Episode 1096: Rose Cottage Was the Sled

“We’re only going to die so we can live again!”

Here’s what’s supposed to be scary today: Evil scheming ghost pirate Gerard Stiles leads young David Collins out of his house, and across the lawn to an undiscovered country house that’s located within easy walking distance.

David follows Gerard through the woods, asking where are we going the whole time, and then they reach a clearing, and Gerard brushes a bush away so that David can check out the destination. “It’s Rose Cottage!” David says. “It’s real! It really exists!” Which it does, so they keep walking and eventually they get there.

Meanwhile, back at the main house, there’s Hallie Stokes, the show’s other ghost-addled teen, who the adults are trying to protect. Julia tells Quentin to keep an eye on Hallie, and Quentin says okay, but when Julia goes upstairs, Daphne the ghost governess appears, and she distracts Quentin, and Hallie runs out into the night.

So now Hallie is following Daphne through the woods, and saying where are we going, and so on. Then we return to Collinwood, where Julia is asking Quentin what happened, which we already know what happened, because it just happened, a minute and a half ago.

Then Gerard brings David inside Rose Cottage at last, and it turns out Rose Cottage is just a disappointing little hallway, with some drywall and a door and a curtain and a chair. They’ve been talking about Rose Cottage for weeks, and now that we’re here, it is profoundly depressing. There isn’t anything surprising here at all — we do eventually see more than just this little corner, but the other room is just as sad and empty but with more chairs in it, and everything that they do there could just as easily have been done back at Collinwood, in the playroom or the dollhouse or a dream sequence, or all of the above. In fact, they’ve already done everything that they’re about to do, in various visions and assorted daydreams, it’s just that now everybody stops asking where is Rose Cottage, and they start saying, well, here we are in Rose Cottage.

So David goes to sleep in a chair, which he might as well, and then we see Hallie and Daphne in the woods, behind exactly the same bush, and Daphne moves some of the foliage away. Hallie peers through the underbrush and says, “It’s Rose Cottage! It’s a real place!” And yes, we get it. It’s Rose Cottage, and Rose Cottage is real.

They want us to pretend like that’s scary, but obviously it’s not. This is the opposite of scary. The thing that’s actually scary is that I have to write one hundred and fifty more blog posts, and is this really what I want to be doing with my life right now?

So here I am, thirty weeks away from the finish line. Episode 1245 is real — it’s a real place, that really exists — but thirty weeks is a large number of weeks, and they’re not going to get a lot easier. This show — my favorite television show, and the subject that I’ve devoted several years of my life to writing about — is dying. It’s time to start talking about that in the present tense. In a few weeks, we’ll go back to the nineteenth century, which is the Dark Shadows equivalent of hospice care. And I’m going to spend one hundred and fifty days watching it not really get that much better, until it takes a turn for the even worse, and then it dies.

I knew, when I started this project, that the Dream Curse would be repetitive. I knew that the end of the Leviathan story would be disappointing. I knew that they were going to struggle with coming back from the movie shoot and kick-starting the show again. And I knew that at some point after that, I would start to lose the will to live, and this would stop being fun, and the blog would become a burden.

Hang on a second, I need a picture of Gerard.

Okay, there we go. Seriously, that is what keeps me going right now, the lunatic hotness of Gerard. I can’t believe I wrote a post a couple months ago questioning Gerard’s hotness. Looking at Gerard’s face is currently my favorite thing in the world.

So one thing that I need to make super clear at this point is: I am going to finish this project. So far, I’ve written 919 posts, and I’m going to write another 150, and the blog will end exactly where it’s supposed to, on April 2nd, 1971. That’s non-negotiable.

There’s a story that I want to tell that starts at episode 210 and ends at episode 1245, and it wouldn’t be fair — especially to you, the lovely people who are accompanying me on this uncertain and frightening journey into the past — if I suddenly decided that Hallie was ruining everything, and dropped out.

The other reason why I have to finish this blog is that there’s something else that I want to write about — a new project, that also follows a particular story through time, including weird tangents and subplots and side missions that I come up with along the way. I’ve had this project in the back of my mind for a couple years now, and as I’m approaching episode 1245, I’m thinking about all the fun research I’ll be able to do for the next thing.

I mean, originally, the Dark Shadows blog was supposed to just be a training ground. I figured the blog would have zero readers, because who the hell wants to read a thousand blog posts about Dark Shadows episodes? I thought I’d just write this for more or less myself, and I’d get good at it, and then I’d go and write about something that people have heard of.

