Episode 1112: The Boy Friend

“She says, in the future, you can send your spirit back in time!”

It always starts with a box.

Let me try to explain. I woke you up, because you’re going to be a friend of mine someday. So I’ve opened your box, in the hope that the you of the future has projected back through time to replace the you of now. Does that make sense?

You see, what I need to do is get in touch with the you that’s going to wake up then, so we can do the stuff that you and I need to do, and when we’re done, you’ll put yourself back in the box, so that in the future, you can get out of the box again, and become the you that I know. Then maybe you can come back in time and help me explain this, because I can tell that this is not getting through.

Look, this really isn’t that difficult. Is there a supervisor around that I could talk to?

So this is what happens when you spend every day for four years writing the weirdest things you can think of. At a certain point, you accumulate so many absurdities that you start to take them for granted. Then you can pile them all up on top of each other, and pretend like there’s no such thing as gravity. This is how you end up with a Crisis on Infinite Earths, you keep doing this long enough.

Here’s mad scientist blood specialist gal pal Dr. Julia Hoffman, having traveled to 1840 by way of a magical staircase. She’s here, in the secret room of the Collins family mausoleum, because she suspects that her longtime vampire companion has probably used an ancient Chinese divination technique to send his astral body backwards in time to inhabit his own corpse.

The only part of that cockamamie concept that’s not one-hundred percent correct is that she’s a week early. Other than that, she’s spot on.

And this is always how it’s going to go, when you adopt a wild animal as a pet. I know, they look cute, but eventually it’s going to get confused about the difference between friend and food. It’s not a betrayal, it’s just the way that predators work. A housecat only looks cute because it’s smaller than you; to anything rat-size and down, your sweet little baby is a 24-hour nightmare death machine. You can even shine a laser pointer at the wall, and all of a sudden your pet wants to destroy light. The only way to survive in a hostile environment like that is to decide, once and for all, that you’re going to stay human-sized.

To be frank, Julia doesn’t have much of a chance here. The previous time Barnabas got out of the box, it took two hundred and sixty episodes before he decided that he didn’t want to kill her. That’s the all-time record.

This time around, it takes eighteen seconds from the time he opens his eyes to the time he grabs her throat. If this goes by the form book, she’s going to have to tread water for another two hundred and fifty-nine episodes before she has a chance of surviving this conversation.

“You know my secret!” he snarls. “No one must know my secret!” You can hardly blame him for being grouchy. The last thing he knew, his father was locking him away for eternity; now all of a sudden there’s tourists. Besides, he hasn’t had his coffee.

But Ben Stokes is here — faithful old Ben, who’s spent the last forty-five years growing older, as people do. He believes Julia’s story about the future, as crackpot as it clearly is, and he brings Barnabas to heel.

The vampire recognizes his retainer, and paces towards him. “How old?” he gasps, astonished. “How old?” This is not particularly tactful, but it’s been a rough evening. Besides, Ben’s heard worse.

“How long?” Barnabas urges. “How many years?”

“Mr. Barnabas, it’s — 1840,” Ben replies, and oh, the look on Barnabas’ face, it’s almost worth digging him up and letting him strangle you.

“My god!” he gasps, and looks down at his hands.

“You’re still the same,” Ben offers, and Barnabas looks up, aghast.

“The same…” Barnabas intones, and the hollowness of his voice takes you back to good old 1968, when being a vampire really was a curse, rather than a set of convenient magic powers. Jonathan Frid is playing the Barnabas who still thinks that things are partly his fault.

And look at that, for a shot. I haven’t been crazy about the direction lately, especially the misguided ultra-close-ups, but that’s a well-framed scene. People were saying that things would get better once we got to 1840, and they were right, things have.

And then twenty seconds later, Barnabas and Ben act out one of the great blocking fails of all time. I’m going to have to slow things down, in order to give you the full experience.

Ben shoos Julia out of the crypt, and then approaches Barnabas.

Barnabas has a lovely tormented close-up, as he cries, “She’ll tell my family, my father!” and the back side of Ben leans into the shot, completely obscuring his face.

Now, the cameraman knows that he can’t see Barnabas, and Barnabas knows that he can’t see the camera, so they pull back a bit, and he leans to the left to get his face in the shot.

