Episode 1149: Wicked

“I do hope he’s not becoming emotionally involved with anyone at Collinwood.”

Here it is, the climax of this epic tragedy: the love story of Barnabas Collins and the late Roxanne Drew. He’s followed her through three layers of paradox to arrive at this choice slice of cliffhanging: the zenith of all his mistakes, piled up on top of each other and ready to topple.

“You will never rest, Barnabas,” the witch spat back then, as she clutched the buckshot wound that he gave her as a wedding present. “And you will never be able to love anyone — for whoever loves you will die!”

And they have, one after another. Kill your darlings, they say, and he has — Josette and Rachel and Kitty and Vicki and Angelique and now, finally, Roxanne, the latest in every sense. He has what he always thought that he wanted — a daughter of Dracula, clad in a filmy shroud, ready to join with him for eternity in a casket built for two.

But it’s all gone wrong, somehow. It turns out a vampire vixen isn’t as sexy as everyone had hoped — instead, she’s a green-skinned witch of the west, hollow eyed and sallow cheeked, and she doesn’t seem to like him. The two predators square off in this shabby lighthouse, lightning flashing from their dark eyes, as the tension stretches to the breaking point.

And then Roxanne opens a door, and walks away.

You know, I was hoping to have a nice little picture at the top of the post there, showing Barnabas and Roxanne at war, but there isn’t a single two-shot in the entire sequence. That’s a blindingly weird choice, and it makes you wonder whether the directors remember that they’re shooting a television show. This is a standoff, a showdown, with the show’s lead character squaring off against his former love, with his best friend’s life hanging in the balance, and they refuse to show us where they are in relation to each other.

We don’t even see her enter the room. Barnabas is just leaning over Julia, and then he looks up and cries, “Roxanne!” And then we see her, green-faced and unhappy. Then he stands up, and talks to her, and then we see her, walking towards him — but not quite enough to get him in the frame. Then a close-up of him, and a close-up of her, and a really tight close-up of him just showing his eyes and nose, and a looser close-up of her that tightens into her eyes and nose, and then his, and then hers, and then she turns around and walks out the door. They could have filmed them on two completely different sets, or on different days, or not at all.

The directors are tired, I guess; I know that I am. And in a classic Dark Shadows power move, they don’t even do the obvious thing, which is to point a camera at the actors and show us a scene. They made the explicit decision to rehearse that blocking, and set up those shots, and ruin the show. Nobody knows where the drama is anymore; everyone is content to fritter the day away, five long days a week.

So I’m afraid this is going to be another one of those depressing “decline and fall” posts, which I warned you was going to happen a lot as we stumble through fall 1970, in search of a spring that never arrives. The writers are tapped out, putting one foot in front of the other as they present the uninspiring spectacle of some things we’ve seen a bunch of times before.

There’s a vampire bite in this episode, and some vampire hypnosis, and a vampire calling to her blood slave from way over on the other side of the studio. It turns out that the number of things that you can do with a vampire have been pretty comprehensively explored by this point. You wouldn’t think a vampire would have diminishing returns, but it does. That’s another one of those lessons that won’t do you much good, but now you’ve learned it, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Gordon Russell wrote today’s episode, and tomorrow’s, and two episodes next week and then three episodes the week after. There’s only two writers left, so if it’s not Gordon then it’s Sam, and vice versa. Joe Caldwell left the show in September, and they never got up the energy to replace him, so now Gordon and Sam are each writing two and a half episodes a week, which if you think it doesn’t sound so hard then you try it.

But if you recall the good old days when it actually mattered who wrote the episode, Sam was the writer who wrote interesting, literate dialogue, and Gordon was the one who kept the characters moving around the studio. His specialty was the tick-tock clockwork episodes, where characters moved purposefully from set to set, collecting plot tokens and then cashing them in at the end of the episode for an exciting cliffhanger. He presents each character with a complimentary FitBit at the start of the episode, and then the audience follows along as we count their steps. This one is one of those.

So Randall Drew is moping around Rose Cottage is the thing that’s happening, which is understandable under the circs but I get the feeling that he would be moping even if his sister hadn’t died a couple days ago, which she did. Some people are just born mopers.

“It’s very difficult for me to realize that she’s dead,” he tells Flora, and luckily for her, there’s a knock at the door, because how do you respond to a line like that. “I wonder who that could be,” she brightens, although pretty much anyone would be an improvement.

It’s Lamar Trask as it happens, a scolding undertaker and buttinsky who’s always on the lookout for other people’s lapses. You’d think an undertaker would be soft-spoken and reassuring, but Trask is the other kind. “I’d like to speak to Gerard Stiles,” he says, but Gerard isn’t in this episode, worse luck, so he gets Randall instead.

Flora tells Trask that Gerard isn’t there and she doesn’t know when he’ll be back, and instead of saying okay, I’ll check back later, he just moves further into the room and starts muttering dark speeches. This is typical Trask behavior.

“I do hope he’s not becoming emotionally involved with anyone at Collinwood,” he scowls, and when he’s asked what he means by that, he follows with, “An insidious evil has crept its way into that house! I am not at liberty at the moment to divulge its nature.”

Randall fumbles for a put-down. “Well, if you’re not at liberty to divulge it, why not — say anything at all about it?” he says, so thanks loads, Randall. People named Randall are always something of a disappointment.

Things devolve into a bit of a slap fight re: whether Quentin Collins is in league with the devil or not.

“Mr. Trask, I’ve had enough of your inflammatory nonsense!” fires Randall, and Trask shoots back with, “Inflammatory, is it! Well, I find that a curious charge coming from you, so soon after your dear sister’s untimely death.” This doesn’t seem to mean anything in particular. Trasks as a class are nonstop accusation generators, and occasionally they overheat.

Trask thinks that Roxanne was killed by an act of sorcery, which she absolutely was, so why we’re supposed to sympathize with Randall is anyone’s guess.

“I warn you,” Trask says, winding up for the big finish, “those who doubt the word of truth are only a shade less guilty than those who defile it!” And then he sweeps out of the room with a “that’s that” scowl all over his face.