But then you showed up, which as far as I’m concerned is a miracle, and the project became more real, and more fun. And reading what you write in the comments every day — the Dark Shadows discussion board that I basically just post headers for, at this point — has inspired and encouraged me, and allowed me to experiment with weird new ways to write about this story. Serialization is natural selection for stories, and seeing what works and what doesn’t on this blog has made me a better writer, or at least a more confident one, which was definitely part of the point.

So — because I love you, and I’m amazed that you even exist — I can’t do the next project without finishing this one. If I openly bailed on this journey, then I couldn’t expect anybody to get excited about the next one. It’s just not possible.

But I really am looking forward to writing about something that my friends will read. For a while, once the blog started picking up steam, I thought that maybe people who liked other stuff that I’d done would start reading this blog too, even if they didn’t know the show. The blog’s funny, and I thought people could kind of follow along, even if they didn’t catch all the references. That is a thing that did not happen.

You remember how I thought people wouldn’t want to read a thousand blog posts about Dark Shadows? It turns out that people who like Dark Shadows will, which is amazing. But nobody else will. That is a fact that I have learned about life. The audience on this blog capped a while ago, and it’s just not going to get meaningfully bigger.

So when my posts are late, then it’s stressful, because I know that every day I don’t write a Dark Shadows post is another day added on to the end of my sentence.

Now, I know that I’m being ridiculously self-involved today, and that “I want more people to read what I write about pop culture” is absolutely a first-world problem that requires zero interest on anybody else’s part. The reason why I’m bringing this up is that this is how the people making Dark Shadows were feeling too.

They had a crazy, hugely exciting run for about a year and a half, where it felt like everything clicked. They experimented and took weird creative risks, and somehow the audience kept growing, and it was really fun and rewarding, and it seemed like it could last forever.

But now they’ve peaked, and they know it. They’ve run out of stories to tell, in this format and timeslot. The ratings are going down — gently, but firmly — and there’s really not any way for them to get people to come back. Going into the future for two weeks was the last really bold, ambitious step they could take, and even that was just doing an old story backwards. Everybody in the US who’s available to watch TV at four o’clock in the afternoon falls into one of three groups: either they watch Dark Shadows, they used to watch Dark Shadows and then stopped, or they know about Dark Shadows and they aren’t interested in it. There’s no untapped market, no new people they can convert.

So everyone has half an eye on what they’re going to do next. They all have a next project that they’d like to work on. For some of them, it’s getting a writing job on another soap opera; for some, it’s going back to theater. Some of them are wondering if they can build on their Dark Shadows recognition to launch a movie career, including the executive producer. At least one of them is going to be a Charlie’s Angel.

Whatever their dreams are, individually and collectively, it doesn’t involve working on Dark Shadows for very much longer. I am not the only person who can see Hallie, and make the appropriate inferences. This too shall pass.

Tomorrow: Dawn of the Honey Badger.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the opening narration, Quentin says, “Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman learned that a terrible cratastophe occurred at Collinwood.”

Hallie says to Julia, “But I’ve told you a dozen of times!”

Quentin tells Daphne, “I didn’t believe any harm would come to anybody. Youm led me to believe that! Now, if it isn’t true, and if danger — if David is in any danger whatsoever, you’ve got to tell me.”

As Quentin looks at the drawing of Rose Cottage, somebody passes by in the mirror.

When the scene shifts from Quentin in Daphne’s room to Gerard and David in the woods, there’s a little burst of studio noise, including people walking around, rustling paper, and something dropping on the floor.

Tomorrow: Dawn of the Honey Badger.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

59 thoughts on “Episode 1096: Rose Cottage Was the Sled

  1. Oy. This post is a cratastrophe. #1: Your fame is spreading, slowly but surely. These entries aren’t going anywhere. Night of the Living Dead took years to catch on and now, zombies, know what I’m saying? #2: DS gets so much better starting a week or two from now. I think you’ll find the first 1840 stuff rekindles the old magic and in spots it’s as good as the very best. Barnabas and Julia are like an old vaudeville team by now and it’s their last hurrah.

    1. I’m a big fan of 1840. I think it really holds up. Also: Virginia Vestoff!

      Next year marks 30 years since my mother introduced me to the spooky show she used to watch as a kid. Maybe another generation is being exposed to it, as well, and if so will find this blog an excellent companion to it.

      1. So, I am a future generation and I am a big fan of this blog! I watch Dark Shadows and read this blog so here is proof that future generations watch it!
        You rock Danny! Keep on going!

  2. As a young gay boy, I too struggled with Gerard’s hotness, was he or wasn’t he, but ultimately he truly was. Liked all the Gerard stuff, even this storyline, even though you didn’t.

