Category Archives: Sam Hall

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?

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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

Episode 1191: The Great 1840 Wrap-Up

“You turned this hand cold, as my heart turned cold toward you!”

“Why didn’t you stay in that room? We could have done so much together!” laments the hopeless romantic Gabriel Collins, struggling with his girlfriend as she tries to pry herself loose from his grasp. “Do you think I want to do this?” he says, adjusting his grip on her larynx. “Do you think I want to?” I think she probably does.

Eternally beset governess Daphne Harridge has recently torn herself away from one of those dank hideouts that honeycomb the secret interior of the great house at Collinwood. Gabriel was keeping her in lockdown until she fell in love with him, or until he could get Gerard to cough up some money, or possibly some third option that never quite came together. These kidnapping courtships rarely work out to anyone’s satisfaction; that’s why you don’t see a lot of wedding photos where the bride is tied to a chair.

Daphne thought, as everyone did, that Gabriel was differently-abled, but it turned out he was even more different than that. He can walk after all; he’s just been sitting in the chair all this time to rack up frequent-flyer miles. That’s why nobody suspected him of killing his father, or his wife Edith, or that wet sap Randall Drew, until Daphne found a blood-spattered monogrammed cufflink that blew the case wide open. Now she’s outside on the lawn in a dry thunderstorm, with one hundred and ninety-five pounds of Gabriel’s fury compressing her windpipe.

Fortunately, a car pulls up just at that moment and out pops the deceased Daniel Collins, standing erect in a sea-green spotlight and informing his incel son of some upcoming changes to the arrangement. “I told you I would come back,” he thunders. “I’ve come back for you! You will kill no more!”

Now, if Daniel had stepped in a few days earlier, he could have stopped this reign of terror one murder ago, but I guess he just didn’t like Edith very much. I mean, I never cared for her myself, but if I was in Daniel’s place, I would have intervened to save her life, probably, two tries out of three.

Continue reading Episode 1191: The Great 1840 Wrap-Up

Episode 1189: Action in the Afternoon

“Free for an instant. Not free enough to run… Not free enough to forget.”

It’s not fair of me, I know. I’ve been cranky lately about the show’s slow pace, with an endless witch trial and a long series of pointless dream sequences, but this week, the show is making an effort to entertain again.

It’s Thursday today, and so far, we’ve had a death sentence, a murder, the discovery of an alternate dimension filled with Brontë characters, a cast member clubbed with a candlestick, and a kidnapping, and today we’ll get a jailbreak, a shooting and an invisible knife attack. I suppose this is technically what I asked for, and yet I’m still not happy. That will teach me to be more specific.

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Episode 1184: The Graham Crack-Up

“Being a mental patient seems to make anything possible.”

So we might as well gently check ourselves into an asylum, is what I’m saying. It’s about time, and it doesn’t appear like anyone’s going to do it for us. I think at this point we could all do with a little rest cure at a home for the mentally unwell, if only to hang out with the rest of the Dark Shadows fanbase.

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Episode 1183: Damn Daniel

“There comes a moment when one loses control of one’s own life.”

Prince of Fire, I call upon the flame to summon you. I call up all the dark creatures of nature to summon you here to me.

I summon you in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings, to rise out of the darkness of the earth.

In the name of every evil spirit, I invoke you! Appear to me now!

Damn, Daniel!

Damn, Daniel!

Damn, Daniel!

Back at it again with the white Vans!

Continue reading Episode 1183: Damn Daniel

Episode 1182: I Feel Ya

“Won’t anyone listen to me? That woman is dead, I tell you, she’s dead!”

“How now, Samantha,” says Gerard Stiles, on the battlements of Collinwood. “Stand and unfold yourself.” It takes a minute, but she manages it; a person like Samantha Collins can get herself pretty comprehensively folded.

You see, at the end of yesternight’s episode, the deceased Joanna Mills, Quentin Collins’ former mistress, showed up at the front door of Collinwood, and told Samantha, Quentin’s wife, that she wanted to talk to her sister Daphne, Quentin’s current mistress.

“What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,” Samantha said, addressing the spirit. “By heaven I charge thee, speak!”

“You and I know of each other, although we’ve never met,” spake Joanna, harrowing Samantha with fear and wonder. “I don’t mean to disturb you; I only want to see my sister.”

So Samantha allowed this dreaded sight into her house, because you don’t want to be rude, even to an apparition. In the gross and scope of my opinion, this bodes some strange eruption to our state, although now that I think about it, Samantha is responsible for strange eruptions pretty regularly, all by herself.

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Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream

“Then we shall simply have to change the course of history, and find him.”

Let’s face it: 1840 has been letting us down on the visual spectacle. There used to be a monster in this storyline, split into two parts: the Head glowering in a glass case, and the Body roaming the woods like a murderous pantomime horse. There used to be vampires, feeding on the blood of the innocent. There used to be a guy in a wheelchair, which isn’t a monster but at least it’s something to look at. Now the only monster is a smooth-talking warlock, who rigs court cases, and casts spells that make governesses fall asleep.

These days, the show is dominated by people wearing old-fashioned clothes, gossiping with each other about who’s responsible for what. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a zombie, or a skeleton, or even a severed hand flying around the room. Think back: isn’t everything better when there’s a mischievous, floating severed hand?

Continue reading Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream