Episode 1093: The Shrinking Shares

“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?

David:  Forever.

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.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

77 thoughts on “Episode 1093: The Shrinking Shares

  1. This is where they should have FFd to destroying the house.

    But I still want live Daphne and toothy Roxanne, so we’ll just put up with it.

    Bring back Violet Welles!

  2. If we can be thankful to 1841 PT for one thing, it’s that we didn’t get a massively dragged out end of regular flavour 1840.

    The end of 1840, and indeed the current 1970 Gerard storyline have a sense of finality to them. Roger is gone, David is going out with a whimper and Maggie is reaching her writing out point. The Destruction of Collinwood (taking its time) is the biggest threat the show has ever seen, Barnabas and Julia for once helpless as they to stop it. The end of 1840 doesn’t present any new challenges for the present day cast, unlike Cassandra post-1795 or the Leviathans post 1897.

  3. I think i need Google translate for some of those clippings. I’m not sure what a “regrind” is and i don’t know what a “prexy” is. I just about wrapped my head around “kidvid”, though, after spending a few seconds wondering if it was anything to do with the Nigel Kneale show ‘Kinvig’…

      1. Thanks.:) Skimming through that, i think 95% of the terms are pretty familiar general usage ones. I suppose even “regrind” and “prexy” i could work out from the context, it was just that i don’t think i’ve ever encountered those terms before in my life. “Prez” for president, sure, but not that one. Still, learning is fun!

  4. 1840 is a return to form in many ways and does a lot of what I enjoy about DARK SHADOWS. I plan on rewatching along with the blog and seeing how it holds up upon closer examination — I did that in general for the past few years but couldn’t do it with this storyline, which is agony.

  5. I suspect they learned sometime during the 1840 Classique period that they were being cancelled. Because I think 1841 PT was first and foremost a gift to Frid and Parker to try their hand at something besides villainy and supernatural characters.

    And I may be the only person on this board who thought 1841 PT didn’t suck.

      1. JEC: I look forward to your take on it. I thought there were worse periods of the show (and better). I was sufficiently entertained. In some ways, they go back to their pre-Barnabas roots.

    1. You’re not the only one–I simply thought that both 1840 and 1841PT integrated the romance novel elements and the supernatural awkwardly. But I liked the gift to Frid and Parker, as you say . . .

      1. Michael E and others: I agree. In fact, I think the two best romance storylines were:

        Gerard/Samantha/ Quentin (before Gerard gets possessed)

        Morgan/Catherine/Bramwell/Daphne

        They were more character-driven, especially the 1841PT romance. To me, 1841PT was almost circling back, thematically, to the first year of the show. I’m sure we’ll discuss more in-depth when we get to those episodes.

    2. Certain actors and storylines did suck in 1841pt, and I loved Catharine Harriage and hated Morgan.

      Loved Melanie.

      But the Lottery was truly awful.

      And its conclusion was about as good as The Leviathans conclusion with the cairn turning into paper mache boulders……..

    3. I am with you too William. I liked it better than 1840, and it sure as hell was a lot better than this! Back to family secrets and feuds, and events that may or may not be supernatural, and flashbacks to show the origins of issues.

          1. Almost actually asked who this “Rebecca Quentin” lady is, and then literally facepalmed. I think i’ve found my nom-de-plume for whenever i start writing cheap romance paperbacks!

    4. At the time, I was crazy about it because they were doing my favorite book–Wuthering Heights. Now, I wish they’d cast it differently. Quentin would have made a better Heathcliff than Barnabas, who could have played Edgar. (I know Jonathan Frid wanted to do something different; well, that would have been different!)

      And wouldn’t it have been something to turn the tables and have Barnabas unrequitedly in love with Angelique? That would have been a more fitting ending.

  6. Some more thoughts:

    1) It’s interesting to see that the show sort of “stabilized” at a 7.3 share after the highs of Quentin/1897 (again, the irony that David Selby is the true “superstar” of the series based on ratings alone). It’s not unusual for otherwise successful, long-running shows to have a “peak” period of popularity without crashing and burning. More evidence, I’d argue, that HODS killed the series.

