Tag Archives: basement

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Episode 994: Polterguest

“Blood in this room. Why? First the piano playing, then downstairs, the picture of Bruno in the drawer. Blood there, too. Then Dameon in the chair. And here again, blood. But why?”

We’ve been spending the last several weeks settling into this new Parallel Time storyline, which takes place in a separate universe where everything is the same, except that people have made different choices, including the choice of whether to make their soap opera make sense or not.

They’ve boxed up the vampire, the crossover character who is technically the only person in this storyline from ABC-TV’s Dark Shadows, and they’ve put him into cold storage while the actor scurries upstate to appear in the Dark Shadows movie, leaving us with a handful of pinch-hitters from the other side of the sun.

The A-story these days is about Angelique — what she was, how she died, and whether she’s come back as a ghost, or a twin sister, or not at all. There’s been a decent amount of forward progress in that story lately — so much, in fact, that yesterday they slipped some important story information in the middle of a conversation about something else, and then acted like they didn’t even notice. But there’s still quite a bit of time to kill, and they need to slow things down a bit.

So today, they unveil the exciting plot twist that nobody saw coming: Dameon Edwards is back!

Okay, clearly you didn’t hear me. I said, Dameon Edwards is back!!

Continue reading Episode 994: Polterguest

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Episode 986: Down in the Science Dungeon

“Why? Why alter a human being?”

“Let me begin,” the doctor says, “by saying that man is chemical in his composition.” Oh boy, here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the simpering Dr. Cyrus Longworth: a man, a plan, an apparatus. That’s him back there, behind the equipment, workshopping his defense attorney’s closing arguments.

We’re in another weird basement science dungeon today, one of those makeshift conceptual sets made of equal parts brick, stone and middle school classroom. There are wire cages holding a rabbit and a guinea pig, quietly munching on carrots and wondering why they ever got into show business. The apparatus isn’t bubbling and nobody’s having their head removed yet, but give them time; they’re just getting started.

But I’m interrupting Dr. Longworth, who has a theory to expound that you may find difficult to swallow. Still, people used to believe that the sun was flat.

Continue reading Episode 986: Down in the Science Dungeon

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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.

Continue reading Episode 981: The Clone Wars

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Episode 834: The What’s-Thatters

“Death runs faster than any man.”

A memo from young Icarus to his father, re: altitude. What are you talking about, Dad? These wings that you made from feathers and wax are working great. Why do you say that I’m flying too high? You’re supposed to fly as high as you can, that’s the whole point of flying!

And so, as Icarus sinks slowly in the west and learns some valuable lessons about swimming, let’s turn to Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis. In defiance of good taste and common sense, Dan has turned his poky little soap opera into a five-alarm spookshow spectacular, delighting the teenagers and housewives of America with larger-than-life characters, hair-raising plot twists and inventive special effects. The ratings are still climbing, which makes Dan wonder: What can I do for an encore?

Today, we see Dan’s first answer to that question — Dead of Night, a primetime pilot for ABC that tried to adapt the Dark Shadows formula to an hour-long nighttime drama. Dan produced this pilot in late 1968, with several members of his Dark Shadows family — director Lela Swift, writer Sam Hall, composer Bob Cobert, and actors Thayer David and Louis Edmonds.

ABC finally broadcast the hour-long pilot in late August 1969, because they’d already paid for it and you might as well. While he’s been waiting for it to air, Dan’s scaled his ambitions up even further — he’s currently pursuing a deal with MGM, to make a Dark Shadows film. So before that kicks off, it’s useful for us to take a look at this pilot episode, “A Darkness at Blaisedon”, and see Dan’s first attempt to bring Dark Shadows to a wider audience.

Constructed haphazardly out of feathers and wax, Dead of Night introduces a trio of new characters — psychic investigator Jonathan Fletcher, his live-in chum Sajeed Rau, and the beautiful young heiress Angela Martin — and throws them onto a haunted house set, to see how far they can fly. Icarus, you are cleared for takeoff.

Continue reading Episode 834: The What’s-Thatters

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Episode 817: A Night in Casablanca

“If he dies, the whole future of the Collins family will not be existing!”

