“If you scream, they will come! They will know how you haunt me!”
Daniel Collins coughs, one of those worrisome false coughs that indicates an unspecified theatrical natural-causes type condition. He’s dying of being old, apparently, at the precipitate age of 54, and he’s being tended to by Ben Stokes, an 84-year-old family retainer who’s known Daniel since he was twelve. It’s hard to say how this kind of malady works; it’s mostly metaphorical.
“Ohh, the pain! It’s coming!” Daniel cries, as Ben propels him bedward. Struggling for breath, he vows, “I must kill that woman, before I die!”
“Now, Mr. Daniel,” Ben chides, but Daniel interrupts.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t see her in that room. You did! That woman will ruin our world!”
Ben shakes his head. “Mr. Daniel, our world was ruined a long time ago.”
That’s a great line, so Stokes puts a point on the board, but Daniel is right. “That woman” is Dr. Julia Hoffman, and her appearance in the year 1840 is ushering in the ruin of this family, this story and soon enough, the whole television show.
Julia is currently a castaway, having fled from the apocalyptic finish of 1970 Collinwood up an unexpected time-defying staircase, which dropped her off here, in the year 1840. Yesterday, she made contact with Ben Stokes, who believed her wild story that she was Barnabas’ friend from the future, despite the fact that it makes very little sense, and he’s hiding her in the playroom overnight.
If anyone finds Julia, she’s in trouble — she might be arrested as a trespasser, or just ejected from the house, out into the night, where she has nowhere to stay, no identification, and no time-appropriate clothes. And as it turns out, someone does find her, and she is in trouble; she just didn’t think it would be trouble like this.
Because the guy that finds her is Daniel Collins, all grown up and entirely out of his mind. There’s a lot to talk about today, but first I need to give you this entire scene, to demonstrate how good the scripts have suddenly become.
Daniel: You didn’t think I would recognize you, simply because you’re wearing that ridiculous getup!
Julia: We’ve never met before!
Daniel: You did it deliberately, to shame me, just as you’ve always done! And now, we must play the little game again. You were always so stubborn, Harriet!
Julia: But I’m not Harriet!
Daniel: How like you to say that! Do you not think I recognized you? Of course you’ve changed! But you were always deceptive, always pretending to be someone you were not! I should have known that when I married you!
Julia: Don’t come any closer to me, or I will scream! I swear, I will scream!
Daniel: No! You cannot scream! If you scream, they will come! They will know how you haunt me, how you always come back to haunt me! I thought when I killed you first, that would be the end of it! But no — once you kill, you must kill over and over again!
Julia: You’re mad. You’re mad!
Daniel: (grabbing her by the throat) Why did you come back? Why? Why do we relive that night? Why don’t you leave me alone?
Ben enters, and pulls Daniel away from the struggling Julia.
Ben: Mr. Daniel —
Daniel: How dare you!
Ben: I was searchin’ for ya.
Daniel: You’ve changed too! You’ve turned on me, you’re on her side! Telling me that Quentin is dead! You once were my friend!
Ben: I am your friend. Now you just come with me —
Daniel: And leave her here?
Ben: Forget about Harriet!
Daniel: No! She deserves to die!
Ben: She’s been in her grave these ten years past!
Daniel: She’s here, in this room!
Ben: Look, Mr. Daniel!
Daniel looks around. Julia has hidden herself behind a screen.
Daniel: You — you say she’s gone… but no… tonight… she will come to me, tonight…
Ben: You’ll feel better in your own room. I’ll sit with ya.
Daniel: Will you, Ben? You won’t let her come?
Ben: I won’t let her come.
And there’s so much warmth and sadness, in the way that Ben looks at Daniel, as he helps him out of the room.
So that’s basically a perfect scene, two and a half minutes of exactly what we need right now. Something terrible has happened in this house, to these people, and all we can hear are the echoes. Daniel’s murdered his wife, and the experience has driven him mad, and he’s endlessly haunted by what he’s done. It’s a decision that he has to keep making, over and over, just to prove that he was right. And we see how Ben has cared for his mad king, for who knows how many years, as Daniel lost his reason.
