Episode 1090: Today’s Ten Things That Make No Sense

“It’s a terrible thing to be frightened by something you can’t see!”

#1. So let me get this straight. Gerard is a ghost, and he’s evil, and he’s in charge of young David, who’s being intermittently possessed by another ghost named Tad. Gerard has left a note in an old book that tells a crew of dead pirates to wait for somebody to wave a green flag three times in the window of the tower room of a mansion that Gerard is haunting. David reads the note and decides that Gerard wants him to wave the flag, which will magically raise this circle of criminals and misfits from the dead, to do Gerard’s dark bidding.

Then David goes upstairs to the tower room, and finds that there really is a green flag there which nobody has noticed for the last hundred and thirty years. The boy waves the green flag twice, which causes the dirt on the pirates’ graves to bubble and boil, but before anything interesting happens, David suddenly realizes that Gerard doesn’t want him to wave the flag after all, and the ghost expresses his displeasure by messing around with a theremin for a while.

I don’t know what happens to the flag, maybe it’s supposed to sit up there in the tower room for another hundred and thirty years. Wake me up when we hit 2099, so I have some time to prepare.

#2. Enter our hero, Dr. Julia Hoffman, arriving just after the nick of time. She doesn’t need to stop David from waving the flag / advancing the plot, because the soundtrack has already taken care of the problem.

But Julia has to make the scene better somehow, which in this case means asking pointed questions and making pointed facial expressions. She wants to know who David was talking to, a question that everybody is asking everybody these days, on account of secret ghosts.

“I’m getting out of here!” David says, as Julia checks the teleprompter.

She stands her ground. “No, you are not. Now, David, I know why you came here, but I don’t know what you expected to find.”

David swears, “There’s no reason. There’s no reason that I came here!”

Julia checks the teleprompter again, and says, “There is a reason that you came here.” There isn’t, really, not as far as I can tell.

#3. David’s belt.

#4. There’s a shadow on Julia’s face, which is just about the worst thing you could ever do to Grayson Hall. She even tries raising her chin to catch the light, but there’s no light to catch; it’s a nightmare.

Also, David is being a storyline speed bump, just like everybody else on the show. In this scene, Julia’s working overtime as a smart character — she knows that David stole the note, she knows that he’s in league with the ghosts, and she’s figuring out more information about Gerard.

Unfortunately, she’s unsteady on the dialogue. First, she demands, “You must tell me everythings that’s been happening, right now!” And then she tells David, “The captain of the ship is the man who wrote this note, and his name was Gerard, wasn’t it?” It’s not her fault; it’s the light. She’s probably making a really good facial expression right now, and the audience can’t see it. How is anyone supposed to work under these conditions?

#5. Maggie is monologuing. “There have been times when I’ve felt a kind of presence in this house,” she confides, as Barnabas stands by and looks anxious. “It’s not something I can define, but it’s made me uncomfortable, even frightened me. It’s almost as if — like that feeling of being watched, without knowing who it is. I felt that presence in my room tonight, and that’s why I couldn’t sleep. I feel that presence here in this room, right now.”

And Barnabas watches her, and doesn’t say yes, that’s because we came back from the future, and there are ghosts who are trying to kill the children. As far as I can tell from this scene, Barnabas and Julia have decided not to tell Maggie about the ghosts, even though every other adult in the house keeps rolling their eyes and saying they’re sick of hearing about it all the time.

Also, they’re still doing the thing where they do a close up all the way up to the eyes and nose. If we get any closer to Maggie, they’re going to need to use forceps to pull us out again.

#6. There’s a close-up on the clock in the Collinwood foyer: it’s 9:30 in the morning. Maggie sees David rummaging through the desk, looking for paper. He pulls some blue notepaper out of the desk and hurries out, telling Maggie that he’ll be back before their lessons.

David goes to visit Sebastian, the local astrologer, to ask him to draw up a horoscope. “If it’s a question of money,” David says, pulling the blue notepaper out of his pocket, “I have forty dollars saved up.”

Sebastian barks, “Put that money back in your pocket, David!” David looks sheepish, and puts the blue notepaper back in his pocket.

So… did he wrap up the money inside the paper? Why did he need to get special paper for that? Also, the clock on the mantel says 7:45.

#7. Standing at the front door of Collinwood, Maggie accepts Sebastian’s offer to go to dinner tonight. From a shot of Maggie’s smile, we fade to a picture of Collinwood on a bright, sunny day. Then it fades to Sebastian’s house, and it’s nighttime. This may be a rare example of a disestablishing shot.

#8. When Sebastian gets back from his date with Maggie, he slams the door, which bounces open again. He tries to put his hand back to catch the door, but it doesn’t work. About ten seconds later, a studio light is visible. Also, the clock on the mantel still says 7:45.

#9. There’s another unusual transition towards the end of the episode. They want to show that some time passes while Julia sits and reads in the drawing room, so they wipe to a shot of the foyer clock, as they often do. But instead of the usual fade, they do a matrix wipe, with the picture breaking into a grid of squares. They’ve never done this before, and I don’t know if they ever do it again. It’s nice that they’re trying to come up with some new visual tricks to keep things lively, but it doesn’t look very good.

