Episode 1165: In the Haze of History

“I demand that counsel define the term ‘occult practices’.”

We’re going back to court for another witchcraft trial on Dark Shadows today, and once again, people have missed the entire point of the Salem story. The witch trials that took place in Massachusetts in the late 17th century happened in the actual real world, where I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s no such thing as witches. Salem 1692 is a story about a justice system perverted by superstition and mob panic, where innocent people were jailed and executed based on the claims of a pack of hysterical middle schoolers.

But in modern Salem, they’ve discovered that it’s a lot more lucrative to pretend there were real witches in the late 17th, and build a tourist trade by promoting Halloween parades and haunted house tours. Yes, they have a Witch History Museum that tells the real story, but on the whole, it’s more fun to build events around spooky fictional witches instead of focusing on the thing that’s really scary, which is putting Christians in charge of a legal system.

So there are a whole bunch of TV shows and movies that depict real witches on the scene of the Salem witch trials — Charmed, Bewitched, Hocus Pocus, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, I Married a Witch, The Vampire Diaries, that WGN Salem series with sexy versions of John Alden and Mary Sibley. This is basically like making a TV show about the Holocaust in which the Jews kind of deserved it.

Naturally, Salem is irresistible for a supernatural-themed soap opera, because it combines scheming witch vixens and tense courtroom drama, and that’s why Dark Shadows is going back to that well for a second sip. And in the Dark Shadows spinoff media, they can’t stay away from Salem; I don’t think they even try.

The first storyline in the 1971 Dark Shadows comic strip is about burning witches, and Lara Parker’s second Dark Shadows novel is called The Salem Branch, which we’ll address at some point soon. The second movie, Night of Dark Shadows, doesn’t mention Salem specifically, but it’s absolutely obsessed with stringing Angelique from a tree, even though that’s the one instance where there wasn’t a witch in the story, just a sexy ghost who fooled around with her brother-in-law.

And there’s one more Dark Shadows Salem story that most people don’t know about, which was published by Gold Key in June 1970. It’s the first and only issue of Dark Shadows Story Digest Magazine, a 144-page illustrated novella called The Interrupted Voyage.

In the 1970s, Gold Key was publishing the utterly insane Dark Shadows comic book, which at the time had just put out its lunatic fifth issue, “The Curse of Collins Isle“. The Interrupted Voyage is written and illustrated by the same team as the comic — D.J. Arneson and Joe Certa — but instead of sprinting through a story in 25 action-packed pages, they’ve got a whole book to spread out and really explore a concept, whether it deserves to be explored or not.

The story catapults Barnabas from the present day back to Salem in 1810, where he’s anachronistically put on trial for being a witch on fairly flimsy grounds. The story actually includes two different interchangeable witches, neither of whom go on trial. As you may recall, Barnabas, Quentin and the Witch’s Curse didn’t have a single witch in it, but The Interrupted Voyage has two. I guess it’s true what they say about inequity: the witch get witcher.

Barnabas Collins ran terror-stricken through the night,

the story begins.

Panic gripped him as he raced toward Collinwood. Something within those cold gray walls was beckoning to him. Something was drawing him toward it. A force he could not control.

Suddenly he stopped. Fear filled his eyes as he stared up to the highest tower above his head.

So okay, fine, I believe you. Barnabas is scared. He has a feeling and he’s freaking out about it. He sees a pale blue light of the spirit world flickering from a tiny window in the tower, and he’s convinced that it’s Angelique, who’s returned to plunge him into the world of living death. He happens to be incorrect about that, but you can see how a person might make that mistake. Pale blue lights of the spirit world are tricky like that.

He ran through a long black hall. His pounding footsteps echoed hollowly through the empty mansion. No other living soul dwelled in Collinwood this night. No living soul.

Which means that Barnabas is pretty much the only Dark Shadows character in this Dark Shadows Story Digest Magazine story, apart from brief cameos from Angelique and Reverend Trask late in the game. I don’t know why the Collins family isn’t dwelling in Collinwood this night, but that’s pretty common for the spinoff media. Everyone expects a Dark Shadows story to have Barnabas in it; the other living souls are optional.

So he runs all the way to the rear of the house and up a cobweb-strewn back staircase, which is infested with bats.

Bats! The very creature he had once been. Now he despised them. He hated them and everything they stood for. No longer was he a victim of the deadly curse which Angelique had placed on him centuries before. He was free.

So that’s nice, he’s managed to shake off being a vampire, although I don’t know why he’s holding a grudge against bats and everything they stand for. What do bats stand for, anyway?

“The Captain’s room!” Barnabas exclaimed as he stared at the odd ship’s door which confronted him. “The light is in the Captain’s room!”

Now, the concept of “the Captain’s room” is a little perplexing. It was built by Captain Daniel Collins circa 1810 at the top of a tower, out of the wreckage of his ship, Silent Arrow. After his ship crashed in a storm, Daniel apparently gathered up the driftwood, brought it back home to Collinwood, and built a room out of it, and then lived in that room. I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’m not really sure what exactly that means, but it’s a crucial story element, so we don’t have much choice but to accept it.

Anyway, that’s the room at the tippy-top of the batpole, where the pale blue light of the spirit world is causing consternation. Barnabas thinks that Angelique is in there, ready to pounce, but when he opens the door, he gets a pleasant surprise.

In a flash the light disappeared and standing where its brightest part had been was a girl. A beautiful, young girl in a long, gray velvet gown. Her face was calm, her eyes were soft and understanding, her lips turned slightly in a compassionate smile. “Do not fear me, Barnabas,” she said. “I am not Angelique, I am Annabella!” She stepped toward Barnabas, extending a small, gloved hand toward him.

“Annabella!” he said, the awe in his voice now replaced by surprise. “The daughter of Captain Daniel Collins whose very room this was?”

Now, that’s not necessarily the Daniel Collins that you’re thinking of. The Daniel Collins of 1795 who died at the top of a tower in 1840 would have been in his late twenties in 1810, and too young to have a dead eighteen year old daughter to build a weird grief room over. Although now that I think about it, Dark Shadows is a television serial, and therefore subject to children experiencing Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, who get recast all the way up to eighteen just in time to die tragically and turn into a pale blue light of the spirit world.

But from the point of view of Messrs. Arneson and Certa, Captain Daniel Collins is just a name to hang a piece of backstory on. The Daniel Collins of The Interrupted Voyage is like Nathaniel Collins from 1770, Mordecai Collins from 1350, and Oscar Collins from 643: a random name from an alternate continuity that never existed, already dead by the time we even hear about him and pretty much useless to anybody, except maybe for Big Finish, who are always keeping an eye out for spare Collinses in case an old Doctor Who actor drops by the recording studio.

Anyway, Annabella’s in trouble, of course — beautiful girls at the beginning of stories usually are — and she asks for Barnabas’ help. He immediately says no, of course.

“My own spirit has scarcely crossed the precipice of night,” he says. “If I deal in the mysteries of the spirit world my own soul may be pitched back into the terror I once knew.” That’s the way people talk in this story the whole entire time, keeping up a running stream of vague spooky metaphors. It’s kind of fun, if you like that sort of thing.

Annabella says that she understands, and then launches into a sob story precisely calculated to make Barnabas feel guilty.

“I have walked the floor of this room for a hundred and sixty years. Trapped. Unable to break free of this world, unable to enter the next world because of a vow I made at the moment of my death.”

Her voice was tinged with sorrow. “This very room was built from the wreckage of my father’s ship, Silent Arrow. He built it with his own hands after his ship was crushed in a terrible storm and I, among many, perished under the waves. Only he survived.”

You know, I’ve heard that a captain’s supposed to go down with his sinking ship, but I don’t think that means you’re supposed to carry it home, build a room out of it and then die in it decades later, especially if you’ve still got passengers aboard. Leave it to a Collins to come up with a whole new way to ruin things.

Now, we all know that Barnabas is a sucker for a pretty face, so it’s no surprise that he instantly caves and promises to help, no matter the consequence. You get this a lot in the spinoff media, where Barnabas basically runs a detective agency for dead people, who show up at the start with some kind of spirit world flim-flam that he has to untangle. If we need a plot and the author can’t remember the names of any of the other characters from the TV show, then we’re going to have to import some new family tragedy for Barnabas to interact with.

He asks what’s wrong, and she makes with the backstory.

Black memories chilled Annabella’s voice. “The day which was to be the happiest day of my life,” she said sadly, “became the day of my death. I was to be married. Married to Michael, my beloved. Our wedding was to be in Michael’s town, Salem.”

A chill came over Barnabas at the sound of the name of the dreaded city of witches.

So that’s what I’m talking about, with Salem. City of witches! How backwards can you possibly get a story, to come up with that? I just hope Martha Corey never hears about this, she’ll be ever so cross.

Anyway, there was a storm and the ship went down, and as Annabella was drowning, she saw something that worried her.

“A light shined in the heavens,” she said. “A strange, bright light.” Her eyes were fixed on a spot in the vision of her mind. “It was Michael’s spirit. Michael was waiting for me in Salem. He saw the storm. His love for me was so great that his very soul flew from his body to find me.”

There’s a lot of that in the story, characters coming up with weird postulates about how the soul works. In the world of Dark Shadows Story Digest Magazine, a person’s body is basically a set of ill-fitting clothes for their spirit, which kind of rattles around inside and can be taken out in an emergency. Souls fly and droop and clatter to the floor, and everybody wants somebody else’s. Angelique wants to grab Barnabas’ soul, for one, and apparently somebody grabbed Michael’s when it was soaring around and he wasn’t paying attention.

“There is a way,” Barnabas said, “one where the person’s will is captured in a moment of weakness, such as when his spirit is vulnerable because of great illness or,” he paused as he recalled Annabelle’s story, “or when he has suffered a great tragedy.”

“Captured?” Annabella asked Barnabas, “Captured by whom?”

“By a witch!” Barnabas answered. “By a dreaded sister of Night.”

“By a witch? But that is not possible,” Annabella cried. “There were no more witches in Salem. The last was destroyed long before my time.”

