Episode 1137: It’s Alive, Sort Of

“The underground vault below the unmarked tomb, of course!”

Lightning flashes, thunder crashes, the hunchback turns the wheel that pulls the pulley that hoists the creature to the rafters. The set explodes in enthusiastic bursts of galvanic excess. The crazed doctor squints as he peers at the ceiling, waiting for the moment when all the power of God’s creation will be at his disposal. More sparks, more zaps, and all of nature cries out — in exaltation or disgust, I know not which — as the operating table winds its way back down, to rest again on the floor.

The doctor rushes forward, craning his neck to catch even the mildest suspicion of success, hardly daring to hope, and there — in direct defiance of all the laws of God and nature — the dead man’s fingers shudder — twitch — and a pale hand rises from the resting position.

“Look!” the doctor gasps. “It’s moving! It’s — alive! It’s ALIVE!” And then the monster gets up, maybe thirty to forty minutes later.

I mean, you can’t blame me for being a little disappointed. At the conclusion of yesterday’s episode, mad medico Julia Hoffman applied her stethoscope to the chest of the dead wizard that she’d sewn back together and infused with electricity and announced, “His heart is beating. Judah Zachery is alive!” Which is fine, except that he is clearly no such thing.

Because Leticia takes the mask off his face, and the guy just keeps on lying there with his eyes closed. He doesn’t rise, he doesn’t speak, he doesn’t clench his fist and curse the Collins name, he doesn’t do anything. Judah Zachery has been decapitated and inert since 1692, and now we’ve gone to all this trouble, and he’s still smacking the snooze button. I’ve never seen such a lazy villain. Get up already! You’re missing the best part of the day.

So if I’m disappointed, I can only imagine the letdown that you’d feel if you betrayed your friends and surrendered your immortal soul in order to shock some life into this monstrosity, and then he just lies there and doesn’t consume the world in blood and fire to any visible degree. Julia’s worked hard on this project, and she deserves a little appreciation from upper management.

“All the vital organs are just barely functioning,” she announces to Leticia, speaking in a hushed whisper as if she’s afraid of waking the guy up. “We must be very careful. If everything continues to function, then the body will be alive.” This is not the rocket sled to suspense that the audience was banking on.

I mean, who brings a Frankenstein to life and then says “we must be very careful”? That’s completely backwards; if you were a careful kind of person, you wouldn’t be underneath a  graveyard in the middle of an electrical storm, trying to resurrect a loaded warlock. This is a non-careful type situation.

And what do you mean, “if everything continues to function”? The guy’s not currently moving, or doing anything. Are you saying that the current options are this, and even less alive than this? Dear lord. When he necromanced his way into your dreams and said that he wanted you to bring him back to life, he should have been more specific.

“And what do we do now?” asks Leticia, breathless.

“We just keep watching,” Julia says. “And checking his pulse and his heartbeat to see that there’s no change.” Yeah, a change would be awful, we wouldn’t want that. We’re perfectly happy with this scheming supervillain where you have to stop by every once in a while to make sure he still has a pulse.

Leticia has further questions. “How long will he stay like this?”

Julia says, “From what I can tell of his body, probably all through the night, in any case.” And then she turns around and walks away, mission accomplished.

Now, I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and the rest of the world, but I don’t think I’m ready for a Frankenstein story where even the mad scientist gets bored, and starts doing paperwork. They keep the terrible Dead of Night music going, by the way, despite the fact that literally nothing is happening; it’s just on endless repeat, in the crypt’s CD player.

So there’s a metaphor, if you need one, for the state of the storyline. Everybody’s been circling for weeks around this weapon of misdestruction — Julia, Leticia, Gerard, Desmond — all of them drawn inexorably into the web of a purported character who at the moment is essentially a pantomime horse. Look at all the trouble and expense they’re going to, to turn this chunk of horsehair into a cosmos-killing supervillain.

And honestly, if we stop checking his pulse for a while and just let him gradually slip into oblivion, would it make that much of a difference? We already have Gerard, who’s apparently an evil pirate-sorceror with an undead zombie crew lying under three-quarters of an inch of loose topsoil, just waiting for the go signal. Or at least I thought we had that, it was a hundred and thirty years from now so I might have some of the details mixed up.

“I want to prepare another injection,” Julia says, “just in case we need it later.” This is another hallmark of literature’s great horror stories, people preparing extra things just in case. “Will you get the adrenaline?”

“The adrenaline?” asks Leticia the lab tech.

“Yes, it’s over there, in a bottle. It’s orange.”

So Leticia goes over there, finds the orange liquid, and promptly drops it on the floor, smashing the bottle and scattering the adrenaline every which way.

“Oh, what are we going to do?” Leticia wails.

