Category Archives: January 1968

Episode 408: A Compromising Physician

“If you want to destroy someone, destroy me!”

So bat-bitten bad boy Barnabas Collins is upstairs dying, although it seems like more of an aerobic experience than you’d expect.

He’s standing at his bedroom door, calling for Josette. She’s already standing right next to him, so it’s not clear what else she can do to help. Apparently, this is what the show is like now, just sweating and yelling and chaos.

Continue reading Episode 408: A Compromising Physician

Episode 407: Bram Stoker’s I Love Lucy

“Why do you refuse to understand that something terrible may be happening?”

And now, a word from our sponsor.

“The blood!” cries the put-upon housewife, on her hands and knees. “Oh, I should have cleaned it right away! It won’t come off!”

She scrubs and scrubs, but that stubborn stain of guilt and carnage just won’t come clean.

Ladies, are you tired of the workaday drudgery of clearing away the evidence of your near-fatal gunshot wound? Have your impulsive, demonic maledictions left a waxy build-up on those hard-to-reach places that you used to call your heart and soul?

Continue reading Episode 407: Bram Stoker’s I Love Lucy

Episode 406: Unbreak My Heart

“Those strange feelings I had earlier this evening, they must mean something. And your reading of the Tarot cards just now, and this blood that keeps appearing on my neck.”

On Friday, Barnabas Collins decided that he was sick and tired of his witch-vixen wife, Angelique, interfering in matters that were none of her business, namely: his plans to leave her, and run off with his ex-girlfriend. This was a tricky interpersonal conflict to navigate, and in situations like this, Barnabas likes to express his feelings through the medium of bullets.

So Barnabas shot Angelique, winging her in the shoulder. As she lay bleeding on the floor, she fired back a curse, at point-blank range:

“You will never rest, Barnabas… and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die!”

Which pretty much sets up the plot for the next three years. Now, it’s not super clear what malevolent force is going to power this curse, once Angelique is gone. There’s a bunch of people who love Barnabas — he’s got parents, a sister, a fiancee and at least a couple of close friends that he hasn’t shot in the face yet. That’s a lot of clean-up work for Beelzebub or whoever to take care of.

Oh, and then a magical killer bat smashed through the window and tore a hole in Barnabas’ jugular vein as he screamed and screamed and screamed. Apparently, that was part of the curse too.

It’s actually a super-complicated curse; I’m surprised that Angelique was able to come up with it off the top of her head in the middle of bleeding to death. I can’t imagine she had a curse like that just sitting in her back pocket this whole time.

Continue reading Episode 406: Unbreak My Heart

Episode 405: Ever After

“You will never rest, Barnabas… and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die!”

Angelique’s eyes flash, and she says, “You have made a great mistake, Barnabas!” and then the world turns upside down.

Because today is Curse Day! We’ve been on this uncertain and frightening journey into the past for two months, and it’s all been leading up to this. Which is weird, because Dark Shadows is a soap opera, and soap operas aren’t supposed to have “leading up to” moments.

Continue reading Episode 405: Ever After

Episode 404: Oh My God, Vicki Is an Idiot

“Miss Winters has come from Boston, and she was found — she was brought up in a foundling home.”

Phew, we made it! It’s been a long four hundred and four episodes, but we’re here at last. Our long national nightmare is over. Victoria Winters, girl governess, is finally behind bars where she belongs.

Continue reading Episode 404: Oh My God, Vicki Is an Idiot

Episode 403: But I Loved You, and Other Excuses

“I will hate you until I end your life, and I will end it.”

Man, did you ever have one of those days where nothing goes right? Meet Barnabas Collins. He’s experiencing an epic, unbroken string of days like that, which is a real shame, because he doesn’t have a whole lot of days left. As the saying goes: Life sucks, and then you die. And then things start to go seriously downhill from there.

Continue reading Episode 403: But I Loved You, and Other Excuses

Episode 402: Plan A

“It’s like some nightmare. Such things just don’t happen.”

Don’t believe them! They tell you lies, nothing but lies. And worse than that — they’re boring lies, which make the world less interesting, and that is something I can never forgive.

They say that the point of the 1795 storyline is to make Barnabas a “sympathetic” character, which is some brand of vague applesauce that presumably means that we should “like” him, and agree with his goals. If we like Barnabas, according to this point of view, then we’ll be more likely to root for him, and we’ll want him to succeed.

This is entirely false, in every way that matters.

For one thing, we were all rooting for Barnabas pretty much from day one. Obviously, by “rooting for him” I don’t mean that we want to watch him murder small children. We just want to watch him.

We want Barnabas on the screen as much as possible, because he does improbable and surprising things. The show is more interesting when he’s around, for reasons that have nothing to do with whether you’d want to invite him over for a cookout.

Barnabas is a mess. He makes nothing but bad choices. He’s got a gorgeous, rich fiancee coming over to America to marry him, and what does he do five minutes before Josette walks into the house? He makes out with the maid.

And once he gets Angelique all worked up, he pulls away and says they have to pretend that this never happened, and she needs to be totally supportive of his upcoming marriage to the woman she works for. That’s the level of emotional intelligence we’re dealing with here.

It’s impossible to “sympathize” with Barnabas when he talks about his romantic future; it’s like rooting for a sea lion who wants to work on a space station. Yeah, he’s applied to graduate school. That’s fantastic. It’s not gonna happen.

Continue reading Episode 402: Plan A

Episode 401: Bewitched

“I used to be a rational man, but things have been happening here that do not have a rational explanation.”

So here’s a puzzling question: Why is Angelique white?

I mean, you can follow the chain of associations that led Dark Shadows writer Sam Hall to the French Caribbean. In Hall’s second episode on the show, it’s revealed that Barnabas visited Barbados, where an Indian taught him the secret magic number of the universe, giving him the power to “unlock all the rules that bind you mortals to your daily, dull lives.”

Then, a few weeks later, when the writers decided to explore the story of how Barnabas became a vampire, it’s easy to chart the course to Martinique. The vampire curse is the result of a magic spell, and Hall’s already been thinking about the association between spells and the Caribbean. But Barbados was colonized by the English, and Josette Du Prés is French, so the backstory moves to Martinique, a French colony.

But Angelique doesn’t mess around with European magic — all that “eye of newt, toe of frog” stuff. She doesn’t fly on a broomstick, or live in a gingerbread house. Her magic has a strong Bayou flavor — she uses voodoo dolls, love potions and zombies, which are all associated with Haitian magic. So, following that thought to its logical conclusion, Angelique should be Haitian, or Island Carib, or pretty much anything besides blonde and blue-eyed.

But if she’s supposed to marry Barnabas, then that’s problematic, because it’s January 1968, and America be crazy.

The first interracial romance on daytime TV was on One Life to Live, starting in October 1968 — a relationship between an Italian woman, Carla Benari, and an African-American intern, Dr. Price Trainor. ABC received some angry letters about this, and the show was boycotted by some affiliates in the Southern states. About six months in, it was revealed that “Carla” was actually Clara Gray, an African-American woman who’d been passing for white.

Other things that people made a big deal about in 1968: a Petula Clark variety special where Clark touched Harry Belafonte on the arm, and a Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura were forced to kiss by telekenesis.

So a major storyline about Barnabas Collins marrying a Haitian voodoo priestess is seriously not going to happen. Instead, Dark Shadows has the hapless mortal marry a pretty blonde, who’s secretly a practicing witch. I wonder where they got that idea from?

Continue reading Episode 401: Bewitched

Episode 400: Playing with Fire

“Victoria Winters, your name is now known to fire!”

So here’s a way that you could open your TV show: start with a long scene of a witch chatting with her homemade tarot deck, as she assembles a house of cards in real time.

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it,” Angelique says, “since I’ve had work for you. You must see each other face to face, and watch that each of you obeys my least command.”

She’s always giving little pep talks to her props like this. It’s sweet, and it encourages them to stay engaged in the process. Also, she doesn’t have any friends.

Continue reading Episode 400: Playing with Fire

Episode 399: Hide and Seek

“Please, allow this man to come here and perform his mumbo-jumbo, so that we can keep peace in this family.”

Yesterday, witch-vixen Angelique sent her unwilling henchman, Ben, to steal a hair ribbon from Abigail Collins, the twisted spinster who’s pretty much the last person you want to get caught stealing a hair ribbon from, if you plan on experiencing a single quiet moment in the next twelve months. So guess what happened.

Now, Ben doesn’t appear in today’s episode, so we can’t see what’s happening to him. Instead, we’ve got Angelique standing in the Old House drawing room, staring into space. “They caught Ben,” she reports. “He hasn’t completed my mission. He almost said my name.”

She shudders, and adds, “But he did say one word before I could stop him… Witch.” Ben is apparently live tweeting his interrogation.

Continue reading Episode 399: Hide and Seek