    2) From a modern TV show perspective, you’d think that with ratings falling, the most logical (if somewhat desperate) option would be returning to what worked before: 1897. In concept the series is repeating its past glories but terribly. Yet, I’m curious as to why they never thought of going back to 1897 or even somehow getting back the Quentin we all knew and loved. Isn’t that kind of what happened during Barnabas’s “mission to 1795 to save Vicki”? He even became a vampire again, which everyone preferred.

    1. One of the problems with those Shakespearean-style mass killings at the end of time travel arcs is you aren’t left with many folks if you wish to go back for a return visit.

    2. Stephen, I especially agree that we needed back the 1897 brand of Quentin, not this neutered version.

      I think the show could have reproduced what worked in 1897 with the contemporary characters, but that’s all academic now.

      1. Quentin could have gotten bonked on the noggin or something, and forgotten everything from 1897-1970. His personality wouldn’t be changed by everything that happened to him in the intervening years, and his culture shock at modern life would be fun to watch.

        1. Quentin needs some amnesia?
          Barnabas, warm up the car!

          Actually, Quentin might have time traveled to 1735 or so, when Joshua was a boy. The Tate portrait doesn’t exist yet, Magda’s curse hasn’t been cast; just a regular guy now, thrown into a Collins family that he only dimly remembers hearing some stories about, tales he didn’t pay much attention to…a further scrambling of the timeline.

          1. Ooh, both of those ideas sound like fun! And since Frid was so tired of playing Barnabas, they both offer the opportunity for him to play other e opportunity to play other ancestors.

            1. Put the “old man” makeup on him, he could be Great Grandfather Eleazar Collins. Think Joshua, but about twice as strict and grim; thinks the younger generation of the Collins family are “going to Hell in a handcart”.

    3. They totally could have gone back to 1897. In fact I remember as a kid a promo saying “it’s back to the past for Dark Shadows” and we all thought that meant 1897 and my friends and I were overjoyed. They were having Carikyn sing Pansy Fayes song for crying out loud! That would have saved the show. Quentin could have done the timeslip with Barnabas, both of their astral spirits taking over their existing bodies. That way we could have gotten the cool Quentin back. There were plenty of 1897 characters still around. Judith, Edward, Jamison, (Nora would have had to be away at school since Denise Nickerson had left the show). Charity /Pansy would still be as crazy as ever, and it would have been terrific to see Magda again (until Julia timeslipped herself –though maybe this time we could have seen some split screen, as they’d done it in Parallel Time). KLS could have played Kitty, now married to Edward, with vague memories of the 1796 excursion with Barnabas. Angelique coukd have popped out of the fireplace again. And the unfinished business of 1897 was Petofi — he should have been the splrit haunting and eventually destroying Collinwood. What if Julia and Barnabas had seen Petofi instead of Gerard in 1995? I really think this might have sent the ratings back up.

  7. Hallie’s starting to drop in the David count – 14 times, average every minute and 34 seconds if my math is right.

    Why must the children look through the windows to see? They’re on the ‘open’ side of the dollhouse, they could just look inside. And the ‘doll’ versions of them are sitting faced AWAY from the windows, the kids can only see their backs. (Good blue screen, though.)

    Shouldn’t the music affect Hallie from where she’s at? Guess there’s some sort of proximity spell, you have to be within a foot of the carousel.

    Hallie brings in a piece of green cloth, about two square feet, unfolds it, then draws a little square in the middle and has David cut THAT out. Why not cut a square from the corner? (Yes, I am being super picky. It’s just so wasteful! They could make dozens of dolls from the cloth they have there, make a Rose Cottage Kegger Bash!)

    Don’t know why I never noticed before, but David Selby and Christopher Pennock have very similar voices.

  8. I think Curtis and company knew the show was cancelled by the time the decision was made to have Daphne being the first character to witness the parallel time phenomenon.

