Category Archives: Gordon Russell

Episode 1188: Don’t Panic

“Why do you think I brought you here? Why do you think I didn’t kill you?”

“Gabriel, something terrible’s happened,” Daphne pants, sprinting into the drawing room. And she’s right, something terrible has happened; it’s been happening for four years.

“What is it, what’s wrong?” says the orange man, startled. It’s been a bad few weeks for Gabriel, what with the debate disaster and his covid diagnosis and losing the suburban women. He doesn’t need any more October surprises; he’s had plenty.

“It’s Edith,” Daphne cries. “She’s dead. She’s been murdered!” Well, not murdered per se, but she’s been hanging out with Republicans, and none of them wear masks. “Gabriel, you were right, it was Gerard. He was out to dispose of her, and he nearly killed me, just now, in Edith’s room!” Gerard didn’t do any such thing, actually, but Daphne’s been the target of a disinformation campaign, and she’s got things all mixed up. She figures it’s either Gerard, or Hunter Biden; either way, it’s the second biggest political scandal in our history.

“I knocked him out with a candlestick,” Daphne continues. “I locked the door. I’ll get the carriage, and go for the police!”

“Now, wait a minute!” Gabriel tweets. “Now, wait, we’ve got to do this right.” He doesn’t mind that she’s going for the police, he’s all for law and order. It’s just that he can’t stop himself from interrupting women.

Continue reading Episode 1188: Don’t Panic

Episode 1187: I Presume You’ve Never Heard About Something Called Parallel Time

“I refuse to allow my fears to be decided by the fears that exist in this house.”

Out on the wiley, windy moors of the East wing of Collinwood, Daphne Harridge follows the sound of a piano. It gets dark and it gets lonely up here, where the Collinses never tread. This wing of the house was closed off decades ago, and was probably never really occupied at all, because it turns out that the Collins family has a heartbreaking bloodbath every fifty years or so, which cuts down on the descendants something fierce.

But Daphne has bad dreams in the night, so she’s gone exploring, looking for the tinkling, impossible piano being played in an empty part of the world. Finally, she reaches the double doors to the room where the music must be coming from — but when she opens the doors, she finds that the room is deserted, just a blank studio space with an abandoned chandelier that even the spiders don’t pay attention to.

“I’m sure the music came from this room!” Daphne thinks, baffled. She leaves, shutting the doors behind her — but then she hears knocking, so she turns around and opens them again.

And there’s a fully furnished room, just sitting there, with chairs and lamps and all the trimmings. This is the real occasional furniture, which only appears occasionally. I don’t actually see a piano, so that’s still a mystery; it’s possible that there’s a piano bar that appears here on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and she just missed the changeover.

So here she is, a woman on the verge of a universal breakdown, catching sight of another world that was never meant to be. This may portend a splintering of the barriers between one universe and another, filling rooms unexpectedly with strange furniture of an unknown manufacture, rupturing causality and destroying interior design as we know it.

Daphne tries to catch her breath. “What’s happening to me?” she says, because obviously this is all about you.

Continue reading Episode 1187: I Presume You’ve Never Heard About Something Called Parallel Time

Episode 1186: Fuck, Marry, Kill

“But can anyone do anything anymore?”

“But we can’t just sit by and watch him die!” Daphne cries. She’s talking about convicted cow killer Quentin Collins, who she broke up with last week, although earlier today she told him that she loves him, so screw last week, I guess. I wasn’t crazy about last week’s episodes myself, so if Daphne wants to pretend that they never happened, I’m not going to fight with her about it.

“I have no intentions of doing that, Daphne,” says eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins, reassuringly.

“What are you going to do?” she asks.

Barnabas takes a moment to think. He wasn’t prepared for that question; he usually skates by on vehemence alone. “I don’t know,” he admits. “At least we have a week to think about it.” This is bad news for the audience; we were kind of hoping for some plot development in this area. Quentin’s been in jail for six solid weeks so far; we thought maybe a verdict could pick up the pace a bit.

Anyway, Barnabas goes home, and Daphne drifts up the stairs. Pausing on the landing, she thinks, “Barnabas says he will do something. But can anyone do anything anymore?” That’s actually a pretty good description of the show, these days.

But that’s not really fair, because this is the week where things start moving again, and that means I have to start paying attention. While the trial’s been going on, I’ve been able to spread out and cover some of the other Dark Shadows stories that I need to get to before the show ends, like the HarperCollins novels. Last week, I celebrated my birthday on Wednesday, read another Paperback Library book on Thursday, and then whatever the hell that was on Friday. I’ve still got a lot to do — three more Lara Parker books, some more comics, another Big Finish audio, several more Paperback Library epics. So much to do, and only twelve weeks left to do it.

But this week, the writers have realized that they’re leaving 1840 pretty soon, so they pop the cork and events ensue. Suddenly, everyone is doing everything anymore, and here I am actually writing about the show again, what a nightmare.

Continue reading Episode 1186: Fuck, Marry, Kill

Episode 1185: Meanwhile, in 1971

“The screaming was unbelievable.”

