Category Archives: Gordon Russell

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.

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Episode 1059: World Beyond the Doors

“I’ll first give you the pleasure of viewing the dead, disintegrating body of Barnabas Collins!”

So, I don’t know. What do you feel like talking about?

“I never thought it would end this way,” Maggie says, taking a last look at the house she helped to destroy. She came to this moldering manse thinking it would be all cocktails and crabmeat, a dream house where she could live with her dream husband Quentin, who’s currently in custody. I don’t know how she thought it would end. It’s not even clear how it’s ending now.

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Episode 1056: The Parallel Sky

“Well, at least there’ll be no more murders.”

Angelique returned from the dead to destroy her ex-husband Quentin, and between you and me, she’s done a kick-ass job. Quentin’s on the run from the law, accused of several murders that he’s only partially responsible for, all of his friends are dead, and a minute from now, either he’s going to murder his second wife or she’s going to murder him. This is about as destroyed as a person needs to be.

We’re down to the last week of the Parallel Time storyline; there’s just a few more people to kill, and then Barnabas and Julia can go back to their own dimension, satisfied with a job well done. Everything Must Go, says the sign in the front window, and here it is: everything. Let’s see how it goes.

Angelique herself is only seconds from destruction — her vitality depends on sucking the life force out of a woman named Roxanne, and if the mysterious Claude North can get Roxanne to speak, then it’s lights out for Angelique.

But Barnabas offers the witch one last shot at redemption, handing her a confession to sign that would clear Quentin’s name. She won’t even touch it. Screw you, she says, if you people don’t appreciate me, then I’ll go down, and I’ll take the whole goddamn show down with me.

Then Roxanne speaks — and Angelique dies with a curse on her lips, as Angeliques should. Really, at the core, she’s saying: I don’t want to live in a world where Roxanne has dialogue. You’ve got to admit she has a point.

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Episode 1051: PTED: Destroyer of Worlds

“My eyes have the power to restore you to me!”

It’s been four months since the terrible flashlight man came into our lives — a dark stranger, appearing with no warning just outside Angelique’s room, gazing in a perplexed manner at a scene that he could see but not participate in. “Elizabeth!” he cried, but she couldn’t hear him, and neither could Hoffman. “It is hers, it will always be hers,” Hoffman said, and it was, and it is, and the goggle-eyed man from another place just stood there on the threshold, saying, “Quentin! Husband?” and generally making an ass of himself.

His name is known to us now: he is Barnabas Collins, the Destroyer of Worlds.

Trespassing on our favorite show from an alternate world where I hope they appreciate him more than we do, this monster has brought a wave of supernatural violence to our sleepy little soap town, killing two thirds of the cast and driving the ratings into the earth.

Hoffman is dead. Carolyn is dead. Will is dead. Bruno is dead. Cyrus and Sabrina and Larry and Dameon are dead, plus Chris is missing, and Liz isn’t looking too well. Barnabas Collins has swept through our show like a buzzsaw. Everybody said that bringing a vampire onto a soap opera was a terrible idea, and they were right, especially this vampire.

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Episode 1048: Claw North

“There’s a skeleton in every closet — and there are lots of closets, baby!”

Here’s what we know about Claude North: he drinks milk. Or, actually, now that I think of it, we don’t know that he drinks milk; we only know that when we saw the secret room in the mausoleum where he appears to be staying, there was a half-finished bottle of fresh milk on the table. But if he actually liked to drink milk, then he would have drunk it, right? And there it is. So maybe we could say that he’s lactose-tolerant, but only socially.

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Episode 1046: Woke

“There’s such a fearful unreality about this place.”

It’s alive! as Dr. Frankenstein would say. It’s alive! Well, partially.

Cross-dimensional eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has been pulling the old wall switches and setting the apparatus humming in the basement again, trying to restore life force to a young woman who’s low on get-up-and-go.

For the last few months, the lady in Stokes’ back parlor has been flat on her back, donating her élan vital to prop up the dangerous regime of soap-vixen sorceress Angelique. Barnabas, always open to new experiences, has decided to inexplicably fall in love with this comatose couchsurfer, who so far has opened her eyes once and is otherwise resting in peace. So he’s kidnapped the girl, strapped her to some mad science junk in the Old House basement, put several minutes of lightning through her veins and then stroked her face, all of which managed to get her to open her eyes again.

Now, in a perfect world, Roxanne would leap up onto the table and do a high-kicking musical number, like the frog in the Looney Tunes cartoon. “Hello ma baby, hello ma honey, hello ma ragtime gal! Send me a kiss by wire — baby, my heart’s on fire!”

This doesn’t happen. She just opens her eyes, stands up and looks around with a bland expression. The world is still just as imperfect as we always feared it would be.

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Episode 1045: We Belong Dead

“I can feel the vibrations of his fear!”

Petulant homeowner Quentin Collins is a fugitive, accused of crimes that he’s only partially responsible for. With nowhere to go and no one to trust, Quentin goes upstairs and hides in the attic, which in Collinwood means the tower room. It’s a pretty safe hiding place, because everybody knows to keep away from the tower. The only things that happen here are history-wrecking mythological catastrophes.

Searching for Quentin, Will Loomis makes his way up to the tower, keeping an eye out for tragic irony as he goes. Will enters the tower room, and finds evidence of Quentin’s presence — his tie, his watch — but the man himself is gone.

So Quentin must be amazing at this. You have to be pretty seriously committed to the concept of hiding out to not even be in your own hideout.

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Episode 1041: Westworld

“A man doesn’t just suddenly choke to death for no reason at all!”

“I’d like to get it over with, all right,” says Quentin Collins to the detective, “with Bruno, and with my bare hands!” This is during an interrogation about the death of Quentin’s first wife, who he strangled with his bare hands. She didn’t die from being strangled — the murderer was actually a rogue hatpin, acting alone — but also Quentin was simultaneously strangling her at the time, which it’s been months since they’ve established that but I still can’t get over it.

So it’s probably not a great idea for him to start shouting about his bare hands in front of the gendarmes. Everybody has bare hands, anyway; it’s nothing to brag about. Sadly, this Trump-tweet level of self-incrimination is a common problem in soap opera towns, which are populated almost entirely by petulant narcissists with no impulse control.

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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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