    In some of the KLS books, it is said that Jonathan Frid refused to play Barnabas anymore and that he demanded a new character; hence Bramwell was created, along with an entirely different universe. If they didn’t know this was the end, how were they going to bring Bramwell to 1971 had the show not been cancelled? 1841 PT was a dead end to the story.

    And I don’t buy what Sam Hall said, that they didn’t have a chance to return to 1971 because the show was cancelled so quickly. The least they could have done was to give us one final episode set in 1971. It would entail nothing more than some set redressing and calling in Ohrbach’s!

    I think the reason I get more emotional about this (LOL) is because I was indeed one of the teen viewers at the time it was originally broadcast. The fact that during the summer of 1970 I began being more interested in what was happening on the Shadows lead-in, One Life to Live, was very telling. I wanted Dark Shadows to improve and last a long time, but I clearly saw the writing the wall.

    1. What was Frid’s contract like? I don’t know if an actor can “refuse” to play his character anymore. Perhaps it was his preference & maybe Curtis indulged it since the show was already essentially DOA. But we can discuss closer to the point when DS was officially cancelled or rather when Curtis knew it was all over.

      DS was in many ways a “fad” like Batmania (which itself had petered out prior to Barnabas leaving the magic box in 1967). That in itself isn’t a “bad” thing. As I often say, DS was incredibly long-lived for a series where, unlike an average soap opera, every episode began to count. It soon had the rhythms of a prime time drama — in fact, it feels more like a drama from the post-BUFFY world (story arcs, Big Bads, somewhat serialized storytelling, etc). In that context, 1000 episodes (counting post-Barnabas) is an achievement few other series have achieved.

      1. I recall reading that what happened was Frid’s contract was up for renewal and he wouldn’t sign unless they wrote a new character for him to play.

        If you notice coming up in 1840, after Barnabas rescues Julia from Roxanne, he pretty much vanishes from the story, appearing only once or twice a week and only in short scenes, until he appears more regularly towards the end as Quentin’s Lawyer.

        I assume this is the time Frid was negotiating his contract.

        1. Negotiating a contract which wound up only lasting for 2.5 months in a storyline that had no connection to our anchor characters. Brilliant move.

          1. They must have known at that point that DS was cancelled. It was a puzzling direction to take the show, and not one I terribly enjoyed.

  9. Out of curiosity (and because i don’t have access to the info) does anyone know if Frid expressed any particular about Dark Shadows? When know he wasn’t enchanted with the movie and he wanted out of the Barnabas role…but he was also willing to do a cameo in the movie made a few years back. I don’t think it’s unusual for an actor to be trapped by a particular role they played, especially in soaps of that period.

  10. I would imagine the days of the show are numbered when its creator, executive producer, and head writer stops caring and just wants it to end, as Dan Curtis admitted in one of those later interviews included on the Dark Shadows DVD set.

    He said he wasn’t around much for the last 6 months, so, let’s say, 24 weeks thereabouts — right around the time when Kathryn Leigh Scott tells him she’s leaving the show. So, once again, no more governess — and soon after, no more David, and no Barnabas. Even if the show could have gotten back to 1971, how do you write your way around the fact that the last nearly 4 years of the show suddenly no longer exist?

    Either way, you’d have to start over, and that’s just what Dan Curtis did — by focusing on a career in mainly television movies.

    1. And this is interesting because, again, it’s SO not typical for a daytime drama. There have been exceptions, but for the most part, the creative minds behind soaps change every few years… usually when the ratings start to fall. For example, when Days Of Our Lives hit (yet another) bad patch about a year ago, they decided to get rid of their current headwriter and bring in Ron Carlivati, who’d previously been headwriter at both One Life To Live and General Hospital. The Young & The Restless, which has been the No. 1 daytime soap for over 20 years (which is sort of astounding) last year brought in Mal Young (who’d worked on Doctor Who and EastEnders previously) as Executive Producer and, as of October 25th, also made him headwriter (following the somewhat disasterous tenure of Sally Sussman).

