Episode 1134/1135: The Graveyard Smash

“We cannot succeed without it, because without it he cannot live!”

You know, she’s done amazing things in the past, but now she’s even more in the past, and look what she can do. Displaced medico Julia Hoffman, thrust by circumstance into a time not yet her own, has assembled — in the middle of the night, in the middle of a graveyard, and in the middle of the nineteenth century — a pop-up artisanal mad scientist coworking space with all the trimmings, including assorted glassware lashed into an impromptu apparatus with bubbling liquids of uncertain purpose, along with tables and lamps and switches and samovars and who knows what-all.

She’s even got things wired up with electricity somehow, with a good old-fashioned Jacob’s ladder spark gap buzzing away in the corner, in case the Nobel committee comes by and she needs to science the place up a little.

She’s in a secret underground crypt, by the way, built by ignorant and superstitious villagers a hundred and fifty years ago as a long-term radioactive-waste storage facility, so they would have a place to put decapitated wizards that they weren’t using anymore. It wasn’t zoned for whatever the hell this is, so Julia’s technically a squatter, and she couldn’t hire anybody to help her drag the enormous Frankenstein-size slab through the narrow trap door beneath the unmarked grave, and down the winding stairs to this busted basement. And yet she did it somehow, in absolute silence and secrecy, all on her own. It’s incredible what you can do, when someone else puts your mind to it.

“Look at all the work you’ve done!” says Leticia the lab assistant, who went downtown to pick up a few things. “And in such a short time, too!” I guess that’s a lampshade moment, where they acknowledge the impossibility of what we’re looking at, and then hang a lampshade over it in the hopes that we’ll forget about it, which I haven’t and don’t think I ever will. Then Leticia looks up and observes the enormous full-length mirror suspended over the operating theater, and asks, “What’s the mirror for?”

“Oh, it reflects more light,” says the doctor, because she conjures up elaborate pulley systems all the time, and it’s not that big of a deal. This is Julia Hoffman, the modern Prometheus, who’s stolen fire from the gods so often that they don’t even bother to ask for it back anymore. She was building Frankensteins on the regular all the way through 1968.

So it’s a lucky break for the legendary head of the warlock Judah Zachery, who’s the fellow in the glass case on the credenza. He wants to reunite with the rest of his body, which is now waiting patiently on the operating table. If Julia hadn’t come along by happenstance and gotten herself hypnotized into helping, then the L.H. of J.Z. would have had to find somebody else who’d spent the last several years participating in mash-up pastiches of two-thirds of the Universal Monsters films, and it would be ages before Abbott and Costello were even born.

“You’re a sorceress, that’s what you are, a sorceress!” Leticia gushes in admiration. “You could make a fortune in the music halls, you know that?” Leticia is a cockney stage performer with actual psychic powers, which is another one of those outre elements that makes watching Dark Shadows such an aerobic activity.

“Where are the medical instruments?” asks Julia.

“Oh, now, I meant to tell you about that,” Leticia coos. “There’s a very nice young man who’s going to bring them to Rose Cottage. There’s no need to worry, though, because he won’t ask any questions. I made sure of that.”

“How?”

“Well, I gave him my nicest smile, and said I was Dr. Collins’ assistant,” Leticia giggles. “And I said that if he ever got sick, I’d take good care of him, you know what I mean?”

But Julia has no time for twinkling eccentrics. “You’ve got to go immediately, and bring those surgical instruments,” she says. “And hurry back, because I’ve got to go to Collinwood, before Barnabas starts wondering about where I am.” And the audience says, wait, you’ve done all of this before Barnabas even noticed you were out for the evening?

And thank goodness we have Julia right now, bending time and space by moonlight, because she and Gerard are the only two characters who can actually get anything done. Everybody else in this storyline spends their time writing and receiving correspondence, or jotting things down in other people’s handwriting, or taking forever to decide that they don’t want to be married anymore.

There was a plotline about an inheritance in there somewhere, but the dying old man just gradually stopped dying, did anyone else notice that? They made a big deal about how mad old Daniel needed to be locked up in the attic for his own safety, but then they started allowing him to go downstairs on special occasions, and now he just walks in and out of the drawing room on his own recognizance, any time he likes. I remember the days when a dying old relation would actually go ahead and die, so we could play hide-and-seek with the forged will for a few days, and then wrap up that plot point and move on. There’s too much leisure time in this storyline; I want people to show up for work once in a while, and murder somebody.

