Episode 1170: This Place Is Not a Place of Honor

“Spirits don’t usually attack people.”

This place is a message…  and part of a system of messages…  pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here.

What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

That’s a quote from Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a 1992 work of speculative science-fiction by the Sandia National Laboratories about how to keep our descendants away from our long-term nuclear waste disposal system.

You see, playing with nuclear energy is a lot of fun, but you end up with waste that stays radioactive for 10,000 years, which presents you with a storage problem. You have to put the waste somewhere, but the warning label that you post needs to be legible to the Fury Road warriors who come along nine thousand years from now, and wonder if there’s something cool inside the big lead mystery box.

It’s an interesting problem, figuring out how to communicate with people that far in the future. The oldest known written language is Sumerian, which goes back about five thousand years, and even Old English, which was used about one thousand years ago, is essentially indecipherable to anyone but experts. We can’t predict what language people will be speaking in ten thousand years — my bet is on Sumerian, which is long overdue for a comeback — and we don’t know if they’ll be able to understand any existing language, or even what kind of symbols will still be meaningful. We don’t know what their culture will be like, what they’ll understand of their history, what kind of technology they’ll have, or what their intentions will be. All we know is that if they try to dig up the Fabled Lost Treasures of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant of Carlsbad, New Mexico, they will be disappointed, and then sick, and then dead.

So the people responsible for marking the site need to construct a system of messages designed to last for ten thousand years. All of the written messages will be translated into the six official languages of the United Nations — English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese and Arabic — plus Navajo, the local Native American language, because you never know. They’ll also leave blank space for the people of the future to write their own translation, probably in emojis and GIFs.

Now, designing structures and materials that will last that long is relatively easy; the hard part is anticipating all the ways that humans could possibly screw things up. For example, if they include vertical stone markers, then it’ll look like a monument to the honored dead — you know, the kind that humans have used across the centuries to indicate that there’s interesting stuff buried right under them. Markers that are visually attractive will be stolen and sold as objects of art. Anything that’s useful and removable will be stripped out by desperate people and reused as building material.

And the problem with this problem is that it’s actually too interesting, which is why the recommendations of the Expert Judgment report probably won’t be used. The experts came up with all kinds of creative ideas for building utterly haunting public art exhibitions that certainly would have communicated a sense of dread and wonder to the people of the future — and meanwhile, in the present day, the project would turn the site into a popular tourist attraction, with thousands of people showing up to visit the nuclear waste isolation site, which is the opposite of where you want them to go.

So our long-term nuclear storage system needs to look messy, ugly, scary, useless and above all boring, a location which doesn’t attract attention but still convinces people that long ago, humans put a curse on this place, and if you don’t heed their warnings, you’ll be poisoned slowly by invisible death rays.

In related news, purported television network the CW has just announced that they’re working on a new Dark Shadows television series — Dark Shadows: Reincarnation, an hour-long drama created by Mark B. Perry, executive producer of Revenge, The Ghost Whisperer and Brothers & Sisters. According to Deadline:

“The re-imagined show will be a modern-day continuation of the strange, terrifying, and sexy saga of the Collins family of Collinsport, Maine — a mysterious, influential, publicity-shy group hiding a ghastly secret: For the past 400 years, they’ve lived under a curse that bedevils their blue blood with every imaginable supernatural creature and horror.”

So there’s that.

Now, we’ve been here before — naturally, that’s the whole point of a reboot — and I believe Dark Shadows fans have earned the right to be a little queasy about another Dark Shadows television show. We had a revival show in 1991, which didn’t go terribly well, for reasons that basically boil down to it’s not a very good idea to remake Dark Shadows. There was also a pilot shot for the WB in 2004, which we’ll be getting to in just a couple of weeks, and that didn’t work either, probably for much the same reason. The 1970 feature film House of Dark Shadows proved that rebooting Dark Shadows doesn’t work even if you have the original cast, writers, producers and audience.

See, the problem with telling the story of Dark Shadows over again from the beginning is that it wasn’t really a story; it was a process. The original creators just did the most interesting thing they could think of each day, casting eccentric New York theater people and then paying close attention to what the audience responded to, so they could pivot fast to feature the characters and plot points that people liked. They ended up with a story where the original core characters — the modern-day Collins family — became less and less important, as the screen time was eaten up by the outré outsiders who gradually took control from the sidelines. Story decisions were based on the particular appeal of the actors on the show, and characters who should have been minor walk-ons ended up driving major storylines for years, based on the force of the actor’s personal charisma.

It worked at the time, because the audience experienced the show from day to day, with no reruns or streaming video that would call attention to the nonexistent overall story structure. But if you try to retell that story from the beginning, it doesn’t make sense; you have to set up a whole cast of core characters at the beginning who become progressively less important over time, and the story doesn’t build to a season-finale climax. It’s just one damned thing after another.

But as they said, Dark Shadows: Reincarnation is meant to be a continuation of the story rather than a retelling, which is a sound move. That means that they can pick whatever elements they want to from the original show that still feel compelling, and then make up new stories with new characters, free from the expectation that they need to introduce two dead blonde fire witches in the same episode. That’s the same thing that Big Finish has been doing with their Dark Shadows audio dramas, with entertaining results.

Here’s some more information on the new show, from Mr. Perry:

“As a first-generation fan, it’s been a dream of mine to give Dark Shadows the Star Trek treatment since way back in the ’80s when Next Generation was announced, so I’m beyond thrilled and humbled to be entrusted with this resurrection. And while I could never hope to fill Dan Curtis’ very large shoes, I do aspire to carry them a little farther into the future.

“I also want to reassure the fans of the original that this version will treat the show’s mythology with the same reverence given to Star Trek, but will also make the show accessible for audiences who aren’t yet familiar with the macabre world of the Collinses. My plan is to take as few liberties as possible with the Dark Shadows canon, while bearing in mind a quote from a 1970s episode delivered by the inimitable Oscar-nominee Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman: ‘The Collins family history is not particularly famous for its accuracy.’”

So, I mean. A press release that specifically invokes the inimitable Oscar-nominee Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman? It’s essentially impossible for me to hate on this show. I won’t do it; it can’t be done. Besides, you know what they say about guys with very large shoes.

