Category Archives: Gordon Russell

Episode 1089: Standing on Graves

“That bust was there in the future because you placed it there now!”

“We should be grateful that nothing has happened for the last two days!” says Hallie.

“That’s what’s bugging me most,” David moans. “Why hasn’t anything happened?”

The answer, I suppose, is because Barnabas is out of town, telling Women’s Wear Daily what he thinks about his new movie. Also, the writers may be running out of ideas.

Continue reading Episode 1089: Standing on Graves

Episode 1084: 100 Things That I Would Like David and Hallie to See When They Open the Playroom Door, in No Particular Order

“If he himself can transcend time mentally, he should be willing to accept the fact that it can be transcended physically.”

To be honest, there’s not a huge hell of a lot happening on the show right now. Two kids are inching their way towards being supernaturally swapped for two other kids, one of the romantic leads is being catfished by a ghost, and there’s two independent story threads about a main character hoping that a secondary character will turn out to be a dead person that they used to know. None of these storylines are particularly compelling, and they don’t cross over with each other at all. It feels like the writers have gotten into a rut, and decided to stay there.

Usually, the thing that extricates us from this kind of morass is the show’s insistence on having an exciting cliffhanger at the end of every episode, but even that has failed us. This week, there are four episodes in a row that end in exactly the same way — David and Hallie open the playroom door, and then gape in open-mouthed astonishment at whatever they see.

In episode 1082, they open the door and see a dollhouse, with little dolls inside that they recognize from their shared dream. In episode 1083, they open the door and see that the dolls that they burned in the fireplace are back in the dollhouse. In episode 1084, they open the door and see Tad and Carrie, reading from David’s notebook. And in episode 1085, they open the door and see Tad and Carrie again, standing on a staircase.

And that doesn’t even count episode 1074, where they open the door and see the linen closet; episode 1075, where they open the door and see the playroom for the first time; and episode 1080, where Hallie opens the door and sees Tad, and then turns around and opens the door and sees David.

It’s possible that they’re going to keep doing this from now until the end of time, and there’s nothing I can do but try to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Here is my list of 100 things I would like David and Hallie to see when they open the playroom door.

Continue reading Episode 1084: 100 Things That I Would Like David and Hallie to See When They Open the Playroom Door, in No Particular Order

Episode 1083: Your Dark Shadows Horoscope

“What’s frightening me is the feeling I have!”

We live in unsettled times, here in mid-August 1970. The publicity tour for House of Dark Shadows is about to crank into gear, in advance of the late-August premiere in the southeast and the early-September nationwide release. We’re going to lose some main actors next week, including Barnabas, as the Dark Shadows movie finds yet another way to do what it does best: destroy the Dark Shadows TV show. It’s no wonder everybody’s stressed out about the future; the current outlook is trending pretty bleak.

But you can’t look to the night sky for an answer to everything; that’s not what it’s for. The stars and planets aren’t there just for you. They’ve got their own orbits, their own desires and dramas. They have no time to worry about what patterns they make when viewed from Earth, which to them is just another random rock in the inky void. The stars that make Orion’s belt have nothing to do with each other; they’re hundreds of light years apart, and they’re not even friends on Facebook.

All those sparks in the heavens aren’t going to coordinate with each other just to let you know that you should avoid the color green, and move toward people with positive energy. Are you kidding me? They’re stars. They couldn’t care less.

But I know that’s disappointing to hear, so I’m going to let you in on the only real way to divine the future: your Dark Shadows horoscope. A couple weeks ago, I invited commenters to post their birthdates in the comments, so that I can reveal the truth: your personality and future are determined by the Dark Shadows episodes that aired on your birthday. Here, I’ll show you what I mean.

Continue reading Episode 1083: Your Dark Shadows Horoscope

Episode 1080: What’s In Store

“If there’s been a crisis somewhere, I don’t know anything about it.”

Natal astrology, also known as genethliacal astrology, is a practice based on the tedious idea that you need to calculate the positions of the stars at the time of a person’s birth in order to understand their personality and future path in life, instead of the usual way of doing this, which is just watching the person and seeing what happens. Natal astrology is one of the four main branches of horoscopic astrology, along with mundane astrology, also known as political astrology; electional astrology, also known as event astrology; and horary astrology, which doesn’t have another name, because how are you gonna compete with horary.

The first thing that you need, if you’re planning to commit natal astrology, is to determine the exact time, date and location of your victim’s birth. People don’t usually know the exact time of their birth, because the birth process takes hours, so it’s hard to nail it down to the minute. They usually say it was around four in the afternoon. This is helpful, because it allows you to click your tongue and say, oh dear, that makes things a little more difficult, and then you can jack up the price.

Once that’s done, the astrologer builds a birth chart, showing the exact position of the sun, the moon, the planets, the ascendant, the descendant, the midheaven, the lower midheaven, the conjunction, the sextile, the semi-sextile, the square, the trine, the opposition and the contraparallel declination. Then things get a little complicated.