Well, it’s another August afternoon, and everybody on Dark Shadows is down in the basement, wasting a perfectly nice day. I can remember a time on this show when people would take a walk in the woods on sunny days, and have genial chats with little girls who they didn’t realize were ghosts. It was awful; I hated those walks. Turns out all the cool stuff was happening in the basement. Take that, mothers of America!

Continue reading Episode 817: A Night in Casablanca

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Episode 816: Midsummer

“You said we could be together forever, now that I’m dead like you.”

“Barnabas Collins and I have been at war for quite a long while,” says Count Petofi, tapping on the chained coffin that he’s keeping in his basement lair. “This is one more battle in that war.” And then he turns, and stares directly into the camera. “But it is the last one, and it will go on until he gives me what I want.”

We cut to a different camera, with Petofi and his henchman Aristede in a two-shot. Aristede says that it won’t be easy to convince Barnabas to forget the mission that brought him back in time to 1897, but Petofi says he can do it. Aristede asks how, and Petofi turns, and stares directly into the camera.

“Military strategy, my boy!” he announces. “I shall do what one does to win any crucial battle… Increase the pressure!” The camera moves from his clenched fist to another close-up.

Aristede asks how Petofi’s going to increase the pressure, and the mad Count takes a few steps downstage. “So far, only those whom Barnabas Collins cares for in this time have suffered,” he says, and stares directly into the camera. “Now, I shall attack from another side!”

This is all taking place in a tiny basement, by the way. Petofi has turned away from the person that he’s talking to for the fourth time in the last sixty seconds, and he’s not looking out a window or anything. According to the logic of this set, he’s announcing his fiendish plans to a brick wall, which is approximately two inches in front of him. We’ve seen backacting before on Dark Shadows, but this really is the frozen limit.

Continue reading Episode 816: Midsummer

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Episode 596: The Spook Fortress

“I know you are men! She is a woman! I know this is a basement!”

They said we were mad, those fools at the Institute, but who’s laughing now? We found a loophole in the laws of nature, thumbed our nose at God — and what’s more, we’ve done it twice. Barnabas and Julia, those celebrated myth makers, have once again stolen fire from the heavens, and gamma-radiated a brand new monster.

And so, with a scream, a sizzle and a sigh, we offload a tedious day player, and zap some life force into our Corpse Bride. At long last, mourning becomes electric.

Continue reading Episode 596: The Spook Fortress

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Episode 594: Weak Shoddy Adversary

“The one that she will try to kill will be you. So, you see, your presence is vital.”

So I guess it’s fair to say at this point that the current Bride of Frankenstein storyline is not setting any land speed records for Dark Shadows. It’s been dragging on for weeks, and the Bride is still just a bandaged-up mannequin, lying on the lab table and not even bothering to decompose.

Still, it’s part of Dark Shadows’ nature that even in its darkest and most shadowy hours, they’ll find something to do that justifies our patience.

Today’s episode is weird and disappointing in several ways, but the cliffhanger sets up one of my favorite lunatic plot contrivances. When I am old and gray, and the world has taken everything from me but my basement murder lab and my hypnotic medallion, I will think of today’s cliffhanger, and a flicker of a smile will play across my careworn features.

Continue reading Episode 594: Weak Shoddy Adversary

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Episode 584: The Fugitives

“I don’t care if this danger that you’re so afraid of really exists, or if it’s just in your mind.”

Here, if you’ll pardon the expression, is the current storyline:

At the end of yesterday’s episode, Barnabas snuck into Maggie Evans’ bedroom, with the intention of luring her to the basement of the Old House, where she would be hypnotized and have her life force sucked out of her body in a Bride of Frankenstein experiment.

Today, Barnabas returns to Julia’s mad-science laboratory, and he’s got startling news. “Well, I got into the house,” he says, “went to her bedroom. The bed had obviously been occupied, but she wasn’t there.”

And then, with a shocked expression, he says, “Julia — she’s been kidnapped!”

Continue reading Episode 584: The Fugitives

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Episode 564: Dig Dug

“We’re not robbing a grave, Willie. We’re dealing with an enemy.”

I know, everybody’s got their own problems, and when there’s an immediate crisis in your life, you tend to put off the long-term thinking, and just focus on what’s in front of you.

Still, I think that if your planned evening of grave-robbing is interrupted by an urgent need to go on a completely unrelated grave-robbing excursion — that is the moment that you need to stop and re-evaluate.

Continue reading Episode 564: Dig Dug