And then Ben, trying to be helpful, leans to his right, and blocks Barnabas again.

So they cut to another camera, which is out of focus. And there you have it, the perfect scene. It’s just that easy.

Meanwhile, Ben is trying to explain Julia Hoffman, which is a challenge even in the best of circumstances.

Ben:  Mr. Barnabas, listen to me! Her story’s strange — maybe you can understand it better than I do, you always did. She said she comes from another time — the future! She says she knows ya there!

Barnabas:  You’ve gone mad, old man!

Ben:  More than a hundred years from now — someone will come, and let you out of your coffin!

Barnabas:  Ben!

Ben:  Mr. Barnabas, I believe her story! She says in the future, you can send your spirit back in time!

So how’s that, as a wake-up call? Barnabas has been out of his box for two and a half minutes, and he’s getting a sneak preview of how batshit insane his life is going to get, in the twentieth century. And H.G. Welles doesn’t even write The Time Machine until 1895; these people have no context for any of this crazy. You might as well hand him an iPhone, and tell him not to run the battery down.

But just-released Banabas doesn’t need to understand anything; he just has to feel sad and self-destructive, and then go outside and do something terrible.

“This curse,” he breathes. “This curse! I need blood! I cannot stop it!” And you know how that story goes. Barnabas is young again, and dangerous, and predictably unpredictable. Julia has loosed something upon the world that can’t be unloosed, not even with a crossbow loaded with crosses. The madness that began with Victoria Winters’ unlicensed time travel has been steadily accelerating, and there’s no way to stop it. To be honest, I don’t even want to try.

Tomorrow: The War Doctor.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

While Julia works on the last chain, the boom mic hovers overhead. You can glimpse it again as Julia leaves the secret room.

Barnabas was facing the other way when Willie opened his coffin in 1967.

Barnabas walks out of the mausoleum, and he has to brush a branch out of his way.

When Samantha’s walking in the woods, Barnabas is visible before he’s meant to be seen, which reveals the camera trick they’re about to do which will make it look like they’re shooting Barnabas from the other direction.

Just after Gabriel says, “Are you sure it was a man, Samantha?” a man walks into frame, carrying a script. They’ve been really sloppy with framing, this week.

Gabriel announces, “A woman was seen — was found, on the road near the cemetery.”

Samantha is slightly off-mic when she tells Julia, “Gabriel is the authority on the Collins family.”

There’s another boom mic sighting when Samantha offers everyone sherry. A moment later, another boom mic appears — there’s five people in the scene, and they need two mics.

When Ben opens the secret door in the mausoleum: another boom mic sighting. I don’t know what’s wrong with the boom mics this week; they’re everywhere.

When Gerard shows Julia the earring, he says, “I found this in the playroom, la — nast — the night before last.” Then he says, “This was on your dresser — one like this!”

This isn’t a blooper, more of a “fridge logic” moment: Gerard says that he brought in Julia’s luggage from town. Where does Julia get luggage from? Ben has helped her find some clothes to wear, but how many outfits can he rustle up at short notice that aren’t stolen from other people in Collinwood? She can’t wear or carry anything that someone at Collinwood might recognize, so it all has to be sourced off-property.

Tomorrow: The War Doctor.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

39 thoughts on “Episode 1112: The Boy Friend

  1. “Barnabas has been out of his box for two and a half minutes, and he’s getting a sneak preview of how batshit insane his life is going to get,,,”
    Going to get? When he was locked in his coffin George Washington was President. He gets out and the Trail of Tears is going on, along with the build up to the Civil War. The icing on the cake is this crazy woman who thinks she’s coming off the psychodelic 60’s. If i was Barnabas, i think i’d want Ben to lock me back in. lol.

  2. Barnabas on catching up with current developments gives me flashbacks to the Tim Burton film. The one where the family going mad or dead would be an improvement.

    1. Do they endure?

      Indeed.

      Unlike HODS, where as many family members as possible are killed or destroyed after same, all of the the present day Collins cast lives on, in the Burton film.
      Which includes the undead.

