Tag Archives: gold key

Episode 1074: Future So Bright

“Charting the future is not a whim with me.”

Gentleman vampire Barnabas Collins is terribly concerned about the future, and for good reason; he’s been there, and it sucks. He spent a couple weeks trapped in the 90s, where he found his house tore up from the floor up, and he’s desperate to counteract the oncoming calamity.

But we all know that he’s going to fail; the future for Barnabas Collins is not going to be on ABC-TV at four o’clock in the afternoon. Collinwood will fall, and the family will move to a series of temporary shelters in paperback novels and comic strips and audio plays. That future is fast approaching — not today, and not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of his life.

And he might have figured that out, if he’d bothered to learn anything about the world in 1995. He didn’t even crack a newspaper; the name “Bart Simpson” means nothing to him. He spent the entire time running around the house, looking for ghosts.

Dark Shadows has spent the last year and a half turning inward, gradually losing touch with the world outside the great estate. Even the town of Collinsport hardly matters, these days. Barnabas came back to the present with the name “Rose Cottage” on his lips; nobody’s ever heard of it, but I’d bet money it’s going to turn out to be somewhere on the Collinwood grounds. It’s the only place they care about.

But this isn’t the only example of Barnabas Collins flash-forwarding on a mission of purely parochial interest. In November 1971, he shot a whole hundred years into the future, and you’ll never guess what he was looking for. Nope, don’t even try. Whatever it is you’re thinking, it’s dumber than that.

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Episode 963: The Golden Key

“Must you read meanings into everything I say?”

“Why do I feel this sense of doom tonight?” Barnabas Collins asks, in thinks. “Why can’t I shake it off?” I don’t know why he’s asking us; it’s the first we’ve even heard of it.

Barnabas is pacing the living room, following a house call from Dr. Julia Hoffman, his private physician. Julia came over to give him a good, stiff belt of anti-vampire sauce, both shaken and stirred, and injected directly where he needs it the most. This off-label concoction is supposed to unleash a stream of metaphysical scrubbing bubbles on his immortal soul, wiping it clean of sin and sickness. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be working.

Suddenly, he stumbles. “What is happening to me?” he squawks. “Why do I feel this way?” He lunges for a passing armchair.

“No!” he says. “NO!”

And then: “I must have BLOOD! I’ve never felt this NEED for blood so strongly before!”

Now, I’ve seen this entire episode and the ones that follow, and as far as I can tell, there is absolutely no explanation for why Barnabas gets this irresistible craving for the red stuff. Possibly, it’s a reaction to Julia’s injection — there’s a hint that Julia doesn’t realize that Barnabas has been drinking blood lately, so maybe it’s not the right dose or whatever — but there’s not a lot to go on. He just feels the need, that’s all, and once he drains his victim dry, then he’ll settle back down, like it never happened.

That’s because we’re not watching a regular episode of Dark Shadows today. Episode 963 is actually an issue of the Gold Key Dark Shadows comic book, which they decided to air on television this afternoon for reasons that surpass all understanding.

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Episode 952: Something Evil People Are Afraid Of

“Human, yes… except for his hatred! That’s what makes him so dangerous!”

Yesterday, sporadic vampire Barnabas Collins burned down the local antiques store, because his enemies turned him into one of the living dead, and then they didn’t know where the off switch was. This should be a lesson for us all.

But this isn’t the first time that Barnabas has been revamped, and it won’t be the last, not by a long shot. He’s been bouncing back and forth between the living and the dead for a couple of years now, and every treatment is only a reprieve, not a cure. Barnabas may long to be human again, but the audience wants fangs, and we cannot be denied our simple pleasures.

So it’s no surprise that the Gold Key Dark Shadows comic books have gone through the same cycle this year. In February 1970, the same month that flappy bat reclaimed TV Barnabas, comic book Barnabas was suddenly freed from his curse with no explanation, apparently sprung on a technicality. He mentions “the day Angelique’s curse dissolved,” and then he’s human for four issues, or as close to human as Barnabas ever gets.

But a year later — issue #8, February 1971 — the bat came back. “Barnabas Collins… the VAMPIRE!” says the caption. “Caught in a web between the lust for blood and the peace of normal life, Barnabas Collins laments his fate… even as he PREPARES TO STRIKE!”

So this is an opportunity for us to look at Barnabas’ current difficulties from another angle, and since the antiques shop is still smoldering, we might as well see what’s cooking at Gold Key Collinwood.

Continue reading Episode 952: Something Evil People Are Afraid Of

Episode 876: The Curse of the Caffeinated

“How strange to think that such a place could trap one forever!”

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, says Beth, as she slips off the cliff, and into something less comfortable. Running away from her lover, she throws herself off of a mountain and into the sea, which is just like what happened to Josette, except this time it’s Beth and nobody cares.

So Love is dead, as a motivating force behind soap opera storytelling. It had a nice long run, but nothing lasts forever, especially in this town. Beth is dead, and Amanda is gone, and Angelique has vanished, and Kitty is turning into Josette, and Judith has decided to concentrate on vengeance and nothing else. As far as heterosexual love stories go, there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver.

We’re currently stumbling through the dying days of the 1897 storyline, and this week is especially grim. The next five episodes are wall-to-wall villains and henchmen, each one entirely devoted to exterminating all of the others. Count Petofi, Reverend Trask, Charles Tate, Evan Hanley, Tim Shaw, Aristede — it’s the entire 1897 rogues’ gallery, minus the ones that we like.

In fact, tomorrow, one of the villains decides to kill another villain by using a third villain to summon a brand-new fourth villain, who then marches around for the rest of the week strangling literally every single person that he sees.

Dark Shadows is currently taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, with the few scattered survivors driving around in the desert, and challenging each other to Thunderdome cage matches. So, fine, if that’s how they feel about things, we might as well skip the show today, and go read another comic book.

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Episode 720: Halfway

“And there it was… a MYSTERY BODY!”

The story so far: I began writing this blog two Labor Day weekends ago, starting with Barnabas emerging from the mystery box in episode 210. Now it’s Labor Day weekend again, and by some cruel trick of time, my journey into the past has reached the halfway mark.

This is the midpoint between episode 210 and the end of this uncertain and frightening television show, and to mark the occasion, I should probably say something profound and clever about this episode that sums up what these last two years have taught us about vampires and storytelling and character development and natural selection and chromakey and why you should never give a gun to an actor, even an unloaded prop gun, because honestly, they will find a way to hurt themselves.

Unfortunately, it turns out that I don’t have very much to say about today’s episode, except that this is the one where, for one tantalizing moment, it looks like Quentin and Barnabas are about to kiss.

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Episode 529: Missing Adventures

“I must throw them off the track! The secrets which are mine must remain buried within me! Ahhh… darkness!”

“I know this is going to sound incredible,” Maggie says to Joe, “but tonight, I saw a ghost!”

Joe says, “Don’t you think you’re letting your imagination play tricks on you?” because Ron Sproat wrote the script today, and in Sproat’s world, characters never learn anything, or accumulate experiences in any way.

It’s a recap-heavy show today, in a way that they haven’t really done in a while. Maggie and Joe cover the Dream Curse and Angelique’s portrait, and then we go over to Stokes’ place, where we get a lengthy recap of Adam’s entire storyline, in the form of a word association exercise.

So, forget it. If Sproat’s not going to bother writing an actual episode today, then I’m going to go read the first issue of the Dark Shadows comic book.

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