So Trask goes off and tramps unhappily through the woods, and who does he run into but Elphaba herself. This is Roxanne’s bite scene, her big chance to earn a place in the female vampire fantasy bank, so it’s a shame they’ve decided to give her a sickly green skin condition that in my opinion is not a sexy look for her. The makeup is a signal that we don’t have to worry about Roxanne sticking around and becoming a main character; that is a three-episode staker if I ever saw one.

“Keep looking into my eyes,” she instructs, and presumably he does; it’s all close-ups again, and we’re expected to take the blocking on faith.

Randall and Flora have had dinner too, and she’s just about to usher her guest out of the house when Barnabas shows up, leading a sleepwalking Julia that he plans to park here for the duration. Julia’s lost a lot of blood, and she needs bed rest, plus a lot of blood. Ordinarily, Barnabas would take Julia to Collinwood, but everybody’s on the Rose Cottage set today, so he dumps her with Flora and then takes off for a doctor, without getting a baggage tag or anything.

One establishing shot of a clock later, Barnabas tells Randall that the doctor is taking care of Julia, who remains upstairs for the rest of the episode, polishing her skis. Randall asks if she’s going to be all right, and Barnabas groans, “That depends upon whether we can keep the person who attacked her away from her.”

Randall is puzzled, so Barnabas decides to confide. “I’m afraid there’s no gentle way of telling you this,” he says. “Roxanne has risen from the grave. It was she who attacked Julia!”

So that is just straight-up bad policy, encouraging the local Scully to believe in the undead. Barnabas’ precarious position as a totally normal guy who just happens to be busy during the day is based entirely on the care and feeding of logical explanation types like Randall. I’ve had to talk to Barnabas about this before, including some strong words in his last annual review.

Meanwhile, out in the woods, Roxanne is still informing Trask about his blood slave duties, a briefing which has apparently been going on long enough for Barnabas to dump Julia, get a doctor and have one and a half conversations. But there’s a complex relationship between time and location, which is characteristic of these tick-tock episodes. You can do time compression by cutting to another scene, or moving to a different place, or showing us a clock, but how much time passes depends on which plot token we’re collecting at the moment.

“I must leave you,” Roxanne says, “but you’ll be seeing me again, very soon. Everything is very different now, Lamar.” It’s not really as different as all that; we’ve seen this before, with sultrier vampires and tastier blood slaves.

Back at Rose Cottage, Randall says that it isn’t possible to return from the dead, but Barnabas is set on exposing himself to as much danger as possible.

“I am telling you what I saw with my own eyes!” he insists. “Roxanne died as the result of an attack by a vampire!” Which then the obvious question is, where did that vampire come from?  I don’t know why Barnabas is working so hard at this, it’s not like Randall brings any skills or experience to the team. But in the tick-tock world, you use the materials you have on hand; the important thing is to keep the plot moving.

“There’s only one way that I could accept it,” Randall declares. “If I were to see her with my own eyes.” There’s a lot of eyes involved in this negotiation.

“I don’t know whether we’ll be able to find her tonight,” Barnabas admits, so why are you even talking to Randall? “But come with me, and I’ll show you that what I’ve told you is true.” And they rush out of the room, probably to get a specially-printed pamphlet on the subject of Vampires Are Real and Also I Am One.

Back from commercial break, we find that the lights are out in the Rose Cottage drawing room. The boys didn’t turn them off before they left, and Julia’s unconscious, so it must have been Flora, except the first thing that happens is that Flora walks in and turns them on again.

And what does she find? Lamar Trask, quietly trespassing on the couch, sitting in the dark and looking at nothing. He does not live here. Surprised, Flora says, “Why didn’t you say something?” He answers, “I’m sorry, I was meditating.” What?

She asks if he’s feeling all right, and he says, “Yes, of course,” and doesn’t go anywhere.

“I thought you were going home,” Flora says plaintively, her dreams shattered. “Why did you come back here?”

“I suddenly became very tired,” he says, so I guess he’s not feeling all right after all.

She feels his forehead. “I think you’re coming down with a fever. Let me take your temperature.”

He says, “No, I’m all right,” so that leaves us nowhere, “if I can just sit here for a moment.” He has no earthly reason for parking himself on this set, but he’s utterly determined to continue doing so, and he can fight it out on these lines all night long.

But Flora’s happy to have someone to talk to, because she’s had an epiphany: “I know now that those two attacks were not caused by natural means!” This is what happens when you walk in and out of a room a couple times; it clears your head. It’s called getting a change of scene.

And then, guess what? Barnabas and Randall come back in — you remember how they rushed out, earlier? well, they’re back — and Randall’s undergone an attitude adjustment himself. Whatever Barnabas showed him with his own eyes, it worked, and now he’s even gloomier and Droopy Doggier than he was before.

“You forget how well-read I am in the supernatural!” Flora announces, which I actually did forget; it hasn’t come up that much. “Those two scars on her neck — she was attacked by a vampire, wasn’t she?”

“Yes, she was,” says Randall, “as difficult as that is to believe.” Except now everybody believes it, apparently, and just in time. Barnabas took Randall on a field trip to Roxanne’s crypt, and the coffin was empty, therefore: vampires. If there’s anybody else who doesn’t currently believe in vampires, they can walk outside and then come back in, problem solved.

Entering the drawing room, they find Trask still sitting around being alternately ill and all right, so Barnabas does another lap around the track. He’s not ill, he’s only fatigued, he says; he just walked out of the house into the woods and then decided to come back.

So this is my point about Gordon Russell and the sad degradation of the clockwork episode. Gordon needs Trask to be here, post-bite, so that Roxanne can call him again, and Barnabas can realize he’s been vampire-bit. But back in the old days, when people cared, Gordon would have come up with at least a flimsy in-universe explanation for why Trask gets bitten, goes and sits somewhere that he doesn’t live, and then leaves again. Now they just openly admit that Trask came back because the light is better over here.

And why is Roxanne calling him, anyway? She had him out in the woods four scenes ago, and told him to go away. She said “you’ll be seeing me again very soon,” but we didn’t realize how soon that would be.

“I must be going,” Trask says. “It now appears that Gerard will be rather late, and I’m feeling very tired.” You can’t use “tired” as a reason to go home, you just used “tired” as a reason to sublet the couch.

So Trask goes to Roxanne’s crypt, where she wants to bite him again, but Barnabas and Randall followed him there, and it turns out we didn’t have to go through this whole experience in the first place, because the crypt is the place that Barnabas and Randall just were anyway.