So that’s why we need characters like Gerard and Julia, impostors who know what they want and take action to get it, even if they’ve been hypnotized by malefactors. Julia’s actually more effective as Judah Zachery’s personal physician than she was as an undercover time cop, so she can keep going like this for as long as she likes.

At least, she can if it means she can also take a break once in a while for a diva battle with an arch enemy. The similarly situated sorceress Angelique — out of time, and under a false name — has insinuated herself into society on the great estate by telling everyone that she’s Barnabas Collins’ wife, which she technically is, although the statute of limitations may have run out after they were both killed several times over the last several centuries.

Finding that Julia is also purporting a family relationship with Barnabas, Angelique is determined to discover who this interloper really is, even if she has to spring a pop quiz on her in an easily eavesdroppable location like the Collinwood foyer.

Angelique:  I was wondering, Julia — you don’t mind if I call you Julia, do you?

Julia:  Oh, no, not at all.

Angelique:  Is it possible that we could have met before the other evening?

Julia:  I don’t think so, why?

Angelique:  Well, because I had the feeling that you knew who I was, before Barnabas said my name. That perhaps we had met somewhere, in some other time.

Julia:  Barnabas had told me about you.

Angelique:  Really? How much has he told you about me?

Julia:  I’m afraid I don’t really remember, it’s all so long ago.

So that’s professional level mendacity, delivered with the chilled-steel confidence of someone who’s been lying nonstop since a hundred and twenty-seven years from now. And she does this while hypnotized, backwards and in high heels. It’s unreal.

Angelique:  Oh, yes, it’s been ten years since you’ve seen each other, hasn’t it? What a marvelous story. Don’t look offended, dear sister-in-law. I simply wanted you to know that I know you are no more Barnabas’ sister than I am. The intriguing question is, who are you — and what are you to him?

Julia:  I am devoted to him. You may interpret that any way you like.

And then she turns around and does the same thing in the other direction, literally twenty seconds later.

Julia’s got to leave the house again with her medical bag, to scurry back to her monstrous crimes against God and nature. I have to give this conversation to you in full as well, just to highlight how many easily falsifiable statements Julia can say in succession, without breaking a sweat.

Barnabas:  You’re not leaving the house, are you?

Julia:  Yes, I’m afraid I must.

Barnabas:  Where are you going?

Julia:  I’m going to Rose Cottage, I promised Flora I’d stop by and get a copy of her new book.

Barnabas:  With your medical bag?

Julia:  I thought I’d stop and see Roxanne on the way. Perhaps I can do something.

Barnabas:  Oh, that’s a good idea. She should be recovered by now, but come back and tell me if she isn’t.

Julia:  Of course.

Barnabas:  Oh, wait — I’d better go with you. It’s late.

Julia:  No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. If Angelique saw us, she would misunderstand.

Barnabas:  But you cannot go out there at this hour!

Julia:  Well, I’ll stop at the servants’ quarters, and get one of them to go with me.

Barnabas:  Very well, but make sure he stays with you!

Julia:  Yes, that’s a good idea. I will. Good night.

So that’s at least three people — Flora, Roxanne, and basically any servant — who will not be able to corroborate Julia’s story later, and she is entirely unbothered. Julia brings dead people back to life with lightning.

So this is what we’ll miss, when it’s gone, this triple agent and all-purpose plot driver who can do anything she wants. The overall story structure is a fractured mess right now, with at least a half-dozen main characters who have absolutely no connection to any relevant story thread — Daniel, Edith, Flora, Desmond, Tad and Carrie, if you’re wondering — as the real action is being directed by a decapitated head in a glass box.

But we still have Julia Hoffman, redecorating, anachronizing and scattering lies in all directions. The experiment fails in this episode, but only in a dream; the real Julia is actually going to pull off this nonsensical achievement sometime next week.

“There’s going to be an electrical storm tonight,” she tells her assistant. “We must use the lightning.” She’s going to save this show, if she can, or go down swinging.

