“The fact remains that every time there is a crisis involving Bramwell, you seem to have the most extraordinary emotional feeling!”
So here’s where we are: if you read yesterday’s post and it made any goddamn sense to you, then you’re aware that you and I are currently perched just outside the event horizon of the Great Unwinding, a long-prophesied series finale extinction event that threatens to erase Dark Shadows, and send us all tumbling back into the 4pm timeslot’s previous occupant, a dreary and unremembered soap opera called Never Too Young.
Never Too Young was a nine-month-long daytime soap flop about a group of rambunctious teenagers in Malibu Beach, aired every afternoon as a kind of eternal Beach Blanket Bingo. The show was told from the point of view of Alfy, who owned the local teen hangout, the High Dive. It included a lot of swinging music, both on the soundtrack and with frequent guest performers at the High Dive, including the Castaways and Paul Revere & the Raiders. The star of the show was Tony Dow (Wally from Leave It to Beaver), and his costar was the original kid from Lassie. Just thinking about Never Too Young is fairly grim, especially when you consider that this sun-and-fun beachside adventure was broadcast from September 1965 to June 1966, pretty much missing summer altogether.
And now we are threatened with the almost-certain obliteration of Dark Shadows from history, and an eternal plunge backwards into a timeline where there’s no such thing as a vampire soap opera. This will be a safer, sunnier, more predictable world, where late 1960s television was uniformly up-tempo and unsurprising, and it will be a hell on earth. The stakes could not be higher, and you know how vampires feel about stakes.
And this imminent, reality-crushing catastrophe has something to do with episode 1219, which does not, in fact, exist. So that’s a bit of a puzzle.
Continue reading Episode 1219: The Missing Step
“The screaming was unbelievable.”
There is another world.
There is a better world.
Continue reading Episode 1185: Meanwhile, in 1971
“Gerard, you took life from them once. Don’t do it again!”
“First, Gerard killed Quentin,” Tad explains. “And then, soon after that, Carrie and I died!”
“And then what happened?” Barnabas asks. He’s trying to figure out when we’re getting to the interesting part of this anecdote.
But never mind about that. Collinwood will crumble today, just like everyone thought it would four years ago. Turns out the vampire was a reprieve, not a cure; sooner or later, gravity reasserts itself, and Icarus takes a tumble into the sea. We’ll be leaving the Collins family as we know them, bound for the nineteenth century and points north, which means we’re not responsible for the future anymore, and Tad and Carrie can live or die in whatever order they choose.
Heads up, Collins family: Today is the last day of the rest of your life.
Continue reading Episode 1109: The Last Straw
“There’s a skeleton in every closet — and there are lots of closets, baby!”
Here’s what we know about Claude North: he drinks milk. Or, actually, now that I think of it, we don’t know that he drinks milk; we only know that when we saw the secret room in the mausoleum where he appears to be staying, there was a half-finished bottle of fresh milk on the table. But if he actually liked to drink milk, then he would have drunk it, right? And there it is. So maybe we could say that he’s lactose-tolerant, but only socially.
Continue reading Episode 1048: Claw North
“If you want to destroy someone, destroy me!”
So bat-bitten bad boy Barnabas Collins is upstairs dying, although it seems like more of an aerobic experience than you’d expect.
He’s standing at his bedroom door, calling for Josette. She’s already standing right next to him, so it’s not clear what else she can do to help. Apparently, this is what the show is like now, just sweating and yelling and chaos.
Continue reading Episode 408: A Compromising Physician
“Don’t start imagining a lot of things just because someone we barely know is acting peculiar.”
All week, I’ve been talking about Sam Hall, the new writer who just joined the show. He wrote the last three episodes, and now he passes the baton back to Ron Sproat, who tends to be lackluster and frustrating. And today, just to prove the point, Sproat turns in a script that appears to be made mostly of reconstituted episode parts. Damn it, Sproat! Get it together.
Continue reading Episode 360: Crazy Lady on the Loose
“The thought of what he might be frightens me as much as it did you.”
Well, there are books here, that’s something that I know. There are books on shelves, and they’re dusty, so this is probably an interior set. That’s a place to start.
The walls are made of stone, with big stone columns, and there are plaques on the wall that look like gravestones. Lots of cobwebs, naturally. Very dark, very shadowy.
There’s an old man with glasses who’s carrying a book. He shuffles over to the wall with the gravestones, peers at them, and then looks at all of the other walls, as if he suspects they might be up to something. Then he shuffles over to the bookshelves, and puts down the book that he’s holding.
I’m trying to describe this scene for you in as much detail as I can, because we’re currently one minute into this episode, and I have absolutely no idea what we’re looking at.
Continue reading Episode 337: Time to Kill
“When I came into your room that night to kill you, I should have gone through with it.”
Today’s episode opens with Dr. Julia Hoffman walking into the Old House to find Barnabas getting ready to leave. Technically, she’s supposed to be coming over to continue her experiments; she believes that she can cure Barnabas of being a vampire. This usually involves injections, seasoned with dialogue about the structure of his blood cells.
But we’ve seen that situation so many times lately that they apparently don’t even need to mention the experiment anymore. Julia just walks in, and asks Barnabas what he’s up to. He calls her “doctor” a few times, but otherwise there’s no mention of the cure, or any other reason that she might be strolling in this evening. It’s actually surprising that she even bothers to knock on the door. Things have become noticeably casual at the Old House.
The main topic of the week is whether young David knows Barnabas’ secret, and what Barnabas is going to do about it. Julia urges him not to do anything rash, and he tells her to mind her own business. You’d think that watching people talk about murdering a child would be inherently interesting. Apparently, that is not always the case.
Continue reading Episode 317: The X-Files
“The only possible explanation for David’s disappearance is that he vanished.”
It’s now going on five days since David got locked in a box, and doesn’t it feel like forever? This is something that people miss if they don’t watch one episode every day, the way that the original audience did. And by “people”, obviously, I mean everybody in the world except me.
After all, you’re free to skip around and watch any episode you want. And here I am, committed to this one-episode-a-day format, trapped with David in a secret room of my own making.
Continue reading Episode 315: Between Sentiment and Survival
“He heard the pearl-shaped voice of a ghost saying Boo.”
The storyline this week is that young David’s trapped in the secret room in the mausoleum, and he can’t figure out how to open the hidden door from the inside. It’s a fairly suspense-free scenario, because he’s friends with a ghost who knows that he’s in there.
So it doesn’t take a genius to predict that Sarah will show up to rescue him, at some point between now and the day he starves to death. For the sake of convenience, let’s call that point “Friday.”
And yet, here we are, smack in the middle of Wednesday, with no end in sight. On the plus side, we get to spend some time with Joe this week, so that’s something.
Continue reading Episode 313: Old Friends