      It’s somewhat shocking to me that Curtis didn’t simply step aside and let someone with new ideas come in, take the reins… allowing him to continue milking the cash cow without actually having to get up at 5 a.m. and pump said milk himself. The show easily could have stopped telling the cyclical stories which had fallen out of favor and taken on a more traditional format. (Sort of the opposite of what General Hospital spin-off Port Charles did when, a year or so into its run, it gave up being a “traditional” soap in favor of doing 13-week story arcs with supernatural themes.)

      I’ve always thought that in some ways, Dark Shadows fell victim to its own refusal to evolve. Pretty much everything about the show, even compared to other daytime fare, feels tame and dated. From the sets to the wardrobe, the show — set in 1970 — looks as if it could have been made 20 years earlier (or, had television existed, 100 years earlier). The 1970s were a period when daytime’s other dramas were exploring the topical issues of the world and telling increasingly “racy” (for the time) tales.

      By 1970, The Edge of Night — another soap that was sort of “different” from the competition in that it focused on crime stories told in a serialized format — was introducing a whole new family and doing plots involving the murderous rampage of a violent sociopath (which climaxed with an exciting sequence shot on location involving car chases and a tower from which the baddie fell to his death). Compare that to the story about two kids sitting in a room whining and… well, the writing is on the proverbial wall.

      That said, it’s worth noting that any of the four remaining soaps would kill to hit a 5 share today.

      1. DARK SHADOWS isn’t “really” a soap opera. It is a “spook show” series that ran in a daytime time slot.

        It has connections to the soap genre (Angelique is like Erica Kane, Barnabas is like Victor Newman), but it has less in common with soap operas than it does with nightly dramas. That’s even more the case now that nightly dramas have, post-BUFFY, become more like DARK SHADOWS: serialized storytelling, “story arcs” with “Big Bads” to defeat, which also end with what might now be considered a cliffhanger”season finale” (The seance sends Vicki to 1795, Vicki is hanged, Nicholas goes up in flames & Adam goes into a room never to be seen again, Barnabas enters the I-Ching trance, Barnabas follows Kitty into Josette’s portrait, etc…).

        The way we even talk about DARK SHADOWS (the 1897, 1840, PT 1970, Leviathan “story arcs”) is nothing like how people discuss soap operas. Soaps are primarily character based, with people sitting around recapping and discussing their feelings. DS did to some of that prior to Barnabas taking over the show but I don’t see returning to that as a formula for success.

        (Soap operas over time also became about opposing families — Abbotts vs. Newmans; Spencers vs Forresters and the inherent conflicts between them. DS never really did this, either, and a modern version of the show that did would seem very odd — Julia teaming up with Hoffman family foe the Collins.)

        Sure, you could make DS more like a traditional soap opera but you could for the same effort do the same to THE FLASH or DOCTOR WHO and it would feel just as awkward.

  11. I just love the fact that in the ongoing “Who Killed DARK SHADOWS?” investigation, Password now ranks as a leading suspect (as does Gomer Pyle).

    (Confession: I own a set of Password DVDs. And it inspired one of my favorite Odd Couple episodes.)

  12. I always thought it would’ve been cool to have had a 1920s or 1930s DS storyline focusing on an adult Jameson Collins. I guess at that time Liz and Roger would’ve been children. I just think the fashions of that period were terrific. If it had been the 1920s, they could’ve dealt with flappers. 😉 But, better yet, a 1930s scenario would’ve have been in the Great Depression and could’ve been done very film noir-ish. And if you’re wondering what kind of supernatural element it could have had, maybe it didn’t necessarily have to be supernatural, but just very dark, scary, and suspenseful, such as an unknown serial killer. I think that would’ve been great. They wouldn’t necessarily have required a modern-day character to time-shift. After all, they didn’t have a modern-day character in the 1840PT storyline. Perhaps it could have taken the form of a prolonged reminiscence on Liz’s part of a particularly dark, dangerous time of her youth. I often wonder whether something like that could have saved DS.

    1. Wayne — I agree. I think a late 1920s or ’30s setting for DS would be great. I think a new TV series for the show is possible if they can disconnect from the Barnabas/Josette/Angelique saga.