Plus, this sets up a little plot point — Julia loses an earring during the struggle, which Gabriel picks up and then shows to Gerard — which will lead to more good scenes later on this week.
So Sam Hall is a good writer again, which is a big relief, because I thought we were lost forever. Two weeks ago, Joe Caldwell left the writing team, leaving the show with just two writers for the final six months — Sam Hall and Gordon Russell. My post on episode 1103 speculated on why they didn’t hire a replacement, and at the time, I wrote that it didn’t really matter, because all three writers were starting to sound the same anyway.
Coming out of the Parallel Time story, they managed to pull off an unbelievable twist, sending Barnabas and Julia to 1995 for two weeks of surprises, strong character moments, and actual melancholy, reflecting on twenty-five years of betrayal and failure that our heroes didn’t even know they were responsible for.
And then they got back to the present day in 1970, and we were plunged into eight weeks of bad episodes, one after another. It was mostly David and Hallie whining, with Barnabas and Julia sidelined and everybody else going through various attempts at possession.
They were all going in circles; important things that happened in one episode would be forgotten the next. Gerard’s ghost possessed Elizabeth so that she would refuse to let the children leave Collinwood, and then he possessed Carolyn, and Elizabeth apparently went back to normal. You couldn’t tell if they were supposed to be on the same side or not — there was no sense that Carolyn and Elizabeth were both being influenced by Gerard at the same time, and you just couldn’t track what was going on with the characters, from one episode to another.
And now it’s like they flipped a switch, and all of a sudden the show is good again. What happened?
Well, for one thing, they get to start over with a whole batch of new characters and situations, which always brings out the best in Dark Shadows. Here’s the introduction of cousin Flora, who drifts into Collinwood on a cloud of sentiment.
Flora: Is he here?
Gabriel: Is who here?
Flora: The Healer!
Gabriel: You give the most improbable names to the most improbable people, Flora. What is that?
Flora: My new novel! Isn’t it glorious?
Gabriel: I don’t know, I haven’t read it yet. Did you bring it for me?
Flora: No, not exactly. You must read it, though. It’s by far my best work! Oh, I do hope the critics notice.
Gabriel: (reading) A Summer’s Death!
Flora: In three parts. The book. Not the death.
So there you have it, drawing room comedy, delivered right to your door. And this doesn’t appear to be plot-mandated, it’s just a personality.
In contrast, everything that Hallie Stokes did in 1970 was based entirely on what would help the writers get from scene A to scene B. She never said or felt anything, except what was absolutely necessary to complete the plot objective of the day.
I don’t know if Flora writing silly novels is going to have any impact on Barnabas and Julia’s mission to defeat Gerard, but I doubt it. I think it’s just a bit of decorative characterization, and it’s here because the writers are feeling inspired again.
So I have to re-evaluate the last two months a little bit. I was concerned that maybe everyone just gave up on Dark Shadows, and didn’t care whether they were making a worthwhile show anymore. But now it’s clear that Sam Hall, at least, had some more fuel in the tank that he just wasn’t using.
It’s possible that what they came up with was a story with a devastating part A and a promising part C, but then they had an eight-week part B that was just connecting the dots. No matter what the characters did, they still had to run through the six prophetic clues and end up with the destruction of Collinwood, so Barnabas and Julia had to stand on the sidelines, bleating helplessly.
Plus, they had to figure out all the new characters and situations that they were going to unveil in 1840, and I’m sure there was a lot of prep work that they had to do. They originally thought Kathryn Leigh Scott would play Samantha, but she decided to take a break from the show, so they had to write Maggie out and then cast someone new. Later this week, we’ll see that they got Jerry Lacy to come back and play another Trask, and they had to find someone to play Edith, and they had to figure out the general direction of how Gerard was going to turn into the mansion-destroying nightmare figure that he needs to eventually become. So they coasted a bit, and left the show on autopilot.
