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Episode 588: Maggie Evidence

“Sometimes I was frightened of Barnabas, and sometimes I wasn’t.”

So, yeah. It’s been a weird couple weeks on Dark Shadows, and it was already a pretty weird show to begin with. We had some fun vampire time for a while, but that seems to have passed, and now we’re back in detention with the Bride of Frankenstein story.

Adam, our resident Frankenstein, wants Barnabas and Julia to create a female creature for his bride. They’ve got the body assembled, but now they need a woman to provide the life force to get the new girl up on her feet. This part of the process has been exactly as much fun as you’d expect.

The most perplexing thing this week has been this odd little plot cul-de-sac with girl-next-door Maggie Evans. Barnabas decided that Maggie would be the life force, but Willie’s got a crush on her, and he’s determined to protect her. So Willie’s kidnapped Maggie, as you do, and now they’re hiding together in the secret room in the Collins mausoleum.

This has jogged Maggie’s suppressed memories of being abducted and brainwashed by Barnabas last year, back when he was an evil Dracula. He’s cured now, and trying to put those days behind him, but if Maggie remembers what actually happened, then she’ll expose him, and he’ll be destroyed. So they’ve been doing some flashbacks to the 1967 story, showing us what Maggie remembers about her ordeal.

The puzzling thing about this sequence is that it doesn’t seem to be affecting the mad science story in any meaningful way. By the time Adam found out that Barnabas wanted to use Maggie, she was already gone. And it doesn’t even matter, because he wants to use Carolyn for the life force anyway, so it seems like the Maggie thread was just a pointless side trip.

But we’ve got it backwards. The “Maggie in the mausoleum” story isn’t here to support the Adam story. It’s the other way around — they’ve added a litle bend in the Adam story, so that they can do the flashbacks. Maggie’s flashbacks are the whole point of this week.

Continue reading Episode 588: Maggie Evidence

Episode 574: Trade Secrets

“Life force? What does that mean?”

So it’s late 1968, and you’re, let’s say, fourteen. You started watching Dark Shadows on and off in the spring, and during the summer you became completely obsessed with it. You love the characters, you love the crazy stories, and you love that weird, intense connection you have with your friends when you talk about it.

You even know some kids who swear that they actually saw the episode when Barnabas shot Angelique through the heart — and with her dying breath, she turned herself into a bat and bit him on the neck.

But that’s the thing about afternoon TV in 1968 — it only happens once. They’ll run episodes of Bewitched or Gomer Pyle or The Carol Burnett Show a couple of times, but Dark Shadows is a paper-thin phantom that shimmers seductively for half an hour, and then disappears into the void, leaving a stunned audience of teenage thrill-seekers to rub their eyes and grope their way back into the daylight, talking about the wonders they’ve seen, and lording it over the unfortunate few who couldn’t get home in time to witness it for themselves.

You can’t catch Dark Shadows in your hands. It’s like the wind, or like a dream that you try to hold onto when you wake up. It’s like a ghost.

And then one day you get the chance to hold some precious fragments of the Dark Shadows life force, plus a stick of bubble gum.

Continue reading Episode 574: Trade Secrets