Julia shakes her head, and sighs. “Well, I have some more adrenaline at Collinwood, I’ll have to go and get it.” So at this point, the metaphors are just piling up in heaps.

While the doctor’s out of the room, Leticia gets acquainted with the legendary wrist of Judah Zachery, but she doesn’t seem to like it much.

“He’s getting weaker!” she wails, in the direction of the fourth wall. “I must be doing something all wrong!” I’m not sure how taking somebody’s pulse could possibly be disastrous, but what do I know, I don’t even have a spare bottle of adrenaline.

“Oh, Julia, where are you, why don’t you come back?” Leticia cries, and then rests her ear on Judah’s chest for a moment, which is apparently a substitute for stethoscopes. “Oh, please, God!” she gasps. “His heart is almost stopped!” She’s looking in the wrong direction for assistance; I don’t think God is taking calls on this topic.

Leticia decides to put the electrically-charged gold lamé mask on top of Judah’s face, but this crisis is so desperate that not even fashion can help. So she does what anyone would do in this situation; she dashes out of the crypt and runs away, never to return.

So it’s up to Gerard the rascally pirate king, as usual, to rouse the show out of its slumbers and get things rolling again. He snatched the address of this makeshift emergency room from someone else’s little black book, and he finds the expired wizard lying on the table, asymptotically approaching death. Here he is, Gerard, the living injection of adrenaline that we’ve been waiting for.

Somewhere up in the sky, the lightning breaks loose again, sending an extra jolt of juice down the wires and directly into Judah’s core processor. The body bucks and jerks, but Gerard doesn’t care; he’s only got eyes for the gold. You have to expect that from pirates, they’re all about the booty.

But that’s the last straw for Judah Z; today is his rebirthday, and he’s not going to let some interloper walk in and rifle through his presents. He stirs, he wakes, he walks, and he’s unhappy.

Naturally, the room catches on fire. It’s not clear how that works, it seems like Gerard just bumps into something, and the world explodes into flame. But Gerard has a talent for setting other people’s property on fire; that’s kind of his party trick.

And how could this mad experiment end, except to go up in smoke, and down in flames? It was never that good of an idea in the first place, spending weeks and weeks trying to get everyone to fear a South Seas souvenir. Maybe it’s better to let Gerard do what he does best, burn it all down and start again. The smoke rises and the monster coughs, and Gerard slips away into the night, as Judah’s head falls off and rolls into the corner. Honestly, I don’t know why we even try.

Tomorrow: The Trouble with Tulips.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

The opening narration describes Judah Zachery as “a man decapitated for witchcraft in the year 1592.” It was actually 1692.

At the beginning of act 1, when Julia listens for Judah’s heartbeat, the camera pans up to the large overhead mirror, revealing the boom mic at top right.

Gerard has a little trouble closing the door after Daphne comes in.

Daphne tells Gerard, “I got the back issues for them — for him, and he read them for a moment, then he signed for them.”

Gerard tells Barnabas, “Well, as far as I know, I haven’t seen your sister at all.” Barnabas says that he doesn’t understand, and Gerard replies, “Well, Flora left for Boston earlier this evening, and — I told you, I… I haven’t seen your sister at all.”

When Julia returns to Collinwood, she and Daphne act like they haven’t seen each other since before Daphne accepted the post of governess at Collinwood. Daphne’s been in the house for a week, and she’s perfectly familiar with Barnabas, so it’s odd that she hasn’t run into Julia until now. On the other hand, Julia’s been busy in her mad science lab, so I suppose it’s possible.

Not necessarily a blooper, but a curiosity at least: Gerard reads in Judah Zachery’s jounral about Desmond following Otis Greene’s clues to the unmarked tomb. Desmond did occasionally speak and write as if he were Judah, but why would he write all that down, and in the middle of Judah’s journal?

In the final scene, Laura Murdoch Radcliff’s gravestone can be seen — but that incarnation of Laura was born in 1840 and burned in 1867, as we learned back in October 1967, when Joe, Frank and Dr Guthrie dug up the grave and found an empty coffin.

Michael McGuire is credited as “The Head”, rather than Judah Zachery.

Tomorrow: The Trouble with Tulips.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

33 thoughts on “Episode 1137: It’s Alive, Sort Of

  1. Well there it is in a nutshell. The incompatibility of horror and soap opera. The former is about building and building to an explosion/catharsis. The latter is hurry up and wait. It’s alive alive alive followed by half an hour of worrying by the body is the reductio ad absurdum. (That said, it took the Frankenstein Monster awhile to get up and attack people but once he did he was up, baby.)

  2. The problem is that they jumped stories from “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” to “Frankenstein.” In “The Thing That Couldn’t Die,” the headless body stands up as soon as it’s found and when the “living head” is placed on the body by one of the head’s possessed servants moments later the body and head immediately fuse into Gideon Drew, alive and still hellbent on his wicked ways. There’s no need to revive anything.

