Category Archives: August 1968

Episode 560: Messing Around with Dead People

“I can’t stay around here while this thing is happening. It’s just too horrible.”

One of the rules of Dark Shadows is that there’s always something terrible happening in the Old House basement. The details change — it could be a vampire sleeping in a coffin, or a dead girl singing a nursery rhyme, or a patchwork corpse monster chained to the wall — but there’s always some kind of nightmare taking shape there, down among the dead men.

“Woe unto them,” as they say in the Book of Isaiah, “that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?” It’s like Isaiah knew Barnabas and Julia personally; that is exactly what they do.

Today, it’s Willie’s turn to say “Whoa” unto them. Let’s see how far that gets him.

Continue reading Episode 560: Messing Around with Dead People

Episode 559: Everything You Deserve

“I specialize in human relations.”

Also, Nicholas is in love with Maggie.

Sorry to spring it on you like that, but it’s that kind of storyline. Nicholas Blair is some kind of evil wizard man, and so far we haven’t had any indication that he’s looking for a girlfriend. In fact, he’s been mocking Angelique relentlessly for having human emotions. And yet, here we are.

It’s not at all clear why Nicholas has chosen Maggie, either. He seems to have fallen in love at first sight, during a chance encounter at Collinwood. Maggie’s very pretty and very nice, but they don’t have anything in common. I’m not even sure that he’s human. He might as well fall in love with a puppy.

But there are four pretty girls on the show, and three of them already have a storyline, which leaves Maggie at a loose end. She’s got a dull job, she’s happily engaged to Joe, her alcoholic father has died, and it’s been a year since she was kidnapped by anybody. If Nicholas needs a human weakness, then it might as well be Maggie, I suppose.

Continue reading Episode 559: Everything You Deserve

Episode 558: The Long, Hot Summer

“He may be eccentric or mysterious at times, but I don’t think he’s evil.”

They taught him how to speak. They taught him how to read. They taught him table manners. They taught him to fear the police. They even taught him what “kissing” means.

But they totally forgot to teach him about right and wrong, which turns out to be kind of important. Oops!

Continue reading Episode 558: The Long, Hot Summer

Episode 557: A Race of Monsters

“When you see his neck, Julia, you will know at once whether or not I am right.”

Julia walks into a haunted house, and finds a vampire sitting in an armchair.

“Barnabas, you look exhausted,” she says, because this television show takes place in a world where people worry that the living dead don’t get enough sleep.

Continue reading Episode 557: A Race of Monsters

Episode 556: Apotheosis

“I intend, my dear, to create a race of superbeings who will serve my master and control the world.”

It’s about surprise; it is always, always, entirely about surprise.

I’ve been dissatisfied lately with the show’s focus on Adam, who’s been sitting around in a storage room for several weeks, getting progressively grumpier. The problem isn’t Adam, because I like him, and it’s not that he’s doing mean things, because he’s fictional and who cares.

The problem is the word “progressively”. If Adam gets a little more demanding and a little more self-centered whenever we see him, then there’s no point in our checking in on him every day. He’s getting predictable, and that’s the opposite of television.

Solving this problem in the most efficient possible way, Dark Shadows unveils its latest plot twist — Nicholas has brought Angelique back to life, as a vampire. Now, it’s not clear exactly how he accomplished this — the last time we saw Angelique, she’d just died of old age in an armchair, so how could she be a vampire now?

Answering that question is not important. Angelique is a vampire!

Continue reading Episode 556: Apotheosis

Episode 555: All Tied Up

“Please, take pity on me. Don’t torture me like this.”

It’s a Ron Sproat script today, which means that Vicki’s locked up and she’s not getting away any time soon. This is a bit of an obsession with Sproat, an old-school soap writer who knows that the only question worth asking is: What are we going to do tomorrow? If he can’t come up with a good answer to that question, then he stuffs a girl into a closet and keeps her there for a week.

Now, to be fair, it was Gordon Russell who actually put Vicki in stir this time; Sproat is just the guy keeping her here. But I don’t see any reason to be fair today. If life was fair, I’d have enough material to stretch this out to a full blog entry. And yet, here we are.

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Episode 554: Fresh Blood

“Why would you imagine dogs howling?”

It was the best of times.

“Mail for the show recently has been running to almost 6,000 letters a week since Barnabas soared to fame, with Frid himself receiving nearly 5,000 of that total.”

It’s late summer 1968, and Dark Shadows’ ratings have skyrocketed from 2.8 million viewers to 4.5 million, since Jonathan Frid debuted as reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins.

“Ben Cooper has licensed a line of masks and costumes based on the Dark Shadows theme and featuring Barnabas. Western Publishing is also on the way with a boxed board game, comic books and puzzles.”

Call it magic or genius or just being in the right place at the right time, but apparently what American housewives and teenagers want more than anything in the world is a vampire soap opera at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

“Several weeks ago, Frid appeared in three Stern Brothers stores in the New York City area as a guest at fashion shows displaying ‘Monster Shoes’ — the latest in girls’ and women’s footwear. Stern’s officials described his appearance as one of the biggest in memory.”

There’s just one problem: Barnabas Collins isn’t a vampire anymore. He used to be, once upon a time, but he was cured three months ago. Any viewers tuning in to see neck-biting will be sorely disappointed, and so will their 4.5 million friends. Continue reading Episode 554: Fresh Blood

Episode 553: What Not to Do

“I’m certain that’s a possibility.”

Well, here we are again.

The current storyline has hit something of an impasse — Adam, the enormous and lonely Frankenstein man, is demanding that Barnabas create a woman to be his mate. Barnabas, who has no idea how to do such a thing, tells Adam that he has no idea how to do such a thing. And that’s pretty much where we left off.

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Episode 552: Hooked On Phonics

“How could he talk so good in such a short time?”

We’ve been spending a lot of time lately with Adam, the enormous adolescent Frankenstein who’s hiding out in the abandoned west wing of Collinwood. His love life isn’t really working out, and he’s just learned that he was pieced together in a mad science experiment, so he’s in kind of a bad mood.

But that works out well for us, because there’s only so long that you can watch a guy hide in a room before you start wondering what’s happening on The Secret Storm these days. We need a change.

Happily, today Adam’s got some new things to say, and a new vocabulary to say them with.

Continue reading Episode 552: Hooked On Phonics

Episode 551: Cruel World

“I’ve always wanted to at least not hurt you in any way.”

Welcome back to another week of Dark Shadows, the pop culture sensation that’s been gaining in popularity as its storylines grow progressively darker. It’s August 1968, and this crazy little daytime horror show is the success story of the summer.

Lately, we’ve been following Adam, the love-struck Frankenteen who’s hiding out from the police in an abandoned wing of Collinwood. He’s been there for a couple weeks, reading poetry and developing a full-scale crush on Carolyn, who just wants to be friends. Adam’s finally been told that he was created in a mad science lab, and there’s no chance that Carolyn will ever love him.

Left on his own, Adam picks up the knife from his breakfast tray, and considers ending it all. I believe the headline would be: World’s Largest Man Kills Himself with World’s Smallest Knife.

Continue reading Episode 551: Cruel World