And that quote — “The Collins family history is not particularly famous for its accuracy” — is just about the most obscure thing you could imagine. It’s from episode 1075, an August 1970 episode in the middle of the Gerard and Daphne re-Turn of the Screw storyline. Barnabas and Julia are looking through books, trying to learn what they can about how Carrie and Tad died, and Julia says that line right before they’re interrupted by Quentin and start talking about something else.

I don’t believe anyone’s ever called attention to that quote before. My post for that episode, “The Night of the Sun and the Moon“, is actually just a list of lines of dialogue, and I didn’t consider that line interesting enough to even mention. And yet Mark B. Perry has it right at his fingertips. Touché, Mr. Perry.

Still, it seems appropriate at this point to send a warning to him, and to the people of the future. Just think of them all, one season of Dark Shadows: Reincarnation from now, struggling to their feet, blinking in the sunlight, wondering where they are and how they can rebuild the world. Who knows what terrible sights they’ve seen? So let’s look at today’s episode, and find out what wisdom it may offer as the CW stumbles towards its next calamity.

Well, as the man said, this message is a warning about danger, which comes a bit too late as far as Gerard Stiles is concerned. There he is in the Collinwood drawing room, staring thoughtfully at a chessboard and quietly pondering his plan to behead everyone and steal their money, when Gabriel Collins emerges from a secret panel hidden in the back wall, sneaks up behind him, and sideswipes him with a karate chop. Gabriel’s having another in a series of bad days and he’s got a lot of feelings about it, which he’s going to express through the medium of garrotting people.

You see, Gabriel’s been concealing the fact that he doesn’t need to sit in that wheelchair anymore, and yesterday, his dead father Daniel popped up and delivered the following announcement to his descendant in English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic and Navajo:

“LIES, Gabriel, LIES, LIES! Your LIFE is a lie! You will lie no more! I’m EVERYWHERE, Gabriel, EVERYWHERE with you! I will do to you what you did to me! I WILL MAKE YOU DIE!”

It was a pretty clear message, but entirely lost on Gabriel, of course, who decided to just keep on digging for treasure anyway.

So here’s Gabriel, wrapping rope around Gerard and trying to advance his interests, but you can’t just kill the most interesting character on the show two minutes into the episode like this. They’ve invested a lot of time into building this storyline around Gerard, and he’s still got work to do.

In fact, James Storm is currently halfway through an eleven-day streak of filming one episode after another, which is taxing the already-shaky grasp that he has on his dialogue. While he’s taking a moment of well-deserved rest, let’s check out his taping schedule for December 1970.

Last week, he was only involved in two episodes — 1162 on Wednesday, and 1164 on Friday. This week (December 7th to 11th), he’s shooting five episodes in a row: 1167, 1168, 1169, 1170 and 1172. Next week (December 14-18), he’s got another five episodes: 1171, 1173, 1177, 1176 and 1174/1175. These are all out of order, of course, so factor that in as well. The week after that (December 21-25), he’s got Monday off, then back to work for another three episodes in a row — 1181, 1178 and 1185 — and then he gets Friday off for Christmas. After that, he’s back for another four-episode week: 1182, 1183, 1184 and 1186.

This is the production technique I was talking about earlier, where the producers threw people at the screen until they found an actor with the right kind of charisma, and then they would tear down the show and rebuild it around that person. It’s happened four times so far, with Barnabas, Julia, Angelique and Quentin, and now Dark Shadows belongs to Gerard. All four of those superstars are just secondary players; none of them even know that Gerard is running the storyline.

We can’t let him die, so the day is saved by Leticia, who lets herself into the house without knocking or anything, because if you wait around for someone to answer the door at Collinwood then you’ll miss all the murder attempts. Startled, Gabriel darts behind a curtain, and lets himself out through the window while Leticia’s surveying the wreckage.

It wasn’t a great plan, really — sneak into the most-used room in the house within sight line of the front door, attack someone, and then jump out the window into the garden, leaving the secret panel open and the murder weapon on the floor covered in fingerprints and suspicious fibers, but Gabriel’s not vertical very often, and he’s not used to operating at this altitude. All the blood is rushing to his wheels.

As Gabriel slinks off uselessly into the night, we see Gerard wake up and take stock. Now, the interesting thing about a Gerard scene is that sometimes his mouth opens and words just tumble out, and — because he’s the core character now — everyone else has to go along with whatever he’s trying to say. We’ll see that technique, in just a moment.

“Someone tried to kill me,” he gasps, coming back to his senses. Leticia asks who it was, and Gerard has to admit that he doesn’t have the foggiest idea; this storyline is so crazy that it honestly could be anybody. He realizes that Leticia scared his killer away, and says that he’s grateful, and then they get into the forensics.

“I think whoever it was must have left by the window,” Leticia reports. “I thought I heard someone behind the drapes. Yet when I came over here, I didn’t see anybody.”

“They might have come in by the window,” Gerard observes. “Still, they didn’t leave that way.” And then he points at the secret panel, which is still hanging open.

Now, Leticia didn’t say that the killer came in by the window; she said that’s how they left. It would be ridiculous to imagine that a criminal would break into the house, entering through a closed window that would have been well within Gerard’s peripheral vision, get behind him and start strangling, and then, interrupted mid-murder, leap to the wall and open a secret panel that nobody knows about, and flee into the interior of the house. Obviously, Gerard just got the line backwards, and we’re not supposed to take it seriously.

Except then we’re in the secret passage, and Gerard doubles down on his blooper.

“Goes on a bit, don’t it?” she asks, as they navigate through the tunnels.

“Yes,” Gerard says, and points. “The staircase over there — there must be an exit around somewhere. It’s maybe up there that the assailant made his escape.”

Which is insane. Why would the assailant escape to the inside of the house?

And by the time they get back to the drawing room and find Gabriel sitting in his wheelchair and wisecracking, Leticia has drunk the Kool-Aid as well.

“This is no time to be funny, Gabriel,” she scolds, “there’s a murderer loose in the house.” I have no explanation for this.

Then there’s a little more Gerardspeak. Addressing Gabriel, he demands, “Did you know that there was a safety passage behind that panel there?”

