Tag Archives: doors

Episode 1222: The Room Where It Happens

“You ever notice how time moves so slow, just when you want it to go so fast?”

Yesterday, Catherine Collins drew the fatal slip in the family lottery, which means that she needs to go and spend a night on the other side of an extremely angry door, where something terrible will happen unto her that will either kill her or drive her senseless. It’s all part of some ridiculous centuries-old curse that’s slowly grinding the family into powder, and we’re riding shotgun so I guess we’re part of it too.

Catherine’s devoted husband Morgan tried to convince her that he should go in her place, her sister Daphne pleaded with her not to participate, and her ex-boyfriend Bramwell urged her to run away with him, but Catherine was determined to show them all that there’s nothing to fear in the cursed room, it’s just a metaphor for something, and maybe if we went outside and got some exercise instead of huddling in our dark mansion and subsisting entirely on brandy and hot coffee we’d all feel a lot better. I forget what chapter of Wuthering Heights this is supposed to be; I lost track a while ago.

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Episode 1203: Frocks and Violence

“I think the only thing wrong with the Collinses is a hundred and sixty years of accumulated fear!”

Well, that spooky door is still at it, I suppose. I took a couple episodes off from writing about the 1841 Parallel Collinses, and I thought maybe they would have gotten hold of the situation by now, but no, they’re in just as much of a mess as they were in on Friday, maybe more so.

You see, there’s a really angry door in this version of Collinwood, an evil parallel door that has made different choices, and everyone in the family is afraid of getting on its bad side. You can’t let the architecture get ahead of you like this; at a certain point you have to tell the doors who’s in charge. You can’t live your life trying to make your doors happy; after a while, the walls start getting jealous, and then you’ve got real problems.

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Episode 1199: The Wuthering

“Sometimes I regret all these things we’ve had to do because of that room.”

Yesterday, Dark Shadows as we know it came to a close, as eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins and his boon companions Julia Hoffman and T. Eliot Stokes completed their journey to there and back again, returning home in debatable triumph. They’d traveled to the year 1840 with the goal of changing history, hopefully in a localized area and not one of those Nazis won the war type deals. All they wanted to do is stop Gerard and the unhallowed dead from tromping through Collinwood in 1970, leaving the house in ruins and killing a whole bunch of people that they liked.

Whether it actually worked or not is very much up for debate, because they never really had a clear idea of exactly what they were trying to stop. When they pulled this kind of maneuver the first time, in the 1897 storyline, Julia was told the chain of events that specifically needed averting, so it was child’s play to consult the chronometer and find out whether they’d done it or not. In 1840, they didn’t have a map, so the reckless wreakers of time crime just went around stomping on butterflies and hoping for the best.

Well, somebody must have done something clever while they were gone, because they climbed the magic stairs back to a world where everyone is alive, including them. Apparently, someone’s been living at Collinwood for the last four months in their place, doing things that the travelers don’t remember doing, which is yet another surprising choice on the part of the Dark Shadows writers. It would have been easy to have Elizabeth asking where they’d gone, we’ve been so worried, and so on, but Dark Shadows took the road less traveled, as they so often do, and personally I’m grateful to have one last impossible mystery to remember them by.

That’s the end of the show, really, with Barnabas, Julia and Stokes merrily skipping off to the historical center, where they’ll learn how the Nazis won the war. But everyone who watches Dark Shadows knows that just because you die, it doesn’t mean you have to lie down and stop bothering people. Death is just a change of address, and Dark Shadows still has one last story to tell. So off we go, into the unknown.

Continue reading Episode 1199: The Wuthering

Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream

“Then we shall simply have to change the course of history, and find him.”

Let’s face it: 1840 has been letting us down on the visual spectacle. There used to be a monster in this storyline, split into two parts: the Head glowering in a glass case, and the Body roaming the woods like a murderous pantomime horse. There used to be vampires, feeding on the blood of the innocent. There used to be a guy in a wheelchair, which isn’t a monster but at least it’s something to look at. Now the only monster is a smooth-talking warlock, who rigs court cases, and casts spells that make governesses fall asleep.