Although it’s also possible that there was a problem with Joe Caldwell. I don’t have any particular reason to think that there was, except that everybody’s scripts sounded the same for months, and then Joe Caldwell leaves, and all of a sudden Sam Hall’s doing comedy again. Maybe Caldwell was pulling in a different direction, and that’s why he left and they didn’t replace him.
But never mind that; here comes the Healer.
“Oh! There you are,” Flora simpers as the man she’s waiting for enters the room.
Gabriel rolls his eyes, and sniffs, “The Healer, himself.”
Flora hands over the new novel — to Gerard Stiles, who gives her a warm smile. “At last!” he crows, and clutches it to his chest. “Thank you. I will read it immediately.”
And yeah, there we are. Gerard is the new Quentin.
Seriously, that’s it, in less than ten seconds. After ten weeks of silently glowering, Gerard Stiles says his first nine words, and he owns the show.
It happened right away for Quentin, too, back in the first episode of 1897. After months as a non-speaking phantom, Quentin said, “You’re still beautiful, Beth,” and then he swaggered through the front door and straight into our hearts. Sometimes, it’s just that easy.
Now, James Storm doesn’t have the same white-hot charisma that David Selby has — a vanishingly small number of people do, unfortunately — but the impression that you get from Gerard is that he’s good-looking, he has a sense of humor, and he’s going to be interesting. When he was a ghost, all we saw was rage, disgust and the occasional satisfied smirk. All of a sudden, he’s a trickster, a seducer, and that makes him worth watching.
Flora calls him “the Healer” because she thinks he has the power to cure her imaginary migraines, which he corrects by stroking her temples and talking to her in his deep, commanding voice that she’s in the heat of the desert, or something. When Gerard is stroking something, it’s not easy to focus on what he’s saying, exactly. It’s a bit of mild hypnotism, on Flora and on the audience.
When he’s done, Flora stands up and thanks him, and look at his sexy little pout. He’s not Quentin, but yeah. He’ll do.
And then he gets to be petulant and defensive with Gabriel, and he does a little magic trick on the earring that Gabriel found, and then Gabriel laughs and Gerard suddenly explodes, grabbing him by the lapels, and for the first time we actually see Gabriel not in control of the situation.
We knew, after all of the phantom stuff in the last couple months, that Gerard was going to be the most important character in the room — but it wasn’t obvious that he was going to be this complex and well-developed. He’s been in this house for a while, and he’s got strong, well-defined relationships with all of the other characters. If he’s going to be the center of this storyline, then they’ve got the right actor, and they’re giving him the care and attention that he needs.
Gerard is the Healer, and so far, he’s doing a lot to heal my impatience and broken trust. Yes, that woman will ruin our world, but not today. For today, at least, the doctor is in.
Tomorrow: The Boy Friend.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Gerard asks Gabriel to leave the drawing room, the boom mic swings by overhead.
Thirty seconds later, as Gerard moves behind the couch, a camera pokes into the shot on the left.
Flora says to Gerard, “And now I must go and see your wife.” Then she turns to Gabriel and says, “And your wife too, of course.” Gerard doesn’t have a wife; Flora must have directed the line at the wrong person, and then recovered by including Gabriel as well.
When Flora invites Gerard to dinner, the boom mic droops into the shot again. (See the screenshot below.)
In act 4, the boom mic swings in again, as Ben enters the drawing room.
Behind the Scenes:
I tried to include this in the post, but it just didn’t work, so I’m putting it here: I love the new 1840 colors. These days, every new time period gets its own unique color scheme, and it looks fantastic. Parallel Time was all orange and pink, and 1840’s colors are faded blue and yellow. Check out the picture of Flora and Gabriel in the drawing room above. The pale blue is reflected in Flora’s dress, the couch and the lamp; the yellow is in the foreground chair, and Gabriel’s shirt and lap rug. The flowers on the credenza are also pale blue and yellow. It looks amazing, instantly creating a new environment in a set that we’ve been looking at for four and a half years straight. It’s just another thing that they nailed this week.