Roxanne disappears, and Trask tries to go too, but Barnabas grabs him and tells him, “I’m not letting you out of my sight!” I have no idea why. Then Barnabas does some vampire hypnosis on him, right there in front of Randall and everybody. And then he says that Randall should stay and kill the vampire, while Barnabas takes Trask to the Old House.

“Aren’t you going to be here with me?” Randall asks, but Barnabas says, “Trask is under her spell; he will only hinder us!” but if he’s such a hindrance then why didn’t you let him run away thirty seconds ago, when he was trying to get out of your sight?

So we’re not even trying anymore, is what I’m saying, not Barnabas or Roxanne or Gordon or me. We’re going through the motions, repeating things that we’ve said and done before, because at a certain point there’s only so many ways to do a stake-the-vampire sequence.

Elphaba dies, and no one mourns the wicked. Dark Shadows spent four years defying gravity, but gravity has a tendency to reassert itself, eventually. Thank goodness.

Tomorrow: The Strange Goings-On.

Want to be part of the Night of Dark Shadows post?

The Night of Dark Shadows post is coming up on the next pre-emption day, and you’re invited! The comments have become a really important part of the blog, so I’d like to do a crowdsourced commentary on Dan Curtis’ 1971 feature film. All you have to do is watch the movie, write down your observations and send them to me at: Dannyhornmail at gmail dot com. Please don’t write a structured review, just brief thoughts as the movie goes on, and then I’ll stitch them together into a bizarre Frankenstein blog post that I’m excited to put together.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the end of act 2, as Barnabas and Randall leave the drawing room, the camera pulls back and briefly reveals the teleprompter.

Tomorrow: The Strange Goings-On.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

140 thoughts on “Episode 1149: Wicked

    1. Right? No wonder he was all gung-ho to be a blood slave–this was the first time his beloved wasn’t shrieking that she hated him and to get out of her sight.

        1. Loathsome, yes. But it struck me again this episode, just like it did with his dead old dad in 1795, that all his ranting this episode about evil and sorcery and witchcraft was absolutely 100% spot on.
          Trask was right and the ‘rational-explanation’ Ran-dullards were wrong.

          The only flaw with both Trasks was that they picked the wrong targets.

          1. Even as a child watching reruns, I hated religious fanatics, so I always hated Trasks. I didn’t particularly like Barnabas, but I liked what he did to that evil reverend.

  1. This episode has a distinctively HODS-y feel to it — Roxanne’s “everything is different” schpiel to Lamar, everyone running around trying to find the vampire, the victim acting as vampire bait — it’s a little disheartening (and understandable, I guess, with the state of affairs being as they are) to see them borrowing from HODS long before the 1991 revival.

  2. I’m remembering (perhaps even correctly!) that some of the Roxanne-as-vampire imagery gets copied in the 1979 Frank Langella Dracula movie.

    1. big similarity but the missing link (see my comment below) is Count Yorga, Vampire and The Return of Count Yorga (about which I once had the pleasure of conversing with Marietta Hartley, who played the ingenue and left it off her resume for a long while). The female vampire scene in the Langella Dracula was a reshoot and was stolen half from Yorga, half from Hammer’s Horror of Dracula. (In one of the DVD versions of the film–the one that leeches out the color–they have the female vampire getting staked by her dad, Olivier’s Van Helsing, and then staked again more discreetly in her coffin. Some idiot didn’t realize that one was a replacement for the other and kept them both.)

  3. The references to ‘Wicked’ make me want to see a musical version of Dark Shadows. The opening number would have to be at the Blue Whale.

  4. The fact is, Dan Curtis was involved in a musical version of Dark Shadows that never got off the ground–if I’m remembering right, it was associated with the Hartford Stage in Connecticut, around the year 2000. Rupert Homes of The Mystery of Edwin Drood was involved. I have a few fantasies about that one, too–

      1. David Selby did some shows there–Long Day’s Journey? Can’t remember. I grew up in Hartford and went to the Hartford Stage all the time but never saw DS cast members. I saw John Karlen at the Yale Rep and Grayson Hall in tons of stuff in regional and in NYC. If I’d had the Internet back then I’d have probably searched for Dark Shadows cast members onstage and followed them around the country like some stupid Deadhead. Undeadhead. Hey, that’s pretty good.

  5. Yeah, Barnabas choosing to pursue the notion that “vampires exist but I’m not one” has always been suspect because he can’t appear during the day and he doesn’t show up in mirrors. He can’t even look at a cross. He passes a lot of “obviously a vampire” tests.

    1. I put that hint dropping down to his own self-loathing, resulting in a tendency to be self-destructive. The man in conflict with himself.

      He’s made it clear he intends to keep living/surviving. We aren’t entirely sure what drives that motivation but it’s probably both the vampire nature and his own personal credo. Although by Joshua’s standards Barnabas is a bit of irresponsible dilettante (fop?), Joshua didn’t raise his son to be a quitter.

      So Barnabas has this prime motivation to survive but he also says he loathes himself and I don’t think he means just the vampire part. He wasn’t a vampire when he killed Jeremiah despite Jeremiah turning aside his pistol.

      All these little hints he throws out, walking the razor’s edge and hoping somebody gets a clue and just finds him in his coffin during the day when he won’t resist. He’d deny it, of course. Plus I imagine he has a real fear of being locked in the coffin again. Still, part of him is just saying, “Kill me.”

      —and now if you are not inclined to taking a trip through my mental packrat’s maze of thought, stop reading.—

      I’m still viewing episodes from back in 1795 and while the human Barnabas is hit hard by things that would emotionally immobilize most people, he never reaches that point of being immobilized by his awful circumstances. … I know, it’s mostly because you can’t have a star male character in the 1960’s sobbing in a corner for several episodes.

      Instead, Barnabas gets to display great personal fortitude and perhaps the ability to compartmentalize major emotional trauma and to move forward via whatever self-deception keeps him upright. …so he decides Josette is a girl with a weak moral character. He says that in an on-screen conversation, but there are no “thinks” about what a cad he was for carrying on with Angelique … so we can see that normal human skills of compartmentalization and self-deception are a well-established part of the human Barnabas.