The next step is chart weighting, which involves classifying the predominant signs as masculine (fire and air signs) or feminine (earth and water signs), as well as their quality (cardinal, fixed or mutable). Then you create the chart signature, based on which element and quality has the most signs, and combining them to calculate the signature. If there isn’t a clear signature, then the position of the ruling planet of the sun can cast a deciding vote. This is perfectly normal, and nothing to be ashamed of.

Once you’ve done that, you move on to chart shaping, which involves examining the placement of the planets, and determining the aspect patterns between them. The main aspect patterns are the Stellium, the Grand Trine, the Grand Cross, the T-Square and the Yod, which is two quincunxes joined by a sextile, which indicates restlessness and irritability, especially if you’ve been talking to an astrologer for a while.

You have to make up a lot of words when you do astrology, because it encourages people to stop asking questions and hand you money. The best way to keep people from inquiring any further is to use the word genethliacal, which I looked up in a dictionary and it doesn’t mean anything.

Continue reading Episode 1080: What’s In Store

Episode 1079: Carry a Big Stick

“We are becoming closer and closer to catastrophe.”

Here we are, in a thrilling seven-week countdown to calamity, as the wealthy and powerful move gloomily from room to room, in this enormous and temporary brick-stack called Collinwood. The house is doomed, fated to fall in on itself with a tremendous crash, any time between right now and four and a half months from now. Spoiler: It’s not happening right now. Almost nothing is.

Time-traveling houseguests have appeared in the hall, with prophecies of disaster outlined in a handy list of six bullet points that nobody cares about or understands. Two of them have already come to pass in the last week and a half — an eclipse, and a picnic — and so far nothing has happened, except for a faint prickling of unease. Maybe these aren’t our clues after all; there’s been a mix-up, and we’ve gotten hold of somebody else’s clues. I wonder who they belong to. I hope it’s not somebody who really likes their house; they’ll be terribly cross.

Continue reading Episode 1079: Carry a Big Stick

Episode 1072: Something Terrible

“I was concerned, because people that are highly sensitive are usually very receptive to supernatural phenomena.”

And on top of that, she’s psychic, too, so now we have another reason for Hallie Stokes to stand around looking breathless and unwell, and we don’t even get a weird theremin sound or the scent of lilacs or anything.

“You know those strange feelings I get sometimes?” she says, so here we go; it’s one of those. Hallie’s telling Quentin about unexpectedly running into Barnabas and Julia in the hall earlier this evening, an experience which has shaken her to the core.

“I guess the reason I was frightened was the way that they looked at me, and talked to me,” she grouses. “They said things that made me think that they’d seen me someplace before, and I know I’ve never seen them before!” She tries to catch her breath, which appears to be a constant pursuit. “But then when I brought them downstairs, I had the awful feeling that something terrible was going to happen!”

But something terrible is already happening, thinks Quentin. It’s you.

Continue reading Episode 1072: Something Terrible

Episode 1071: Back From the Future

“Is it possible that we traveled through time while we were on those stairs?”

One cannot choose but wonder. Will he ever return? It may be that he swept back into the past, and fell among the blood-drinking, hairy savages of the Age of Unpolished Stone; into the abysses of the Cretaceous Sea; or among the grotesque saurians, the huge reptilian brutes of the Jurassic times. He may even now — if I may use the phrase — be wandering on some plesiosaurus-haunted Oolitic coral reef, or beside the lonely saline lakes of the Triassic Age. Or did he go forward, into one of the nearer ages, in which men are still men, but with the riddles of our own time answered and its wearisome problems solved?

Continue reading Episode 1071: Back From the Future

Episode 1066: This Is How We Do It

“They didn’t dance that way in 1970!”

“I’m convinced that this room holds the key to what we’re looking for,” Barnabas tells Julia, without evidence. “I know this room didn’t exist in 1970, and yet — this room had something to do with what happened then!”

“Even though it didn’t exist?”

“Strange as that sounds — yes.”

So this is the curious incident of the playroom in the night-time, where, as Alexis Stokes once put it, the absence of the disturbances is more frightening than the disturbances themselves. Dark Shadows has once again declared its independence from material reality, and taken up residence in the world of dreams.

Continue reading Episode 1066: This Is How We Do It

Episode 1060: Dreams of Manderley

“I don’t feel anything. I’m just glad it’s over.”

The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.

And then Snidely Whiplash tied me to a barrel marked TNT, Daphne Du Maurier didn’t say, on the last page of Rebecca. She probably would have, if she’d thought of it, but I bet it didn’t even occur to her. I guess some people know how to write exciting conclusions and some people don’t, and that’s all there is to it.

Continue reading Episode 1060: Dreams of Manderley