“I demand that counsel define the term ‘occult practices’.”
We’re going back to court for another witchcraft trial on Dark Shadows today, and once again, people have missed the entire point of the Salem story. The witch trials that took place in Massachusetts in the late 17th century happened in the actual real world, where I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s no such thing as witches. Salem 1692 is a story about a justice system perverted by superstition and mob panic, where innocent people were jailed and executed based on the claims of a pack of hysterical middle schoolers.
But in modern Salem, they’ve discovered that it’s a lot more lucrative to pretend there were real witches in the late 17th, and build a tourist trade by promoting Halloween parades and haunted house tours. Yes, they have a Witch History Museum that tells the real story, but on the whole, it’s more fun to build events around spooky fictional witches instead of focusing on the thing that’s really scary, which is putting Christians in charge of a legal system.
So there are a whole bunch of TV shows and movies that depict real witches on the scene of the Salem witch trials — Charmed, Bewitched, Hocus Pocus, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, I Married a Witch, The Vampire Diaries, that WGN Salem series with sexy versions of John Alden and Mary Sibley. This is basically like making a TV show about the Holocaust in which the Jews kind of deserved it.
Continue reading Episode 1165: In the Haze of History
“I thought there were only two Collinses left. That means there are three who must be destroyed!”
Now, I know that Quentin Collins is at a particularly thrilling crisis point right now — forced to wear jewelry that he doesn’t particularly care for — but I’m afraid we’re going to have to put his problems on hold for a minute, because I’ve got problems of my own. I’m leaving the country for a conference, and I won’t have time to write regular episode posts for the next two weeks. But I can’t just jump forward into the future and leave the rest of you behind, at the mercy of gypsies.
So I’ve come up with another crackpot idea for what to do over these two weeks, namely: write about the Dark Shadows comic strip, which ran for one year, starting in March 1971. These will probably take me longer to write than the regular posts would have, but I wanted a chance to cover the comic strip anyway, and you only live once, probably.
Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 1: The Tortured Undead
“What you saw consumed in flames was an exact replica of me.”
“Get me a mirror,” Angelique says, out of the blue. “A full-length mirror.” This is her idea of a security system.
This week, the Dark Shadows A-Team has united against Laura Collins, a phoenix firestarter who’s returned to Collinwood to turn her children into fire demons. Barnabas, Quentin, Angelique and Magda are on the case, each of them distracting Laura from her mission just long enough for another one to plan a new attack.
This is a new team that’s just emerged this week, and Angelique has stepped into the role of tactical expert. It’s a surprisingly natural fit, considering her dismal track record — remember, this is the woman who cursed the man she loves with a spell that kills everyone who loves him.
But in this context, it makes sense for Angelique to step up. Barnabas is terrible at making plans, Quentin is impulsive and reckless, and Magda is the loosest possible cannon. So when the woman says “get me a mirror,” the appropriate response is: one mirror, coming right up.
Continue reading Episode 759: Kill Me Maybe
“You are such a coward that the only way you can kill is with dolls!”
Ladies and gentlemen of the Dark Shadows audience, I would like to introduce to you a new member of our cast: slow doorknob.
Good ol’ slow doorknob actually made its first major appearance at the end of yesterday’s episode, because that’s where the career opportunities are, doorknob-wise. Let’s say you want to end an episode with an unexpected character at the door, but you don’t have the money to pay the actor just for the last two seconds. Who do you turn to when nobody turns up? A slow-turning doorknob, that’s who.
A twist to the left, a twist to the right, a couple rattles, a slow glide open, and then you cut to a cast member looking surprised, or horrified, or whatever actors are supposed to look like once you’ve stopped filming the fixtures. It’s kind of an IOU for the actual surprise, payable tomorrow.
Continue reading Episode 718: Other Than My Wife
“She did have to undergo the hanging, yes.”
Victoria Winters is dead!
Sorry, spoiler alert. I always forget to say that. Sorry!
Still, this hardly counts as a news item anymore. VDub has tried to leave the show twice now, and they keep on dragging her back on screen. A few weeks ago, she disappeared from Collinwood, traveling back to 1796 to reunite with her husband Peter “Jeff” Bradford-Clark. Then she found out the authorities still wanted to execute her for witchcraft, so Barnabas had to cross the barrier of space and time in order to save her.
Unfortunately, Barnabas arrived too late to stop the execution, which makes you wonder why he chose to shatter causality just to show up at the last minute. And now here’s Vicki, freshly hanged and laid out to dry.
Today, the sorcerous soap vixen Angelique stands over the body, and says a bunch of words about putting Vicki under a spell, and now Vicki’s going to be buried alive. Angelique is super into burying people alive these days, even though it sounds like a damp fizzle of a story point. It’s like an annoying song that’s stuck in her head, and she can’t shake it.
And hey, you know what would be great to see right now? David Selby.
Continue reading Episode 665: Vicki Ruins Everything (Reprise)
“In a moment, your flames will be nothing but harmless smoke.”
Here’s Cassandra Angelique Bouchard Blair Collins Collins, a poor girl from the mean streets of Martinique. She worked her way up from a menial servant position to become the lady of the manor — twice, in two different centuries — thanks to her charm, her intelligence, her boundless capacity for ruthlessness, and her contract position with the Lord of the Flies.
She’s currently living with rich Collins husband #2, and scheming to turn husband #1 back into a vampire. But you can’t just sit around and scheme all day. Here’s what she’s doing with her free time.
Continue reading Episode 517: Burn Notice
“One cannot buy a witch in an antique shop.”
Today, Victoria Winters returns to the scene of the crime — the Eagle HIll cemetery, where she shot and killed a man two weeks and 172 years ago. I’m not sure if there’s still a warrant out for her — there’s a lot I don’t know about the statute of limitations in a time travel scenario.
She’s hunting for the grave of Peter Bradford, her 1795 boyfriend and accomplice, who was left behind when she returned to 1967. Or possibly 1968. It’s hard to say. I’m pretty sure it’s a Wednesday, if that helps.
I mean, she left in November 1967, but by the time she got back, it was already April 1968, and she’d missed Christmas and a new Beatles album, and her library books were, like, crazy overdue.
Continue reading Episode 463: Meanwhile, in the Past