“People I love haven’t always loved me back.”
Six months ago, in July 1970, the Firesign Theatre released a record called Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, an avant-garde slice of psychedelic, time-traveling radio comedy that was mostly about a ’50s teen movie spoof called High School Madness. In the spoof, young Peorgie and his pal Mudhead investigate the theft of their school, Morse Science High, by their rivals, Communist Martyrs High School. Infiltrating Commie Martyrs, the two buddies find the mural from their school in a storage room, labeled “Mural: Auditorium, right rear. Heroic Struggle of the Little Guys to Finish the Mural.”
Meanwhile, six months later, as we cross the chasm between 1970 and 1971, that is exactly what lies ahead for Dark Shadows: a 13-week heroic struggle to wrap up this wild, untamed soap opera that has broken free of all ties to civilization as we know it. Dark Shadows has never really been about a girl on a train, a mad family and a lovestruck vampire. It’s about some writers, a mad producer, a cast of eccentric New York stage actors, and a lonely boom mic trying to break into show business, working feverishly on a shoestring budget to produce the strangest possible television show, for as long as they can get away with it. In the three months left between January 1st and April 2nd, they are going to finish this mural or die trying, or both.
Continue reading Time Travel, part 14: It Is What It Is
“I suppose I’d better pay a visit on the antique shop which specializes in a succession of strange, disposable little boys.”
Scene One: Grave, Indeed
EXT. PHOTOGRAPH OF COLLINWOOD — DAY
PROFESSOR STOKES (O.S.)
For Maggie Evans, a time of terror at Collinwood has ended, and the source of her torment has been identified as Michael, the boy who lives with Megan and Philip Todd at the antique shop.
INT. ANTIQUE SHOP BEDROOM — DAY
Michael stares directly into the camera, waiting for his cue to begin acting.
PROFESSOR STOKES (CONT’D)
And now Michael faces his own time of terror. For with shocking swiftness, he has fallen ill, and as she examines him, Julia Hoffman knows his illness is grave indeed.
Having received his cue, Michael shuts his eyes and rolls around on the bed. Julia positions a stethoscope somewhere in the vicinity of his heart.
Come on come onnnnnn when do I get to inject him with something
Continue reading Episode 928: Another Day in the Uncanny Valley
“I can’t understand why I have the feeling that something frightening is going to happen.”
It always starts with a box.
You’ve finally figured out what you’re going to do with your life. You’ve got an unstable girlfriend hidden in your house, who’s provisionally agreed not to massacre herself until you get back. You’ve arranged with a friend to destroy the coffins that he was saving up for you. And now you’re going back home, so that you and your girlfriend can use a magical oil painting to travel one hundred years into the future, turn into different people, and live happily ever after. Everything is going according to plan.
And then somebody hands you a mystery box, and the world slips sideways.
Continue reading Episode 887: Whatever Comes Next
“This is a little more grisly than your usual request.”
There was a storm kicking up that night, one of those dry storms you get this time of year that are heavy on sound effects and light on moisture. The boss had a plan, or at least he said he did.
The gypsies were in town, he said. Black-robed, silent, faceless gypsies with curved scimitars and impenetrable cloaks, who could melt into the shadows and then appear over your shoulder, ready to chop something off and keep it as a souvenir. Some kind of unstoppable Persian ninja gypsy with a prop-closet sword, who needs an extra hand in a big hurry.
The boss said he saw them in somebody else’s dream, which figured. It’s just the kind of thing an android vengeance gypsy would do, show up in some hallucination next door just to let you know they’re en route. Everything’s got to be a legend with gypsies; they’re theater people with a bad case of mythology. But the boss had a plan.
Come on, he said. Let’s go out back and see what we can dig up.
Continue reading Episode 820: The Hand Shakedown
“Count Petofi, do you think this is some sort of a carriage ride?”
