“I’ve just been thinking about the things that have been happening around here — not just to me, but to everyone!”
The audience applauds, as Kermit the Frog takes the stage. “Tonight, we’ve got a real treat for you,” he promises, “because our very special guest stars are that world-famous knife-throwing act, Lesley and Warren!”
Then a woman walks onstage to correct him, and the penny drops.
“Wait a minute,” says the frog, “you’re not Lesley and Warren, you’re Lesley Ann Warren — the actor, the dancer, the singer!”
She smiles. “Yes, thank you.”
“So, how come you’re doing a dumb knife-throwing act?”
Lesley shakes her head. “You know, Kermit, I thought you were the one person on this show who wasn’t crazy.”
“Me, not crazy?” asks Kermit. “I hired the others!”
Continue reading Episode 1037: The Things That Have Been Happening
“Cyrus must have been terrified at his own duality.”
“That weapon won’t do you any good,” Barnabas snarls, “so you might as well just put it away.”
And, dude, if John Yaeger had any capacity for that, he wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. Putting things away is not his area of expertise.
Continue reading Episode 1035: Elegy for the Truly Two
“How I wish I could confess to you what you’re implying.”
The scary thing — and this is a show about spooks and monsters, so presumably we’re interested in the subject — the really scary thing, if it’s June 1970 and you’re a thrill-seeking housewife and/or teenager, is that they’ll decide to stay in Parallel Time forever, and this is what the show is like now.
Continue reading Episode 1029: There Is a Spirit Here That Means to Harm Your Wife
“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
“Nothing must disturb the sleep or sully the name of that other Barnabas Collins who died in this time.”
Trapped in a false dimension and freshly liberated from a chained coffin not specifically his own, the strange and brutal Barnabas Collins, fugitive vampire in a world he never made, is onboarding a new employee.
“Please let me go,” Will pleads, “and I won’t tell anyone anything about you.”
Barnabas gives the trainee a lopsided grin. “Go, if you want to go.”
Will concentrates. “I can’t get away!” he grimaces. “You know I can’t.” He stares helplessly into a future he doesn’t care for. “What are you going to do with me?”
It’s a close-up so we can’t know for sure, but the smart money says Barnabas is steepling his fingers. “Surely you’ve learned enough from our conversations recently to realize the position that you’re in.”
“I must do your bidding?” Will gulps.
“Precisely. Your agonizer!”
Will takes a step backwards. “No. Wait!”
Barnabas is firm. “Your agonizer, please!”
Continue reading Episode 1012: Trapped in a World (Not Mine Own)
“I implore you to remember the dead!”
Dark Shadows is currently engaged in a murder mystery storyline with no detectives, suspects, corpses or clues. Every few days, the characters forget that they’re doing a mystery story, and the only person who brings it up is the deceased.
Angelique was killed six months ago, during a seance in the Collinwood drawing room. At the time of death, her husband Quentin had his hands around her throat. A ghost said that she was cheating on him, which he already knew, and he decided to choke her to death, only to discover at the next-to-last moment that she’d already been killed by someone — or something! — else.
The doctor said it was a stroke. Angelique, who isn’t dead, insists it was an invisible hat pin, poked into her brain while her husband was innocently strangling her. It’s likely that the real murderer, if there is one, was one of the people at the seance, except I can’t remember which ones they were, or if any of them had a motive for killing Angelique, other than her husband, who has an airtight alibi. He couldn’t have killed her, you see, because he was standing right there at the time that she died, murdering her.
So I don’t know, maybe we ought to bring in another investigator, like Sherlock Hemlock or Inspector Gadget or somebody. We need a fresh pair of eyes, or at least a fresh pair of eyeglasses. But all we’ve got is another seance.
Continue reading Episode 1009: The Great Train Robbery
“There is a evil here!”
It started with radio, of course, this war of the words, with Painted Dreams and Just Plain Bill and The Romance of Helen Trent. All those listening women needed something to listen to, and radio soaps offered fifteen minutes of pure uncut conversation. But there comes a time when even soap opera characters need to admit that they don’t know what they’re talking about, and pipe the hell down.
Take the parallel Sabrina Stuart, spouting nonsense at one of those pop-up seances which they construct on the fly in high-traffic areas on the Collinwood estate. “She’s dying, she’s dying!” Sabrina cried, pointing at someone who wasn’t dying. “Murder! Murder! MURD-ERRRR!” It wasn’t clear whether she was pro or con. It probably doesn’t matter, one way or the other.
Continue reading Episode 991: Parsing Sabrina
“I know that what he really wanted to do was to see if I was real!”
“With every day,” writes Dr. Jekyll, “and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”
He doesn’t say anything about how many woman is, because it’s 1886 and not really his concern, but in this case, I think it’s safe to round up.
Continue reading Episode 987: Truly Two
“Why? Why alter a human being?”
“Let me begin,” the doctor says, “by saying that man is chemical in his composition.” Oh boy, here we go.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the simpering Dr. Cyrus Longworth: a man, a plan, an apparatus. That’s him back there, behind the equipment, workshopping his defense attorney’s closing arguments.
We’re in another weird basement science dungeon today, one of those makeshift conceptual sets made of equal parts brick, stone and middle school classroom. There are wire cages holding a rabbit and a guinea pig, quietly munching on carrots and wondering why they ever got into show business. The apparatus isn’t bubbling and nobody’s having their head removed yet, but give them time; they’re just getting started.
But I’m interrupting Dr. Longworth, who has a theory to expound that you may find difficult to swallow. Still, people used to believe that the sun was flat.
Continue reading Episode 986: Down in the Science Dungeon
“Am I doing the right thing? Would anyone else free this most evil of all beings?”
The twisted Mr. Sinestra, leader of a secret sect of underground Satan-whisperers, has decided that the de rigeur must-have soul of the season is Barnabas Collins, for no particular reason other than he’s the star of the show.
We’re spending a couple weeks reading the 1971 Dark Shadows comic strip, because it seemed like a good idea at the time, although by now it’s turned into a grim look at the End of All Things, and what lies beyond the portal of April Third. The newspaper strip — which outlasted the parent TV show by forty-nine weeks — is trying to grind the show’s narrative into powder, grabbing handfuls of history and scattering them to the winds. It’s possible that I’m overthinking this.
Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 7: Swipe Left