Episode 1211: Plague, Die, Plague, Die, Plague, Die, Plague

“Tell me, why do you insist on being a bad historian?”

Quentin Collins is broadcasting on all frequencies, into the unknown. “We seek the spirit of our dear, departed ancestor,” he candle-calls, “who remains so very close to all of us!” That’s a bit of a stretch. Quentin is currently organizing this let-your-fingers-do-the-walking seance slumber party in order to find out why that dear, departed ancestor left him and his family with a hundred and sixty-one years’ worth of tedious curse, and Brutus isn’t even going to pick up the phone.

Instead, Melanie shuts her eyes, moans and arches her back, which is the seance version of clearing your throat. “Lottery!” she chokes. “Now!” Quentin and Flora look on, in horror. “Lottery!” she repeats. “Now! Or — all — will — DIE!”

She begins to scream. “PLAGUE!” she chants. “DIE! PLAGUE! DIE! PLAGUE! DIE!

So obviously Quentin’s wondering, ummm, is it possible there’s someone else there that we could talk to?

So I thought we’d rid ourselves of the orange man weeks ago, but apparently he’s still with us in spirit, because here in 1841 Parallel Time, people are getting the plague, and the vaccine rollout is apparently not going well at all.

“Carts, going through the village!” the blonde press secretary moans, making contact with the near future. “Bodies, burning! The smell of bodies, burning!” She hasn’t mentioned injecting bleach or letting sunlight inside your body yet, but maybe she’s working up to it.

“He was — cruel!” she shudders, so yeah, we’re talking about the same guy. “He killed… he was so cruel!

“Did he kill you?” Quentin asks, because it’s that kind of conversation.

PLAGUE!” she shrieks. “It is JUST! IT IS JUST!” And Quentin thinks, it’s just what?

So it turns out, no, I can’t watch television properly anymore, because now Julia and Flora are talking about organizing a family meeting with six people in the drawing room, and I’m thinking, wait, why aren’t they social distancing? My actual lived experience is finally weirder than Dark Shadows, and it isn’t as much fun as I’d hoped it would be.

Now, a few weeks ago, a bright young commenter named phrankenstign called me out for this kind of talk, writing in the episode 1188 comments:

I’m all for keeping current political events and leanings out of these reviews. I only came upon this site earlier this year. I found nearly all of the reviews were rather timeless. Many of the comments are separated by years, yet it’s difficult to know that without looking at the date/time stamp. Once comments about current events are added, the date becomes intrusive.

Now one has to try to understand what was going on that specific date to understand the context of the statement. I think it’s nice to learn about direct influences on the show itself from then-current events of the 1960s and 1970s, but today’s events don’t have a bearing on the show at all.

It’s an interesting point, and it’s something that I’ve thought about from time to time, especially lately, as the state of the world itself has become increasingly intrusive. It’s hard to consider a blog “timeless” when one of the major underlying themes is based on the first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but I understand what phrankenstign means. I’ve written about a dozen posts with Trump references since he first encroached on my life in the summer of 2016, and I’ve wondered whether those are going to date well.

I mean, some of those posts make references to very specific tweets and press conferences, like for example the bleach-and-sunlight joke that I just made a few paragraphs ago. I don’t really know which moments are going to stick in people’s minds in the long term, as the Trump era blessedly recedes in the rearview mirror. On the other hand, I bet in ten years there are going to be a lot more people who remember Trump’s coronavirus press briefings than remember what happened to Gabriel Collins’ cufflinks, so maybe it’s not such a big deal after all.

But that’s not really the point that phrankenstign is making. They’re saying that it’s weird to expect that a person in 2031 who’s trying to read about a Dark Shadows episode from 1971 should have to factor in that that specific post was written in 2021. The context matters when it’s about the show’s era in the 1960s and 70s, but the context that I’m currently living in today is only important to me, right now, and will be immaterial for everybody who reads this in the future.

I mean, first, I have to acknowledge how refreshing it is to hear from someone who thinks there’s a future. The intrusive date when I’m writing this intrusive post happens to be thirteen days after an enormous bloodthirsty mob of terrorists, traitors, grifters and lunatics swarmed the United States Capitol, in an attempt to overturn the Presidential election and establish Donald Trump as a dictator autocrat for life, destroying our democracy in the name of some twisted misconceptions about truth, freedom and the Constitution, organized and supported by one of our two major political parties, which has apparently become entirely devoted to validating and amplifying insane white supremacist conspiracy theories, and if there’s ever going to be a more specific context than that, then I don’t want to hear about it right now. This one is plenty.