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a mad god, an assassin and a vampire walk into a basement. The mad god says, “Look into that cupboard, Mr. Collins! What do you see?” And the vampire says, “I see the inside of the cupboard.”
All right, it’s not that funny, but you have to admit you haven’t heard it before. It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re hearing it now.
Continue reading Episode 815: The Time Television
“Maybe nobody took it! Maybe wherever it is — it wants to be there!”
When Aristede reaches the rendezvous point, his supervillain boss is already waiting for him.
“Why are you late, Aristede?” Victor grumbles. “You know that waiting always makes me fretful.”
This is something of an understatement. When Aristede admits that he doesn’t have the magical artifact he was sent for, Victor lashes out, smacking him across the face three times. “You are stupid! And incompetent! And clumsy!”
Aristede cowers, and makes excuses. Quentin was supposed to bring Aristede the Legendary Hand of Count Petofi in exchange for a cure for lycanthropy, but Quentin said that he lost it.
Victor thunders, “And you believed him?”
“Yes!” Aristede squeaks, as his boss pulls him close and glares at him. “Well, there’s no reason for him not to give me the Hand!”
“Yes, there is,” Victor sighs. “He has a brain in his head — something which you, who have nothing behind that lovely face of yours, can not possibly understand.”
So… hold on. Did he just say that Aristede is lovely?
Continue reading Episode 800: Sitting in a Tree
“I know your feeling. Everyone I love must die, too.”
“How dark it is!” says the unresting spirit of Julianka. “I do not like death at all!” She was only killed a few hours ago, so she hasn’t had a lot of time to get used to it, but here she is, already submitting her post-mortem Yelp review. I guess even dead people get impatient sometimes. That’s kind of comforting, in a way.
Continue reading Episode 798: Everyone You Love Must Die
“I regard anyone who tries to choke me as an enemy.”
Okay, the story so far: The Dark Shadows writers have decided that they want to stick around in the 19th century for a while, because the 1897 storyline is fun and popular. Plus, it’s got great characters, not counting the ones that they’ve murdered recently, which is most of them.
So we’re currently four days deep into the 1897 Relaunch week, where they start staffing up again for another few months on this uncertain and frightening journey into the past. So far, we’ve met Aristede, a dangerous, dark-eyed rogue from the Arabian Nights, and we’ve seen the latest reboot of Angelique.
Today, another mysterious stranger strolls into town, and he’s even more mysterious than the last one. We’re going to see a lot of mysterious strangers over the next month or so; it’s like an epidemic or something.
Continue reading Episode 794: Victor and the Wolf
“If I were a ghost, as I assume someday I shall be, I would not let mere words drive me away from my home.”
This morning, occult expert and exorcism consultant Professor Eliot Stokes woke up to the sound of a crow perched on his windowsill, muttering Russian slang words with the voice of a human child. Touching each of the eight protection stones that surround his bed, Stokes got up and went about his usual routine: selecting an amulet, sweeping away the animal bones that appear each night in his fireplace, and reading the news in the swirls of cream in his coffee.
The omens weren’t particularly favorable, although he made a mental note to brush up on his Russian. Apparently, by evenfall, he would do battle with a powerful energy source for the soul of a young person whose name begins with the letter D. The encounter would end in defeat, fire, and the irreparable loss of innocence.
Still, you never know, he mused, adjusting his necktie. You might get lucky.
Continue reading Episode 694: The Surrender
“Don’t get mad at me, Quentin. I just don’t like when you do terrible things.”
INT. COLLINWOOD — NIGHT.
We hear a young boy’s voice, as we pan across the foyer. “Are you sure that’s all you want me to do?” he wheedles. “Are you telling the truth?”
We move through the open drawing room doors to find young David, communing with an impossible shred of hatred and regret which has clawed its way out of the unseen, a forgotten trespasser bespoiling the surface of the earth. It’s just standing there, in the drawing room. It’s the damnedest thing.
Continue reading Episode 685: A Fish Called Ezra