“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
“I summon you in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings!”
Angelique has had enough. She lights a candle.
Prince of Fire, she says, I call upon the flame to summon you. I call up all the dark creatures of nature to summon you here to me.
I summon you in the name of the seven plagues, in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings, to rise out of the darkness of the earth!
I call you forth from the mouth of the dragon, and of the beast, and of the false prophet! I call you forth from the subterranean rivers of blood, from the smoke of torment which rises forever and ever!
In the name of every evil spirit — evil, and obedient only to you — I invoke you! Appear to me NOW!
And then she erupts into a furnace of psychedelic Chromakey flames, screaming and pleading for her life.
This is Wednesday, by the way. This is what we do on Wednesdays now.
Continue reading Episode 628: Horrible Bosses
“The one that she will try to kill will be you. So, you see, your presence is vital.”
So I guess it’s fair to say at this point that the current Bride of Frankenstein storyline is not setting any land speed records for Dark Shadows. It’s been dragging on for weeks, and the Bride is still just a bandaged-up mannequin, lying on the lab table and not even bothering to decompose.
Still, it’s part of Dark Shadows’ nature that even in its darkest and most shadowy hours, they’ll find something to do that justifies our patience.
Today’s episode is weird and disappointing in several ways, but the cliffhanger sets up one of my favorite lunatic plot contrivances. When I am old and gray, and the world has taken everything from me but my basement murder lab and my hypnotic medallion, I will think of today’s cliffhanger, and a flicker of a smile will play across my careworn features.
Continue reading Episode 594: Weak Shoddy Adversary
“I can sentence you to walk the Earth in an agony of loneliness for the rest of time.”
“The Reverend Trask, I presume!” says Nicholas Blair, to the skeleton chained up in the cellar of the Old House. “Where is Cassandra? What have you done with her?”
Nicholas just arrived on Dark Shadows yesterday, and he’s been strutting around like he owns the place, and by “the place”, I mean the planet Earth. It’s not clear what he is, exactly, but he’s introduced himself as the brother of Cassandra, the Collins family’s personal nightmare. She was cast into darkness recently by the spirit of an 18th-century witch hunter, and now her dear brother has come to her rescue.
Nicholas raises his arms, and makes malevolent hand gestures towards the skeleton. “I command you to come back!” he cries. “Back from the grave… Appear before me in this room as you really are! NOW, Reverend!”
So that’s what we know about Nicholas, so far. He’s a dude that threatens skeletons.
Continue reading Episode 523: The Devil You Know