So again with the Salem witches. Apparently, it was an epidemic that needed to be wiped out by the heroic Puritans. This is what happens when somebody tries to write historical fiction who doesn’t know anything about history.

In Barnabas’ point of view, the reason why Michael’s spirit hasn’t joined Annabella’s in the afterlife is that it was enslaved at the moment of Annabella’s death by a dreaded sister of Night, and she still has it. Therefore, the only reasonable plan is to for them to hopscotch their way back through time to the shipwreck in 1810, at which point they drown (presumably) and then somehow find Michael and rescue him from the witch. It’s not a very well thought out plan.

“You must tell me the tragedy of the wreck,” Barnabas shouts, over the howling of the time winds. “You must tell me every detail. It is the only way to return.” She already did.

It works, naturally; anything that Barnabas says about time is automatically true. Gold Key is utterly convinced that every supernatural entity is capable of traveling through time whenever they want, especially Barnabas and Angelique, who drift at will from one era to another, making things worse.

In this case, Barnabas makes the unforced error of shazaming his way onto the deck of a boat that he knew perfectly well was about to be shipwrecked. I believe that this is an innovation in time travel fiction, piloted once and never repeated, because it is the most bone-stupid plot point I could imagine.

“I have failed,” he thought in the flickering instants of consciousness which flashed through his mind, “I have failed to help Annabella and I have failed myself.”

Yes, you have. What were you expecting? You need to stop wishing yourself into a direct flight to ground zero.

Then there’s a whole sequence about Angelique smiling at him from out of the darkness, licking her lips at the prospect of collecting his soul.

To die here would mean the loss of his soul once more. This time, forever. Angelique, ever waiting, would take his spirit as he died and would never let it go again.

“I must not die,” he thought. “Not now in a time when my soul can be taken by Angelique.”

There is no further information on what this could possibly mean. This threat is repeated at regular intervals from here on out — if Barnabas dies in the past, then Angelique will take his soul. The question of why she wants it, how she would get it and what she would do with it remain firmly unexplored. She would just take it, and then she would have it, that’s all. Barnabas’ interior is inhabited by a MacGuffin, which must be protected at all costs.

But he doesn’t die and his soul remains untaken, because he decides that he’d rather live, and he pulls his way up to the surface. There, he finds Annabella, bobbing listlessly on the churning sea, and he grabs her and swims toward the shore.

So Annabella survives, she doesn’t die in the shipwreck after all, and therefore her boyfriend didn’t send his spirit flying around to look for her, and he didn’t get captured by a sister of Night, so the whole story is resolved, except it’s only page 40 and this is basically still the prologue.

Barnabas gets his cane back, by the way. His wolf’s-head cane was thrown overboard when he fell into the water, but when he reaches the shore it washes up right next to him on the beach like a loyal dog. He’s still got a tie on too, and Annabella’s outfit is still Cinderella-perfect, including the lace at her cuffs. These people shake off a shipwreck like you wouldn’t believe.

Refreshed after her swim, Annabella spots the docks where Michael’s been waiting for her all these years. But as she approaches, she sees a woman dressed in black take Michael’s hand, and lead him away.

So we finally get to the wicked witch, meeting dudes on the docks.

A few moments before, a lonely figure had stood on the dock looking far out to sea. It was Michael. His clothes were wet and his shiny black hair hung in damp strands over his sad face.

Which means that Michael is more damp than the two characters who just got up out of the ocean. I’m not sure why he’s so wet, actually.

A figure in black joined him. A woman. For a moment she watched the solitary youth on the dock’s edge with greedy eyes.

One thing that I like about the writing is that every once in a while, they use a sentence fragment as a bit of dramatic clarification. It’s not proper grammar, but there’s something about “A figure in black joined him. A woman.” that I find mysteriously appealing.

“Michael,” she called to him in a voice which was as soft and warm as the purr of a cat, “come with me, Michael. You are cold and wet.” She reached out and took his hand in hers. Her bone white fingers gripped tightly the firm flesh of Michael’s hand. No warmth flowed from her hand to his. Her skin was cold as ice. No blood flowed beneath its surface. She was a witch.

It’s not super clear in this story what a witch actually is. They live forever, or at least they exist outside of time, and they don’t have blood, which is news to me.

“Come with me, Michael,” the woman said, “I will take good care of you.” She smiled at him through thin, bloodless lips. Her deep dark eyes flashed with fire. She was beautiful. Her hair was coal black and hung in long straight tresses over her shoulders.

She was tall, almost as tall as the handsome youth at her side who followed her quietly as she stepped from the dock onto the cobbled streets of Salem town.

Uh oh, that word “handsome” means trouble. If you’ve read any of my previous posts about the Paperback Library novels, then you know that there’s a strict rule in 1970 Dark Shadows spinoff media that Barnabas has to be the most handsome character in the book. Describing Michael as a “handsome youth” is a challenge. Fortunately, that sentence is immediately followed by this one:

Far down the beach, too far for their shouts to be heard, ran a young girl in a gray velvet gown, her bright yellow hair blowing in the wind, and a handsome, dark man in a flowing cape.

That means everybody’s square, and we can move on with the story.

Michael and the witch have moved out of sight, so Barnabas and Annabella sprint into Salem, desperate to find them. Here’s their first encounter with the locals.

Barnabas ran to a group of people who stood quietly talking at the entrance to a house.

“Excuse me,” he said, urgently. “I am looking for a friend. A young man. He is with a woman. A woman dressed in black. They came this way. Have you seen them?” His breathing was fast and heavy. His eyes were dark and fearful.

The people stared at him for a moment and then moved quickly away. “A stranger,” said one man to another.

“Did you see his eyes?” asked a woman.

“And his clothes?” asked another.

They watched Barnabas as he stood helpless on the corner. “He is a strange one,” they said. “I have never seen one like him before.” As quickly as they had appeared, they vanished, each into his own house.

So that’s an incredible picture of the state of play in 1810 Salem, a thriving port city and tourist center where the sight of a stranger sends them scattering for safety. Barnabas spends the rest of the book staggering around Salem begging for assistance, and the town is entirely populated by the rude. None of the residents are ever named except for one dead lady, and every single one of them is detestable.

“Who is it?” A man’s voice came from the inside of the house.

“I seek a friend,” called Barnabas through the door. Before he could continue, it opened. A burly man stood facing him.

“You’ll find no friend of yours here,” hissed the man, as he quickly slammed the door shut.

Barnabas hurried to the next house. Again his pleas were met with fearful contempt.

You see what I mean? They’re horrible. It’s no wonder this town is infested with bloodless witches.

Meanwhile, the witch is in one of the houses, playing with her new toy. She kind of plunks him down on a stool and then she starts waving her hands around and asking the Spirit of the NIght to send unto her the fires of its unholy place. And then this occurs.

“Thou has heard me, O Prince of Blackness,” cried the witch, “Thou has heard thy daughter Calandra!” She held her fingertips together, each finger touching its opposite. The flames disappeared. She smiled. “The power of the fiery pit is mine,” she said.

So, hang on — thy daughter Calandra? Really? Have we sunk that low, Gold Key? You have to scan pretty far down the list of acceptable witch names before you scrape Calandra out of the barrel. Although I do enjoy the part about the Prince of Blackness, who in 1970 I think was probably George Clinton.

She moved quickly to Michael’s side. Placing a cold hand under his chin she raised his face to hers. The tragedy of nature still numbed his will. His spirit still drifted loosely within his sorrowful body. “Good,” she said as she let his head drop to his chest. “There is time.”

I think the important thing to note here is that Calandra is not given a single drop of backstory. She doesn’t have any history with Michael, or any particular motive to lead him around and try to scoop the soul out of him. She’s just an evil lady who can shoot flames out of her fingers — seriously, “a jet of flame spat from her extended finger” — and all she wants to do is mess with people. I think it’s fair to say that the boys at Gold Key had a couple of unresolved issues with women.

Meanwhile, Barnabas and Annabella are running in circles all over Salem, looking for a witch in this dreaded city of witches. Everyone in the entire town is a jerk. Dig this.

“Please,” Barnabas said, “I come in friendship. I seek a dear friend who may need help at this very moment.” He stood alone, circled by the searching stares of a wary crowd. “Will nobody offer to aid me?”

The crowd remained silent. One by one they walked away until he was alone. “Why must people live in distrust?” he asked aloud. “Why cannot they live in harmony?”

A shrill whistle pierced the air. No sooner did Barnabas hear the sound than he felt a sharp pain sting into the center of his back. He whirled. A small arm disappeared behind the corner of a building. Another whistle sounded from the opposite side. Barnabas ducked in time to see a rock fly straight and true through the space where his head had been an instant before. This time a young boy, a mischievous smile still on his face, quickly hid behind a large cart on the street.

“I am reviled!” he said, turning sadly away from the boy, his humiliation more stinging than any rock.

So, I mean, Salem. Right? What a nightmare.

And what’s even worse is that judging by the outfits, these people still think that they’re Puritans. It’s 1810, kids; Puritanism went out of style almost a hundred years ago, not that it was ever super stylish in the first place. What gives these kids the right to mock anybody? God, Salem sucks. It’s possible this book was written as propaganda for the Colonial Williamsburg Board of Tourism.

Anyway, Barnabas finally figures out where the witch is hiding, because he starts banging on Calandra’s door, and she creates a vision of Michael jogging around the corner to distract Barnabas. Some more Salemites act like dicks, and then Barnabas realizes that was the right door in the first place, so he comes back and bangs on it with his cane. There’s a lot of door drama in this book.

Finally, he throws himself at the door in an illustration that Gold Key Dark Shadows readers will recognize as a classic Joe Certa run-falling pose, and he cracks the crib.

The door flew open with a crash and Barnabas rushed into the house. He blinked his astonished eyes in surprise. He found himself in a simple room decorated in the quiet taste of the day. A chair, a table, a small rug on the floor. Nothing met his eye that told of witchcraft or the black sciences of night.

So that fiendish Calandra has moved to a different house, or she’s invisible, or she’s turned herself into a small rug, or possibly this wasn’t the right house in the first place. But wherever this is, it’s apparently off limits.

