Category Archives: Joe Caldwell

Episode 1008: This Terrible Truth

“No, it wasn’t in this room, it was in another room, but it was behind the same door!”

Young Daniel is drawn to the drawing room of Loomis House, aka the Old House to anyone who matters. He’s here on an art school field trip, on the advice of a spooky oil painting of a Collins ancestor who speaks to him through the pounding of an off-screen kettle-drum heartbeat. Once he enters the house, Daniel isn’t sure what he’s supposed to do, because it turns out kettle-drum heartbeat is not as precise a communications medium as people sometimes think.

Looking around, his eye lights upon a manuscript sitting on the sideboard. He picks up the top page and begins to read, because Daniel is nosy and he has no respect for other people’s intellectual property.

“For long enough,” he reads, “the world has lived in ignorance of this terrible truth.” Realizing that this must be a page of Will’s new book, Daniel sits down and helps himself to some literature.

So, yeah, me too. This is a thing that young Daniels do, apparently, when we find ourselves just south of episode 1006, wondering what happens next. We read a book.

Continue reading Episode 1008: This Terrible Truth

Episode 1005: People Trying to Talk Sense to Dameon Edwards

“They can bring you here because they have control over life, and they can send you away again because they have control over death.”

So I just have one question for Dameon Edwards, which is: Who the hell is Dameon Edwards?

Continue reading Episode 1005: People Trying to Talk Sense to Dameon Edwards

Episode 1002: Ordinary Circumstances

“Why should I drink this? Why should I be frightened?”

Here’s a tricky etiquette problem, if you’re in the mood for one: You’re spending time with friends in a relaxed social setting, and then, when they step out of the room for a moment, you suddenly and without warning transform yourself into a person to whom none of your friends have been properly introduced. Personally, I don’t have a contingency plan for that particular contingency; I figure if it ever happens, I’ll just report it to my commanding officer and wait for instructions.

But here’s Dr. Cyrus Longworth, pseudoscientist and dabbler in the unknown, relaxing after a hectic evening of corpse-related felonies, as his friend Quentin goes upstairs to invite the woman that everyone thinks is Alexis to join them for a drink. As Cyrus paces the floor, he suddenly doubles over in pain, and engages in an unintentional full-body metamorphosis.

What we end up with is John Yaeger, the yin to Cyrus’ yang, a more explicitly evil twin who’s lactose-intolerant in regards to the milk of human kindness. Cyrus has been bringing out his bad side lately by drinking a home-brewed chemical synthesis, but now he’s so hooked on the stuff that Yaeger comes out just because Cyrus is tired of waiting for cocktails.

With his host on the way back to the drawing room, Yaeger considers jumping out the window, but stops. “No,” he thinks, “it must look as if I left under ordinary circumstances!”

Except obviously people turning into monsters is an ordinary circumstance for Collinwood. Several people currently in the house have done this, up to and including both of the people you’re planning to have a drink with. This is what Collinwood is for.

I’m going to include Quentin in that tally of monsters, even though this Quentin isn’t supposed to be the same Quentin afflicted with lycanthropy, because we’re just kidding ourselves if we think these are two separate stories. They’re not. They merge together, along with House of Dark Shadows and the Paperback Library novels and the View-Master reels, and all the other Tales of Hoffman.

This incident proves that the Concurrent Collinwood of Parallel Time is what it always was — a house-shaped hole carved out of time and space that exists in order to facilitate transformations. And now you get to go home, John Yaeger, and figure out what you’re going to do about it.

Continue reading Episode 1002: Ordinary Circumstances

Episode 996: Love Potion No. 9

“When was the last time I became myself?”

We’ve all had nights like this, haven’t we? You’re living the wrong life, working at the wrong job, engaged to the wrong person. You long for the taste of something different on your tongue, something that gives you the power to flirt with strangers, and knock over tables, and tell people what you really think of them. Something that tastes like freedom. So you unlock the wall safe and grab that bottle of Do Not Touch juice, and you suck down way more than you probably should, and you go out looking for trouble. We’ve all done that, right? I mean, I haven’t, because I have self-respect. But your way is fine, too.

Continue reading Episode 996: Love Potion No. 9

Episode 995: I’ll Bite Anything

“It is difficult to rechannel my thoughts after three years of thinking about nothing but you.”

So it’s not the late 60s anymore, is what I’m saying, and eventually a show that’s as adamantly late 60s as Dark Shadows is going to run into trouble when it tries to outlive its environment.

As you know, the difference between the 1960s and the 1970s is that in the 70s, America discovered the concepts of responsibility and safety. In late 1969, the innocent flower children of Woodstock met the lawless, murderous Hells Angels of Altamont, and the good trip became a bad one, to our lasting disadvantage.

At that point, the American people decided that maybe giving their children exposed metal hot plates as toys wasn’t such a great idea, and maybe we should try wearing seat belts, and using child-proof caps, and not letting the Manson Family stay in the guest house. You know, the whole actions have consequences, gravity is real, sometimes people are assholes thing that ruins so many promising utopias.

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Episode 994: Polterguest

“Blood in this room. Why? First the piano playing, then downstairs, the picture of Bruno in the drawer. Blood there, too. Then Dameon in the chair. And here again, blood. But why?”

