“You’ve had too many victims! It’s over for you!”
Morgan Collins, the self-proclaimed god-emperor of the great estate at Collinwood, has learned that his emotionally explosive wife, who he had always feared was cheating on him with his cousin, was actually cheating on him with his cousin, to the extent that she is currently pregnant with her lover’s child.
Driven mad by this betrayal, in addition to the general background madness of being a Collins in the first place, Morgan has locked up Barnabas and Angelique in the cursed room that plagues this parallel hell. Everyone who spends a night in that room either dies or goes insane, at the pleasure of an angry ancestor who’s determined to spoil everyone’s fun. So far, the trapped lovers have been alternately possessed and throttled, but the evil wizard running the no-escape room hasn’t gone in for the kill.
As dawn approaches, Morgan strides down the hall towards the sealed portal, with a six-shooter in his hand. When he opens the door, if he finds that the couple has managed to survive the night, then he’s just going to shoot them, and take his revenge the old-fashioned way.
So I’ve got some hard news for Morgan this morning: opening that door is not going to benefit you in any way. Letting Barnabas out of a box is what got us into this mess in the first place.
Continue reading Episode 1245: Sunset at Collinwood
“You think I’m there? Well, I’m not. I’m here!”
Civil war has broken out in Collinwood, an unincorporated nation-state with its own history, founding myths, and independent system of justice. The reigning Collins family is consumed in internal struggle over trivial domestic matters, distracting them from the escalating crisis at the border. An authoritarian strongman, exiled from the well-lit areas of the house back in the seventeenth century, has declared total war on the family for no particular advantage to himself, and the inhabitants do not appear to have the basic survival instincts necessary to really get their minds around the problem.
The family’s basic strategic disadvantage is that they don’t like each other, and on the whole, they can’t stand to be in the same room for more than a couple of minutes before they long to go and be by themselves for a while. Given the current threat level, they should be building fortifications, running drills and sticking little pins in a map showing the location of enemy forces. This does not seem to have occurred to them.
This leaves them at the mercy of dissident elements, namely fifth-columnist Gabriel Collins, who is engaging in guerilla warfare. He’s running around the inside of the house, using secret panels and Jefferies tubes to access remote areas, and when he finds someone alone in a room, he suddenly pops out of a tunnel and attacks. When reinforcements arrive, he ducks back through the doorway, secure in the certain knowledge that the arriving parties would rather stand around and ask if people are okay than give chase.
Soap opera characters are not equipped for quick response time after a significant event; all they want to do is recap and discuss their emotions. Then there’s a commercial break, and they move on to other interests.
Continue reading Episode 1237: Chekhov’s Sword
“Sleeping is not one of the safest things you can do in this house.”
When you think about it, isn’t there a fine line between passion and obsession? Isn’t true love a kind of madness, in which nothing else really matters beyond your shared feelings?
“Morgan went into that room to save me!” Catherine cries. “That’s why I must stay here and help him, even if it takes the rest of my life!”
Bramwell glowers at her. “You’re remarkably generous with the rest of your life, considering it belongs to me!”
She turns away, her mind a whirl.
“Every minute you live is mine,” Bramwell urges, “just as every breath I take is yours! There is no Morgan. There never was! Other people are only shadows that we use to hurt each other with, to frighten each other with! That’s true, isn’t it?”
“Morgan did it for me!” Catherine cries. “He went into that room for me!”
“You and I are the only real ones,” he insists. “You and I!”
So the answer is no, there isn’t a fine line between passion and obsession, true love is not a kind of madness, and these people are psychopaths.
Continue reading Episode 1229: Catherine the Not-So-Great
“Are you aware that you’re looking in the direction of the Old House?”
You know, I hate to be that guy, but if you can’t even do a duel properly, then I don’t know why you’re on television.
I mean, I remember the days when a Dark Shadows character could walk ten paces, turn and choose not to fire because they were being noble and heroic, and in return they would be shot in the face and die, like a man. And then they would come back as a revenant with an eyeball hanging out of their face and a different voice and they would say I WANT IN DEATH WHAT YOU WOULD NOT GIVE ME IN LIFE and people would be afraid of them and run away, and it would be crazy-looking and fun to watch. That’s what I expect out of a duel, some spectacle and excitement, and most importantly, an actual plot point that facilitates story progression.
But this? Bramwell stands there and lets Morgan shoot him in, I don’t know, the shoulder or something, and now he’s just saying sullen Bramwell stuff while he’s horizontal instead of vertical.