At this moment a man appeared in the doorway. “He is here!” he shouted. No sooner had he spoken when four other men appeared, each with the look of suspicion on their faces.

“The stranger is here,” said the first man. They all walked slowly toward Barnabas who held up his arm as if to protect himself. “The stranger has entered the room where Widow Starbuck died her strange death.”

I have to say, I do admire the Salem residents’ unflinching commitment to standing two inches away from Barnabas, staring right at him, and then talking about him as if he can’t hear them. It’s a very specific method of being an asshole that these people have perfected to a T.

But the name “Widow Starbuck” has a familiar ring to it. As I mentioned earlier, Gold Key published The Interrupted Voyage in the same month as issue #5 of the comic, “The Curse of Collins Isle“, which features a century-spanning rivalry between Barnabas Collins and colonial coffee magnate William Starbuck, the father of Barnabas’ childhood friend Jonas.

As you can see in the panel above, William Starbuck was a complete asshole who hated Barnabas like poison, even though Barnabas had never shown them anything but kindness, and he blamed Barnabas for Jonas’ tragic death, which Barnabas had absolutely nothing to do with.

William Starbuck’s irrational hatred for Barnabas puzzled me at the time, but now it makes sense: he must be from Salem. That explains everything.

It turns out Calandra was using the Widow Starbuck as a slave, like she’s doing with Michael — or at least, that’s Barnabas’ conclusion, after seeing a lock of hair sitting on a table. It doesn’t really matter; the whole Widow Starbuck thing is just a plot device designed to keep the superstitious Salemites away from this house, so Barnabas and Annabella can use it as an HQ for the next fifty pages. Although it’s also possible that it’s a reference to some other June 1970 Gold Key publication about Barnabas and the Starbuck family that I’ve never heard of, and they all fit together in some complicated overlapping mosaic pattern that we may never discover.

There’s more door drama, of course; the ignorant villagers see the marks of Barnabas’ cane on the door and think that they’re made by Barnabas’ cloven hoofs, despite the obvious fact that he has normal human hands. But they’ll say anything, at this point.

For example, in the chapter “Storm of Superstition”, they say the following.

He is the devil! He must be destroyed! We cannot allow him to live! I have seen him with my own eyes as he tried to steal one of our children! Destroy him! Kill him! He is strange! Different! The Devil himself! He must be destroyed! (again) But not without a trial. The devil will have a trial! We will catch him! Throw him into prison! Give him a trial! And then burn him at the stake!

And in the next chapter, they say “If this is where the black spirits of the devil lurk, where is the dark stranger we seek?” and “Why wait for the black powers which sent him to come and level more terror upon us?” It’s always about black power with these kinds of people.

And then there’s just more cliches, really, as we tumble over Barnabas Falls. The witch sends the zombie boyfriend after the pretty girl, who screams EEEEE! and then the boyfriend says “Ann-a-bel-la” and maybe the power of love can break through the evil spell, blah blah. The villagers catch Barnabas in the graveyard, obviously, and cart him away to prison, and it’s basically every time-traveler-goes-to-Salem story that’s ever been written.

So I think it’s worth noting that this story has just about no resemblance to Dark Shadows, except for the props and special effects. There’s a spell, a cane, a candle, an amulet, a few pitchforks and torches, and a light dusting of Angelique dream sequences, but there are only five characters, and nobody has human feelings.

Dark Shadows is fundamentally a daytime soap opera, which uses a continuous stream of overlapping storylines that explore the relationships and rivalries among a large cast of characters. The show does break soap opera storytelling rules a bit, because they use time travel to create more or less discrete chapters with a guest cast that mostly gets discarded at the end of a storyline, but the thing they don’t do is a set of individual adventure stories, where one character goes off on his own for a random side quest that has no impact on him or anyone else.

The most striking violation that this story makes is that Barnabas is risking his life for a pretty girl that he’s not personally in love with. This never happens on Dark Shadows, not even in the Paperback Library novels. On the show, he hops between crushes constantly — Maggie, Vicki, Josette, Angelique, Vicki again, Rachel, Kitty, Josette again, Maggie again, Parallel Maggie, Parallel Roxanne, present-day Roxanne and 1840 Roxanne — that’s more than three girls a year for four years. He doesn’t just help people for the sake of being nice, because Barnabas isn’t a nice person.

This is a story with two Dark Shadows characters in it — Barnabas and, to some extent, Angelique — except that neither of them are motivated by love, which is their defining characteristic. In this story, the only recognizable character from Dark Shadows is the cane.

So I think it’s worth asking the questions which will haunt us over the next four months: Is it possible to tell Dark Shadows stories, after Dark Shadows is over? And if it’s not, why do people keep trying?

And to illustrate my point, here comes Calandra, who goes out to the cemetery to burn Barnabas’ cane, and incantate herself a flashback from a Dark Shadows that never was.

In the haze of history which rose from the burnt walking stick, Barnabas began to speak.

“You have killed her,” he shouted to an unseen figure in the misty background. “You have killed her as if by your own hands you had lighted the fire which consumed her at the stake.” He raised his black cape over his head and plunged into the darkness of the vision. “For that I shall kill you, Reverend Trask,” he screamed.

Calandra watched on. Soon another scene emerged from the smoke. Hanging by his wrists from black, iron chains was a man of the cloth. His face was etched with terror. His voice parched and dry.

“No, Barnabas,” he pleaded, “do not do this thing to me. I beg you, do not do this.”

Barnabas stepped from the gloom holding a brick and trowel.

Now, that’s remarkable, for 1970 spinoff media to reference a specific sequence from actual Dark Shadows. The folks at Gold Key remember Barnabas walling up Reverend Trask, and they expect you to remember it too. That flashback appeared on the first page of the first issue of the Dark Shadows comic, which means that this moment from episode 442 has penetrated the public consciousness enough for it to stand in for the entire 1795 saga.

Except then they do this.

Again the mists of the vision flowed and yet another scene revealed the truth of Barnabas’ early life. Angelique, mysterious, yet as beautiful as a goddess stood before Barnabas whose knees quaked at her sight.

“You have destroyed Reverend Trask,” she said in a voice which was smooth and soft but which had a sinister echo deep within it. “For that the price you pay will be great.”

She leaped toward him and clutched him by his shirtfront. She bared her teeth. They were pointed and sharp. A grotesque laugh shrieked from her lips. “Now you will pay, Barnabas Collins. Forever!” Before he could move she plunged her teeth into his neck as a cry of terror screamed from his gaping mouth.

“The mark of the bat!” Calandra wheeled from the vision. “So that’s it,” she cried.

No, that’s not it. That misses it by a mile.

I’m not objecting to Angelique biting Barnabas, rather than calling up Bil Baird and asking to borrow a bat puppet. My concern is Angelique’s motivation, which doesn’t make any sense. The only thing that we know about Reverend Trask is that he was a witch hunter. Why would Angelique punish Barnabas for killing Trask?

So this isn’t Angelique, or at least not any version of the character that we know. This is just another Calandra, an evil witch who does evil things for no particular reason except the fun of it. They hammer this home by having Calandra summon Angelique and send her out to attack Barnabas, basically tagging in a relief witch for thirteen pages.

Angelique finds Annabella out on the street, just wandering around aimlessly looking for Barnabas, and takes possession of her body. She knocks out the jailer and gets into Barnabas’ cell posing as Annabella, but just as Barnabas embraces her, she pulls back, reveals that she’s Angelique, and leaps for his throat.

It’s not a very Angelique plan, but this isn’t very Angelique, and they wind up this subplot in an appropriately undignified way. Just as she’s about to hit home, the first rays of dawn stream in through the barred window, and she dissolves into a cloud of vapor, the end. Annabella just wakes up in a nearby doorway, dazed and unharmed, and then we get back to the real story.

So finally we get to the big dance number we’ve been waiting for, a good old-fashioned Salem witch trial. Barnabas looks sadly around at all the hate-filled faces packing the courtroom, as the judge pounds his gavel and asks for opening bids.

Countless voices cried from among the spectators. “I saw him appear in a cloud of smoke,” shouted one. “He tried to steal my child,” cried another. “His cloven hoofmarks are imprinted in the Widow Starbuck’s door,” wailed another.

The judge spoke in a somber tone. “Are there any who would defend this creature of the night?” At this statement the crowd went insane.

“Burn him now,” they cried. “We are not safe until he dies!”

And that’s about it, end of trial. Barnabas isn’t allowed to speak for himself; the judge just tells him that he’s guilty, and they’ll burn him at the stake in three hours. The whole thing is covered in five pages, including two full-page illustrations. I’m not sure why you’d write a witch trial book that only has three pages of witch trial.

Everything works out okay, of course. The Gold Key audience apparently wants a happy ending, which is strange, because the TV show audience got a steady diet of nothing but tragedy, and we ate it up and asked for more. But apparently Arneson and Certa want to tie everything up neatly, which they do, in the most confusing possible way.

Annabella shows up at the jail to help Barnabas, and the jailer — thinking that Annabella is Angelique — drops into a swoon and stays there, blissfully unconscious for the whole rest of the story. Annabella grabs his key and unlocks Barnabas’ cell, and then they proceed to walk in and out of the cell for the next three hours, as they piece together Barnabas’ cunning escape plan.

At his instruction, Annabella rushes out to the cemetery and calls Michael’s name. Calandra notices that Michael stirs, and decides, in the most baffling passage of this baffling book, to let him go out for a walk.

“Are you restless, Michael?” Calandra asked. “Does your feeble mind still yearn to be free?” She walked to him and lifted his head and looked deeply into his dulled eyes. “Be free then,” she said, “be free and go.” She pointed to the heavy iron door.

Then an evil laugh broke from her lips. “Go and return, you fool! You will always do my bidding as long as this remains with me.” She clutched at the chain which hung from her throat and withdrew the black amulet.

Hysterical laughter cackled from her thin, bloodless lips. “Go!” she ordered, “go to the town and learn what has happened.” Then, her eyes narrowing and her voice rasping with a sinister snarl, she threw open the door for him. “But remember, Michael, you are in my power for eternity. Now go and return!”

