Tag Archives: bad news

Episode 1047: The Invention of Feelings

“Go on, go out! You’re protected by my indifference!”

A month ago, I declared that we had reached The End of Love — for Parallel Time at least, if not the whole series — because this months-long storyline revolves around protecting and maintaining one romantic relationship, which isn’t worth all this trouble.

According to how much the characters talk about it, we’re all supposed to care about volatile one-percenter Quentin Collins and his marriage to the parallel Maggie Evans, who isn’t even a governess so I don’t know how she got on the show. The main storyline is about the mostly-dead sorceress Angelique, who’s plotting to separate and destroy the couple by fair means or foul.

But Quentin and Maggie’s relationship has negative rooting value; they have nothing in particular in common, and by this point, they each believe that the other is in league with the Devil. Quentin can’t have a single conversation with his wife that doesn’t end in shouting and small arms fire. I’m just going to assert right now that if the end of this story involves Quentin and Maggie reunited, I for one am not going to consider that a happy ending. These people do not belong together, and the only good thing about them being married to each other is that at least they’re not able to marry anyone else, and ruin even more lives.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that love is dead, in Parallel Collinwood. Maybe we were just looking in the wrong direction.

Continue reading Episode 1047: The Invention of Feelings

Episode 1018: Diagnosis Murder

“What happened to you wasn’t the work of any form, or spirit.”

Dr. Cyrus Longworth, who isn’t that kind of doctor, enters Quentin Collins’ hospital room with a worried face and a clipboard. Earlier in the day, Quentin suddenly collapsed with agonizing chest pains that felt like he was a clay doll in the hand of an enormous crazy person, who was sticking a sharp pin into his heart. After about an episode, the pain suddenly ceased, and Quentin felt fine, as if nothing had happened, which I suppose technically nothing really had.

Unnerved, he went to the hospital for tests, which have turned out to be even more unnerving.

“The tests have proved most fascinating,” says Dr. Longworth, who seriously is not this kind of doctor.

“What is it?” Quentin smiles. “Don’t tell me I have some hitherto undiscovered tropical disease.”

Cyrus grimaces. “Well, if you had, I would have known what to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

Cyrus gives his friend a grim look. “Quentin,” he announces, “there’s nothing wrong with you!”

Continue reading Episode 1018: Diagnosis Murder

Episode 968: The Only Weakness

“When the cairn blew up and the room burned, that should have been the end for you, too.”

So here we are at the tippy top of Widow’s Hill, waiting for teen gang leader Jeb Hawkes to drown his sorrows, and ours. Jeb is a Leviathan, which is a word you use when you’re not really sure what your monster is supposed to be. He used to be a hundred feet tall, with glittering teeth and eyes like opals, but he’s given it all up for love. And now we’re here, potentially ending it all.

The spirit of Peter Bradford blew into town yesterday, with a king-sized kick against Jeb that he’s been bottling up for a hundred and seventy-three years and counting. You remember young barrister Bradford, of course; he’s the lawyer who couldn’t win a witch trial, a hundred years after they’d stopped having witch trials.

But somehow — by luck or inspiration or lunatic plot contrivance — Peter Bradford figured out the Leviathans’ only weakness, which is drowning, and he figured it out by pushing a Leviathan off Widow’s Hill and into the water, where it drowned. Or maybe he found out some other way, like reading the Book, which has a whole chapter on what the Leviathans’ only weakness is. The Leviathans would apparently write down their only weakness in a handy reference guide and then leave it on display in an antiques store, because they’re a secret society that isn’t really very good at keeping secrets. They also wear jewelry with a four-headed snake on it, so you know who to drown.

The only way that Jeb can die is to fall from the top of Widow’s Hill to a messy death on the rocks below, like Josette and Beth did, which I believe means that they were both secret Leviathans the whole time. And then there’s the three widows from the old legend that Elizabeth got all worked up about; they were probably Leviathans too.

Oh, and then there was the other Jeb, the impossible Jeb, who lived in 1797 somehow, and died right here, impossibly, at Peter’s hand. Peter was annoyed with Jeb at the time because he’d lured Victoria Winters to these cliffs, and made her jump to her death, so I guess she was a Leviathan, too. Oh my god, you guys, I think Vicki was a Leviathan.

