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Episode 1090: Today’s Ten Things That Make No Sense

“It’s a terrible thing to be frightened by something you can’t see!”

#1. So let me get this straight. Gerard is a ghost, and he’s evil, and he’s in charge of young David, who’s being intermittently possessed by another ghost named Tad. Gerard has left a note in an old book that tells a crew of dead pirates to wait for somebody to wave a green flag three times in the window of the tower room of a mansion that Gerard is haunting. David reads the note and decides that Gerard wants him to wave the flag, which will magically raise this circle of criminals and misfits from the dead, to do Gerard’s dark bidding.

Then David goes upstairs to the tower room, and finds that there really is a green flag there which nobody has noticed for the last hundred and thirty years. The boy waves the green flag twice, which causes the dirt on the pirates’ graves to bubble and boil, but before anything interesting happens, David suddenly realizes that Gerard doesn’t want him to wave the flag after all, and the ghost expresses his displeasure by messing around with a theremin for a while.

I don’t know what happens to the flag, maybe it’s supposed to sit up there in the tower room for another hundred and thirty years. Wake me up when we hit 2099, so I have some time to prepare.

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Episode 1088: The Summer of Our Discontent

“Don’t you feel the evil in this room?”

If it seems like the Collinwood halls are filled with more ghosts and fewer people than usual, that’s because three of the stars — Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Nancy Barrett — are out this week on separate press tours for House of Dark Shadows, the feature film which keeps on finding ways to make the show worse.

In the film, Jonathan Frid plays a vampire, Kathryn Leigh Scott plays a girl, and Nancy Barrett plays a girl vampire, so she wins. You see a lot of Carolyn-the-vampire images in the promotional materials, because that’s the traditional early-70s horror movie draw — a pretty girl in a flimsy nightgown, with blood all over her face. This was the period after they invented red paint and before they invented slasher movies, so sometimes the girls had to go and get bloody some other way.

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Episode 1073: Steer the Stars

“It’s different here. I don’t have to imagine things.”

Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is perturbed, and for good reason. Her houseguests vanished into a dimensional fissure they discovered in a closed-off wing of the house, and when they returned, months later, limping and gasping and covered in space dust, they issued dire portents of calamities to come.

The house of Collins will fall, they say, collapsing into each other’s arms and weeping deliriously, and when you ask them for details, they fall to pieces. We don’t know, they say, keening. Nobody would tell us anything. The future is super cliquey.

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Episode 1029: There Is a Spirit Here That Means to Harm Your Wife

“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.

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Episode 1022: Suddenly Shipping

“How could I dream something that actually happened?”

“Maggie, I hate to see you this upset,” Cyrus says, which is a shame, because being upset is pretty much Maggie’s job.

And why shouldn’t she be upset? She’s just had a terrifying dream in which she saw her new husband murdering his first wife, and wives, as a class, are pretty sensitive on the subject of wife-murdering. So she rushed over to Dr. Cyrus Longworth’s place, for a consultation.

Cyrus holds Maggie’s hands tenderly, to reassure her. “I just wish there were more that I could do,” he murmurs.

She smiles. “I wonder if you know how kind you really are,” she observes.

He looks into her eyes. “Don’t hesitate to come back here and visit me, if there’s anything more that I can do.”

“I won’t forget,” she says, and then asks, “Is something wrong?”

“Wrong?” he asks. “Why?”

“The way you keep looking at me.”

“Oh, no!” the doctor stammers, remembering himself. “I’m sorry, that’s just me! Absent-minded Cyrus Longworth, staring at something, without knowing what he’s staring at.”

She chuckles, and says good night.

And he watches her, the dear wife of a dear friend, as she walks upstairs and leaves the house. Then his glance falls on a pair of white gloves, left behind on a table. Grabbing them, he hurries to the door, but she’s already gone.

Cyrus Longworth looks down at the gloves, and then he takes them and rubs them against the side of his face.

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Episode 1009: The Great Train Robbery

“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 hatpin, 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.