Also: the colorful afghan shows up twice today somehow, so either there are two of them or it’s Schrödinger’s afghan. We haven’t seen the afghan since June, when it was on the parallel couch in the parallel Old House drawing room. Today, we see it on Daniel’s bed in the tower room, and then there’s another one on the drawing room couch two scenes later. We see the drawing room afghan again on Wednesday, and it looks to me like it’s a second, similar afghan.
Tomorrow: The Boy Friend.
— Danny Horn
89 thoughts on “Episode 1111: The Healer”
It’s actually really a three-person writing team; Dan Curtis is always the de facto head writer. He’s the one who brings in all the literature for the team to mine through for ideas, and he’s the one who approves or rejects what the team brings forward.
I would contend that if 1840 gets off to a promising start, it’s because Dan Curtis is inspired by the idea of a new time travel story; because where Dark Shadows is concerned, that’s where his heart really was, the romance of lost love spanning through the ages.
I wouldn’t give too much credit to Sam Hall, or be too dismissive of Joe Caldwell. It’s neither Caldwell’s fault about 1970 nor Hall’s merit regarding 1840. Sam Hall never really had a feeling for Dark Shadows or an understanding of horror writing; it isn’t what he wanted to be remembered for. He just produced the kind of material that Dan Curtis wanted.
If Collinwood 1970 felt uninspired and aimless, it’s probably because to Dan Curtis 1970 was more about playing golf and making movies. Each year, Dark Shadows has spent less and less time in the present day.
With 1840, Dark Shadows can, at least for a moment, return to what it was originally intended to be; a Gothic novel come to life, only this time with a real nineteenth century backdrop, and with a touch of Hammer Films to maintain that distinctive horror mystique.
I think Flora was supposed to tell Gabriel that she was going to see his wife (Edith) but instead said the line to Gerard. This was her attempt at an “incestors” style recovery.
Oh! That makes more sense. 🙂
There’s blue and yellow, yes, but we’ll also see quite a bit more of the same Day-Glo orange that Samantha’s dress is made of.
Louis Edmonds is so wonderful in these episodes. You can easily see Daniel as a boy in him.
I know that wasn’t the actual case but it often feels like Edmonds told Curtis: “I’m only coming back for the good stuff!” He plays key roles in 1795, 1897 and 1840 while mostly drifting through the present day stuff after 1968.
You really can. And my husband remarked yesterday that when Chris Pennock is shot at certain angles, he’s a dead ringer, bone structure wise, for Louis. You can believe they’re father and son.
The characterization of a relatively young Daniel acting like a doddering, senile old man can be explained by his apparent insanity, his imprisonment, and his heart condition.I felt bad for Daniel who never really had much of a life. Lost his parents when he was a child, his sister went mad, he was raised by a cold, bitter man (Joshua), had an unhappy marriage and didn’t do such a good job on raising two sons. It reminds me that the Collins Family must have had poor genetics and/or bad luck to account for a frighteningly high mortality rate. Edith’s children all died well before she did, Jamison died fairly young (around 1946), We also have no idea what happened to Flora’s late husband.
I don’t think it was ever articulated on the original series, though it was hinted at, about a curse on the family. The house kind of absorbed that curse. I think Stephen King used that idea in “The Shining” (and other stories) about a place both taking on, and transmitting the curse. This is why i wish a skilled writer could reinterpret the DS story – there’s so much going on in these lives that have become intertwined.
Dan Curtis did that kind of concept a few years before King, with Burnt Offerings — in fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s where Stephen King got the idea from for The Shining.
Stephen King did acknowledge that he was inspired by both the book and film of Burnt Offering when he was creating The Shining.
