Episode 1220: The Forsythe Saga

“We’ve been looking for everything, and we’ve found nothing!”

So now I’ve got that out of my system, I suppose we should probably take a little time to figure out what the hell is going on in this mess of a television show.

The way I understand it, there’s a whole extra cast of characters in the 1841 Parallel Time storyline that lived 160 years ago, and they’re way more important than the characters that we actually see. The 1680 characters cheated and murdered and loved and cursed each other, in such a consequential way that the clowns who are currently walking the halls of Collinwood don’t get to have lives and motivations and personalities of their own; they’re just following the paths set down for them by the distinguished dead.

At this point, we’ve heard a lot about Brutus Collins, the head of the Collins family back in the day, and there’s a very angry woman who possesses Melanie sometimes, and we’ve also heard the name James Forsythe, for all the good that does us.

Let’s review the case. Last week, while adopted dimbulb Melanie Collins was possessed or dying of the plague or whatever, she started emitting the not-really-clues type of clues that Dark Shadows uses whenever they have something generally in mind, but want to buy a little more time to get there. You can always tell when it’s one of those scenes because the ghosts use a lot of unheralded pronouns: she’s dead, he’s coming, we tried to stop them, and so on.

These sequences can get frustrating, because they don’t reflect well on the intelligence of the spirit trying to break through. It’s not like they’re limited to 280 characters. Sometimes they even have whole conversations with human beings who are specifically asking them to explain who and what they’re talking about, and they just keep on sending out incomplete answers.

This is how it works:

Melanie:  I never thought he would find out. I only wanted to help him. Oh, why did he do it? Why? We were so happy for a time. We meant no harm. But, life is wrong. No, right! To have, to be happy! Please! Please! Oh!

Julia:  It’s all right, it’s all right, dear, you’ll be all right.

Melanie:  Wrong! Why? No! So happy once! No! Please! No! No! No, Brutus! No! No!

Julia:  Brutus? Brutus Collins?

Melanie:  Brutus Collins! Yes! No! No! NO! NO! NO!

Julia:  Are you talking to Brutus Collins now, or are you talking to me? Are you answering my question? You did mention Brutus Collins!

Melanie:  Brutus Collins! Oh!

Julia:  You’re not Melanie anymore, are you? But who are you? Tell me! Please, please tell me!

Melanie:  Where is he?

Julia:  Who?

Melanie:  James!

Julia:  James who?

Melanie:  James Forsythe!

Julia:  Who is James Forsythe?

Melanie:  He’s dead!

Julia:  What happened to him?

Melanie:  He killed him!

Julia:  Who killed him?

Melanie:  He! He! He! He! He! He!

So I don’t know what Melanie thinks is so funny, but that’s the most aggravating conversation that Julia’s had this week, and she lives in a house with Morgan and Catherine. I mean, what is with the knock-knock joke? James, James who, James Forsythe, who is James Forsythe, he’s dead. I don’t get it.

And like I said, she had plenty of time to explain who killed who; in fact, she’s had a hundred and sixty years to prepare, and she has not used that time productively.

So that little mystery just kind of settled onto the floor and sat there, refusing all nourishment, until yesterday’s episode when junior mentalist Carrie Stokes came by with a letter that she found in an old, dusty book in the basement of the haunted cottage where she lives. The letter was addressed to James Forsythe, so Carrie decided to bring it to Collinwood immediately, because she is made of incremental plot points.

She delivers the letter to Morgan, who reads:

I am so desperate to see you again. I shall try to get to the cottage this evening, but I anticipate difficulty. For I fear he may have finally become suspicious. If it becomes impossible, know that I shall be with you in spirit, and that I love you with all my heart. A.

And then the lights go out and the chandelier starts swinging, and Carrie feels a cold hand brush against her cheek, and then the letter just bursts into flames all by itself. It’s not clear why the anger ghost wanted to destroy the letter after Morgan read it rather than before, but I’m starting to come to the opinion that these ghosts are not very bright.