“Of course I did,” Gabriel smiles. “We used to play there as children. Oh no, does that make me a suspect, Gerard?” except he pronounces it sus-pect, which is not how you’re supposed to. Gabriel’s way off script today too; Gerard is contagious.

By the end of act two, the whole show is off kilter. We find Gerard standing in Quentin’s jail cell for a friendly visit, and we hear the clanking of the jailer’s keys locking the cell. The wooden door leading to the cell is still open, but after a few seconds, it swings closed all by itself, apparently pulled by an invisible deputy.

Quentin says that Gerard has some explaining to do: “I just wondered how it happens that the prosecutor of my case happens to be your very good friend Dawson, and why is he so determined to crucify me!”

Gerard is shocked. “And am I to be held responsible for the actions against a — a former friend?” He means the actions of a former friend.

“Former?” Quentin asks.

“Had no one told you that Charles Dawson and I were no longer friends?”

“No. No one’s told me anything.”

Gerard says, “Well, I was furious with him when he said he would accept the case, that he would prosecainst again – prosecain — against you!”

The Gerardspeak is flying pretty fast by this point. “I told him our friendship was finished,” Gerard swears, “that I was going to stand with you, that I would not help him in any case, whatsoever!”

“Well, I don’t know what to say,” Quentin says. Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around.

They’re having trouble with the blocking, too. They’re shooting through the bars, which is fine, but the actors are so close to the bars that it’s impossible to find a shot where the camera can see both of their faces; it just shifts around, restlessly. Plus, they didn’t light this part of the set properly.

“I just wonder how it is that men like Barnabas and Desmond can be so much against you,” Quentin admits.

“Yes. I don’t understand it, either.” Gerard takes a seat. “But they will be… (sigh) … very interested to know that you and I have a, uh, common enemy.” There’s no explanation for why they would be very interested to know that.

“I was attacked last night,” Gerard reports.

“Someone tried to kill you?”

“Yes. I was in the drawing room. Someone snuck in through the secret passageway, through the panel.”

Which means Gerard does understand that the killer came in through the secret panel, and left by the window. So why was there dialogue about the assailant making his escape up the stairs and into the house? That’s the magic of Gerardspeak; sometimes it’s not even possible to reconstruct what the lines would have been like, even if he’d said them properly.

“Tell me something,” Quentin says, changing the subject. “Has Daphne received any more letters?”

“Yes, I’m afraid she has,” says Gerard, “even more mysterious than ever.”

Quentin nods. “I know.” What?

“All of the trouble started,” he observes, “when I began to receive those letters from Joanna. Now, it’s just possible that the source of those letters is the answer to all of our trouble.”

“Yes,” Gerard agrees. “Yes, you once told me that you had received letters in a very familiar pattern.”


“Well, perhaps Daphne received letters in the same pattern.” What?

“Take care of yourself,” Quentin warns, as Gerard waits for the invisible deputy to let him out again.

“Believe me,” Gerard smirks, “now that I’ve been alerted… no one will get rid of me.”

But they will, that’s the tragedy of it. After this insane marathon in December, James Storm has another six-day taping streak in mid-January, which finishes him off completely. That concludes the 1840 storyline, and Storm gets a couple weeks off. Then he comes back for two more episodes, and that’s it; he leaves the show. We don’t see him again until Night of Dark Shadows, and you know how that turned out, for him and for all of us.

So this is my warning to Mark B. Perry: Making Dark Shadows is really, really hard. Everyone who tries to make Dark Shadows fails, including the people who did it successfully in the first place.

This is what Dark Shadows does, it overwhelms you; it chews you up, and doesn’t even have the decency to spit you out. The best advice that I can offer for your new enterprise is do not drill here, do not dig here, do not do anything that will change the rocks or water in the area.

I offer this warning to the future, knowing that it won’t be heeded, because people generally aren’t very good at heeding things. The CW is going to go ahead and make another Dark Shadows, whether it’s a good idea or not. I wish them all the good fortune in the world. Besides, what are dead horses for, if you’re not going to beat them?

Monday: He Schemes, He Scores.

More Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Gerard’s got a small tear on the back of his coat through the whole episode. You can see it when he turns to examine the secret panel in act 1, when he talks about Dawson in act 3, and when he crosses the foyer to the drawing room in act 4.

When Gerard and Leticia head from the drawing room into the secret panel, one of the candles that Gerard is holding goes out. It’s lit again when we see them in the secret passage.

When Carrie asks Gabriel about the mud on his shoes, he says, “Assuming it’s none of your business, which it isn’t, a servant was helping me from the carriage.” He means assuming it’s any of your business.

When Gerard asks Leticia why she came to the house this evening, there’s a scraping sound from off-screen.

About thirty-five seconds into the Gabriel/Quentin scene in act 2, a cliffhanger music cue starts to play, and then quickly cuts off.

Gabriel tells Quentin, “If you don’t do anything right away, you’ll have yourself to blame if anything happens to Tad.” He means if you don’t do something right away.

Gabriel tells Quentin that Gerard is “behind everything that’s happened — the trial, your trial, the changing of the will, everything.”

Leticia suddenly has a sense of a foreign spirit entering the house at the moment that Gerard walks in. She makes a big deal about it, but she’s been in the house with Gerard lots of times, including earlier in the episode.

When Gerard walks from the foyer into the drawing room in act 4, the boom mic can be seen very clearly above Leticia and Daphne.

When Daphne crosses the foyer to talk to Leticia, Gerard drops the note, and has to stoop down and pick it up again.

Gerard announces, “Now it’s time to close the little mystery about Joanna Mills.”

Behind the Scenes:

Barbara Tracey plays the stand-in for Joanna’s ghost at the end of today’s episode; she played the same role in episodes 1150 and 1151. This is her last DS episode.


The report mentioned above on how to communicate danger to people in 10,000 years is really interesting, and includes neat ideas like the Forbidding Blocks and the Landscape of Thorns. This link has the pdf of the full 1992 report: Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. There’s a good summary of the Department of Energy’s 2004 response to the proposals in a 2015 JSTOR Daily article, “Will Art Save Our Descendants from Radioactive Waste?