Monday: Waiting for the Storm.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, Angelique asks Barnabas, “Why don’t you want her to live?” Then she reconsiders, and says, “Why do you want her to live?”

In act 1, Angelique tells Barnabas, “I want… what I know that I will get.” Barnabas asks if he can talk to Roxanne, and Angelique laughs, “I’ve known you a long time, Barnabas. You’ve double-crossed me more than once.” Then her eyes flick to the teleprompter, and she adds, “Betrayed me.”

When Angelique picks up the quill pen, someone’s shadow passes by behind her.

When Leticia asks what the mirror in the crypt is for, you can see one of the stage lights.

I cleaned up this quote above, but Julia actually says, “And hurry back, because I’ve got to go to Collinwood, because before Barnabas starts wondering about where I am.”

Gerard tells Leticia, “My plane — plans have changed here at Collinwood.”

When Barnabas walks across the drawing room to pick up the quill pen, a boom mic is visible overhead.

When Angelique asks Julia if they’d met before, Julia starts to say a line too early, and gets cut off.

Monday: Waiting for the Storm.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

29 thoughts on “Episode 1134/1135: The Graveyard Smash

  1. Welcome back, Danny!!! As you may have noticed from the final comments near the end of the previous blog post 1133 “Low Clearance” (posted April 8, 2018), folks here on this blog missed you. Some even began to think the worst, i.e. that you might have been attacked in the woods by some kind of wild animal … or by a roaming body with no head!

    1. Yeah, I’m sorry for the ridiculous wait between posts here. The worst has not and will not happen; my job has just gotten way busier and hours got longer. It’s a good thing, it’s my choice and I’m happy about it, but obviously I’m not crazy about the impact on my beloved blog. But I love you all and I am definitely getting to 1245.

      1. Danny — as long as you are happy and thriving (and busy), all is good. I’m glad you’re going to 1245, but if you didn’t write another word, you’ve made the DS journey these past few years so much more interesting and rich. (Along with your fabulous crew of followers).

  2. Ditto welcome back. I see your vacation has not dimmed your appreciation of farce, which this is, albeit slowed down and without the inner logic of Feydeau or Cleese. One of the Angelique bloopers above is quite telling. Double-cross and betray are the same thing. She has gotten over the point of the line. But she is playing off Frida, and by this point in the show she understands that if she doesn’t use the word “betray”–part of his cue–that she’ll probably flummox him. It’s probably unconscious but it adds to my feeling that actors are more tense with Frid. They can’t “play” with him in the same way they can when Karlen or Barrett or Edmonds are just rolling along, adjusting on the fly.

  3. Incidentally, I bought a book last week called Monster Mash that’s a sort of scrapbook of the era that gave us DS, with a small portion devoted to the show. It covers the movies, the novelty songs, the magazines, the illustrators, the Aurora models, the comic books, the other TV shows (Addams Family, Outer Limits, Munsters) and all the pre-home-video bric-a-brac that made life for adolescent monster geeks back then so wondrous. Great illustrations. Highly recommended for those who want to re-live it or just get a taste of the period.

    1. This title of this blog entry “Graveyard Smash” calls to mind the lyric of Bobby Pickett’s famous song “Monster Mash” (1962) with Pickett singing in his very best Boris Karloff voice. So, I just couldn’t resist posting:

  4. With Barnabas mired in yet another hopeless love triangle, one with whom Jonathan Frid has no discernable chemistry (Donna Wandrey) and one with whom there appears to exist a natural chemistry (Lara Parker), I wish to recognize the point made in earlier posts regarding Frid’s evident sexuality.

    As you may recall, in the voluminous comments on this topic, I chose to take a neutral stance, preferring instead to be presented with definitive proof in favor of just an assumption — as a hetero male, the concept of “gaydar” is lost on me. 🙂

    Since then, I have found what I can regard as the proof I felt was lacking some months ago when this was being discussed here.

    Over the last year or so I’ve been listening really closely to Dark Shadows episodes. Regarding offstage mumblings, sometimes you hear things really clearly, like someone speaking in the production area. Sometimes voices heard in the broadcast besides the ones being taped from the soundstage are less obvious, but if you train your ear to these peripheral sounds you find that most of these are coming through the control room microphone, usually director Lela Swift and executive producer Dan Curtis. Other times actors can be heard in various parts of the studio engaging in “back stairs” gossip, their voices unknowingly being picked up by the boom microphones and sent by telephone wire to be recorded by the tape machines in another ABC building several blocks away.