We know Edith has at least two other children. Gabriel makes a passing reference to “the children” being at boarding school (father like that, best place for them). That’s all we know about them. Tad is the only character from his generation in the family we know about. In 1897 Edith is the grandmother of Edward, Judith, Quentin and Carl (so one of her children must be their mother or father, since Tad is the son of 1840 Quentin and Samantha), but their parents are never mentioned. Besides, someone has to survive the carnage to let the Collins family build up again in time for the next time travel massacre.
That makes the generation above the 1897 cast but after the 1840 cast the lost generation pretty much, both in terms of their life spans and knowledge about them (we only know of Tad and the children of Gabriel and Edith). It’s possible Quentin and Daphne may have had children together, the period between 1840 and 1897 is largely a huge blank spot.
According to the audio Curtain Call (set after the 1840 storyline, in New York 1857) Desmond and Leticia did try for children, but weren’t having any luck. Since they managed to escape Collinwood, they actually had a chance at an ordinary life. I wouldn’t blame them if they chose to have nothing more to do with Collinwood, and chose the same for any children they might have had.
Flora probably poisoned him…
Or bricked him into an alcove in the North Wing of the house…
Totally. She’s the “oh, I only write about murders, silly woman that I am!” Jessica Fletcher-esque murderer.
“That woman” is Dr. Julia Hoffman, and her appearance in the year 1840 is ushering in the ruin of this family, this story and soon enough, the whole television show.”
Hmmm, maybe it was Dr. Hoffman engineering this downfall all along? Notice how she plays the victim so skillfully, but there has been disaster after disaster since her arrival. May she is the reincarnation of some curse-bearing creature from pre-1795. lol.
See? Better lighting, and more than just Ragerard to play, suddenly James Storm is much better looking! Living Gerard is way better than Dead Gerard.
And OH! I must have that blue lamp!
I suppose Harriet Collins was named after DS production assistant, Harriet Roth. I can’t imagine Harriet Nelson being the inspiration.
Rohr, not Roth.
Rohr? … Rohrbach’s? … Orhbach’s? … Ohrbach’s … Roebuck’s? … Sears Roebuck?
It all adds up!
Strange that Daniel Collins would have married a woman who looks so uncannily like Natalie Du Pres…and that Ben wouldn’t have noticed that, too. But, then, I guess Mme. Du Pres had been gone these forty years or so. Good thing Magda and Sandor haven’t shown up yet, that would confuse the hell out of everybody! (And I better look into the DS Wiki to see where Edward, Judith, and Quentin fit into all this. Supposed to be Edith’s children by Gabriel, right?)
Actually when we see Harriet’s ghost, she looks nothing like Julia. She’s played by Gaye Edmond.
In this episode, Daniel says on more than occasion that Harriet appears to him every night as a different woman, so there’s no reason for Julia to resemble his dead wife.
One of Gabriel and Edith’s sons, currently away at school, is the father of the 1897 family.
That’s right, she’s “Grandmama”, isn’t she?
That’s right, the parents of Quentin, Edward, Judith and Carl are never spoken of. One of Edith and Gabriel’s children must be one of the parents (they’re at boarding school during the storyline). Tad can’t have had any children, or at least any who stayed at Collinwood.
The family tree as we know it bottlenecks at 1897, branching out into Quentin’s line (Jenny’s daughter Lenore, forming the Jennings branch Chris, Tom and Amy are part of) and Edwards’s line (Jamison, his son with Laura, who is the father of Elizabeth and Roger). Elizabeth mentions an aunt at one point, most likely her mother’s sister since Jamison was an only child
Jamison wasn’t an only child. Nora was his sister.
So that means potentially another child in another family for Laura to go after. We could potentially have a short story audio with Stephanie Ellyne as an adult Nora, or even bring back Denise Nickerson.
The aunt they visit in Boston is named Katharine, so I’m guessing Nora didn’t make it to 1966. But you never know; maybe she just didn’t stay close to her brother’s family.
Maybe Nora wanted a life away from Collinwood. Liz was very reclusive for 18 years and took Jamison’s death hard. Nora probably reminded Elizabeth of him.
Katherine could be Nora’s daughter.