Monday: He Schemes, He Scores.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

186 thoughts on “Episode 1170: This Place Is Not a Place of Honor

  1. I used to watch Dark Shadows every day & miss that, so I look forward to your posts. This one was particularly interesting. I’m looking forward to the new DS but I really hope they choose a good Barnabas. I think he might be the hardest one to cast.

  2. Letting the CW produce a new Dark Shadows reminds me of the scene in Animal House when Otter grins and tells Flounder — “you f#@*ed up, you trusted us.”

  3. you have to set up a whole cast of core characters at the beginning who become progressively less important over time

    I think that’s why some of us like the pre-Barnabas episodes so much. Roger as a shifty villain and the Carolyn/Joe/Burke triangle are great fun. No, that’s not the kind of thing that launched the show into the stratosphere, but fun nonetheless.

    If DS:R is truly a continuation, Barnabas is not a vampire? The DS wiki seems to find it a debatable point.

    1. I so agree with you, Ricardo, that some of us really liked the pre-Barnabas characters and were not happen when they were diminished.

      I hope DS:R will at least mention these characters (Liz, Roger, Mrs. Johnson) and feature Carolyn, David, Maggie, and Joe as regulars. Oh yes, and I hope we get to see the Blue Whale every now and then.

      Of course, this is assuming that the CW does pick up DS:R as a series. That’s not a given, yet.

  4. Well the quote does mention ‘modern day’, I assume it won’t pick up in 1972. Can it be there are some other supernatural perils BESIDES Barnabas Collins, Angelique & various werewolves? I do hope there will be mad science. And don’t forget there’s a bumper crop o’ ghosts hanging about.
    But I don’t remember much ‘sexy’ – – though by 1960s standards I suppose neck biting and a few glimpses of male torso made for smoking hot television, or at least enough to make Mary Whitehouse take umbrage. And as it IS The CW airing it, characters will be hopping from bed to bed like prosti-toads.
    I’m at least willing to give it a chance; but if it’s just going to be another retread of Willie And The Mystery Box, I’m off.
    I say bring in Nicky Blair, and this time give him some real fire instead of damp squibs; pull in Count Petofi (but not the hair), and would a good old fashioned troublemaker like Suki Forbes be too much to ask? (I know, I’m crossing timelines, but I’m sure there’s a Staircase somewhere in Collinwood that can make it happen.)

    Giant Pigweasel Invasion! 😁

    1. naw, I want to see Pansy Faye possess someone on a celebrity dance program when the contesant accidentally dons one of Pansey’s old costumes.

      1. America’s Most Wanted comes to look into all the unsolved murders.
        America’s Test Kitchen comes to find out the recipes of Sarah Johnson.
        Cops: Collinsport follows the sheriff on a typical night; 2 women attacked on the docks, sighting of a large wolf in the hotel, headless body seen walking in the woods.
        Survivor: Collinsport.
        Big Brother: Collinwood.
        Queer Eye attempts makeovers of Ned Stuart and Harry Johnson.
        The Bachelor tries to match Eric Lang.
        Wifeswap exchanges Megan Todd with Cassandra Collins (and Philip and Roger run off together).
        Project Runway attempts a season using only fashions from Ohrbachs. Epic fail.
        Rupaul’s Drag Race attempts a season using only fashions from Ohrbachs. Fabulous success!
        Who Do You Think You Are attempts to untangle the Collins family tree. Chaos ensues.
        Antiques Roadshow visits Collinsport and everyone brings in the same things; their Afghan and Ralston Purina lamp.

        1. Who Do You Think You Are attempts to untangle the Collins family tree. Chaos ensues.

          BWAH! Can you imagine the genealogist giving up in frustration because their family history kept changing?

  5. For Dark Shadows: Reincarnated, Quite simply, The immortal Quentin Collins should return to Collinsport Main in the present day after being away for 50 years, reopen the deserted mansion, meet all the new people and families in town, and get all up in their business soap opera style. And occasionally refer in the supernatural incidents that happened in the past as ALL NEW AND DIFFERENT SHIT starts to happen.

    1. The immortal Quentin Collins should return to Collinsport Main in the present day after being away for 50 years, reopen the deserted mansion, meet all the new people and families in town, and get all up in their business soap opera style.

      Sounds good, but do you circumvent the ability to quickly research online?

      1. No internet in Collinsport; the local caretaker at the cemetery warns that it makes the spirits restless. And the spirits are active enough already.

          1. I think he looks pretty good at his current age. I never really felt the draw when he was younger, and I’m watching the 1970s episodes now. Now I think he’s pretty hot for an older guy, although part of that is the accent. 🙂

            I do think he should be on the new show though. Preferably he’d have a large supporting role, assuming he wants to be tied to one.

            There’s got to be someone out there who could be a suitable substitute for what you liked about the younger Selby. 😍

            1. In all seriousness, i think Selby would refuse an appearance on a reboot. He’s gone on to other things. Has he even participated much in DS conventions and that sort of thing?

              1. I know that Selby has been in multiple Big Finish productions,including the most recent production Bloodlines. He also attended the Dark Shadows Festival where Return to Collinwood was performed, took part of the on stage reading and then in the cast recording. So he hasn’t totally moved on. That doesn’t mean he would return to a revival, but it doesn’t mean he’s completely opposed either.

              2. I don’t know about DS, or even being tied to the grind of a long-term commitment. However I enjoyed seeing him in Legion. He had a smaller, less interesting role in Castle Rock, but it was nice to see him again.

          2. Surely, if makeup could give the illusion that Jonathan Frid was 200 years old, the reverse should be possible. Just need David to get a personal trainer, he’ll be back in trim in no time.

            And besides, why the hell was CGI invented if not for this? (I just hate the idea of poor Mr. Selby having to have those sideburns pasted on him again!)

            1. Some speculative fiction has our future entertainers and athletes existing mostly (entirely?) in virtual reality. Mix and match all eras, all people. Let the AI give them their ‘life’ and manage their interactions with each other.

              The CGI ghost thing is creepy in the saddest of ways. Still, why the heck not do it? All is fair in fun and fandom. I’ve gotten used to hearing people holding animated and sometimes profane conversations with the private voices in their ears so I can get past the weirdness of dead people doing new work and old people playing young roles.

