Episode 1161: The Monster of Collinwood

“What of the witchcraft?”

Well, wills were made to be broken, and this one’s about as broken as you can get. Tower-dwelling invalid Daniel Collins, purportedly of sound mind and body, has slipped away from his lawyers and nurses, and scribbled himself a will that leaves everything to the black hat villain Gerard Stiles, who’s currently hosting the furious spirit of the legendary Judah Zachery, and if you can find a worse thing to do with your fortune then you’re welcome to it.

The situation is particularly dire because we know that it’s interfering with the proper course of Collins family history, which runs from Daniel to Gabriel, through some unknown mid-century child, and then on to Edward, Jamison, Elizabeth and points south. Finally, it ends up in 1970, when the family is scattered and the mansion destroyed by Gerard Stiles, aka the furious spirit of the legendary — oh, dear. He’s got us either way, hasn’t he?

I have to say, if you ever feel like a failure and nobody pays attention to you, then become a soap opera lawyer, it’s the only life. Look how these people are staring at Desmond, clutching his little scraps of Daniel’s last testament. He didn’t write the thing and he’s never even seen it until just now, but here he is, reading it aloud and taking all the credit.

“Get on with it!” cries Gabriel, crouching in his unnecessary wheelchair. “Who gets it? WHO?”

Desmond’s eyes flick to the answer key at the bottom of the page, and he looks up in surprise and wonder. “Oh, my God!” he says, because that’s how soap operas work. In the real world, if you’ll pardon the expression, lawyers don’t read bombshell wills to a crowd of agog heirs; they just sit in their offices and send letters to people, and then the interfamily squabbling mostly happens over a series of tense Thanksgivings. Soap opera lawyers tend to treat these somber occasions as a sort of freelance Bachelor-style rose ceremony, with dramatic pauses before commercial breaks.

But the question remains, who gets it, who? Well, young Tad gets it, eventually, if he’s still alive and living at Collinwood when he turns twenty-one, which Dark Shadows has assured us is not going to be the case. Tad dies young, according to the visions and hauntings and prophecies; in fact, by the end of the week, he’s going to go upstairs and polish his skis, never to be seen again.

No, the real who is Gerard, of course; he’s the answer to every question in this entire storyline. I’ve mentioned before that Gerard’s stranglehold on Dark Shadows lasts until the end of January, so if anybody’s who, it’s him. Apparently Gerard sucked up to Daniel to such an elaborate extent that he swept the old man right off his feet; Daniel refers to him as “my son — I call him that because I have learned to love him as a son.” I’ll bet.

Naturally, the family roars with disbelief and displeasure; families tend to take issue when dread pirate gun-runners swipe the keys to the kingdom. So we get a terrific example of what soap operas are really all about: rich white people yelling at each other.

“I should have known, I should have known!” says Samantha, jumping to her feet and racing from the room. “I knew you wanted something here,” says Gabriel, attempting to do the same from a sitting position, “I just didn’t realize the scope of your ambition!”

But “WAIT!” — Desmond has a further dramatic codicil. If favored son Quentin is declared innocent in his upcoming murder-slash-witchcraft trial, then he gets to come home and take back all the moneys, properties, and commercial ventures, forthwith and furtherfore.

So Gerard has to stand there and pretend that would be just fine, which he does, because Gerard is made entirely of lies. “I’m happy he wrote that,” he smiles, “I will do everything in my power to see that he is free!”

“I’m not going to accept this will,” Gabriel shouts. “You hear me, Desmond? I’m not going to accept it. I’m going to fight it!” This is all pretty standard for soap opera will readings.

Unfortunately, in order to support Gerard’s charm offensive, they’ve made all the other characters humorless and impossible to like. That’s John Karlen buried in there, an extremely personable actor who up until now has been nothing but delightful, but Desmond is a jagged little pill, and all he does is scowl and bellow. I don’t know who determined that we needed a scowly John Karlen character, but they were incorrect and I wish there was something we could do about it. And then there’s Samantha, who I have no use for whatsoever.