In fact, the only reason why the current Collinses are still being actively bedeviled by these numbskulls is that they’re even stupider than the ghosts. They proceed to stand around for a couple episodes asking themselves who “A” could possibly be, and they know perfectly well that Brutus Collins’ wife was named Amanda. I mean, I get that some details of the 1680 unpleasantness have been lost in the intervening, but this family has been talking about Brutus Collins for literally their entire lives, and they seem immune to information.

So that brings us to the basement of the cottage, where Morgan and Quentin are grabbing handfuls of random paper, shuffling them around and throwing them on the floor. This is not a very thorough search, and Morgan is making it worse by complaining about it.

“How long have we been here?” Morgan says petulantly, slamming some vintage correspondence down on a desk.

“Stop asking and keep looking,” his brother says.

“We have been looking!” Morgan cries, which doesn’t do anybody any good.

He starts moodily rummaging through the current stack of trivial paperwork. “The only thing we’ve found is bits and pieces of the Collins family for the last half-century. Dance programs, letters, fans… We’ve been looking for everything, and we’ve found nothing!” Now I want to see the dance programs.

Quentin finally says, “Oh, maybe you’re right,” which is an obvious cue for the inevitable wait-a-minute-what’s-this.

“Wait a minute!” Morgan says.”What is this?” He picks up a ledger, and reads the inscription on the cover: “Begun this Year of Our Lord 1678, by James Forsythe of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in hopes of prospering.”

And then he just begins flipping pages back and forth.

“What’s it say?” Quentin asks, on page two.

“Not very much,” Morgan gripes. “He was some kind of a merchant. There are entries, profit columns, losses…” He makes a face, like he’s disgusted by the entire concept of accounting. What did he think he would find in a ledger?

“If only the numbers could tell us something!” he says, and they probably could, if he brought it to one of the family’s numerous bookkeepers and clerks. These one-percent guys really don’t have a clue.

“No, look here, there’s more than just numbers!” Quentin observes, peering at the book. “There’s some notes in the margin. I can’t make them out.”

“Here, let me see,” Morgan says, and grabs the ledger out of Quentin’s hands again. This is what happens when you allow older brothers to accompany you anywhere. “Their Majesty’s vessel, Anna Creon, arrived from the Viriginia Colony, bearing… I can’t make out the rest.”

He flips a couple more pages. “Well, here’s something about a lost boat arriving from Saint Eustasius!” I’m not sure why that was worth pointing out.

But then he looks up. “And here’s something about Brutus Collins!”

“Brutus?” Quentin asks, making a face. Yes, Brutus; the book said 1678, and Brutus was the head of the family at the time, and you’re currently on the grounds of the Collinwood estate, where you live. You should know this information already.

“There are a few words here… in league with Brutus Collins!”

“In league with?” Quentin asks. “What could that mean?”

“They may have had some kind of a business partnership,” Morgan says, which is the least interesting observation that this whole sequence could lead to.

I mean, what are we doing here, boys? You didn’t want to show us the dance programs, which is what the audience was really hoping for, and you make a big deal about lost boats from Saint Eustasius. We should go back and check with Melanie again; maybe she’ll elaborate on the whole “to have, to be happy” thing.

Then Quentin spots something sticking out of the book, and he pulls out an old letter, which says:

James: Things are not always what they seem. Others would tell you to look elsewhere for truth; you must know that it lies within me, and through me, it must reach you. A.

Which has got to be one of the great non-discoveries of our time. You must know that truth lies within me? What on earth could that possibly mean?

Mind you, I’m only able to get this far because I’ve got the DVD, and I’m going back and carefully transcribing all of these groans from the other side of the veil. Even looking at it written down, I haven’t the faintest idea what they’re talking about, so what are the viewers supposed to make of all this? It just kind of washes past you, connecting with nothing in particular. It’s the verbal equivalent of a music cue; you get a little atmosphere and emotion from it, but that’s all.

So now we have to figure out who “A” is, which is depressing, because it’s going to take us forever to work through the whole alphabet.

“Five yards fine woolstuff, to Mistress Amanda,” Morgan reads, “and a pewter tea set to Mistress Amanda.”

