Category Archives: Gordon Russell

Episode 1037: The Things That Have Been Happening

“I’ve just been thinking about the things that have been happening around here — not just to me, but to everyone!”

The audience applauds, as Kermit the Frog takes the stage. “Tonight, we’ve got a real treat for you,” he promises, “because our very special guest stars are that world-famous knife-throwing act, Lesley and Warren!”

Then a woman walks onstage to correct him, and the penny drops.

“Wait a minute,” says the frog, “you’re not Lesley and Warren, you’re Lesley Ann Warren — the actor, the dancer, the singer!”

She smiles. “Yes, thank you.”

“So, how come you’re doing a dumb knife-throwing act?”

Lesley shakes her head. “You know, Kermit, I thought you were the one person on this show who wasn’t crazy.”

“Me, not crazy?” asks Kermit. “I hired the others!”

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Episode 1035: Elegy for the Truly Two

“Cyrus must have been terrified at his own duality.”

“That weapon won’t do you any good,” Barnabas snarls, “so you might as well just put it away.”

And, dude, if John Yaeger had any capacity for that, he wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. Putting things away is not his area of expertise.

Continue reading Episode 1035: Elegy for the Truly Two

Episode 1032: The Curse of Blinovitch

“I must go back to that time!”

For the last two and a half months, eccentric millionaire Actual Barnabas Collins has been time-tossed and unbound, falling backwards downstairs into a non-canonical dimension ruled by parallel people who don’t really count.

This is nothing new for Dark Shadows, of course; like all licensed properties, it’s spawned a sprawling network of untidy un-verses, just piling up on the store shelves. There’s Gold Key Collinwood, where Barnabas’ greatest foe is the Collinsport fire marshal; there’s Comic Strip Collinwood, where Barnabas is the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Osiris; there’s Paperback Library Collinwood, where Barnabas lights mummies on fire; and there’s View-Master Collinwood, which is pretty much the same as the regular kind, except shorter and in 3-D.

But all of those alternate dimensions have their own Barnabas, one apiece, as it should be. And then there’s Parallel Time, which was too lazy to create their own Barnabas, so they stole ours.

Continue reading Episode 1032: The Curse of Blinovitch

Episode 1019: Peer at a Prop

“I’m trying to figure out how something you’ve never seen before managed to get into your suitcase.”

So the plan, as I understand it, is as follows: sinister sorceress Angelique Collins and her housekeeper pal Hoffman will break up the marriage between Angelique’s one-time husband Quentin and his now-time wife Maggie, by making Maggie paranoid and hysterical, so that Quentin won’t be able to stand living with her. They’ll accomplish this by doing super suspicious things right in front of Maggie, and then acting weird and petulant about it, so that she knows they’re doing something suspicious, and thereby lulling her into a false sense of insecurity. It’s the perfect plan; she’ll never see it coming.

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Episode 1018: Diagnosis Murder

“What happened to you wasn’t the work of any form, or spirit.”

Dr. Cyrus Longworth, who isn’t that kind of doctor, enters Quentin Collins’ hospital room with a worried face and a clipboard. Earlier in the day, Quentin suddenly collapsed with agonizing chest pains that felt like he was a clay doll in the hand of an enormous crazy person, who was sticking a sharp pin into his heart. After about an episode, the pain suddenly ceased, and Quentin felt fine, as if nothing had happened, which I suppose technically nothing really had.

Unnerved, he went to the hospital for tests, which have turned out to be even more unnerving.

“The tests have proved most fascinating,” says Dr. Longworth, who seriously is not this kind of doctor.

“What is it?” Quentin smiles. “Don’t tell me I have some hitherto undiscovered tropical disease.”

Cyrus grimaces. “Well, if — if you had,” he stammers, “I would have known what to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

Cyrus gives his friend a grim look. “Quentin…” he says, “there’s nothing wrong with you!”

Continue reading Episode 1018: Diagnosis Murder

Episode 1013: What Does a Crazy Woman Want

“Just come, and bring all your amulets and herbs!”

Today’s episode of Dark Shadows begins with some people in Parallel Time talking about the Parallel Time room, where they’ve just seen some people from Parallel Parallel Time, i.e. whatever the opposite of Parallel Time is. Mainstream Time? The Curtisverse? Is there any kind of fan consensus on what to call whatever time it is we’re usually looking at?

Anyway, this is Parallel Quentin talking to Non-Parallel Barnabas, the dimension-hopping vampire crossover artist who came to this uncharted Collinwood accidentally on purpose and can’t figure out how to leave. Quentin and Barnabas have been in the east wing, taking a peek through the veil, and they saw some Regular Time people discussing their Regular Time concerns, like where do you think Barnabas went.