She slammed the door behind him, its ringing clang sounding loud through the air of death which hung over the place.

So that’s something of a mixed message. Now go and return?

But that means Annabella can grab the shuffling Michael and lead him into town, through the crowd of people screaming for Barnabas’ death, and straight into the jail cell, where Michael and Barnabas exchange clothes.

At five minutes before the hour Annabella ran desperately back to the cell. “They are coming,” she called. “They will reach the door in a minute!” The cell door opened and Barnabas, dressed in Michael’s clothes, stepped out. “All is in readiness,” he said as he looked back into the cell. “They will have their victim.”

He shuddered as he looked on the drooping figure of Michael who stood in Barnabas’ clothes, in the middle of the cell, his face hidden in a turn of the cape.

The chanting voices reached three as Barnabas and Annabella slipped out of the jail door a scant few seconds before the men came to lead him to the pyre. They hid in the crowd as the man entered the jail.

You can go ahead and ask me why Barnabas didn’t just slip out the door and get away hours ago. The answer is that I don’t know.

Then Calandra shows up, and she’s decided that maybe Michael shouldn’t be let off the leash after all. She shouts his name, and Michael — now tied to the stake, wearing someone else’s clothes — responds to her call.

Michael raised his head in answer to Calandra’s shouts. The cape fell away from his face.

“No!” screamed Calandra as she looked up to see Michael instead of Barnabas at the stake. “It is the wrong man!” she cried, jumping to the platform as the man with the torch bent low to touch the ready wood.

“No!” she cried, as she tore the torch from his hand, and pointed to Barnabas in the crowd. “There is the man you want! Not this man,” she screamed as she spun to face Michael. Turning, she slipped.

Yup. That’s the plot resolution. She slipped.

With a fearful shriek of terror she clutched at the air. The torch fell from her grip and landed on the wood. It burst into flame. Fire leaped from the pyre and instantly engulfed her as she lay on the platform in view of the gasping crowd.

An explosion ripped the sky as an immense ball of fiery flame and smoke shot into the heavens. The fire vanished as quickly as it had come.

So that about wraps it up for The Interrupted Voyage, which slips and falls into the furnace, consigned to the flames forevermore. But Dark Shadows continues on, driving further into the past, until Barnabas is a twinkle in the rear-view mirror.

We’ve got a couple more witch trials to pass through before our final destination, with more superstitious and ignorant townsfolk to endure, but I promise you this: we will never meet anyone more terrible than the bloodthirsty, xenophobic psychopaths who live in Salem, Massachusetts. Honestly, they are the worst.

Monday: The Proceedings.


Footnotes:

Hermes Press reprinted The Interrupted Voyage in 2012 as Dark Shadows: The Original Series Story Digest, with recolored illustrations. I can’t say I’d recommend it, but it’s there if you want it.

Gold Key’s Story Digest Magazine lived on after this, in a slightly different form. The Dark Shadows issue was part of the original set of four, all released in 1970 — Dark Shadows, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Tarzan of the Apes, and Boris Karloff: Tales of Mystery. Apparently Ripley’s and Karloff sold the best, so the magazine was relaunched in 1972 as Mystery Comics Digest. Each issue would swap between one of three brands — Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Boris Karloff: Tales of Mystery, and The Twilight Zone. The series ran for 26 issues, and ended in October 1975.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the beginning of Desmond and Quentin’s scene in the first act, there’s a lot of studio noise, including rustling paper and footsteps.

During Desmond’s sidebar with the judges in act 3, someone coughs in the studio. (Although this isn’t really a blooper, because they’re pretending there’s a whole crowd of invisible spectators at the trial.)

In act 4, a stagehand passes by the edge of the set as the judge tells Desmond, “There is indeed ample evidence…”

Samantha swears to tell the truth by placing her right hand on the Bible. The correct procedure is to put your left hand on the Bible, and hold up your right hand to swear.

Also, on page 24 of The Interrupted Voyage, Annabella asks Barnabas who “capturned” Michael’s soul.


Behind the Scenes:

Surprisingly, this is David Henesy’s last episode, and he doesn’t get anything like a fitting farewell, considering how important he was to the show. David was the original monster of Dark Shadows, and he was key to a lot of major storylines, including the Barnabas/Sarah story, Quentin’s haunting, the raising of the Leviathan child and the protracted pre-catastrophe sequence of summer 1970. But they didn’t quite know what to do with him in the past — Jamison got some time in the spotlight during 1897, but not much, and the Daniel of 1970PT and Tad of 1840 were basically walk-on parts.

Sadly, Carrie — who we hardly know and don’t care about — gets to grow up and have a teen romance storyline, but David Henesy was always somebody’s son on Dark Shadows, not a man in his own right. His last line on the show is, “When you see my father, will you tell him that I’ve been thinking of him, and praying for him?” and then Samantha sends him upstairs to bed.

David didn’t do much acting after Dark Shadows. He appeared on an episode of The Waltons in 1973, saying two lines: “How could college be that important?” and “What are you going to do, set the world on fire?” Then he appeared on the soap Another World in 1976; the only info I could find was that he played “a student,” so that part apparently didn’t set the world on fire either.

And that was it for David and acting; he grew up and moved on, becoming successful as a restaurant owner. In Barnabas & Company, he says, “I never hated show biz. I just found it boring after a while and enjoyed working in an environment where I had more control over my chances for success.”

His New York City restaurants included Jim McMullen’s, Punch, Petaluma and Island. He opened the popular Cafe San Pedro in Cartegena, Colombia, and then moved to Panama City, Panama, where he owns La Posta and Market. He’s never gone to a Dark Shadows Festival, and he’s only done little snippets of interviews with people writing about the show. But he’s doing fine.

There are also three judges in the show today, one actual character and two silent extras.

Judge Vail is played by John Beal in nine episodes, from now until the end of the 1840 storyline in late January. Beal had a crazy long career in show business, starting with his first movie, Another Language, in 1933. He did a lot in early television, including Colgate Theatre and Chevrolet Tele-Theatre in 1949 and a bunch of shows that I never heard of, all the way through the 50s and 60s. After Dark Shadows in 1970, he was on The Waltons, The Adams Chronicles, The Streets of San Francisco, Family and Barnaby Jones. He did some movies in the 80s including Amityville 3-D, and his final screen appearance was in the Tom Cruise thriller The Firm in 1993.

Carl Nicholas plays one of the other judges in this episode and the next; he’ll be replaced by Tom Markus in 1174/1175 for another five episodes. This is Nicholas’ only screen credit.

Paul K. Giles is the third judge, who’s in 7 episodes. Giles also played two Reverends on Dark Shadows in 1967 — Reverend Alton Brook, who married Barnabas and Josette in 380, and Reverend Bland, who married Barnabas and Angelique in 396 and 397. He only has a few screen credits, including the short “Young Man’s Fancy” in 1952, which was riffed by Mike and the bots on Mystery Science Theater 3000, as the lead-in to The Violent Years in episode #610.

Monday: The Proceedings.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

116 thoughts on “Episode 1165: In the Haze of History

  1. I read The Interrupted Voyage back in 1970. When I got to the part where it is revealed that Angelique put the vampire curse on Barnabas because he had killed Rev. Trask, I threw the book away.

    1. An alternative reality, I guess. I mean the Trask image was kind of hot in terms of imagery. A well-formed male, bound, with clothes half torn from his body. It’s an image that is shown in other genres, although it’s often a woman who is confined/endangered. Obviously (rolling my eyes) this Trask and Angelique had a thing going or at least her fixation was on Trask instead of Barnabas. 🤷‍♀️

      1. Thanks for that image. I spent a large part of my lunch break trying to figure out how a Trask/Angelique AU would work.

        (But, oh, wouldn’t that be a fascinating parallel time for Barnabas to stumble into!)

        1. Christine! What a thought! Put that away!

          Can vampires throw up? I’m pretty sure I see “our” Barnabas puking in the bushes a few seconds after he encounters that AU Task/Angelique pairing.

          — oh no, it’s got me. Back to the AU storyline —

          Barnabas and Angelique marry after Josette and Jeremiah elope. Soon thereafter, Angelique starts an affair with Trask. Twice humiliated, this AU’s Barnabas kills Trask but not Jeremiah.

          Seriously though, that might be a lot of fun to play with. Does Barnabas still become a vampire? I guess he has to, but once that is worked out there are many ways it could play out.

          1. Well let’s see… Barnabas catches Angelique and Trask in the act (or as close to “the act” as you can get on daytime TV.) Barnabas immediately flies to his Plan A – “Trask must die”! Angelique realises what Barnabas has done, and cue flappy bat… 🙂

        1. Well, given that Barnabas caught him and walled him up, I’m guessing they had a little bit of chase that tore the clothing on Trask’s extremities … and removed his pants and shirt, leaving only his badly damaged jacket. Fortunately, Trask was able to quickly grab some grass and vines and fashion a make-shift belt to preserve some modicum of decency.

          They ran through the briars
          And they ran through the brambles
          And they ran through the bushes
          Where the rabbit couldn’t go.

          Oh sorry, that was 1815 not 1810.

  2. Thanks, Danny, for the excellent blog! I appreciated the comments on witches, and that we have more to fear from rabid religionists than wand-toting hags. Even when I was watching DS for the first time, I was confused about people’s thinking that they could destroy witches by burning, drowning or crushing: if witches were so powerful they could zap themselves out of the situation, right?

    I read the Gold Key booklet back when it was new, so thank you for sending me back to my childhood and giving me a reason to thank God I’ve grown up. (At least a little.) I confess that I was entertained, and still have the copy somewhere and wonder what i’m going to do with it since my children never seemed to be as enthralled with DS.

    And the info on David Henesy was appreciated. I’ve mentioned before that I had a boy-crush on him and wondered what happened to him. In a way, i’m glad he broke free from the trap of being almost solely associated with DS and seemed to be content with one of the toughest professions on the planet. I wonder what it would have been like to have been part of a 60’s soap opera cast as a child/youth.