” One of Edith and Gabriel’s children must be one of the parents”….
it has to be a son, as they are Coliinses.
Unless their daughter married a Collins cousin. Less likely, for certain, but not impossible.
Yeah, and it’s kinda fun to realize how that irrepressible prankster Carl could trace his madcap sense of humor straight back to Granddaddy Gabriel!
My theory is that Gabriil & Edith had three sons: Jonah who was born in 1840 abd died in 1863, and Caleb Sayers Collins the owner of Seaview
Kind of sad that about the only way to survive being born
into the Collins family is to get as far away from it as you can.
And sometimes even THAT doesn’t work.
A baby less than a year old wouldn’t be at boarding school, but maybe Gabriel and Edith assumed everyone understood that they meant thank all the children except the baby were away.
“Thank” should be “that,” of course; I spotted it a split second too late.
Jonah died in 1863, which is also the year Edith says her husband died (34 years ago) in 1897. There’s also the portrait of Thaddeus Collins David shows Amy just before they come across the room with the telephone.
It’s tough to live in a universe where everybody looks like the same 18 people.
Roger didn’t just marry someone who looked like his grandmother, he did actually marry his grandmother. He also married the woman who married the son of his great-great-great grandfather’s cousin. Collins genealogy makes your head hurt.
JB: I forget, who was the son of Roger’s great-great-great-grandfather’s cousin that Laura was married to?
Barnabas. He was the son of Joshua, who was the cousin of Daniel’s father, who was Roger’s ancestor…
That was Roger’s second wife, Cassandra, better known as Angelique…
Of course, Roger also married the BROTHER of the cousin of his great, great, great grandfather when he married Laura,who we later discovered had been married to Jeremiah.
Roger takes keeping it all the family to a new level.
Yeah, I think Roger’s only real rival in this game is Quentin, who pretended to be his own great-grandson in order to bird-dog his own great-niece away from his actual great-grandson.
The amount of time that could have saved my mother! She spent hours poring over old family pictures. “See? My grandfather and my brother have the same eyes.”
“Sure, Mom, because they look exactly alike! You don’t even need a magnifying glass to see it!”
That was a Twilight Zone episode, wasn’t it? “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”.
And wasn’t there one where a man changed everyone into versions of himself? (See, Grayson Hall could have managed that version of Dark Shadows, no prob. Well, okay, maybe Grayson along with Thayer David.)
Number Twelve is my all time favorite Twilight Zone episode.
I was confused by that too, but then realized that Julia looked nothing like Harriet–the way Daniel keeps babbling about how she’s always lying (nailed you on that one, Jules) and changing her looks means he just focuses on some random woman and thinks she’s Harriet, then tries to strangle her.
Otherwise, yes, the first words out of Ben’s mouth would be ‘Harriet! Back to cause more ruin and heartbreak!’ or something similar.
And Julia ISN’T to blame – it’s that timehopping Raggedy Ann doll that’s mucking things up! And I just bet there’s a pigweasel standing around someplace, trying to look innocent..
I thought it was Vicki who ruined everything.
Hmmm…perhaps Vicki brought the anachronistic toy
back to 1795 with her and started the whole problem.
But I’m sure the pigweasel had SOMETHING to do with it!
The magical afghan, the Ralston-Purina lamp, the Raggedy Ann, the Pigweasel, maybe the grandfather clock, maybe ALL the clocks… Guys I think the props might be THEY.
Collinwood itself and all its treasures has my vote for being THEY.
Here’s a question: All the misspelled, misdated tombstones – effect of excess time warp, or cause?
Probably the same drinking problem as Oliver Bennett, the “greatest cabinetmaker Marion, Massachusetts ever produced,” who, according to Professor Stokes in episode 475, was drunk when he made one of the tables in the Old House drawing room.
Whoever carved tombstones in Collinsport had to have been a champion drinker (and possibly the busiest man in town).
I’m calling witchcraft. “Ugh, history’s been altered again. Need to change Edith Collins’ death to 1940.”
