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 1025: Rebecca to the Rescue

“Fight me? When I’ve already won?”

It seemed to me, as I sat there in bed, staring at the wall, at the sunlight coming in at the window, at Maxim’s empty bed, that there was nothing quite so shaming, so degrading as a marriage that had failed. Failed after three months, as mine had done.

For I had no illusions left now, I no longer made any effort to pretend. Last night had shown me too well. My marriage was a failure. All the things that people would say about it if they knew, were true. We did not get on. We were not companions. We were not suited to one another.

I was too young for Maxim, too inexperienced, and, more important still, I was not of his world. The fact that I loved him in a sick, hurt, desperate way, like a child or a dog, did not matter. It was not the sort of love he needed. He wanted something else that I could not give him, something he had had before.

Continue reading Episode 1025: Rebecca to the Rescue

Episode 1024: The End of Love

“Do you think that what’s happened in this house has deranged my mind so much that I’ll accept your outrageous lies?”

You are asleep, said the voice in the portentous dream. But you hear me. Follow my voice. Follow… Follow… Follow… Follow… Follow…

To be honest, Maggie was already following just fine after “Follow” #3, but voices in portentous dreams usually have a script they need to stick to; a lot of this is automated.

Come in, Maggie, said the voice, as Maggie approached a door. Come into this room, and learn the secret. So Maggie came in.

The table holds the secret, the voice continued. Underneath, beside the ornament. Push the button. Maggie reached the table and found the button, which opened a small oblong compartment.

There before you lies the secret, said the voice in the portentous dream. If your secret is complete, you may wake up now. If you would like another secret, you may select from the following options. Please listen carefully, as our menu has recently changed.

Continue reading Episode 1024: The End of Love

Episode 1022: Suddenly Shipping

“How could I dream something that actually happened?”

“Maggie, I hate to see you this upset,” Cyrus says, which is a shame, because being upset is pretty much Maggie’s job.

And why shouldn’t she be upset? She’s just had a terrifying dream in which she saw her new husband murdering his first wife, and wives, as a class, are pretty sensitive on the subject of wife-murdering. So she rushed over to Dr. Cyrus Longworth’s place, for a consultation.

Cyrus holds Maggie’s hands tenderly, to reassure her. “I just wish there were more that I could do,” he murmurs.

She smiles. “I wonder if you know how kind you really are,” she observes.

He looks into her eyes. “Don’t hesitate to come back here and visit me, if there’s anything more that I can do.”

“I won’t forget,” she says, and then asks, “Is something wrong?”

“Wrong?” he asks. “Why?”

“The way you keep looking at me.”

“Oh, no!” the doctor stammers, remembering himself. “I’m sorry, that’s just me! Absent-minded Cyrus Longworth, staring at something, without knowing what he’s staring at.”

She chuckles, and says good night.

And he watches her, the dear wife of a dear friend, as she walks upstairs and leaves the house. Then his glance falls on a pair of white gloves, left behind on a table. Grabbing them, he hurries to the door, but she’s already gone.

Cyrus Longworth looks down at the gloves, and then he takes them and rubs them against the side of his face.

Continue reading Episode 1022: Suddenly Shipping

Episode 1021: Five Things

“If you had murdered someone, what’s the most logical thing that you would do?”

It’s Monday, as you know, because here we are and it’s Monday. Just look around, this is what Monday looks like. Right? Okay.

Now, I’m going to tell you five things about this week on Dark Shadows, and one of them is going to be hard to believe, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this.

First: One of the main characters — who we thought was in love with one character, and has been drawn into a complicated relationship with a second character — is suddenly and without warning going to be madly in love with a third character, and then we’re supposed to pretend that it’s been that way all along.

Second: There’s an episode this week that only has four characters — one nice person, and three nasty people who spend the entire half-hour criticizing her, gossiping about her and openly mocking her.

Third: You know that rape subtext that sits awkwardly behind practically everything that happens on Dark Shadows, including the vampire bites, the possessions, the enchantments, the body swaps and the aggressive reincarnations? You know, the thing that makes us uncomfortable, because we enjoy a show that expects us to be interested in the love lives of serial rapists? Well, that’s going to graduate from subtext to actual text this week. In fact, we’re going to see a villain do a brief monologue on the subject of how great it’s going to be when he literally rapes someone you like.

Fourth: A relationship that you’re interested in, and that maybe you’re rooting for, will get blown to bits this week, and you will never care about it again. This is no longer a story about love triumphant in the face of evil, it’s just a story about things that happen to this particular set of complex, haunted people.

Fifth — and this is the one that’s hard to believe — this is what it looks like when Dark Shadows gets better.

Continue reading Episode 1021: Five Things

Episode 1020: To Serve Man

“We were just standing here talking, and suddenly he fell over!”

Why does the moth love the flame?

You turn on the porch light and there they are, banging their little moth noggins against the lightbulb, desperate to break through and be consumed in flames. There doesn’t seem to be a good evolutionary explanation for this, but there they are, doing it, all night long. Why?

Well, one explanation is that a moth’s navigation system depends on transverse orientation, keeping a fixed angle on a distant source of light — typically the moon, apparently. So the moth is trying to keep the moon in a fixed place, and then along comes your porch light, and the moth gets all confused, ending up in a spin around the bulb. Or maybe not. It’s possible that people just made up the concept of “transverse orientation” in order to explain the moths, and it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Why couldn’t moths just fly in whatever direction they wanted to fly, like everybody else?

