Category Archives: Gordon Russell

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.

Continue reading Episode 1009: The Great Train Robbery

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

Episode 1001: Wife Swap

“Someone must be destroyed, but it won’t be me.”

Alexis finds it hard to take a breath, which is a shame, because it’s one of her last and she should probably be enjoying it more.

“This can’t be happening!” she gasps. “It’s impossible!”

But this impossible thing that can’t be happening rises from the casket. It’s her twin sister, Angelique, who’s been dead for six months in a row, and doesn’t feel like doing it anymore. She opens her eyes, she breathes, she speaks, and — most disconcertingly of all — she smiles.

“But you’re dead!” Alexis chokes. “You’re dead!”

Then she frowns, frustrated. “The prompter is going three times faster than I would go,” she says. She gestures toward the studio. “He just zipped to my next line!” This is something that Dark Shadows characters have been wanting to say for years, but never had the guts.

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Episode 1000: Back From the Death

“I never once believed that she could survive death — until tonight!”

It always starts with a box.

You try your best. You bury the dead. The evil twin dies, and you say thank goodness that’s over with, and then you put her in a box and plant it in the dirt. You figure it’s a one-way trip, no refunds and no returns. At that point, it’s someone else’s problem.

It always starts with a box. It often ends with one, too. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell beginnings and endings apart.

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Episode 998: The Absence of the Disturbances

“Somehow, the absence of them is more frightening than the disturbances themselves.”

I don’t know about you, but Quentin Collins has spent the evening jumping from one crisis to the next. He began by questioning his butler about the murder of Dameon Edwards, a mysterious gigolo who everyone had pretty much forgotten about, until he suddenly started projecting his essence around the house and conducting post-mortem piano recitals.

Then Quentin went downtown, where he found the mysterious John Yaeger beating a romantic rival with a cane, a spontaneous act of pointless violence which is somehow connected to Quentin’s friend Cyrus, a mad scientist who’s been writing mysterious thousand-dollar checks to cover other people’s bar fights. Quentin chased Yaeger from the docks to the bar, and from the bar to Cyrus’ lab, and then to a barmaid’s boarding house and finally back to the lab, where he almost cornered the guy but lost him at the last minute.

Now Quentin’s come home after a long, weary night, and Alexis, his mysterious sister-in-law, rushes to his side as soon as he walks in the door.

“Quentin!” she cries. “Thank god you’re back!”

Quentin goes on alert again. “Why, has something happened?”

“No, it’s not that,” she pants. “It’s just this house.” Which is typical.

“There haven’t been any more disturbances, have there?”

“No,” she admits, “but somehow, the absence of them is more frightening than the disturbances themselves.”

“What do you mean?”

“This house — it’s so quiet!” she breathes. It’s like the calm before the storm!”

Or maybe everything’s fine, Quentin thinks, and you need to cut back on the espresso.

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Episode 989: Scientific Progress Goes Boink

“At least the companions I pick are human!”

So here’s the method: First, you take a chemical synthesis. This can be homemade, or delivered from a chemical synthesis company. Either one, it just has to be worryingly potent. Turn on the apparatus, set those fluids bubbling in their beakers. Add some powder to the synthesis. Now it’s a compound. Approach some truths that are better left unknown. Pour the result into a juice glass, and down the hatch.

It’s a simple dramatic recipe, but I do have a few questions for the reckless chemist, starting with: Why test this on yourself first? You literally have a guinea pig right there in the room with you. Wouldn’t it be easier to jot down observations, if the composition that’s getting reoriented isn’t yours? Also, what were you expecting to happen? What was the beneficial outcome you were aiming for?

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Episode 988: The Staggering Weirdness of Bruno

“Your world is the one that’s small and narrow, Bruno, because there’s no one in it, except you.”

Operator, could you get me the number of a travel agency in New York? Almost anyone will do — anyone that would have information about ships docking in New York from Genoa in the past week. That’s right, from Genoa.

Continue reading Episode 988: The Staggering Weirdness of Bruno