The situation is that if her son Tad survives in the house until he’s twenty-one, then he’ll take all the money away from Gerard, which means that Gerard’s going to arrange for some kind of tragic accident before that date. Samantha’s only hope is for Quentin to be released from prison, so he can come home and reclaim his birthright, protecting Tad and solving all of her problems. She doesn’t see it that way.

“What of the witchcraft?” she asks. “What of the fear of the people in the village, what of Lamar Trask, what of Mordecai Grimes? Once they give testimony to the jury, do you think Quentin is going to be released?”

Desmond tries to scowl some sense into her. “Samantha, let us work together in hopes of freeing Quentin. Then the money will be yours and his!”

“Will my life be changed then?” she snaps. The answer to this question is yes, of course it will, for the better. What’s the matter with you?

“Samantha, why do you spend all of your time hating Gerard, when you could be helping Quentin?” hollers Desmond, directly into her face. “Maybe hating is what you do best!”

“Get out!” she yells, proving his point. What can you even do with people like this? What of the witchcraft indeed.

Meanwhile, downstairs on Dark Shadows, Gerard is being entirely adorable with his co-conspirator, making smug jokes in a non-secure area.

“May I congratulate you?” Dawson smiles, but Gerard gives him an elaborate shushing gesture.

“Not quite yet, Charles,” he says, pretending to be cautious, but bellowing his next line as loud as he can. “This house still reeks of the agony of the vanquished!” I don’t blame him, if I had a cute line like that I’d say it loud too. “Would you believe that inside the bedrooms lies little plotters working on their counter-plots? No, Charles, I haven’t inherited money, I’ve merely inherited a kingdom full of vicious rebels!”

So he wins again, in the space of forty-five seconds he wins the episode, and possibly the entire run of the show. I know, I keep writing blog posts that boil down to “Gerard is great,” but Barnabas and Julia have abandoned me here in the mid-19th century, and I have literally no other observations to make. Besides, Gerard is great.

And I swear, they must be deliberately trying to make the previous title-holder less appealing, because there’s no other explanation for what happens later that afternoon. Gerard goes and visits Quentin in the jail, and hands him a whole bunch of disquieting news that Quentin refuses to react to.

“Quentin, there is more disquieting news,” Gerard explains. “The will has been read. Gabriel forced it, he wanted to find out if Daniel had changed his mind. Indeed he had.”

Naturally, Quentin assumes that Gabriel got the kitty, so Gerard has to move on to the even more disquieting part. I’m going to have to walk you through the camera moves from here.

Quentin takes a seat, and Gerard looks down at his friend. “Quentin, Gabriel won’t be lording over Tad. The money, the estate and everything — he didn’t get a penny.”

Quentin looks up in surprise. “Who did?”

“I did.”

And Quentin does this, which is to say: nothing.

He stands, and looks Gerard in the face…

… and then settles back a half-step, which puts him behind one of the cell bars. “You,” he says.

They quickly cut to a shot of Gerard, making another cute facial expression. “I don’t understand, myself,” he says.

Quentin turns away, still not reacting in any measurable way. “You,” he says.

And they keep Gerard’s face in focus for the rest of the shot, because he’s the one who’s acting. “I thought –” he says, “well, Daniel must have thought that, well, as far as I was concerned, I would be in control of the money, and put it in trust for you.”

“I know he didn’t trust Gabriel with it.”

“He kept asking me about your innocence, I assured him that you were.”

“Quentin — the money, the estate, everything, I know it’s not mine. I will merely administer it until you’re free.”

Quentin finally turns, and gives Gerard a blank stare.

“Well, what’s the matter?” Gerard asks. “You don’t trust me?”

I don’t know why Gerard thinks that anything’s the matter; Quentin looks pretty much the same as he did before.

So that’s how things are going on Dark Shadows these days; sorry this turned into another Gerard-boosting exhibition, but that’s kind of all they’re giving me these days. I remember back when Quentin was passionate and eccentric, and the John Karlen character was a tragic clown. But that was last year, three timelines ago. Things are different now.