      Either that or Barnabas is a sociopath, but while I think he could be slapped with a tangle of other psychological and emotional labels, he’s not a sociopath. (I’d love to know how Julia labeled him within the 60’s psychology standards. Too bad she was a wise enough woman to not spout a lot of psychobabble on-screen to the viewers. Barnabas might have heard her and he would not have taken kindly to being labeled mentally ill, even though he clearly was. Still, she would have labeled him in her mind if only to divert herself while watching the boring sublimation* of the dry ice during her experiments.

      Sublimation — What an appropriate coincidence of meaning within the context of Julia and Barnabas. To think, the dry ice was always a visual metaphor of effective self-deception and the never quite successful moral self-management practiced by so many of the Dark Shadows characters! 🙂


      *2 : to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable

      intransitive verb
      to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state : sublime

  6. I wonder how much of this current decline was just the writers being tired and out of ideas, and how much was Jonathan Frid wanting to play a different role.

    I think we’ve all read about how Frid’s contract was up around this time and he refused to sign a new one until they came up with a new character (which we know will be Bramwell Collins).

    I think those negotiations were going on right around now. After this episode the Character of Barnabas doesn’t appear for 8 episodes and then very infrequently until he becomes Quentin’s lawyer and this story wraps up.

    I wonder if that’s why they just killed Roxanne so quickly after building up her vampire appearance, because suddenly Jonathan Frid wasn’t coming to work anymore.

    Also if they were going to film Night of Dark Shadows in April 1971, that’s only 4 and ½ months or so away, so are Sam and Gordon also doing double duty by working on that script around this time too?

    1. The whole “Roxanne, love of my life” phase went off the rails in a hot minute, didn’t it?
      When Barnabas asked if Randall had the cross, I was waiting/hoping Randall would say, “Sure, right here!” And take it out of his pocket as Barnie said, “Uh, no, it’s fine, don’t need to see it, AAAUGH! PUT IT AWAY!”
      Bit it probably would have gone right by, just like Trask being insta-hypnoed. I figured Randall might question THAT, but nope…well, he was up WAY past his bedtime.
      And that’s another thing, when does anybody SLEEP around there? 2 AM and Flora’s still buzzing about, not even in her nightgear; and here I thought she was a lady!

      1. John E Comelately, you have made a Freudian typo that maybe explains the Barnabas/Randall interaction.

        “Bit it probably would have ….”

        When Barnabas first hustled Randall out of the house … he bit Randall off camera. He set up the brother to eliminate the socially awkward Roxanne problem. That explains why Randall suddenly believes, why Randall is following Barnabas like a puppy, and why Barnabas has no concerns about what Randall might do.

        (Be a good brother and stake your sister. It’s best if a loving family member sets her free. Then you can forget about me and leave Collinsport.)

        I do wish I could reach through my laptop’s display and see what is under Randall’s collar.

        1. My SpellCheck is a psychiatrist. (Actually, I just got the thing back to English – somehow it got set to Italian!)
          Don’t suppose Randall would need to be bitten, Barnabas could just have hypnotized him with the same results (and none of that taboo “guy/guy” stuff).

          1. They hardly ever have Barnabas do anything vampire-y anymore–he bit Roxanne and that was pretty much it. He doesn’t bat out, he doesn’t discorporate, he doesn’t hypno-whammy, he doesn’t make thralls…I don’t know why we bought him that fancy Vampire Smartphone when all he does is call time and weather.

        2. John E Comelately, you have made a Freudian typo that maybe explains the Barnabas/Randall interaction.

          “Bit it probably would have ….”

          Did you mean “Fridian typo”? 😉

      2. It’s beyond ridiculous at this point: even when Barnabas isn’t around everybody sits fully dressed, shouting at each other or making out, at 3 a.m. in the most public rooms in various houses. I don’t know why Barnabas even pretends he’s “away” during the day anymore; by dawn they’ve downed so much brandy and dug so many graves they’re all passed out cold for fifteen hours.

        And yeah, the whole ‘Oh Roxanne you’re the latest of my Eternal Forever I Mean It This Time Loves” thing didn’t even end–it just kinda stopped. By the time she vamps out everybody’s all “who, again?” When Angelique is using her to destroy Julia it feels very rote, like making a casserole out of whatever’s been sitting around in the Evil Fridge.

    2. Sam Hall and Dan Curtis are credited as writing the script for NODS, so it seems that most of the work on the soap fell to Gordon Russell. I know I read an interview somewhere with Violet Wells saying that she ghost-wrote quite a few scripts for Russell because he didn’t want to. I would suspect that this could have been the period of time when that happened; but then again, Viloet Wells’ scripts tended to be very good, so maybe it was at another time.

    3. Wasn’t there another Barnabas movie script that Frid refused to do or did he kill that idea in the cradle, before it was written? I’ve read various ambiguous things but at one point I thought there WAS a script.

      1. David, I think I read there was at least a treatment or an outline. That would have been a smarter way to go instead of writing an entire script if they weren’t sure that Frid would be on board.

  7. I guess that Rosanne learned to use makeup later on to get rid of that green look. She looked much better in 1970.

    1. Perhaps the skin tone and sunken cheek look wears off over time?
      Or she just needed better quality blood to suck.

      1. I try to run my favorite fiction through my own mental cleanup system. What comes out is supposed to make biological (sort of scientific) sense within the boundaries of whatever nonreality I’m playing with at the time. (It’s kind of like one of those Play Doh machines I never got to have. Me and Willie were poor kids! No many cool toys for us!) Soooo here goes.

        Because witchcraft forced Roxanne’s transition into a vampire, her transition was not as “natural” and therefore not as easy as it would have been if Barnabas had drained her, especially if he’s also given her his blood on the night of her death.

        Perhaps that is also why he’s not inclined to mentor her. The blood bond between them isn’t what it should be. Or maybe these types of vampires are solitary predators despite what Barnabas thought earlier about having a bride. Or maybe Barnabas is just a mentally and emotionally compromised jackass.

        Roxanne is also feeding more than expected as her system tries to correct the misalignment. She’s certainly not strong enough to go against Barnabas which is why he can mentally overpower her and break the control she has on Julia. What’s not clear is if he broke Roxanne’s link with Julia or if he just took it over and he could now control Julia. Either way, breaking Julia free of Roxanne is also something you’d expect a stronger vampire to do if a weaker one has bitten one of the stronger vampire’s people.

