“You have to admit that you are the most unknown quantity in town.”
I haven’t written very much about the opening voiceovers that introduce the episodes. Mostly, that’s because they’re not very interesting at this point. They get a lot more fun later on, but here are some typical examples from mid-1967 episodes.
The warm night wind wails around the walls of Collinwood…
The night wind murmurs through the ancient trees surrounding Collinwood…
It is nighttime at Collinwood, and a balmy breeze blows in from the sea…
You see what I mean? Weather reports.
Once the show really gets rolling, they don’t have time for climate. Here’s the beginning of an intro from late 1969:
Not far from Collinwood, Chris Jennings and the man Julia Hoffman believes to be Quentin Collins have found the recluse, Charles Delaware Tate.
That’s right, you get four full names, and that’s just the first sentence! That’s an intro you can sink your teeth into.
Still, there are some charmingly loopy examples from this period, and I’m fond of today’s:
This is a time of suspicion, a time when trust has slipped away into the darkness, and doubts run high. There are those who find the finger of suspicion pointed at them. They react with a sudden fear of exposure.
Continue reading Episode 309: The Finger of Suspicion
“You know something, doctor? I’ve just decided that I don’t believe you.”
Today on Dark Shadows, we learn what a rich kid does on his day off — he rides on a bus. Carolyn is taking David on a trip into Bangor, and he’s got his heart set on that bus trip. But their plans are interrupted by a visit from Sam and Joe, who have something to discuss with David.
You can tell that it’s important, because Sam uses Dramatic Clarification — a technique where you pretend that you’re being super focused and intense, when really you’re just saying the same thing twice.
So when David asks why Sam needs to talk to him, Sam says, “Well, it’s about something urgent. Something very, very urgent.”
Continue reading Episode 308: In Circles
“Until we know it doesn’t exist, it exists!”
We kick off today with a real stop-the-presses moment — Maggie Evans puts a sweater on. This is more controversial than you might imagine.
She tells her father that she’s going out, and he says that he can’t allow it — it’s too dangerous. Sam has been protecting her for the last two weeks by keeping her indoors, and she’s going out of her mind. I know exactly how she feels; I’ve been watching this storyline.
This is actually a moment when there’s a perfect correspondence between the character and the audience. She’s bored; she wants to go outside and do something exciting. Her over-protective father is the enemy of the audience — he doesn’t want her to leave the house, because something might happen.
Continue reading Episode 307: Total Recall
“Dead people don’t just walk away.”
You know, I complain a lot about the lengthy recap conversations on Dark Shadows, but then I find myself trying to explain the current state of play to a reader who may have just stumbled onto the blog for the first time, and it’s hard to know where to begin.
Here’s where we left things on Friday — young David Collins is playing with his friend Sarah, who he doesn’t realize is a ghost. Sarah wants David to play with her, so she’s brought him to the family crypt where she’s buried, and she’s instructed him to open the panel that leads to the secret room, where her brother Barnabas was chained up in a coffin for 170 years.
And here’s the problem — if you, dear reader, have managed to cram all of those story points into your head simultaneously, then the next question is: Why has Sarah brought David to the secret room, and why is she telling him to open the coffin? And then I have to confess that I don’t really have any idea.
Continue reading Episode 306: Out of Order
“Is it necessary to continue to threaten me? I know the status of our relationship.”
Today’s episode opens with a shot of David walking through the woods, with a sunny meadow behind him. This is the show’s first use of chromakey, a new special effects technique that they’ll come to rely on for all sorts of supernatural malarkey. This shot only lasts about ten seconds, but it’s an incredibly important moment in the development of the show. Also, it looks awful.
Chromakey is very familiar to modern viewers; it’s also called “bluescreen” or “greenscreen”. You film the actors in front of a colored screen, and then you replace that color with the input from a different camera. It’s used for TV weather maps, and for the news correspondents on The Daily Show reporting “live” from unlikely locations.
If the lighting is set up properly, and if the actor isn’t accidentally wearing something blue, then you can create the not-very-compelling illusion that the actor is standing in front of something. And if the lighting isn’t set up properly, then it looks like this.
Continue reading Episode 305: Paranormal Activity
“I don’t know what you’re thinking about, but whatever it is, I’m sure you’re quite wrong.”
So here’s something you don’t want to see on your doorstep first thing in the morning — Burke Devlin, all self-righteous and shouty. He gets right up in Willie’s face and says, “I have to see Mr. Collins.”
Willie says that Barnabas isn’t home; he left early this morning and didn’t say where he was going.
Burke shouts, “You’re lying! I saw him come into this house before sunrise this morning, and he never came out.”
Stunned, Willie says, “You’ve been spying on him?”
“Well, I’ve been watching him,” Burke says, splitting hairs.
Willie asks the obvious question. “Why?”
“Because I find Mr. Collins a very odd person,” Burke says, “and the same goes for you.”
So there you go — any last shred of sympathy that we might have had for Burke, tossed away in a weird moment of spiteful bitchery. As a general rule, if you’ve been standing outside behind a tree all night, waiting for a guy to come home, then you lose any right to call other people odd. It doesn’t matter if the guy you’re spying on turns out to be a vampire. You are part of the problem.
Continue reading Episode 304: Scooby-Doo Must Die
“I’d like you to tell me a little more about Maggie’s neck wound.”
Okay, everybody pipe down; Burke Devlin is on the phone. He appears to be conducting business from Dr. Woodard’s office today, because they don’t have a set for Burke’s office. All he has is a hotel room, and we haven’t even seen that for months. Lately, he’s been doing all his business from the pay phone at the Blue Whale, so I guess we should be glad he’s still indoors.
We only get this end of the conversation, so it’s all questions and no answers. “Any word from London yet?” he asks. “Who’d you talk to? Is the guy you spoke to the last word on birth records in London?”
So, assuming that the answer to that question is “yes” — then today’s spine-tingling rollercoaster of suspense involves talking to somebody who talked to somebody who’s the last word on birth records in London. Although I suppose it’s possible that the answer is “no,” in which case it might be the second to last word.
Continue reading Episode 303: The Back of My Mind
“I find it very egotistical of you to think that only your kind can come back from death.”
The moon rises over the great estate of Collinwood, and at the Old House, Barnabas and Julia are spending a quiet evening at home. She’s preparing an injection that she hopes will cure his vampirism, and he’s browsing through a family album, dreaming of the people that he’d like to kill.
Continue reading Episode 302: The Serpent
“He’ll go down there in that cellar, and he’ll find a coffin. And he’ll want to know about it.”
Last week, the tall, dark and vaguely handsome Burke Devlin proposed to Victoria Winters, the Collins family governess. She needs some time to think about the proposal, although there doesn’t seem to be any reason why she should say no. They’ve been dating for a while, he’s immensely rich, and she doesn’t really know that many guys.
Of course, I’m not saying that I particularly care about whether these two get together or not. I’d be much happier if they both went to a World Peace Conference in Geneva and never came back, like the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Continue reading Episode 301: Burke Devlin Must Die
“I know what you were planning to do there. I know what you are.”
Today’s episode begins with Vicki standing at the drawing room windows, looking aimlessly at the sunset. There’s a distressingly large number of episodes that start with Vicki staring into space, in one direction or another. It’s like nobody’s ever told her that television exists.
Julia strolls in, and Vicki mentions that last night she dreamt that someone was in her room. When she woke up, her music box was playing. Obviously, Julia knows that means that a vampire was sneaking around Vicki’s room at the end of the last episode. I probably should have mentioned that in yesterday’s post, but I had other things on my mind.
Continue reading Episode 300: The Other Woman