Category Archives: Sam Hall

Episode 1210: The Night We Met

“How I mourn for my lost love Josette. I couldn’t help but remember how beautiful she was the night we met.”

Time is running out for the Collins family of 1841, if you believe in the letter that Brutus Collins wrote, and if you don’t, then take a look at the Nielsen ratings and get back to me. With only seven weeks left for me to write down everything I ever want to say about Dark Shadows, I’m going to take a day off from this parallel time, and circle back to The World of Dark Shadows, the unparalleled fanzine that reigned supreme for the first twenty-five years of DS fandom.

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Time Travel, part 15: Dark Shadows Without Dark Shadows

“He left the sanitarium with no memory of the circumstances which had caused him to lose his mind.”

And in another band of time, running parallel to our own, ABC-Television makes some different choices, and Dark Shadows stays on the air.

Here’s how it wouldn’t have gone.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 15: Dark Shadows Without Dark Shadows

Episode 1206: The Eyes of Children

“The fire which will burn Collinwood cannot destroy a figure of four!”

So what, you may ask, of the young set? It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with the middle schoolers, who used to be one of the driving forces of the show’s popularity.

They got on board with Dark Shadows in early ’68, as the show took a hard swerve toward Halloweentown, with a vampire, a witch and a Frankenstein monster all featured at the same time. The young set is here for the skeletons, the dream sequences, and the disturbed graves. A magic mirror that lets you peek into a basement full of mad science equipment. A werewolf, crashing through a plate glass window. A woman screaming, trapped inside a ring of fire. A devilish man, calling to the dark creatures of nature as he passes his hands over the body of an unconscious babysitter. These discerning viewers demand playground games, and if Dark Shadows doesn’t provide them, then there’s a risk that they’ll drift over to Scooby-Doo, and stay there.

And now, it seems like that’s a demographic that the show is no longer interested in serving. This 1841 PT storyline is just people talking all the time, and occasionally pulling knives on each other. Nobody’s casting any spells, or bringing anything to life. They just put people’s names into a vase, and then take them out again and throw them away. There’s nothing here to stir the soul of a ten year old, and give them ideas for interesting things they could do with a curtain tie.

Continue reading Episode 1206: The Eyes of Children

Episode 1205: The Bad Behavior of Bramwell, or Romance and Rape and Why Nobody Seems to Do Anything About It

“You are a demon — and the demons in me are in league with you!”

There is something about him that stirs you.

All it took was one look, and he knew. He can see that you’re lonely and unhappy, and he knows what you really want. He knows who you really are. He understands you better than you know yourself.

That moment you had together… it meant something. You can’t deny it, and wish it away. He felt it, too. And he remembers.

You try to fight it, but you can’t. You are drawn to him. It doesn’t matter what you say; you don’t have a choice. In the end, he will have you.

And then you have him arrested, I guess, or he gets shot in a duel. That’s usually how those stories end up.

Continue reading Episode 1205: The Bad Behavior of Bramwell, or Romance and Rape and Why Nobody Seems to Do Anything About It

Episode 1204: Minimum Security

“Tears never got anyone out of anything!”

Let’s talk about the decision-making process for the Collins family here in 1841 Parallel Time, a next-door existence where people have made different choices, all of them terrible.

In this version of the timeline, the Collinses are being held captive by a room in their own house. Refusing all entreaties and resistant to redecoration, this room has bedeviled them since before the house was even built. The room’s been there since 1680, and as I recall, they finished construction around 1795; they must have architected this entire mansion around the sinister locked door, which was floating in the air a couple stories above sea level.

I wish that I could say that was the stupidest choice this family ever made, but they have been breaking that record non-stop for as long as anyone can remember.

Continue reading Episode 1204: Minimum Security

Episode 1200: The Woman in What?

“No one will find me, including the thing in that room!”

It’s difficult to build up an audience for a daytime soap opera; you have to catch lightning in a bottle just to get people’s attention in the first place. You need to create likeable characters that people can relate to, and put them in interesting and dramatic situations. You have to write dialogue that speaks to the audience, and touches on their concerns. You have to create an intimacy, a real connection, that makes the audience want to tune in every single day.

I mean, unless it’s the last two months of Dark Shadows, in which case don’t bother. Who even cares?

Continue reading Episode 1200: The Woman in What?

Episode 1199: The Wuthering

“Sometimes I regret all these things we’ve had to do because of that room.”