        I will give Roxanne kudos for being relatively level-headed for a newborn. I suspect Barnabas either intentionally or unintentionally passed on some 101 vampire basics. (She seems a lot better dealing with her first nights that he was.)

        1. Welp, that’s a good explanation. However, if we go with the “What if Barnabas and Julia weren’t in 1840 story” (which is what would be the result of what we witnessed in 1970), I think that it was Gerard who made Roxanne a vampire. Perhaps he did it the way that Angelique first placed the curse on Barnabas, with a bat biting him. Maybe that’s why Roxanne didn’t look green in 1970.

          I feel so bad for her in this present form. After all, it’s not easy being green.

            1. It definitely seems like Roxanne’s green tint would be something Angelique would do to make Roxanne less attractive to Barnabas when she realizes that by killing her she’s given Barnabas exactly what he originally intended! A Vampire Bride to go through eternity with! So then she gets Roxanne to bite Julia so Barnabas must choose between them. It shows Angelique is still the vengeful witch she always was–and that she doesn’t think things through any better than he does.

              1. …she doesn’t think things through any better than he does.

                That’s why they’re so perfect together. Well, perfectly imperfect. You know what I mean.

          1. Ugh, you just hit one of my internal “logic” error states which almost wrecks the DS canon. In my ‘reality’ it is simply not possible for a person to be magically infected with vampirism. It is possible for a magically gifted person to send forth the energy of a curse and for that energy to take the path of least resistance and activate the vampire state if the person is already carrying it. Barnabas was already either infected or genetically carrying the vampire tendency. I don’t know if it would have activated without Angelique’s boosting it. (I drive a lot .. so I have lots of time to contemplate such nonsense. I might pop down to the episode where Barnabas initially gets bit by the bat and contaminate the comments there with my rambling extrapolations.)

            Being green is hard. lol Kermit can usually bring tears to my eyes with that song. I prefer Robin’s rendition of Half Way Down the Stairs but I hope he never sings it while sitting on Quentin’s staircase. 🙂

            1. Roxanne had already been bitten, Angelique just amplified the condition with voodoo.

              And in the ‘original’ time line, without the presence of Barnie and Angie, Roxanne either:
              A. Found the same flappy bat that bit Barnabas in 1795;
              B. Got cursed by Gerudah for some reason TBD;
              C. Caught it off a dirty coffin lid.

              1. I think it’s answer B. “Gerudah” cursed her – it was nothing personal – to get Lamar Trask even more fired up about witchcraft. Gerudah made it look as though Quentin cursed Roxanne, maybe as a “subtle” way of getting back at Samantha for not giving him a divorce.

          2. Or how Nicholas vamped Angelique that one time. Warlocks tend to like to make Angelique their slave, to their eventual regret.

      2. Ha! John E., are you saying Lamar’s blood turned Roxanne green? That boy’s got embalming fluid in his veins.

  8. There always seemed to be alot of potential in Roxanne the vampire but it always went wrong. The whole relationship with Sebastian in 1970 had alot of potential. So did the idea of her as a happy vampire rather than a tragic one (in contrast to Barnabas).

    I get the impression that the writers or someone else didn’t really like either the character or the actress and kept pushing her story forward as fast as possible to first minimize her on screen and then just rid of her. The make-up choices and giving her a monster appearance was also a bad idea.

    By this point in the show’s history, everything had kind of degenerated into Barnabas and Julia eating enormous amounts of airtime doing very little. All the secondary plots in 1840 fail to come off or develop into much of anything at all. Even Gerard isn’t very well developed in terms of a character. I suppose Barnabas and Julia scenes were easy filler for the writers since they generally follow a set pattern.

    I can also see Jonathan Frid’s frustration with the part. He is having to carry the show somewhat doing the same pattern of scenes over and over again. Day after day of repetitive tedious dialogue to learn and enormous amounts of scenes to do.

  9. My “Fridge Logic” for why Roxanne looks worse as a vampire than Megan and of course Angelique herself is that Angelique did this deliberately. She didn’t really like her.

    1. You always want to go deeper into the show for answers where I just think, Oh, he saw AIP’s Count Yorga, Vampire, which was a big hit that year and some of the vampiresses had a scary greenish cast. The female lead in Count Yorga had the same kind of hair Roxanne does and looked a bit like her and was incredibly pretty. I think I read somewhere she was a porn actress but that’s not my scene, Gene. She did get to me at a vulnerable age–like Donna Wandrey.

      1. By “he” above I meant Dan Curtis, of course, who was plainly studying Hammer (which was fading) and AIP, which had Yorga and Dr. Phibes and various omnibus horror pictures. Curtis stayed with horror all through the ’70s though he did shift to more psychological horror like Burnt Offerings (which is very grim and very good–kind of a do-over for him of Night of Dark Shadows).

        1. I guess I have the desire to try to “fix” certain Dark Shadows storylines. I admit I have a hard time just letting them “be.” Being a work in progress, as TV series are, there are going to be goofs in continuity. I want it to be like a well-written novel, where, at the end it all makes sense.

          Burnt Offerings was very grim, but I did like it. And yet it, too, leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Were the characters played by Eileen Heckart, Burgess Meredith, and Dub Taylor ghosts or real people? What was behind the door to Mrs. Allerdice’s bedroom? The book provided few, if any, answers.

          The premise that the house was alive and needed humans to die to replenish itself was a good one. I think that could have been a good explanation for all of the unhappiness at Collinwood – the house thrived on it!

          1. Yes!!!! I never thought of that idea, that Collinwood was the precursor to the Burnt Offerings house insofar as it was alive and hungry.

            1. It’s the real curse of Collinwood. It feeds on unhappiness, fear, death, and despair. It attracts all kinds of supernatural beings and phenomenons that inflict pain on the mortals in the house, as well as on themselves and each other.

              On the other hand, even Hungry Collinwood outsmarted itself – the way so many of the supernatural creatures did on the show – when Gerard sent the zombie pirates to murder the family and destroy the house. All that were left to “feed on” were Crazy Carolyn, Crazy Quentin, and Sad Sarah Johnson, and they certainly stayed away from the house as much as they could. With not enough “food,” the house continued to decay into what we saw in 1995.