“What?! Jer-E-miah, not Jerimiah? And his death date changed, too? Screw it, just use the Magic Marker on it.”
You know, that’s something I never considered; at the rate Collinsporters kick the bucket, the tombstone engraver must be under such constant pressure it’s no wonder they make mistakes.
ALWAYS Vicki’s fault.
Looks like they all died at age 21.
Danny, I was often trying to think of why I liked 1840 as much as I did. Especially at the start. Thank you for explaining my own thoughts to me!
For the main three Classique time travel stories, I give 1795 the gold, 1897 the silver and 1840 the bronze, but 1840 still puts on a very worthy show and is better to me than any of the following:
— The first 100 or so episodes (until the Matthew Morgan/Josette’s ghost story heats up)
— Cassandra and Nicholas and the Dream Curse (low point of the show for me)
— Jeff Clark/Peter Bradford (kill me now)
— Either of the PT storylines (though I think I liked 1841 PT better than most folks did)
I also think 1840 did a few things better than any story arc did that I’ll point out as we go along. And the actual look of the show is one of them. DS never looked better, and I liked the blue color scheme.
I’ll admit, the dream curse is an easy target. It did have one redeeming quality Prof. Stokes, thought you could have done it in one or two episodes! Saw Thayer as a bad guy on Wild Wild West over the weekend. Now that man could act, and unlike others who would always be identified with a character I didn’t look at him and say “there’s prof. Stokes.”
I really liked Adam. I wish they’d brought him back to Collinsport at some point, with no scars and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. He could have helped them figure out Collinwood’s time bands – and provided Carolyn with a decent date on Saturday night. Decent compared to her previous boyfriends, that is.
Samantha if you read the fate of the characters, they site Adam is doing just that. I just don’t understand why they did not do that for him during the damn show.
I thought Flora was a lovely little gift for Joan Bennett; certainly not the first character who brought in wit or comic flair, but maybe the most pleasingly decorative, to use Danny’s word (we should all use Danny’s words all the time), and much-needed relief from the show’s straining for urgent seriousness all the time. Bennett seems to have been a good sport about it all, but this must have been a boring job for months at a time, especially when she was playing the diminished Elizabeth, who pretty much lost her ginger after we found out she didn’t murder Paul Stoddard: Naomi, Judith, and now Flora were new leases on life and a chance for her to show some classic Hollywood chops.
Joan Bennett got what she wanted out of Dark Shadows and more. Regular work with decent pay and a guarantee of a certain number of episodes a week, plus a month or so for vacation every year. The added benefit was fan recognition from younger generations, like that one time she was mobbed (in 1968 while narrating a Midwest fashion show) and later commented, “I felt positively like a Beatle.” (The Bennetts: An Acting Family, p. 428)
Not to mention the many friendships developed over the years among fellow actors in the cast. One of the things she liked in particular about 1840 was dressing up in the grand costumes, which by this point on the show were being specially hand-crafted.
As with Louis Edmonds, the time travel stories brought opportunities for “meatier” roles.
It was only in the beginning that she found Dark Shadows a chore: “…when I found the series was going to be extended beyond the first thirteen weeks, I hinted to Tom Korman that perhaps I wasn’t geared to life as a galley slave after all, but four years later, I’m still pulling the oars. By now, of course, I’ve made my peace with the schedule, although I admit I’d find it sheer misery if it weren’t for a great and compatible company, from which I’ve made some enduring friendships. Also, the production heads are extremely generous and often make allowances and rearrange schedules for vacations or activities in other entertainment fields. The entire company works smoothly together…” (The Bennett Playbill, p. 327)
While I’ve been very vocal about my dislike for doing another time travel story, Flora makes the whole thing a bit more tolerable. I’ll also admit that the show now that things happening again. If only they could have found a way to do that in 1970.
I imagine she demanded to play this time period’s Millicent and everybody went sure! Here’s some hair bows, go to town!