  3. I recall in the beginning of the blog you said you wanted to write about DS as if you were watching each episode for the first time, experiencing and reacting to the episodes as the original audience might have.

    Well, I guess we’ve discovered at what point you might have stopped watching, were you not from the future and writing a blog.

    I’m very glad you’re going to see it through to the bitter end.

    Thank you.

  4. Danny, I’m so impressed that you’ve stuck with the blog. I would have totally understood if you grouped some of the episodes together during this bleak period just to get through it. But I love your writing. I’m really jealous of your talent.

    As for 1840, I watched it again a few years ago, and watching it by itself – not connecting it to the fall of Collinwood or 1897- showed me that it was not as bad as I remembered. I just think it was such a bad idea to do another time travel story. But I’ve been very vocal about that!

    1. Your work is great and we’ve all “met” people like ourselves. The material you have ain’t great. I could use a dose of Prof Stokes with a Nicolas and Chris and Roger chaser. I keep wanting to think Gerald is hot but the make up is too much. Bramwell is in the wings. Oy.

  5. I am on hooks of purest tenter, hoping that your next project is something I’ll be able to get into.

    My sister reads this blog occasionally, just for the witty writing, even though she’s only an extremely casual fan of the show.

  6. Gerard is most definitely hot. You could spend all of 1840 just posting hot pictures of Gerard and I would read everyday. Too bad he didn’t last long in 1841

    1. THAT is something I could understand (sorta) – but that they seem to have completely forgotten about the third mansion (to date) on their property, and that David, who was roaming around unsupervised, never found it either?! When was the last time a tax assessment was done on the estate? Julia and Barnabas never found mention of this structure in ANY of the reading they’ve been doing? Even if it isn’t called “Rose Cottage”, there must be some record of the place.
      Nobody’s found that farm yet, either…and I just bet there’s an abandoned amusement park somewhere around, an Indian burial ground, and possibly even the remains of a Viking village over by Widows Hill.

      1. Like the other Viking 10th and 11th century settlements in what was to become North America, the one in pre-Collinsport was short-lived. They came mainly for the timber, and when they realized there were no populations around to rape and pillage, they soon got bored and set sail for greener pastures.

        But there is a plaque somewhere close by where Collinwood was built, yet unseen for the growth of forest that has since sprung up around it:

        On this spot
        In the year 1067
        Douche Bagusson
        Built his house in
        New Markland

      2. “When was the last time a tax assessment was done on the estate?” LOL That’s exactly what I love about DS, though — it’s not enough that Collinwood is a big haunted house (with abandoned wings with cobwebs and likely mold that should have killed them all by now) but the entire estate and its grounds are some magical never never land.

        1. What else would they have?

          A ruined chapel (an absolute MUST);

          a hedge maze (that somehow has remained neatly trimmed);

          a stone circle (with a large red-stained rock altar at the center);

          an old quarry (where thirteen men died, crushed in a rockslide);

          an abandoned lighthouse (with a grisly legend about a madman keeper);

          and the site of the original village of Collinsport (which was suddenly abandoned after all the men went out to sea in their fishing fleet and were lost in a sudden storm – the story goes that the fleet returned one moonless night, its sails in shreds, draped with seaweed, with a stench of rank decay from below deck.)

          1. Also available somewhere on the Collinwood Estate:
            a 10 Lane Bowling Alley
            !n Open all night Winn Dixie
            Jim’s Bait & Tackle and Occult Shoppe
            Arthur Murray Dance Studio

            1. A partially incinerated insane asylum (after the fire, the patients were moved to the new Windcliff facility – but you can still hear screaming and wild laughter from the ninth floor)

              An empty zoo (Lucius Collins had the menagerie built to house his collection of unusual specimens captured in his travels; several of them escaped and were never found.)

              A derelict greenhouse (Lucius Collins also collected botanical specimens; chiefly carnivorous plants.)

          2. a stone circle (with a large red-stained rock altar at the center)

            Wasn’t that destroyed at the end of the leviathan story?

            1. Doesn’t count; the Old Ones schlepped that in with them and it turned out to be papier-mâché, anyway. And they didn’t even manage to sacrifice anything on their altar, not even a squirrel or a pigweasel. What kind of chintzy ancient cult can’t even have a decent blood baptism?

        2. I remember Liz had her lawyer Richard Garner get a new tax assessment on the estate when she told him she closed off the West and East Wings. WHY do I remember these things!

            1. I don’t think so. There wasjust the clause that it could only be sold to a member of the Collins family. Another setup for the “Vicky is really a Collins” storyline that never went anywhere.