Tomorrow: The Tribulations.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Dawson extends his sympathies to Gerard, you can see the shadow of a camera on the wall to the right; when Gerard steps closer to Gabriel a moment later, the shadow moves in again.

Quentin says, “Gerard, someone is doing this to me,” and Gerard replies, “And I will do everything in my power to make sure, and find out who it is.”

When Gerard tells Edith to run along, there’s some offscreen banging.

When Gerard invites Dawson to have a brandy, you can see blue marking tape on the carpet.

Dawson observes, “No one has been tried for witchcraft in two hundred years.” Gerard replies, “Well, it’s about time things happened again.”


Behind the Scenes:

This is the last episode for Elizabeth Eis, who first appeared in February as one of the Leviathans’ patsies. Then she played Buffie, John Yaeger’s girlfriend, from April to May, and showed up for a final run last week as the sheriff’s wife. After this, she appeared in a 1972 movie called Dear Dead Delilah, which also featured Dennis Patrick, and then she was on a 1979 episode of Mrs. Columbo, and after that, people appear to have lost interest in Elizabeth Eis completely.

Also, this episode has a lot of nice close-ups on my favorite prop, the Ralston-Purina lamp. It’s a real treat for my fellow lamp fans, if there are any.

Tomorrow: The Tribulations.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

65 thoughts on “Episode 1161: The Monster of Collinwood

  1. We are still lamp fans. In fact, I have done a web search trying to find that lamp for purchase. But for some reason Googling “Ralston-Purina lamp” only takes me back here.

    My big question for this and the next two weeks of episodes is Where’s Julia? She and Barnabas are supposed to be the prime movers but I recall her wandering in at the very end of this storyline and saying, “So, Barnabas, what happened with Gerard?” or some such. The possibilities are a) Grayson Hall had a play to do somewhere or b) they were too cheap to go over the allotted number of actors in each episode and Dr. Hoffman was put into deep freeze. That kind of thinking is obviously what sank the show since she could have given Gerard hell.

      1. Looking ‘ahead’ to a screencap from her next episode, Grayson Hall had a VERY good doctor to do the work. Compare 1152 with 1168; maybe she doesn’t look twenty again, but it’s certainly an improvement.

        And I do like the sneakiness of her having her husband write her out of the show for a while when she had it done.

        1. It was good for Grayson but terrible for the show, insofar as having to watch all of this dreariness without Dr. Hoffman to put things right.

            1. Allan Gallant wrote: “I believe she had what was described as an ‘eye lift’.”

              The wrinkles under each eye have disappeared, so any work done may in fact be limited to an “eye lift,” as Allan G. has offered.

              However, I do notice that some forehead wrinkles have also disappeared in the second screencap from the Wiki for episode 1168. Also, some wrinkles at the chin area have also disappeared in the second screencap. Could this indicate that something more than an eye lift was performed? Possibly.

              Maybe somebody else can post a few more “before” & “after” photos that are better than these two that I found & posted above? The reason being that the two screencaps I posted above from 1152 & 1168 were obviously taken at different angles, with the actress possibly wearing different kinds/amounts of make-up, and most likely under different studio lighting conditions, all of which circumstances unfortunately make feature-to-feature comparisons more challenging.

              I don’t know much about plastic surgery except that it’s so important to choose the doctor very carefully. But if she went under the knife, it looks like Grayson picked a good doctor for the job …

              1. Definitely more than just an eye lift. I jumped ahead to ep. 1168 to get a look at her from multiple angles. In addition to the forehead and chin area, which you mention, Count, Grayson’s nasolabial fold is also much less pronounced. She looks fantastic! If I ever inherit a fortune, I hope to find a plastic surgeon as good as hers!

  2. Thankfully John Karlen gets better material as Desmond with Nancy Barrett’s Leticia, which taps into the excellent chemistry between the two actors.

    1. Barrett and Karlen are wonderful together, though I would have been more than okay with Willie and Maggie pairing up.

      1. It was unfortunate that Dark Shadows finally found a real super couple just as it was ending. Karlen and Barrett were magic. I don’t know how they could have hooked Willie and Carolyn up, but if the show had lasted, they should have given it a try.

