“Are you out of your mind? That man once tried to kill you!”
“Look, Sam’s overdue,” Joe says, “I’d probably better to go down to the Blue Whale and get him.”
Maggie says, “He’s probably still talking to Professor Stokes.”
“Yeah, if Stokes ever showed up to talk to him,” Joe frowns. “I don’t know if you can believe a guy who had the nerve to swipe something right out from under your nose.”
Apparently, at some earlier point, Maggie got a gift from Cassandra, and put it on the table, and a few minutes later, it was gone. Joe insists that Professor Stokes must have taken the gift. But they brush that subject aside for now, and Joe leaves to get Maggie’s father from the bar.
After Joe’s exit, Maggie takes a pair of earrings from her purse, and looks in the mirror as she puts them on. A music box begins to play. Smiling, she grabs her coat and leaves the house. Then we pan over to the window, where we see a tall man with scars on his face, looking in at the room. There’s a big crescendo of horns and kettle drums, and then the opening titles begin.
And that’s how you can tell that the show’s ratings have gone up, because they just referenced five different storylines, and explained none of them.
Continue reading Episode 514: That Endless Summer
“Try not to panic, Mr. Peterson. The dreadful fact of the matter is that something has gone wrong.”
It isn’t a matter of what you want. It’s what I want. And need. And what I have the power to get.
Continue reading Thirty Two Short Films About Episode 513
“I am prepared to convene a jury of the dead in this room!”
He meant well, is the thing that you have to remember. There’s an evil witch who’s living at Collinwood these days, and she’s making life complicated for everybody, so Professor Stokes thought, hey, we’ve got a witch, why not raise the spirit of a bad-tempered 18th-century witch hunter?
Stokes learned that Reverend Trask was buried alive behind a brick wall in the basement of the Old House, so he figured, let’s wake Trask up, point him in the direction of Angelique, and then just let nature take its course. Stokes is something of a lateral thinker.
So, yeah. It’s not one of the top ten plans. But at least it doesn’t involve terrorizing a young child, so for Dark Shadows, it’s actually not that bad. You have to grade these things on a curve.
Continue reading Episode 512: Everybody Rise
“Look, I’m not carrying anybody’s will but my own, and I’ll prove that to you!”
A summer crush is always fun, isn’t it? As we’ve been heading into June 1968, I’ve talked about nothing but Professor Timothy Stokes, occult expert and storyline accelerator. Over the last week, Stokes has taken the lead in five straight episodes — completely taking over the Dream Curse storyline, and sticking his nose into the Adam plot as well — and he’s done it using the sheer power of being smarter and more interesting than anyone else. He’s clearly a Dark Shadows star in the making.
But sadly, this is actually his peak moment for a long time. After one more episode later this week, Stokes is going to fade back into the chorus for a while. He has a little run of episodes in mid-July, and another in October, and besides that, he just pops up periodically over the next year. He doesn’t make it into the top tier of essential characters like Barnabas, Julia, Angelique and Quentin, who must have a major role in every storyline. So what happened?
Continue reading Episode 511: Séance Fiction
“Do you still believe we cannot gain help from the dead?”
Professor Stokes steps to the phone, and places a call. “Julia, thank goodness it’s you,” he says. “You must come here immediately.”
“What’s wrong?” says Julia.
“I’m afraid I’ve just killed a man,” Stokes says, and then the opening titles kick in.
See, I told you that Professor Stokes is amazing. Can you believe this guy? This is how he starts an episode.
Continue reading Episode 510: Some Enchanted Evening
“Germs — I’ve never been a big believer in them, but they do exist.”
A couple weeks ago, grouchy painter Sam Evans was struck blind, following an encounter with a witch that I don’t have time to get into right now. In a normal soap opera, a character going blind would be a huge focus for the show for months. We’d see all the doctor’s visits, they’d be trying out experimental treatments, and the character would go through a lengthy grieving process as they adjust to the loss of their sight.
But I don’t know why I even bother to bring that up anymore. I might as well say, “In a beach party movie, Annette Funicello would be singing about surfboards.” We may have reached the point where comparisons between Dark Shadows and normal soap operas are no longer relevant.
Continue reading Episode 509: Blind Date
“Why am I not opening your doors?”
What, when you get right down to it, is magic?
In the context of a story, anyone can have magic powers, and there really aren’t any hard and fast rules about how they work. Take Angelique, for example — a ladies’ maid from Martinique with reality-warping abilities, apparently granted to her by Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies.
Angelique started out with some rather modest household voodoo, choking a toy soldier to make Barnabas gasp for breath. But pretty soon, she was raising zombies from their graves, and turning people into cats, and generally wiping the floor with the Collins family.
By this point, she has a baffling assortment of abilities, including the power of getting really super old when somebody paints over her portrait. She doesn’t use that one very much, because it’s hard to weaponize.
Continue reading Episode 508: Dream Beater
“According to my calculations, only one more person must have the dream.”
I knew this was going to be hard. When I started this uncertain and frightening journey through Dark Shadows, I knew that the Dream Curse storyline was waiting for me, and it was going to test my endurance more than anything else on the show. But here I am, six weeks into the story, and I just looked at my episode guide, and I’m only halfway through. We’re currently at the beginning of June 1968, and the Dream Curse ends in mid-July.
I know I keep saying “Here’s the problem with the Dream Curse,” but here’s the problem with the Dream Curse: characters just saunter in and out of the storyline, and it doesn’t seem to matter. The allegedly terrifying chain-letter dream sequence moves from one character to another, and once they’ve passed the baton on to the next person, they drop out of the storyline.
Remember when it was a big deal that Mrs. Johnson needed to go to Boston, so she wouldn’t pass the dream on to Jeff? Or was that David? Or Julia. I’m pretty sure it was either Julia or River Song. No, wait, that’s Doctor Who. I’ve got this written down somewhere.
Continue reading Episode 507: The Spirit of St. George
“You broke into my room to tell me about a dream?”
Here’s the kind of thing that Dark Shadows had to deal with: They moved the taping schedule around to accommodate Jonathan Frid’s insane ten-city publicity tour a couple weeks ago, and as it shook out, there were three episodes this week that taped the day before they aired.
It’s actually hard to get your mind around how close to the edge that is. If anything went wrong with the taping, then there’s nothing to show tomorrow; it’s dead air. And this is Dark Shadows; of course something’s going to go wrong. Things go wrong, like, all the time.
So if this was a show produced by sane people, they’d probably want to throw together a couple episodes where everybody sits around in the living room and talks over the events of the day. That’s what every other daily soap opera ever made does all the time anyway. But, no — it’s Dark Shadows, which means we need three cops and a Frankenstein monster and a seance and a dream sequence and a skeleton and a brick wall falling apart and a root cellar.
Continue reading Episode 506: After the Fall