“How can this be? There is no room!”
“You asked what would happen to you,” says the ghost, directing the children’s attention to a nearby dollhouse. “Look through the window. Find out.”
So they look through the window, and they see Allen Ludden, giving the first word to Jack Klugman and Brett Somers. The word is “caterpillar”.
Brett chooses to pass, so the first turn goes to Jack and some housewife from Indiana. Jack says “moth,” but Indiana can’t figure it out, so they lose their turn, and it goes to Brett and some housewife from Kentucky. Brett tries “butterfly,” but Kentucky’s at a loss.
They punt back to Jack, who says “crawl”, and the light dawns on Indiana. “Caterpillar!” she cries, and she gets eight points.
This is what will happen to them. It’s called Password.
So I have to wonder, do they know it? Because it kind of seems like they know it.
David: It’s what’s going to happen to us.
Hallie: You mean, we’re going to be trapped in there?
Hallie: Oh, David, what are we going to do?
David: We can’t do anything.
A year ago, Reverend Trask had teen pop idol Quentin Collins locked in a jail cell, waiting for the full moon to rise so that he could witness Quentin’s transformation into a werewolf. But the moon rose and nothing changed, because a crazy old crime wizard asked Basil from Dorian Gray to paint the world’s first lycanthropic oil painting.
And that’s just one of the subplots they had cooking twelve months ago, before the Leviathans and Parallel Time and House of Dark Shadows, before Buffie and Hallie and Miss American Vampire. Now they’ve got two kids trapped in a playroom, doing a master class on giving the hell up.
Hallie: We must!
David: We tried to tell. We tried to burn the dolls. We tried to run away. They just won’t let us!
This is September 1970, the beginning of the new fall TV season, and this is the season when Dark Shadows fell.
You wouldn’t think it was possible, but apparently some people in 1970 would rather watch Another World – Somerset or repeats of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. than Hallie and David sitting around in the playroom, discussing dollhouse decor. Personally, given a choice between those three, I’d probably go play with my dangerous Creepy Crawlers maker, or catch up on my social studies homework, but I was four months away from being born at the time, so nobody asked.
There was a ratings wobble during the disappointing Leviathan storyline, and then they sent half the cast to Tarrytown to shoot a movie, instead of keeping them at ABC Studio 16 and making a decent show. By now, everyone in the audience who was excited by the 1995 trip has got to be feeling pretty deflated, after five weeks of nothing much happening.
David: Oh, don’t cry.
Hallie: We’ve got to try and tell someone!
David: We can’t.
Here’s how the ratings are going to stack up, compared to previous years. Every time I try to figure out what a “share” means, it means something different, but in this case, it means the percentage of TV households that watched the show during each year.
1966-1967: 4.3 share (Vicki, early Barnabas)
1967-1968: 7.3 share (Barnabas & Julia, 1795, Adam)
1968-1969: 8.4 share (Werewolf, Quentin, 1897)
1969-1970: 7.3 share (end of 1897, Leviathan, 1970PT, 1995)
1970-1971: 5.3 share (1970, 1840, 1841PT)
Now, one of the things that I don’t know about the history of Dark Shadows is exactly when they knew that they were cancelled. We’re currently seven months from the end of the show, which seems too early for them to know, but if they haven’t given up yet, they’re doing a remarkable impression of it.
Hallie: Barnabas and Dr. Hoffman are still reading those books! Maybe they’ll find out something without us telling them! But you don’t want them to.
David: Yes, I do.
Hallie: Well, you don’t act as if you do!
David: Maybe I just know that it’s something that you can’t change.
They must have known at least 13 weeks before the end that this was their last 13-week cycle, maybe even as far back as 26 weeks.
26 weeks before the end of the show is coming up — that would be around episode 1116, the beginning of the 1840 storyline.
13 weeks would be around episode 1181 — the end of 1840, just before 1841 PT.
At some point in there, while they were in 1840, they found out that they weren’t going to be making much more Dark Shadows. It was just about time to clear the room, turn on the camera, play the theme and roll the credits.
David: The music, Hallie, listen!
Hallie: It won’t make me feel any better.
David: Yes, it will! I’m not afraid anymore. Maybe it won’t be so bad at Rose Cottage, you know? We might even like it there.
Tomorrow: An Evening of Champagne and Whist.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
The opening narration cuts off suddenly: “Two children have discovered a secret world, a world populated by the dead. And this night, they learned –”
There’s some offscreen banging when David tells Hallie, “Anyone who goes in that room is going to know Gerard!”
Hallie tells David they have to go to the playroom. When he stands up, he knocks his chair backwards onto the floor.
There’s a loud scratching sound when Maggie and Carolyn are at the window, like something brushing against a microphone.
When Carolyn hums the carousel theme along with the music box, she sings it too fast.
Tomorrow: An Evening of Champagne and Whist.
— Danny Horn