        1. Again, that was Angelique’s doing – as was the ghastly portrait of Josette. Angie wasn’t going to make a vision of Josette looking good as a vampire. That might have encouraged him.

          1. Also, at that point Josette was pretty mushy post-Widow’s Hill leap, so Angelique wasn’t starting from scratch.

      2. For me, it’s not about fixing the show. What I watch and read is just raw data. What I try to fix is the fifty years of fiction I carry around in my head to play with. (It does evolve and get rebooted as new data and new personal fancies come into the mix.)

        There are times when I’m interested in the reality behind the fiction, but it’s not a natural thing for me to analyze the structure, dialogue, production techniques etc. if I’m watching only for entertainment, I prefer to suspend disbelief when I’m inputting. I appreciate when things are done exceptionally well but have a very high tolerance for bad dialogue, bad acting, and bad production values.

        Having said that, going back to Danny’s analysis of the camera shots in this episode. He’s right. The close-ups are not good. So if the early DS episodes often had the cameras placed almost as if they were audience members in front of a stage play, what the heck viewpoint do the cameras represent in this episode?

        I struggle for words to explain how unpleasant I found the close-ups. Maybe it was supposed to be artsy or a way of evoking drama and dread, but I felt it was bad storytelling. To me, it’s like the camera was standing in for some socially inept weirdo person who had no conventional sense of personal space and just got right up in everyone’s face. It was a most unwelcome reality intrusion.

        1. “I struggle for words to explain how unpleasant I found the close-ups. Maybe it was supposed to be artsy or a way of evoking drama and dread, but I felt it was bad storytelling.”

          I think that was it – trying to be artsy. Maybe it was also an edict from Dan Curtis for the directors to use more of those extreme close ups.

          1. Agreed!
            There were episodes where a scene began with an establishing shot, then immediately switched to single shots and zoomed in as the actors spoke – by the close of the sequence we were watching two noses emote. (Nose acting?)
            Seems that’s the “go to” style now, where they used to have everyone facing the camera, one actor in the foreground and the other talking to their back. With the closeups only at the end, as reaction shots before going to commercial break.
            Of course, both types of scene are artificial, but the nasohistrionics seem to be trying to force more drama on us than the scene really contains or requires.

          2. I think that was it – trying to be artsy. Maybe it was also an edict from Dan Curtis for the directors to use more of those extreme close ups.

            Perhaps he was practicing for something new?

  10. (Kudos to Robert Sharp and Ratfeather for for linking Danny Horn’s Dark Shadows and Muppet fixations; appropriate, for we must do honor to our host.)

  11. it’s not just the writing staff that is losing enthusiasm, the costumer seem to have stopped trying, too. I’m speaking here as a historic fashion nerd … Ramse Mostoller dressed the cast in spot-on reproductions of 1795 and 1897 clothes. Stanley Simmons just throws capes on the men and puts the women in generic “old timey” dresses: long sleeves, long skirts, and shawls. It gets a little better when Mary McKinley replaces him at the beginning of 1840PT; she gets the silhouette correct but at that point she probably didn’t have much of a budget to work with because most of the fabrics seem to have come from the clearance shelf at JoAnn Fabrics.

    1. Well Julia even said after her, Barnabas and Stokes came back to the present that she was glad to not have to wear them dresses anymore. Just seemed to be to much clothing and it had to be hot on the set!

      1. Add on the giant wigs and I really admire the female cast members for not just melting down on camera, a la Wicked Witch of the West.

  12. Kermit with fangs.

    I’d buy that poster.

    If Kermit did a vamp show, it would be amongst the best stoner comedy of all time.

    Shaking his head with glee while biting Piggy.

    1. But Kermit did wear fangs–opn the Muppet Show when Vincent Price was the guest. (At some point the internet provides EVERYTHING.)

  13. I can imagine Kermit and Piggy reenacting the flintlock scene complete with pig blood and Flappy Bat.

    1. Piggy and Angelique complaining about their loves.

      “i do not know what is wrong with Kermie… I keep karate chopping him and he STILL does not avow that he loves me”

      “I destroyed my Barney’s family, made him a vampire, and he STILL does not avow that he loves me”

      “Men! What is wrong with them?”

    2. I’m going to have nightmares about that!
      Sam Eagle as Joshua;
      Fozzie as Nathan;
      Beaker as Victoria;
      Pepe as Natalie;
      Scooter as Daniel;
      Animal as Naomi;
      Beauregard as Abigail;
      Swedish Chef as Trask;
      Janice as Millicent;
      Big Bird as Suki…

      I know I’ve left out a few – all I could think of off the top of my head. 🙂

      1. Maybe Sweetums as Ben
        Make Gonzo Nathan, and then Camilla can play Millicent.

        A bespelled Jeremiah and Josette portrayed by Wayne and Wanda …. with singing!

          1. eh … I hate to break up the Piggy/Kermit pairing … but if it’s Bert and Ernie then it’s gotta be Barnabas and Willie. It sure does go off the tracks when I set that one up in my brain and, yes, that is partly due to the pop culture innuendo now associated with Bert and Ernie.

            Although maybe Bert and Ernie replacing Barnabas and Quentin would be a better option if one is simply aiming for a better personality match between what muppet replaces what “person”. Maybe even Barnabas/Julia.

            Mostly I just want to see Bert, as Barnabas, come up with a song and dance number about pigeons named Josette. Apparently, I lack the musical and choreography skills to even try to imagine how that might go.

          1. No Dark Shadows/Muppets crossover could be complete without a guest star appearance by The Count.

            1. Can’t blame it for having an attitude after 3 years of being overworked on My Favorite Martian, then going right into Dark Shadows. Sure there was a little bit of down time before DS utilized the spool, but it wasn’t the happy kind of time off. It was more of the, “Oh my goodness, am I ever going to work in show business again? I just can’t do kites and string art! So help me, I’ll never roll back into the family business of embroidery!”

                1. Ah yes, but although keeping the story together would have been vital and important work, that is something done behind the camera. This string wanted to be seen!

  14. Voiced by the cast of The Simpsons.

    Oh, Geez, now, …..Everyone is on the brown acid.

    Okay, I’ve hit the Reset Button.

    Hmmm……..the 1795 cast played entirely with child actors?

    Starting with Henesy from his 1897 self as Barnabas.

