“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
“Someone now dead lived in this room.”
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, our feature bout is a winner-takes-all cage match between the savvy psychic, Madame Janet Findley, and the sinister specter, Mr. Quentin Collins (deceased).
Quentin has been quietly haunting the halls of the great house at Collinwood for seventy years, lurking in his sealed-up chamber in the abandoned west wing. Lately he’s been reaching out to the two children of the house, urging them to visit his room, plot against family members, scatter tarot cards around the house, and listen to his hit song, not necessarily in that order.
Earlier this week, under their ancestor’s malign influence, David and Amy tricked Roger into falling down the stairs in the foyer. Concerned, Elizabeth has called in Madame Janet Findley, an exterminator for the already exterminated.
Madame Findley is one of the craziest dames that we’ve seen on Dark Shadows, and that’s getting to be a crowded field. She says surprising things, makes extravagant hand gestures, and goes into a trance at a moment’s notice. I will miss her terribly.
Continue reading Episode 649: The Rise and Fall
“The letter M is very strong in this room.”
Yesterday, following Roger’s suspicious specter-assisted accident on the stairs, his sister Elizabeth found a tarot card on the drinks table in his bedroom. As everyone knows, discovering an unexpected tarot card is a sure sign of supernatural crisis, so she called Professor Stokes, the mad occult expert who is now making house calls at Collinwood on a weekly basis.
The Professor identified the card as the Tower of Destruction — the sign of the downfall of a great house. He agreed that this is extremely significant, and he promised to bring in a colleague who can investigate the unearthly events that have been piling up lately.
So here she is: Madame Janet Findley, the psychic sorceress on call. Apparently, things have gotten so bad at Collinwood that the occult expert is subcontracting with other occult experts.
Madame Findley walks into the drawing room, throws her hands in the air, and if there was ever a moment for somebody to say, is THIS your card? then this is it.
Continue reading Episode 648: Astral Disturbances
“You can be sure that death is no better than life, so don’t look forward to it.”
And then he was gone. He was ashes, he was memory, he was a dream that never came true. More specifically, he left show business and went into real estate.
Continue reading Episode 636: The Missing Link
“Now, the background of the Collins shipping interests is, in many ways, even more fascinating than the family history.”
I’m going to be honest with you, because there are no secrets between us: I don’t have a damn thing to say about today’s episode. It’s all about a secret plot between Barnabas, Julia and Professor Stokes to invite Nicholas over for the most boring dinner party of all time. The first half is basically just describing what’s going to happen in the second half, and then the second half is doing what they said they were going to do in the first half. I can’t even discuss it.
If only there was something unusual happening in October 1968, which would provide some context for the period, shedding light on Dark Shadows’ pop cultural environment. That would give me something to write about. I just wish I could think of something.
Continue reading Episode 605: The Crazy World
“Angelique has no blood brother. But a brother spirit, a brother devil…”
Here’s where we are: Cassandra, the lunatic sorceress from Martinique posing as Roger’s new wife, has been cast into darkness by the spirit of Reverend Trask, an 18th-century witch hunter raised from the dead — or from the Old House cellar, which is more or less the same thing. She hasn’t been seen for a couple days, and Barnabas and Julia have just discovered that her magic portrait has turned white and faded. Ding dong, presumably, the witch is dead.
But things are never that simple, especially on this show. There’s a knock at the door, and a dapper man in a hat introduces himself as Nicholas Blair — Cassandra’s brother.
So the question for today is: Who the Hell is this guy?
Continue reading Episode 522: Brother From Another
“If Cassandra is still alive, why is Trask’s skeleton hanging in the basement of the Old House?”
Barnabas and Julia spent most of yesterday’s episode speculating like mad about whether the spirit of Reverend Trask actually succeeded in banishing Cassandra.
Today — as Elizabeth is quietly packed off to Windcliff, following a sorcery-assisted suicide attempt — the Junior Detective squad still continues to treat this question as an emergency stop-press concern.
“If Cassandra is still alive,” Julia says, “why is Trask’s skeleton hanging in the basement of the Old House?” The great thing about a question like this is that you can keep on asking it for days and days, and never get any closer to an answer. This is a good way to kill time on your television show, if you have one.
Continue reading Episode 521: Look Who’s Talking
“According to my calculations, only one more person must have the dream.”
I knew this was going to be hard. When I started this uncertain and frightening journey through Dark Shadows, I knew that the Dream Curse storyline was waiting for me, and it was going to test my endurance more than anything else on the show. But here I am, six weeks into the story, and I just looked at my episode guide, and I’m only halfway through. We’re currently at the beginning of June 1968, and the Dream Curse ends in mid-July.
I know I keep saying “Here’s the problem with the Dream Curse,” but here’s the problem with the Dream Curse: characters just saunter in and out of the storyline, and it doesn’t seem to matter. The allegedly terrifying chain-letter dream sequence moves from one character to another, and once they’ve passed the baton on to the next person, they drop out of the storyline.
Remember when it was a big deal that Mrs. Johnson needed to go to Boston, so she wouldn’t pass the dream on to Jeff? Or was that David? Or Julia. I’m pretty sure it was either Julia or River Song. No, wait, that’s Doctor Who. I’ve got this written down somewhere.
Continue reading Episode 507: The Spirit of St. George
“The witch will look at your body, and think that you have escaped by death — when, in reality, you will have escaped — by living!”
It’s another stormy night on the Hellmouth, where vampires and witches battle over the fate of mad scientists and their secret experiments.
Tonight, Barnabas has invited a guest over — it’s Professor Stokes, who first appeared two weeks ago, looking to buy the haunted portrait of Angelique. He’s an academic — apparently an expert in a diverse and uncertain discipline — and I’m not entirely sure that he realizes he’s on television. He’s loud, and disruptive, and he plays to the balcony. Not this balcony, naturally; I mean the balcony in the theater next door.
Continue reading Episode 475: Witch Doctor
“I mean, the very idea of people cavorting in and out in time periods would be amusing, if it weren’t so preposterous.”
Sometimes I see a big event on a daytime soap opera — a wedding, or a black-tie charity fundraiser, or a serial killer holding a group of teens hostage in a police station during an earthquake while one of them is having a baby — and I think, it is seriously unbelievable that this is the same genre, the same medium and the same timeslot as Dark Shadows. It’s the budgets — I just can’t get my head around where all that money is coming from.
I understand that the technology has advanced — filming and editing and effects are easier than they used to be. But how can they afford all those people? When modern soaps do those big episodes, they just throw dozens of people at the screen — main cast, recurring players, guest roles, plus all those extras standing around in the background, pretending to dance or eat or tend to the wounded.
Dark Shadows could afford five and a half people a day. That’s it. If you’re lucky, we’ll get a guy to wrap some bandages around his head, and we’ll call him an ancestor. I mean, it’s not like people suddenly got less expensive. There can’t be that many out-of-work waiters willing to appear on a television show while they wait for something to open up at a restaurant.
Continue reading Episode 464: First Wife’s Club