              You know … they could give CGI sideburns their own subplot. There are mythological traditions for body parts that live their own lives independent of the body they came from. Now, personally, I do not want to see what happens between the sideburns and Count Petofi’s hand, but there are other possibilities that might be entertaining.

              1. All-in Wrestling Cage Match!
                Quentin’s whiskers and Mad Jenny’s coiffure take on the hands of Roger Davis and Sabrina’s post-werewolf grey hair.
                The putty nose of John Yaeger referees.

          3. Only if they have him mention that he spent some time in California’s wine country. If someone questions this, he can respond, “Fine. We’ll have a seance and contact my mother. She knows the truth.”

          4. I vote that we boycott the show unless they include David Selby as Quentin Collins, looking exactly the way that he did in 1969.

            We can do it! We HAVE the technology!

  6. I just finished hacking into the computers at the CW and here is the current plan for DS: Reincarnation

    SETTING: Collinwood High School, Santa Barbara CA


    ROGER COLLINS – football team captain; Alpha jock; immense family fortune; there is something strange about him …

    LIZZIE COLLINS – ROGER’s sister; head cheerleader; unmarried mother of 1-year-old CARRIE COLLINS; LIZZIE refuses to name the baby’s father – and when she does, nobody cares; there is something strange about her …

    WILLIE LOOMIS – one of ROGER’s pack; he will do anything to stay in good with the school’s Alpha; there is nothing strange about him …

    JULIA HOFFMAN – science teacher at Collinwood High; gives classes in Anatomy, Psychology, and Sedation; runs a secret Dark Web site on all things occult; JULIA, single and desperately alone at the age of 25, sees nothing wrong in having physical relations with a student …

    BARNABAS COLLINS – transfer student from the old country (San Diego); although only at Collinwood for a brief time he has become immensely popular because of how he sparkles in the sunlight …

    That’s what they’ve got so far. And apparently they haven’t told any of this to
    Mark B. Perry yet. They’ll let him know at some point, probably.

    1. My husband kindly reminds everyone that vampires only sparkle when they go up in flames.

      Maybe they can tie up vampire Roxanne to a flagpole on the 4th of July to get that effect.

      To quote my husband, “Look Mommy! Fireworks! It’s a screamer.”

      eh, anyway I do hope the CW can have a show that isn’t situated around the local high school. But now that you mention it I’m not so sure that they can. 😖

    2. CHRIS JENNINGS — local bad boy, loner. had a girlfriend who had some kind of trauma and is in rehab. Chris never seems to be around when there’s a full moon, and also doesn’t seem to even own a shirt.

      ANGELIQUE BOUCHARD — exchange student from Martinique, obsessed with Barnabas. Something DEFINITELY strange about her.

      JOSETTE DUPRES — seems nice enough, but suffering from multiple personality issues. Sometimes thinks she’s a waitress named Maggie, a governess named Vicki, a tutor named Rachel, a widow named Kitty, along with another girl also called Maggie who’s ‘not from around here’. The guys all seem to like her because she’s unpredictable.

  7. Good Blog! Lots of information for a data-driven nerd like me! Unfortunately i can’t access CW and will have to rely on the opinions of others who can watch the next reboot. In one way i am kind of excited about the possibilities, especially if there are good writers. On the other hand…maybe it would be better left to our imaginations? Thanks for the reminder that when DS was originally created, there weren’t expected reruns, etc. The whole mess was set–up with other things in mind, probably like other soaps. We too often evaluate things under a lens of our own making.

  8. No idea what they’ll keep of the original stories, but of course Barnabas and Quentin can easily be made to survive into a future generation if they choose to take them there. Ghosts–Sarah, Beth, even Josette–could still be haunting the place. As for Angelique–and for me there’s no DS without her–if they keep the original origin (I mean the original original origin), then she’s a voodoo sorceress who was a maidservant to a rich French plantation owner in Martinique (by the way, the future Empress Josephine was raised there around the same time–might Josette have traveled in her circle?)–so they could finally hire an actual Caribbean actress, right? (You can’t do time-travel stories in this day and age and obliterate any mention of race, can you? Well, maybe the CW can . . . )

  9. I’m finally caught up with this blog! Great work, Danny, been really enjoying this companion to my beloved Dark Shadows. Let’s ride this pony out of town!

  10. Just my own personal opinion: I get the impression David Selby is very loyal to and appreciative of the Dark Shadows fans who have followed and supported his career for 50 years. I believe if he felt those fans wanted to see him in the proposed continuation, he would accept the role to accommodate those fans.

  11. sigh Now isn’t that typical – I go away for a few days and come back to find a new “Dark Shadows Everyday” entry posted behind my back. %-)

    (Just kidding, Danny – good to have you back!)

    What I want to know (of course) is what would happen in a Fridspeak vs. Gerardspeak face-off. Who would come out ahead – er behead – er behind? One thing is for sure: tonight must nothing go wrong. 😀

    1. Fridspeak was always more cohesive (if such a word may be used); you could kind of almost feel like you were about to understand what he’d just said. Except for the times when he just got lost and couldn’t see the Teleprompter – then it became a series of sentence fragments.

      Gerard makes less sense, but usually gives the line with conviction and leaves it for the other actors to bring things back together.

      It’s another thing (or rather two other things) that make(s) Dark Shadows unique and irreplaceable.

      Now, if you want to talk about who was more shouty on Dark Shadows, I think there’s a lot more contenders…😬

      1. John E Comelately nails it again. Just curious: has anyone seen the moody Val Lewton production I Walked With A Zombie?

  12. I am AGES behind you, having taken time off here and there from DS, and often rewatching early episodes over and over, but i just wanted to say i have been following you since i first stumbled across DS back in 2015, and i have constantly appreciated all your clever, witty commentaries. I very much appreciate your long-standing commitment to writing about this show for which we all have so much affection. Thank you!

  13. Happy Halloween, devotees! I was thinking on this day of witches and vampires and sinister forces rising in the night–how much of our love for Dark Shadows was actually for its elements of horror?

    I know my own answer–for me, it was very much the soap elements being expressed through the supernatural–love and hate and obsession and revenge being pursued through the centuries, all my teenage intensity recognized and responded to that. But how many of us were having a great time grooving on the special effects, the ghouls and zombies and I Ching mystery and the werewolf-changing painting? What held you? What was Dark Shadows centrally about for you?