  3. Annabella was haunting the room for a hundred and sixty years and nobody’s noticed it until now?

    Time jumping back to doomed places seems fairly popular, actually — I recall that folks are always going back to the Titanic to try and fix things. Makes me wonder if all the excess weight of the temporal visitors is what actually sank the ship.

    So…NOBODY in Salem, town full of witch hating populace, has even an inkling that Calandra is a witch, despite her loud cackling, the odd lights in her house, or her skull shaped earrings? And that she’s evidently using Michael as a hypno zombie slave, even though he’s engaged to Annabella? Come on, she even LOOKS like a witch!

    And I do like the idea that the townspeople are willing to give Barnabas a trial before they immolate him. And (given the full-color illustration of Trask’s immuring) I must ask whether there was a depiction of Barnabas and Michael in the jail cell exchanging clothes? Alas, not likely. (I digress.)

    I do feel as though I missed something by not reading Gold Key comics, but your recaps make me realize that I would probably have missed just as much reading them anyway. And we thought the SERIES was crazy!

  4. I always have trouble with “expanded universe” material. My extra-curricular fan reading (DS, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) tends to be making-of and biographical books. The Lara Parker books are a notable exception for reasons I can’t explain (but she does seem to be closer to the subject), but even those I take with a grain of salt.

    1. Me too, Ricardo. I have a hard time when one actor leaves a TV series or movie series and are replaced, though I will admit that sometimes the replacements are better in the role.

  5. Oh, thanks for this! You made my (dreary, Monday) morning. Let’s hope my colleagues didn’t find my laughter suspicious.

    (Clearly the Gold Key adventures take place in yet another parallel time. But they’re canon, so… )

  6. Having originated from the Boston area and having also had a decades-long family connection with the city of Salem, I visited the Salem Witch Museum for the first and last time in 1976 just before my tenth birthday, accompanied by my grandparents. It was the last time because one of the exhibits there made me physically ill, the scene where a man is being pressed to death with large boulders. A strong and vivid imagination has always giving me an edge for creativity from as far back as I can remember, but in certain situations it can be a [pun] curse. I just couldn’t stand the thought of this having happened to a person, no matter how many years or centuries ago. Finding myself in the grip of a dizzying, suffocating feeling of panic, I turned to leave and made it as far as the entrance door threshold before fainting and vomiting, having to be held up as they walked me back to the car. Driving along a short while later, my grandmother had to pull over by the side of the road so I could lean out and be sick again.

    Salem is otherwise a scenic and historic part of the New England coast. Just down the street from the witch museum is the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, with a commercial village of shops and restaurants including a marina known as Pickering Wharf:

    Nearby is Derby Wharf, where you can walk half a mile out into Salem Harbor; the state of mind you get out there is extraordinary, almost like you’ve left the day-to-day world behind somehow.

    In this area also is the famous House of the Seven Gables.

    I seem to recall at some point modern historians having located the site of the Salem Witch Trials as being an area to the north in what is now part of modern day Danvers. But more recently another group of researchers using the latest scientific methods and technology have, with definitive certainty, placed the exact site of the Salem witch hangings of 1692 in modern day Salem in between Proctor and Pope Streets, a place known as Proctor’s Ledge, near the base of Gallows Hill.

    These days Salem has become a modern hub for upscale and young hipsterish types, but it will always be defined by its storied history.

    For an unrelated but Dark Shadows type of twist, there’s also an area in Salem called Collins Cove, and in Danvers there’s a road off the Yankee Division Highway called Trask Lane.

    Not sure the Holocaust analogy fits with the Salem Witch Trials though, as the people of Colonial Salem were essentially of the same English Christian origin; basically, with the suspicion and hysteria surrounding the fear of witches and the devil and all that, they just ate their own, with the main metaphor being betrayal.

    It always did seem kind of strange to have witch trials and the like on Dark Shadows; but then again when you’ve got a popular ratings grabber like Angelique on the show, you may as well have a situation where betrayal can be played out under the threat of the gravest of consequences, this being the ever-lingering possibility of downfall and death among the innocent. Whenever cooking up a spell to undermine the life of an unsuspecting mortal, betrayal is always one of the main ingredients thrown by Angelique into her busy cauldron.

    Some other random thoughts:

    On what bats would stand for: they are essentially flying rats, and rats have always been associated with scourge and the Plague; in addition, bats are made to seem all the more spooky because they’re nocturnal and drink blood for sustenance – it’s a known fact that in a single year a single colony of 100 vampire bats can drink the blood equivalent of 25 cows. Then there’s that uniquely American phrase “bats in the belfry” to describe an erratically minded person. I challenge anyone to cite a positive, uplifting reference in relation to bats.

    Calandra? Sounds like the author(s) of this piece had seen some Dark Shadows episodes from 1968.

    Love that line about Barnabas’ cane washing up on shore “like a loyal dog”. 🙂 It is after all his signature prop, right? Tell you the truth, I was worried about it myself in that panel when he fell off the ship and it was obvious that he’d lost hold of it. Barnabas without his cane is like Linus from those Peanuts cartoons without his blanket, or Gilligan without his island… or something.

    1. Thanks for the tour. I’d like to visit Boston someday.

      BTW, I understand about getting so upset about seeing the exhibit of the man being crushed by boulders. Apparently, things like this really did happen and to real people. To this day I feel very uncomfortable visiting the city of New Orleans because of a horrific news story on TV of a fire in a high rise. It’s amazing how such things stay with us.

    2. Prisoner wrote, “Calandra? Sounds like the author(s) of this piece had seen some Dark Shadows episodes from 1968.”

      The ever-so-slight change from the “S-S” of “Cassandra” to the “L” of “Calandra” is rather amusing to me. 😉

      Yes, it does sound like the author was remembering the character Cassandra Collins from DS in 1968.

      Either that or the author had a sweet tooth for Italian pastries from here:

      or from here:

      🙂

      -Count Catofi

      P.S. I hope the photo links above will open OK.

    3. Don’t go calling bats flying rats … that description is for pigeons.😊 (Bats are a thing with my husband. He spent weekends one summer helping to count bats in old Colorado mine sites.)

      I can’t let myself think about real human cruelty too much. I don’t throw up, but it digs in emotionally if I over empathize and start thinking I can feel what the victims felt in their last moments. I did almost faint once when one of our dogs was badly injured by our other two. (The dog survived, but it took a huge amount of money for things like human plasma and skin grafts.)

      So why are we watching and liking DS which can be quite cruel? Oh, wait. It’s not real. That’s a relief because I sometimes think forensically about what Trask went through after being walled up and that just ruins the “I like Barnabas but I’m a nice person” inner narrative.

      Speaking of Salem witches … AMC and BBC America are running A Discovery of Witches on Sunday nights at 9 Eastern. There is a young, gifted Ph.D. academic who is repressing her magic despite knowing she traces to a Salem witch. The vampire is a very old Oxford biochemistry professor. Witches, vampires, and demons are different species or “creatures” who live secretly among humans. So far, I like it ok, but I’ll watch almost anything with vampires.

      http://www.bbcamerica.com/shows/a-discovery-of-witches

  7. I suppose I am being pedantic here; didn’t the evil witch BURN Barnabas’ cane to find out his backstory? So how come he’s recovered that cane and is shown standing on the beach (in Michael’s clothes) at a later point in the tale? Did he get the silver topper back and carve a fresh stick (granted he probably had a lot of time on his hands while sitting in his cell)?

    1. Wait, they let him have a knife in his cell so he could carve a new cane? Or maybe he did it with his teeth…

      My take on it is the cane is immortal. Perhaps Charles Delaware Tate painted a portrait of it back in the 1890s? And this undead cane follows Barnabas wherever he goes (see the bit about it washing up beside him like a loyal dog. 🙂

      1. I think Barnabas was a practitioner or at least a dabbler of the magical arts when he was mortal. That cane is like a wizard’s staff for Barnabas.

        I am pretty sure the wolf (dog? It looks like coursing hound to me sometimes) is a bound helper/familiar.

        Because it is not fully comfortable with being bound to a vampire it sometimes turns its head and bites its master’s hand, but that just puts it into a state of blood bound submission. The cane and the familiar don’t work they way there were supposed to because Barnabas is now a vampire. Still, there is no way that cane can be lost or destroyed for long. It will always return to Barnabas.

            1. The Ralston Purina lamp had an affair with the Collinsport Afghan – which is where the Ravioli Afghan came from.

              The Ravioli Afghan made it with the cane, and begat The Petofi Box.

                    1. The Collinsport Star is now reporting that Josette’s music box and Quentin’s phonograph will perform a duet together at the Collinsport annual bazaar this summer. The pair have been dating for several decades. It’s true she’s 100 years older than he is, but love conquers all …

                    2. Barnabas’ portrait was seen outside the music box’s window, playing “In Your Eyes” on a lute.

  8. The premise of this little adventure is that Annabelle wants to rescue her fiance, Michael, from the witch. So why is she totally OK with letting the townsfolk burn him alive? On another note, if you’re going to time travel and want to do a witch trial, why not travel to the 17th century. I can buy witches, werewolves, vampires and the like, but the anachronisms? Never!!

    1. Isn’t Michael still tied to the pyre when Calandra slips and (INSTANTLY) sets the wood ablaze? It’s to be hoped that some villager leaped forward and rescued the hapless fellow — though that seems rather uncharacteristic of the denizens of Salem as described. More likely, the kids threw rocks at him.

  9. I’m off on a nostalgic tangent here, but I thought my fellow Dark Shadows fans might be amused to learn that I just spotted Anthony George playing a rookie FBI agent on a 1960 episode of “The Untouchables”. Checking his entry on imdb.com it looks like it was a reoccurring role.

    He looks much better in a fedora than in Jeriamiah’s leaf jacket!