      1. How about anime? I would pay into an effort to crowdsource an anime version of Dark Shadows. (Netflix has the anime version of Vampire Knight that works pretty well.)

  15. Well, I guess I can hold a “People Who Liked 1840” party and never worry about running out of chips!

    I felt like there was a lot of potential with the Drew family that never got tapped. I definitely liked 1840 Classique Roxanne more than PT Roxanne. At any rate, I felt like vampire Roxanne’s final moments were some of the most disturbing among the many DS deaths.

    1. Honest, I am trying to watch 1840 with an uncritical eye (!), just let it wash over and try to enjoy the ride; but the storylines don’t really twine together well, and when they try to make them cross, it feels forced. The other temporal forays hung together better, dramatically – even when 1897 had KLS die and return as someone else. Lack of a long-term plan is showing.

      Would it have been known at this point in the series that ABC-TV was not renewing the show? When was a formal announcement made?

      1. Daytime TV ran on 13-week cycles. I believe the announcement of cancellation was made in March 1971, when there were still a few episodes to be taped. One source has it that the producers had a slim 2-week notice to finish up the series.

        Otherwise, who knows? They might’ve gone back to 1971.

        The fact that Dark Shadows closes out in past parallel time is the result of outside circumstances beyond the show’s control.

        At the time, there was talk of budget cuts in the network studios, that Dark Shadows cost a fortune and Password was relatively cheap to produce.

        But that’s hogwash. Dark Shadows cost only $14,000 an episode to make, whereas Password cost $35,000 — and that was back in 1965.

        1. “Dark Shadows cost only $14,000 an episode to make, whereas Password cost $35,000 — and that was back in 1965.”

          Prisoner, with all due respect, are you sure about that? Shadows had at least several sets per episode that had to be put up for each episodes and lit, plus multiple actors, directors, writers, musical scores, and all the “below the line” support people. How could Password cost more?

          1. The figure of $14,000 per episode is what I get from The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis, for which Jim Pierson wrote the foreword. The costs for daytime were much less than for primetime. The figure of $35,000 for Password comes from the January 23, 1965 issue of TV Guide — I’ve recently acquired an original copy (with Chuck Connors on the cover). Not counting actors’ salaries, the cost for Dark Shadows was $70,000 per week.

            Don’t forget, as a game show Password was literally giving money away to contestants, on an almost daily basis. Even if a contestant didn’t win big money, they’d still get paid simply for appearing on the show — as revealed in the Password episode of The Odd Couple, with those checks made out to Felix Ungel and Oscar Madisoy. 🙂

            1. No disrespect intended, but I still question that Password cost more to produce than Dark Shadows.

              Some game shows shoot five episodes in one day, others would do three episodes on day 1, and the other two on day 2. Some would take a whole week to shoot a month’s worth of episodes. The production crew is budgeted for those 2 days at the most (or 5 days for shooting a whole month’s worth of shows). The Dark Shadows crew worked every day of the week (M-F).

              Are you sure that it wasn’t $35,000 per week for Password? I mean, it wasn’t that hard of a show to produce, and the winnings were not very high; plus there was promotional consideration where prizes were awarded to contestants in exchange for the promotional announcement.

              I’m sure the celebrity guest contestants cost more than the Dark Shadows salaries, but still I can’t believe it would be astronomically more. The networks liked having the celebrities on to promote the shows they starred in.

              So, I still respectfully disagree that the game show cost more than the soap. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so. (Now in the case of Hollywood Squares or any game show that has a large number of celebrity appearances, the costs would definitely be up there.)

              1. The Password figure of $35,000 is per episode.

                Mind you, this was prime time. Producing a daytime version in 1971 would likely be far less.

                I scanned the article and made a screencap. The per episode production cost of Password is given in the second column, third paragraph:

                Here’s a closer look at the per episode production costs of other network TV shows of the time, with To Tell The Truth at $41,000:

                1. It still just doesn’t make sense to me. The only way I can see it being true is that Password cost that much is that the celebrity contestants and Allen Ludden must have commanded huge payments for their appearances. Otherwise, Password is a much easier show to produce than Dark Shadows.

                  1. But The Talk is a talk show (or a “shout” show, reflecting the loudness of the twenty-worst century); the article doesn’t indicate what it costs to produce a game show.

                    That article was revealing in another way — the low viewership that programs these days have. A soap with just 2.5 million viewers? They wouldn’t have lasted 13 weeks in the 1966 to 1971 era.

                    Soaps in later years have had higher production values, where you can do multiple takes and where shows are filmed months in advance, and with larger writing teams.

                    Dark Shadows was doing it all live to tape with just three cameras.

                    Then again, maybe the issue of studio space weighs in. Dark Shadows has everything crammed into a 70 by 100 foot space. Password, on the other hand, has to be well lit and done in a studio to accommodate a sizeable live audience. In 1971, the ABC version was taping in Hollywood (at the ABC Vine Street Theatre).

                    If you look at the live in-studio audience for this (1967 CBS) Password episode, it’s huge:

        2. Yeah, it’s strange how much it feels like the show knew it was ending in the last 1971 episode. The music, the final shot as Barnabas and Julia leave the drawing room, and Julia’s last words. You couldn’t write a better final scene… and this is a show that really never had many “final moments” — every story sort of morphed to the next story.

          1840 PT conversely feels like “let’s run out the clock and get the most out of these costumes we paid for” but obviously that wasn’t the intent. I’m sure Danny will address the moment when the series knew it was cancelled, and it would be interesting to think how it might’ve progressed if it got renewed for another 13 weeks. All previous storylines set in the past and/or parallel time had a prominent character from “real time” (Vicki, Barnabas, Julia, etc) who then transitioned the show back to “our” time.

          I recall a guy on the old alt.tv.darkshadows board who wrote a “virtual year” of DS fanfic, and he had a neat transition device, which — I’m recalling from memory here so anyone feel free to correct me — had Stokes in 1971 “reading” a Flora Collins story to Barnabas, sort of implying that was what we’d just seen (or something like that).

          1. NODS suggests how the show could’ve gone on.

            Even though [SPOILER ALERT!] Angelique had been killed off at the close of 1840, her restless spirit could have traveled to present time 1971 Collinwood and taken possession of Quentin, having followed Daphne there.

            Could’ve been good for another 13 weeks, as well as great promotion for the movie.