      That is, if you accept the premise that Angelique never married him. Just a spurned lover, a victim of playboy Barnabas, she had a grudge. Killed Joshua and Naomi.
      For fun. Laid the vampire curse. Got the townspeople all riled up, and they buried him alive in what would eventually be 20 feet of dirt. Under what would become the Collinsport MacDonald’s of 1972.

      It always starts with a box.

      But this Barnabas never goes after family for a meal, not even Willie.
      Which is plausible, since this Willie is an old man, and Barney don’t play dat.

      And Willie didn’t let him out, either.

      When they met for the first time, Barney had a full stomach, already.

      Burton let all of them live.

      Even MaggieVickiJosette.

      He had to. If he wanted a sequel.

      The question would be…….If Julia is a vampire, and Josette is a vampire, then Barney finally has real competition from that which he loves, and that which love him. And Angie’s curse lives, too. They were dead.

      It’s another Parallel Time movie…….like NODS.

      I remember writing about that one….”What were they thinking?”

      And then, I got it.

      Burton didn’t want a reboot of HODS. He didn’t even do it in the same time period.

      It was devised to ignore what had been before.

      Using familiar plot elements, he retold the story with new ones.

      I remember how bad the backlash against was against Battlestar Galactica.

      And how it became a smash, and went five years.

      Oh, wait. Five years. Familiar.

      The salient point here is, the Burton film was intended to be the

      “Not HODS.” And I wonder why people don’t see it that way.

      “I wonder wonder why the wonder falls

      I wonder why it always falls on me

      I wonder wonder why the wonder falls

      With everything I think and hear and see”…….

      Heoughmn.

      1. I can’t even remember the backlash against Battlestar Galactica because within the first year everyone knew that this would move the boundary posts of TV sci-fi, with characters whose likes we’ve still never seen. (Where are you, Katee Sackhoff?) But Tim Burton had no use for Dark Shadows as anything but a playpen. 25 years earlier, that thought would have excited me. But Burton now is both manic and exhausted and I have no idea what Johnny Depp thought he was bringing to the party. He wanted to play dress-up, I guess. In interviews, the movie cast made fun of the actors on the show. Screw them.

        1. I wasn’t a fan of the revamped “Battlestar Galactica.” (I was, however, huge on “Caprica” and was sorry it had such a short run).

          But even as someone who couldn’t get into it, I could see the gigantic jump in quality that the new “BG” brought to the original series and to sci-fi in general. It was a well-done show even if it ended up not being my cup of tea.

          I’ve often thought the Irwin Allen TV shows were ripe for “BG” style makeovers, especially “Lost in Space” and “Land of the Giants.”

          But Burton and Depp just screwed the pooch on DS. The opening scene was lovely and set you up for a melancholy, moody, serious movie. And then it would lurch to parody. Back to seriousness. It was all over the map and one hot mess.

          I think if they had gone parody all the way, it might have been OK. Not great. But OK.

          1. Nah. Once he gets out of the box, he’s thirsty, thirsty, thirsty.
            If that isn’t a setup for a vampire gag, nothing is.

            If you want to fault something, let it be leaving out characters.

            Maggie/Vicki ((which one, I dunno)).

            Jeremiah.

            Ben.

            Any doctor that Julia would like to murder.

            And, just for fun….Hortense.

          2. Omg, Caprica.

            Three times in six years. Now, it’s been almost two. And I love that it’s free from my library.

            But what resonates with me, and forgive me for not remembering names,
            But her, the actress who played the Cylon and the dead daughter, and damn, she was great, every time she was subbed out for the machine.

            She had an Internet following, and I wonder what she is doing, now.

            Damn. Got to get that again.

            1. Chris: I really got into Polly Walker’s Clarice Willow. Polly Walker also starred in “Rome,” playing another not-so-nice woman.

        2. David, I was writing about Internet forums like ours, where, for me, it was hard to believe that ANYONE could accept Lorne Greene as a scifi main character, and a main one, Adama.

          These were diehards from 1979-80, and deified the show(TOS) like we do.
          Notice, we here don’t discuss the 1991 show, (TNS), here.

          Not that there was a Lorne Greene in it.
          But what drug was that casting person on?

