Episode 1089: Standing on Graves

“That bust was there in the future because you placed it there now!”

“We should be grateful that nothing has happened for the last two days!” says Hallie.

“That’s what’s bugging me most,” David moans. “Why hasn’t anything happened?”

The answer, I suppose, is because Barnabas is out of town, telling Women’s Wear Daily what he thinks about his new movie. Also, the writers may be running out of ideas.

So what, dear reader, can I say about this endless turning carousel of a storyline? The horses prance around in a circle, Dapple and Charger and Jewel, running a race that no one will ever win, including me. Characters from the present met characters from the past in the future, and now everyone is slowly scrambling to win the hearts and minds of the Collins family. Smart money’s on the ghosts, because we’ve already seen the future and they’re it, but we might as well watch as the foretold comes to pass. I didn’t have anything else planned for today, did you?

“There’s an old legend,” says David, except there isn’t, “that if you stand on somebody’s grave at midnight, you can tell whether their spirit is at rest or not.” This is simply not the case. I know a thing or two about what there’s an old legend about, and that isn’t one of them.

I mean, what would you do with a legend like that? It’s not that hard to figure out whether a dead person’s spirit is at rest or not. The procedure goes like this: Yes. They’re dead. Stop standing on people’s graves, it’s unnerving and nobody is impressed.

Meanwhile, Gerard is downstairs casting some kind of hoodoo on Elizabeth. Gerard is a houseguest who came to stay at Collinwood a hundred and thirty years ago, and he still hasn’t left, which may be an all-time record. There are so many rooms in this moldering manse that sometimes whole new life forms emerge from the ooze, sprouting lungs and legs and evolving themselves into something that requires breakfast on a tray in the morning.

Parallel dimensions expand and contract, pulsing inside the walls of Collinwood, like colonies of toxic termites that have made different choices. There are playrooms where there should be linen closets, and linen closets where there should be different linen closets. Out there in the wings, on the wild frontier, civilizations rise and fall that no man has ever seen, piling up in cobwebby heaps around the trunks of old clothes and haunted lampshades. You can walk into one of the sub-attics to poke around and look at forgotten antiques, and end up trapped behind enemy lines in a world war between a witch, a vampire and a series of lookalike governesses, each of them rewriting the other’s family histories in a round robin of paradoxical genealogy. We’re dancing on the skin of a thousand possible universes; it’s charged vacuum emboitments, all the way down.

That doesn’t explain why a ghost is casting a spell on a woman to make her believe that her family isn’t being threatened by ghosts, which she already believed in the first place. I can’t explain everything. I don’t have the time.

Julia hears Liz talking to the spirits in the drawing room, but when she opens the door, Liz is just standing there, in the dark, looking at nothing in particular. She says she was on the phone with her lawyer, an extinct species of soap opera character that we left behind ages ago. Who talks to lawyers, these days?

Julia cocks her head, listening to a tinkly music cue on the soundtrack. She asks, “Are you sure nobody else was here?” which if you have to ask that question then maybe it’s time to find a new mansion to live in.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I just had that strange feeling again… the feeling of evil.” Fine, just leave a one-star Yelp review and move on with your life.

But Julia is determined to make this an interesting story, no matter how many speed bumps Liz lays on the tracks. This is a service that Julia provides at no further cost to you.

“On Thursday, the 27th day of August in the year 1841,”

she reads in a book she found laying around in the library,

“the Java Queen, notorious scavenger of the seas, was caught in a storm off the rockbound coast of Maine, near the fishing village of Collinsport.

“Her crew of twenty-three brigands and cutthroats perished at sea. For years, it was believed that her infamous captain, whose identity was never known, survived the wreckage and vowed to unite his evil followers in death, causing them to rise from their graves to kill and plunder once more.”

This is phenomenal, just what we need: brigands and cutthroats, rising from their graves! Of course, that image is pretty much the exact opposite of what we’re looking at — a woman sitting placidly on someone else’s couch, reading a book and musing on coincidences — but Rome wasn’t burned in a day.

So, sure, go stand on a grave if it makes you feel better. Knock yourselves out.