Yesterday, Dark Shadows as we know it came to a close, as eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins and his boon companions Julia Hoffman and T. Eliot Stokes completed their journey to there and back again, returning home in debatable triumph. They’d traveled to the year 1840 with the goal of changing history, hopefully in a localized area and not one of those Nazis won the war type deals. All they wanted to do is stop Gerard and the unhallowed dead from tromping through Collinwood in 1970, leaving the house in ruins and killing a whole bunch of people that they liked.

Whether it actually worked or not is very much up for debate, because they never really had a clear idea of exactly what they were trying to stop. When they pulled this kind of maneuver the first time, in the 1897 storyline, Julia was told the chain of events that specifically needed averting, so it was child’s play to consult the chronometer and find out whether they’d done it or not. In 1840, they didn’t have a map, so the reckless wreakers of time crime just went around stomping on butterflies and hoping for the best.

Well, somebody must have done something clever while they were gone, because they climbed the magic stairs back to a world where everyone is alive, including them. Apparently, someone’s been living at Collinwood for the last four months in their place, doing things that the travelers don’t remember doing, which is yet another surprising choice on the part of the Dark Shadows writers. It would have been easy to have Elizabeth asking where they’d gone, we’ve been so worried, and so on, but Dark Shadows took the road less traveled, as they so often do, and personally I’m grateful to have one last impossible mystery to remember them by.

That’s the end of the show, really, with Barnabas, Julia and Stokes merrily skipping off to the historical center, where they’ll learn how the Nazis won the war. But everyone who watches Dark Shadows knows that just because you die, it doesn’t mean you have to lie down and stop bothering people. Death is just a change of address, and Dark Shadows still has one last story to tell. So off we go, into the unknown.

Continue reading Episode 1199: The Wuthering

Episode 1198: Goodbye to All That

“Without even planning it, I’ve committed the perfect crime.”

And then, I suppose, Gabriel and Edith’s children come home from boarding school to find an empty house. Their parents are dead, their grandfather is dead, Aunt Samantha is dead, Uncle Quentin has run off to Boston with the governess, and Uncle Desmond has run off to New York with a music hall performer. Nobody’s buried Samantha or their mother, or this strange Valerie Collins who they’ve never even heard of, because the funeral director has mysteriously disappeared, and the police are busting open brick alcoves all over Collinsport, just in case he’s behind one of them.

Aunt Flora is the only one left on the estate, and she’s gone mad, apparently; she can hardly answer a single question about the last four months without babbling about ghosts and vampires and mysterious decapitations. Uncle Quentin was tried for witchcraft, she says, but he was spared at the last moment by a witch, who accused somebody else of witchcraft, and then Uncle Desmond shot somebody, and somehow nobody went to prison.

Now they have to arrange for Aunt Flora’s stay at Rushmore Sanitarium, and sell Rose Cottage to young Mr. McGruder, and clear out the empty coffin in the basement of the Old House that their mysterious cousins from Philadelphia apparently left behind, before they too vanished without a word of explanation.

And then they’re alone, this unknown handful of necessary descendants, to repopulate the mansion and try to survive. Is it any wonder, on that terrible night, that they called upon the dark creatures of nature to bring their dead mother back from the grave?

Continue reading Episode 1198: Goodbye to All That

Episode 1196: The Dark Creatures of Nature

“You are a woman again, a natural woman, and therefore you can cause a lot of trouble.”

“Prince of Fire,” says Angelique Valerie Cassandra Miranda DuBois DuVal Blair Bouchard Rumson Collins, “I call upon the flame to summon you in this, my most desperate hour of need. I call upon all the dark creatures of nature to aid me in the destruction of one who is my mortal enemy! I beseech you, grant me the power to destroy this man!”

It’s a weird way to begin a love letter, but she’s been married at least three times more often than I have, so what do I know?

Continue reading Episode 1196: The Dark Creatures of Nature

Episode 1194: No Exit

“I have a plan. A marvelous, marvelous plan!”

And they ran. Quentin and Desmond Collins, leaders of the notorious occult crime family, slipped the surly bonds of the Collinsport Gaol, and headed east for a week-long beach party. Holed up in a hideout within limping range of the lockup, the crafty pair planned their great escape, evading their mutual death sentence for witchcraft and abetting witchcraft, respectively.

Alone against the world, the fugitives remained undiscovered in an old abandoned fishing shack, hidden away from everyone except Quentin’s girlfriend, Desmond’s girlfriend, Quentin’s ex-girlfriend, Desmond’s mother, their accomplice Dr. “Bones” Hoffman, a couple boat captains, a getaway carriage driver, probably some ghosts, and their sworn enemy, the dread warlock Judah Zachery. And it would have worked, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.

Continue reading Episode 1194: No Exit