Category Archives: Sam Hall

Episode 1004: The Way Home

“There’s a spirit at Collinwood that will not let you do what you plan!”

Haunted homeowner Quentin Collins strides down the hall in the east wing of his enormous mansion, headed for the suite occupied by his sister-in-law. Flinging open the doors, he finds himself face to face with an episode of Dark Shadows.

Quentin knows this room well; he’s in and out of it all the time these days. It’s mostly orange and pink, with a portrait and a piano and several dreadful secrets. But the doors have flung him into an unfamiliar space — the same room, but dark and empty and underutilized.

His son Daniel and niece Amy are standing in the middle of the room, having an argument. They don’t hear him when he calls, and he’s held back by some invisible barrier that he can’t penetrate. All he can do is stare in amazement at this new, grittier reboot.

This isn’t the television show that Quentin knows, but you can tell that it’s daytime programming, because the boy says, “Maybe if we stand here, something will happen!” and the girl says, “But I don’t want anything to happen!” That’s the new ad campaign for Parallel ABC Daytime.

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Episode 1003: The Way We Live Now

“You can believe that rooms can change, but you can ignore a simple fact.”

This is what it feels like to be dead, by which I mean it doesn’t feel like anything except that you’re this fucking cold all the time. This is what keeps vampires and zombies going. They’re not hungry, obviously, they say they’re hungry but what they really mean is that it’s cold why is it so cold, I am lost and so far away, I need to eat something or I’ll stop moving, and when you stand still it gets so much colder, it’s like you’re already as cold as it could possibly be except it gets even colder than that if you stop moving, so you keep going keep eating keep spreading out you can’t hear speech anymore you can’t feel anything, but if you can’t feel anything then why the fuck is it so fucking cold

So you’ve got that rattling in your brain all the time, until you can’t think anymore, and the only thing that exists is whatever kind of warmth you can possibly get at, and people stop being people in your head. I’m not saying that like it’s an excuse, because it’s not, it’s just that being dead is really hard and people need to understand that.

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Episode 999: The Dead Wife

“What would you do if that woman upstairs is your dead wife?”

It’s been three weeks since Alexis Stokes came into our lives, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned in all that time, it’s that she’s actually her twin sister Angelique, unless she isn’t. The evidence for Team Alexis is that Angelique died six months ago and was buried in a crypt, with a funeral and everything, and if she was still alive, then they probably would have noticed.

The evidence for Team Angelique is: What if someone could come back from the dead? It’s tough to answer a what-if like that, because whatever you say, the other person can still say, Yeah, but what if they could? A conversation like that could go on indefinitely, and we’ve only got 22 minutes a day, not counting the occasional sales pitch for Spic and Span.

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Episode 997: Fifty Shaves

“He hasn’t kidnapped anybody, otherwise he wouldn’t be bothering me like he does!”

Carolyn and Maggie are away from home, filming House of Dark Shadows. Josette and Rachel and Kitty are dead, Millicent and Pansy are mad, and Vicki is long gone. Beth jumped off a cliff, Amanda never existed, Phyllis is trapped in the vortex with Schrodinger’s cat, and Sabrina is Sabrina.

Instead, we present the continuing adventures of Buffie Harrington, our temp soap opera heroine, who’s here on contract while we’re waiting for the more appealing, Ohrbach’s-approved heroines to come back from vacation.

She doesn’t get benefits, and she needs somebody to sign her timecard, but she’s here. If we need a girl to get groped on camera, then Buffie is the next available representative.

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Episode 991: Parsing Sabrina

“There is a evil here!”

It started with radio, of course, this war of the words, with Painted Dreams and Just Plain Bill and The Romance of Helen Trent. All those listening women needed something to listen to, and radio soaps offered fifteen minutes of pure uncut conversation. But there comes a time when even soap opera characters need to admit that they don’t know what they’re talking about, and pipe the hell down.

Take the parallel Sabrina Stuart, spouting nonsense at one of those pop-up seances which they construct on the fly in high-traffic areas on the Collinwood estate. “She’s dying, she’s dying!” Sabrina cried, pointing at someone who wasn’t dying. “Murder! Murder! MURD-ERRRR!” It wasn’t clear whether she was pro or con. It probably doesn’t matter, one way or the other.

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Episode 990: Let It Burn

“Coming back from the dead is not a trick, Bruno!”

Okay, everybody gather round the table; it’s seance time again. Our hands must touch, obviously. Everybody knows about the hands. You can’t get anything done unless your hands touch.

Today, we’re making contact with my friend Randall Jessup, who’s going to confer with me on several subjects of great importance, specifically: what’s wrong with Sabrina, the dubious value of re-enacting things, what’s wrong with Parallel Time, what’s wrong with Sabrina (again, at length), and finally, a foolproof plan for what’s going to happen in the final year of this blog.

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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 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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