“You may find that out in a frightening fashion.”
As we’re moving through these grim final weeks of Dark Shadows, I’ve been taking the opportunity to catch up on the spinoff media: the books and comics and audio plays and weird fan poetry that people have generated over the decades. Going into this period, I expected that I would like some of the stories and really very much not like others, but I wasn’t sure how that would play out. And now that I’m here, waist-deep in Dark Shadows apocrypha, I’m surprised to say that I’ve been looking forward to the Paperback Library posts.
I mean, Dan Ross’ Dark Shadows gothic novels are not good literature; they’re tepid, repetitive 156-page chill delivery devices with cardboard characters and nonsense plots, and there’s no good pretending that they’re anything else. They treat women as disposable objects — even the heroines, sometimes — and every character spends all of their time gossiping and complaining about everyone else.
And yet here we are, on the brink of Barnabas, Quentin and the Body Snatchers, and I am delighted. How do you account for a thing like that?
Continue reading Episode 1221: The Snatch
“Well, you can think that way if you want. You’ll only be joining an ever-increasing mob!”
So I like the Leviathan story, is apparently what’s happening. Looking back over the last month of blog posts, I’ve devoted a lot of them to things that I like about the storyline.
It’s silly, obviously, and they have no idea what to do with the monster or the conspirators. For once, the writers have a clear idea of where they want to be in four to six weeks, but from day to day they’re stumbling around from one thing to another, and they cover up plot inconsistencies by having the characters say “yes, that was a prophecy, we totally meant to do that for reasons that we would rather not explain at this time.”
But Dark Shadows storylines are always silly and riddled with holes, and there’s a lot to enjoy in these early days of the Leviathans. They’ve brought Liz’s ex-husband Paul back, continuing an important early story thread that we assumed they’d just forgotten about. The resolution of the “Payment Due” mystery last week was clever and thrilling. There’s a tight focus on Barnabas, Julia, Carolyn and Liz — four of the best characters on the show, who didn’t always have a lot to do during late 1968 and early ’69. I don’t believe in Megan and Philip, and I think the story’s use of Quentin is entirely inadequate, but there are lots of things to like, and I’d say on the whole it’s a net positive.
This is somewhat remarkable, because the reputation among Dark Shadows fans is that the Leviathan story is terrible and show-destroying. That may turn out to be true, as we get further into it — but right now, it’s worth pointing out that there’s a lot here to love.
Continue reading Episode 908: Jim Henson’s Gaslight Babies
“I know Collinwood more intimately than anyone else in the family.”
Her name is Rachel Drummond. Her journey is beginning, a journey that she hopes will open the doors of life to her, and link her past with her future. A journey that will bring her to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea, high atop Widows’ Hill, a house called Collinwood — a world she’s never known, with people she’s never met, people who tonight are still only shadows in her mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of her tomorrows.
And, man, talk about linking the past with the future. Here we are three years later, and we’re still doing Jane Eyre.
Continue reading Episode 707: Another Jane
“You know how girls are, they’re always having dizzy spells.”
Carolyn’s heading out for a moonlight stroll over to her mother’s private mausoleum. Elizabeth died three weeks ago, but Carolyn insists on paying regular visits to the crypt, just for old times’ sake.
Before she clocked out, Liz was convinced that she would be buried alive — everyone would think she was dead, but she’d really be lying in a comatose state, trapped in a coffin and unable to call for help. So she built herself a state-of-the-art mausoleum, complete with a push-button at her fingertips that she could press if she suddenly got better.
So Carolyn goes to visit every day, wondering if her mother will ever revive. Maggie tells her that it would be better if she could just accept her mother’s death, but Carolyn says that she still keeps hoping.
Maggie finally blurts out, “It’s not possible for someone to come back from the dead,” except on Dark Shadows, of course, where they never do anything else.
Continue reading Episode 671: The Phone Book of the Dead
“Poor child. If I had any feelings left, I might pity you.”
It’s been a big week on Dark Shadows. On Monday, crotchety patriarch Joshua Collins found his dead son, Barnabas, sleeping in a coffin in the basement of the Old House.
Learning that Barnabas is the vampire maniac who’s been killing people all over town, Joshua vowed to find a way to remove Angelique’s curse. Now he’s keeping Barnabas locked in the tower room at Collinwood, while he tries to track down an occult customer support line.
So, obviously, this is a super exciting development. Collinwood has a tower room!
Continue reading Episode 448: Fight the Tower
“Cousin Barnabas hates me. He sent the bat because he wants me to die.”
So here’s a quick rundown of Barnabas Collins’ known vampire abilities. To start with, we know that he’s very strong, because he smashed through the window of Dr. Woodard’s office and trashed the place, and he can appear in upper story bedrooms without using the stairs. There’s the ever-present threatening dognoise, and he’s also got extra-strength dognoise, which he uses when he really wants to make an impression. He can make people hear a pounding heartbeat, he can make his portrait’s eyes flash, and he may also have some scattered weather-related effects.
And then Friday’s episode added a couple more tricks to his resume. Barnabas needs to discredit young David, who’s telling everyone that his cousin has a coffin in his basement. So now there’s a huge bat flying into David’s room, and acting like it owns the place.
Now, to be precise about this, it’s not clear whether Barnabas turned himself into a bat, or if he has access to some freelance bats who are available to terrorize children on a contract basis.
Continue reading Episode 331: Bat’s Entertainment