Category Archives: February 1969

Episode 700: I Ching the Body Electric

“Is this some kind of black magic?”

Fire in the lake: the image of revolution.
Thus the superior man
Sets the calendar in order
And makes the seasons clear.
Professor Stokes, this I Ching that you’re studying. How does it work?

For the last few months, Dark Shadows has concerned itself with two big storylines — the werewolf, and the haunting of Collinwood.

Currently, our sexy young wolfman, Chris, is all locked up in the secret room of the Collins mausoleum, unable to change back to human form.

Meanwhile, the spirit of avenging ancestor Quentin Collins has chased the family out of Collinwood, and they live in exile. Quentin is holding young David, the future of the Collins line, in a hidden room somewhere in this utterly haunted house, and we fear the worst. Both stories have reached a crisis point, and Barnabas and Julia have absolutely no idea what to do next.

So here comes Professor Stokes to tell us absurd things about Chinese divination, because wisdom comes from far away, and besides, seances are so 1967.

Continue reading Episode 700: I Ching the Body Electric

Episode 699: The Player

“Don’t you realize that Quentin is a bad person?”

The next morning, Barnabas and Julia return to the Collins family mausoleum to collect their werewolf friend, Chris. But when the stone door swings open, they find that he’s still a snarling, well-dressed animal; he hasn’t changed back to a human again.

Half-beast and half-man, Chris is stuck in that moment of transition, and he can’t find his way back to where he was before. But who can?

Continue reading Episode 699: The Player

Episode 698: Sister Act

“I don’t see much point in a party that isn’t a surprise.”

It all started ages ago, back when handsome, irresponsible Chris Jennings was just beginning his career as a werewolf. A bad moon was on the rise, and Chris was planning to spend a quiet evening at home, chained to the radiator. But then his girlfriend came over unexpectedly, and booked a ringside seat for his hideous transformation.

The next morning, Chris decided that this would be a good opportunity to travel, so he took off, apparently without pausing to determine whether Sabrina was alive or dead. He just packed a bag, and ran. The worst thing about being a werewolf is that you don’t get a lot of security deposits back.

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Episode 697: The Young and the Restless

“It seems that when there is a full moon, legend has it that possessed children are extremely restless.”

On this night, the great house of Collinwood stands deserted, more or less. The Collins family has fled the premises, driven away by the spirit of Quentin Collins, an ancestor with an attitude problem. Now they’re all crashing at Barnabas’ place, as Quentin lures them back to Collinwood one by one, for some hypnotically-enforced steampunk cosplay.

I’ll give you a for instance. Barnabas is currently on a recon mission in the spooky old mansion, looking for young David. He opens up the drawing room doors — and there’s Maggie, the Collins family governess, wearing a complicated Victorian dress and an even more complicated Gibson girl hairstyle. She’s sitting alone in the dark room, posing decoratively on a chair and doing needlepoint, just Gibsoning away.

When she sees Barnabas enter the room, she’s startled, and acts like she doesn’t know who he is. “I know no one named Barnabas,” she says, “now please leave here at once!” He insists, “Maggie, I know what’s happened to you,” which says a lot about how Barnabas’ mind works.

She says that’s not her name, but when she tries to remember who she is, she gets confused, shrieks, and crumples delicately to the floor.

When she regains consciousness, Maggie is herself again, and she has no idea what happened. “These clothes,” she gasps, “where did they come from? And my hair! Barnabas — why don’t I remember?” This must have been a pretty action-packed evening for her; you don’t forget a hairstyle like that in a hurry.

So it turns out that Quentin is really, really good at this. He must have a master’s degree in whatever the hell this is.

Continue reading Episode 697: The Young and the Restless

Episode 696: House Hunters

“She isn’t anywhere anymore, not anywhere at all.”

“Barnabas!” Maggie yells, sprinting down the Old House stairs with an antique telephone in her hand.

“The children!” she cries. “They’re gone! They’re GONE!” There’s two kids, so that makes one gone apiece. Yeah, the math checks out.

Now, viewed purely from the host’s point of view, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The entire Collins family evacuated Collinwood last week, to escape an outbreak of ghost hostility. So everyone’s crashing at Barnabas’ place for the indefinite future, which is very neighborly and a nice boost for the sharing economy, but it’s got to be hard on the guest towels.

