All posts by Danny Horn

About Danny Horn

Product Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. I write a daily blog, Dark Shadows Every Day, about the 1960s vampire soap opera. Founder of Muppet Wiki and Tough Pigs, a Muppet fansite.

Episode 1111: The Healer

“If you scream, they will come! They will know how you haunt me!”

Daniel Collins coughs, one of those worrisome false coughs that indicates an unspecified theatrical natural-causes type condition. He’s dying of being old, apparently, at the precipitate age of 54, and he’s being tended to by Ben Stokes, an 84-year-old family retainer who’s known Daniel since he was twelve. It’s hard to say how this kind of malady works; it’s mostly metaphorical.

“Ohh, the pain! It’s coming!” Daniel cries, as Ben propels him bedward. Struggling for breath, he vows, “I must kill that woman, before I die!”

“Now, Mr. Daniel,” Ben chides, but Daniel interrupts.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t see her in that room. You did! That woman will ruin our world!”

Ben shakes his head. “Mr. Daniel, our world was ruined a long time ago.”

That’s a great line, so Stokes puts a point on the board, but Daniel is right. “That woman” is Dr. Julia Hoffman, and her appearance in the year 1840 is ushering in the ruin of this family, this story and soon enough, the whole television show.

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Episode 1110: Attack of the Clones

“He’s in his coffin. You’re some creature, like him!”

I get it. The X-Men have already made their last stand, and then it’s five years later, and you want another one. You doused the Wicked Witch with water, you blew up the Planet of the Apes, you solved the energy problem in Monstropolis, and you raided the lost ark, but here you are, broke and hitless. So what do you do?

Sure, making a prequel isn’t the most creative option, but once you’ve killed off Darth Vader, Yoda and Jabba the Hutt, then what’s left to look at, porgs? There’s got to be more to life than that.

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Episode 1109: The Last Straw

“Gerard, you took life from them once. Don’t do it again!”

“First, Gerard killed Quentin,” Tad explains. “And then, soon after that, Carrie and I died!”

“And then what happened?” Barnabas asks. He’s trying to figure out when we’re getting to the interesting part of this anecdote.

But never mind about that. Collinwood will crumble today, just like everyone thought it would four years ago. Turns out the vampire was a reprieve, not a cure; sooner or later, gravity reasserts itself, and Icarus takes a tumble into the sea. We’ll be leaving the Collins family as we know them, bound for the nineteenth century and points north, which means we’re not responsible for the future anymore, and Tad and Carrie can live or die in whatever order they choose.

Heads up, Collins family: Today is the last day of the rest of your life.

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Episode 1107: You Must Stop What Is Happening

“What happened to you in the future was the result of what’s happened here!”

Man, never underestimate the power of a soap opera instaromance. The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and vice versa, and the only people who get burned are the audience. Dark Shadows’ greatest flaw, except for all the others, is that they’re not very good at love stories, so characters tend to clump together haphazardly in corners.

Today’s for instance is fraud horoscopist Sebastian Shaw, who went on one date with Maggie weeks ago, and has now decided, on her behalf, that he’ll kill his vampire overlord Roxanne to spare Maggie from the series of vamp attacks that I’m not sure anybody ever actually told him about.

But who needs motivation when you’ve got silver bullets? It turns out there are armed astrologers in the Dark Shadows Extended Universe, although the gun control laws are particularly lax in Collinsport, and Sebastian probably just picked up his piece at the corner bodega, next to the Jarritos Mandarin sodas.

Then, unexpectedly, Roxanne is spared by the intervention of phantom entrepreneur Gerard Stiles, who apparates in silence in the secret chamber in the nick of time, and distracts Sebastian at the crucial moment.

Sebastian fires off two bullets in Gerard’s direction, which pass right through his intangible torso, and fall harmlessly to the floor. Apparently Sebastian doesn’t concern himself with collateral damage during hunting season; he’ll shoot at anyone.

But Roxanne is spared, anyway, because it turns out Gerard is actually the hero of the show. At least, he’s the only one who gets anything done around here.

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Episode 1106: Lady Is a Vamp

“Are you serious about trusting your secret to her?”

You know that your climactic vampire reveal is not all that it could be, when you raise the lid of the coffin and do the dramatic music cue, and then one character turns to the other and says, “Who is it?” That can’t be what they were going for.

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Episode 1105: The Burning Question

“You don’t know how much I’d like to have been in that crypt.”

“I didn’t know what else I was going to do,” says Dan Curtis, Dark Shadows’ executive producer and driving force. “I couldn’t think of another idea.” This is from an early-2000s interview for the DVD box sets.

“I was becoming very disenchanted, right along with the audience. Probably, over the last six months of that film — people didn’t see a lot of me, during that last six months of the show.”

So there’s a Freudian slip for you — when Dan looks back at this period, he can’t help thinking about the thing he really cared about, which was the Dark Shadows films.

“I was just hoping it was going to end,” he continues. “I just wanted to move on. I couldn’t squeeze my brain any harder to come up with one more story, and I wanted to move on and out.”

You can tell that we’re approaching that last-six-months mark, because they’re currently doing scenes from House of Dark Shadows as if they’re part of the show. For today’s episode, they drag poor Willie Loomis back out of retirement, so he can shine his flashlight through the door of a darkened crypt, and find the coffin of the vampire who’s killing Maggie Evans. They might as well put up a chyron saying “House of Dark Shadows, currently in theaters”.

So it’s worth asking the question: How do you run out of ideas for a soap opera, a genre that’s specifically designed to run forever?

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Episode 1104: The Burning

“You will not be able to do anything to this house unless you deal with me first!”

At the top of the show today, mad medico Dr. Julia Hoffman rushes into her patient’s bedroom to announce, “Daphne is the one who is to be murdered, and the destruction of Rose Cottage — will be tonight!”

This is welcome news, because these characters have been discussing the destruction of Rose Cottage for weeks and weeks; it’s a pivotal moment in the story that I can’t wait for them to pivot to.

Alarmed, Barnabas gasps, “Julia, we need to get help!”

“But who can help us?”

“Possibly Sebastian,” he answers, as the other one hundred percent of the world asks, In what way?

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Episode 1103: The Center of the Light

“If Gerard stays dead, he’ll haunt us for the rest of our lives!”

“Daphne, I’ve been trying to identify something,” Julia says, waving an ornament in the young woman’s face. “I wonder if you would help me. This medallion — look at it, have you ever seen anything like it before?”

Nonplussed, Daphne says, “No, I don’t think I have. Why?”

“Well, look at it more closely,” Julia urges. “It’s very old, I thought it might be familiar to you.”

“I’m certain I’ve never seen it before,” Daphne says, but I have — a bunch of times, back in 1967.

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Episode 1102: More Than Just Sleeping

“Julia, you were doing more than just sleeping.”

Hey, do you remember Maggie Evans? There used to be a character on Dark Shadows called Maggie Evans. She used to be pretty important, and there’s actually a whole Dark Shadows movie about her. But she’s been having a rough couple weeks, and I think we ought to take a minute to check in on her.

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