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Episode 1002: Ordinary Circumstances

“Why should I drink this? Why should I be frightened?”

Here’s a tricky etiquette problem, if you’re in the mood for one: You’re spending time with friends in a relaxed social setting, and then, when they step out of the room for a moment, you suddenly and without warning transform yourself into a person to whom none of your friends have been properly introduced. Personally, I don’t have a contingency plan for that particular contingency; I figure if it ever happens, I’ll just report it to my commanding officer and wait for instructions.

But here’s Dr. Cyrus Longworth, pseudoscientist and dabbler in the unknown, relaxing after a hectic evening of corpse-related felonies, as his friend Quentin goes upstairs to invite the woman that everyone thinks is Alexis to join them for a drink. As Cyrus paces the floor, he suddenly doubles over in pain, and engages in an unintentional full-body metamorphosis.

What we end up with is John Yaeger, the yin to Cyrus’ yang, a more explicitly evil twin who’s lactose-intolerant in regards to the milk of human kindness. Cyrus has been bringing out his bad side lately by drinking a home-brewed chemical synthesis, but now he’s so hooked on the stuff that Yaeger comes out just because Cyrus is tired of waiting for cocktails.

With his host on the way back to the drawing room, Yaeger considers jumping out the window, but stops. “No,” he thinks, “it must look as if I left under ordinary circumstances!”

Except obviously people turning into monsters is an ordinary circumstance for Collinwood. Several people currently in the house have done this, up to and including both of the people you’re planning to have a drink with. This is what Collinwood is for.

I’m going to include Quentin in that tally of monsters, even though this Quentin isn’t supposed to be the same Quentin afflicted with lycanthropy, because we’re just kidding ourselves if we think these are two separate stories. They’re not. They merge together, along with House of Dark Shadows and the Paperback Library novels and the View-Master reels, and all the other Tales of Hoffman.

This incident proves that the Concurrent Collinwood of Parallel Time is what it always was — a house-shaped hole carved out of time and space that exists in order to facilitate transformations. And now you get to go home, John Yaeger, and figure out what you’re going to do about it.

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Episode 951: Into Darkness

“May that breathing never come from any room again!”

So our main character is dead again, hooray! Dark Shadows can fight its destiny as much as it likes — periodically sending Barnabas to rehab, distracting us with other monsters — but the fact is, this is a vampire show. It always has been, even before the vampire showed up, and it always will be, even after the vampire turns into a guy named Bramwell.

The novels say that Barnabas is a vampire, and so do the comics, the board games, the joke books and ABC’s marketing department. And now, thanks to the only worthwhile thing that the Leviathans ever accomplish, even the vampire show has to admit that their vampire is a vampire.

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Episode 940: Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Give an Ascot

“We’ll have to use trickery, or force!”

“I think it would be appropriate that we seal our agreement with a drink,” says Barnabas, which is the sneaky code that fictional people use for I am about to poison you.

So he goes into the back room of the antiques shop, which has no functional furniture except for a flat surface that’s holding a decanter and two glasses. This is the alcoholic equivalent of the radio on Gilligan’s Island that only has news reports about Gilligan’s island related material.

Barnabas pours out two glasses of whatever liquid that happens to be, and then adds a generous measure of deadly nightshade that he’s carrying around in an inside pocket for just such an occasion.

Stepping back out into the open air, Barnabas hands the poisoned drink to Jeb Hawkes, the negasonic teenage warhead currently threatening everything that he holds dear. Jeb proposes a sinister toast and raises the glass to his lips, and then we go to the opening titles.

When we come back, Jeb gulps down the poison and says mmmm, yummy, and he doesn’t die or get sick or even notice that anything’s amiss, and everyone just forgets about it, because Jeb is the new hotness and shut up.

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Episode 928: Another Day in the Uncanny Valley

“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.

FADE IN:

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.

JULIA (THINKS)

Come on come onnnnnn when do I get to inject him with something

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