    1. I liked best when the story lines intertwined (most successfully in the 1890s, I think); and it was always entertaining to have good strong characters in those stories. The novelty of course was the supernatural/horror element driving the soap opera, which is why DS was unique.

      1. FWIW, I agree with you–the character writing could be exceptional, and there was a range of actors with a lot of experience; added up to characters you kept wanting to see.

  14. The elements of horror were what attracted me from the beginning, especially after seeing the spooky ABC promos filmed on location that ran during the summer of 1966. Had I known it was a soap opera, I probably wouldn’t have watched it.

    When Episode 1 aired I was disappointed to find out that Dark Shadows was indeed a soap. All the filmed promos had misled me. But…the mood of the show courtesy of the lighting, sets, and music made me realize that this wasn’t exactly As the World Turns. By the end of the first week, Roger had a confrontation with our heroine Vicki Winters, Vicki head a ghostly sobbing in the house, and her young charge David greeted her with, “I hate you.”

    All the elements were there, and I was hooked. The supernatural facets that were slowly introduced definitely enhanced my devotion to the show. The best part about that was my friends started watching once vampire Barnabas arrived. Dark Shadows was finally the cool show to catch after school!

    1. I like your point about the progressive advance of horror elements–as if we had opened a secret path that was leading in outrageous and forbidden directions and we were on for the ride; even once it started pulling in the classic horror elements, it was all the open-ended possibilities, and we watched in conspiratorial glee to see what else was going to be worked in: phoenix, then vampire, then add a ghost, plus time travel and tarot and witchcraft, then add werewolves and Frankenstein’s monster and and AND . . .Maybe this is why it would be so hard to achieve again, exactly because it’s been done, the innovation has happened!

      1. If they were going to go down the “let’s plagarise!” route again they’d have more material to pirate as more works have fallen out of copyright. Not to mention that many, many ‘B’ movies are now readily available and have plots ready to plunder.

        I was reading today that someone is planning on making a movie starring James Dean–using unused footage and CGI. Personally I think it’s a terrible idea, but if they want to do guest spots or flashbacks with Barnbas, Julia or a younger Quentin… well anything is possible, I guess!

  15. Yikes, I hadn’t realized Danny had not finished covering all episodes. Otherwise, I’d have paced myself.

    I find that, while the ending of the junior detective pairing of Julia and Barnabus is lamented, the pairing of Julia and Angelique is a pretty good replacement. 🙂

  16. Just thought I’d drop by and mention that I was watching an old episode of “The Chaser’s War on Everything” on YouTube yesterday when they suddenly began talking about… Backacting! And then they took it out onto the streets in order to see how it would work in real life.

    It starts around 13:05 if anyone wants to watch it. Very funny!

  17. A new Collinwood epic ought to stand on its own, not rest on the laurels of the original. Though the various reboot attempts did have little moments that made me think it would be good if they could do more of that. (The David character sometimes has had potential.) The mention of Suki Forbes makes me think that they really should hunt down Jane Draper (living in retirement in Florida?) and make her the matriarch of the new Collins family. About sex, I was really blown away by the scene between Laura Parker and Jonathan Frid in the final storyline where obviously they have just had sex. It isn’t said, it doesn’t have to be, its in their attitudes: relaxed, languorous even. (Plus they’re asking each other about possible regret – regret about what?)

    1. I’ll agree with not opening the old crypts again; frankly, though Barnabas was very popular, every reboot has tried telling that tale again and failed.
      But there is canon to be considered. They’re not going to toss out the whole lot, because they want to please the original fans – – but there must be ways to accomplish that without just rehashing old plotlines, however successful they were. There’s got to be some sort of connection to the original other than just calling the town Collinsport and having a mansion called Collinwood just for the sake of calling it Dark Shadows. It’s fifty years on, there’s got to be some of those characters still in there with stories left to tell.
      Just not the SAME stories!

  18. The report mentioned above on how to communicate danger to people in 10,000 years is really interesting, and includes neat ideas like the Forbidding Blocks and the Landscape of Thorns. This link has the pdf of the full 1992 report:

    Click to access 921382.pdf

    Wow! That was a fascinating, if not long, read!

    1. Umm, wow, not sure what exactly happened there… that was sppsd to be a link, not an imbedded PDF!

  19. Danny where did you go?? It’s nowhere near as much fun watching every episode with your biting satire! How will I make it through to the end without you??

  20. “On behalf of our sponsors, we would like to wish you a very happy holiday season. Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis Production.” (1966)

    1. Same here. Danny is like Lepht Anonym.

      We know he has his own difficulties. But we could worry less, if he just said hello, I’m still alive occasionally.

      Anyway, I hope you’re ok, Dan.

    2. Just hope he’s not messing around with that Parallel Time portal, or those unpredictable I Ching wands. Seances, the Staircase Into Time… we HAVE warned him about all that stuff. 😳

      1. Collinsport is dangerous – Danny could be

        a) Kidnapped by a vampire who wants to brainwash him into believe he’s their long-lost love
        b) Murdered by said vampire and buried under the floors of the family vault!
        c) Locked up in Windcliff
        d) Chained in his coffin
        e) On trial for witchcraft
        d) Shot in the face by his nephew
        e) Bricked up behind the cellar wall
        f) Captured by a mad scientist who wants to chop off his head and put it on a monster he’s making
        g) hypnotised into marrying a witch in a cheap wig
        h) sitting around obsessing over death
        i) kidnapped by a monster and held in an abandoned farm outhouse
        j) being married in a black mass by Satan’s middle manager
        k) trapped in a school run by a Trask
        l) cursed by gypsies
        m) gone mad and locked up in the tower room
        n) he was never really real – he’s a picture painted by Charles Delaware Tate
        o) running around howling at the full moon and eating his neighbors
        p) sent back in time via a picture
        q) Joined a cult of prehistoric supernatural beings
        r) Been eaten by the slime god hiding in the baby’s room
        s) chained in his coffin (again) and forced to dictate his memoirs
        t) replaced by his evil twin
        u) Being used as the life force for an undead witch
        v) Lost somewhere in the ruins of 1995
        w) In the dolls house in the playroom!
        x) Lost on a stairway through time!
        y) Possessed by the head of Judah Zachery
        z) On trial for witchcraft (again)

        … And gosh, I’ve run out of alphabet! Have I missed anything much?