These days, the show is dominated by people wearing old-fashioned clothes, gossiping with each other about who’s responsible for what. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a zombie, or a skeleton, or even a severed hand flying around the room. Think back: isn’t everything better when there’s a mischievous, floating severed hand?

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Episode 1165: In the Haze of History

“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.

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Episode 1133: Low Clearance

“But actually, I did not come here to discuss the dead.”

It’s another one of those mysterious messages that Quentin’s been finding lately, scattered around his mansion. They’re cryptic little postcards from beyond the veil, signed by an old, extinguished flame, and they’re starting to get to him. They say things like “Joanna is dead and you are responsible,” which is upsetting, and they have these impenetrable adamantium wax seals that can only be opened by experts.

This time, the wax seal is even more troublesome than usual, and he’s really struggling with it. Quentin’s been opening his own mail for years now, it shouldn’t be this big of a deal, but the paper is determined to resist his advances. It must be some kind of trick judo paper that uses the attacker’s strength against him; the seconds are ticking by, and he’s still wrestling with it. He lunges at the seal one last time, and still it eludes him, and that’s when David Selby mutters “Oh, shit,” on network television.

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Episode 1086: A Sense of Something

“I don’t want to encourage them, and their ridiculous prophecies.”

There’s a mystery door in the west wing of Collinwood, as I’m sure there is in many of our homes, and when you open it, you either get a linen closet, or a malevolent playroom that eats children. This is an inconvenient way to run a corridor, especially if you just want to put the towels away.

But today, instead of the two usual options, David and Hallie discover a third — a magical stairway into time, operated by ancestors. The ghosts of Tad and Carrie are standing at the top of the phantom staircase, urging their descendants to — well, I’ll let them explain.

“Come! Please, come!” they say. “Hurry! Hurry! Don’t keep us waiting, please!”

“Follow us! Come! Please, come!” they continue, further refining their message. “Hurry! Follow us! Please, don’t keep us waiting!”

“Hurry! Hurry!” they recapitulate, hearkening back to a previous motif. “Please, come! Come! Come with us, please!” This must be what an elevator pitch used to be like, back before there were elevators, and you had to do it on the stairs.

This sequence is a lot like being on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and getting your car stuck right at the end, when the ghost lady says, “Hurry baa-ack, hurry ba-aaack! Be sure to bring your death certificate” over and over while you just sit there and watch, except that the Dark Shadows version is actually trying to kill me.

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Episode 1084: 100 Things That I Would Like David and Hallie to See When They Open the Playroom Door, in No Particular Order

“If he himself can transcend time mentally, he should be willing to accept the fact that it can be transcended physically.”

To be honest, there’s not a huge hell of a lot happening on the show right now. Two kids are inching their way towards being supernaturally swapped for two other kids, one of the romantic leads is being catfished by a ghost, and there are two independent story threads about a main character hoping that a secondary character will turn out to be a dead person that they used to know. None of these storylines are particularly compelling, and they don’t cross over with each other at all. It feels like the writers have gotten into a rut, and decided to stay there.

Usually, the thing that extricates us from this kind of morass is the show’s insistence on having an exciting cliffhanger at the end of every episode, but even that has failed us. This week, there are four episodes in a row that end in exactly the same way — David and Hallie open the playroom door, and then gape in open-mouthed astonishment at whatever they see.

In episode 1082, they open the door and see a dollhouse, with little dolls inside that they recognize from their shared dream. In episode 1083, they open the door and see that the dolls that they burned in the fireplace are back in the dollhouse. In episode 1084, they open the door and see Tad and Carrie, reading from David’s notebook. And in episode 1085, they open the door and see Tad and Carrie again, standing on a staircase.

And that doesn’t even count episode 1074, where they open the door and see the linen closet; episode 1075, where they open the door and see the playroom for the first time; and episode 1080, where Hallie opens the door and sees Tad, and then turns around and opens the door and sees David.

It’s possible that they’re going to keep doing this from now until the end of time, and there’s nothing I can do but try to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Here is my list of 100 things I would like David and Hallie to see when they open the playroom door.

Continue reading Episode 1084: 100 Things That I Would Like David and Hallie to See When They Open the Playroom Door, in No Particular Order