  3. The scene with Gerard and Judah Zachery always amuses me.

    The head and body have been separated some 140 years.

    For all intents the man/warlock has been inert, asleep, dead all this time.

    The first thing he does when he opens his eyes and gets back up on his feet is attempt to kill someone.

    You’d think he’d at least want a cup of coffee first.

    Maybe some bacon and eggs to get his strength back?

    He’s just had a major operation.

    Those lightning bolts must pack more get up and go then a whole box of Monster Energy.

    Oh, if I remember correctly, Desmond starting writing in Judah Zachery’s journal while possessed, as a means of bringing an unfinished work/account to fruition, or something.

  4. Michael McGuire wasn’t the only bald Frankenstein monster. Just the first. I can recall one other.

    When I look at the 6th blog photo — of Judah Zachery lying there with Leticia holding his hand — I see his bald pate with a little hair around the edges. A mere 3 years after this, Mel Brooks created another Frankenstein monster with receded hairline. Michael McGuire’s hairdo looks basically the same as that of Mel Brooks’ bald Frankenstein monster played of course by Peter Boyle in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974).

    Question: Why couldn’t the writers of DS have included a lively song-and-dance number for McGuire, Nancy Barrett, and Grayson Hall to sing as the monster awakens? …

    I hear Judah Zachery singing, “I wanna kill someone” to the tune of Pansy Faye’s “I wanna dance with you” …

  5. Wait a minute, let me get this straight. Julia has an extra bottle of adrenaline over at Collinwood? And it’s orange? Kind of like Tang? This woman is incredible. I don’t claim any great knowledge in this area, but were drug companies bottling adrenaline in 1840? (Not that facts ever stopped a DS storyline.)

    1. It’s just an excuse to get Julia back to Collinwood for another scene with Barnabas.

      I don’t recall that she even had her doctor’s bag with her when she went up and down that stairway through time to get to 1840.

      Then there’s the matter of why Barnabas traveled to 1840 — because she saw Julia’s grave there.

      But how could Julia have died, when she didn’t even have a counterpart in the past? Remember in 1897 how she couldn’t die by the bullet from the gun Aristede set up? Because she wasn’t really flesh and blood, but instead just an astral projection from the future?

      1. Prisoner, I think the reason that Julia COULD die in 1840 was because she wasn’t just an astral projection this time around – her body also transcended time and space. In 1897, she used the I ching to travel there, and with that mode of time travel, one’s body stayed in the “present” time but one’s spirit was an astral projection.

        1. Yes, but even that rule seems to have changed. Didn’t Barnabas say that he used Eliot’s I Ching wands to get to 1840? Because in 1841 [SPOILER ALERT], when Barnabas, Julia, and Stokes return to the present, they all ascend the stairway together.

          Furthermore, when Barnabas I Chings himself to 1840, he just seems to replace, absorb, his former 1795 self, meaning that there was nothing remaining in 1967 for Willie Loomis to find, because Barnabas just boomerangs his way to 1971. That means Julia and Barnabas, and as a result Stokes as well, never even met. The circumstances for these events had been erased.

          Everything that happened in Dark Shadows never really happened, was all negated by the gaps in story and detail left by 1840.

          All that’s left is what Dan Curtis dreamed into existence about a governess on a train in search of her past, a hungry man returning to Collinsport in search of revenge against the family who railroaded him to prison, and a seafaring man named Jason in search of a warm fire and a full glass of brandy, and whatever else his blackmailing scheme can get him.

          There was no vampire at Collinwood. Carolyn and Joe married and soon had three children. After Jason McGuire was run out of Collinwood following the sudden, tragic death of Roger, Elizabeth Stoddard was able to at last leave Collinwood and resume a normal active life, taking the office at the cannery where Roger used to work. David went on to college in Boston. Despite that her services were no longer needed, Victoria Winters stayed on at Collinwood, having become a recluse and refusing ever to leave the grounds, just waiting endlessly in the hope that her father B. Hanscombe might one day return. Burke Devlin kept his rooms on the top floor of the Collinsport Inn, eventually making them his base of business operations. The food in the Collinsport Inn diner was simply too good to pack up and move away from. You get the best clam chowder in the world in Collinsport, and with a Silent Susie or two to serve it, why go anyplace else?

              1. @priz – I suspect “Fort Wayne” may be a reference to the Fort Wayne, Indiana, location chosen as a stop on the Barnabas Collins publicity tour, which Frid was obligated to do, though he quite disliked doing such appearances. At the Fort Wayne hubbub, 58 kids got separated from their parents and became lost in the crowd.