        (Seriously – I hope you’re OK, Danny.)

        1. sigh I suspect it is something more horrifying than any of those — something that inspires the deepest despair and perpetual hopelessness. His “real life” has interfered with his real life. …aka he forced to deal with multiple realities and he’s in a version of reality that does not leave much room for this one.

          Oh well, personal interests wax and wane. I don’t mind waiting.

        2. Of course we could be wrong; perhaps he’s just kicking back and enjoying a glass of fresh milk with Claude North. I know I certainly would, given the chance… 🥛

  21. While we wait, here’s something interesting. Has anybody here seen “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood”? There’s a scene in the film where Luke Perry, playing a character in a ‘60’s TV western, uses a cane and it’s the Barnabas cane.

    Knowing Quentin Tarantino I don’t think it could be coincidence. It’s very visible and highlighted even in a deleted scene on the blu ray disc, but you can also see it briefly in the movie itself.

  22. Has anyone seen Master of Dark Shadows on Amazon Prime? I’m watching it now and it is fascinating.

    “Master of Dark Shadows reveals the fascinating impact of the ground-breaking Gothic drama Dark Shadows with a compelling blend of rare footage and behind-the-scenes stories exploring the diverse talents of filmmaker Dan Curtis.”

    1. I think some of the people here did purchase it when it was released in April. I did not buy it, and I didn’t realize it was streaming now, so thank you for bringing that up.

      I will watch it at some point. However, tomorrow (Saturday, January 4th), BBC’s three part Dracula series from the creators of Sherlock drops into Netflix. That’s what I’ll be watching this weekend. 🧛‍♂️

  23. Danny cleared has played one time too many with those I-Ching wands of his. But just as Julia faithfully kept watch on Barnabas, we’ll faithfully keep watch on this blog until Danny returns from 1897 or wherever he’s gone!

  24. Hey, here’s a thing. Is anyone watching BBC \ Netflix Dracula with Claes Bang? We are On episode 3. I think it’s perfect and although Barnabas will always be my first vampire love, Claes is superbly cast, say what you want about their take on the original story. Which I think is good but purists probably won’t.

    1. My non-DS fave is an earlier British production with Louis Jourdan as Dracula. Very faithful to the book and excellent performances.

      And yeah, Mr. Horn, come on out of PT….ditto that…

  25. We thought it was pretty entertaining. The historic sets were lovely. Claes was great with his deadpan delivery of dark humor. It would be fun to have a second series.

    As for being a purist… How could anyone find the original Dracula to be that good when the vampire is the bad guy? 🥺

    1. And with all the other things that he accomplished as an actor, he will be remembered as the one who let Barnabas out of the coffin. (Well, I suppose someone had to do it.) And had sense enough to stay out of the 2012 film…

      But in all seriousness,
      rest well, Mr. Karlen.

      1. Amen.

        Everyone ‘knows’ that the vampire saved DS; I maintain that, without Willie, the show wouldn’t have taken off quite as it did.

        RIP, Sir.

  26. I am heartbroken that the great JOHN KARLEN has passed on, can’t believe it. His acting was over the top on DS, Willie Loomis could not have been played by any other actor, he wouldn’t be the same! And he won an Emmy for playing Harvey, Mary Beth’s husband, on Cagney & Lacey. A GREAT ACTOR!!

  27. Has Decades really begun playing Dark Shadows nightly at midnight? I was looking up something I had heard about it being replaced by a police and legal procedural channel and noticed a blurb announcing they were playing eps never shown on that channel before.

    1. Don’t know about “never shown on that channel” – – they’re airing ep. 274 tonight.
      But yes, evidently Decades is running DS at midnight… 👻🧛‍♂️🧟‍♂️⚰

      1. The short time I had access to Decades, they played the same eps on their Dark Shadows binges, starting with them opening the box to the beginning of the 1700’s flashback.

  28. Don’t know about “never shown on that channel” – – they’re airing ep. 274 tonight.
    But yes, evidently Decades is running DS at midnight… 👻🧛‍♂️🧟‍♂️⚰

  29. It’s a sad day. My viewing finally caught up to the last blog post (so far). I don’t know how to watch the rest without Danny’s commentary, but I guess I’ll manage. I live in fear that Amazon will remove DS before I finish, which is why I’ve watched episodes 210-1170 since August 1, 2019. April 3rd is coming for me, y’all.

  30. Been following your page for a few years, though i do fall behind on reading your posts and watching the episodes.
    Just found out today john karlen died a few days ago. Very sad and i just wanted to check in.

  31. Willie Loomis. Barnabas Collins. Collinsport’s very own Odd Couple.

    Then again, Collinsport could very well claim anyone as their very own Odd Couple.

  32. As of today, it’s been four months – a full third of a year – since Danny last updated. Reading through the last year’s worth of posts, he seemed to give the impression that this storyline was sapping his enthusiasm. If that’s the case, I’m hoping he can regain it and recharge his creative batteries enough to see this project to its end.

    1. Back a fair while ago, there was a book published that was a thinly-veiled DS fanfic, focusing on Willie and Jason. There might even have been a vampire. Does anyone recall the book title, or author name? I read it, and I can’t.

      1. Hawkes Harbor by SE Hinton is the book you’re thinking of. There’s even a place in it where she “forgot” to change the name of Roger Collins…

    2. I started watching DS in 2015, beginning at episode 209. I’m currently at #835. I sometimes go several weeks not watching a single episode.

      I think Danny has earned the right to take a break. And judging by the pace that I am watching the show, it will take me a few years before I catch to where he is at right now.

      I just hope that the site/blog remains online until then. It is an invaluable resource as it stands right now.

  33. https://www.popmatters.com/s-e-hinton-is-writing-about-vampires-too-2496057108.html

    I think you mean Hawkes Harbor. It”s kind of a dreadful book to read. You might try the audio book instead. I found that more enjoyable because the narrator uses different accents.

    You might consider this book instead.