        I could ship Willie and Maggie as characters, but the chemistry between Karlen and Barrett was tangible.

        1. Karlen and Barrett were great no matter what was thrown at them. I just really liked that Willie held a candle for Maggie.

          1. Maggie and Willie would have been a sweet pairing but, I always thought she would be more of a match with Quentin. Unfortunately, everytime they tried that, Quentin turned into a jerk.
            Maggie’s true soulmate was Joe Haskell. Nobody ever loved Maggie like Joe.

            1. Maggie and Joe were lovely together. There was a moment early on in their courtship when Maggie brushed hair from his eyes and kissed his forehead; it was such a sweet, endearing moment, and very real.

              1. My greatest Dark Shadows regret is the way Maggie and Joe were torn apart by Angelique and Nicholas. Even after watching those scenes so many times, my heart still aches for them. I can’t bear to watch that last scene with poor Joe, driven completely insane and doomed to spend the rest of his life at Windcliff.
                Maggie and Joe deserved better.

                1. Two of the nicest, kindest people in Collinsport, and they both end up driven mad and locked away. That’s horror.

                  1. Hopefully in Windcliff they were reunited, recovered, and moved far away from Collinsport.

                    “There was a moment early on in their courtship when Maggie brushed hair from his eyes and kissed his forehead; it was such a sweet, endearing moment, and very real.”

                    I think that’s something the show should have done so much more of. The focus on monsters took away from the very human moments that makes a story special.

                    1. Yes, those moments grounded the fantastical elements. I love the show for the monsters and mayhem but not at the expense of the humanity and intimacy. They’re in short supply at the end of the series.

        2. John Karlen and Nancy Barrett are the absolute best. My favorite pairing of theirs is definitely Desmond/Leticia, but there’s also a great moment they have (maybe as Kendrick/Melanie?) where they’re embracing, a thick strand of Nancy’s hair gets draped across John’s face, and he takes the lock of hair in his hand, smiles at it, and kisses it. It’s so natural and so charming and very in the moment. Just great acting from both of them, all the time. It is a shame they didn’t paint the two off sooner. One the biggest reasons I loved it when we started time traveling was that Willie got to be a Collins! Or marry into the family!

          I always wondered that Ben Stokes wouldn’t have been Ben Loomis in the original series if John Karlen hadn’t traipsed off somewhere to do a play or whatever. It would have been a nice balance to see Willie as a trusted and loyal friend who didn’t get beat up by Barn and it would have made for a nice neat bookend–Ben Loomis locks him up, Willie Loomis frees him. Plus there was some sexual tension and ‘you will do as I say’ business with Angie during 1795 that would have played out better with Karlen, but that’s probably my undying adoration coming through.

  3. In reference to Dear Dead Delilah, there are two other DS connections: Vincent Loscalzo as the make up artist and Alex Stephens (DS werewolf) as stunt coordinator

  4. It sounds like this was at least an attempt to go back to the reasons Gerard was honked-off haunter of Collinwood in the first place – that something went wrong with his plans to take over the estate during his earthly life, so he came back in the ghostly one. There was even room for murdering the eventual rightful heir. (Although murdering a child would have been taboo in 1970 television, wouldn’t it?)

    But, as usual on DS, things just weren’t quite wrapped up. Oh, well.

    1. What I’m not sure of is, did the DS producers/writers PLAN, way back in the 1995 “Destruction of Collinwood” episodes, for the evil ghost Gerard to be possessed by Judah Zachery? That it was actually Zachery who haunted & destroyed Collinwood, then just hung out, to cause more trouble for the time-traveling Barnabas & Julia? Or did the DS powers-that-be just add the Judah Zachery storyline later, once they were in 1840?

      1. Cindy, I don’t think they added the Judah factor until they got to 1840. Once Desmond arrived with the head, all the other stuff that was alluded to in 1995 and 1970 was dropped.