And I’m sorry, but it’s impossible for me to watch Dark Shadows right now, and forget about the noise that’s been filling my head for all these months. Here, I’ll show you how it works.

The Cabinet meeting comes to order, with Flora setting out the agenda. “There is hardly any need for me to tell you,” she begins, “that what has happened to Melanie can kill her. There is no normal way that she can be saved from the plague.”

Catherine is skeptical. “How can we be certain that it is the plague?”

“Under the circumstances,” Flora says, “I don’t see how it can be anything else.”

“Well, what if the doctor has another diagnosis?”

Flora tries to explain. “My dear, you are new here. There are certain things you don’t see as we do. We know, and believe, that time may be running out for us.”

And there’s Catherine, with the same stunned look that we’ve all been wearing, as we’ve watched people with responsibility for our welfare just throwing science out the window, and embracing monstrous delusions that will destroy us all.

Then the next thing that happens is they have a big dispute about who’s allowed to participate in the lottery, and they have a vote about changing the rules without consulting the state legislature, and at some point somebody’s going to start ranting about mail-in ballots. Plus it turns out that dead people really do vote, and their vote must have been run through the machine several times, because it counts more than anybody’s.

Do you see what I mean? Expecting me not to connect this specific episode to this specific moment in the history of spluttering nonsense in America is simply unfair. I mean, I’m only human.

But the larger question is whether it’s ever possible to watch Dark Shadows, without being affected by the context of whatever moment of your life you’re currently experiencing. I’m not sure that you can, especially because the way that we watch television has changed in just about every possible way.

To watch Dark Shadows, the audience of the time had to specifically make the decision to arrange their daily schedule around sitting in front of the TV at four o’clock in the afternoon, eager to watch whatever episode ABC-TV decided to broadcast in their direction. It is still technically possible to live like this, if you get up in the morning to watch the show on Decades at 5am every day, but that is such a grim and unnecessary thing to do that I can hardly believe people actually do it by choice, except as part of a tourist attraction in colonial Williamsburg.

The way that civilized modern people watch Dark Shadows is to choose the episode that you’re going to watch, and then access it via computer, smart TV, DVD or omnicontent data crystal, whenever the hell you feel like it. And if you just watched episode 1211 before reading this blog post, which I know many of you have, then you are probably painfully aware that a) the show is almost over, b) this is a storyline called “1841 Parallel Time”, and c) Dark Shadows viewers don’t generally like it very much. In fact, you’ve probably made the conscious decision to defy the received wisdom that it’s not worth watching.

That means you’ve made the appropriate mental adjustments to your expectations, because everything about Dark Shadows requires you to set aside five decades of advances in television storytelling. You live in a world where Buffy the Vampire Slayer — one of the great turning points in modern television, which transformed the rules for how we think about episode construction, character development and season-long narrative — happened twenty years ago, and is itself already kind of old-fashioned.

You’ve seen Twin Peaks, and you’ve seen Lost, and you’ve seen Watchmen — or at least, your culture has, and you should probably catch up — and that means that television is different now than it was even a couple of years ago. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen Watchmen, then you should go and fucking see Watchmen.)

The word “Netflix” means something to you now, and it meant something completely different when I started this blog in 2013. I can’t remember every detail of those olden days, but I think I might have actually owned a television back then that picked up broadcast signals, which seems hopelessly old-fashioned to me now. The experience of producing and watching television has completely transformed during this period that I’ve been writing about Dark Shadows, and if that doesn’t demolish the concept of a “timeless” blog post then I’m not sure what will.

Raging as always, Morgan says, “Mother still is the best politician in this house. She outmaneuvered Quentin and me. She saw the writing on the wall. She knew she had this whole thing sewn up. I want you to listen to me, Gabriel. If I could rig this lottery, I would see to it that you would get the losing slip.”

And god damn it if that isn’t 280 characters, right on the nose. I’m telling you, it isn’t my fault.