    It contains a brief reference to Dark Shadows. In some ways I think it plays out the way things might have gone for Barnabas if he had not met Julia.

    At some point not long after Barnabas was turned into a vampire he tells his father he
    envisioned an eternity of ever widening death and destruction at his hands ..if I may paraphrase what B said.

    This book plays out that sort of scenario but it’s not DS or Barnabas. It is a rather slow paced book mostly young adult novel. I’d say it’s got a little bit of Salem’s lot thrown in too. I suppose the author took the concept of freeing a vampire from Dark Shadows and ran with it, bringing a little bit of Hell on earth to a small town in Canada.

    1. Hawke’s Harbor must be it…so dreadful I forgot the name! Thanks. I seem to recall a lot of indignant responses to this book in the DS fanzines from The Beforetime.

  34. Reports of my death have been mildly exaggerated; every Dark Shadows fan knows that eventually everything comes back from the dead. I’m working on a new week of posts, coming up soon.

    1. You see, this is why the Elizabeth Collins Stoddard style of crypt is worth investing in, though it costs a bit more. So much easier than depending on some rando finding the secret room and busting a bunch of chains!
      Seriously, though, good to hear from you. Guessing that the link below was the reason for the hiatus?

        1. A very enjoyable presentation; watching you “live” allows me to have a sense of hearing your voice when reading your posts.

          My personal take on the UFO ‘invasion’ was that it came out of the wonderful era of cold war paranoia that They were watching Us, mixing with overweening conceit that We were doing something interesting enough for aliens to travel light-years to observe. (Where that whole ‘rectal probing’ thing worked into it, I will make no guesses. 🙄)

          “Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!”
          Ned Scott, in ‘The Thing’ (1951)

    2. Reports of my death have been mildly exaggerated; every Dark Shadows fan knows that eventually everything comes back from the dead. I’m working on a new week of posts, coming up soon.

      Welcome back, Danny! I eagerly await them.

    3. Oh, I’m so glad! Watching the episodes and then searching for your commentary has become a guilty pleasure. Perhaps I should get out more. Seriously, you’re a terrific writer and this is a weirdly pleasurable site for DS fans.

    4. I am so glad you will be coming back.
      I have a Dark Shadows Viewing Club on Facebook. We watch 15 episodes a week and then talk about them. Going on for over 1 year now.
      Part of our enjoyment is seeing what YOU had to say about them too.
      We are at 1130, and about to catch up to you, and I was afraid we were losing you!
      We feel you are a part of our weekly club meetings!!

    5. Could you define soon? I’m only in the 700s so it’s not like I’m in a hurry but I just looked to see how far you had gotten and I was surprised by the October date.
      Also we’re having a pandemic so, you never know?

  35. oh, Danny! i expect many of us are simply glad to know you’re alright. writing kaijus are rare, you know. and adorably humorous knitters of eccentrically banded multi-generational communities, well, there may only be just the one. * sigh *

    1. I’ve been watching the episodes on tubitv from the beginning also!!
      Love it, seeing all the characters and the beautiful sets and amazing story lines, now I remember just WHY I was so mesmerized as a kid!!

    1. One of the interesting things about reading Danny all these years is seeing just how little momentum so much of the DS storytelling has–even though it has twice the momentum of other soaps at the time. When the writers were off their game, there were two things that provided tension: the terror of actors who know at any moment they might go up on their lines and–much more important–Robert Cobert’s amazing music. The cues weren’t always right and there was a lack of specificity. (I don’t believe Mr. Cobert ever saw the show.) But the score can be compared not totally unfavorably To Angelo Badalamenti’s for Twin Peaks–which is the summit of TV mystery/suspense scores. RIP.

  36. It’s such a shame to have stalled at this very point in the admittedly stalled and hopeless 1840 narrative; we’re only a few episodes away from the amusing sight of Sam Hall and Gordon Russell kicking into high gear and sweeping the whole thing away like a bad kitchen spill, adding characters, killing characters, reversing fundamental situations off camera, lampshading, and frontloading promises of 1840PT like an open apology for the mess. There’s wicked meta-soap opera pleasure just out of reach!

    1. But how many times did DS do just that? After painting into a corner, just kill off the whole lot and do a jump across time; put up a set of new plotlines and then ignore most of them, and screw with the established story – – and somehow manage to get Julia and Barnabas back to 1960-ish, safe and happy with the Collins family evidently none the worse for having had all their ancestors wiped out and their history rewritten.
      It might’ve been fun to watch what happened if they returned to ‘the Present’ and found James Collins (Louis Edmonds) and his trophy wife Cynthia (Nancy Barrett) in charge, with ex-wife Patricia (Joan Bennett) living in town and plotting revenge…using her cousin Quentin (who else) who has odd “spells” during the full moon.

      Or something like that.
      (What am I, a writer?) 😃

  37. I am like 1000 episodes and posts behind everyone else here so Danny can take all of the time he needs to pursue other projects and life itself. I am hopeful that I will be up here with you guys by 2030.

    The blog is so masterfully done and executed that you guys that have been on board for a long time are spoiled and just hungry for more. We should be excited for Danny that he has other things obviously taking precedence over DS for a minute. He’s about 92% of the way there with his episode summaries and that’s saying something.

    What a transcendent and luminous joy they are! We are very lucky to have this I think.

    1. Wait a minute, Barry. Are you saying that a writer or celebrity’s ilfe doesn’t revolve around us? That they’re allowed to have other interests, other than serving their fans?

      Why, that’s unheard of!

    2. Barry, we are spoiled. Did you ever watch Dark Shadows back in the day or is this your first run with the show?

      Danny’s blog made my 2015-2018 review of the entire show so much more fun.

      1. William and Dan–thanks for reaching out across 700 episodes lol.

        No,William, this is my first run-through of the show in its entirety and, yes, Danny’s blog makes this whole thing so very special. I feel like all of us are enrolled in a course of Great Gothic Soap Opera Melodrama and Emeritus Professor Horn is navigating us through it all. He’s so awesome and we may have to send out Search and Rescue if he doesn’t get back here soon!

        I am somewhere around #381,about 4 weeks into the 1795 retcon. Angelique is wreaking havoc with Ben Stokes as her dastardly minion.

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