“I have feelings, Ben. I can hate. And I can do something about that hate.”
Henchmen. Right? It’s a complicated relationship.
Barnabas wakes up today and climbs out of his coffin, and the first thing he says is, “Good evening, Ben. Did you see Trask today?” That’s the kind of boss he is. Not a lot of small talk, just straight to business.
Continue reading Episode 439: Something About That Hate
“What really upsets you is the fact that you chose the losing side in this battle between the Almighty and the forces of Evil!”
At the top of today’s episode, vampire recluse Barnabas Collins asks his servant for an update on current events. Ben says that he was at Vicki’s witchcraft trial today, and stayed late to hear the verdict.
Barnabas pauses, and says, “I don’t like the expression on your face, Ben.”
Look, dude, you’ve had just as much time as the rest of us to get used to the look on Ben’s face. It’s a bit late in the day for constructive criticism in that department.
Continue reading Episode 438: Drag Me to Hell
“It’s got to stop now! It’s gone on for too long!”
It’s another trial day for Victoria Winters, who’s currently in custody on suspicion of witchcraft. As usual, she’s hanging out in her cell with Peter, her lawyer and boyfriend. He seems to spend a lot of time in these unstructured jailhouse discussions, just racking up the billable hours.
“Peter,” she says, “do you ever have nightmares?”
“Of course I do,” he replies. “I’m on Dark Shadows. Most of my scenes are with you. My whole life is a nightmare.” But he only says that in my imagination.
Vicki’s spent the last several months on this uncertain and frightening journey into the past, traveling to 1795 to witness the events leading up to Barnabas Collins becoming a vampire. Or, at least, the audience has witnessed those events. Vicki talked her way into a prison sentence six weeks ago, and now she’s well on her way to an execution.
“It’s got to stop now,” she says, trying to shake herself awake. “It’s gone on for too long! It’s got to stop now! It’s got to stop!”
Amen, sister. It’s been 437 episodes, and Vicki finally says something that I agree with.
Continue reading Episode 437: There’s Just Us
“Why isn’t she here? Because she’s vanished.”
So I guess it’s true — you start out thinking that the past was a golden age, but then you go back for a visit, and it’s just one disappointment after another. Plus, after a while they accuse you of witchcraft and execute you.
Writing this blog every day has been my own uncertain and frightening journey into the past, back to my younger days when I watched one episode of Dark Shadows a day, in order and without fast-forwarding, because it was on television and DVDs didn’t exist yet. And the way I remembered it, 1795 was the perfect jewel of a storyline — tragic and hand-crafted and brilliant. I’d completely forgotten that it goes into unexcused overtime like this.
And here I am, sentenced to watch episode after episode about Vicki’s witchcraft trial, which is just spinning in circles and refuses to end. It seems like every witness gets to come back for a bonus round, with more accusations and objections and pointless sidebars at the bench. Well, I can’t take it any more; I’m going for the Backup Plan instead. Episode overruled!
Continue reading Episode 436: Quivering with Emotion
“It can’t be! That woman is dead!”
The sun sets, the coffin opens, and guess what, there’s more bad news. It’s like every time Barnabas gets up, there’s some depressing new development. He’s got to be wondering why he ever bothered to rise from the dead in the first place.
This is probably the first truly original concept born from this unholy union of monster movie and daytime soap opera — the idea of a vampire waking up and saying, Man, this has been such a crappy week.
Continue reading Episode 435: Next Stop Kansas
“Neither Mrs. Collins nor I have any desire to influence the judges emotionally.”
Today, Nathan Forbes — the only really cute guy on Dark Shadows right now — is alone in his bedroom, and then another guy bursts in and starts getting physical with him. You’d think that this would be, like, my favorite scene ever, except that it’s Peter, who’s just angry and scowly and depressing.
Yesterday, Nathan promised that he’d testify on Vicki’s behalf at her boring old witchcraft trial, but then he turned around and testified for the other side instead, because the prosecutor promised to put in a good word for him with the Collins family.
Nathan is a liar, and a coward, and an opportunist, and he probably cheats at cards and doesn’t wash behind his ears. None of that matters. Didn’t you hear me? He’s the cute guy. They only have one.
Continue reading Episode 434: Down Our Throats
“Miss Winters, it was Abigail Collins who first recognized you as being a witch, wasn’t it?”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” says our learned colleague in the red robe, “we have had quite enough bickering between the two of you.”
You see? It’s not just me. Today’s episode has been on for less two minutes, and already everyone seems weary and put-upon. This witchcraft trial storyline is going to kill us all.
Continue reading Episode 433: Law of the Jungle
“Why does the Devil always want to touch you?”
Yesterday, Barnabas moved back into his parents’ basement, which is a shame, because the last thing we need around here is a slacker vampire.
We’ve traveled all the way back in time to 1795, so we could witness the vampire’s backstory and give the writers some new storyline options. But now Barnabas’ girlfriend is dead in a fairly comprehensive way, and his new afterlife plan is to hide out in the cellar and hope that nobody walks downstairs.
At this point, the show needs to come up with something new. We’ve just spent three months investigating Barnabas’ past. What’s his future going to be?
Continue reading Episode 432: The Age of Kaiju
“What have I to look forward to, if the sight of me fills anyone that I love with terror?”
Okay, it’s Monday, and time for another Dark Shadows course-correction.
Three months ago, the DS writers were faced with a huge story problem: The new vampire character was an enormous hit, but that storyline was clearly heading towards a conclusion, with nothing left to do but expose and destroy the vampire. Then, in an unbelievable example of inspiration fueled by desperation, they sent Vicki back in time to 1795, letting the audience witness the vampire’s secret-origin backstory.
And now we’ve completed that three-month mission. We know the whole story of Barnabas’ curse, and how little Sarah died, and why Josette threw herself off a cliff. On Friday, Barnabas tried to call Josette back from the grave, until he found out that she doesn’t really look super appealing post-cliff-dive, which pretty much puts a period at the end of that sentence.
Unfortunately, that means that the writers are back where they started, as far as a Barnabas storyline is concerned. He’s a lonely vampire again, and Josette — his only reason for existing — is lost to him forever. So then what?
Continue reading Episode 431: The Catcher in the Rye
“Josette is dead! How DARE you dig her grave!”
Hey, guess what: Barnabas wakes up and gets out of his coffin, and he’s in kind of a bad mood. I know, news flash, right? I’ll give you a second to catch your breath.
To be fair, it’s been a rough week. Barnabas was planning to murder his fiancee Josette, and then somebody else came along and murdered her first, but in totally the wrong way. It’s a frustrating situation.
So he roars out of bed at a hundred miles an hour, just bouncing off the mausoleum walls and shouting, “Destruction, that’s all I want! Destruction, everywhere! Death! BLOOD!” This is how we start Dark Shadows episodes now. It ramps up from here.
Continue reading Episode 429: Destruction, Everywhere