“That area over there,” Hallie says, “the one that’s fenced in. What is it?” It’s 11:58 and a half and they’re standing in the cemetery, and she’s sightseeing. She doesn’t really care, she just wants another excuse to make her anxious-disgust face.

David points. “See that gate over there? It’s been locked for a hundred years.”


“During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, they used to bury criminals and misfits here!” he explains. “Most of the graves are unmarked, and there are a lot of legends about them.” Yeah, I bet there are. You people have legends for everything.

Hallie stutters, “What sort of legends?” You know, it would make things a lot simpler if they just put up a sign.

“Oh, about how cruel and mean they were! They must have been, in order to have been buried there.” David gulps. “The story is that their souls had no place to go — they weren’t wanted in Heaven or in Hell, so they were left here to molder in their graves, and try to come back from death.”

Ugh, the living are so judgmental. Don’t even get me started on the living.

So as the angry ghost appears and the children exit stage right, I want to raise a couple of questions, starting with: why weren’t the spirits wanted in Hell? They sound like exactly the kind of people that Hell is looking for. Did somebody lose their file? Is there an appeals process? And how would anybody know where their souls ended up? Somebody needs to do an audit on these legends, they don’t make sense.

Now they have this radioactive Superfund clean-up site in the graveyard, abandoned and unattended to, like a great big gun lurking on Chekhov’s wall. Criminals and misfits, brigands and cutthroats, festering and fermenting in their lonely unmarked graves. What were they thinking, putting all of these people together? They’re just going to be a bad influence on everybody else. And where are they burying all the new criminals and misfits?

Now Gerard is angry, obviously, because he always is, but even more so now, because he found these dumb kids desecrating his resting place. So that whole grave-standing stunt was entirely counter-productive for their goals, which just adds up to one more reason for Hallie to make her anxious-disgust face.

“Know ye who do not rest,”

David reads in a note that he found inside the book that Julia found in the library,

“in the town of Collinsport, in the dead of night, watch for the signal as ever before. The green flag in the window, three times shall it wave, as it did in days of yore.”

And then it’s signed with a G. I have further questions.

For example: That note was written to the spirits that can’t rest, right? How would you deliver such a note? I don’t want to make a joke about “the ghost office,” but damn it, Dark Shadows, you’re forcing my hand. The flag, the book, the note, the lies, the brigands, the misfits and the ludicrous legends. Where does it all end?

Tomorrow: Today’s Ten Things That Make No Sense.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Julia overhears Liz talking and opens the drawing room doors, the boom mic scuttles out of sight.

The lights are out when Julia opens the doors to find Liz standing in the drawing room in the dark. When they come back from the commercial break, the lights are on.

Julia tells Liz, “I found some very interesting thing in one of these books.”

Hallie trips over a line, “What sort of lege — legends?”

When Julia sees David and Hallie sneaking into the house, the shadow of a camera moves across the floor.

They make a big deal about Liz putting the bust on the bannister in the foyer, but I don’t think we ever see it there again.

Tomorrow: Today’s Ten Things That Make No Sense.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

78 thoughts on “Episode 1089: Standing on Graves

    1. Good golly this run has been so dry and boring. Even in the beginning episodes pre-barnabas I was never so bored.

  1. Wait…didn’t we see the dead pirate things somewhere else…oh, “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
    Although, DS never did develop a sense of humor, it could have been an interesting twist of having the children set off the sequence of events. I guess they did, but creative writing would have made all the difference. But then, i guess if DS had been creatively written, we would be having this fine conversation. lol

    1. That is what happened with Quentin’s haunting. If Amy had left that telephone well enough alone she and David wouldn’t be faced by him and his mutton chops. And Beth.

    2. Sense of humor?

      Go back to episode One.

      There’s plenty of humor in the writing before Barnabas shows up.


      There’s Pansy Faye.

      Magda and Sandor.

      Quentin. Carl. Nicholas.

      I bet someone here can add to the list, big time.

      1. Roger, Nathan Forbes, Count Petofi, Judith Collins, all the Reverends Trask – albeit they weren’t exactly trying to be funny but I laughed my head off at them.
        Elizabeth got some zingers in on a fairly regular basis, too.