          2. I’ve seen a couple of articles from early March 1971 that said it would probably be cancelled and replaced by Password. I’m almost certain that the people involved in the production knew they were going off the air when the final episode was taped.

    2. William, I’m an 1840 fan, too. Gerard, Gabriel, Daniel, Angelique, Flora, Lamar and Samantha were great fun.

    3. They managed, accidentally, a really disturbing death scene there. They cut away because they clearly couldn’t/wouldn’t do her death on camera, so you just her her anguished screams as she begs her brother for help and calls on Barnabas in desperation. Then they cut back and she’s just gone.

  16. Oh, there should have been a crossover! Imagine Barnabas and Angelique giving Password clues:

    Angelique: Dream ____
    Jane Doe: Nightmare?

    Barnabas: Vampire ___
    John Doe: Spooky?

    Angelique: Spell
    Jane Doe: Ghost?

    Barnabas: Josette
    John Doe: ????

    Angelique: I don’t have time for this! Jane Doe, I will destroy you! With a CURSE. That’s right, a CURSE!

    And Allen Ludden quickly calls for a commercial break.

  17. We return the next day with Elizabeth Stoddard and Roger Collins, and the producers are confident of better results. And the Password is “basement.”

    Elizabeth: Trunk
    Jane Doe: Car?

    Roger: Downstairs
    John Doe: Upstairs?

    Elizabeth: Collinwood
    Jane Doe: ???

    Roger: Paul Stoddard
    John Doe: WTF?

    Elizabeth: Roger, you’re a fool!
    Roger: I warned you, sister dear, this was a terrible idea!

    And Allen Ludden quickly calls for a commercial break.

  18. We return the next day with Victoria Winters and Bathia Mapes, and the producers are confident of better results. And the Password is “pen.”

    Victoria: Fountain ____
    Jane Doe: Water?

    Bathia: WICKED!
    John Doe: ????

    Victoria: Antique
    Jane Doe: Old?

    Bathia; EVIL!
    John Doe: ????

    Victoria: The past
    Jane Doe: ???

    Bathia: FIRE!
    John Doe: WTF?

    And Allen Ludden quickly calls for a commercial break.

    1. William, when the first episode of Password aired on ABC, I tuned in, hoping that after the first few minutes that we’d see Barnabas and Julia watching Password through the parallel time room. They would close the doors, and Barnabas would say to Julia: “Julia, we must padlock this door. Better yet, let’s wall it up with bricks!” They’d go to a commercial and then we’e be back in 1971 Collinsport.

    2. And what really bugged me was that a few years later, Kate Jackson was one of the celebrity guests on Password. I shouted at the TV, “Traitor!!!”

      Honestly though, I really did like Password. So I guess I’m a traitor as well.

  19. Can you imagine this show lasting long enough to do an obligatory ep with them on Family Feud? 😀

    1. Collins/Stoddards versus Collinsport families?

      If you had a special nighttime edition with House of Dark Shadows Barnabas as one of the family members. Yeah, well 😦 …. anyone got a mop? I don’t think Richard Dawson would have survived much past the show’s opening after he plants a greeting kiss on Maggie. I guess Nicholas could finishing hosting the episode. (if I may mix the tv and movie characters)

      Later on, all the episodes would have to be taped at night and most, but not all, of the ladies would show less enthusiasm for hugging and kissing Dawson.

      1. But of course, it would have to the nighttime version of Family Feud!
        I’m not sure who the two families would be, but as long as Angelique got to utter her line “My name is Angelique and I HATE YOU!”. 😀

  20. I think Danny is waiting for us to get to 100 posts before he writes a new entry. I can’t blame him – this was a boring period on the show.

  21. Chris Pennock lives in Idyllwild (CA), where a large fire has been burning since yesterday. He says (via Facebook) that he and his family are safe. As of last night, his house was also safe. Keep him in your thoughts.

  22. #97 So I heard that Dan Curtis had been toying with the idea of bringing back Laura the Phoenix, and I suppose it would have been during this storyline.


    1. Sounds likely, given that Diana Millay was in NODS.

      Makes you wonder if the original script for NODS was to have been an adaptation of 1897.

      At the time it was being written, 1897 was still in recent memory and represented the most successful period of the show ratingswise.

  23. #98 Don’t you think the show would have been better if one of Magda’s ancestors had appeared in 1840?

  24. And, four months late, but better late than never: am I the only person to think Grayson Hall was absolutely wasted in the last few episodes? Damsel in distress is not a role that suits Julia. And I can’t help feeling that it would have been more interesting if Julia HAD died and become a vampire. Since Julia is capable of mad sciencing her own vampire cure, it would be entirely possible to change her back in a later episode.

  25. Exhausted writers, yes; hack director, yes. But Jerry Lacy as the becalmed Trask makes this episode worth watching twice, he’s even funnier in his mellow state than he is when he’s shouting about “The Almighty!”. And Joan Bennett finally gets the hang of Flora in this one, it’s the first time she doesn’t sound like an imitation of Nancy Barrett’s Millicent. She may not be as hilarious as Zen Trask, but she elicits a whole series of real chuckles.

    1. After five years of Elizabeth’s goldfishness, it was so refreshing to see Flora go “yes, obviously it was a vampire!”

  26. I am all here for a Muppet rendition of Dark Shadows. Who do we talk to? Kirk Thatcher?

    Anyway, DS is an absolute mess! Not utilizing Julia in a correct way, green ghoulish Roxanne, and just a whole crew that has had it. Jerry Lacey is the only saving grace.

    This same evening ABC aired Bewitched Episode #209: “Samantha’s Pet Warlock” where old admirer Ashley is enlisted by Endora to try to split up Darrin and Samantha. After Ashley spies on Darrin at work and finds he needs an impossibly described dog to impress a dog food client, he pops down to the pound and turns himself into said dog. And hijinks ensue.

  27. They’re taking this “extra-closeup” thing too far. Now they’ve decided it’s a good idea to start a scene by focusing in on the anachronistic zippers on the backs of the ladies’ costume shop rentals. They did it with Daphne the day before yesterday and again with Flora today.

  28. I thought this was a fun episode, for a change. Barnabas is active, Trask mellows out for a few moments and Randall is beginning to grow on me. Probably because I’m a natural born moper myself.

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