So obviously it all comes down to post-structuralist reception theory, as we always knew that it would. I happen to have a four-year college degree in French discordian trickster jargon, so I will be happy to explain; it’s not often that I get a chance to take this particular dog out for a walk.

Reception theory was first developed by Stuart Hall in his 1973 essay Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse, where he suggests that understanding a message has two parts. The sender encodes the message, expressing it in words, images, sounds or actions, and the receiver decodes the message, understanding and interpreting it. But it’s not a simple linear relationship, in which the receiver understands the message exactly as the sender intended it to be understood — the receiver brings their own personal experiences, interests and cultural background to this exchange of information.

So each person in the audience is an active participant, and understanding the text is a negotiation between the person sending the message and the person receiving it. We don’t passively sit back and accept a book or a television show, we create our own understanding of it. The meaning of the text is created through the relationship between the creator and the audience.

In other words, yes, it matters when I watch these episodes and write about them, because I am an active participant in this exchange, and the way that I respond to the show depends on who and where and when I am at the moment — in the same way that you’re an active participant in reading this blog post, and the fact that you think it’s gotten boring and you’re wondering if you should just skip this bit and see if there are any more Trump jokes is exactly my point.

So here they stand, these six luckless deplorables, facing an unknown future in the shape of a large blue vase. A plague is raging around them, there are enemies both known and unknown within easy reach, everyone feels wounded, and nobody is sure who they can trust. The republic stands, but it’s a lot weaker than it should be, and it probably would have been better if certain people hadn’t challenged democracy to a duel.

Tomorrow, from my perspective, is the day that Joe Biden is inaugurated as President, ending the hateful nightmare of the last four years and, I hope, ushering in a new day of stability and understanding and basic civic decency. That means that you — the one who’s currently reading this blog post, somewhere in the future — you’re living in a time that is different from mine, in a way that I can’t entirely foresee but can’t wait to experience. When you read this post, as phrankenstign predicted, you’ll have to locate where you currently are in relation to this specific day, and judge for yourself whether I’m right to feel as optimistic as I surprisingly do, in this moment. I hope that optimism still makes sense, from your perspective. Save me a seat; I’ll be there soon.

Tomorrow: Once in Every Generation.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

The opening narration says that two people have died in the secret room; previously, Morgan said that three people died.

Flora tells Julia, “We held a seance tonight. Quentin, Melanie and I. We tried to contact…” (healthy pause, before she remembers) “…Brutus Collins.”

When Catherine asks Morgan if he thinks the plague is the result of a curse, you can hear people walking around in the studio.

Flora asks everyone, “I take it there are no de- objections to the decision I have made?”

When Flora and Catherine are speaking near the beginning of act 2, the mic cuts out, and we can’t hear a couple of lines.

Quentin reminds Gabriel that “one past family tried to do that.”

Morgan trips on a word: “I said only the men would peh-pre-participate in this.”

Flora says, “I’ve already explained my Melanie will not participate under any circumstances.”

During act 3, the camera cuts to a shot of Catherine, with Quentin’s back in the way. They quickly move to another shot.

Gabriel says that if Morgan kills him, it’ll increase Catherine’s chances in the lottery. “But you decreased yours,” Morgan says, then switches tone. “Did you decrease yours, by voting yes?” Then he says, “Is that the reason you jeopradized the lives of three women?”

Morgan takes Gabriel’s cup away, and waves it around, making it quite clear that there’s no liquid in it. Then Gabriel takes it back from him, and pretends to drink.

When Flora marks the lottery slip with an X, the pen runs out of ink after one line; the other half of the X doesn’t show up on the paper. She tries to do it again, and it still doesn’t work.

After Morgan and Catherine kiss, the scene fades to Gabriel rummaging through some drawers for a flask. You can see his hand motionless on the drawer, waiting for his cue.

Quentin lectures Gabriel, “At least I won’t be afraid, like you. I won’t be cringing, seeking to find a refuge where there is no refuge. And look what it’s done to me, huh?” I think he means “look what it’s done to you”.

When the final scene begins, the camera pans across from the waiting family members to the door. Quentin and Gabriel are seen standing there, waiting for their cue, and then Quentin pushes Gabriel into the room.

