Category Archives: Sam Hall

Episode 1147: The Strain

“You’ve seen the strain in this house.”

First of all, I would like to make one thing quite clear: I never explain anything.

“But then something happens,” writes girl governess Daphne Harridge in her personal revenge journal, “just like now, and I feel such hate.”

“Who do you hate, Daphne?” the kid asks, clasping his hands and delivering an even stare. “Tell me.”

The kid is clearly used to this kind of scene. He walked into his governess’ room, came up behind her while she was writing in her diary, read what she was writing, and now he wants answers. He doesn’t betray the slightest bit of anxiety or doubt that this is the natural order of things. He is the heir, she is the help, and therefore he can feel free to peruse any of her personal data that he takes an interest in.

“What else did you see?” snaps Daphne, and the kid goes up a level.

“You never answered my question,” he admonishes. “I was taught to answer questions. Weren’t you, ever?”

She shuts up the book in a locked drawer. “A diary is personal, Tad. I write in it things that I wouldn’t tell anyone.”

He looks off into space. “Do you know, that our minister says that to hate is evil?”

She takes the risk, and hates anyway, and so do I. Sometimes you don’t get much of a choice.

Continue reading Episode 1147: The Strain

Episode 1146: A Dark Horse

“It was then that I noticed that we all have a strain of despair.”

“I receive a letter every three days,” says Quentin Collins, “and I receive it at one out of two times.”

I’m going to pause on that line for a second, because Quentin is about to say something ridiculous, and it needs a little room to breathe. He’s explaining to his friend Gerard about the letters that he receives every three days, from a dead woman.

“Either in the afternoon,” he continues, “when I’ve just gone to visit the estate manager, or exactly half an hour after that, when I’ve finished my last walk around the grounds.”

Gerard nods. “Someone knows your habits very well,” he says, so he must comprehend that line a lot better than the rest of us. Those two times are basically indistinguishable to the human eye.

Quentin means half an hour after midnight, of course, which you’ll understand once you see the next scene, where Quentin tries to lay a trap for the letter-leaver at twenty minutes after twelve. Or, if you don’t understand it then, then maybe you will on a third or fourth viewing, for example while you’re writing a blog post about it. That is the kind of attention that Dark Shadows demands.

Continue reading Episode 1146: A Dark Horse

Episode 1142: The Golden Moment

“There is a world — an evil world — which exists for some men.”

He’s not a handsome man, it’s true, but he’s powerful, and portable, and persistent. And he’s the man of your dreams, in the sense that you keep having naptime nightmares where his disembodied head bosses you around.

We’re all familiar with Judah Zachery the paperweight, lurking on the credenza in his glass enclosure, silently slipping through your defenses and inspiring you to steal newspapers and murder an antiques dealer with the wrong ancestor. But what of Judah Zachery, the man?

His eyes could bewitch you, they said. He lured beautiful young women to his house, and persuaded them to participate in unspeakable acts. And this was in the 1690s, when they really were unspeakable, because nobody had invented the slang words to describe them yet.

That was a hundred and fifty years ago, give or take, and for all that time, he’s been operating at a serious disadvantage. They say size doesn’t matter, but try to lure somebody somewhere when you’re ten inches total.

But that ends today. This is the day that Judah Zachery breaks out of his box, and gets his groove on.

Continue reading Episode 1142: The Golden Moment

Episode 1133: Low Clearance

“But actually, I did not come here to discuss the dead.”

It’s another one of those mysterious messages that Quentin’s been finding lately, scattered around his mansion. They’re cryptic little postcards from beyond the veil, signed by an old, extinguished flame, and they’re starting to get to him. They say things like “Joanna is dead and you are responsible,” which is upsetting, and they have these impenetrable adamantium wax seals that can only be opened by experts.

This time, the wax seal is even more troublesome than usual, and he’s really struggling with it. Quentin’s been opening his own mail for years now, it shouldn’t be this big of a deal, but the paper is determined to resist his advances. It must be some kind of trick judo paper that uses the attacker’s strength against him; the seconds are ticking by, and he’s still wrestling with it. He lunges at the seal one last time, and still it eludes him, and that’s when David Selby mutters “Oh, shit,” on network television.

Continue reading Episode 1133: Low Clearance

Episode 1132: An Armed Society

“How can love change in three days?”

Dr. Julia Hoffman crouches down to examine the body of a man beheaded in the late seventeenth century. “No pulse,” she observes. “No heartbeat. No respiration.” This comes as a surprise, for some reason.

The doctor has been hypnotically press-ganged into surgically reattaching this body to its long-lost head, so it can rise again and wreak a terrible vengeance on its numerous enemies, real or imagined. This impossible medical intervention must take place in a crumbling underground crypt in the middle of the night, without the aid of electricity or common sense.

“At least now we know where we’re starting,” Julia says. “We have a great deal of work to do, before we can start the operation.” Yeah, you can say that again.

Just like yesterday, today’s episode has crypt scenes at the top of the episode and the bottom of the episode, and in between is the soap opera storyline, with people flirting and breaking up and talking about their feelings. Dark Shadows is divided into two pieces right now, like a severed head cut from its body, which they’re trying to join together using Krazy Glue made by actual crazy people.

Continue reading Episode 1132: An Armed Society

Episode 1131: The Perils of Memory

“You cannot escape from the dead!”

It’s one of those complex evenings. In a secret underground crypt near Gallows Hill, a Cockney music hall performer with psychic powers places a tall glass case on an outcropping that contains a severed human head. It’s a terrible thing, the head, and it’s taken control of her senses.

The corpse in the corner grows restless. It rises, and approaches its long-gone head, grasping for its return. The head opens its long-dead eyes, and glares at the mentalist. They’re eager to be reunited, head to body.

“No, you must wait,” the woman says to the headless fiend, taking its cold hands in hers. “It is not time yet.”

Parking the body a few feet away, she looks to the head for instructions. “Now you must tell me, master,” she breathes. “What more is to be done?” They lock eyes, and merge minds.

“Yes, someone must help us,” she nods. “Someone very special. I understand, master.” Then she puts a velvet bag over the case, like it’s a parakeet cage.

Continue reading Episode 1131: The Perils of Memory

Episode 1130: Time and Tantrums

“This house is covered by a veil — a veil pierced by lightning!”

A hooded figure skulks through the Eagle Hill cemetery, as hooded figures do, making a yearly pilgrimage to the scene of the crime. She enters a free-standing mausoleum and pulls on a ring held in the mouth of an ornamental lion, and a secret catch uncatches, moving a panel that we all thought was a wall. Pushing it aside with practiced ease, the hooded figure steps into the room, raising her lantern to illuminate the coffin that isn’t there. “It’s gone!” she cries, as she lifts the lantern, and ta-DAH! It’s Angelique.

Now, I’m going to take a moment here to explain how this visitation fits into Angelique’s complex continuity. It doesn’t. There, that was easy.

Continue reading Episode 1130: Time and Tantrums