“Wait a minute!” Quentin says, finally inspired. “Brutus’ wife, her name was Amanda! I read it in the history!”

“Yes! Yes, it was!” Morgan says, and then neither of them can think of a single intelligent thing to say about it. “But what does that mean?” Morgan whines. “The A. Who was so anxious to speak to her?” What?

“All right, now wait a minute,” says Quentin, now requesting two minutes in a row; no wonder we’re not getting anything accomplished. “Let’s assume that A was Amanda, and it was Brutus’ wife. Now… James Forsythe… did he have a wife?”

Morgan is now just opening pages in the ledger at random. “Now, look,” Quentin says, leaning over. “Let’s see if there are any other renderings in here.”

“Well, that’s odd,” Morgan says, and Quentin mutters, “Now, wait a minute,” which makes three minutes total. How much time does Quentin think we have for this? Hostess wants to get in a word about their snack cakes. Come on, kids, we’re losing daylight.

Morgan’s got another observation. “The last full entry completes accounts for February 1681. There’s a page started for March… but he never wrote anything on it.”

“Morgan!” says Quentin. “March 1681, that was exactly a hundred and sixty years ago!”

“The time the curse began!”

“Exactly!”

Okay, says the audience. So then what?

Taking a peek at the teleprompter for help, Morgan looks at the ledger. “She says that —” he says, and points at something in the book, like he’s about to read a passage. Then he realizes that whatever he’s talking about, it’s not in the ledger, it’s in Quentin’s hand, so he looks at the prompter again. “That things are not always what they seem!”

“Hey, listen,” says Quentin, who has something worth listening to. “I just wonder why the spirit didn’t burn this letter.” This is a difficult thing to wonder about.

Morgan nods. “Maybe he knows what we’re trying to learn,” he says, “and he knows we won’t learn it.”

Quentin looks around. “You mean that… perhaps he’s laughing at us, silently, and all of our frantic attempts to save ourselves. You think?”

“That may be very well be,” says Morgan. Case closed.

Monday: The Snatch.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Quentin tells Flora that he stopped by the police, “just in case there were any missing bodies… any body that was missing, that happened to be unidentified.”

Bramwell tells Catherine, “My wealthy relatives may permit their — their women to face danger, but not when it comes to having children!”

I cleaned this up in the post, but what Morgan actually says is, “The only thing we’ve found is bits and pieces of the Collin family for the last half century!”

After Quentin reads the letter, he says, “It’s signed A! What could A? What could it be?” Morgan replies, “I don’t know, but maybe this may be her.”

Monday: The Snatch.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

50 thoughts on “Episode 1220: The Forsythe Saga

  1. Oy, oy, oy, as my late father said when my two year old self dropped three well-formed bowel movements onto the upstairs carpet at their best friends’ house while I was en route to the bathroom. similarly, it seems clear that Gordon Russell was just handing over the pages as they plopped from his manual typewriter, with no time for cross-outs, let alone anything as momentous as a second draft. I feel for him this half century later. But who had fallen down on the episode outlines–or was that his job, too? And why do I have this early memory after 59 years/

    1. Apparently, it’s all fallen into Gordon Russell’s lap. Violet Welles said that she did help him out towards the end of the series but she is uncredited. It seems obvious to me that Dan Curtis really wanted the show to die and was focusing mainly on films and TV specials.

      I am glad that Gordon Russell did rebound from all of this and really shined (along with Sam Hall) as head writer for One Life to Live.

  2. I can’t think of any questions, but I have many suggestions you haven’t asked for and probably don’t want.

    One that I can’t resist sharing is to look at movies Dark Shadows cast members later appeared in that had a lot of thematic overlap with the show. There’s Daughters of Darkness, where John Karlen’s character winds up under the power of a vampire who orders him to dig a grave. That one also has a great sequence with Karlen and his previous boss, who is like Barnabas Collins without the swaggering machismo Jonathan Frid brought to the role. There’s also Alain Resnais’ 1977 film Providence, where Kathryn Leigh Scott is part of a cast who all take double roles, as two generations of a family whose problems include lycanthropy. I’m sure there are a bunch of other examples.

