Category Archives: Gordon Russell

Episode 1109: The Last Straw

“Gerard, you took life from them once. Don’t do it again!”

“First, Gerard killed Quentin,” Tad explains. “And then, soon after that, Carrie and I died!”

“And then what happened?” Barnabas asks. He’s trying to figure out when we’re getting to the interesting part of this anecdote.

But never mind about that. Collinwood will crumble today, just like everyone thought it would four years ago. Turns out the vampire was a reprieve, not a cure; sooner or later, gravity reasserts itself, and Icarus takes a tumble into the sea. We’ll be leaving the Collins family as we know them, bound for the nineteenth century and points north, which means we’re not responsible for the future anymore, and Tad and Carrie can live or die in whatever order they choose.

Heads up, Collins family: Today is the last day of the rest of your life.

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Episode 1105: The Burning Question

“You don’t know how much I’d like to have been in that crypt.”

“I didn’t know what else I was going to do,” says Dan Curtis, Dark Shadows’ executive producer and driving force. “I couldn’t think of another idea.” This is from an early-2000s interview for the DVD box sets.

“I was becoming very disenchanted, right along with the audience. Probably, over the last six months of that film — people didn’t see a lot of me, during that last six months of the show.”

So there’s a Freudian slip for you — when Dan looks back at this period, he can’t help thinking about the thing he really cared about, which was the Dark Shadows films.

“I was just hoping it was going to end,” he continues. “I just wanted to move on. I couldn’t squeeze my brain any harder to come up with one more story, and I wanted to move on and out.”

You can tell that we’re approaching that last-six-months mark, because they’re currently doing scenes from House of Dark Shadows as if they’re part of the show. For today’s episode, they drag poor Willie Loomis back out of retirement, so he can shine his flashlight through the door of a darkened crypt, and find the coffin of the vampire who’s killing Maggie Evans. They might as well put up a chyron saying “House of Dark Shadows, currently in theaters”.

So it’s worth asking the question: How do you run out of ideas for a soap opera, a genre that’s specifically designed to run forever?

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Episode 1104: The Burning

“You will not be able to do anything to this house unless you deal with me first!”

At the top of the show today, mad medico Dr. Julia Hoffman rushes into her patient’s bedroom to announce, “Daphne is the one who is to be murdered, and the destruction of Rose Cottage — will be tonight!”

This is welcome news, because these characters have been discussing the destruction of Rose Cottage for weeks and weeks; it’s a pivotal moment in the story that I can’t wait for them to pivot to.

Alarmed, Barnabas gasps, “Julia, we need to get help!”

“But who can help us?”

“Possibly Sebastian,” he answers, as the other one hundred percent of the world asks, In what way?

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Episode 1103: The Center of the Light

“If Gerard stays dead, he’ll haunt us for the rest of our lives!”

“Daphne, I’ve been trying to identify something,” Julia says, waving an ornament in the young woman’s face. “I wonder if you would help me. This medallion — look at it, have you ever seen anything like it before?”

Nonplussed, Daphne says, “No, I don’t think I have. Why?”

“Well, look at it more closely,” Julia urges. “It’s very old, I thought it might be familiar to you.”

“I’m certain I’ve never seen it before,” Daphne says, but I have — a bunch of times, back in 1967.

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Episode 1101: The Super Determined

“You are to do nothing to Carrie’s dollhouse!”

The night of the sun and the moon, she said. The night Rose Cottage was destroyed, she said. The unfinished horoscope, the night I sang my song, the picnic and the murder, she said. I want to help you fight Gerard, she said. And now it turns out most of those clues don’t matter, and she’s on Gerard’s side anyway. Well, live and learn.

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Episode 1097: Dawn of the Honey Badger

“Why can’t I understand my own behavior?”

They died young, is the problem. I don’t know what they died of, but the leading cause of death for children at Collinwood is ghosts, so I assume that Tad and Carrie were probably possessed by a matching set of identical ancestors from the 1720s. Eager to pay it forward, they’ve lurked in the crawlspaces and hidey-holes of the great estate, waiting for another pair of gullible travelers to happen by. And so the cycle of life continues, in a way.

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Episode 1096: Rose Cottage Was the Sled

“We’re only going to die so we can live again!”

Here’s what’s supposed to be scary today: Evil scheming ghost pirate Gerard Stiles leads young David Collins out of his house, and across the lawn to an undiscovered country house that’s located within easy walking distance.

David follows Gerard through the woods, asking where are we going the whole time, and then they reach a clearing, and Gerard brushes a bush away so that David can check out the destination. “It’s Rose Cottage!” David says. “It’s real! It really exists!” Which it does, so they keep walking and eventually they get there.

Meanwhile, back at the main house, there’s Hallie Stokes, the show’s other ghost-addled teen, who the adults are trying to protect. Julia tells Quentin to keep an eye on Hallie, and Quentin says okay, but when Julia goes upstairs, Daphne the ghost governess appears, and she distracts Quentin, and Hallie runs out into the night.

So now Hallie is following Daphne through the woods, and saying where are we going, and so on. Then we return to Collinwood, where Julia is asking Quentin what happened, which we already know what happened, because it just happened, a minute and a half ago.

Then Gerard brings David inside Rose Cottage at last, and it turns out Rose Cottage is just a disappointing little hallway, with some drywall and a door and a curtain and a chair. They’ve been talking about Rose Cottage for weeks, and now that we’re here, it is profoundly depressing. There isn’t anything surprising here at all — we do eventually see more than just this little corner, but the other room is just as sad and empty but with more chairs in it, and everything that they do there could just as easily have been done back at Collinwood, in the playroom or the dollhouse or a dream sequence, or all of the above. In fact, they’ve already done everything that they’re about to do, in various visions and assorted daydreams, it’s just that now everybody stops asking where is Rose Cottage, and they start saying, well, here we are in Rose Cottage.

So David goes to sleep in a chair, which he might as well, and then we see Hallie and Daphne in the woods, behind exactly the same bush, and Daphne moves some of the foliage away. Hallie peers through the underbrush and says, “It’s Rose Cottage! It’s a real place!” And yes, we get it. It’s Rose Cottage, and Rose Cottage is real.

They want us to pretend like that’s scary, but obviously it’s not. This is the opposite of scary. The thing that’s actually scary is that I have to write one hundred and fifty more blog posts, and is this really what I want to be doing with my life right now?

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Episode 1090: Today’s Ten Things That Make No Sense

“It’s a terrible thing to be frightened by something you can’t see!”

#1. So let me get this straight. Gerard is a ghost, and he’s evil, and he’s in charge of young David, who’s being intermittently possessed by another ghost named Tad. Gerard has left a note in an old book that tells a crew of dead pirates to wait for somebody to wave a green flag three times in the window of the tower room of a mansion that Gerard is haunting. David reads the note and decides that Gerard wants him to wave the flag, which will magically raise this circle of criminals and misfits from the dead, to do Gerard’s dark bidding.

Then David goes upstairs to the tower room, and finds that there really is a green flag there which nobody has noticed for the last hundred and thirty years. The boy waves the green flag twice, which causes the dirt on the pirates’ graves to bubble and boil, but before anything interesting happens, David suddenly realizes that Gerard doesn’t want him to wave the flag after all, and the ghost expresses his displeasure by messing around with a theremin for a while.

I don’t know what happens to the flag, maybe it’s supposed to sit up there in the tower room for another hundred and thirty years. Wake me up when we hit 2099, so I have some time to prepare.

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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.

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