Quentin’s been mulling it over all the way downstairs, and by the time they hit the drawing room, he’s ready to deliver his verdict: Barnabas is the Barnabas they’re talking about in that room. Obviously this is the case, because the multiverse is big enough to hold several Brunos and anywhere up to five Sabrinas, but the good Lord only made one Barnabas.

But Barnabas decides to bluff it out, because they still haven’t developed the technology to determine whether somebody’s Parallel or not. He says that he’s not the Barnabas from the room, and Quentin’s just going to have to take his word on that. So Quentin shrugs and says okay, but it’s a weird coincidence, and Barnabas says that it certainly is. And there you have it, a pleasant and perplexing slice of afternoon television that accomplishes nothing of consequence.

Continue reading Episode 1013: What Does a Crazy Woman Want

House of Dark Shadows: Let’s Not Play Insane Games

“I haven’t seen the light of day in almost two hundred years.”

Right this minute, teenage bad boy John Yaeger is in the basement of the Old House, pulling apart the locks and chains that keep Barnabas Collins shut up tight in his coffin. Six weeks ago, the Dark Shadows cast took off for Tarrytown to shoot a feature film, leaving the newcomers and second-stringers to keep the show warm while they’re gone. Now they’re cracking open the mystery box, and once more unleashing Barnabas upon the populace. Dark Shadows is back at work.

To celebrate, I’ve invited actual famous grown-up film critic David Edelstein to come watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows. David’s the film critic for New York magazine, NPR’s Fresh Air and CBS Sunday Morning, and he’s also a lifelong Dark Shadows fan and a friend of the blog.

Five years ago, David wrote a very funny review of the Tim Burton movie, which he figured was his only chance to write about Dark Shadows. But it turns out he’s got more in the tank, so we’re going to watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows together, and discuss the whole thing from start to finish. David saw HoDS when it first came out, and he’s always loved it, so yeah, I know, just another example of bias in the mainstream media.

Today’s journey involves Hammer movies, overstuffed sets, inadvertent love triangles, how you can tell it’s daytime, cameos, cannons, the color of blood, and the age-old war between actors and scenery, and it ends with the extermination of everything that you love.

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Episode 1009: The Great Train Robbery

“I implore you to remember the dead!”

Dark Shadows is currently engaged in a murder mystery storyline with no detectives, suspects, corpses or clues. Every few days, the characters forget that they’re doing a mystery story, and the only person who brings it up is the deceased.

Angelique was killed six months ago, during a seance in the Collinwood drawing room. At the time of death, her husband Quentin had his hands around her throat. A ghost said that she was cheating on him, which he already knew, and he decided to choke her to death, only to discover at the next-to-last moment that she’d already been killed by someone — or something! — else.

The doctor said it was a stroke. Angelique, who isn’t dead, insists it was an invisible hat pin, poked into her brain while her husband was innocently strangling her. It’s likely that the real murderer, if there is one, was one of the people at the seance, except I can’t remember which ones they were, or if any of them had a motive for killing Angelique, other than her husband, who has an airtight alibi. He couldn’t have killed her, you see, because he was standing right there at the time that she died, murdering her.

So I don’t know, maybe we ought to bring in another investigator, like Sherlock Hemlock or Inspector Gadget or somebody. We need a fresh pair of eyes, or at least a fresh pair of eyeglasses. But all we’ve got is another seance.

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Episode 1006: Too Big to Do Anything But Fail

“I’m Larry Chase. I’m Chris Collins’ partner, and as you know, Chris is Dr. Longworth’s lawyer.”

Angelique Collins is talking things over with an old friend, who’s been summoned by the candles of the seventh secret. “They can send you back to your grave, forever!” she explains. This is a thing candles can do.

“I’m not a living being anymore,” Dameon points out. “The candles have no power over me!”

“Then try to move!” she says. Angelique gets into arguments like this all the time. “Try to lift your hand, and snuff the candles out!”

Suddenly, Dameon looks frightened. “I — I can’t move!” he yelps. Dameon is a ghost.

She breaks it down for him. “When the seventh candle was lit, you appeared. When the seventh candle is snuffed out, you will return to your tomb, and never appear again!”

“NO!” he cries. “No, you can’t do it! You CAN’T DO IT!” But she does it. And with one last agonized squeal, he disappears, leaving his bug-eyed skeleton hanging up in the closet, which is where Angelique keeps that kind of thing.

The witch lets out a triumphant cackle. “Now, nothing stands in my way!” she exults. “The house will be mine again! Quentin will be mine again! And nothing can stop me. NOTHING!”

And then something stops her, like, immediately.

Continue reading Episode 1006: Too Big to Do Anything But Fail