  3. “Well, here’s something about a lost boat arriving from Saint Eustasius!”
    What can it mean? Was the boat PRESUMED lost until it arrived? Or was the captain badly off course and arrived there accidentally?
    And why, in the time that Morgan (who’s rather damp again today) was standing at that table finding dance cards and accessories, did he miss that big book sitting right there on the table?
    And why, 160 years ago, didn’t Brutus Collins set a torch to the cottage where James Forsythe was living? It would have saved him a load of effort trying to burn incriminating documents one page at a time.
    And who the HE-double-L signs their correspondence with ONE INITIAL?
    A stupid, pointless scene that only served to mess up the cottage basement set. Well, it made a nice tableau for the closing credits.

    Quentin, why would the police, who are actively in search of Gabriel, have found Gabriel’s corpse and have been unable to verify or at least guess that it was Gabriel? Well, as it is the “baffled” Collinsport police, I suppose I needn’t ask?

    For pity’s sake, Flora, don’t explain the goddam lottery AGAIN! Everyone in the room was there last time, they all know how it works!

    And I have to say that the current state of the Bramwell/Catherine/Morgan triangle Wuthering Heights ripoff, er, borrowing is just not grabbing me. Even the revelation of the upcoming baby is not giving much traction to the story, though it’s only just been revealed – – hopefully it will get more interesting, but I’m pretty sure it only means more yelling.

  4. Question: After doing approximately 18 bajillion posts about Dark Shadows, there must have been many surprises. Between things that were much better/worse than you remembered or things you newly discovered along the way, what’s one thing that changed your perspective on the show?

  5. In terms of ideas, in various comments I’ve suggested:

    Use ILL to get your hands on a copy of Bloodlines and the newer edition of The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis and provide an insightful analysis of the differences between Matheson’s original treatment and draft script for Dracula and what Curtis put on the screen, especially with reference to his pollution of Dracula’s arterial system with an injection containing Barnabas’ mRNA…

    The Innovation comics based on the ’91 series (hey, if you could stomach doing the Dynamite and Gold Key ones, why not?).

    Ross’ Curse of Collinwood — last of the Pre-Barnie Ross novels, Ross plays into one of the central characteristics of the Gothic here, maintaining an unresolved suspense over whether there is an actual supernatural component to what is going on. Purely in comparative terms, I would argue one of the better Ross books if you can deal with Vicki and Burke as protagonists.

    Dark Mansions: what happens when you decide to make “Dark Shadows meets Dynasty” without using a vampire. Rebecca-ish narrative collision set in a Greystone that hasn’t been filmed with one or both of excessive use of red gels and smoke machines.

    The Phoenix plot line as dress rehearsal for the vampire — what the writers learned from doing it, the changes they made when they introduced their next supernatural creature. (See my comments below on the dangers of thinking pre-#210 can be ignored. It can’t. It’s like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. The universe will metaphorically boil your bunny if you try.)

    In terms of questions:

    When did they know that Frid refused to continue as Barnabas, forcing them to abandon whatever they had in mind for post-1198 in favor of 1841PT? I assume that gets reflected in the writing of the 1840 episodes at some point.

    As for “…please be aware that questions about 1966 may bring about the Great Unwinding and the destruction of all life and matter in this timeline.” Oh, Danny — you are the one who has triggered the Great Unwinding. You have known all along that “The ritual has 1,245 steps”, yet you fooled yourself into thinking that you could skip the first 209 steps. You thought you could be like Count Petofi, watching as others walked those 209 steps while avoiding getting turned into a basement-dwelling googly-eyed skeleton of a Collinsport doxie yourself (#858). During religious rituals in ancient Rome the slightest mistake — a verbal stumble, an incorrect gesture — and the entire thing had to be repeated all over from the very start. That is why the Great Unwinding is happening. You cannot avoid the Writing-Implement-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named, you can only endure it in order to move past it. The vampire in the magic box is the reward you get for doing so.

