“Is there nothing that can stop the power of that witch’s flaming hate?”
It’s day two of our special feature on the 1971 Dark Shadows comic strip, which appeared in newspapers every day for a year, starting about three weeks before the show was cancelled. The strip stars America’s grooviest ghoul Barnabas Collins, of course, who inhabits the great estate at Collinwood with a couple women named Elizabeth and Carolyn. And that’s it for the regular cast, so they have to import characters from the outside if they want to have anybody to talk to, or — as is often the case — anybody to look at while doing a lengthy thinks monologue.
There’s a lot of thinks in this strip; for Barnabas, it’s about 50/50 between thinks and actual dialogue so far, and the scale is tipping pretty strongly in the direction of internal dialogue. If they ever filmed this story, Jonathan Frid would hardly have to remember any lines at all; he could just pre-record everything, and then stand there doing facial expressions.
Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 2: A Forever Death
“I don’t share your confidence in that cane.”
Quentin Collins, former human being, has turned into a snarling werewolf that runs around in the woods, attacking people and causing unrest. Quentin’s nephew Jamison is out tonight, running away from Reverend Trask’s sleepaway punishment school, somewhere on the Collinwood grounds. Trask didn’t say “Release the hounds,” because you don’t have to at Collinwood. The hounds are provided free of charge by the management; it’s just one of the great estate’s many fatal perks.
So now Beth is out looking for Jamison, wielding a gun that she found in a drawer somewhere. She hears a growl, and turns to find the werewolf sitting on a boulder, waiting to pounce. As we all know, people are the most dangerous game, but werewolves have got to be a close second. It just stands to reason.
Continue reading Episode 754: The Hunger Games
“I don’t see much point in a party that isn’t a surprise.”
It all started ages ago, back when handsome, irresponsible Chris Jennings was just beginning his career as a werewolf. A bad moon was on the rise, and Chris was planning to spend a quiet evening at home, chained to the radiator. But then his girlfriend came over unexpectedly, and booked a ringside seat for his hideous transformation.
The next morning, Chris decided that this would be a good opportunity to travel, so he took off, apparently without pausing to determine whether Sabrina was alive or dead. He just packed a bag, and ran. The worst thing about being a werewolf is that you don’t get a lot of security deposits back.
Continue reading Episode 698: Sister Act
“There must have been something about this bracelet that kept the animal from killing me.”
Okay, let’s get right into it, because pretty much everything happens today, and I don’t have time to mess around. This is one of those episodes your mother would have warned you about, if she was dead.
Continue reading Episode 672: Werewolf By Night
“You don’t understand the world, or anything around you. Today, more than anything, has convinced me of that.”
It’s the old story, one of the oldest there is: The young couple wants to dance, and hold hands in the rain, and run away, and fall in love. They don’t care about money or tradition or whatever uptight hang-ups their uptight parents are hung up on. They just want to be free.
And this is early spring 1968, back when being young and free really meant something. I’m not totally sure if that spirit also applies to 1796, but Millicent is going to give it a whirl, and see how far she can get.
Continue reading Episode 445: Generation Gap
“I lose track of time. The days are all the same here, and no one ever bothers to tell me what day it is.”
He is dead, alas! Reverend Trask is dead. The world is a little duller now — noticeably quieter — and we’re down another antagonist, which poses a real problem. We’ve been shedding characters like crazy as we approach the end of the 1795 storyline, and here’s the point where the cast really starts to look thin.
As we’ve seen recently, Barnabas has taken on a new role as the monster who hunts other monsters, kind of a cross between Godzilla and Dexter. That story structure turns out to be very productive for the show over the next couple years, but in order to work, you need an opponent who’s in the same weight class.
Angelique and Reverend Trask were both Barnabas-sized problems, and it was satisfying to see him take them on. Now that they’re gone, the only villain left is Nathan, who’s more of a charming con man than a threatening monster.
But he’s the best that we have to work with, so over the next week, we need to turn Nathan the adorable rascal into Nathan the predator.
Continue reading Episode 443: Fan Club
“You don’t know what you’re saying! The horror of that hand!”
In yesterday’s episode, vampire-about-town Barnabas Collins was down at the docks, looking for a bite to eat. He was just about to feed on streetwalker Maude Browning, but she screamed and fought him off, and it attracted attention. He scrambled away, leaving behind his signature silver wolf’s head cane.
So Barnabas needs to learn one of the fundamental rules of crime: If you’re going to go out and attack people, leave your identifiable accessories at home. This is no time for expressing your individuality; you need to be able to blend. This is why hipsters can’t be criminals.
Continue reading Episode 440: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Vampires
“I don’t like people asking questions. And I like even less the people who inspire those questions.”
You know, it’s amazing the kind of thing that you can get used to when you’re watching a TV show every day. The show is clearly stalling while the writers figure out how to spin the Barnabas story out, and I’ve been grumbling all week about the recap and repetition.
But consider this: It’s May 1967. Thirty seconds ago, Nurse Sharon was emptying bedpans on General Hospital. And now we’re watching a walking corpse from the 18th century savagely beating a destitute con man with a cane.
Continue reading Episode 234: Adventures in Babysitting
“And then, all of a sudden, for no reason, I started to get afraid.”
Today, we begin with a recap of Maggie’s dream sequence from the last episode, which is how you know what a great dream it was. I don’t know if other shows would bother to do a recap of a dream sequence, but on Dark Shadows they sure do.
Continue reading Episode 225/226: Fangs for Nothing
“But then uniqueness is not always a good thing. It sets you apart from other men.”
Okay, I know, these first couple weeks with Barnabas are kind of a hard road. Most of the action’s been off-screen, and cow-related. Barnabas has been acting more like a kindly uncle than a demonic horror from the past.
Come on, the audience cries, enough with the slow build already. Bring on the scares!
Continue reading Episode 221: Mystery Date