Flora’s introduction is wonderful. She’s channeling Alice Brady in “My Man Godfrey” and Billie Burke in “Topper”. It’s nice to see her bubbly and a bit flighty for a change.
It’s amusing that Daniel grew up to look just like Joshua Collins when he was apparently a distant enough cousin for his sister Millicent to be a potential wife for Jeremiah. Millicent and Daniel also refer to Joshua as “cousin,” which would imply one of their parents were Joshua’s cousins and not his sibling (a first cousin match seems a bit much even for the time, but maybe not).
And I have no idea where Flora Collins comes from — if she’s old enough to have a son 1840 Quentin’s age, that would imply she was alive and in Collinsport during 1795. If she’s a separate New York branch, like Millicent and Daniel, it’s unclear. It’s also odd that she resembles a woman (Naomi) who to our knowledge was not a Collins by birth. Maybe Collins men choose brides from the same family.
I’m just having fun with all this, of course, because there is no logic to why the characters look the way they do. It’s all part of the fun of the repertory theater company format. It’s sort of what I like about the multiverse on the CW superhero shows.
I think she’s meant to be a Collins by marriage rather than by birth, and she could be Naomi’s niece or cousin. The question of who was her husband and Desmond’s father remains. Maybe Joshua and Jeremiah had a third brother? Or maybe Millicent’s father had a brother. I don’t think he’s ever mentioned.
I agree with Melissa, that Flora is a Collins by marriage. After all, Desmond’s last name is Collins; if Flora had been a Collins already, Desmond would have had a different surname.
It’s plausible Flora could be one of the cousins from out of town, come to Collinwood to write her novels. She’s a romantic, it’s in character.
Collinwood, and indeed Collinsport seems to be some kind of spatial genetic anomaly Hellmouth (the first bit comes from Doctor Who to explain why there were two Eve Myles characters in two periods of history in Cardiff), having an affinity for certain appearances. Didn’t like Vicki, as They sent her through time several times and after that last time she changed appearance! They clearly liked Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds and Nancy Barrett.
When the lookalike isn’t acknowledged by one of the characters, some fans theorize they don’t look like a prior character. We the audience see the resemblance but other DS characters see someone different.
We can make a few reasonable assumptions about the cousins:
Joshua, Abigail and Jeremiah were siblings, and their father was a Collins. Their father could have had one or more brothers, and one of them married and had Millicent and Daniel. (And it could even be the same case with the paternal grandfather).
As for Flora, she had to have married into the family to have the last name of Collins and have a son with the last name of Collins. She could have been from the same family as Naomi, perhaps.
Flora’s late husband could have been the Abner Collins who’s portrait we saw in the summer of 1970.
Somebody had to be married to AbNAH, and I don’t think her name was Gladys (on this show).
I’m liking the idea of Abner being Flora’s husband / Desmond’s dad. Now i think one of the only Collins ancestors left to be tied up is Benjamin. Get on it, Big Finish!
(Oh, and please tie up the mid-1800s ‘lost generation’ while you’re at it)
I’ve always fancied that Flora was the “F. MacA. C.” whose handkerchief Vicky found at Sea View. Caleb loved her, but she married another Collins cousin and broke his heart.
I thought that Flora Collins was the hankie owner too but I never conjectured that she and Caleb were an item.
Flora is unattached and survives without too much trauma, so maybe she does fall for the Caleb Collins who dies in 1873 (the one who stipulated that Seaview stay in the family for a hundred years). Or simply Flora moves into Seaview believing that Rose Cottage holds bad memories. Who knows, maybe she just spent time at Seaview while writing another book, or just spent time at Seaview around the time Caleb died, her hanky never being picked up.
At the beginning of the storyline, Flora sounds like Baby Jane Hudson. Toned down a bit as time went on
Oh, yeah, the unrequired love is purely my own headcanon.
I also hoped that Flora would be their way of closing that loop.
Has Joan Bennett ever been as animated as she is playing Flora? If so I don’t remember it.