Tomorrow: Once in Every Generation.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

41 thoughts on “Episode 1211: Plague, Die, Plague, Die, Plague, Die, Plague

  1. I always look forward to reading your postings with pleasure. Should I read them now or save them for later? Such amazing smarts! And the depth and breadth of your knowledge! I am so sorry to have not read your blog in the time it was written but it’s a pleasure for me to read them when Decades was showing them (endlessly and forever stuck in their own parallel time). Your postings where current themes are addressed have made me spit up laughing. As our long nightmare comes to an end in a few hours, I gratefully thank you for all your hard work.

  2. Excellent post, Danny!

    I can’t believe I missed the post about The Mary Tyler Moore Show, so I’m glad you included the link.

    I think I’m among the few that have been here (reading and commenting on this blog) since the beginning. I’m really going to miss your blog once we’ve finished Show #1245.

  3. I know I’m comparing apples and oranges, but I think The Mary Tyler Moore Show is an excellent example of a show that maintained its high quality throughout the series. Even when Rhoda and Phyllis left, the producers were so smart to add Betty White.

    I particularly love Season 4 because it’s the one season where we have Rhoda, Phyllis and Sue Ann appearing. I don’t think there was a bad episode in the entire series.

    1. They left the bad series to Phyllis, only memorable for it’s theme song. (Youtube it.) The Mary Tyler Moore Show sparkles still in ways any of the Lucille Ball programs never do, despite overly enthusiastic laugh tracks. In her memoir, After All, MTM regrets not having one more season.

      1. Paul, I still have to read After All. Isn’t it true that Ed Asner and Ted Knight made it known that they were going to quit after Season 7, and that’s why there was no Season 8?

        There were a few episodes of Phyllis that I liked, but I tend to agree with you that it wasn’t that good. However, as much as I loved Valerie Harper’s Rhoda character, she lost her luster on the Rhoda series. It had a great cast, though. I would love to have a next-door-neighbor like Rhoda!

        1. I guess the dramatic possibilities in the Too Close for Comfort scripts hastened Ted Knight’s exit. Ed Asher went onto Lou Grant, which I’ll bet holds up well. Where Rhoda flounders is after Joe leaves. (Also, they rushed the wedding too soon.) Valerie Harper was lovely and chic thus the heavyset Rhoda premise obviously isn’t true.

    2. Robert, I couldn’t agree more about Betty White! She brought something wonderful to every show she participated in. The very best episodes of Mama’s Family feature her and Carol Burnett and who but Betty White could steal scenes from Candice Bergen, William Shatner, and James Spader on Boston Legal? She is a true National Treasure.

    3. What I meant about comparing apples with oranges was comparing Dark Shadows with MTM. Two very different types of shows, but with MTM, the producers kept the quality up to a high level. They saw what was working and kept making it work, even after two major characters left. If only Dark Shadows had more of a commitment to keeping what worked going. I know…it’s not a fair comparison. But I do love both shows.

  4. It’s your blog, so I’m not going to tell you what to write about. Speaking strictly for myself, I lost the ability to pay attention to Donald Trump sometime in 1983. The obsessive interest that so many people have taken in him these last five years not only mystifies me, but has also rendered many social spaces rather unappealing for me. I’ll be glad when his star finally sinks over the far horizon.

  5. Danny,
    I think sort of relates to your discussion of “context” when viewing a show or writing a blog. I took a few classes in a master’s level degree program in “library science” – it was actually called a Master’s in Library and Information Studies. For different reasons, I did not complete the program. However, I recall hearing about one such theory being floated around in librarian circles — it was meant to provide “context” for readers and “books” – this would have been fall 1993, so the media explosion was not quite there yet. We were still pre-internet and still used big “floppy disks” (and some “hard disks”) on our computers, as I recall.
    The theory is called “reader response theory.” It’s like a sine-curve, and this theory answers the question “I read this book [or maybe saw this show] years ago, and now as I’m reading it, it’s as if I’m reading a totally different book. I’m noticing new and different things.” No, the book or show is not different, but who we are as people (and our overall contexts) are quite different. In reading, our moods and attentions go in and out (as they do in an old TV show or maybe even a blog?) and our “reader response” or “viewer response” can change, due to both internal factors (our moods, emotions) and externals (Trump, idiot/terrorist mobs storming the Capitol building),
    Now, somewhat unrelated to your discussion, I personally felt called to do my own “viewer response”/personal response (in my own way) to the events of January 6, 2021, in a parody song which I put on YouTube. Yes, future blog readers, I don’t know if YouTube or my parody song will be around in 2031, but I want to share it with you all. Please give it a like or even a share, if you want. OK, at least give it some views. If you recognize what I am parodying, leave me a comment. For whatever it’s worth, here it is:

      1. I will never forget when Biden was finally declared the winner. I had had a week long anxiety attack during the endless count and when he made his acceptance speech, sounding like a grownup and a sane person, I cried. I’d forgotten what it was like.

