Category Archives: Gordon Russell

Episode 1129: Windmills, and How to Tilt at Them

“Each time it reappears, murders follow in its wake!”

Well, this is what happens when you try to un-inevitable the inevitable; shit gets messy. Time-climbing ghostbusters Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman have peeled back the layers of the fourth dimension, visiting the undiscovered country of 1840 in order to avert a tragedy that they know perfectly well is going to happen a hundred and thirty years from now, right in front of their faces.

Their plan is to figure out how everything got this way in the first place, and then use that knowledge to make it not happen the way that it’s currently happening before it happens, which it already has. So it’s not going that well.

Continue reading Episode 1129: Windmills, and How to Tilt at Them

Episode 1128: As Rome Burns

“While you’re at it, you pack your bags and get out of here, because you’re through!”

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The mystical severed head of deranged warlock Judah Zachery is missing, and his centuries-old corpse wanders the woods, drenching itself in the blood of the innocent. And somewhere in the dark future, the damned rise from the earth and advance on the great estate at Collinwood, toppling its towers and bringing the family to ruin and despair.

Can the accursed head and body be destroyed before they reunite, and begin a murder spree of unrivaled ferocity? Can the impostor time travelers staying at Collinwood unwind the chain of events that is even now leading the helpless inhabitants step by step towards an even greater horror to come?

And, more importantly, can this girl from a little mining town in the West find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?

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Episode 1125: Things You Say to Otis Greene, Deceased

“What does it all mean? Why did you have to die before you could tell me?”

I kept telling them, death is only an extension of life. Then I killed them. Even then, they didn’t really get it. I guess it’s one of those jokes that’s only funny from one direction.

Continue reading Episode 1125: Things You Say to Otis Greene, Deceased

Episode 1123: Jay-Z

“Tonight I have finally met the man I am going to kill.”

He is the greatest single threat that the Collins family has ever encountered, the Big Bad magnified to the status of Big Worst. He is the man behind the curtain that you should not pay attention to, because if you get close, he’ll sear the flesh from your bones with the cleansing power of his unending hatred for everything in the universe, up to and including you.

The Catholic Church hated him so much that they murdered him, and then put his head on public display, so that everyone would know the true face of evil. And even his head — now stored in a see-through Tupperware container and hidden behind the draperies in the very room where you currently stand — even his head has the power to screw up your afternoon to a pretty devastating extent.

At least, that’s what I’m told. For all I know, this refugee from the antiques roadshow is just another dime-store decapitation, cluttering up the credenza.

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Episode 1118: Getting Ahead

“You seem to have a terrible effect on everyone but me.”

It always starts with a box.

In the red corner, breaking the chains that bind him and emerging once again from his family’s secret mausoleum to feast upon the juices of the living, we have returning champion Barnabas Collins.

And in the blue corner, with the purple satin drape over his glass cage, we have challenger Judah Zachery, a severed head who’d have a king-sized chip on his shoulder if he still had a shoulder.

This will be the final engagement that determines the ultimate fate of the Collins family — a mixed martial dark-arts battle royale between good and evil, or more accurately between somewhat evil and entirely evil.

It always starts with a box. Sometimes two boxes. It depends on how many boxes you have.

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Episode 1117: Meanwhile, Again

“When I saw your grave in 1970, I knew I had to find a way.”

Meanwhile, a hundred and thirty years in the future, another unfathomable time dilemma snakes its way across the room, fizzing and throwing sparks. Time flies, they say, and Barnabas Collins is a frequent flyer.

He sits down, and thinks about the magic Chinese sticks on the table in front of him. Two weeks ago, the whole neighborhood burst into flame, and the outlook post-inferno is decidedly bleak. The few survivors are scattered, broken, unable to heal. His best friend is missing, possibly kidnapped by ghosts or eaten by zombies, or maybe she’s the patsy in one of those lunatic time-travel conspiracies where people load up a sacred altar with books and boxes and instructions and failure and send it all into the future, where it catches fire and explodes into fragments, accomplishing nothing. He isn’t sure. So he throws some sticks on the table, closes his eyes, and gives the situation a good hard think. It’s called crisis management.

Continue reading Episode 1117: Meanwhile, Again

Episode 1116: That’s Us In There

“I cannot go through eternity alone!”

Samantha tells Julia how Roxanne is feeling, and then Barnabas sneaks into Collinwood and leaves a note for Ben, and then Gerard thinks about killing Samantha but doesn’t, and then Ben and Julia read Barnabas’ note and go over to the Old House where they talk about Roxanne for a while, and then Gerard talks to Samantha about Gabriel, and then Samantha finds Roxanne, who’s been bitten in the gazebo.

So Samantha runs into Collinwood to get Gerard, but by the time Samantha and Gerard get back to the gazebo, Julia and Ben have taken Roxanne to the Old House. Julia sends Ben out to get alcohol, which I don’t know if he ever does. Then Gerard finds Julia in the Old House, which makes him suspicious, but then he stops being suspicious and goes home. And then Barnabas shows up and has a fight with Julia. Okay, that’s over with; now we can talk about something else.

Continue reading Episode 1116: That’s Us In There

Episode 1115: The Gun Runner

“You will hear the sound of my voice in your mind!”

I remember the days when I loved Nicholas Blair.

He showed up at the house with a smile and a mysterious hat, claiming to be the brother of a woman who didn’t exist. He smiled, and he winked, and he hypnotized people, and there were wheels within wheels. He was a Satanic mob boss with the keys to the car, and everything he said was interesting.

It didn’t last, of course; nothing truly beautiful ever does. It turned out he was all mouth and no trousers, a confidence trickster who gradually lost our confidence. He never had the clever master plan that he kept suggesting that he had, a fact which became increasingly apparent as the weeks dragged by and he refused to progress the story. By the time he burned, we were glad to be rid of him.

That’s always the way with Dark Shadows, I’m afraid; the beginnings are always better than the endings. A storyline starts out full of promise, and gradually becomes a bore. It turns out that writing a daily soap opera is incredibly difficult, especially the way that they do it on Dark Shadows, which is to write storylines with a definite beginning and end. With a structure like that, you have to make sure that the overlapping plotlines all crescendo at the same time, and the only way to do that would be to plan every story beat in advance, which would take so much time that nobody would be available to write today’s episode. So it falls apart, somehow. Still, you can’t beat the beginnings.

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Episode 1114: The Unshakeable

“Go back to Collinsport and bury someone!”

First there was the unconscious Roxanne from Parallel Time, who talked like a jungle girl and got mesmerized by random objects. Barnabas fell in love with her, and then the house burned down, while she was trapped inside.

Then there was the vampire Roxanne from 1970, who talked about astral twins and punctured Maggie on the neck. Barnabas fell in love with that one too, and then the house burned down again, while she was trapped in a box.

In fact, every time we run into Roxanne, there’s an omega-level apocalypse just around the corner; clearly, the universe wants nothing more than to destroy this girl, and murder everyone who comes into contact with her.

But every time we leave Roxanne behind, we get to the next place, and guess what we find? Roxanne! This girl is the unshakeable Droopy of Dark Shadows.

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