    Do you know the dark fate the One called Ron has planned for you at the end of the Great Unwinding should you refuse to accept the inevitable? It will start innocuously enough. You will decide to dig up old episodes of Never Too Young and blog them ironically. Then you will find yourself spending hours trying to pick the perfect frame of shirtless Tony Dow to screencap for your post for an episode. Next you will find yourself calling your husband “Wally” during moments of heightened passion. I cannot bear to describe what will happen when the Ones known as “Ward” and “June” manifest themselves to you.

    So let us talk of (shudder) the Fountain Pen. Ia, Shub-Nibgiraffe, the Black or Dark Blue Ink of the Woods With a Thousand Thank You Notes! Why is that story line so unbearable? Is it just a reflection of the pace of soaps of the era (based on the contemporary episodes of General Hospital starring Fake Roger that MST3k showed, that’s one possibility)? Is the flaw in Art Wallace’s original plan for the plot in “Shadows on the Wall”? Is it a consequence of changes required by the writers’ decision to keep Roger around (ironically making it a consequence of your prime directive of serialized narrative, the improvised natural selection of productive story elements)?

    If you think about it, the writers thrashing about to save Roger gives us Josette’s ghost saving Vicki from Matt Morgan, which leads to giving us a Phoenix for David’s mother/great-grandmother, which leads to…the vampire in the magic box. Who, unlike Laura, they don’t kill off. Which leads to Julia and Angelique and Quentin. So all hail the Fountain Pen, for without it we wouldn’t have had the show we love.

    Now the frickin’ brake pressure bleeder valve is another matter entirely…

    1. “It will start innocuously enough. You will decide to dig up old episodes of Never Too Young…”

      It’s worse than you know.
      Because of Danny’s post (and mainly due to that photo of Tony Dow as Chet) I did a YouTube search for NTY; there are a few videos posted, complete with period commercials for Rice-A-Roni, Cremora and Chooz (you cannot unsee the ads! The horror… the horror… I didn’t even realize there WAS a heartburn area; but X-ray tests proved it!)
      I watched those hip young guys ‘n’ gals disporting on the beach and dancing the night away at Alfy’s while The Castaways lip-synched “Liar, Liar”. I saw Tommy Rettig in granny glasses. I heard parents be described as ‘square’ and ‘groovy’. And knew that romance was blossoming between Joy and Chet (and just knew her mother would never approve).

        1. I doubt there was ever an episode of Leave It To Beaver where Wally went shirtless…

          The 1950s have a lot to answer for.

      1. Oh no! The Great Unwinding has progressed even further and in a worse form than Danny could have imagined! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmPNNbVj-5U — “‘Never Too Young’ April 18, 1966” — “In this episode of ABC’s teen soap, Joy knocks out her creepy date, Burt, then finds herself locked in Alfie’s Hideaway. With David Watson, Jaclyn Carmichael.” According to one of the comments, “This particular episode was written by Ron Sproat, who later wrote for Never Too Young’s replacement, Dark Shadows. He later adapted this episode for Shadows with the addition of some supernatural elements.” So now Never Too Young is bleeding over (sic) into Dark Shadows.

        1. Why am I not surprised Sproat was locking girls up even before Dark Shadows?
          Any idea which episode of Dark Shadows they’re talking about?
          I don’t remember Vicki knocking out Roger or Burke or Frank before getting caught by Matthew but then I kind of skipped a bit. (Like a hundred episodes.) Assuming it was an
          early episode.

          1. Maybe a Maggie/Willie episode? This seems like the sort of thing that would wind up in the trivia section for the episode on the Dark Shadows wiki, but a Google search for “Dark Shadows” wiki “Ron Sproat” “Never Too Young” didn’t find anything useful.

          2. It seems to me it’s episode #361, in which Julia is freaking out alone in Collinwood for most of the episode. The details are reworked and some are dropped, but the fear vibe with the solitary woman experiencing peaks and valleys of terror is all there. And Sproat wrote #361, after a cluster of Sam Hall episodes.

            1. That was my first thought. He just added supernatural elements to DS #361. I said this years ago, but nobody responded because NTY was not a main topic of conversation.

              1. Yes, Thank you, Robert Sharp. I would not have found the Never Too Young episode without your earlier post to guide me.