    1. When the fuhrer says, “Ve is the master race,” we say, “Heil (Bronx cheer), heil (Bronx cheer) right in the fuhrer’s face? Three Stooges?

      1. Hi Lisa –
        Yes, the original song sounds like something “The Three Stooges” would have done. Actually, it’s from a Disney Donald Duck cartoon produced as anti-Nazi propaganda during World War II, made in 1943. The original cartoon was going to be called “Donald Duck in Nutsy Land” (or something like that), but did include an original song by Spike Jones (well known for writing lots of novelty songs) called “Der Fuehrer’s Face.”
        The song “Der Fuehrer’s Face” was first released as a recording by Spike Jones and became a hit. To capitalize on the hit, Disney quickly changed the name of their cartoon to “Der Fuehrer’s Face.”
        If you put in a search term on YouTube “Der Fuehrer’s Face Donald Duck Disney cartoon,” I think the original Donald Duck cartoon will come up. It’s about 9 minutes long and Donald has a nightmare about being stuck in “Nutsy Land” – it has very clever animation.

  6. Hi Danny,
    Enjoyed your post. It works as both serious Dark Shadows criticism and a piece of Mass Observation for 19th Jan 2021. Also a nice call out to Stuart Hall.

    Looking at the screen grabs, did Hall and Selby have final approval rights on their wardrobe? Quentin is the only male Collins whose mansplaining and petulance is not acted from below the waist; and amongst the women, Julia looks like a character from The Crucible has just wandered onto a Sid and Marty Krofft set.

  7. “We don’t passively sit back and accept a book or a television show, we create our own understanding of it.”

    Danny, and all of you, and I, are collaborating on what can be considered an historical document. It will be for those reading in times to come to decide their interpretation, from the context of their future knowledge and experiences. But I like to think that there will be people (or hyper-intelligent koalas or whatever) that will have an appetite for the insanity that was Dark Shadows.
    As one who has gone back through earlier postings, I will confirm that there are still readers commenting (in this far-flung year of 2021) and discussing. Yes, some comments and even some posts have a definite sense of the time when they were written (go through October and November of 2016 in particular), but trying to divorce the writing from the era in which it’s written is nigh-on impossible. DS was a product of its era. DSED is a product of its. Perhaps someday there will be analysis of the discourse here (DSEDED?) in the context of the 2015 – 2021 era, making parallels between the 1960s, the early 21st century and their future time, observing the cyclical nature of history.
    I’m going to keep hope that there will BE a future time for such things.

  8. Keep on writing the way you’ve been writing the blog. I reread the blogs as I rewatch the show, and find the little nuggets of modern history which I lived through as fascinating as the “meanwhile” history contemporary to the show’s time.

    Furthermore to that point…I don’t think I’ve ever watched the same episode twice and had exactly the same feelings about it. I don’t think it’s possible.

  9. I made sure to wait until inauguration day to read this, and I’m very glad I did. I can tell you from personal experience that it has aged quite well in the post Trump era.

    I also remember reading that essay that you referenced oh, and it reminded me of why I’ve been having so much time plodding through my very first read of Jane Eyre lately. I simply can’t read anything that has a governess in it without reminding myself of how awful Star Trek: Voyager was. (Oh, don’t act like you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, Google “Janeway” and “Holodeck,” and it will become painfully, brutally clear.)

    And to give this blog its due, just as I find it impossible to watch Dark Shadows without thinking about current events, I now cannot look at current events without thinking about Dark Shadows, bizarre presidential tweets that mention it notwithstanding. For instance, when those horrifying events on that Wednesday happened, I found myself thinking back to Collinwood being destroyed by Gerard’s undead insurrectionists-and how that ended up not having an effect on the outcomes of the future, either. Gerard’s bunch was somewhat better at staying anonymous afterward, but still.

