the TV episodes are concerned) by the end of the storyline. At least we were spared 1840 having a KLS character for Barnabas to drool over.

    1. I’ve often wondered who KLS would have played in 1840 if she had stayed? Samantha? An expanded Joanna role? Edith?

      1. I think I read somewhere that KLS would have played Samantha. As much as I like some of her other roles, I am glad Virginia Vestoff played Samantha. One thing 1840 had going for it (and there’s not much IMO) is that there are some new faces on the show.

        1. Samantha makes sense. The writers paired Kathryn with David Selby for 1970 Parallel Time and they were briefly love spelled during the Leviathan storyline for reasons only They understand. Plus having her fighting against the governess would be ironic, as would her relationship with the David Hennessy character considering her role in Parallel Time.

        2. Robert Sharp: I feel the same way. It would have been interesting to see KLS play someone who isn’t so nice. (The closest we got was Kitty, who was really mean but just money-focused.)

          But Virginia Vestoff did a great job in the role and was a shining point of 1840 (which I enjoyed despite the flaws.) I don’t KLS would have been as good in that role.

          And like you said, it was nice to see some fresh faces. I wish all three Drew siblings would have had some screen time together. They made an interesting counterpoint to the Collins family. They were all rather self-confident and comfortable holding their own with the premiere family.

          In a way, the Drews in 1840 were the closest DS ever came to a traditional soap where two families interact.

          1. If KLS had played Samantha, Quentin would have been yelling at her (and slapping her) and Gerard would have been treating her like dirt. I just couldn’t stand to see her put through yet another abusive storyline. Not if they weren’t going to let her fight back.

      2. Terry Crawford would have come back, so Edith was likely earmarked for her. Besides, what with how grabby Pennock’s Gabriel got and Kathryn’s experiences with Roger Davis she’d probably have done an Anthony George and quit mid-storyline.

        1. KLS already had Pennock dry humping her during the Jekyll/Hyde storyline and wasn’t eager to come back for more.

  5. So Frid is off promoting the movie he’s embarrassed by so meanwhile all the characters on the show have to run in place? Any of those Frid interviews survive?

  6. Here’s an idea. KLS plays an 1840 version of Jenny.

    But that would take range. Could she pull it off? Hmm…

    See, all Quentins drive one ex nuts!

  7. I think whatever the water’s plan for 1840 got scrapped before the time trip. Ted and Carrie are pretty inconsequential to the storyline. Possibly because David henesy left the show early. Playroom didn’t really play a part in the story. We only heard about the Java Queen because that was the oat that Clinton and Ted were supposedly lost on. It also seemed like they had some kind of pirate thing planned. Instead we got to rework of the 1795 witch trial and the remake of the Hand of Count Petofi storyline with a head instead.

  8. Ooh, David Selby’s intro! He has a dead sexy voice.

    The West Wing is unused, right? Yet the linen closet (when it’s in existence) is stocked up with towels and uniforms (well, clothing of some kind). Is the room actually in 1840? Otherwise, who put the linens in there? I don’t think Mrs. Johnson does laundry.

    David doesn’t have a key to his own room? And is that cartoon lion picture next to the window a new addition? Jeez, Hallie sure falls apart over the whole ordeal – guess it’s because it’s 1970 and she’s “just a girl”. Or maybe she’s claustrophobic.

    I bet when they were kids, Roger locked Elizabeth in a room, probably after telling her some spooky story. Be that as it may, couldn’t Hallie have just said she didn’t know who locked her in? Liz would have blamed David anyway when he came in.

    There was something very appealing about Quentin’s drunk scene; quite like old times, especially the bit with the glass (“Hello, friend!”).

    Guess the writers hadn’t thought of Flora yet. Maybe they were originally going to call her Elizabeth ?

    Hallie name-checks David seventeen times in twenty minutes. That’s dangerous drinking if I took a shot every time!

    1. The towels in the linen closet are freshly laundered and in modern colors, so I guess the one part of the West Wing that’s used is that particular closet?

      (Also, thank you, Julia, for FINALLY pointing out a couple episodes ago that that’s an awfully elaborate doorway/stained glass decoration for a linen closet.)

  9. Just to be picky (to no one in particular) but your grandfather’s brother is your great-uncle or your grand-uncle. Your great-grand-uncle is your great-grandparent’s brother. I’ve been doing genealogy stuff lately . . .

    1. that’s right, Margaret. but they have to fake it when Quentin or Julia talk to the rest of the family, like Elizabeth, who aren’t hep to the fact that Quentin is of the generation he actually is, which is to say, Elizabeth’s uncle. so they add an extra grand.

  10. Can you imagine not knowing if you’ll every be able to access your towels and sheets??


    “My God, what is it? Have you seen a doorway into another time and place, with a room that can’t possibly exist, filled with the ghostly relics of those who cannot rest?”

    “Yes, but that’s not why I’m upset! MY 500 COUNT EGYPTIAN COTTON TOWELS WERE IN THERE!”

  11. “It’s possible that all of these people need to spend more time outside of the home.”

    I couldn’t agree more. It seems like many residents of Collinwood spend weeks on end in either the drawing room, their bedroom or in secret, disappearing rooms that are portals to other time periods. They need to get out more.

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