There is another world.

There is a better world.

Continue reading Episode 1185: Meanwhile, in 1971

Episode 1181: You, Again

“Is counsel willing to admit that this woman is alive?”

You know, I’ve never had much regard for 1840 Quentin as a tastemaker in romantic entanglements, having married Samantha Drew, a woman whose range of emotions extends from passive-aggressive bitterness to murderous rage. And then along comes the deceased Joanna Mills, Quentin’s second choice, who was clearly a lateral move.

Quentin is currently in lockup, on trial for witchcraft, of which he is only partially guilty. True, he traffics in dangerous occult artifacts and he built a time-traveling staircase, and it’s still an open question whether he murdered all those cows — I mean, if he didn’t, then why isn’t he out there searching for the real killer — but lots of people have occult interests at Collinwood, and Quentin’s hardly done anything, if you grade on a curve. I don’t think he even used the staircase, which works perfectly, so honestly he should be in 1969 right now, appearing on trading cards and making himself acquainted with a wider variety of females.

And now, here’s this dreadful boat-anchor walking into his cellblock, and he thought he shook her loose months ago.

“You’re not going to be here much longer, darling,” she assures him, in the clear, dulcet tones of a woman who will call you “darling” even if you ask her to stop. “I’m going to do everything in my power to help clear you! You’re in serious trouble, and you need me. I was always there when you needed me. Do you remember, Quentin?” He remembers.

She wants to go to Collinwood and talk to her sister Daphne, who happens to be third on Quentin’s hit parade, and the only one fit for human society. “I want to see Daphne as soon as possible,” she announces.

“Well, before you do,” says Quentin, “I think we ought to have a long talk.”

“I know, darling,” she smiles. “We have so much talking to do.” And Quentin thinks, ummmm yeah, it’s not that kind of talk.

Continue reading Episode 1181: You, Again

Episode 1179/1180: Communication with the Dead

“You and he have always been in league with one another!”

“Trask held you prisoner?” says Quentin, from his prison cell.

“Yes,” answers time-traveling eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins, who is acting in Quentin’s defense. “He forced me at gunpoint into an alcove in the basement of his chapel, and he bricked up the alcove, and left me there to die.”

Quentin is astonished. “But why didn’t you tell the judge what he had done?”

“Because I chose not to!” declares Barnabas, proving once again that he is essential — not just to Dark Shadows, but to our quality of life in general.

Continue reading Episode 1179/1180: Communication with the Dead

Episode 1178: The Mary Sue

“Linger, my friend, while I tell you my fascinating thoughts.”

“Mr. Collins, are you there?” calls Lamar Trask, talking to a brick wall. He’s excited, this is his first murder.

Trask has walled up the trans-temporal eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins in a basement alcove, for vengeance purposes. First he thought that Barnabas murdered his father, the Reverend Trask, fifty years ago. Now he knows that Barnabas isn’t a vampire, but he still thinks that Barnabas is responsible for his father’s death. Or maybe it was Barnabas’ father who was responsible. It’s not clear to me what Trask thinks. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, one way or another.

“Mr. Collins, something has occurred to me,” he continues. “Something I think you might find interesting. Shall I tell you?” From behind the wall, Barnabas says yes. Apparently he’s still taking calls.

“Good,” Trask smirks. “You’re not dead yet. Linger, my friend, while I tell you my fascinating thoughts.” Which kind of sounds like what I’m saying, at this point in the blog.

Continue reading Episode 1178: The Mary Sue

Episode 1172: The Deck Chairs

“Slow agonizing death is the worst kind, you know!”

It’s three days till Christmas 1970, and here we are in the dying days of Dark Shadows, a show that has specialized almost exclusively in dying days since its ratings peak in October 1969. Don’t tell the 1970 audience, but between you and me, the show only has 15 weeks left to run, which means, if my recent posting schedule is any guide, that this blog will shudder to a stop somewhere around the middle of 2075.

So we should get back to The War for Dark Shadows, the ongoing struggle to define what kind of story Dark Shadows becomes when it’s not a half-hour daytime soap opera anymore. This battle has been raging for decades in books, movies, comic books and the hearts of children, and there’s a lot of it, so we’d better buckle down and start taking this seriously. I mean, those deck chairs aren’t going to rearrange themselves.

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Episode 1171: He Schemes, He Scores

“But you don’t deny that you would have sent those messages to Daphne!”

Samantha’s first mistake, as she was looming, dagger in hand, and saw that the figure in the bed was Gerard and not Daphne, as she’d expected, was that she didn’t just stab and stab and stab anyway, because there are only two possible outcomes when finding oneself in an enclosed space with Gerard; you’re either going to kill him, or kiss him. She chose not to kill him. A rookie mistake, really, and not in keeping with CDC guidelines.

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Episode 1170: This Place Is Not a Place of Honor

“Spirits don’t usually attack people.”

This place is a message…  and part of a system of messages…  pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here.

What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

Continue reading Episode 1170: This Place Is Not a Place of Honor