    I’ll also credit this blog for keeping me from leaping off the deep end over the last four years, so anytime you want to talk about orange fat men is fine with me.

      1. Oh! Here’s hoping.
        Yet some hideous voice inside me keeps echoing, “We will be back in some form…”

  10. I confess to finishing up the show several days ago. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected nor was I especially sad. I don’t find this story arc all that bad. Not like the one they had just left or the leviathan one, anyway.

    Oddly enough I realized that I had seen the last couple of episodes when it aired live in 1971. My dad had yanked me out of school for a “vacation” and we were staying in some 1880’s cowboy hotel of the type my dad preferred back when such hotels were often family-owned, These were the same places the cowboys stayed in when they came to town and the roads were dirt and the parking spaces were hitching posts. They usually had electric wiring running through metal pipes attached to the exterior of the walls and cast iron radiators for heat. Sinks and silvered mirrors were hung on the walls, but unless you got one of the few rooms with a bath, you had to go down the hall for everything else. In this case, my dad was good friends with the owners, an older Basque couple whose mindset matched my dad’s first-generation Sicilian-American thinking and it was a respectable place for people who didn’t want to stay in a more expensive modern motor lodge.

    In such establishments, the TV was in the lobby and not in the rooms. I was down there by myself which meant I could pick the channel from the huge selection of fiveish channels that were available. I was shocked to see Dark Shadows on the air. I didn’t know the show was still on and I concluded that I was watching re-runs. (I’m 7, what did I know.) I didn’t quite believe the happily-ever-after announcement was an ending and was quite disappointed to see the Brady Bunch the next weekday. Hope springs eternal, so I checked back at the same time a few more days, just in case.

    So maybe that is why finally watching it again had far less impact on me than I thought it might. Or maybe it helps that I’ll probably have Dark Shadows available to peruse for as long as my body and brain can coordinate enough to watch it.

    So, just a suggestion, especially if you have HBO Max. They now have the first season of the CW’s Nancy Drew online. Every Dark Shadows fan will probably get a kick out of seeing the opening of the first episode, at least until it’s most Dark Shadowy moment ends about 60 seconds later. I can’t really recommend watching the rest of it, although it is set in Maine and it’s full of soapy supernatural nonsense. I found it made good background noise while doing something else. (You can also stream it on the CW app, but that still has commercials even if you only want to watch the first minute of the first episode.)

  11. I haven’t done much commenting lately. So, this is more a catching people up where I am since you made me reflect where that is with this post. After checking about every week for quite awhile I had slowed down to checking just every couple of weeks so last fall I was delighted that suddenly there were about 6 new posts to catch up on. So thanks for coming back, Danny.

    I do enjoy your writing and when you finish here, I’ll probably have to jump over to the Muppets stuff you wrote. Which I have to say if you have Disney+ and like the Muppets you really should see MuppetsNow which is much more what I was hoping for rather than the previous show where Kermit had dumped Miss Piggy to chase a piglet.

    I can’t say that I agree with the premise that you can’t write stuff that you don’t have to be in that exact moment to get, but that is as suits your taste. You write a good blog and I even read posts that I don’t really like. I’ve enjoyed learning your rules for making you like a new character and I hadn’t had handy names for back acting or lamp shading so thank you for introducing me to them.

    All of which is NOT what I wanted to post about which is thank you for posting the name of the essay in this paper. I’m currently working on a project that has nothing whatever to do with Dark Shadows or even soap operas, but is very much having to do with the lens people use to see books and how that can differ. So far I’ve been focusing on the lens themselves not the concept behind it. So this was a big help and I appreciate it.

  12. Make a joke, make a friend, make a plot Point happen.
    I just figured out what is not working on Nurses. Other than it’s difficult to write a TV series about nurses, everybody seems to be hanging out and covering for each other. That’s good. The lead voiceover girl has a conflict. That’s good. She seems to be a good nurse , that’s good.

    I should like her, but I don’t. Obviously I’m supposed to identify with her, but I don’t. I feel for her problem, but something’s missing. They want to be Grey’s Anatomy really they do, but they can’t quite get that friendship down the way they did it in the pilot of Grey’s Anatomy. Grace and Ash are looking at each other and theoretically commiserating over what they both know happened to Grace. But it’s just not quite there yet. And the problem is that we’re on episode 5. I don’t think Ash even knew until episode 3. I know some people are closed off, but they’re making it hard here. I need the two of them to do more than just glance at each other.