I mean, if you’ve ever had four relatives come to visit all of a sudden, bringing along adopted children, itinerant blood specialists and assorted domestics, then you can forgive Barnabas wondering, just for a moment, if misplacing a couple houseguests might help to thin out the traffic around the bathroom facilities.

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Episode 695: Exile

“Collinwood belongs to the ghosts now.”

For the first time in two centuries, the Collins family has left Collinwood. Well, the living ones have, anyway. The dead members of the family — the silent majority — are in the same place they’ve always been, and the fact that you don’t even think of them as part of the family is kind of the problem.

But the living Collinses are now living elsewhere, taking up residence in the other enormous mansion on their property. They’re trying to keep their kids out of the clutches of their avenging ancestors, with limited success.

The morning after the great exodus, Chris stops by, and tells Barnabas and Maggie that he saw someone standing at the edge of the woods, staring at the Old House — someone wearing old-fashioned clothes.

Maggie gasps, “Quentin?”

Puzzled, Barnabas asks, “What did you say?”

“Quentin,” she repeats. He frowns, and says, “Where did you hear that name before?”

So these people have been under siege for several months, held two seances, lost a silversmith and a perfectly good medium, staged an exorcism and then scurried off to find other accommodations, and most of them don’t even know that the specter responsible is named Quentin.

Seriously, the living are ridiculous. Can you believe these clowns?

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Episode 694: The Surrender

“If I were a ghost, as I assume someday I shall be, I would not let mere words drive me away from my home.”

This morning, occult expert and exorcism consultant Professor Eliot Stokes woke up to the sound of a crow perched on his windowsill, muttering Russian slang words with the voice of a human child. Touching each of the eight protection stones that surround his bed, Stokes got up and went about his usual routine: selecting an amulet, sweeping away the animal bones that appear each night in his fireplace, and reading the news in the swirls of cream in his coffee.

The omens weren’t particularly favorable, although he made a mental note to brush up on his Russian. Apparently, by evenfall, he would do battle with a powerful energy source for the soul of a young person whose name begins with the letter D. The encounter would end in defeat, fire, and the irreparable loss of innocence.

Still, you never know, he mused, adjusting his necktie. You might get lucky.

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Episode 693: Sticks and Stokes

“They become just as helpless as this pencil.”

Dr. Julia Hoffman comes home to her luxurious mansion, which belongs to other people. She’s brought a friend, a handsome young serial killer named Chris. They’ve just had an unpleasant afternoon with Chris’ ex-girlfriend, who was traumatized by Chris several years ago to such an extent that she no longer moves or speaks.

Chris is a little uneasy after the encounter, but Julia’s in full Murder Club mode, telling him that Sabrina still can’t speak, so she can’t identify him to the police. This is Julia’s idea of reassurance.

After Chris leaves, she’s joined by Professor Eliot Stokes, another dangerous houseguest who’s snapped his leash and is now wandering around at will, drinking other people’s liquor and planning unholy rituals in other people’s back gardens.

“I’m glad you’re here, Julia,” he smiles. “I’m going to exorcise the ghosts from this house tonight, and you are going to help me.” This is what Julia’s life is like, just one damn thing after another.

Continue reading Episode 693: Sticks and Stokes

Episode 692: The New Mischief

“It is strange, isn’t it, how suddenly the swamp seems to be playing a leading and sinister role in the affairs of Collinwood?”

Let us speak, then, of Barnabas Collins Versus the Warlock.

It’s book #11 in Paperback Library’s long, strange line of Dark Shadows-inspired novels, and it’s the first one in a while that actually takes inspiration from the show in any meaningful way.

In this book, governess Maggie Evans has to save her young charges, David Collins and Amy Jennings, as they — more or less — fall under the influence of an evil phantom that stalks the halls of Collinwood. It’s complicated.

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Episode 691: The Bechdel Test

“But you don’t understand — he was more than a man! He’s something evil, sinister!”

There is a God of Fire and Rage.

Thousands of millions of burning spirits line the bone-charred stairs, kicking and scratching. Every unrepentant soul in Hell fights for the chance to return to the surface world, and drench the Earth in warm, rich blood.

It is here now. The children call it Quentin.

Continue reading Episode 691: The Bechdel Test