    During the taping of the episodes numbering in the 210s and 220s especially, Jonathan Frid was quite the topic of offstage discussion among cast and crew alike.

    Joan Bennett seemed to resent Frid at first, feeling that she was being overshadowed by the vampire story. During the taping of one episode (it’s during one of the scenes at the Old House), you can hear her from somewhere offstage consulting with Alexandra Moltke:

    Joan Bennett: This vampire story means that you and I will no longer be the stars. Do you like Jonathan Frid?
    Alexandra Moltke: Oh, yes. He’s very nice. A perfect gentleman.

    Lela Swift especially was, on a daily basis, quite vocal in her protests to Dan Curtis. She didn’t think a vampire story was good for a soap opera, and in Frid’s first couple of episodes she complained that he was messing up lines; she was also critical over his onscreen presence, stating that he seemed too aloof in the role. In episode 214, where Barnabas and Roger Collins are having their first one-on-one discussion in the Collinwood study, in defense of Frid Dan Curtis observes that he’s very good in his scenes with Louis Edmonds. Lela agrees, but only through the use of a backhanded compliment: “Well of course. They’re both gay men. They’re probably attracted to each other.”

    After two or three weeks of Lela’s constant complaining, John Karlen finally got fed up. Toward the end of one episode, after finishing his scenes for the day, he stormed into the control room and complained (most likely to Dan Curtis): “Now Lela’s been saying some rotten things in the studio about Jonathan, and I want it to stop! I don’t care if he’s gay! I like working with Jonathan. This plotline is giving me great opportunities for me to explore my range.”

    Not long after, Dan gave Lela a little vacation along with an ultimatum, advising her that she had to be behind him in this new vampire story, if she wanted to continue on as the director of Dark Shadows.

    Then there’s that episode where Maggie drops her father off at the Old House for the first time, so that Sam can begin work on the portrait of Barnabas. After exiting the set, you can hear Kathryn Leigh Scott commenting to someone offstage: “I like Jonathan Frid. You know, I think I could really go for him. Too bad he’s gay.”

    So, I must concede the point and revise my argument accordingly. It was known among Frid’s colleagues on Dark Shadows, and during his first few weeks on the show was spoken of in the television studio by both cast and crew.
    .

    1. This post is like a sequel to THE CONVERSATION with Gene Hackman becoming obsessed with a 1960s vampire show.

    2. How could that possibly be true? I’ve never heard anything like that. I’m not doubting you, just amazed that you were able to pick things up. Do you have any specific episode numbers/scenes to listen to?

    3. The more one listens, the more one hears.🙂
      Great work, PotN! Guess we have our ‘proof’ now. And it makes perfect sense that it happened on “The Dan And Lela Show”…

    4. Thanks for sharing that Prisoner. I’m so glad John Karlen went after Lela. It was high time somebody did.

  5. How did Julia get all that bulky lab equipment through the tiny trap door and down the winding stairs, you ask?

    Through the holes in the plot, of course!! 😜

      1. Nonsense! The Collinsport Bait & Tackle Shoppe stocks a full range of products for crazy experiments, and the mirror was from an Ohrbach’s floor display. All the electrical equipment was in her purse (just never know when she might need to put a few thousand volts into a corpse).

        How must she have paid for it though? Don’t think they’ve invented credit cards yet. 😉

  6. Anyone else wonder why there is a mechanism INSIDE the crypt that opens the entry? Wasn’t the point of this chamber to lock away the warlock’s eeeevil forever? (And operating table be damned, how did Julia get that enormous MIRROR down there and hoist it to the ceiling without any help? Guess she really IS a sorceress…)

    1. It must be the same mechanism that operates the panel that opens into the secret room in the Collins mausoleum.

    2. There’s only one possible answer – Judah’s body dragged all the Mad Science stuff down into the crypt. Bet that would have been fun to watch! Julia and the Head would have been making significant, frustrated eye contact as if to say, can you BELIEVE how long this is taking??

    3. She took Quentin’s staircase to 2018. Amazon delivered and installed the mirror but she to join Prime.

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