There’s another possible explanation, which is that female moths’ pheromones are slightly luminescent, and emit some of the same frequencies as candlelight, so the moths trying to immolate themselves think they’ve found a spectacularly turned-on lady moth. Except moths are even more attracted to UV light than candlelight, and UV light doesn’t have the same wavelengths as the pheromones, so that’s not it either.

People also use the word “phototaxis” to explain this phenomenon, which once again doesn’t really apply to anything except moths, and another possibility is that flowers reflect UV light, so maybe the moths think that the lightbulbs are a food source. There’s a point at which this is more about you than the moths.

Continue reading Episode 1020: To Serve Man

Episode 1019: Peer at a Prop

“I’m trying to figure out how something you’ve never seen before managed to get into your suitcase.”

So the plan, as I understand it, is as follows: sinister sorceress Angelique Collins and her housekeeper pal Hoffman will break up the marriage between Angelique’s one-time husband Quentin and his now-time wife Maggie, by making Maggie paranoid and hysterical, so that Quentin won’t be able to stand living with her. They’ll accomplish this by doing super suspicious things right in front of Maggie, and then acting weird and petulant about it, so that she knows they’re doing something suspicious, and thereby lulling her into a false sense of insecurity. It’s the perfect plan; she’ll never see it coming.

Continue reading Episode 1019: Peer at a Prop

Episode 1018: Diagnosis Murder

“What happened to you wasn’t the work of any form, or spirit.”

Dr. Cyrus Longworth, who isn’t that kind of doctor, enters Quentin Collins’ hospital room with a worried face and a clipboard. Earlier in the day, Quentin suddenly collapsed with agonizing chest pains that felt like he was a clay doll in the hand of an enormous crazy person, who was sticking a sharp pin into his heart. After about an episode, the pain suddenly ceased, and Quentin felt fine, as if nothing had happened, which I suppose technically nothing really had.

Unnerved, he went to the hospital for tests, which have turned out to be even more unnerving.

“The tests have proved most fascinating,” says Dr. Longworth, who seriously is not this kind of doctor.

“What is it?” Quentin smiles. “Don’t tell me I have some hitherto undiscovered tropical disease.”

Cyrus grimaces. “Well, if — if you had,” he stammers, “I would have known what to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

Cyrus gives his friend a grim look. “Quentin…” he says, “there’s nothing wrong with you!”

Continue reading Episode 1018: Diagnosis Murder

Episode 1017: The Struggle

“He is my cousin, as you are my cousin, in this time or any other time!”

“The countryside near Collinwood,” says Nancy Barrett, “lies quiet and serene on this night, in Parallel Concurrent Time. But in the great house, the web of evil being woven by Angelique will begin to ensnare its first victim — Maggie Collins — who will be placing herself in double jeopardy by her presence at her husband’s side, for Angelique is not the only force that could conspire for Maggie’s destruction.”

So, a few things. First, nobody calls it Parallel Concurrent Time. Second, the first victim of Angelique’s web of evil was Alexis, and the second victim was a random day player handyman, so Maggie is either the third victim or the fourth, depending on whether you count Dameon or not. Also, that’s not what “double jeopardy” means.

Still, Nancy’s talking about a character that we recognize doing things that we more or less understand, so hooray, Dark Shadows is saved.

Continue reading Episode 1017: The Struggle

Episode 1016: Fire Is Not a Friend

“Fingers of flame, make healthy again what I have diseased!”

Well, here we are, another week in Parallel Time, and the logic deficit is just as bad as ever. We’re four days into an utterly baffling plot arrangement involving a parallel triangle between Quentin, Angelique and Maggie, who are all married to each other and desperately unhappy about it.

Quentin’s first wife, Angelique — who’s dead, but pretending that she isn’t — wants him to fall in love with her again. But he’s already in love, sort of, with his second wife Maggie, who fled the house weeks ago so she could go upstate and make a movie. That left Angelique alone with Quentin to work her wicked wiles, but they don’t really have a hell of a lot of chemistry these days, and she’s getting desperate.

So Angelique keeps doing these supernatural middle-school science experiments, and then getting all angsty when they don’t produce the desired results, which are unspecified. First, she slipped Quentin a magic potion that was supposed to drive him crazy, and it worked. Unfortunately, he went entirely crazy, rather than the 60% crazy that Angelique was apparently budgeting for, and he slipped up to the attic to hang himself. She managed to talk him down, of course, because obviously she doesn’t want her weird magic spells to hurt the man that she loves.

Except here she is twenty-two minutes later, and she’s attacking him again, this time by sticking a silver pin into a voodoo doll and triggering a massive coronary. Then she heads downstairs, and finds exactly what she ought to expect — Quentin lying on the floor, and everybody else standing around, telling each other not to have hysterics.

“Quentin!” she cries, and rushes to his side, horrorstruck by the idea that he might die from the heart attack that she deliberately induced one minute ago. And then she spends the rest of the episode worrying about him, and wondering if maybe she could have handled this differently.

So I don’t even know what to say. The all-powerful living dead soap vixen at the heart of this storyline is hell bent on doing exactly the opposite of what she actually wants, and then she’s unhappy. What’s going on? How is it possible to be this bad at your job?

Continue reading Episode 1016: Fire Is Not a Friend