“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?
Continue reading Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream
“I know it’s wrong to love the dead.”
This is what we currently know about Daphne Harridge:
She doesn’t speak.
She died 130 years ago.
She’s a governess.
She smells like lilacs.
Her hobby is encouraging living children to wear dead children’s clothes.
And she is partly responsible for killing everyone that Quentin knows.
So you can see why Quentin likes her so much, she’s a real catch. And it’s not like there’s anyone else who would want to date Quentin, except for one hundred percent of the population of the world.
Continue reading Episode 1077: The Scent of Lilacs
“We cannot ignore the fact that that hairpin was your mother’s.”
So, for starters, it’s not a dream. I know what a dream sequence looks like on Dark Shadows, and that isn’t what this is. Carolyn’s eyes are open, and she’s sitting on the couch. This is some kind of wide-awake Chromakey phenomenon that they apparently have in this parallel band of concurrent time when they want somebody to think about something, but they don’t have time to put her to bed.
In this weird green-screen memory mashup, Carolyn sees Angelique lying dead on the floor, after her murder at the infamous seance that Carolyn did not attend. And lying on the floor next to the remains, there’s the head of a hatpin. That’s the whole thing, not a lot to shriek about.
But Carolyn shrieks like she’s being attacked by parallel pig weasels, and Julia comes running.
“I remember it now!” Carolyn cries. “I know who murdered Angelique!” But the dream only told her something that she already knew, and it’s not a very interesting revelation. Also, it wasn’t a dream.
Continue reading Episode 1043: The Heat Death of the Universe
“Not even the jaw of the wolf itself is more devastating than this cane, when it’s in my hands.”
Let’s see if we can figure this out, together. Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins is in a parallel dimension, as you know, and he’s convinced that Maggie’s in terrible danger, which she is. But all he knows is that she’s gone, and that’s not much to go on. She’s probably being held somewhere by someone, but if so, then where, and by who?
Barnabas stamps into the Old House and shouts for Will, his blood slave and parallel landlord. “Will, are you here?” he hollers up the stairs. “I need you!” No answer. He crosses over to the back parlor. Still nothing. Then he approaches the bookcase, flips the hidden switch, and opens up the secret panel.
Question: Why does Barnabas think that Will is hiding behind the bookcase? It doesn’t seem super likely, and I’m not sure why he even wants Will in the first place. Will is a drunk, he hates Barnabas, he doesn’t care about Maggie, and he has no missing persons expertise. What value does he bring to the operation?
Continue reading Episode 1033: Follow the Money
“Do you think that what’s happened in this house has deranged my mind so much that I’ll accept your outrageous lies?”
You are asleep, said the voice in the portentous dream. But you hear me. Follow my voice. Follow… Follow… Follow… Follow… Follow…
To be honest, Maggie was already following just fine after “Follow” #3, but voices in portentous dreams usually have a script they need to stick to; a lot of this is automated.
Come in, Maggie, said the voice, as Maggie approached a door. Come into this room, and learn the secret. So Maggie came in.
The table holds the secret, the voice continued. Underneath, beside the ornament. Push the button. Maggie reached the table and found the button, which opened a small oblong compartment.
There before you lies the secret, said the voice in the portentous dream. If your secret is complete, you may wake up now. If you would like another secret, you may select from the following options. Please listen carefully, as our menu has recently changed.
Continue reading Episode 1024: The End of Love
“But there’s always violence in love!”
Barnabas is trapped in Parallel Time, a fantasyland where everything’s the same as our world, except the stuff that isn’t. To the extent that there’s any logic at all, it’s the logic of dreams. People appear and disappear, taking various forms and shapes. Things that seemed dramatic and important in an earlier stage melt away, replaced by other concerns that are equally difficult to express. The ring. The seance. Someone is humming. Where is that sound coming from? Evil, calling to evil. Didn’t I tell you to take down that painting? The people in that room are different, but the same. Who was standing nearby when she died? We couldn’t explain it, so we burned the body, and nobody saw the fire, because we were quiet. Come, we will burn the book together. What happened to the ring? A skeleton, hanging in the cupboard, extinguished by candlelight. She was in Italy visiting with friends, now she’s in our house, visiting with friends. Does she have a job? What does she do for a living? Shouldn’t one of us be going to work occasionally?
Continue reading Episode 1014: Are You the Quentin
“All our dead have turned into skeletons!”
And so, as teen dream tentacle god Jeb Hawkes swings the scepter and destroys the Leviathan box, the Leviathan altar and the whole goddamn Leviathan storyline, we have to ask ourselves: What have we learned?
Continue reading Episode 966: A Happy Ending
“You killed Paul, you killed the sheriff, and now this!”
But enough with the fancy writing tricks. Who feels like watching Dark Shadows today?
Continue reading Episode 950: Flappy Bat for the Win
“There are two things you’ve got to know. One is that I think he’s slightly mad.”
And we’re back! Yesterday’s Dark Shadows episode was recorded three weeks out of sequence, and slotted into place in order to signal an upcoming storyline course correction. This is a situation that does not occur in nature.
They had this idea, you see, where Barnabas Collins, the main character of this daytime creeps machine, would suddenly swear allegiance to some kind of interplanetary invasion force of shapeless pre-prehistoric essence, which is plotting to replace the human race with a population of quick-growing four-headed snake monsters. Or something. It’s hard to explain, which I guess is the problem.
The kids who hang around outside the studio door after school said that a) they didn’t understand the storyline, and b) they wouldn’t like it even if they did, so the producers said I know what let’s do, let’s make a special episode where we explain that Barnabas doesn’t really want to be doing all the things that he’s been doing lately, and stick it in three weeks early, to signal to the audience that we’re aware that our story doesn’t make any sense, and we’ll change it as soon as we can. And then they went ahead and did it.
What I’m saying is, that’s a really not-normal way to run a television show, especially a high-rated show like Dark Shadows. Yes, the ratings have been slipping a bit since they started the Leviathan story, but that’s coming down from an all-time ratings peak that they hit only two months ago. There’s still a lot of people watching this show.
So what just happened was that the main character of a television show went to sleep, had a dream where the show apologized for the current storyline, and then woke back up and continued on as usual. I can’t think of anything to compare that to. That’s an approach that begins and ends with Dark Shadows.
Continue reading Episode 916: The One of Us