                1. Ah, I see. Well if there’s only 11 mothers and 58 children, then no wonder they got lost! Too many children to keep track of. I suspect they got swept up in the space/time continuum and were taken care of in the Hammond Foundling Home for little wanderers, until they finally made their way to Collinsport to be used as extras in the Blue Whale, the Collinsport Inn restaurant, and the Bangor Pine Hotel — I think one of them, Harvey Keitel, managed to break out and make it on his own. The other 57, who knows? 🙂

          1. Barnabas used the I Ching to get to 1897 but at least there’s a way to explain him being back in the chained coffin at the end of 1897 by his present time body arriving in 1897 and sending the 1897 Barnabas back to his chained coffin. With no Adam, he’s a vampire again.

            1840 is tricky as I see it as a parallel time though others don’t, for those who don’t, here’s my idea, similar to above:

            SPOILERS BELOW!!

            Angelique decides to remove the curse from Barnabas, he gives her an explanation about the I Ching, so she has him do the I Ching and throws the wands off the table (like Edward did in 1897 and Barnabas had to replicate this in 1840.)
            Present time body arrives in 1840 and the 1840 Barnabas is sent back to the chained coffin. It is then she cures Barnabas. Now, he can return via the staircase as he is in 1840 complete.
            I Ching resets everything to the way it was, which is why the chained coffin and Barnabas’ body arrive at the same time.

            1. I had a similar idea:
              Barnabas projected to 1840 with I Ching, his body remaining in 1970. He inhabited the 1840 version of himself, and when he returned via the Staircase, the 1840 body was returned to its start point in the chained coffin by use of mumbo-jumbo doubletalk, and his astral self returned to its 1970 body.

      2. re: Eagle Hill Cemetery

        Given the number of ‘clerical issues’ and outright Satanic goings-on in that graveyard, perhaps Julia’s headstone was erected prematurely when she arrived. The logic being that you gotta go sometime, best to be prepared? (It would explain Laura’s marker being put in as well.)

    2. Adrenaline wasn’t first isolated until the 1890s or thereabouts, and it surely wasn’t “readily available,” so speak, even to medical professionals, until well after. Looks like Laura isn’t the only victim of faulty chronology in this timeline. 😉

      1. Could be what all the apparatus was for, synthesizing anachronistic medicine? All those tubes and beakers can’t just be for show, you know. And if Julia could manage to find an electrical generator – in Collinsport – in 1840 – a batch of adrenaline (along with a backup supply) should be a breeze. 🙂

  6. Things will get even more confusing when the Enterprise C re-enters the rift and comes out not in the battle with the Romulans at Narenda but around orbit of 1840 Earth.

    Tasha Yar and Lt. Costello beam down to Collinsport, Maine, to retrieve a desperately needed bottle of orange adrenaline …

  7. Okay, long as we’re all getting picky about details – didn’t Julia JUST SEW ON that head, and give a transmission flush? Well, blood, you know what I mean. And there aren’t any bandages on JZ, so we can see he has no hem on his neck…guess the good doctor used the stitch technique she gave Eve, to prevent those embarrassing scars.

    But we do need to cut The Bits Of Judah Zachery some slack, he’s been dead 140 years, he’s bound to be a little stiff at first. Don’t expect him to be doing any choruses of ‘Ragtime Gal’ anytime soon. (Though just to point out, JZ was NOT reacting when the ladies were present; in fact, he was expiring – but he jumped right up when Gerard got close…hmmmmm? Or am I reading too much subtext into this?)

    And (just saying, is all) isn’t that crypt built of stone? Don’t really see that much potential for “burning down the house” there, unless Dr. Hoffman stashed some dynamite under the apparatus? (“Don’t touch that lever, you’ll blow us all to atoms!”)

    Anyhow, Carrie Stokes is coming back to town. Let us hope SHE can do something about all the insanity. Maybe she’s bringing back a descendant of Noah Gifford with her.

    1. Yes, you can cut Judah some slack for being back in human form, albeit briefly. On the other hand, his head communicated some pretty complex stuff to Desmond, Leticia, Julia and eventually to Gerard. I mean he somehow engineered Desmond finding him in the Orient and bringing him back to the area where he wants to get revenge.

  8. I am reading through these comments and laughing my backside off in the middle of a McD’s. All I can think of is, “What the hell…can we take a take a flight back to reality, or do we have to switch planes in Cleveland?” But then, we are together in a DS universe. LOL

    1. Sometimes I am laughing like crazy at something here by Danny or you bloggers, and I have a hard time explaining to my husband what it’s all about.

      1. I think unless you’ve seen a minimum of 100 episodes of DS you’d probably be completely lost by anything going on here.

        1. He watched quite a few with me, but I lost him as a viewer sometime in 1797. He has the gist of it.

  9. I want a 45 year-old Victoria Winters (Alexandra – no less) to arrive, observe all that’s going on and then say, “I still don’t understand.”

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