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Episode 1006: Too Big to Do Anything But Fail

“I’m Larry Chase. I’m Chris Collins’ partner, and as you know, Chris is Dr. Longworth’s lawyer.”

Angelique Collins is talking things over with an old friend, who’s been summoned by the candles of the seventh secret. “They can send you back to your grave, forever!” she explains. This is a thing candles can do.

“I’m not a living being anymore,” Dameon points out. “The candles have no power over me!”

“Then try to move!” she says. Angelique gets into arguments like this all the time. “Try to lift your hand, and snuff the candles out!”

Suddenly, Dameon looks frightened. “I — I can’t move!” he yelps. Dameon is a ghost.

She breaks it down for him. “When the seventh candle was lit, you appeared. When the seventh candle is snuffed out, you will return to your tomb, and never appear again!”

“NO!” he cries. “No, you can’t do it! You CAN’T DO IT!” But she does it. And with one last agonized squeal, he disappears, leaving his bug-eyed skeleton hanging up in the closet, which is where Angelique keeps that kind of thing.

The witch lets out a triumphant cackle. “Now, nothing stands in my way!” she exults. “The house will be mine again! Quentin will be mine again! And nothing can stop me. NOTHING!”

And then something stops her, like, immediately.

Continue reading Episode 1006: Too Big to Do Anything But Fail

Episode 931: MPOV

“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

Episode 809: Twice Burned

“She called your name, and then she became unconscious again.”

One nice thing about being a soap opera character — and overall the benefits are not numerous — is that every once in a while the writers need you to figure something out in a hurry, so they hand the entire solution to you on a platter, whether it makes sense or not.

For example: the Dark Shadows writers have decided that straight-laced Charity Trask needs to know that Quentin, her prospective fiancé, is a werewolf who murders people on the regular. So they’ve arranged an educational tableau for her to discover, on her morning walk through the woods.

Lying on the turf is the unconscious Quentin, with his shirt all ripped up and decorated with blood spatters. A couple feet away, there’s a young woman who we haven’t seen before and aren’t likely to see again, because she’s sporting the telltale fang and claw marks of a werewolf victim.

Feebly, the girl mutters Quentin’s name, and Charity finds the crucial piece of evidence in his hand — he’s clutching a piece of taffeta, torn from the young lady’s dress. There isn’t a sign that says WEREWOLF with an arrow pointing to Quentin, but Charity’s a bright girl. She can put two and two together, especially if one of the two is currently bleeding out on the green burlap that everybody’s agreed to pretend is the ground.

Continue reading Episode 809: Twice Burned

The British Invasion (Bloodlust)

“If my social life ground to a halt every time my mom was investigating a murder, I’d be a nun.”

Okay, here are some further thoughts about Dark Shadows: Bloodlust, because I have some and you might as well hear about them.

Bloodlust is a new 13-part miniseries by Big Finish, a UK audio-drama production company that is determined to fill up the world with things that we don’t strictly need. They’ve been at it for decades, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop them, so here we are. I wrote about episode 1 last week, and today I’m looking at episodes 2 and 3.

Now, the question that every DS spin-off has to answer is: What is the purpose of bringing more Dark Shadows into the world?

Because history is not on the side of people who think that they have Dark Shadows stories worth telling. The original excuse for making Dark Shadows in the first place was that the producers didn’t realize what kind of show they were making until it suddenly became a hit, and by then it was too late to do something more sensible. Everybody following them can only dream of having an alibi that strong.

Forty years later, we’ve seen movie adaptations and prime-time revivals, novels and comic books and View-Master reels. But Bloodlust poses a question that nobody’s ever asked before, namely: What happens if we let British people try it?

Continue reading The British Invasion (Bloodlust)

Episode 484: Chekhov’s Gun

“Julia! Why am I leaving the room, Julia?”

So it’s been a rough ride, this returning to the present day. Deciding to do a lengthy 18th-century time travel story was a leap into the unknown, but once they’d started, they had a general outline to work from. They needed to turn Barnabas into a vampire, get Josette to jump off a cliff, kill pretty much everybody else in the cast, and hang Vicki as a witch. That was a plan that they could execute, if you’ll pardon the expression.

But returning to 1968, the writers face another weird challenge. They’ve decided to pretty much reboot every ongoing storyline that they had — hastily wrapping up, reversing or straight-up ignoring all of the old story threads.

This is a very unusual move for a soap opera. These last five weeks have basically been the equivalent of a season premiere, a narrative structure that even night-time shows weren’t doing in the late 60s. Dark Shadows has changed some core relationships, introduced new characters, and brought back Angelique as this season’s Big Bad. Structurally, this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but thirty years early and from the monsters’ point of view.

Continue reading Episode 484: Chekhov’s Gun

Episode 466: Welcome to the Hellmouth

“Doctor, may I see your neck, please?”

We closed our first week back in the 1960s with a tremendous car accident, which is either a metaphor for the chaotic process of change and renewal, or just another example of Victoria Winters destroying every single thing that she touches.

Continue reading Episode 466: Welcome to the Hellmouth