      3. In one of the early episodes, Elizabeth mentions that the east and west wings are closed off as part of an arrangement to get the properry tax bill lowered.

      4. THAT is something I could understand (sorta) – but that they seem to have completely forgotten about the third mansion (to date) on their property, and that David, who was roaming around unsupervised, never found it either?!

        It’s been many years since I saw this part of the show, but I remember getting the impression the real Rose Cottage was some kind of “flying Dutchman” or TARDIS structure that recently materialized there, somewhat like how Barnabus stumbled upon the Leviathan altar one day.

        1. But I thought it was inhabited in 1840, and the spot where Gerard met a certain disembodied head. And Quentin remembers it as “the old Magruder place” – maybe Rose Cottage only dissipates when the Collinsport IRS agent comes by.

  7. Oh, is this the “Goodbye, David”/”Goodbye, Hallie” episode? That had the potential to be truly creepy on a SHINING “play with us, Danny” level and it’s a shame the rest of the storyline doesn’t build up to it in a way that’s compelling.

    1. So true. And the whole Rose Cottage thing makes no sense. Tad and Carrie had very little to do with the house in 1840. It just happened to be the place where Flora and her son Desmond lived. Oh yeah, Leticia and Gerard lived there too, but the latter moved to Collinwood later on. I guess the one major event that happened there was that Gerard got possessed by Judah’s head.

    2. It’s a shame David, who has had some pretty good storylines, had had to go out on this damp squib. And poor Kathy Cody, who had to wait over forty years to have another go at Hallie. The problem with them in this storyline is the complete lack of agency they possess, and the inability to communicate with the ones trying to solve the mystery.

    3. Oh, is this the “Goodbye, David”/”Goodbye, Hallie” episode?

      They left the show? I thought they were on for the rest of the show.

  8. A confession: I’ve never watched a single episode of Dark Shadows. When you first started this, I was going to get around to watching it, but I found I really like only seeing it through your filter on the blog. I’m glad you’re going to see it through. And I’m positively giddy that there’s going to be a next project. Thanks in advance. I genuinely don’t care what it is, and I’m sooo looking forward to it!

  9. “The thing that’s actually scary is that I have to write one hundred and fifty more blog posts, and is this really what I want to be doing with my life right now?”
    What i’m enjoying about this blog is that there is great background research, not only about DS, but about the surrounding culture and comparisons with other contemporary television shows. Add to that the dry humor and wit and the blog is (as someone else pointed out) a lot of talent is evident. Keeping in mind that it’s not hard to write well when the subject is already good…the talent becomes evident when the subject is challenging and DS is about as challenging as you can get. [You can tell i do this kind of evaluation as part of my job.]
    So…onward, my good man, there is a lot to be trashed and laughed at over the next 150 episodes!

      1. Here’s the link. I am up to the Destruction of Collinwood. I got my spin on the 1995 trip and I will be skipping 1840 (because I stopped watching then, something in it irritated me). Then I will be finally going to PT, in which they are still holding the lottery and we find out that in the 1780s there the original Barnabas was supposed to go into the room, but he escaped, and the room has been calling to him through the dimensions, and of course, ends up dragging in the parallel version..

        By the way, I made Ben Stokes black – because it allowed me to have Professor Stokes played by Morgan Freeman.

  10. I love this blog so much, I’ll be lost when it ends! I’ve been devouring it in huge chunks for the last 7 months, and now that I’m caught up, I get anxious, waiting for the next post. Danny, you gave me back the DS of my youth. My safe haven. DS was always my retreat from reality, when life was just too much to bear. I remember having chicken pox as an adult, and my DS MPI VHS tapes helped me get through a week of itching and general craziness. Thank you, Danny, for writing this brilliant blog for us. We all love you, and DS, very much.

  11. What about the “destruction of Blogginwood” that you alluded to in your HODS post and also in the podcast interview you recently gave? By the way, I can lo longer locate that interview on the sidebar — is it back in the archives?

    Ironic how the popularity of this blog peaks in the last months while the show is in decline. It’s the same way with the Dark Shadows Wiki — pages for the early Barnabas episodes have only a handful of photos each, yet the ones for all these later 1970 episodes have dozens and dozens each.

    The Dark Shadows fandom, as epitomized by this blog, is among the warmest, friendliest, and knowledgeable fandom groups anywhere — such lovely people! Rain or shine, Dark Shadows is still a wonderful thing to celebrate.