          For TOS.

          Now, the new show had an effing GREAT opening.

          Watch the Miniseries, and tell me that isn’t effing great. Of course,
          The rest of the five years was space opera, and couldn’t be THAT good, but just good enough.

          We don’t say that about 1991.

          1. I absolutely adored the original Battlestar Galactica, but dislike the reimagining. I believe that I gave it every chance, but I just could not stay with it. Mind you, there were individual performances that totally blew my mind. (Katee Sackhoff and James Callis should be cast in absolutely EVERYTHING.) However, I found most of it to be pretentious, masturbatory twaddle. And there are philosophical matters on which Ron Moore and I will never agree.

            So, I didn’t dislike the new series because it wasn’t the old series; I would have disliked it if it hadn’t had the same name. But I say the same thing I say whenever a remake is a deliberate rejection of the source material: if the original was so distasteful, then why associate yourself with it instead of producing your own original work? Even if you draw inspiration from a few elements of an older work but dislike the rest of it, using the title and some of the terminology just smacks of a cynical cash-grab.

            Anyway. One difficulty that kept the original series from being as polished as it could have been was the fact that after the original miniseries, they went to weekly series at the Network’s insistence a full year before they expected. So, they didn’t have any scripts in the bag and had to really scramble. So, the stories and dialogue in the middle of the season we’re literally thrown together at the last minute. Actors would get their scripts the morning of shooting, and they sometimes had to take breaks in the middle of the day to give the actors new pages and let them learn their lines before blocking. In some scenes, they would be look at it at skirts or cards hell’s just out of frame. So, a lot like the original Dark Shadows.

            (N.B. Galactica 1980 is another story. Not even the rampant handsomeness of Kent McCord and Barry van Dyke could counteract the silliness.)

            1. “But I say the same thing I say whenever a remake is a deliberate rejection of the source material: if the original was so distasteful, then why associate yourself with it instead of producing your own original work?”

              If there was a ‘like’ button, I would have pushed it several times.
              I want this phrase on a t-shirt, but it’s probably too long… 😉

          1. Katee.

            Also Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer, the latter saying, “I’m doing these because I need work right now, and no prospects are looming.”

            You get a sit-down conversation and autographed picture for like 20 bucks, sometimes a lot more. Nice work, if you can get it. I guess DS stars did the same thing, but I’ve never been to one of those. Just seen the panel of 12 or so, on the DVD.

            “There’s so MANY of you.”

            Well. How many?

  3. she had a grudge. Killed Joshua and Naomi.

    And the dog they were walking with at the time. If I were Barnabas, that would really piss me off.

  4. Let’s remember that the blocking fail is because the show has become dramatic again instead of people sitting around reading old books. So yes, a perfect Dark Shadows scene–mistimed, over-ambitious, and with intended and unintended sources of suspense.

    1. Before dress rehearsal, there are 2.5 hours devoted to “Camera Blocking & Run Through” — so it seems one of the actors stepped off their mark, most likely Thayer David by the look of the sequences shown above.

  5. The heart of DARK SHADOWS in so many ways is Grayson Hall. Julia escalated the tension and drove the original vampire story, which would have sputtered to a boring conclusion without her. And during parts of Adam/Eve and Leviathan, she’s more of an active protagonist than Barnabas.

    And here we have her again — doing things,advancing the plot. In the days of Rey in STAR WARS, we perhaps take for granted what it means to have a strong female lead, especially in genre shows of this period. Yes, there’s Emma Peel but Julia isn’t in her late 20s and wearing cat suits.

  6. This is one of those times when I wonder what it was actually like for Barnabas being chained up all those years. He’s dead, but not really. As soon as you open the box, he awakens. And what about the cross that Joshua ordered Ben to affix to the inside lid, to keep him immobile? It isn’t there. Might he have just awakened with nightfall but unable to move, until he would die to himself again and again with each new dawn? The way Petofi had him chained up in 1897 would seem to suggest it. But the Barnabas that awakens in 1840 seems to have no sense of time. He has just awakened like 1795 or 1796 — and not 1797 🙂 — was only a moment ago.

    And how compelling the scene is in such a hard-hitting, personal way for Julia especially — two good friends meeting again, as strangers.