  10. After reviewing the Before-Barnabas episodes, I appreciate David Henesy as a genuinely good child actor; especially under the rough and tumble conditions of a daily soap, he–central to most of the early storylines–was unflappable, more sure of his lines than many of the adult actors, emotionally clear, to all appearances a young pro.I read somewhere (?!) that Curtis had a special connection the character of young David–something about having lost his own mother at a young age perhaps?–that fed into all those stories of David in peril, the low camera angles (child’s eye-view?) once Curtis got behind the camera, and–I now wonder–maybe the inability to let the boy grow up? The actor was clearly ready to move into teenaged situations–there are intriguing hints of a snide, privileged, smirky Tad early on, somewhere between a young Quentin and a young Gabriel; they could have explored what it was like to grow up a Collins, or to inherit the aftermath of the disasters that swept through the family every fifty years; there was lots they could have done. But–Danny’s right, as ever–somebody was stuck imagining him as a child. I count it a lost opportunity, and one that convinced a bright, talented, but bored young actor to leave the biz. Glad we still have him in these unlikely. treasured recordings.

      1. Although Henesy seems to have done quite well for himself, with no regrets, it’s sad to see such a genuinely talented young actor visibly grow bored and frustrated with the series as it goes along. His performance in the last episode with Burke, 344, is one of the finest anyone ever gave on DS.

    1. And such a shame Henesy was left so unwilling to discuss his experiences with Dark Shadows — doubtless he has such a unique perspective. And given the strength of the series’ fandom, I’d guess that even a short book could bring in a decent payoff.

      It is possible that he just doesn’t remember that much about it; I have a somewhat general sense of my younger years but not a lot of my day to day, but then I wasn’t working on a hit ABC daytime soap opera either.

      1. He was interviewed extensively by Kathryn Leigh Scott in her book 35th Anniversary Dark Shadows Memories, for which Alexandra Moltke wrote the forward. At the close of the interview, Henesy says: “…thanks for this opportunity to spill a few beans, jog the memory, and relish the past a little. I sometimes miss the good times we had, but never really had the time to think about it much.”

        1. For interested DS fans, FYI-

          The 2012 obituary of Jeanne Avery (David Henesy’s mom):

          “AVERY, Jeanne October 24, 1931 – February 10, 2012 Jeanne Avery, professional astrologer, author, and syndicated columnist, died Friday, February 10. She is survived by her three children Sharon, Diane, and David, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She filled our lives and the lives of many others with a sense of adventure, warmth, and enthusiasm. We will miss her deeply.”

          [from Legacy.com link below with her picture]

          https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=jeanne-avery&pid=156224561

          -Count Catofi

          1. At one of the Dark Shadows conventions that I attended here in LA, Diana Millay strongly hinted that Jeanne Avery was the ultimate stage mother. She said she didn’t want to say anything else because she didn’t want to get sued. (A little late, huh?)

            At the next DS convention, Millay and Avery appeared on stage together as if they were best friends talking about David in a very positive light.

            I wonder what happened in between.

      2. Not that Dark Shadows cast members would ever bother reading fan blogs like these (and why should they?), but as I commented here some months ago it would have been nice to at least have secured an interview with David Henesy to coincide with his final episode, just to get his 50-year perspective on the show, and maybe touching on his reasons for leaving.

        In my opinion, his best work was done in the early episodes during the first 9 months of Dark Shadows.

        1. The book mentioned above has some tantalizing stuff by Hennesy. He’s the one who tells the story of the “very smart, very handsome” actor who arrived at the studio in the middle of an acid trip, sad down in the wastebasket in Dan Curtis’s office, and wouldn’t move–resulting in that day’s shoot being cancelled. That was, of course, Don Briscoe and we know what came next. He also says that Grayson Hall got overly involved in his life and was a pain in the ass (but he loved her). As usual in these reminiscences, he recalled Jonathan Frid as being remote–probably nerves re: the lines. I imagine only Big Lou Edmonds knew Frid under more casual circumstances from his famous soirees but he was never publicly explicit on the subject. Henesy has been married a few times and ran restaurants all over the place–he has probably had a colorful life.

  11. On another note… I received my Blu-ray copy of The Master of Dark Shadows yesterday. It’s a pretty good documentary; I loved seeing Whoopi Goldberg talk about Dark Shadows, as well as some of the behind-the-scenes people.

    My favorite part: The Extras! Specifically, the “lost” ABC promos from 1966 that got my attention in the first place. The promos are narrated by actor Paul Frees, who did the voice of Boris on the Bullwinkle series. The one-minute promo states that Collins House is a place to stay away from because strange things happen there and ghosts haunt the musty hallways. So that promo, in particular, makes it seem that the show was always going to be supernatural, or at least they wanted to hook the potential audience with that notion.

    The shot of Alexandra Moltke as Victoria running away from Collinwood with a frightened look on her face was almost comical. They never were able to work that one segment into the show. It could have worked well for the episode where Vicki hurries to Widows’ Hill to stop Liz from jumping when Jason was blackmailing her.

    All in all, it was worth the investment.

      1. As part of the publicity for the DVD, there is this rather nice interview.

        https://www.closerweekly.com/posts/dark-shadows-cast-lara-parker-kathryn-leigh-scott-interview/

        One of the first discussions is about Dan Curtis learning to be a director with Lela Swift’s help. …so that explains some of the camera angles.

        I wonder what JF thought of it. Given that he got a little bent over the inconsistencies regarding vampire lore like where sometimes vampire Barnabas has a reflection and sometimes he doesn’t. I wonder what JF thought about Dan learning to be a director via on-the-job training as compared to JF’d own MFA in Directing from Yale. I just don’t recall any grumblings about Dan’s technical directing technique … there were general complaints about Dan’s vision for the characters or his personality, but not “technique”.

    1. My DVD arrived yesterday as well, and I agree it’s a good documentary, though the Dan Curtis and (ABC daytime vice president) Leonard Goldberg interviews were taken from the already existing extra features of the Dark Shadows DVD set. I could’ve done without the interview clips of those who had nothing to do with Dark Shadows, with the exception of the Museum of Television and Radio curator who moderated the 2001 cast reunion. It would have been better without the unnecessary interviews with Whoopi Goldberg and that “True Blood” guy and instead with clips of more people who had been involved with Dark Shadows; for instance, why weren’t Alexandra Moltke and David Henesy interviewed?

      Today in the mail the DVD of Burnt Offerings arrived, so tonight I’ll revisit that faithful old childhood TV staple after a second viewing of Master of Dark Shadows. You know, one of these nights I’m going to view back to back Night of Dark Shadows and Burnt Offerings. I love Dan Curtis!

      The reason for that clip of Victoria Winters running away from Collinwood is a nod to the 1944 movie The Uninvited, which the general backdrop and atmosphere of Dark Shadows and a good deal of the mysterious, spooky elements (like the woman sobbing in the night) are taken from:

      In The Uninvited, the Gail Russell character is suddenly possessed by one of the ghosts inhabiting Windward House, and runs from the house toward the nearby cliff to recreate the death of her mother, who fell to her death there 17 years earlier. So when taken out of context as in the clip of Victoria Winters running from Collinwood, the significance of the imagery is lost.

      Because it was partly based on The Uninvited, which is a bona-fide ghost story, Dark Shadows early on always had the potential to incorporate the supernatural. If Dark Shadows hadn’t been based on The Uninvited, and had instead taken as its main influence The Secret Storm, we wouldn’t be here talking about Dark Shadows today.

      1. I just received 2 new DVD’s in the mail – Burnt Offerings and Race with the Devil (starring Peter Fonda and Lara Parker). I’ve wanted them both for so long. I can’t remember the last time I saw Race with the Devil. It’s scary as hell.

        1. I just read the description for “Race With the Devil” and I need to see it immediately. “Burnt Offerings” is completely nonsensical and I love everything about it.

        2. Having revisited Burnt Offerings just last night, it seems that Dan Curtis may have inserted himself into the film for a couple of quick, almost hidden cameos. There’s that room on the top floor with a table full of photos showing the “memories of a lifetime’; when Karen Black (Marian Rolf) goes upstairs to bring a tray of food for Mrs. Allardyce, she has a long look through the photos, and just before the 23-minute mark you see a portrait which looks to be the very image of Dan Curtis (center in the screen image below):

          1. Prisoner wrote, “Having revisited Burnt Offerings just last night, it seems that Dan Curtis may have inserted himself into the film … just before the 23-minute mark you see a portrait which looks to be the very image of Dan Curtis …”

            Well, isn’t that a Hitchcockian touch? Amazing catch there, Priz.

            This insertion of the framed photo is so much like director Alfred Hitchcock, who often enjoyed appearing for a few seconds in a brief cameo role in so many of his own films! Does a photograph of Dan qualify as a a “cameo”? I’d definitely say so.

            Well, we shouldn’t be surprised at Dan Curtis’ “cameo” in Burnt Offerings, should we? My opinion is (and I strongly suspect from your blog DarkShadowsFromTheBeginning that you may agree) that Dan Curtis, even while he was working on DS for ABC, wanted eventually to become a world class director such as Hitchcock. Dan most certainly emulated Alfred Hitchcock’s TV work (as we already know from your blog) and also hoped to become a great director of Hitchcockian stature.

            Great catch. You’ve got a keen eye there.

            -Count Catofi

            1. Yes, those dizzying high shots that Dan famously uses in his work, like Night of Dark Shadows and Burnt Offerings, are reminiscent of such Hitchcock films as Vertigo and North by Northwest.

              In addition, I suspect that the way in which Dark Shadows became a type of “repertory” acting company with actors playing several different roles is in fact an influence taken directly from Hitchcock’s television work.

              If you notice the end credits of all the seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, it’s time again the same group of actors returning to take on different roles; then new actors come along that Hitch takes a liking to, and the cycle keeps repeating.

              The innovative twist on this was that Dan Curtis became the first to utilize this type of system for a serial drama as opposed to an anthology series.

      2. “… I could’ve done without the interview clips of those who had nothing to do with Dark Shadows …”

        I haven’t ordered my copy. However I do agree with your comment: Why bother interviewing those who had nothing to do with DS?