    It might have taken 6 whole episodes of Chicago Hope, but I fell in love with a friendship between two guys, which I had probably seen from the pilot, which my then husband liked so much that he asked me to wait to watch the show until he was home. And the only thing he ever liked before was Star Trek and kung fu. And animation. But he had a soft spot for a good friendship.

    Nice to see you moving along here. 🙂 I am back around episode 1065 so maybe you will get to the end by the time I get there. 🙂 I’ve only seen Gerard twice and I hate him already.

  13. I realize I’m responding to this post almost a week later, but things have been crazy here–like everywhere–and this is my first chance to sit and collect my thoughts.  (My husband has covid and I am currently in quarantine and teaching from home, none of which do I recommend…)

    First off, Danny, I have not said this enough over the years, but I love your writing.  Your mashups of present day with Dark Shadows continue a grand tradition that I believe would make Sam Hall proud.

    I had to smile when you talked about reception theory, since I literally taught that to my students two days before the insurrection.  In class, we’ve been discussing the source, the text and the receiver and how external events, cultural beliefs, personal beliefs, and economic constraints and opportunities can affect how the receiver interacts with a work.  Those are all in play when looking at films or TV shows too! I know I don’t view Dark Shadows the same as I did years ago.  (Although, truth be told, Julia still is my favorite part of the show.)

    Anyway, here’s to a future where the pandemic is under control, the government gets its act together, and something interesting comes out of a box to entertain all of us…

  14. This is my third time through DSED. I started 4 years ago reading Danny’s posts only. During his long break, I read it through again, this time reading the comments. Third time through, I’m adding my own. Would I have done that before Covid? No. I would not have had the time. DSED has been a wonderful diversion in the middle of the isolation forced on me by risk factors and plague.
    I’ve been rather obsessed with Dark Shadows the past year. I associate it with a happy time in my life. 1968 had its challenges, but I was a teenager and hopeful. The times, I thought, were changing. And then they changed back. I guess I’ve been trying to remember what hope felt like.
    We can’t separate ourselves from the things we love or the times in which we live. We see the world through filters but sometimes there’s a crack and we see things we never saw before. Danny’s ability to make a 50+ year old vampire soap feel relevant is amazing and often hilarious. He, you, and all the other commentators who have unknowingly been my companions for the past year have my sincere gratitude.

  15. Like all great literature, movies, and music, the stories transcend time and we can find meaning and references that resonate with the present, or just our own personal experiences. Loved Dark Shadows from the beginning of time…Love and enjoy your writing, insights and dedication. Thank you Danny

  16. I love to reread this post every week or so. It just gets better and better. Is it because the perspective from which I read it changes?

  17. “1968 had its challenges, but I was a teenager and hopeful. The times, I thought, were changing. And then they changed back. I guess I’ve been trying to remember what hope felt like.”

    Mary – Wow!
    That last line there… I can’t think of a poetic way to say that it’s good.

  18. Thank you for this, particular, post. To consider anything without considering when you consider it and in what context the considering occurs is, well, not worth considering!

  19. So here I am one year and a few days after the Inauguration of Joe Biden and my memory has been jogged to what a wonderful time that was. I also find it remarkable how DS in 1971 is fitting into my reality. I also remembered thinking we wouldn’t ever hear from 45 again, but unfortunately, like Roger Davis, he keeps on popping up here and there with his irritating voice and stupid hair.

    I, for one, love the integration of today’s events in the review and dissection of this show. I hope that sometime in the very near future that COVID times will be a fading bad memory like PT 1841 is.

  20. I’m also a traveler from the future, and in my present as we once again live in the shadow of nuclear armageddon just like in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s whilst still dealing with the COVID-19 plague(s) and ever-increasing global environmental disasters, this post seems all the more relevant. At the very least it reminded me to request my mail-in ballot (since tomorrow–that is, my tomorrow–happens to be the deadline) so that I can vote against the anti-abortion, anti-LGBT bootlicking Trump chump Conservative Republican who is currently running for governor of New York, without ever having to leave the grounds of my modest estate where I have been sheltering in place for the past two and a half years.

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