Category Archives: Gordon Russell

Episode 1209: Birdland

“We’re innocent — yet, terribly guilty!”

You know, sometimes you find yourself in the woods, in the middle of the night, standing over a perfectly rectangular hole that you’ve dug, dressed up like an angry leprechaun and surrounded by plastic trees. You gaze down at the disaster you’ve uncovered — the busted body of your sister Stella, recently killed and inadequately inhumed — and you ask yourself, what the hell kind of soap opera am I living in, anyway?

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Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House

“Are you aware that you’re looking in the direction of the Old House?”

You know, I hate to be that guy, but if you can’t even do a duel properly, then I don’t know why you’re on television.

I mean, I remember the days when a Dark Shadows character could walk ten paces, turn and choose not to fire because they were being noble and heroic, and in return they would be shot in the face and die, like a man. And then they would come back as a revenant with an eyeball hanging out of their face and a different voice and they would say I WANT IN DEATH WHAT YOU WOULD NOT GIVE ME IN LIFE and people would be afraid of them and run away, and it would be crazy-looking and fun to watch. That’s what I expect out of a duel, some spectacle and excitement, and most importantly, an actual plot point that facilitates story progression.

But this? Bramwell stands there and lets Morgan shoot him in, I don’t know, the shoulder or something, and now he’s just saying sullen Bramwell stuff while he’s horizontal instead of vertical.

This is not romantic and noble. It’s not even story progression. This is just lying down and moping.

Continue reading Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House

Episode 1203: Frocks and Violence

“I think the only thing wrong with the Collinses is a hundred and sixty years of accumulated fear!”

Well, that spooky door is still at it, I suppose. I took a couple episodes off from writing about the 1841 Parallel Collinses, and I thought maybe they would have gotten hold of the situation by now, but no, they’re in just as much of a mess as they were in on Friday, maybe more so.

You see, there’s a really angry door in this version of Collinwood, an evil parallel door that has made different choices, and everyone in the family is afraid of getting on its bad side. You can’t let the architecture get ahead of you like this; at a certain point you have to tell the doors who’s in charge. You can’t live your life trying to make your doors happy; after a while, the walls start getting jealous, and then you’ve got real problems.

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Episode 1202: The Leftovers

“I have a premonition of unpleasant happenings at the antique barn.”

And the winners, apparently, are Paperback Library and Gold Key Comics.

Dark Shadows is still filling time for a couple of months on television, but as of last week, the show is no longer an active participant as a chronicler of the Collins family that we love. Barnabas is safe at home, Quentin is only as insane as he’s supposed to be, and that is all that we shall ever know about their ongoing activities. For ABC Television, the concept of “Barnabas” is no longer their concern.

But the tie-in media continues, long after that dreadful April Third. For one thing, the ridiculous Dark Shadows comic strip starts in March, and runs for a year, coming to an unsteady stop in March 1972. The Paperback Library gothics also run until March 1972, and the Gold Key comic book line stretches all the way to February 1976. There may not be enough housewives interested in Dark Shadows to make it worth All-Temperature Cheer’s while to support a vampire show, but there are enough teenagers to satisfy Gold Key that Dark Shadows can remain more-or-less current in American pop culture for another five years.

So these are the standard-bearers for the characters from now on, the only people who still believe that there’s a market for stories about Barnabas and Quentin. As far as television is concerned, these characters are museum pieces, and as the spin-offs spin on, the question becomes: Does anyone want to buy these antiques?

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Episode 1201: Willie Loomis Must Die: The Movie

“You’re just as frightened as both of us!”

“Hurts… everything hurts!”

Five months ago, Willie Loomis snuck out to the Collins family mausoleum, looking for buried treasure. Opening a hidden mystery box, he unleashed one hundred and seventy-two years worth of hunger and fury into the world.

“Don’t! Don’t hurt me!”

His name is Barnabas Collins, and he has been using Willie as a housekeeper, a carpenter, an accomplice, a snack bar — and, now, as a patsy, who’ll take the fall for Barnabas’ crimes.

“Is it dark?”

Now Willie’s in the hospital with five bullets in his back, gunned down by law enforcement while trying to warn one of Barnabas’ victims.

“Is it dark outside?”

The vampire knows that if Willie tells the police what he was doing, then his secrets will be exposed. He has no choice: Willie Loomis must die.

“I’m afraid of the night! Don’t let it be dark, please! Don’t let be dark!”

But Willie has lost his mind, from pain and horror and fear. He is hopelessly insane, and he’s shipped off to a sanitarium, to live out the rest of his shattered life.

“Don’t hurt me! Please, don’t hurt me!”

And then seven months later, Barnabas needs him to come back and clean up after his new pet Frankenstein, and Willie says sure, no problem, we’re total besties.

So when Dark Shadows fans say that someone should remake the show, telling the same story but skipping the Dream Curse and the Leviathans, then you have to ask: if a writer isn’t desperately trying to fall downstairs and land on their feet every day to churn out another half-hour of daytime television by any means necessary… Does the story of Dark Shadows actually make any goddamn sense?

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Episode 1197: The Night I Sang My Song

“How can we know with any certainty whom this head possesses?”

So that was it! Oh, you clever boys; the Dark Shadows team has done it again. That’s why the horoscope was unfinished. Now we understand why Gerard needed to bring Tad and Carrie back to life, and the significance of the dollhouse and the carousel, and why Gerard showed up at the picnic, and where all those dead pirates came from.

It was all about the playroom, after all, just like we knew it would be. I bet anyone who thought that the Dark Shadows writers were just making things up as they went along must be feeling pretty silly, right about now.

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Episode 1195: The Trask Parts

“If you give me any trouble, there won’t be any need for an execution!”

A bloodthirsty creature of the supernatural! A child who has been touched by a witch! A ring fit for Satan himself! A small, frail body possessed by a giant, evil force! A warlock named Quentin Collins! A well-known signature of the Devil!

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Episode 1193: Already Dead

“There’s only one flaw in your logic: it makes too much sense.”

You know how sometimes you get tired of arguing with somebody about whether they’re a ghost, so you shoot them in the stomach just to get them to shut up, but it turns out they really are a ghost so your bullet goes right through them, and then they’re still pretending that you’re crazy and they’re not a ghost? It’s like the worst case scenario for winning an argument.

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Episode 1192: The Weissman Theory

“Why is she so young and beautiful, instead of being a decaying mess?”

“I’ve got to get to Collinwood,” says condemned criminal Quentin Collins, heading for the door of his makeshift hideout.

“No, no,” Joanna urges. “The police are watching Collinwood!”

Quentin considers this. “No, I know what I can do,” he decides. “I can reach the estate through the back forty. The woods are very thick there.”

His wounded sidekick moans, “Quentin, Gerard is at the house. And Samantha would turn you in, if she saw you there!”

“I’ve got to take that chance,” says Quentin, and somewhere in Vienna, an angel gets its wings.

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Episode 1190: The Years of Time

“Nature puts a bar between the worlds of the living and the dead for a reason.”

The sun rises once again on the house on the hill; Collinwood wakes to a new day. Many changes have come to the house, and to those who reside therein, as the years of time have swept by.

And it has been years of time, hasn’t it? Specifically, it’s currently August 2003 and this is the Brooklyn Marriott, which may not be the time or the place you were expecting. That’s time for you, I guess; it’s sneaky that way.

This post is another installment of The War for Dark Shadows, the decades-long struggle that’s taken place after the show’s finale to define what Dark Shadows is, and find fresh perspectives. Today, we’re going to jump into a Dark Shadows Festival in full flow, and listen to the Big Beginning.

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