  6. Danny – Which major TV or film works tha Dan Curtis did post-DS have you not talked about much or commented on? I can maybe think of 2 – I don’t recall you saying that much about “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” That show, with Darren McGavin, in 1974, I enjoyed very much, both the TV movie/pilot and the later series itself. I had no idea that Dan Curtis was connected with it. How much, or in what way, did Dan’s DS experience somehow inform what he did on “Kolchak”? (Am I spelling that right?) Alternatively, if you followed Kolchak, and particularly liked an episode, could you do a running commentary of that particular episode, maybe one that featured a DS star? (If you’ve already done something like this, forgive my redundancy.)

    Other things that Dan Curtis did post-DS was the “Winds of War” mini-series and “War and Remembrance”? I don’t know that either or those necessarily relates in any way to DS?

    Another question/idea – Take any DS actor, maybe one of your favorite actors, and give highlights of what they liked or remembered most about their DS experience, along with your own running commentary? What was some of that actors’ later work and how did their DS role or experience shape or inform other things that they did?

    As someone who only saw DS occasionally during its original run, as I was way too spooked by the music, and who only saw a part of the vampire story when DS was shown in reruns after school in Iowa when I was in 8th grade (spring 1976), I only learned much later about Kate Jackson getting her start on DS, as I mostly knew of her work in “The Rookies” (she played a nurse) and then of course “Charlie’s Angels.” Could you summarize Kate Jackson’s memories/comments on her DS experience?

    Wasn’t there something about Dan Curtis trying to get Jaclyn Smith involved in DS, as she was married to Roger Davis at the time?

    And if you have not already talked too much about this before, what about the music – the main theme, the different musical motifs, the different interstitial music? How did the songwriter come up with this music? Is there a story behind the music? Are there any other DS fans out there, like me, who, as children, were too spooked by the music to even watch the show in its original run?

    If some or all of my questions have been already discussed at length in prior posts, maybe you could do a post or two of questions where you cross-referenced different fans’ questions to the post where you basically answer that question?

    1. Having threatened Danny with an eternity of writing blogs posts involving the phrase “mythopoeic trickster Eddie Haskell” (hmmm…any relation to the Collinsport Haskells?), I may be able to field a couple of these:

      Curtis was involved in the two Kolchak movies, but was not involved in the series. The script for Night Stalker was written by Richard Matheson based on an (at that point) unpublished novel by Jeff Rice — I don’t think Curtis played much of a role in the script. The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis by Jeff Thompson (https://www.amazon.com/Television-Horrors-Dan-Curtis-Productions-ebook/dp/B07KQDHLRJ) can probably answer most of your Night Stalker film related questions.

      Danny did a blog post on the music cue album: https://darkshadowseveryday.com/2015/12/09/episode-786/ (“Episode 786: The Blog Post About The Original Music From Dark Shadows with The Robert Cobert Orchestra & Featuring Jonathan (Barnabas) Frid and David (Quentin) Selby”).

        1. There was talk for many years about a Kolchak revival but Darren McGavin said he would never do it if Dan Curtis was still alive. He used a lot of curse words in talking about his old boss as I recall.

          1. According to Stephen King’s book Danse Macabre, Dan Curtis often called people a “no talent son of a bitch.” He said that Curtis could be charming one minute, but castrate you the next.

            Chris Pennock (RIP) said (at a fan gathering I attended) that he thought Dan Curtis was tough until he started working for Gloria Monty, who was producing General Hospital at the time. “Dan Curtis was a Boy Scout next to her.”

            Herman Wouk’s daughter is an acquaintance of mine. I asked her about Curtis and she said that he seemed nice enough the few times she was around him.

            So there are some different takes on Curtis.

            (LOL. Darren McGavin did a lot of cussing in A Christmas Story!)