        For example: Did the makers pick Whoopi Goldberg because she once starred in a movie containing the word “ghost” in the title? “Ghost” (1990) with Patrick Swayze was almost 30 years ago, I realize, but in their minds, perhaps they figured Whoopi might therefore know a lot about the topic of ghosts in general. And therefore about DS. (?) As a matter of fact, it’s quite possible that Whoopi has far better insights into DS than Tim Burton! I realize that may not be the greatest endorsement. But it could be a reason for her interview.

        But be thankful, Priz. As the saying goes: “It could have been much worse.” At least they didn’t interview Johnny Depp, Tim Burton or “Miss Honeychurch.” 😉

        1. I had to Google “Miss Honeychurch” because I never saw A Womb with a Tube.

          But yeah, that J***** D*** and T** B*****. Whatever made them believe that they would be embraced by Dark Shadows fans for putting out a parody of something beloved? Does the term “homage” mean nothing to these people?

          The documentary is worthwhile because it provides a reminder that there was more to Dark Shadows than just Barnabas the vampire; that is to say, where would Dark Shadows have been without Dan Curtis?

          Another good thing about the documentary is that it provided cause for two more cast reunion/fan gathering events.

          The one disappointment is that there has been no video released from the latter event in New York on April 13. That means that the latest Dark Shadows Festival event is the first one ever to not have any video clips available for folks like me who couldn’t attend, especially since those cast Q&A segments are always so entertaining; and at the Paley Center on April 13 there was such a large turnout that the cast reportedly did a second Q&A in another room. So that’s unfortunate, a Dark Shadows Festival event where none of the attendees bothered to record it on video. A sadly missed opportunity.

          Nonetheless, I hope that these events will continue to be held. As with the vampire Barnabas, Dark Shadows fandom does as well seem to have a certain immortality after all.

          1. @Priz

            P.S. Last night I was re-watching DS episode 31 when I heard a voice from the control room WITHOUT ANY SPECIAL HEADPHONES. So I went to my desktop, looked up your blog post for episode 31 where you have the quote from the voice of director John Sedwick,

            “Get out there! Beat it! Do anything, but go!”

            https://darkshadowsfromthebeginning.com/2018/06/16/episode-31-breaking-point/#more-5040

            IT WAS AMAZING. For interested DS fans, go to episode 31 and listen for yourselves. It’s the part of episode 31 when young David tries to run out of Vicki’s room to escape Roger, but David’s hand slips on the door knob, or he has some problem getting the door to open. That is the moment when John Sedwick’s voice can be heard.

            I must praise PrisonerOfTheNight for his patience and his hard work in discovering so much NEW INFORMATION about DS for all of us to read, enjoy, and better understand our favorite show. If anyone else had performed this sort of precise analysis of the DS bleeding audio before PrisonerOfTheNight, then I am unaware of them.

            I believe in giving credit where credit is due. So, much kudos to you, Priz!

            1. Yes, Dan Curtis chided Sedwick for that afterward, and as well in the next episode when Louis Edmonds is in the Collinwood foyer during the opening scene and he’s confused because the sound effect for the front door of Collinwood opening is heard, but Joan Bennett doesn’t appear, perhaps having made a late entrance. So this momentarily throws Louis off his game and he wanders about absently for a long moment, and you can hear Sedwick chiming in with a very patronizing “Turn around!”

              After this, Dan advises Mr. Sedwick that he’ll have to be nicer to the actors, if he wants to stay around.

              This is a clue as to why, for all her crazy antics, Lela Swift would be the one to direct the highest number of Dark Shadows episodes out of all the directors hired for the position; because Lela seems to have been more actor-friendly and was the best at understanding them from an emotional level.

              Sad to day, for episode 53 the “ghost” of Mark Allen will be haunting the control room once more, having also been the topic of discussion there during the taping of episode 46 when Alexandra Moltke was telling cast and crew that she wanted to leave Dark Shadows, apparently traumatized over having to return to the same dressing room every day where something shocking and untoward had happened to her the month before.

              It turns out that the first ghost on Dark Shadows was in fact Mark Allen, and that he nearly destroyed Dark Shadows in almost driving Alexandra Moltke away before the summer of sixty-six was even over. By 1968, there could still be more Dark Shadows without Victoria Winters, but if Alexandra had left in August 1966 as she initially intended, then that would have been the end of Dark Shadows right then and there.

        2. I’m fine with Bonham Carter. She can still act; she just needed to get away from Burton. Depp is just a funny accent in a weird hat, or a weird accent in a funny hat. He commented endlessly about loving DS as a kid, but I find that suspect. I don’t think a deep and abiding love for the source material would have produced what they gave us in 2012.

          1. If Burton and Depp were sincere about loving the original series, then Burton’s film is Exhibit A in the shrinking of Burton’s talent to a semi-camp routine he can’t control any more–everything he does builds the same and has the same flaws, and clearly Depp’s undeniable talent has dwindled equally.

            I do, however, give some credit to the tale that these two and John August originally developed their own, serious take on the material (complete with some original-spin-on-the-franchise elements, including Victoria’s secret identity and her relationship to Josette’s ghost, the Collinses having fallen on hard times, and the like–debatable but not disrespectful,I think), but that the studio insisted on a frivolous rewrite and a comic treatment. You could make a case that they should have walked at that point . . . but they apparently settled for making a comic riff on old, beloved materials.

            1. I used to love Burton’s films, but it’s been close to 20 years since I’ve enjoyed any of his work unequivocally. The flaws are thrown into sharper relief with every production. The studio may well have encouraged changes to the script, but Burton still has a tremendous amount of leeway. He’s an author who refuses editorial intervention.

                1. “Damn you! … DAMN YOU!! … DAAAAMN YOUUUUU!!!!!”

                  ~ Marlene Dietrich to barrister Sir Wilfrid Roberts (Charles Laughton) at the murder trial of her husband Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) in director Billy Wilder’s “Witness For the Prosecution” (1957), one of my all-time favorite films:

                  Link to 12 second video clip below:

                  -Count Catofi

                    1. Mein Graf Catofi,

                      Aussichtspunkt is a vantage point or overlook…..like Widows’ Hill?

                      Wo ist mein Federhalter?

                    2. Prisoner: “I’m gonna go speak some German, speak some German.”

                      You made a Prussian Lutheran laugh out loud. Well done.

                    3. You’re getting warm with Widow’s Hill! Think instead of “Punkt übersehen.” Or “Beobachtungspunkt” …

                      Q: “Wo ist mein Federhalter?”
                      A: Roger versteckte den Füllfederhalter unter einem Felsen.
                      🙂

                    4. I will figuratively and perhaps literally smack myself like a V8 ad, but I can’t recall what early DS story involved an observation point!

                    5. @PT Christine who wrote: “… I can’t recall what early DS story involved an observation point!”

                      It’s the name of the beach location where Bill Malloy died, and where Roger lost a certain silver filigree something or other, and where Victoria later found this valuable writing implement …

                      The sound of someone smacking herself in 1,2,3 …

                    6. You can hear it, can’t you? Hanging in the ether?

                      I read Prisoner’s blog, I should have knoooooooooowwwwwwn……..

                      I may actually be PT Sabrina Stuart.

                    7. @Count:

                      That place of reference you’re hinting at: it also has a Hitchcock origin, used in two separate episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

                      We’ll get to that when we look into that area where Bill Malloy was said to have drowned, first mentioned in episode 60.

                    8. @PT Christine & @Priz

                      You both got it! It’s Lookout Point.

                      I painted the room “Lookout Point,” Benjamin Moore’s color #1646, which is a pale blue gray color. Here’s the color chip, link below:

                      https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/color-overview/find-your-color/color/1646/lookout-point?color=1646

                      I chose “Lookout Point” based ONLY on the color as one should always do. Of course, it is never a good idea to choose a color based on the name, though some of the names are amusing. 😉

                      This color I picked just happened to have a name related to DS. And to Alfred Hitchcock! And to a mostly forgotten movie on which much of Dark Shadows is based!! (I’m going to reveal that movie in the not-too-distant future.)

                      Note: In my search for the right color, I also discovered that Ben Moore has another color — called “Collingwood” spelled with a “G,” color #OC-28 — which name caused me to do a double take! But I couldn’t pick Collingwood because what I needed was a very light color for the room. Collingwood was too deep. Link to Benjamin Moore’s “Collingwood” below:

                      https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/color-overview/find-your-color/color/oc-28/collingwood?color=OC-28

                      Das hat Spaß gemacht!

                    9. @Count:

                      Both the “Lookout Point” and “Collingwood” as brand name colors are enough to convince me that someone at Benjamin Moore must be a Dark Shadows fan, especially of the early episodes — John Lasell, in his portrayal of Dr. Peter Guthrie, frequently said Collinwood as “Collingwood”. Now if only they had a Blue Whale…

                    1. 2 clues: It’s the same idea as “Punkt übersehen.” Or “Beobachtungspunkt.”

                      I readily admit my translations into German could be a bit off the (Deutsche) Mark.
                      😉

            2. Re: Tim Burton. I don’t think he ever said he loved Dark Shadows–the idea for the film was Depp’s. Burton only saw it in passing and said he found the actors “very earnest.” He’s a smart guy (I spent time with him a few decades ago for a couple of profiles) and recognized that the show wasn’t intended to be camp, but he found it dull. He was far more influenced by the Hammer films: You can see his love for them in Sleepy Hollow. I hoped going into his DS that he’d show the same kind of respect for the source but…

              1. In fact, when I spent time with him (once after Beetlejuice, once after Edward Scissorhands, and then after Ed Wood), I remember asking him about DS when we were comparing notes on our childhood influences and he said he didn’t know it. He knew Hammer as I said, the Vincent Price Poe and William Castle films, and Toho pictures like Destroy All Monsters.

                1. I admire so much of his earlier work, thus I had such high hopes for his Dark Shadows. Not only did he miss the point of the TV show, the story itself just wasn’t that good, IMO.

