Category Archives: Gordon Russell

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Episode 980: Next Stop Keystone City

“Trying to transcend that other time level can be very dangerous!”

Eccentric mass murderer and explorer of the outer realms Barnabas Collins is pacing the Collinwood drawing room, frowning heroically and making excuses. He’s been having one of his spells again.

His friend Julia takes a lap around the track. “Barnabas, why did you do it?” she wails. Barnabas drank Megan dry a few weeks ago, and now he’s about three-quarters of the way through Sabrina.

“I stayed at the Old House, and fought the urge to leave,” he says, striking an apologetic pose. “And then she came to me.”

“You couldn’t help yourself,” Julia observes.

Barnabas swivels, and snaps, “Do you think I do this by choice?”

“No, Barnabas,” she reassures him. “I know what you’re going through.” Yeah, he’s going through the entire female supporting cast, is what he’s going through.

Continue reading Episode 980: Next Stop Keystone City

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Episode 976: Another Another World

“It’s impossible! I just saw him die!”

Today, Roger Collins opens a door in the east wing of Collinwood and discovers another world, filled with familiar people leading different lives at the exact same time. He’s fascinated by it, of course, and he spends the whole week talking about how desperate he is to see those exciting new stories. This turns out to be a tactical error.

Because there really is Another World — it airs on NBC at 3:00pm, and it’s doing so well that they’re creating a spinoff, which will compete directly with Dark Shadows.

Now, back in the good old days of September 1968, when Angelique was a vampire and Quentin was still a twinkle in Henry James’ eye, nobody would dare counter-program against Dark Shadows. It was a nationwide sensation, thirty minutes of thrills beamed every day to everyone who mattered.

The Columbia Broadcasting System was the big dog in the soap world, with chart-busters As the World Turns, Search for Tomorrow and Guiding Light at the top of the ratings for more than a decade. But in September ’68, CBS took stock of the situation and decided to turn tail and run, moving The Secret Storm from 4:00 to 3:00, where it was safer and the light was better anyway. They threw poor old Art Linkletter into the 4:00 spot, so the squares had something to do if they’d already finished their homework and folded all the socks. And so Art Linkletter’s House Party lived out the rest of its days, unwatched and unloved, a 25-year broadcasting giant felled by a show that at the time was mainly make-believe mad science experiments.

But Dark Shadows has spent the last four months telling a story that nobody really wanted to hear, and squandering the talents of their new werewolf superstar. There is movement in the shadows. The other wolves can smell weakness.

And next Monday, on March 30th — the same day that Barnabas changes channels to Parallel Time, and gives everybody who wasn’t excited about the Leviathans a natural jumping-off point — NBC premieres their brand new soap opera at 4:00pm. It’s not very good, and it doesn’t last that long, but it gets better ratings than Dark Shadows does, because sometimes the wrong people win.

Continue reading Episode 976: Another Another World

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Episode 974: Your Declining Days

“My mission here has been a failure.”

Normal soap: Angelique is a scheming gold-digger.
Vampire soap: Angelique is a two hundred year old blood-soaked sorceress.

Normal soap: Sky is an arrogant magazine publisher who’s in deep with the mob.
Vampire soap: Sky is an arrogant magazine publisher who’s in deep with a pack of disgruntled blasphemies from the past.

Normal soap: Sky divorces his errant wife, and strips her of her home, her furs, her jewelry, her chauffeur and her social circle.
Vampire soap: Sky tries to murder his errant wife with a burning torch.

Normal soap: Angelique gets her revenge on Sky by teaming up with his business rival, using inside information to destroy him.
Vampire soap: I haven’t the faintest idea. Won’t it be fun to find out?

Continue reading Episode 974: Your Declining Days

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Episode 965: Wedding Crashers

“I’m going to destroy that thing that’s me in that room!”

Oberon and Haza Hawkes
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their son
Jebez Hawkes
&
Carolyn Collins Stoddard

Friday, the sixth of March, 1970
at the Altamont Speedway
Tracy, California

The rise of the Old Gods
and the end of all things
to follow

Ia! Shub-Niggurath!
The Black Goat of the Woods
with a Thousand Young!

Continue reading Episode 965: Wedding Crashers

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Episode 961: Protagonizing

“I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”

“My, my, Mr. Jennings,” Bruno says, splitting his face with a lunatic’s grin. “How you’ve changed!” He’s sneering at the snarling werewolf that’s currently chained to the wall of this desolate crypt, and he’s staying just outside the creature’s reach, like Foghorn Leghorn standing at the dog’s leash limit.

“Does the tone of my voice anger you?” Bruno jeers. “Good! I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”

This is not typically a problem for werewolf handlers, because the entire point of werewolves is to be a metaphor for unchecked fury and explosive violence. You don’t need to rile up a werewolf. They come pre-riled.

Continue reading Episode 961: Protagonizing

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Episode 960: Time and Temperature

“Well, the spirit’s certainly acting in a very strange way.”

So, let’s say you’re a Leviathan. Not the hooded sparkle-face kind, or the secret transforming alien octopus kind, just the regular human type Leviathan, who was given a ring and a membership card by an occult entity who promised that you would get power and money and revenge on your dad if you agreed to work seven days a week for no salary, performing dangerous assignments that you don’t understand.

Look, you’re stupid. Let’s just say that you’re stupid.

And here you are, in the middle of the night, in a drafty crypt, in some fish-factory town in Maine. You read in a book that your boss is vulnerable to werewolves, which you didn’t realize there were any, but guess what, there are. Also, there’s vampires, you just found that one out too. Apparently there’s everything.

You met some spooky girl with white hair a month ago, who seemed like she knew who the local werewolf was. You just happened to run into her again tonight, and you shadowed her to her boyfriend’s house. You broke in, you found some clues, you found the werewolf. And there’s going to be a full moon tomorrow night, so you’ll know for sure that he’s the wolfman before you shoot him in the head with a silver bullet. It’s hard to call that a lucky break, but you might as well try. This is some nightmare version of “lucky” that’s basically all you have to look forward to.

Continue reading Episode 960: Time and Temperature

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Episode 959: Do No Harm

“Only the spirits of those that we’ve killed would dare to harm us this way!”

They all lay in stone houses in their great city of R’lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for them.

The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

But not today, obviously. They’re busy today.

Continue reading Episode 959: Do No Harm

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Episode 955: Once Again

“Surely, you must have realized that neither of us has any chance for a normal life.”

There’s a spooky spellcasting music cue on the turntable, and newly-minted vampire Barnabas Collins stands on the terrace outside the great estate of Collinwood, speaking to people without moving his lips.

“I’m waiting for you, Maggie!” he vents. “You must respond! You must come to me! Now!”

And then she does; she just walks right out onto the terrace and starts responding. This is why Barnabas doesn’t need a phone.

Now, I was under the impression that Barnabas could only pull stunts like this because he’s psychically connected to his blood-slaves. But Maggie isn’t under Barnabas’ sway these days, so I don’t know how he gets this direct line to her nighttime terrace decisions. Maybe everybody’s had Bluetooth this whole time, and they just didn’t mention it.

Continue reading Episode 955: Once Again