        1. Burke Devlin (Mark One) had loads of fun – Sam Evans, Ben Stokes, Millicent, Natalie DuPres, Angelique (okay, her “funny” was a little dark, but still…) – and let us not forget the “Laughing Boy” of Parallel Time, Dameon Edwards!

          1. Jeb Hawkes was pretty funny in the beginning but, I don’t know how much of that was his lines or Chris Pennock’s performance. Probably both.
            I got a real chuckle out of Alexander, too. That kid had one of the most menacing stares of any DS character – what an evil little bundle!

    3. Huh? There is PLENTY of sense of humor on Dark Shadows–both intentional and non-intentional. Always was, right from the beginning.

  2. The first several paragraphs here – at least down to “Parallel dimensions expand and contract” – remind me strangely of Charles Fort’s way of writing.

  3. Big problem with this storyline — among many — is there are no personal stakes. The Dream Curse, as frustrating as it was at times, had personal stakes — Cassandra/Angelique wanted to turn Barnabas into a vampire again, which he didn’t care for. Barnabas is the series star. The threats have to relate to him personally for us to really care. Yes, I know, there have been exceptions: Quentin’s ghost and much of 1897, but that was because Quentin was awesome and for much of 1897, David Selby was more the star than Jonathan Frid.

    However, the awesome character Selby played is gone. If he still existed in a compelling form, we’d care more about his current predicament.

    1. Talk about running out of steam. My grades were bad in school so as punishment I wasn’t able to watch the Bramwell episodes. Gees may I have Elliott, Casandra and Blair?

    2. Yes, this period is just riddled with missed opportunities. Had they actually done the pirate plotline in 1840 it might have worked out better. Imagine Gerard Stiles posing as a dignified young man, friend to Quentin who is in fact pirate Ivan Miller awaiting the arrival of his ship the Java Queen along with his crew. And they arrive to pillage and plunder Collinsport. Forget the head of Judah Zachary.

      You’re right that the Quentin of 1970 wasn’t nearly as compelling as he was in 1897. That said, Selby’s take on the character was realistic. After all he was basically a 100 year old man and pretty world-weary.

  4. Well, if I was in a graveyard at midnight and shown some graves that had been fenced off because the dead buried there were so evil they aren’t even welcome in hell, I’d be making some anxious-disgust faces, too.
    God only knows what kind of face I’d make if Gerard chose that exact moment to pop up and glare at me.
    This is pretty scary.

  5. Yeesh! I thought David’s yellow cardigan was horrid – but the belted blue vest could be what’s really responsible for the destruction of Collinwood.
    And suddenly he’s a fountain of knowledge about random old legends; and how come nobody has mentioned that exclusive burials section of Eagle Hill before (like, EVER!)? The one we’ve never even seen before today’s episode? And Eagle Hill has migrated again, like Birnham Wood coming to Dunsinane.
    All you have to do is wave a green flag to raise the dead? Hope NASCAR knows about this. It would certainly make motor sports more exciting.

    1. I should be embarrassed to admit this but because I was the same age as David Collins (and almost to the day the same age as David Henesy) I identified with him. And of course since there was an Ohrbach’s locally I bought the same belted sweater vest…in navy blue. It didn’t last long in my wardrobe rotation and I eventually grew out of it anyway but I looked upon it with great fondness

      1. Al Czervik: Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? [looks at Judge Smails, who’s wearing the same hat] Oh, it looks good on you though.

        Caddyshack, 1980

    2. Yeesh! I thought David’s yellow cardigan was horrid – but the belted blue vest could be what’s really responsible for the destruction of Collinwood.

      That awful belted blue sweater vest reminded me of something some boys in church wore in the late 1970’s. If memory serves, it was in line with their Swedish ancestry or something.

    3. A giant green clearly polyester flag that’s been sitting in the tower room, center of mad lockups and malfeasance since time immemorial, and nobody’s ditched it in one of the fifty attics?

  6. Yeah, David’s vest did kind of look like a life jacket; which may have been appropriate given the direction the series was headed.

