Category Archives: Joe Caldwell

Episode 1086: A Sense of Something

“I don’t want to encourage them, and their ridiculous prophecies.”

There’s a mystery door in the west wing of Collinwood, as I’m sure there is in many of our homes, and when you open it, you either get a linen closet, or a malevolent playroom that eats children. This is an inconvenient way to run a corridor, especially if you just want to put the towels away.

But today, instead of the two usual options, David and Hallie discover a third — a magical stairway into time, operated by ancestors. The ghosts of Tad and Carrie are standing at the top of the phantom staircase, urging their descendants to — well, I’ll let them explain.

“Come! Please, come!” they say. “Hurry! Hurry! Don’t keep us waiting, please!”

“Follow us! Come! Please, come!” they continue, further refining their message. “Hurry! Follow us! Please, don’t keep us waiting!”

“Hurry! Hurry!” they recapitulate, hearkening back to a previous motif. “Please, come! Come! Come with us, please!” This must be what an elevator pitch used to be like, back before there were elevators, and you had to do it on the stairs.

This sequence is a lot like being on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and getting your car stuck right at the end, when the ghost lady says, “Hurry baa-ack, hurry ba-aaack! Be sure to bring your death certificate” over and over while you just sit there and watch, except that the Dark Shadows version is actually trying to kill me.

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Episode 1085: Our Ignorance and Folly

“David, they’re nowhere in the room! They’re dead people! They’re ghosts! And we look exactly like them!”

There is no such thing as time. There’s only space, physical space, and it is space that measures the distance between those points which we, in our ignorance and folly, insist are points in time. All time is one point, one moment, it is ever existent and it is ever accessible, and it is physical space that can be used to make all time easily accessible. Well, physical space and LSD, obviously.

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Episode 1078: Everyone Must Leave This House at Once

“I remember the first sensation I had from him in the future.”

“Do you feel his presence?” Barnabas asks.

“Yes,” Julia shudders, “but not as strongly as before.”

So there you go, that’s our show this week: characters walking from room to room, consulting their ghost barometers.

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Episode 1077: The Scent of Lilacs

“I know it’s wrong to love the dead.”

This is what we currently know about Daphne Harridge:

She’s pretty.

She doesn’t speak.

She died 130 years ago.

She’s a governess.

She smells like lilacs.

Her hobby is encouraging living children to wear dead children’s clothes.

And she is partly responsible for killing everyone that Quentin knows.

So you can see why Quentin likes her so much, she’s a real catch. And it’s not like there’s anyone else who would want to date Quentin, except for one hundred percent of the population of the world.

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Episode 1076: Say Yes to the Dress

“You know, it might be the ghost of a room.”

Hallie is enchanted, in the sense that she’s delighted. She’s also enchanted, in the sense that someone has cast an enchantment on her.

“What does it matter?” she chirps. “We wanted to find the room, and we have!”

Hallie and David have opened the door to the playroom, a magical portal of the kind that you typically see in wardrobes and police boxes, leading to looking-glass worlds with silver-leafed trees and marmalade skies. Cue the enchantment.

“It’s the most marvelous place there is,” she smiles. Hallie isn’t Hallie right now, which is fine with me, and it’s even more fine with Hallie. Nobody is happier about Hallie not being Hallie than Hallie is.

“Look!” she coos, bending down to appreciate the twirling toy carousel. “There’s Dapple, and Charger, and Jewel, and all the others! Running a race that no one will ever win.”

“Who are Dapple and Charger?” David grouses.

“The horses, silly!”

And there they go, Dapple, and Charger, and Jewel, and all the others, revolving in an endless circle, just like this storyline is starting to. It’s only been a week, and already it feels like we’ve been listening to this tinkly music box tune for most of our lives. That’s always how it feels when Dark Shadows tries to stretch a three-week story into six to eight weeks, like they’re about to. Hallie is smiling, and soon she’ll be whining, and then she’ll start smiling again, twirling in a graceful circle as the audience drifts away.

Still, I bet Dapple is in the lead. I know, they’re all chasing each other, but Dapple be Dapple. You know what I mean? The rest of you need to step out of the way.

Continue reading Episode 1076: Say Yes to the Dress

Episode 1068: Just a Girl

“I did it from right here — with this coin.”

Tumbling through time, Barnabas and Julia have come to a hard stop at 1995, lured by the siren call of alternative rock and Richard Linklater movies. No one has a mint-with-tag Beanie Baby or anything, but you can tell it’s 1995 because everybody keeps dying hard, with a vengeance.

The Collinwood of the future is in ruins, abandoned and left to rot after a particularly brutal cancellation twenty-five years ago. The main characters who aren’t dead are irretrievably insane, stumbling through a devastated ABC Studio 16, waiting for someone to turn on the cameras again. They don’t cancel soap operas like this anymore; they have a much more humane system, where actors who can’t be placed in foster soaps get their own web series.

Here in 1995, Carolyn Stoddard Hawkes, Dark Shadows’ signature twenty-something sweetheart, is now pushing fifty, and apparently she’s been pushing it with her face. She looks awful. She’s spent the last couple decades becoming that loneliest of creatures, a cat lady who doesn’t have cats.

But from our perspective, this is still the Carolyn Yet to Come, and if Barnabas and Julia can find out what caused all this daytime trauma, then maybe it’s avertable. Like A Christmas Carol, The Terminator and 12 Monkeys, the question of this story is whether the future can be changed if everybody stops acting like a jerk for five seconds.

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Episode 1067: No More I Love You’s

“The only sedative I need is to get my hands around Stokes’ neck.”

Julia Hoffman follows the ghost of a young girl from the Old House to Collinwood and all the way upstairs to the mysterious playroom, where it turns out maybe don’t follow ghosts all over the place.

There, she comes face-to-face with the demonic supernatural force responsible for the destruction of everything she knows and loves; according to the credits, its name is Gerard. He’s a dark-haired scowling guy in his late 20s, plus however long it’s been since he died.

He glares at her from across the room, and takes a step forward. “Don’t come any closer,” she warns, looking around for an escape route, but she’s glued to the spot. “Stop looking at me that way!” she cries. “Please, stop!” He keeps on looking at her that way; looking at her that way is his entire strategy. She looks back, and then there she is, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gerard, LLC RIP.

Which raises the most important question of the 1995 storyline: Is Gerard hot?

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Episode 1064: Here Comes the Hotstepper

“A shadow, yes — a shadow that fell over all of our lives!”

Barnabas and Julia have been thrust into the far-off space year of 1995, which means they’ve already missed three seasons of Melrose Place and they’re not going to understand what anybody at the office is talking about. They’d better stay away from watercoolers altogether; you can’t be too careful.

But the time-tossed twosome have other things on their minds, like for example that their house got destroyed twenty-five years ago, killing most of their friends and driving the survivors out of their everloving minds. So Barnabas and Julia are snooping around, trying to find out what caused the catastrophe. I’d suggest taking a close look at Dr. Kimberley Shaw, who’s recently developed an interest in detonating apartment complexes, but they wouldn’t have any idea what I mean. You see what happens when you don’t watch Melrose Place? Let this be a lesson.

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