“You have to admit that you are the most unknown quantity in town.”
I haven’t written very much about the opening voiceovers that introduce the episodes. Mostly, that’s because they’re not very interesting at this point. They get a lot more fun later on, but here are some typical examples from mid-1967 episodes.
The warm night wind wails around the walls of Collinwood…
The night wind murmurs through the ancient trees surrounding Collinwood…
It is nighttime at Collinwood, and a balmy breeze blows in from the sea…
You see what I mean? Weather reports.
Once the show really gets rolling, they don’t have time for climate. Here’s the beginning of an intro from late 1969:
Not far from Collinwood, Chris Jennings and the man Julia Hoffman believes to be Quentin Collins have found the recluse, Charles Delaware Tate.
That’s right, you get four full names, and that’s just the first sentence! That’s an intro you can sink your teeth into.
Still, there are some charmingly loopy examples from this period, and I’m fond of today’s:
This is a time of suspicion, a time when trust has slipped away into the darkness, and doubts run high. There are those who find the finger of suspicion pointed at them. They react with a sudden fear of exposure.
Continue reading Episode 309: The Finger of Suspicion
“You know something, doctor? I’ve just decided that I don’t believe you.”
Today on Dark Shadows, we learn what a rich kid does on his day off — he rides on a bus. Carolyn is taking David on a trip into Bangor, and he’s got his heart set on that bus trip. But their plans are interrupted by a visit from Sam and Joe, who have something to discuss with David.
You can tell that it’s important, because Sam uses Dramatic Clarification — a technique where you pretend that you’re being super focused and intense, when really you’re just saying the same thing twice.
So when David asks why Sam needs to talk to him, Sam says, “Well, it’s about something urgent. Something very, very urgent.”
Continue reading Episode 308: In Circles
“Is it necessary to continue to threaten me? I know the status of our relationship.”
Today’s episode opens with a shot of David walking through the woods, with a sunny meadow behind him. This is the show’s first use of chromakey, a new special effects technique that they’ll come to rely on for all sorts of supernatural malarkey. This shot only lasts about ten seconds, but it’s an incredibly important moment in the development of the show. Also, it looks awful.
Chromakey is very familiar to modern viewers; it’s also called “bluescreen” or “greenscreen”. You film the actors in front of a colored screen, and then you replace that color with the input from a different camera. It’s used for TV weather maps, and for the news correspondents on The Daily Show reporting “live” from unlikely locations.
If the lighting is set up properly, and if the actor isn’t accidentally wearing something blue, then you can create the not-very-compelling illusion that the actor is standing in front of something. And if the lighting isn’t set up properly, then it looks like this.
Continue reading Episode 305: Paranormal Activity
“He’ll go down there in that cellar, and he’ll find a coffin. And he’ll want to know about it.”
Last week, the tall, dark and vaguely handsome Burke Devlin proposed to Victoria Winters, the Collins family governess. She needs some time to think about the proposal, although there doesn’t seem to be any reason why she should say no. They’ve been dating for a while, he’s immensely rich, and she doesn’t really know that many guys.
Of course, I’m not saying that I particularly care about whether these two get together or not. I’d be much happier if they both went to a World Peace Conference in Geneva and never came back, like the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Continue reading Episode 301: Burke Devlin Must Die
“You’ll have to forgive me just now. My memory isn’t what it should be.”
Okay, settle down. I looked into it, and it turns out that hypnosis is actually a real thing.
I mean, there’s stage hypnosis, which is silly — that’s the magic show kind where they bring you up on stage and make you cluck like a chicken. That’s not real hypnosis. It’s just saying things, and then picking someone from the audience who looks like the kind of person who probably clucks like a chicken anyway.
Then there’s hypnotherapy, which is a legitimate technique that can help a patient to relax and focus. It’s helpful for relieving chronic pain, anxiety, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, bulimia, and other disorders that are amenable to a change in mood or outlook. The term was coined in the 1840s by a Scottish surgeon named James Braid, who developed the Eye-Fixation Hypnotic Induction Method that Julia used when she hypnotized Maggie at Windcliff Sanitarium.
But it turns out you don’t need to wave a watch or a light at somebody. It’s possible to get the same effect just by helping them relax and focus. Braid was actually a very interesting and thoughtful guy, who studied and wrote about hypnotism as a helpful complementary therapy that could be used in conjunction with other conventional forms of medical care.
Oh, and P.S.: It’s also possible to use hypnosis to record over a person’s memory, like it’s a cassette tape. That totally happens ALL THE TIME.
Continue reading Episode 297: The Honest Truth
“He’s some kind of a creature from the world of the dead!”
We pick up today at a pivotal plot point, as Maggie Evans — vampire abduction survivor and mental health facility refugee — stumbles into the Blue Whale, looks at Barnabas, and collapses onto the floor.
This comes as something of a shock to the Collinsport nightlife community, and especially to Barnabas, because he knows that at any moment she could expose him, and then…
Hold on, wait. Has that woman been wearing that orange dress this whole time?
Continue reading Episode 295: Nothing But Lies
“The basis of your problem is the destructive nature of your blood cells.”
In Friday’s episode, Julia baited Barnabas into coming to her room to strangle her. But she knew he was coming, and waited quietly in the corner. Now she steps into the moonlight, and delivers some absolutely explosive dialogue.
Julia: I know what you are. You’re Barnabas Collins — the only Barnabas Collins, who died over a hundred and thirty years ago.
Barnabas: That’s an absurd statement.
Julia: Don’t try to deny it. I’ve investigated you thoroughly, and I’ve seen you in your coffin.
Barnabas: You realize that such knowledge puts you in great danger.
Julia: Well, of course. That’s why I took the precaution of putting a dummy in the bed.
Which is an unbelievably badass thing to say. Whenever someone asks you for an example of why Dark Shadows is the most surprising and therefore the greatest television show of all time, you can direct them to this scene.
(Note: There is a very good chance that nobody will ever ask you this question. But it’s good to be prepared, just in case.)
Continue reading Episode 291: The Alchemist
“I’m all right. Just call me Miss Jitters of 1967.”
Okay, you’re not going to believe this, but today’s episode of Dark Shadows begins with Victoria Winters looking out the window. There’s a storm outside, and when the lightning flashes, she starts, as if she’s seen something upsetting. Then she walks over to her bedside table and opens that damn music box again. Then Carolyn comes in, and they talk about the music box, and the weather, and then we cut to Barnabas standing outside, staring up at Vicki’s window.
In other words: This is a mash-up of the beginning of every episode from the last five days. It’s like they realized during the dress rehearsal that they’d forgotten to write the first act, so they just tore a page out of all the other scripts this week and now we have to watch it.
Continue reading Episode 289: That Hoffman Woman
“You’ve remembered coldness, you’ve remembered a melody, a fragrance. All these things are very important.”
We open today with Dr. Julia Hoffman, noted blood specialist, leading a therapy session for Maggie, who’s blocking out her memories of being kidnapped by a vampire. This is not typically in a blood specialist’s line of enquiry, but Julia Hoffman is not a typical doctor.
Continue reading Episode 282: The Examined Life
“That night must go… nothing wrong.”
We open today’s pulse-pounding episode with a long scene of two young women trying on dresses that they’re planning to wear to a costume party.
You can tell that the show is running a little low on suspense right now, because Vicki says, “When you said her name, the strangest feeling came over me,” and then we’re supposed to be interested in learning more about that feeling.
Continue reading Episode 279: Party Animals