    1. It was a neck and neck contest between Hallie’s dress and David’s vest for Most Horrible Piece of Clothing.

      1. To be fair, 1970s mens’ fashions are probably the worst ever. With the absolute nadir being polyester leisure suits.
        Sebastian’s outfits are by far the most outlandish, parodies of what someone imagined an astrologer would wear.

  7. Of course, the writers hadn’t thought of the whole Ivan Miller story yet…which is why the mysterious note is not signed “I” instead of “G”. But since the brigands and cutthroats only knew him as Ivan, they wouldn’t know who wrote it. Never mind, zombies aren’t that literate anyhow.

    How does David know Gerard is angry at them, necessarily? We haven’t seen Gerard being anything else BUT angry. At everything.

  8. Gerard is still Judah at this point, but the writers don’t know it, yet.

    Begs the question: If Gerard, Daphne, Tad and Carrie all died in 1840…..and Barnabas stayed chained, then Angelique wouldn’t have been aware of the head, and not involved.
    Quentin would be headless and childless.

    Who carried the Collins genes to the next generation?

      1. I suppose it must be. But for Quentin’s reiteration 1897, you’d expect 1840 to be his grandfather rather than grand uncle. That DNA was superhuman.

        No wonder the guy can’t die.

        1. …but…but…if Quentin was born in around 1877, then 1840 Quentin was likely to be his uncle, wasn’t he? But I don’t know where he came from. Some relation of Daniel’s that they just thought up I suppose?

  9. How would you deliver such a note? I don’t want to make a joke about “the ghost office,”

    That responsibility falls under the auspice of the “dead letter office.”

    1. Talking of notes – didn’t Liz jot off a warning memo that B&J found in 1995, about ‘must leave Collinwood this night’? Now she is under Gerard’s (or whoever the hell he turns out to be) influence, why would she write it? Gerard wouldn’t want a warning to anyone, and besides, Liz is busy redecorating. (Is that the same bust that kills Jeanne Flagler?) I do like the notion that as the zombies crash through the front doors, and begin their rampage, Liz thinks, “Oh, I must leave a note for Roger!”, scribbles a few lines as the roof collapses, then sets it (and her half-empty aperitif glass) there in the wreckage of the foyer. Let it never be said that Elizabeth Collins Stoddard shirks her social responsibilities!

      1. JEC: My only explanation for that: Barnabas and Julia weren’t there for the “original” attack. So while they proved unable to stop the zombie invasion, perhaps they altered some of the details of how it went down.

        In the “original” attack, Liz and crew had no one to warn them about the 1995 visit. So they probably did some things differently — just not enough to stop the big event — because B&J made the return and issued the warnings.

        1. I work really hard at filling the logic gaps for the writers. At least sometimes. Other times, I just let go and let the story flow over me. That really helps with enjoying 1840, which I did for the most part.

          1. Time travel.
            It fixes everything… 😉

            And I understand there are some serious “repairs” needed with the upcoming episodes!

            1. It took me several tries but a few years ago I came up a few solutions to the multitude of problems created by the trip to 1840. And I even came up with a few ways to tie in other unexplained references to other mentioned but unseen characters. When the time is right I’ll post my solution to the Roxanne paradox among other problems

        2. But since they were there, then Liz didn’t write the note, so they couldn’t find it in 1995…oh, where’s Julia’s sedatives when one needs them?

          1. John, sadly what we saw in 1995 has little to do with what happens during the summer of 1970. Likewise, 1840 will have nothing to do with what we saw in 1970. William has some good solutions, though.

  10. “Also, the writers may be running out of ideas.”

    The public library is on summer hours. The writers can’t get any more classic novels to ransack.

  11. Know ye who do not rest…

    This pretty much covers everybody at Collinwood. When the heck does anyone actually sleep in the Great House? Julia, at ONE AM, is browsing books in the drawing room; Liz is carting objets d’art about; Quentin (I’ll assume) is tomcatting in Daphne’s chambers; and the kids are roaming the countryside to stand on graves. And really, this is just your typical evening… it’s true, the rich are different!

    1. And the kids aren’t even carrying flashlights! I mean, how were they seeing how to get around? By the light of the silvery moon?