This is not romantic and noble. It’s not even story progression. This is just lying down and moping.
Continue reading Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House
“Without even planning it, I’ve committed the perfect crime.”
And then, I suppose, Gabriel and Edith’s children come home from boarding school to find an empty house. Their parents are dead, their grandfather is dead, Aunt Samantha is dead, Uncle Quentin has run off to Boston with the governess, and Uncle Desmond has run off to New York with a music hall performer. Nobody’s buried Samantha or their mother, or this strange Valerie Collins who they’ve never even heard of, because the funeral director has mysteriously disappeared, and the police are busting open brick alcoves all over Collinsport, just in case he’s behind one of them.
Aunt Flora is the only one left on the estate, and she’s gone mad, apparently; she can hardly answer a single question about the last four months without babbling about ghosts and vampires and mysterious decapitations. Uncle Quentin was tried for witchcraft, she says, but he was spared at the last moment by a witch, who accused somebody else of witchcraft, and then Uncle Desmond shot somebody, and somehow nobody went to prison.
Now they have to arrange for Aunt Flora’s stay at Rushmore Sanitarium, and sell Rose Cottage to young Mr. McGruder, and clear out the empty coffin in the basement of the Old House that their mysterious cousins from Philadelphia apparently left behind, before they too vanished without a word of explanation.
And then they’re alone, this unknown handful of necessary descendants, to repopulate the mansion and try to survive. Is it any wonder, on that terrible night, that they called upon the dark creatures of nature to bring their dead mother back from the grave?
Continue reading Episode 1198: Goodbye to All That
“How can we know with any certainty whom this head possesses?”
So that was it! Oh, you clever boys; the Dark Shadows team has done it again. That’s why the horoscope was unfinished. Now we understand why Gerard needed to bring Tad and Carrie back to life, and the significance of the dollhouse and the carousel, and why Gerard showed up at the picnic, and where all those dead pirates came from.
It was all about the playroom, after all, just like we knew it would be. I bet anyone who thought that the Dark Shadows writers were just making things up as they went along must be feeling pretty silly, right about now.
Continue reading Episode 1197: The Night I Sang My Song
“There’s only one flaw in your logic: it makes too much sense.”
You know how sometimes you get tired of arguing with somebody about whether they’re a ghost, so you shoot them in the stomach just to get them to shut up, but it turns out they really are a ghost so your bullet goes right through them, and then they’re still pretending that you’re crazy and they’re not a ghost? It’s like the worst case scenario for winning an argument.
Continue reading Episode 1193: Already Dead
“Free for an instant. Not free enough to run… Not free enough to forget.”
It’s not fair of me, I know. I’ve been cranky lately about the show’s slow pace, with an endless witch trial and a long series of pointless dream sequences, but this week, the show is making an effort to entertain again.
It’s Thursday today, and so far, we’ve had a death sentence, a murder, the discovery of an alternate dimension filled with Brontë characters, a cast member clubbed with a candlestick, and a kidnapping, and today we’ll get a jailbreak, a shooting and an invisible knife attack. I suppose this is technically what I asked for, and yet I’m still not happy. That will teach me to be more specific.
Continue reading Episode 1189: Action in the Afternoon
“We cannot love at will, any more than we could prevent our love.”
Oh, it was such a good idea at the time.
When Dark Shadows went to 1795, the show discovered that they could shake up the soap by traveling back into the past, using the existing cast but dressing them up in old-time costumes, and giving them new names and storylines. It was a spectacular way to move forward, interrupting a story that didn’t have anywhere to go, and breathing new life into the premise. While they were in the past, they figured out that you could have more than one monster on the show at the same time, and once they came back to the present, they started piling them up in heaps.
Problem is, they’re now doing time travel for the fourth time, and it turns out giving everybody a new character name every six months doesn’t automatically refresh the show; you also need to think up some new storylines. In fact, traveling to another time means that it’s possible to rehash the same plot points with a freshly neuralyzed set of family members, and there’s nobody around to say, wait a minute, this already happened, fifty-seven years from now.
Well, live and learn, I suppose, although on this show, it’s more like live and die and come back to life and then learn the same stuff over again.
Continue reading Episode 1169: This Wonderful Little Gathering
“What gods are against us, what gods?”
So! This is where your evil has lured you!
Continue reading Episode 1156: The Framing