    2. I’m not Danny but I actually watched The Winds of War in 1983. From what I remember, I was very surprised to find out Dan Curtis was involved. It did not feel like a Dan Curtis production. For one thing, imdb says there was a cast of 179 actors! For 7 episodes! Curtis produced and directed, but sole writing credit goes to Herman Wouk, who wrote the novel. Curtis used a movie star, Robert Mitchum, as his lead. The one connection to original DS is Robert Cobert, who wrote the music for The Winds of War. Barbara Steele is in one episode and also is listed as Associate Producer! She played Julia in the revival. Ben Murphy is in it. He co-starred with Roger Davis on Alias Smith and Jones. Imdb says there are 14 people doing special effects and 9 doing visual effects. There are 2 people in the script and continuity department. So now he has a continuity department. That’s something.
      Ali MacGraw, who plays a main character, kind of looks like Alexandra Moltke. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

      1. I watched Winds of War and the sequel in the 1980s too. Long before I knew about DS. They were big budget, prestige productions that got major media coverage. About as far removed from DS as you can possibly get.

  7. Okay, that was worth a shot. 🙂 I asked for questions that I might answer in a future post, and it turns out that your questions are really hard. I love you all but maybe I should not be soliciting extra research projects.

    1. I know! Here I was thinking you wanted questions about what episode “hooked” you, or who your favorite character was. I couldn’t think of any that you wouldn’t be able to post as a comment, but I’ll give mad props to those who took you up on the offer!
      Well – – you did ask for ideas… 😁

    2. Yeah, I apologize if it seemed like I was assigning homework. That was more like my list of “DS-Related Things I’d Find More Interesting To Discuss Than 1841PT.” Here’s an easy one: Marry, Boink, or Push off Widow’s Hill — Claude North, Deputy Angie Snack, and Jeremy Grimes.

      1. Ha, no problem; I wasn’t very specific and didn’t really know what I was asking for. 🙂 I was just about to ask you who Angie Snack was, and then I remembered. That question is actually very easy for me, and the answer is the order that you listed.

        1. Danny – I also certainly did not mean to write too many questions or even to begin to suggest that you do extra research on any future blog posts. I know your plate is very full. And I also have really appreciated your great de-bunking lecture on Roswell, which was posted on YouTube. Have you ever thought of doing more of those types of lectures, maybe even as a TedTalk? There’s all kinds of crazy stuff out there in the world, especially how social media seems to amplify “gossip” and “telephone” – there’s no shortage of material for stuff that you would want to research and speak and/or write about, I’m sure. Bless you, Danny, and many thanks for all you’ve done here at DSED – I know you’ll come up with something for the next 25 or so eps! Tim

    3. This is probably totally lame but seeing Ali MacGraw’s physical similarity to Alexandra Moltke made me wonder if she might have been an interesting recast for Vicki. Kate Jackson would have been a good choice, too. So, no research: If an actor was ill and had to be replaced for one day who would you like to see in the part? I’d like to see Julie Newmar as Eve and Anne Francis as Carolyn. I always thought of Anne as kitteny. There was also a soap opera actress named Joan Copeland, who is Arthur Miller’s sister, who I think could have actually filled in for Julia for a day. Really.

      1. Talking about Alexandra Moltke has gotten me into a stream of consciousness thinking. I remember seeing Alexandra on a YouTube/DS interview quite a while back – I recall she had some kind of “New York” accent, some form of Brooklynese. She had lots of downtime with Thayer David during one of their storylines, and Thayer was doing a Broadway play where David needed to learn Alexandra’s specific New York accent, so she taught him.

        What was amazing to me was this — I’m pretty good at hearing people’s accents and guessing which part of the country they are from. Alexandra, despite being 19 at DS’s start, having not much if any acting experience, being nearsighted so she couldn’t see the cue cards (so she had to memorize her lines) AND on top of this, “Vicki,” as far as I could tell, NEVER had any kind of “New York” accent. She sounded non-accented generic Midwest as Vicki, at least to my ears. To me, that’s nothing short of amazing!

        Other actors/actresses who have lost their own accented voice when playing a part – I’ve seen this happen more than once with others, whether it be soap stars or other actors and am amazed. I found clips of Patricia Bruder (Ellen from “As The World Turns”), who talks Brooklynese and never did so as “Ellen.”