      1. Eagle Hill DOES seem unusually well lit, for an unused cemetery; it’s so bright you can see the burlap they cover the grounds with! I think they must have installed a couple of battens of fresnels at the entrance. At least Gerard didn’t bring along his green uplight…(Though they should have gone with a different theme music for him, the carousel tinkle just SO doesn’t fit.)

        But something they seem to be missing lately is “fog”; what happened to the smoky atmosphere we used to see on graveyard ventures? Haven’t even seen any mist in dream sequences. If the fogger’s busted, just have Grayson Hall sit behind a flat and puff on a Pall Mall King!

          1. Pity the beacon hadn’t been built in 1840, then the Java Queen would never have wracked, and this whole storyline might have been averted.
            Like that proverb about the horseshoe nail…

    2. I wouldn’t want to sleep at Collinwood anyway, cause the second you nod off, you have a nightmare or a dream curse. Or a vampire or ghost appears at your bedside. Best to just stay awake so the household ghouls don’t get the drop on you.

    3. When Julia gets all stern and asks why they’re out taking a walk at one in the morning I laughed out loud. This is Collinwood! You have racquetball tournaments at one in the morning!

  12. I’ve been watching the episodes from ’67 where Maggie has just returned home from Windcliff. There’s so much going on: Will Maggie’s memory of what Barnabas did to her return? Will David be harmed by Barnabas? How will Julia keep Barnabas in check? There was so much happening.

    What a contrast to what we’re currently discussing.

  13. For those keeping track (like me), Hallie name-checks David thirteen times in twenty-two minutes, which averages to approximately once every minute and forty seconds.

    1. Maybe it wouldn’t be so annoying if David had a more unusual name – like Troy. Or Pierre-Auguste.
      Or Skippy!
      Skippy Collins – the 14 year old who would rather ride a rocking horse than kiss the pretty blonde girl in the mini skirt.

      1. Laura wanted to name him Aten-Ra.
        Roger wanted Robespierre.
        I think they landed on David because neither of them liked it,
        so each knew it would bother the other.

        1. I remember a conversation between Roger, Laura, and David during the first Phoenix storyline. They were looking at David’s baby picture, and they said they were originally going to name him Charles, after an ancestor, but changed their minds. Then they laughed, as if “Charles Collins” was some kind of joke name like “Seymour Butts.”

  14. Can you explain why Gerard and Julia have the same hair?

    “Go stand on a grave” is my new favorite mildly insulting dismissal.

    The “Know ye who rest not” letter has a very “Charles Dexter Ward” ring to it. I guess Lovecraft is a permanent ingredient straight through to the end.

  15. The anthology style of storytelling that the show eventually fell into, with new “arcs” taking over every few months, is problematic on several levels, not the least of which is that it is not viewer-friendly to the medium of soaps. Interestingly, it’s a problem that you still see from time to time. The Bold & The Beautiful, the only remaining 30-minute soap (in the states) goes through periods where it is telling only one story for days at a time. They cut from the characters involved in the story to people TALKING ABOUT the characters involved in the story. Unfortunately, if you as a viewer aren’t interested in that one storyline, there’s nothing in that episode for you. This goes completely against the traditional soap format, which is usually described as three burners on a stove top. On one back burner is a storyline which is basically resolving, on the front burner is your main story, and on the second back burner is a story just beginning to percolate. They are in constant rotation, ideally. (Of course, on some soaps, there are fare more “burners” in play and, in an ideal world, several of the storylines eventually merge in unexpected ways to form an “umbrella” tale encompassing a huge swath of the canvas.

    This whole TOTS2 storyline is a great example of why NOT following the multi-burner format is disasterous for a soap. Danny’s frustration with the story is compounded by the fact that there is no where to run… no secondary story which you can focus on while waiting for this one to resolve itself.

  16. The only thing getting me through the episodes at this point is Julia looking suspiciously at people and interrogating them. The story might move a bit more briskly if she could occasionally elicit an answer from them!

    But 19th century pirates… why, oh why didn’t they go with that plot? The Dread Pirate Gerard could have been responsible for Tad and Carrie’s deaths, Daphne implicated in some way and hanged with the pirates (they’re quite good at hanging innocent governesses in Collinsport) and that could explain why all four ghosts are haunting Collinwood!

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