Category Archives: March 1970

Episode 982: Bad Marriages

“I’m in an unfamiliar time, without a touchstone.”

It’s narrative collision time on Dark Shadows, as a brand-new storyline begins, using brand-new second-hand stories. By now, the Dark Shadows writers have fully acclimated to the idea that this is how you write a soap opera, throwing together bits and pieces of other people’s stories, and when the end comes, as it will, they’ll spend the next several decades patiently explaining that they couldn’t continue writing the show, because they’d run out of source material to plunder. They believe it, too. This is all they know.

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Episode 981: The Clone Wars

“You see, I came to this time hoping desperately to escape what I am.”

And now it’s this! Hooray! The dreadful Leviathans are now and evermore squeegeed from our lives, scrubbed from the world and leaving only the laundry-fresh scent of pine, because here in soapland, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed by a good all-temperature detergent.

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Episode 980: Next Stop Keystone City

“Trying to transcend that other time level can be very dangerous!”

Eccentric mass murderer and explorer of the outer realms Barnabas Collins is pacing the Collinwood drawing room, frowning heroically and making excuses. He’s been having one of his spells again.

His friend Julia takes a lap around the track. “Barnabas, why did you do it?” she wails. Barnabas drank Megan dry a few weeks ago, and now he’s about three-quarters of the way through Sabrina.

“I stayed at the Old House, and fought the urge to leave,” he says, striking an apologetic pose. “And then she came to me.”

“You couldn’t help yourself,” Julia observes.

Barnabas swivels, and snaps, “Do you think I do this by choice?”

“No, Barnabas,” she reassures him. “I know what you’re going through.” Yeah, he’s going through the entire female supporting cast, is what he’s going through.

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Episode 979: Jeb Hawkes Must Die

“I’m leaving! I’m going where the action is!”

Hey, guess what, we’re still killing Jeb Hawkes. It’s been three weeks since the royal teen rebel smashed his box and exploded the Leviathan altar, and two weeks since Angelique tagged him with a wiggling shadow of imminent demise, and one week since I really seriously stopped caring about what happens to Jeb Hawkes.

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Episode 978: What’s Cooking

“Aren’t you about to be recommitted to the underworld?”

So it turns out Julia can’t cure vampirism after all, just like she can’t cure lycanthropy or Frankenstein Syndrome or acute-onset Creature of the Black Lagoonism. I’m afraid that universal health care for Universal Monsters is still just a dream.

Now Barnabas is reacting to her anti-vamp treatments by becoming even more of a vampire than he was in the first place, which puts the kibosh on the Nobel Prize for sure. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences does not want to hear your excuses. They want results.

And sadly, the result here is that we had Megan as the sleepy co-dependent vampire blood slave a couple weeks ago, and now we’ve got Sabrina in the same role, which means I’m supposed to watch Sabrina urging Barnabas to drink her blood, and consider that entertainment. Well, I’m not having it. The show has refused to provide me with a single reason to like Sabrina, and if she wants to die from blood loss and neck trauma, then she should go and do it on her own time. This window is closed.

So instead of watching that, let’s go — for the very last time, I’m afraid — and look at a new form of Dark Shadows merchandise.

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Episode 977: Things That I Already Like About Parallel Time

“You don’t know what it’s like, suddenly seeing yourself walk into a room.”

Everyone’s talking about it! Here’s what people are saying about Parallel Time, opening Friday:

“I can’t help but be fascinated by that room, and everything I’ve seen there!” — Barnabas Collins

“Somehow, we must discover the secret of this room!” — Roger Collins

“You must take me to that room immediately, I want to see this for myself!” — Professor T. Eliot Stokes

“There must be something very special in the east wing, because suddenly everyone’s so interested in it!” — Elizabeth Collins Stoddard

I will regret this, I’m sure. I will regret all of this. The upcoming Parallel Time storyline will fail in some spectacular way — like Adam did, like Nicholas Blair and Count Petofi, and all the other disappointing men in our lives — and I’ll end this period of the show trying to figure out how it all went wrong, as I always do.

But this feeling, right now, this tickle of heightened expectations? Give me this. Even if it’s only for a little while. Just give me this.

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Episode 976: Another Another World

“It’s impossible! I just saw him die!”

Today, Roger Collins opens a door in the east wing of Collinwood and discovers another world, filled with familiar people leading different lives at the exact same time. He’s fascinated by it, of course, and he spends the whole week talking about how desperate he is to see those exciting new stories. This turns out to be a tactical error.

Because there really is Another World — it airs on NBC at 3:00pm, and it’s doing so well that they’re creating a spinoff, which will compete directly with Dark Shadows.

Now, back in the good old days of September 1968, when Angelique was a vampire and Quentin was still a twinkle in Henry James’ eye, nobody would dare counter-program against Dark Shadows. It was a nationwide sensation, thirty minutes of thrills beamed every day to everyone who mattered.

The Columbia Broadcasting System was the big dog in the soap world, with chart-busters As the World Turns, Search for Tomorrow and Guiding Light at the top of the ratings for more than a decade. But in September ’68, CBS took stock of the situation and decided to turn tail and run, moving The Secret Storm from 4:00 to 3:00, where it was safer and the light was better anyway. They threw poor old Art Linkletter into the 4:00 spot, so the squares had something to do if they’d already finished their homework and folded all the socks. And so Art Linkletter’s House Party lived out the rest of its days, unwatched and unloved, a 25-year broadcasting giant felled by a show that at the time was mainly make-believe mad science experiments.

But Dark Shadows has spent the last four months telling a story that nobody really wanted to hear, and squandering the talents of their new werewolf superstar. There is movement in the shadows. The other wolves can smell weakness.

And next Monday, on March 30th — the same day that Barnabas changes channels to Parallel Time, and gives everybody who wasn’t excited about the Leviathans a natural jumping-off point — NBC premieres their brand new soap opera at 4:00pm. It’s not very good, and it doesn’t last that long, but it gets better ratings than Dark Shadows does, because sometimes the wrong people win.

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Episode 974: Your Declining Days

“My mission here has been a failure.”

Normal soap: Angelique is a scheming gold-digger.
Vampire soap: Angelique is a two hundred year old blood-soaked sorceress.

Normal soap: Sky is an arrogant magazine publisher who’s in deep with the mob.
Vampire soap: Sky is an arrogant magazine publisher who’s in deep with a pack of disgruntled blasphemies from the past.

Normal soap: Sky divorces his errant wife, and strips her of her home, her furs, her jewelry, her chauffeur and her social circle.
Vampire soap: Sky tries to murder his errant wife with a burning torch.

Normal soap: Angelique gets her revenge on Sky by teaming up with his business rival, using inside information to destroy him.
Vampire soap: I haven’t the faintest idea. Won’t it be fun to find out?

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Episode 973: Groundhog Day

“As each moment goes by, you have less and less existence!”

Here’s newlywed Jeb Hawkes, the world-crushing god-emperor and inspiration for a thousand terrible RPG modules, tiptoeing gingerly into his hotel room. He sets down the suitcases, looks left, right, and left again, and finally summons up the nerve to turn the lights on.

This is how far he’s fallen — the mighty murderous man-thing, triumphant at last, shaking off the shackles of his Elder Things upbringing, and running away with the girl he loves… but feeling no joy. Instead, we see a timid man, afraid of his own shadow. Not the shadow he casts, naturally, nobody fears that except groundhogs. Jeb is afraid of the shadow that’s been assigned to him.

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