“It was just me. I was pretending to laugh like a man.”
Dark Shadows lost one of their writers a couple weeks ago; I may have mentioned that before. Don’t worry, he wasn’t one of the good ones.
There’s a new writer who’s going to join the team in March, but meanwhile there are a couple extra scripts that need writing. They need a fill-in writer for the next two episodes, so Gordon Russell calls Ralph Ellis, who wrote ABC soap A Flame in the Wind with Gordon from 1964 to ’66.
Ralph is just at the beginning of a long and successful career as a soap opera writer. Pretty soon, he’s going to join NBC’s Another World, and then CBS’ Search For Tomorrow, and eventually he’ll be a head writer for The Doctors, As the World Turns, Loving, and General Hospital.
Right now, he’s doing a couple days on this weird little haunted house show. Let’s see what he comes up with.
Continue reading Episode 690: Laugh Like a Man
“It’ll be a lot easier to deal with him if he isn’t here to kill you.”
So here’s the score for the first couple months of 1969.
Paperback Library has released a novelty joke book called Barnabas Collins In a Funny Vein, which we’ve discussed at some length. They’ve also published another in the series of Dark Shadows gothic romance novels. This one’s called The Secret of Barnabas Collins, and it tells the story of Barnabas in 1870s London and his love affair with Lady Clare Duncan, who follows him to France and then to Boston, as he tries to find a witch doctor to free him from the vampire curse.
Meanwhile, Gold Key has published the first issue of the Dark Shadows comic book, which involves Barnabas and Angelique alternately killing and reviving three attractive college students for basically no reason except they felt like it.
So that’s three new Dark Shadows products, all on sale this month, and each of them is aimed at a different subset of the Dark Shadows audience: the novel is for the housewives, the comic book is for the teenagers, and then the young set get the joke book. None of them are very good, but that doesn’t seem to bother anybody. In February 1969, if it says Dark Shadows on it, somebody is going to buy it.
And then — busting into the party like a belligerent gatecrasher — here comes The First Theremin Era.
Continue reading Episode 689: The First Theremin Era
“I was hoping you’d say it was just a wild coincidence.”
Barnabas Collins has driven a stake through a vampire’s heart, beaten a werewolf into submission with his cane, bricked up an enemy behind a wall, and burned a witch to death with a torch, and Dr. Julia Hoffman has done everything that Barnabas did, except backwards and in high heels.
So you’d imagine that these two heavyweights would have no problem dealing with an awkward social situation, like if a guy shows up at your friend’s house in the middle of the night, and you can’t get him to leave. And yet here they are, stymied. Us Weekly was right; celebrities really are just like us.
Continue reading Episode 688: Mostly Charmless
“The question is: why are they here, and what are they after?”
Okay, it’s what, Tuesday? And Julia is freaking out about a ghost. Yeah, right on schedule.
Sorry to drop you into the middle of things like this, but this is how we roll in the six-nine. This is what television does now.
Continue reading Episode 687: You Remind Me of a Man
“Curious, so many hearts should stop in this house.”
Okay, new game: Why is it difficult to host a murder mystery dinner party when the main suspect is actually a ghost?
Well, ghosts can walk through walls, for one thing, so you can’t really do a locked room mystery. They don’t have fingerprints, or leave any physical evidence, really, except maybe the faint smell of jasmine or whatever. The victims all die of heart failure, including the one who fell all the way down the stairs and smacked her head on the hardwood. Also, there’s not much you can do with a ghost once you’ve caught him, and now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure they don’t even exist.
In fact, I’d say it’s impossible to attempt a murder mystery story about ghosts. And yet, here we are.
Continue reading Episode 686: The Case of the Lifted Ledger
“They live in a cemetery.”
I’m away this week, because I need to spend some time standing in a cemetery and yelling at Julia to hear my voice, which is echoing through the centuries. But I don’t want to leave you with nothing to do just because I’m off time traveling, so here’s the final day of extracts from Paperback Library’s death-defying attempt to write 91 pages of vampire jokes without the use of a sense of humor.
Continue reading X5: Why Did Barnabas Sell Fangs for a Dollar?
“He’s the one who made the raven rave.”
I’m away this week, probably in Bangor or Boston or someplace. But if I leave you alone for too long, you’ll probably invite clumsy occult experts over and let them wander about the house, waving their hands in the air and talking about the letter M.
So in lieu of actual episode posts this week, I’m filling in with selections from Paperback Library’s novelty joke book, Barnabas Collins In a Funny Vein.
Continue reading X4: Does Barnabas Ever Drink Milk?
“Barnabas’ sheets are made of…”
I’m away this week, but I don’t want you to think that I’m dead, so I’ve prepared some posts in advance. Please do not bury me alive. Or if you do, at least put me in an open casket with a little doorbell next to my hand, just in case I want something.
But honestly, I would prefer it if you just didn’t think I was dead at all. Is that really too much to ask?
Continue reading X3: What Does Barnabas Use in His Coffee?
“Because that’s where the blood is.”
I’m out of the country this week — it’s one of those “He dropped out of school, alienated all of his friends, started going off to the mountains for weeks at a time” type situations. But if I leave you all alone, you’ll wander off to the west wing and start talking into broken telephones, so instead I’m going to leave you with selections from the February 1969 Paperback Library effort, Barnabas Collins In a Funny Vein.
My theory is that this is better than nothing. That theory is looking pretty shaky already.
Continue reading X2: Why Did Barnabas Become a Vampire?
“Dig the groovy new humor craze that’s sweeping the country!”
I have to take a week off, I’m afraid, because I’m out of town at a conference. Plus, I’ve finally moved past the “writing about Ron Sproat” phase of my life, so it’s a good time to take a moment and reflect.
But I can’t just leave you with nothing to read all week, so instead of episodes, I’m going to post excerpts from Barnabas Collins In a Funny Vein. Allow me to explain.
Continue reading X1: What Does Barnabas Say After He Bites a Girl?