        I’ve speculated that the Ghost of Gerard in 1995/1970 was either (a) the ghost of Gerard who was being forced by Judah to haunt Collinwood until the family was destroyed, or (2) Judah was possessing the ghost of Gerard with the same plans. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but…

        1. I don’t know too much about being dead (only did it once, for about a minute); but I just can’t get with the idea of a ghost that’s possessed by another ghost.

          1. It’s kinda like in The Matrix when the agents hijack the code for a simulated person.

            DS was so ahead of its time. 😶

            ( I’m very enamoured with the idea that we are all just living in a simulation.)

            1. ( I’m very enamoured with the idea that we are all just living in a simulation.)

              It would explain a great deal about the twenty-first century political landscape.

              1. I’m currently listening to this book during my commuting time.

                I am surprised by how similar the political climate then is to the one now. Lots of Chaos in inertia. different topics, of course.

    2. Benj, I speculate that in the original 1840 (sans Barn, Julia, an Angie) that after Quentin’s beheading, Gerard/Judah killed Tad (the heir) and Carrie (the annoying one) in the playroom. Daphne must have found him standing over the bodies. She hit Gerard over the head, but before he died, he killed her, too. Hence the importance of the damn play room. Some very interesting playing went on there.

      Oh yeah, and Judah is very upset this his plan failed. He places a spell on the room so that no one will see it or have memories of it until he tries again in 1970.

      It’s the best I could come up with.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. That makes as much sense (if there can be “sense”) as anything else. Too bad we can’t go back and rewrite the whole thing. 🙂

  5. How hard could it be to negate Daniel’s will? If he left everything to Gerard Stiles, wouldn’t someone just have to point out that there is no such person? The individual mooching at Collinwood is named Ivan Miller and ‘Gerard Stiles’ is merely an alias he assumed. Shouldn’t that undermine the legality of the document?

    1. How difficult would it be for Gabriel to engineer Gerard’s demise, if it comes to it? A note from Daphne or Valerie begging Gerard to meet at Widows Hill – a tragic fall – and the estate reverts to the Collins family (unless Gerard’s thought to write a will.) Nobody’s going to suspect poor crippled Gabriel.

        1. Or fallen out of a window while inexplicably trying to wave a green flag.
          Or got his head knocked in by a falling bust.
          Or skewered with a hatpin.
          Or killed in a carriage accident because of a missing bleeder valve.

          Does anybody in 1840 happen to have a harpoon collection?

  6. I think Elizabeth Eis was fantastic as Buffy, tough but vulnerable, and it’s a crying shame that her storyline just petered out. And while the shrewish Mildred (can you be called Mildred and not be shrewish?) is a bit of a thankless role, she’s different enough in it to show that she would have been a valuably versatile member of the stock company had the show continued for longer. And all that crosscutting between Mildred and Edith in this episode does tend to prompt the thought that we’d have been a hell of a lot better off with Ms Eis as Edith rather than the unbearable Terry Crawford.

        1. This discussion reminds me of another gal named Mildred Pierce:

          “Loving her [Mildred Pierce] was like shaking hands with the devil.”
          ~Wally Fay (Jack Carson) from the classic film “Mildred Pierce” (1945)

          But Wally Fay was wrong about Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford). As a matter of fact, it was Mildred’s daughter Veda Pierce (Ann Blyth) who was the monster. Mildred (Joan Crawford) herself was a hard-working, self-sacrificing lady whose only big mistake was spoiling the girl rotten. Trailer, link below, 2min 17sec:

          1. “…like shaking hands with the Devil…”

            I’m guessing that was a promo teaser – Wally never let up on trying to marry Mildred! (Well, okay, she DID try to frame him for murder, but he WAS kind of a jerk.)
            But all the promo for ‘Mildred Pierce’ seems to be much more sensational than the actual film; and it still surprises me that Crawford won an Oscar for it. Ann Blyth should have won one, Veda was a wonderfully heinous child. (“I love you Mother, really I do. [Mildred hugs Veda, who pulls away.] But let’s not be sticky about it.”)