      And I also agree to a degree with the supernatural thoughts you expressed. I’d make it an element — after all, this is DS — but keep it more subdued and let the film noir atmosphere have a lot of breathing room.

    2. I would have jumped for joy if DS had had a storyline set in the 1920’s! Can you imagine Nancy Barrett as a flapper?

      1. I always thought it’d be cool to have every generation dealing with the “curse on Collinwood” but eventually leading to a resolution. Each period could reflect the historical context, costumes, etc.

      2. And I’m absolutely certain it grown up Jameson would have run a rum running operation during prohibition. All those fishing boats, so close to Canada? It’s almost too easy.

        That could have opened the door to all kinds of mystery and drama. The latest incarnation of Reverend Trask could run the local Temperance League. Or he could be a corrupt prohibition agent who gets bricked up behind a wall in the wine cellar. Jameson dabbles in the Black Arts just like his uncle, and protect his racket with golems or banshees or something, instead of plain old thugs with tommy guns.

        1. I love it! Now I want a Prohibition-era DS more than ever! Rum-running by the Collins clan is just too good! Only instead of a “Trask” heading the local temperance league, it would be Tony Peterson’s dad, who they could make clear during the storyline is a descendant of the Trasks.

              1. Dang! We might run out of alcoves to brick Trasks behind…
                they’ll have to build another wing on the house.

                1. The 1920s/30s idea is great. While I’ve been objecting a lot lately about too much time travel, at least this era would really bridge the contemporary anchor characters with the left-overs from 1897. The film noir look would be great!

                  Clarice Blackburn could play a cousin of Carrie Nation.

        2. How about a wendigo or river monster as Jamison’s protection?
          There have been Sasquatch sightings in the Maine woods, too.

    3. The 1940’s would have been interesting as well, with Liz and Roger in their 20’s/30’s. I’d love to have seen Barnabas in a zoot suit.

      1. We could have also seen, in the 1940’s, a youthful Sam Evans & his wife (Maggie’s mother), the parents of Burke Devlin & Joe Haskell, a young Sarah Johnson and her husband and maybe even a youthful Julia Hoffman (played by Marie Wallace?)

  13. Now I can’t stop imagining Jonathan Frid trying to give clues in Password. He could have taken hemming and hawing to a whole new level.

      1. For Willie: “Gravedigger”
        For Adam: “Chicken leg”
        For Rev. Trask: “The Almighty”
        For Count Petofi: “Gypsies!”

      2. For Barnabas: “Teleprompter”
        For Mrs. Johnson: “Cobwebs”
        For Vicky: “The Past”
        For Angelique: “Revenge” or “The Pits of Hell”
        For Maggie: “London Bridge”

    1. I’m not really a costumes kind of viewer, but I do think the 1840 costumes were the best of the series. And the head in the box was much creepier than the floating hand.

  14. And I loved Flora and Letitia. And Joanna Mills.

    There’s plenty of great performances to choose from.

    Only, it felt like the iceberg hit the ship with Keith Prentice.

    Maybe they had cast someone else as Morgan, and he was a second choice

    who had never seen the show, but there was no third choice, sorry.

    First pick, Roger Davis. Kidding.

  15. Another listing for the “WATCH DARK SHADOWS” sidebar:

    Yesterday (Halloween), MPI announced http://www.DarkShadows.tv, a subscription service containing every episode plus bonus content for $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year (it’s on Vimeo’s custom streaming platform so quality should be good). There’s a 14-day free trial.

    It might be the cheapest way yet to see every episode, depending on how fast you can binge watch.

  16. I don;t know when they knew the show had been cancelled but they were giving viewers clues during the PT 1841 plotline, At one point in the opening narration they weren’t even calling it parallel time anymore. Just 1841. I can’t imagine they’re getting much notice beyond that. If they had, they would have wrapped up 1841 and gone back to 1971 for a week or more of episodes touching on things spelled out in the TV guide article weeks later..abd fixing the anomalies created by 1840

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