    4. Not a deep question, but you mentioned the only other “soap” you dug was oltl, so wondering if you had ever seen Grayson Hall in the early 80’s (I was 12 and watched with my mom, so you were provably a kid) I recognized her immediately. She played Euphemia and always wore a turban! I remember her character was a beyotch and mostly had scenes with Delilah or Asa.

  8. Here’s a question for you or anybody old enough to remember: in 1979 there was a short-lived (6 episodes) series called Highcliffe Manor which starred the lovely Shelley Fabares as a widow who owned a gothic mansion in New England. I remember it as a send-up of DS but the Wikipedia entry makes it sound more like a Young Frankenstein pastiche. Does anyone else remember watching it? As a side note the series was narrated by Peter Lawford, a man whose real-life debaucheries would put Barnabas, Quentin, and any number of Trasks to shame.

  9. I’d never heard of Highcliffe Manor before.

    I’ve had a question ever since the show originally aired that I’ve never seen answered. Why is Collinwood not named Collinswood? After all, the family name is Collins. They live in Collinsport (Collins-port). What’s up with that?

  10. Danny, episodes like this make me think you are too harsh on Vicky and the pen. I think one of the reasons the pen episode drags out for so long is that there were so many storylines back then, of which this was one. It was written more like a classic soap opera back then, where you could only see a couple of episodes a week and still follow the plot.

  11. Decades ago I learned that one reason Darren McGavin refused to revive the Kolchak character was that he didn’t want to have to deal with Dan Curtis again. Two giant egos in the same room…

    Any idea which episode of Dark Shadows they’re talking about?
    Maybe a Maggie/Willie episode?

    IIRC, Julia, not Vicki, is the female terrorized in the Dark Shadows episode based on Never Too Young.

    With David Watson,

    Sci-Fi credibility right there. David Watson later played Cornelius in ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes.’

    Joy knocks out her creepy date,

    For just the first week of Never Too Young, Joy was played by Mary Robin Grace. She looked even more babely on this show than she did as cave girl Mlor on “It’s About Time.”

  12. I’ve got another clue for you. While I agree the note looks stupid, nobody writes that nice and formal a note in their best handwriting and then leaves it at A. I mean if it was a penciled quick note clearly done without a lot of time and space then it would make sense, but this is pretty much a framed piece of calligraphy. That gets me to the clue. That handwriting is clearly Palmer Method.

    There were different systems of cursive over time. The one in use between 1900 and 1850 had the LONG Ss which look like p or f. Then came Spencerian up to 1910 or so. Which was followed by Palmer, so this was pretty clearly written after 1910. More timey wimey ness.

    1. The long s was used from the Roman times into the 1700s. Its use was reduced dramatically at the end of the 1700s and continued to diminish throughout the 1800s. In 1841, some people still used the long s, while others didn’t. I’m not sure why you mention the period between 1900 and 1850.

  13. Here’s an idea that may not generate an unduly onerous amount of homework- pros and cons of starting to watch the show at various points in its run. What do you gain and lose by starting with #1, with #210, with #261, with #365, with #701, with #886, with #1061, etc. And what about doing what most people did at the time, and starting with whatever episode is on that day and getting hooked accidentally?

  14. “Decades ago I learned that one reason Darren McGavin refused to revive the Kolchak character was that he didn’t want to have to deal with Dan Curtis again. Two giant egos in the same room…”

    I don’t think Dan had any ownership stake in the Kolchak character. He was brought in by ABC to produce the first movie and then the sequel, but he played no part in the tv series (likely McGavin wouldn’t have done it if Curtis was involved).

  15. This episode features Bramwell, Catherine, Quentin & Julia. This is the first episode with all four since I can remember.

  16. I smiled when Quentin said that the date was “exactly 160 years ago!” How many times have we heard that “exactly X years ago!” since Vicki first discovered that L. Murdoch Radcliffe died (by FIRE!) “exactly 100 years ago.” And now we’re approaching Friday, April 2, 2021, exactly 50 years after Friday, April 2, 1971, when many of us plan to be watching episode 1245 of DARK SHADOWS at 4pm Eastern.

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