    1. “The Dark Shadows fandom, as epitomized by this blog, is among the warmest, friendliest, and knowledgeable fandom groups anywhere…”

      Yes indeed, Prisoner! There are discussions that have much more depth than the FB pages, which most participants do little more than say, “I ran home from school to watch that show.”

      To quote Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale, “I treasure you people.”

  12. Mr. Horn — I really like this blog entry. And we appreciate you hanging in there. All the comments are an obvious sign of that.

    Here’s the curious thing: While we love the show at its best and like to get swept up in your enthusiasm for a good episode or story arc, it’s also a lot of fun to watch you wittily dissect a bad performance or story line. A little perversely, perhaps, the blog has never been better than when the show is at a low ebb.

    You draw strength from its weakness. The show is Alexis and you are Angelique!

    I really look forward to your take on 1840. I think it’s weaker, overall, than 1795 and 1897, but it has its moments. In some ways, here and there, I think does certain things better than any period of the show.

    Now of course, I simply assembled those continuity issues, packed them in the chest Liz buried in the basement, and shoved it into one of those Dream Curse doors best not opened again.

    And I look even more forward to your take on 1841PT. I can think of periods I enjoyed less.

  13. There’s afew last hurrahs to come, and I find that watching the very beginning of dark shadows is a good hair of the dog after the rough terrain of the end.

  14. Or fistfights between the casts of the Burton movie and HODS,

    I’d pay to see that.

    It would be a time travel play inside a time travel play.

    Now my head hurts.

    Damn fistfights.

  15. Hi Danny, I wanted to add my voice of appreciation for this blog, and my thanks that you plan to see it through to the bitter(?) end. Knowing that my wife had watched DS for a while as a kid, I took a chance and bought her the coffin box as a gift two years ago. We quickly became hooked on the show. But our enjoyment increased immeasurably during the 1795 era for two reasons: (1) the show got better, and (2) we found your blog. I still crack up when I think of posts entitled “Nine Lives to Live” (Joshua is still a cat) and “Blair Witch Project” (almost too perfect confluence of pop culture). The show is clearly losing steam, but like you, we’re riding this train until it runs out of track.

  16. Hallie’s “David” count is twelve, average once every minute and fifty seconds. She really pours it on in the home stretch, the last scene has ten practically in a row.

    Geez, I would hate to take a long car trip with David and Hallie – nothing but “where are you taking me?” and “are we there yet?” the whole way to the cottage. Can’t the ghosts put some kind of “shut the hell up” spell on the kids?

    How did anyone think we wouldn’t notice that David and Gerard walk by the same tree twice? Or is it just like the carousel, going around in a circle to get to Rose Cottage?

    The Rose Cottage view actually didn’t look half bad. Not great, but okay… considering it was only a model.

    Everybody keeps talking to Gerard & Daphne like they’re going to answer back! These two haven’t said anything since they appeared, for Pete’s sake, why should they suddenly get chatty?

    Why was Rose Cottage rechristened “the old Magruder place”? Who were the Magruders that a house on the Collins estate would be named for them?

  17. Mr. Horn, I realize that unasked-for advice is usually unwelcome, but I’m going to offer you one piece of it anyway.

    I think your blog posts started out very good and only got better as time went on. They also are more elaborate, creative, though-provoking and longer, generally speaking, as you’ve gone along. That’s great for us because we’re enjoying every word, but we just read. We’re not writing it.

    If you’re having rough writing day, you have plenty of blog entries early on that were really nice but (maybe?) didn’t involve as much writer effort. You already had me sold by the time I read this blog entry:

    https://darkshadowseveryday.com/2013/09/26/episode-229/

    So maybe you can turn to 2013 Danny if the day’s entry looms large! I Ching wands optional.

  18. Danny, you have a gift; sharing that gift with us is a blessing.
    I don’t need to tell you what a fan I am, my continued input (inane as it is) shows that. And having this rich and wonderful community to share in is a unique experience that has meant so much to me. If there were a greater expression than “thank you”, that’s what I’d say. You’ve all shown me something I had forgotten – what REAL fandom is like.

  19. John, it’s true. I feel we’re all connected here, through this blog. I feel like all you guys: Prisoner, David, you, etc. and of course Danny, are my pals. I look forward to all you guys’ comments as much as I do to Danny’s next posts.

  20. Thanks Danny for staying with it. I started watching DS again to escape from the present horror show that is the so called real world. Then I found your blog. With an occasional foray to Bewitched and even Mr Ed, you are helping to keep me a functioning and largely unmedicated member of society. Seriously. You’re doing more than just writing a blog. We love you. We’ll keep reading till the end and you will become the legend that you deserve to be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s