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 1234: Last Call

“I see a room, with a coffin and a woman!”

“Something’s happening!” says Carrie.

“I can see it!” says Pansy.

“The vibrations — very strong vibrations!” says Carrie.

“Where the music’s coming from, I can see it!” says Pansy.

“An image is beginning to form!” says Carrie.

“There ain’t no doors in my mind, honey!” says Wanda.

Continue reading Episode 1234: Last Call

Episode 1233: You Make Me Sick

“That may be true, but I have an odd feeling it isn’t.”

Previously, on Dark Shadows:

“Every minute you live is mine,” Bramwell urges, “just as every breath I take is yours! There is no Morgan. There never was! Other people are only shadows that we use to hurt each other with, to frighten each other with! That’s true, isn’t it?”

“Morgan did it for me!” Catherine cries. “He went into that room for me!”

“You and I are the only real ones,” he insists. “You and I!”

It turned out Bramwell’s wife Daphne was hiding in the bushes during this exchange, drinking in every word, and as she lies now on her deathbed, irreparably poisoned by his toxic disregard for other people’s feelings, Bramwell has to wonder, Is there anything that I could have done differently?

Continue reading Episode 1233: You Make Me Sick

Episode 1232: My Coffin World

“Absurd! Ha ha ha! Children’s chatter!”

Thanks to the flashback in yesterday’s episode, the Collins family of 1841 Parallel Time now knows that the terrible curse under which they live was invented by their terrible ancestor Brutus, who was mad at his wife and a guy that he worked with, who he killed and then was still pretty mad at.

Question: How does this information help the story progress forward? Answer: It does not do that at all.

Continue reading Episode 1232: My Coffin World

Episode 1231: The Curse of Collinwood, or How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

“Knowing about your strange preoccupation with the occult, nothing would surprise me. I can imagine you using some strange powders and potions, and doing strange chants to do anything you want.”

It must be a curse, obviously, from way back in the past, some asshole in a previous generation who screwed this up for you. I wonder what they did. It must have been pretty damn bad, because you are a mess, and there is no other way to explain it.

Continue reading Episode 1231: The Curse of Collinwood, or How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Episode 1230: Mortal Engines

“I’m thinking that the spirit of James Forsythe has gradually retrogressed.”

One-time parallel pop idol Quentin Collins manhandles his older brother Morgan into a bedroom at gunpoint, an eventuality which under other circumstances could be the starting point for an intriguing afternoon.

Morgan Collins, currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of 1680 power-broker James Forsythe, was found throttling his aunt Julia with a garotte under the impression that she’s Constance Collins, also of 1680, which she clearly isn’t, so I’m not sure where he got the idea. Morgan was stymied, but he plans to try again, and he’s going to keep on trying until he runs out of aunts.

So Quentin locks Morgan in the bedroom, with a pair of armed servants guarding the room, one in the hall and the other outside the window. This is how the Collins family of 1841 Parallel Time deals with civil unrest; they’ve also got brother Gabriel locked up in the tower room for exactly the same reason.

Morgan pounds on the door fiercely, with both fists. “Let me out of here!” he shouts. “Do you hear me? I’m going to get out somehow, and when I do, I’m going to kill you! I’m going to kill every Collins I can get my hands on! Do you hear me?” They do, but they don’t find his argument compelling. They’re already aware that he wants to kill them; that’s why they’re locking him up in the first place. This is not going to go over well at his pre-trial detention hearing.

So now there are two people whose response to this storyline is to become a crazed, ranting lunatic with violent tendencies, and neither of them is me, which is a miracle.

Continue reading Episode 1230: Mortal Engines

Episode 1229: Catherine the Not-So-Great

“Sleeping is not one of the safest things you can do in this house.”

When you think about it, isn’t there a fine line between passion and obsession? Isn’t true love a kind of madness, in which nothing else really matters beyond your shared feelings?

“Morgan went into that room to save me!” Catherine cries. “That’s why I must stay here and help him, even if it takes the rest of my life!”

Bramwell glowers at her. “You’re remarkably generous with the rest of your life, considering it belongs to me!”

She turns away, her mind a whirl.

“Every minute you live is mine,” Bramwell urges, “just as every breath I take is yours! There is no Morgan. There never was! Other people are only shadows that we use to hurt each other with, to frighten each other with! That’s true, isn’t it?”

“Morgan did it for me!” Catherine cries. “He went into that room for me!”

“You and I are the only real ones,” he insists. “You and I!”

So the answer is no, there isn’t a fine line between passion and obsession, true love is not a kind of madness, and these people are psychopaths.

Continue reading Episode 1229: Catherine the Not-So-Great

Episode 1228: The Unlovables

“No, I couldn’t have, but she could have — that demon inside me, she could have, and she did!”

“I don’t know how to bring my son back,” declares Flora Collins, “except to wait.”

Her daughter-in-law Catherine looks at her in surprise. “Wait? Wait for what?

“I don’t know.”

“And how much longer must we wait?”

“I don’t know that either.”

So if you’re looking for a way to sum up what’s happening on Dark Shadows these days in ten seconds, then that little excerpt from Waiting for Godot ought to do nicely.

Continue reading Episode 1228: The Unlovables

Episode 1226: Eternal Invisible

“Umba… Umba… Man of no time… Let your will leave your body… Let your will be mine… Umba… Umba… Man of no time… Will leave body… Will be mine…”

We now have only four more weeks of Dark Shadows ahead of us, as Collinwood falls under the sway of several confusing ghosts. To take our minds off the looming pencils-down, let’s look to the future: specifically, April 1973, and the Gold Key comic books.

By this point in the television series, everybody basically agrees that there’s a 1970s status quo, with Elizabeth, Roger, Carolyn, David and sometimes Quentin living at Collinwood, and Barnabas bunking out at the Old House, with slight variations. It’s just Elizabeth, Roger and Quentin in the comics, and just Elizabeth and Carolyn in the comic strip, while Barnabas lives at Collinwood in the Lara Parker novels. But there’s always a stable structure based around the great estate, as a starting point for new stories.

With that basic structure in mind, there are two kinds of plots that the spinoffs can accommodate: #1) a new person arrives at Collinwood to make trouble, and #2) Barnabas and/or Quentin are sent off somewhere else.

That second story type is interesting, because it never happened on the show. Like most soap operas, the Dark Shadows story is tied to a specific town, and often to a specific mansion. The idea that Barnabas would travel to Venice, Cairo or Salem for a storyline would be unthinkable on the television show; they only had enough studio space for the drawing room, the Old House, the mausoleum and some woods, and could maybe stretch as far as Maggie’s house or Widow’s Hill if they were feeling particularly adventurous.

The only real analogues to the “Barnabas adventure” story on the show were his trips to 1897, Parallel Time and 1840, which were treated like exotic locations even though they were located in exactly the same house. That idea was picked up in the comics, which sent Barnabas hurtling into the past and the future of Collinwood, but they also used more exotic locales, as we’ll see today.

The question for the day is: What happens when you set Barnabas adrift in another fictional world? And the answer, obviously, is that he destroys everything and leaves no survivors.

Continue reading Episode 1226: Eternal Invisible