“You will not be able to do anything to this house unless you deal with me first!”
At the top of the show today, mad medico Dr. Julia Hoffman rushes into her patient’s bedroom to announce, “Daphne is the one who is to be murdered, and the destruction of Rose Cottage — will be tonight!”
This is welcome news, because these characters have been discussing the destruction of Rose Cottage for weeks and weeks; it’s a pivotal moment in the story that I can’t wait for them to pivot to.
Alarmed, Barnabas gasps, “Julia, we need to get help!”
“But who can help us?”
“Possibly Sebastian,” he answers, as the other one hundred percent of the world asks, In what way?
Continue reading Episode 1104: The Burning
“When you are human, you will never do this again. Never!”
Well, according to Curtis Whateley, this is what it looks like:
“Bigger’n a barn… all made o’ squirmin’ ropes… hull thing sort o’ shaped like a hen’s egg bigger’n anything with dozens o’ legs like hogsheads that haff shut up when they step… nothin’ solid abaout it — all like jelly, an’ made o’ sep’rit wrigglin’ ropes pushed clost together… great bulgin’ eyes all over it… ten or twenty maouths or trunks a-stickin’ aout all along the sides, big as stove-pipes an all a-tossin’ an’ openin’ an’ shuttin’… all grey, with kinder blue or purple rings… an’ Gawd in Heaven — that haff face on top…”
And then he falls down on the ground, and loses consciousness.
Still, Curtis Whateley. Right? Who elected him king of knowing what invisible monsters look like?
Continue reading Episode 931: MPOV
“I’m not just a little boy in every room in this house!”
Right now, I’m writing these words, and right now, you’re reading them, and those cannot possibly be the same “right now,” and so there is a time distortion in everything that we know about each other.
On Dark Shadows, it’s January 1970. For me, at the moment, it’s September 2016. For you, it’s some impossible-to-predict time in the future — a couple hundred of you today, and a couple thousand of you this week, and then who knows how many, in the long tail of tomorrows to come.
Continue reading Episode 927: A Limited Number of Tomorrows
“We just pretend things, that’s all.”
Let’s review the current state of affairs. The children have been spending time with an older relative, playing a mysterious game. The kids were excited when this began, but now they’re scared and confused. What they do with the older man is a secret, and they know that he’ll hurt them if they tell anyone about it.
So what we’ve got is a surprisingly intense storyline about fantasy-metaphor child sexual abuse. If these characters had feelings, I’d be really worried about them.
Continue reading Episode 679: The Not Happening
“mausoleum mausoleum mausolem maybe”
Sadly, I have to take this week off, because I’m going to Barbados to learn the secret magic number of the universe. But I don’t want to shatter the ancient truce between the readers and the blog, so I’m filling in with some odds and ends that wouldn’t fit in a regular post.
This would be one of the odd ones.
Continue reading X2: Everything That Julia Says in Episode 361, in Alphabetical Order
“I said you were my friend, and how I wish that were the truth. But I am past the point when friends are possible.”
Signs that your life may not be going the way that you hoped: You walk into your best friend’s house, and you find him moaning in an armchair. You reach out to touch his collar, and you see bite marks on his neck, and the only thing that you can say is, Oh, man. Not this again.
Barnabas Collins has been chewed on by his ex-wife, vampire soap vixen Angelique, and now his friends Julia and Willie have to figure out what to do about it. They stand around the scene of the crime and spitball ideas for a minute — they want to hide Barnabas someplace, but the next time the vampire summons him, he’ll go. They need to store him someplace safe, where she can’t get at him. But where?
Then Julia says, “Downstairs, Willie — the cell!” like that’s suddenly the greatest idea ever. So they hoist Barnabas to his feet, wrangle him downstairs to the basement, and lock him up in the dungeon cell, because today’s episode was written by Ron Sproat, and he never does anything else. God damn it, Sproat!
Continue reading Episode 616: The Great 1968 Wrap-Up
“He must have had a plan — and it must have been diabolical!”
The one great misconception that everyone believes about Dark Shadows is that the lead vampire, Barnabas Collins, gets “redeemed” once the show reveals how he was cursed to become one of the living dead. The idea is that Barnabas started out on the show as a cruel, remorseless villain, but then we go to the 18th century to see his backstory — and by the time we come back, he’s become “sympathetic,” and we’re supposed to like the guy.
In fact, Barnabas’ only real pivot in 1968 is that he starts out as a partially inept villain, and becomes a totally inept villain. Apparently, if you’re bad enough at being a bad guy, you can circle back around to good guy.
Continue reading Episode 599: Live, Die, Repeat
“Did you see his face?”
It’s a Ron Sproat episode today, which means that nothing really happens, and the dialogue is functional rather than decorative. Plus, it’s Thursday, so they’re really just setting up for the Friday cliffhanger.
I have now watched this episode three times, trying my hardest to find something worthwhile to say about it, and it simply can’t be done. The first act is the same thing that happened yesterday, the third act is the same thing that’s going to happen tomorrow, and the second act is an entirely inert substance.
It’s the kind of episode that you can recognize as being an example of the thing that it is, but it’s so ordinary that it ceases to exist as soon as the credits roll. In other words, this is the Jeremy Renner of Dark Shadows episodes.
So you know how some days I manage to scrape together a blog post that’s a beautiful little slice of postmodern lit-crit poetry, with funny observations and random 1960s trivia and it leads up to a stunning insight that makes you look at the show in a new and surprising way? Well, this is going to be the other kind.
Continue reading Episode 589: In the Fewest Words Possible
“Well, so much for that little brainstorm.”
Today’s episode begins with another Great Moment in Monster Medicine, as Dr. Julia Hoffman injects some magic fluid into the patchwork Frankenstein that they’re planning to bring to life on Friday.
Looking on, Barnabas asks, “Why do you keep giving him these shots?”
Julia sighs, and says, “If he should begin to decompose, then he will be utterly useless to us.”
The logic behind injecting things into the dead is a little tenuous — the body doesn’t have a functioning circulatory system to move the fluid around. At this point, I think what we’re looking at is a rotting corpse with an exceptionally well-preserved shoulder.
Continue reading Episode 488: Pretty People in Terrible Trouble
“Deep within the night, opposing forces stalk each other. And their meeting, when it comes, will shatter the ancient truce between the living and the dead.”
At the end of the last episode, Julia broke into the Old House, walked downstairs to the basement, and found Barnabas sleeping in a coffin. And just as a measure of how weird this soap opera has become — that’s not a surprise anymore. It’s daytime, the dude sleeps in a coffin. We know. Yawn.
The actual surprise is that Julia survives the experience. We’ve seen this scene three times before — with Willie, Maggie and Jason in the lead role — and none of them walked away happy. But in this case, Barnabas just stays asleep, and it’s like a bomb goes off. What’s Julia up to? What is she going to do?
Dark Shadows is on fire today. I mean, literally — today the show actually catches on fire.
Continue reading Episode 290: The Ancient Truce