#10. They started this episode with pirate zombies about to rise from their graves and destroy the world, which would be incredibly thrilling, and then they put the flag away and they just forget about it for another three weeks.

Monday: You, the Living.

More Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Barnabas mouth-mangles the line, “Maggie! I certainly didn’t expect to find you still up,” in a way that I can’t describe in text.

Maggie tells Barnabas, “It’s almost as if they’re doing the lessons for their own be– my benefit, not for their own.”

Julia tells Barnabas, “If you remember, she became — she almost became your victim, once before.”

At the end of Sebastian’s conversation with Maggie at the front door of Collinwood, he has about fifteen seconds to get over to the next set. After his last line, the shot stays on Maggie, and you can hear him hurrying away while she’s still talking to him.

Barnabas grouses that Sebastian is “either a charlatan, or a complete, deliberate liar!” That may actually be the correct line, but if so, it’s a very silly line.

Monday: You, the Living.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

53 thoughts on “Episode 1090: Today’s Ten Things That Make No Sense

  1. The green flag must be Jenny’s green dress, the one she accused Judith of stealing and wearing. It got left behind when they moved her to the cellar, and it’s been sitting on a broomstick up there for 70 years.

    1. Doesn’t look like the tower room set to me. Not round or large enough.

      Marie a Wallace saying “My. Green. DRESS!” never gets old. What if her ghost came back, and encountered Quentin?

      1. Samantha, it’s because green means “go” to the nearest mansion and ransack and murder the inhabitants. Barnabas should have gone to the tower and waved the red flag that he references later to put a “stop” to the zombie pirates.

  2. Julia keeps trying to get a stagnant storyline to wake up and get going, but everyone else is determined to press snooze.

      1. Maybe alcohol counters the effects of Julia’s sedatives. The ones who drink the most are the ones who need sedation the least. Roger is almost never without a drink (he’s like Wally and coffee), and he hardly ever needs sedating. Meanwhile the children never touch a drop, and look how often they are in trouble.

  3. Danny, regarding number 9, I often wondered if it was just a mistake; that the J.J. Lupatkin accidentally selected a “wipe” button on the switcher instead of the “dissolve” button.

    The only TV show that I recall using these types of wipes on a regular basis was the classic 70s show, The Electric Company. They must have spent hours just deciding on the best wipe in post production to transition from one segment to another.

    1. Wow Robert! Wipe vs dissolve. You no doubt remember you could wipe right to left and if it was a fancy switcher,aside of a grid there was a fleur-de-lis setting. Ahh technologies. Of course then a soft focus was vasoline on the lens

    2. I thought it was a flashforward to 1995 where someone picked up a home video camera with snazzy special effects. The dissolve between doors must have broken the heart of whoever planned it. The drawing room doors close, dissolve to Sebastian’s doors, he enters & OOPS. Still, not a patch on Nathan Forbes’s trouble with the front doors.

    1. In those days all your bank transactions were written in a little book (nothing online and no ATMs!). It kept a record of how much money you had saved or spent, and if you wanted to take money out you had to take that book to the bank and they would write the transaction in and stamp it. Being a rich boy, he would definitely have his own savings account.

    2. The way David shuffles around in the drawer makes me think that someone forgot to set the prop bank book in there; he covers by grabbing some paper. Too bad he didn’t fold it or hide his hand, so the camera wouldn’t catch that it was just sheets of loose paper.

  4. FYI, Both Dark Shadows movies are on TCM this weekend. Saturday. Starts around 4:15 pm Eastern time, but doublecheck local listings.

    1. That’s funny, I just reserved NODS from the library for the weekend.

      Everybody watch and review. Remember, it’s parallel.

    2. Thanks! I watch a lot of TCM, especially in October when they show spooky old movies, but I don’t always think to check the schedule ahead of time. I won’t be home, but I can record them.

  5. After going through this series, i’ve become used to being confused, so it’s no surprise to me that i couldn’t pick up on why David suddenly decided Gerard didn’t want him to wave the flag (and i agree that waving the Jolly Roger would have been much more fun!). I swear this kid has more angst than any young teen should have.

    1. Some kind of light in the window would probably have made the most sense of all. One if by land, two if by sea, etc.

      1. A satanic ceremony in the graveyard would have made the
        most sense, but Jeb did that a couple of storylines ago.
        No sense in repeating old plot points…

        And I know that flags are “boatey” things, but how are the dead
        pirates supposed to see the flag when they’re underground?
        (I should quit looking for logic, shouldn’t I?)

    2. If they’re not going to wave the Jolly Roger, they should at least have Gerard suddenly sporting an eye patch or a peg leg. What good is a “pirate” theme without pirate stuff?
      Poor David – that boy needs to grow his hair down to his shoulders, get a tie dyed t-shirt, some jeans and sneakers and start hitchhiking to San Francisco. Or anywhere – just out of that house and out of that town.

  6. I backed up and watched several times to make sure – when David goes to wave the flag, he has the flag in his right hand and opens the casement with his left, reaching across to the right to unlatch the window. When they switch to the outside view, the flag is in his left hand, he’s opened the window with his right, and the casement opens in the other direction. And isn’t that the window from the hallway by the playroom, the one with the ‘minstrel’ motif?

    David is generally a bright young man, why is the meaning of the note so unclear? Seems pretty straightforward to me!

    So…since he only waved the flag twice, that means the graves will just continue to roil and percolate for a couple of weeks? There’s some unquiet dead! Hope the caretaker doesn’t notice that, we’ll never hear the end of it. And while I mention the graves, there just seemed to be a sort of ballooning over the whole area, not separate graves like with the Leviathan zombies. Were the brigands just thrown into a hole, in a heap (please, no cracks about “long and deep and full of seamen”!)? And why put up markers with no names or dates? Why waste money on that? And WHO wasted money on that? Why is there no grass on those graves? Aren’t they from 1840? Did they salt the earth?

    This one’s been bugging me awhile – when Liz first phones Sebastian, they talk about an appointment, then hang up. And as the camera zooms in, Sebastian grins and exults, “She’s coming! The great lady herself is coming at last!” What was that for? (Aside from the ‘OMG its JEB’ moment, which didn’t need any lines.) And why, in Heaven’s name, would Liz choose an astrologizationalisticator who looks EXACTLY LIKE Carolyn’s dead husband, the one she’s been moping around the house for a month over? Aren’t there any other fortune tellers in Collinsport? Or Logansport, or Bangor, or Boston? And how is lying to Liz supposed to get Sebastian funding for an institute?

    Oh. My. GOD!
    I sure hope Grayson Hall tore someone a new corn chute for the lighting in that tower room scene! We missed more than a dozen facial expressions because of that, and we will NEVER get them back! The loss to humankind may be irreparable.

    1. Yeah, instead of being able to just stand by the fence whispering “rest,” the Caretaker will have to shout through a megaphone, “You scurvy dogs lay down and go to sleep! Don’t make me have to come in there!”
      That’s what I used to do when my son’s friends came for sleepovers.

    2. And isn’t that the window from the hallway by the playroom, the one with the ‘minstrel’ motif?

      YES IT IS and thank God somebody else noticed! Thought I was going off the deep end!

      I also do not get Sebastian and Roxanne’s scheming–I mean, I get that they’re trying to fleece/con Liz into financing some kind of “Institute” where Sebastian can read the future and study the occult or whatever, but why on earth, if that is your plan, would you leave New York City, stuffed to the gills and beyond with rich and gullible people, and come to some obscure fishing village in Maine with only one family worth the trouble of even trying this ringamarole? Seriously, they need to run some numbers.

  7. This part of the story had me hoping for weeks,like the pet perching on the window ledge waiting for a storyline. My nine year old kid optimism was excruciating. “It’ll be better today. Right? Right?”. And I knew I was Supposed To Love It Because Kids.
    But I did not.

  8. Just came up here from the start of the 1897 storyline; when Quentin arrives at Collinwood, he brings a gift for Jamison.
    A model ship.
    The “SS Jamison Collins”.
    But as I’ve mentioned, why bother reusing old bits of plot? 😉

  9. Ohrbach’s seems bound and determined to outfit David in one horrendous-looking sweater after another. And I noticed that Junior Sophisticates did not outfit Maggie today. Has she outgrown them?

  10. When Sebastian thanks Maggie for not greeting him as everyone else does, I thought for a moment he was going to say she’s the first person who hasn’t recommended a men’s wear store. I know it’s 1970 and all, but merciful heavens, Sebastian wearing that dress and David wearing that sweater in the same episode- in the same scene!- who needs Gerard, that’s a horror show right there.

    Julia gives everyone in the big house orders this week. I kept waiting for someone to ask her why exactly she lives there.

    Of course, the one person it is most important Julia boss around is Barnabas, her adopted bratty little brother. And it is hilarious when, seconds after Julia catches him moving his mouth to Maggie’s neck, he insists that he is entirely under control and Maggie is in no danger from him. Not only a fun moment in itself, but it also does such a heavy-handed job setting up the episode finale that it leaves us looking for a twist, wondering who else might be a vampire. Quite effective, I’d say.

    1. Julia’s “barely holding back the contemptuous laughter” with Barnabas doing his denial routine was great. It’s like a big sister listening for the fifth time as her little brother explains that he only needs to copy her homework this one last time, honest.

  11. I don’t mind the ultra close-ups when they contain Maggie’s lovely brown eyes, but I could do without the tours of Gerard’s pockmarked face, which resemble NASA surveys of the moon.

    Another great bitchy scene with that old married couple Barnabas and Julia. I wonder if anyone ever considered mounting a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” with Frid and Hall as George and Martha? I’ve paid to see that.

    Foxy Roxy gets better and better. Now she’s grinding pretty boy Sebastian under the heel of her boot. With Angelique MIA we need a sexy bad girl.

    So why does a pullover sweater vest need a belt, anyway?

  12. If you were to ask me why I’m bothering, I couldn’t give you an answer. But the note doesn’t specify that “the window” is the tower room window. Unless I missed something, but I would have to be offered a minimum of $1000 to go back and check.

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