              2. Interesting! But may I politely demur from admiring Burton’s respect for the source–in almost any adaptation he’s done? His Sleepy Hollow is an effective moody piece–I’m fond of it, and it raised my hopes for DS as well–but of course the Washington Irving story is a satire of people who fall for local spooky legends; strictly speaking, you couldn’t get farther from the (literary) source. His Alice in Wonderland is dismaying if you love Lewis Carroll, and even Miss Peregrine betrays those books in its CGI-laden finale (which also mars his Dark Shadows). He didn’t rewrite Sweeney Todd (although cutting the chorus removed about a third of the score and he cast non-singers), so that one is probably his mildest interference on his source material, but Burton’s signature lies heavy on anything he undertakes (defensible in any film artist, of course), and these days variety and sensitivity to his sources is not his strong suit. But maybe you meant loyalty to Hammer horror?

                1. Since you mention Alice in Wonderland, have you seen the French adaptation, Alice or the Last Escapade, from 1977? Written and directed by Claude Chabrol, it stars Sylvia Kristel as Alice Carol — clever of the writer to have thrown in a nod to Lewis Carroll in this way. The full movie is contained in the YouTube clip below, and it’s all in French, but still fun to watch mainly because it plays out a bit like an extended Night Gallery episode.

                2. I know Burton’s stamp is all over everything but he did love and respect Hammer. I sense a guy who has lost his way or outgrown his childhood influences but with nothing to replace them. I loved his Sweeney Todd but that was Hammer-ish, too–and as you’ve suggested, cutting The Ballad of Sweeney Todd was looney-tunes. Killed a lot of the fun.

      3. Then perhaps they planned on a storyline for Vicki where she was being possessed by Josette and trying to relive her tragic last moments? Vicki would just need a ‘Rick Fitzgerald’ to rescue her (Burke or Frank) from her supernatural peril. But to follow the plot of The Uninvited they’d have needed 2 ghosts; one vampire was more cost effective.

        1. Of course it all developed differently on the original series–what with KLS popping into costume on a whim for Josete’s first visual appearance, and it all went on from there–but I always felt there was something right, if obvious, about having Victoria be spiritually connected to Josette; I actually thought that was one of the things the Burton film did rather well.

  12. Did no one else notice that those are NOT cloven footprints (hoof prints?) on the door. They are clearly from an animal or creature with padded feet and an excessive number of toes. Cloven hooves are called cloven because the word means split in half. Animals like deer, sheep, goats and pigs have them. They also have a hard cover which is the equivalent to our fingernails. Like these https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/footprints-european-hoofed-animals-each-two-2490315?src=KHNE-3NmjLbNG0fAcQylYg-1-31

    I’d also like to agree with Benj. I never really got why they thought they could put witches on trial either. If you were really a witch/very powerful creature with the power to make people sick or whatever why wouldn’t you zap or fight your way out of there. I mean OK once you actually got them in a burning fire, but what powerful creature would let it get to that point? Maybe you sit there for the trial with the hope you could be found innocent and go back to your undercover witchery, but once your cover has been blown you boogie on out of there. Since they never did QED they weren’t witches.

    Two more Salem stories you might be interested in. One is from the excellent old time travel TV show “Voyagers!” (available on DVD) where they have to save Benjamin Franklin’s mother from getting killed. There were zero real witches in that reality although the townspeople became convinced there was magic because the time machine made them vanish before their eyes and they used Pepper’s Ghost to convince them that all the people they had killed were innocent. Second was a program they used to have at Colonial Williamsburg where they reenacted an actual witch trial from court records.It did play out all the real hysteria you talked about, but the last bit was the convicted witch turning to you, the modern audience, and giving a very witchy cackle which kind of put paid on the no such thing bit.

    1. Bedevere – “How do you know she is a witch?”

      Angry Villager – “Well, she turned me into a newt! (Bedevere gives a stern look; Villager wilts a bit.) I got better.”

      — Monty Python And The Holy Grail, 1975

    2. Yeah I noticed the prints. Looks like polydactyl kitten prints to me. My husband got a couple polydactyl kittens for his 50th birthday. Ours don’t have as many toes as those prints on the wall but we saw one at a shelter that did. That little kitten had had so many extra toes she ended up with twice what the regular cats do.

      What can I say, this whole comic is just full of nonsense. Disjointed words and images meant to evoke feelings but not sensible at all.

      1. Add in the nonsensical plot and you have a Gold Key classic. I probably wouldn’t have noticed so much if I’d read it as a preteen, but I was much more gullible as a child. That all changed one Christmas Eve when I, determined to get a glimpse of “The Man In The Red Suit”, sneaked downstairs at midnight to find my parents putting out presents. I returned to my room sadder but wiser.

    3. My favorite witch “escape” is from Buffy. Said witch is tied to a stake and turns herself into a rat and scurries away. Her friends keep her in a cage while they try to find the right spell to change her back!

  13. I agree with Prisoner that there are few people who can buck the studio. I don’t know if the studio owned the rights. If they were the ones holding the rights it was their way or the highway and someone was likely going to do it. It’s hard to know what plans they had. They might have used a very successful comedy take as an argument to return with a serious one. There is one think I know about Hollywood and that’s plans often don’t happen after all.

    I would like to say this for Johnny Depp though. He might well have loved the source material and better plans were prevented even as they went along in shooting. Or he might love the series a different way. Soaps are in a certain way an ink blot test. People can look at the same thing and get two opposite things out of it when asked what just happened. There are different layers. Someone can love a story/world and see it completely different than other fans.

    1. The rewrite to comedy may have had to do with the glut of vampire tv and film drama at the time. Shows like True Blood were riding high, all blood and sex. The “wisdom” may have been to steer clear of more of that, as it had been perceived to have reached saturation.

      1. Oddly, it seems as if big budget retreads of TV series are usually self-consciously campy, with the exception of the campiest show of all, Batman. And most of the movies don’t come off well.

        Maybe Tim Burton could reimagine “My Mother The Car”… 😁

  14. I suppose that any or all of the following observations may have already been pointed out, but in case not, here goes.

    At this point in the series, almost all the writing is being done by Russell and Hall, and all the directing is being done by Swift and Kaplan. In fact, Swift is producer on each episode as well. (I know that Joe Caldwell was writing, too, but I haven’t seen his credit in many episodes.)

    Though I don’t know music well, it seems to me that the piano music associated with Joanna does not belong to 1840 but sounds more like something from a 1940s movie.

    Coincidentally, Kate Jackson will later appear in a made for TV movie and a series entitled “Charlie’s Angels” while Kathleen Cody will later appear in a movie called “Charley and the Angel.”

    Why did DS have to end? This I know has been pointed out again and again but bears mentioning: DS has gone back to the well more than once. Turn of the Screw, and The Crucible, one reprised on the heels of the other, and soon the Cask of Amontillado gets retreaded. I like the way the trial goes in 1840 better than the one in 179? (They keep changing the year; Was it 1795, 1796, or 1797?) I especially like the new actors added to the cast. Something about Virginia Vestoff appeals to me, and I don’t know what it is, but I quickly liked her. (It’s not just that Samantha so readily befriended Julia.) Even Joan Bennett seems to me to have found a character in Flora Collins that she can live in comfortably and have fun with and yet be refreshingly different from the tired variations on neurotic Elizabeth Stoddard that Bennett has been doing since 1966.

    Our judicial system evolved from the marriage of Greek reason and Judeo-Christian faith to become one the premiere institutions that represents Western Civ (OK, there is more than one system, the Latin or Napoleonic system and the English system that I guess has similarities to Germanic and Scandinavian traditions), but it did take a while to get the superstitious kinks out. The journey was a necessary part of the process, I guess. Yet the trial in 1840 is quite a throwback. I think Desmond is right that this whole trial is unconstitutional. The judges seem to be saying, Yeah, so what? Legal precedent and common law from previous centuries still apply. Apparently the Constitution and modern science do not supersede medieval witchcraft laws, even though they kinda did historically. Also, how come people keep saying, We haven’t had a witch trial in 200 years? No, you had one right here in Collinsport less than fifty years ago! And before that, less than 150 years ago.

    1. “…Joan Bennett seems to me to have found a character in Flora Collins that she can live in comfortably and have fun with and yet be refreshingly different from the tired variations on neurotic Elizabeth Stoddard that Bennett has been doing since 1966.”

      As much as I bitch about 1840, I really loved Joan’s interpretation of Flora. Someone else here pointed out that she seemed to be channeling Billie Burke. I love it!

    2. re: ‘Also, how come people keep saying, We haven’t had a witch trial in 200 years? No, you had one right here in Collinsport less than fifty years ago! And before that, less than 150 years ago.’

      Still another point to the argument that this is not as much a time travel as it is a Parallel Time plot, story, er, thingy.
      Quentin was a better architect/carpenter than he knew — his staircase punches through time, space and dimensions too.

  15. Hey, if folks want some more of my Dark Shadows Every Day-style pop culture literary theory, I’m the guest on this week’s episode of ToughPigs.com’s “Movin’ Right Along: A Muppet Movie Podcast”, talking about the best and most intellectually challenging movie ever made, The Great Muppet Caper.

    It’s super deep history and smart person talk about a movie starring a puppet frog and a puppet bear pretending to be newspaper reporters who are also identical twins. It’s really fun, you should check it out. http://www.toughpigs.com/movin202/

    More blog posts coming soon.

    1. Liked the discussion; but at two minutes of film to a podcast, it’s going to be some little time before it finishes!

      On another related topic, I just read that NYC has renamed West 63rd Street as Sesame Street. Now I can take a cab there (if I can ever find one).

  16. I got the digest when it came out and loved it. I still have a copy of it. DS collectibles were just so few and so impossible to find, Gold Key was keeping it alive, in all its non-canonical ways, and I will always love them for it, even that weird issue that had Roger and Elizabeth married.

    I believe Gold Key’s Twilight Zone and Ripley’s digests outsold DS because those were reprints of the regular comics. The DS digest, for some reason, was prose – more of a pulp throwback, when you think about it. I don’t know why they went that route instead of collecting some back issues. In any case, Gold Key’s target audience wanted pictures.

        1. Ooh, somewhere in the South Wing attic, there’s a load of REALLY scary looking (and undoubtedly haunted) portraits of hare lipped, bug eyed Collinses…

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