            1. “… and it still surprises me that Crawford won an Oscar for it. …”

              Would you have given the award instead to Barbara Stanwyck for “Double Indemnity”?

              I think Crawford did deserve to win best actress and also that “Mildred Pierce” is a great movie in part because I can watch it every couple of years but never get tired of seeing it again. And let’s not forget about the role of wisecracking pal Ida (Eve Arden).

              I’ll agree that surviving cast member Ann Blyth was done an injustice. I think Blyth was not even nominated. How could that be?

              ~ “Ah, but nobody ever said life was fair … ” ~

              1. Blyth and Arden were both nominated.
                Arden perfected the ‘wisecracking pal’ role, and always managed to keep it fresh and funny.

                Not that Joan didn’t deserve an Oscar, but Gene Tierney was nominated for ‘Leave Her To Heaven’ – should have won.
                And poor Babs! 4 times nominated & never won. Had to wait until the 1980s for a Lifetime Achievement award.

                And I agree, Mildred Pierce has watchability, even when the soapiness gets thick. And again, Joan should have won an Oscar, but my vote was for Crystal in ‘The Women’ (course, that would have robbed Hattie McDaniel – oh, it’s all so complicated!)

                  1. Oh, here’s me thinking you meant the miniseries with Kate Winslet!

                    One of my favorite Carol Burnett ‘movies’!

    1. I too had an Aunt Mildred. Due to the dysfunction of both sides of my family, I know almost nothing about her. I do know that when my sister and I most needed help from family she was one of the many relatives who was not there for us. Of course my dad was volatile, unpleasant, and armed. (Think Barnabas at his most insecure and erratic stage.) Gven a choice, I certainly wouldn’t have been anywhere near my dad either.

      RIP Aunt Mildred… whoever you were.

  7. It’s ironic that though the “monster” side of Dark Shadows was running out of steam by this stage, they could still turn out an effective soap opera plot. And what could be more soap opera-ish than a dysfunctional family squabbling over a will? I’d go as far as to say that this plot would have better without all the supernatural shenanigans. It certainly would have made more sense if Quentin had “merely” been framed for murder without dragging an anachronistic witch trial into it!

    1. Or would a few illegitimate children have been so difficult to work in? Goodness knows, we don’t want to think that the Collins family spent all of the 1800s just bickering over inheritance. Someone MUST have been doing something else… 😏

      1. Heh. Gerard Stiles could have been a long-lost, illegitimate Collins, looking to wreak revenge on the Collinses of Collinwood.

    2. The drawing room drama between Gerard, Samantha, Gabriel and Quentin was the best part of 1840. The storyline went downhill fast after the Head took over.

      1. Whatever they’d originally intended for Gerard would have been infinitely more interesting than that cursed, boring Head.

    1. I’m about 15-16 episodes ahead of Danny at this point, and I’m face palming my way through Quentin’s witchcraft trial. It makes Victoria Winter’s witchcraft trial look like a model of television jurisprudence. (And I can hardly wait to hear what Danny has to say about it when he gets up to these episodes!)

  8. I finally caught up with you guys! Well, sort of. I’m technically still way behind, but I read so many horror stories about the Leviathans storyline that I jumped ahead and read along while I was watching. Thank you all for helping me get through that. Although to be honest (and I think Danny can back me up on this) I still haven’t seen anything here as hair-raisingly awful as “A Sesame Street Christmas”. I’ve sort of got my own parallel time thing going here, since I’m also just getting started reading about the 1840 time jump. Sort of “the best of times and the worst of times” I guess.

    As a slight change of subject, since I’m almost done with the show, I’d like to start listening to the Dark Shadows audiobooks. Are there any that you guys recommend? Ones I should stay away from? Should I listen to them in any particular order? And finally, have any of you here tried Scribd.com? I’ve noticed that a lot of the audiobooks are available there, but the site itself has gotten very mixed reviews. Thanks everybody!

  9. This SHOULD be the link for the Comingsoon.net trailer for the Master of Dark Shadows documentary…fingers crossed.

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