    1. I had that same thought – is time suspended for Barnabas while he’s in the coffin? Kind of like suspended animation? He needs to stop whining about it so much if he can jump out of the box with no memory of having been trapped there for 5 minutes, much less 40 years.

      1. I’m surprised he didn’t think Julia was Natalie DuPres when he gets out of the coffin. It’s too bad we never got his reaction after being released by Willie in 1967. That would made some great scenes. He arrived at Collinwood with no surprise at the modern world at all.

        1. That’s in the Tim Burton film, where he thought McDonalds was demonic, the box contained a tiny songstress and was mesmerised by Carolyn’s lava lamp. He also thought Alice Cooper was a woman, the ugliest one he’s ever seen.

            1. Too strung out after the involuntary blood donation. Begs the question of where he got the 20th century clothes. Maybe he got the history lesson from the caretaker. Imagine if Barnabas woke up in 2017. He’d be wondering why Willie is glad he’s not sparkling and why on Earth some orange moron is in charge.

              1. Yes, isn’t it just the next night that Barnabas arrives at Collinwood for the first time? Willie likely broke into the mausoleum after midnight so it’s not like he was able to acquire any clothes for Barnabas then. And Barnabas was back in the coffin the next morning. Did Willie just get his measurements and find a suit for him during the day? And it’s unlikely such a nice suit could be easily acquired in a fishing village like Collinsport. (I imagine the few rich people shopped in Boston.)

            2. Willie’s field of expertise wasn’t history, unfortunately. More like it, Willie did a B & E at the local library and stole some recent magazines and newspapers for Barnabas to study up on. Luckily, Collinsport’s modern conveniences in the mid-60’s weren’t that hard to grasp – electricity and automobiles being the biggest changes. Barnabas got schooled on modern medical technology later – by Dr. Hoffman.

              1. Willie may not have been book smart, but he had the street smarts department covered. And it wasn’t so much history that Barnabas needed to know in those first few days as it was current events.

                By the time he established himself as Cousin Barnabas, he was in a position to read history books for himself.

      2. I presume Barnabas was “frozen,” unaware of the passage of time, until the coffin lid was opened by Willie. Joshua comments on how with the cross over the lid, Barnabas “can’t move.” I interpret that as meaning he’s essentially in suspended animation, as I think Joshua chose not to shoot Barnabas out of compassion not cowardice: In other words, if chaining him up would be essentially slow torture, he never would have done it.

  7. I go with asleep.

    Alive.

    But sleeping.

    That is how it is played, and alive til sunset.

    Then dead, but awake, til dawn.

    Because, if you don’t move when you sleep, you don’t stink.

    That’s a good thing.

  8. Barnabas told Julia to take the stairs and he will soon follow. Shouldn’t that have been her first thought? Would have made it easier to keep 1840 Barnabas in his chained coffin.

  9. Julia tells him about the future but it makes no sense to him. But when Angelique appeared to Quinten and Even she seemed to know about other times, because, I ask e she was in the 17, 18 and 19 hundreds. So regardless what time it was. now, she had been to the other times.

  10. I think it’s in Angelique’s next appearance coming up, when Julia tells her that she exists in 1970, that she’s very surprised. And when she and Lazlo come to the secret room to check on chained Barnabas, she hasn’t been to the future. So, I think that the one anomaly with Quentin and Evan is writer’s fancy.

    I mean, it’s a fun concept. I like it much. But it doesn’t happen that way in other timelines, so I bet that the writers abandoned the concept for continuity’s sake, making it easier to write her.

    What a pain it would be, whenever she shows up, to have to refer to her 1897 dialogue in order to keep the story straight.

    It would be interesting if she references Vicki’s trial here, but I don’t think they did that, either.

    Or if she references her own death by Barnabas’ hand when she became the first victim of her own curse….maybe they did that, but I don’t remember her explaining why she’s alive now, or where she’s been since 1795, or how many times she died, or even what happens when she dies.

    A maid for Diablos.

    That’s a title for the third Curtis movie.

    Not sure if she’s still dead at the end of the second one.

    She could be commuting.

    Which explains everything.

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