“Vicki… could it have been one of those things you think you saw?”
It’s been exactly a month since Willie opened the coffin, and it’s started to sink in for the producers and writers that they might want to keep the vampire around for a while.
Originally, the plan was for Barnabas to be on the show for six weeks. Dr. Woodard, the Van Helsing substitute that they’ve recently introduced, would find something nasty in Maggie’s blood samples, lead the townspeople to Barnabas’ door with torches and stakes, and put an end to the whole silly mess.
But now the first trickle of fan mail has started to arrive. This is a new experience for the Dark Shadows team. Nobody’s writing in to say how much they love the Jason/Liz blackmail story, but the dead guy is getting some response. They should keep this storyline going.
The writers have figured out a really good plot point for Friday’s cliffhanger. Now they only have two problems. They’re called Wednesday and Thursday.
Continue reading Episode 233: All Wet
“They just kept asking me questions, nothing but questions!”
So here’s the thing about soap operas: just because it’s on every day doesn’t mean you’re actually supposed to watch it every day. I mean, you’re allowed to have a life of your own. It’s 1967, you’re probably tie-dyeing something.
You can tell how often you’re supposed to watch a soap by seeing how far back they’ll recap the story for you. If the characters are still standing around talking about something that happened two weeks ago, then you can probably just show up on Fridays and you won’t miss much. In the early 2000s, NBC had a soap opera called Passions, which was so glacially slow that the optimal viewing schedule was one episode every three weeks. Or, preferably, not at all.
Continue reading Episode 232: Just Add Water
“How did you happen to come by these wounds in your throat?”
Maggie’s not feeling very well after her trip to the graveyard last week, and by not feeling well I mean she’s unconscious and somebody’s perforated her jugular vein. Sam and Joe hover around her bed, fretting and recapping. A dog howls, and Maggie starts moaning restlessly.
For a minute, it looks like the entire episode is going to be Sam and Joe standing around looking at Maggie. (Spoiler alert: That kind of is the entire episode.)
Continue reading Episode 231: Bedside Manners
“I’m in a graveyard. How did I get in a graveyard?”
It’s been four weeks since we opened the mystery box and let the vampire out, not that anyone’s actually saying the word “vampire” yet. The show is actually strangely coy about it — nobody says the V-word out loud for nine months. They finally break it out in episode 410, and by then it’s not the craziest thing on the show anymore.
But who needs labels when you have howling dogs? Over the last month, we’ve seen hypnosis, nightmares, fangs and unexplained blood loss — and this is the episode where it all comes together. This is the first big Friday cliffhanger, and exciting things are finally happening.
Continue reading Episode 230: The Transylvania Twist
“Things are getting deeper and deeper, and people are saying and doing things for no reason at all!”
Maggie’s overslept again; she’s been out all night consorting with demons. It’s actually not clear what Barnabas and Maggie have been getting up to. We don’t see much on screen — for all we know, they could be going to nightclubs and working their way through the Kama Sutra.
However. At a certain point we’re just watching a girl sleep.
Continue reading Episode 229: Thirst World Problems
“Well, you can all be as exasperated as you like. It won’t do you any good.”
Full disclosure for the hardcore vampire enthusiasts: This is another Jason/Liz blackmail episode. Roger has some funny lines, and Carolyn is always worth watching, but if you’re only interested in vampires, then you can skip this one.
Actually, does it help if I tell you that Liz murdered her husband and buried him in the basement? That’s what the whole blackmail thing is about. Okay, maybe not. Come back tomorrow, vampire fans. Maggie gets abducted and everything.
Continue reading Episode 228: Those Things in That Room
“That sea air is the most unhealthy thing in the world to breathe.”
Here’s another strange thing about 1960s daytime TV: Videotape was so expensive that when they reprise yesterday’s cliffhanger at the top of the episode, they don’t use a clip — the actors just go ahead and do the scene over again.
This is so different from modern television that it’s hard to even think about it. Imagine if every episode of a show started with “Previously, on Mad Men” — and then the actors performed all the clips live, including costume changes and running around to different sets.
Now that I think about it, that would be kind of amazing.
Continue reading Episode 227: Sick Day
“And then, all of a sudden, for no reason, I started to get afraid.”
Today, we begin with a recap of Maggie’s dream sequence from the last episode, which is how you know what a great dream it was. I don’t know if other shows would bother to do a recap of a dream sequence, but on Dark Shadows they sure do.
Continue reading Episode 225/226: Fangs for Nothing
“Willie and I have an understanding.”
Yesterday, we left David at the Old House, hearing snarling dogs and banging on the front doors. There’s not as much turning of the doorknob as you might expect, just banging and yelling.
Then the dognoise suddenly stops and everything is fine, which says a lot about how seriously they’re treating cliffhangers in this period of the show.
Continue reading Episode 224: The Late Shift
“Barnabas Collins knows how to handle a man like Willie.”
It’s a new day at Collinwood, and darn it if Vicki and Liz aren’t playing another round of Where’s Willie. They’ve got to get more organized about this, maybe put out a newsletter or something.
The fun new twist is that now it sounds like they’re saying that Barnabas and Willie are dating. Liz says, “Barnabas Collins knows how to handle a man like Willie.” And Vicki replies, “No, that’s just it! Willie is staying there — living there! He’s moved into the Old House with him!”
Continue reading Episode 223: The Me/You Fun Gap