Continue reading Episode 968: The Only Weakness

Episode 847: … And Carry On

“Having Charity Trask drive a stake through his heart was a stroke of genius.”

They say that the DEATH card in the Tarot deck doesn’t really mean death — not the actual literal physical death, as in: this card means that you’re going to die. In the deck, Tarot enthusiasts say, DEATH is sort of a generalized shorthand for change, or transition, or the end of something old, which brings new life in the spring. DEATH means quitting your job, or ending a relationship, or selling your couch. Or changing your mind. It’s a metaphor. DEATH is a magazine subscription about to expire, or finally dropping that karate class you never go to. DEATH is giving up on the idea that Joss Whedon will ever make another decent television show. DEATH is running out of coffee, but Starbucks is closed, because there was a gas leak and all the baristas died. Wait, that’s a bad example.

They’re wrong, of course; Tarot people are idiots. DEATH means death. You know what death is; it’s the thing that you mean when you say the word death. If you’re talking to someone who’s passionately explaining why death isn’t really death, you should probably remove sharp objects from their immediate vicinity, just in case they want to demonstrate.

Continue reading Episode 847: … And Carry On

Sam Hall: In appreciation

Sam Hall died on Friday, September 26th, at the age of 93. The news was announced, in a quiet way, on his son Matthew’s blog.

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that Sam Hall was the greatest writer on Dark Shadows — which I’m sure sounds like the faintest possible praise, but it means a lot to me.

Dark Shadows is the most surprising, and therefore the best, television show ever made, and Sam joined the show at a crucial moment — in November 1967, when the breakout character was just on the verge of breaking the show. The Barnabas storyline had turned the slow-moving soap into a hit, but the story was starting to run in circles, and it needed a change in direction. Sam brought wit, intelligence and fresh ideas to Dark Shadows, just when it needed it the most. He saved the show.

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Episode 435: Next Stop Kansas

“It can’t be! That woman is dead!”

The sun sets, the coffin opens, and guess what, there’s more bad news. It’s like every time Barnabas gets up, there’s some depressing new development. He’s got to be wondering why he ever bothered to rise from the dead in the first place.

This is probably the first truly original concept born from this unholy union of monster movie and daytime soap opera — the idea of a vampire waking up and saying, Man, this has been such a crappy week.

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Episode 423: Twisted

“We were just having a little family argument.”

This hasn’t been an easy week so far, either for the Collins family or for the Dark Shadows audience. They’re wrapping up this phase of the Barnabas/Josette storyline, and after all of the build-up, it doesn’t really feel like anything.

This week, we’re seeing two of Dark Shadows‘ less successful attempts at creating a soap opera supercouple — a pairing that endures for years and offers unlimited story potential, as they overcome obstacles and always find their way back to each oher. On Monday, the show officially unveiled Vicki and Peter as the brand new star-crossed, century-hopping romance, and now we’re heading straight for a pivotal moment in the epic story of Barnabas and Josette.

Now, I don’t know how you feel about the situation, but personally I couldn’t care less about those couples. They could jump off a cliff for all I care, and lucky me, guess what happens next.

Continue reading Episode 423: Twisted

Episode 263: Don’t Say Anything

“Apparently, that madman is still around.”

Yesterday, Vicki spent the entire episode having feelings about Maggie’s death, and today she’s going to have them all over again. This is exactly how a traditional soap opera is supposed to run — something happens maybe once a week, and the rest of the time is processing everyone’s feelings.

If you don’t watch a lot of soaps, that probably sounds like the most boring possible TV show, but a well-written soap opera makes it work. You just need to build up the stakes, so that a character’s emotional response has an effect on other people.

On Downton Abbey, when Matthew is wounded in the war, they spend weeks exploring how Mary feels, and how Lavinia feels, and how Matthew feels about Lavinia’s feelings, and how Mary feels about Matthew’s feelings, and on and on, and we’re all sitting there with our eyes glued to the TV, because we can’t imagine living another day unless we find out what these make-believe people are going to say to each other.

Continue reading Episode 263: Don’t Say Anything