We’ve been spending the last several weeks settling into this new Parallel Time storyline, which takes place in a separate universe where everything is the same, except that people have made different choices, including the choice of whether to make their soap opera make sense or not.

They’ve boxed up the vampire, the crossover character who is technically the only person in this storyline from ABC-TV’s Dark Shadows, and they’ve put him into cold storage while the actor scurries upstate to appear in the Dark Shadows movie, leaving us with a handful of pinch-hitters from the other side of the sun.

The A-story these days is about Angelique — what she was, how she died, and whether she’s come back as a ghost, or a twin sister, or not at all. There’s been a decent amount of forward progress in that story lately — so much, in fact, that yesterday they slipped some important story information in the middle of a conversation about something else, and then acted like they didn’t even notice. But there’s still quite a bit of time to kill, and they need to slow things down a bit.

So today, they unveil the exciting plot twist that nobody saw coming: Dameon Edwards is back!

Okay, clearly you didn’t hear me. I said, Dameon Edwards is back!!

Continue reading Episode 994: Polterguest

Episode 993: All I Know Is Danger

“You must try to expect nothing from me!”

Angelique Collins was murdered. We all agree on that, right? Stroke, no; murder, yes.

It’s not our Angelique, of course. I’m talking about the Parallel Time alt-universe Angelique, who was murdered six months ago, at a midnight seance in the drawing room. We know that she was murdered, because last week, they re-enacted the seance, and a ghost-possessed dental hygienist pointed at Angelique’s identical twin and shouted, She’s dying, she’s dying, murder, murder, murder. Apparently the spirit speaking through her was re-enacting too.

The other reason that we know Angelique was murdered is because of course she was murdered, this is a television show and they’ve been talking incessantly about her death for weeks. ABC Television isn’t funding this daily blastoff into the uncharted regions of tormented space just to tell the story of a woman who happened to die of a stroke.

After the seance, everybody did what people do in Collinwood after an accusation of murder; they went about their normal activities. If the Collins family stopped to investigate every single mysterious death that happens on their property, life as we know it would grind to a halt. When somebody dies, that means there’s one fewer person in the cast to have conversations with, and the survivors have even more on their plates.

So Quentin and Alexis have been going on as usual, grooming houseplants and making up excuses for things. In this version of reality, Quentin used to be Angelique’s husband, until she was murdered, and Alexis used to be her twin sister, until ditto, unless it turns out that Alexis actually is Angelique, back from the dead to reclaim her rightful place at Collinwood, which would mean that everybody needs to update their entries on Dark Shadows Wiki.

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Episode 992: Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t

“Remember, the dead can return in many ways!”

Here’s Aunt Hannah, who we’ve never heard of before, and that’s a shame, because she’s crazy. She uses a sharp pencil to draw a rectangle on an astrology chart, and then she taps her overly bejeweled fingers, tap tap tap tap, like she’s waiting for the celestial bodies to bring her a corned beef sandwich. She’s sitting in a dark room, wearing dark makeup, and pretending that she knows what she’s talking about.

Bruno asks what she sees, and Aunt Hannah replies, “Stars in opposition, the heavens in turmoil… signs in disarray.” She shakes a finger at him. “You must beware,” she says. “Some alien force is at work against you.” She doesn’t sound super worked up about it. It’s not really a warning, more a general observation, like, if you were wondering what was at work against you? It’s an alien force. So keep that in mind.

Bruno leans forward. “Can this alien force be of the spiritual world?” he asks.

She leans back. “I can only conjecture,” she allows, “but my answer is: yes.” That’s a pretty cut and dried conjecture.

He presses her, and she says, “You want to know if it’s the spirit of my niece, Angelique, don’t you?” He does. She smiles. “You know as well as I do that the charts contain nothing of that meaning.”

In other words, the heavens have gone out of their way to put themselves in turmoil, just to make Bruno mildly suspicious, which he already was. That’s the thing that I don’t understand about astrology; it seems to be a lot of work on the celestial bodies’ part, for very thin results.

I mean, you’d think if astrology and tarot cards really worked, then the people who believed in them would be running the entire world by now, and yet they don’t. Weird, right?

Continue reading Episode 992: Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t

Episode 987: Truly Two

“I know that what he really wanted to do was to see if I was real!”

“With every day,” writes Dr. Jekyll, “and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”

He doesn’t say anything about how many woman is, because it’s 1886 and not really his concern, but in this case, I think it’s safe to round up.

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Episode 986: Down in the Science Dungeon

“Why? Why alter a human being?”

“Let me begin,” the doctor says, “by saying that man is chemical in his composition.” Oh boy, here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the simpering Dr. Cyrus Longworth: a man, a plan, an apparatus. That’s him back there, behind the equipment, workshopping his defense attorney’s closing arguments.

We’re in another weird basement science dungeon today, one of those makeshift conceptual sets made of equal parts brick, stone and middle school classroom. There are wire cages holding a rabbit and a guinea pig, quietly munching on carrots and wondering why they ever got into show business. The apparatus isn’t bubbling and nobody’s having their head removed yet, but give them time; they’re just getting started.

But I’m interrupting Dr. Longworth, who has a theory to expound that you may find difficult to swallow. Still, people used to believe that the sun was flat.

Continue reading Episode 986: Down in the Science Dungeon