Tag Archives: hypnosis

Episode 683: The Very Last Ron Sproat Episode

“I want you to tell me what you know of a tall blonde woman in a long, flowing white dress.”

On February 5th, 1969, ABC aired what is generally considered to be the worst half-hour of network television, the first episode of a sketch comedy show called Turn-On. The show managed to be both offensive and incomprehensible, which is quite a trick, and on at least one station, it was cancelled during the first episode.

The conceit of Turn-On was that it was produced by a computer, which spliced together lots of little shards of not-funny. The show didn’t have any sets; it was just filmed against a stark white background. An odd-looking character would appear and do something strange, and then they’d cut to something else.

Almost all of the jokes were about sex, and sometimes they just flashed the word SEX! on the screen, in various colors. They also flashed captions with jokey references to sex and gay people, including “God Save the Queens,” “Free Oscar Wilde,” “Make Love Not Wine,” and “The Amsterdam Levee Is a Dike.” Sometimes the screen would be divided into four comic-strip panels, and the sketch would be performed in discrete chunks, one in each panel. The ending credits were split up into pieces and aired throughout the show.

WEWS, an ABC affiliate in Cleveland, took the show off the air during the first commercial break, and just didn’t show the rest of the episode. I don’t know what they filled the extra twenty minutes with, but it was better than Turn-On, so it could have been literally anything.

And on the same day — February 5th, 1969 — ABC also aired the last episode of Dark Shadows written by Ron Sproat. ABC was just having a bad day overall.

Continue reading Episode 683: The Very Last Ron Sproat Episode

Episode 632: The Owl, the Raven and the Bat

“You will live, as I live — as one of the damned!”

Fall 1968 is a rough time for the Dark Shadows writers, because they’re stuck with a convoluted storyline that just won’t unconvolute. So they’ve embarked on the Great 1968 Wrap-Up, where they shed all of the characters, actors and plotlines that are surplus to requirements, which is practically all of them.

In this time of turbulent change, we turn to the old traditions for comfort. I mean the really old traditions, like dressing up in animal skins and making blood offerings to Asmodeus.

Continue reading Episode 632: The Owl, the Raven and the Bat

Episode 602: The Neuralyzer

“And in another house, nearer the sea, the emotion is rage.”

I don’t usually take the time to appreciate the voice-overs that open each Dark Shadows episode, but every once in a while, they simply demand attention.

On this cold, clear night, one can hear the sound of the ocean at the great house of Collinwood — a sound which means peace to some, but rage and fury to others.

And in another house, nearer the sea, the emotion is rage — rage because one of the many plans conceived there is in danger of being stopped by a violent death.

I mean. You have to give it up for that. And today, I am filled with love for everything, even the weird voice-over. I’ve been pretty hard on our little cow-town spook show for the last few weeks, but today’s episode is super enjoyable.

In fact, I would say that this is pretty much a perfect episode of Dark Shadows, if by “perfect” I mean that it’s fundamentally flawed in several amusing ways. And I’m a Dark Shadows fan, so obviously that’s what I mean.

Continue reading Episode 602: The Neuralyzer

Episode 587: In Which I Just Can’t Even With This

“I would have thought your thoughts? I find that hard to believe; I can’t even understand you now.”

Barnabas Collins paces around the room, and tries to explain.

“I’ve considered the question of who is to be the life force very carefully,” he says, “and I’ve finally decided on Maggie Evans.”

He pauses for a reaction, but the six-foot-six reanimated Frankenstein who Barnabas is addressing doesn’t even bother to look up. He just sits there, and continues to play solitaire.

Now, I know that new people discover this blog all the time, and every post is probably the first time for someone out there, so near the beginning of every entry, I try to provide some kind of brief previously-on-Dark-Shadows recap so that newcomers have a fighting chance of understanding what the hell is going on.

But, dear newbie, there are days when the kindest service I can render is to direct your attention to the boxes in the sidebar to your immediate right, and suggest that you help yourself to any of the previous three hundred and eighty-one posts instead, because today is the day when I honestly just can’t even with this.

Continue reading Episode 587: In Which I Just Can’t Even With This

Episode 525: The Blair Witch Project

“She believes she fell into the hands of a witch hunter, a fellow who roamed the countryside exorcising witches and hobgoblins.”

His name is Blair — Nicholas Blair — and he’s in Collinsport on His Dark Majesty’s Secret Service, to rescue a comrade who’s fallen into the hands of an enemy combatant.

The fallen agent — code name, Cassandra Collins — has been working undercover at Collinwood, as Roger’s innocent new bride. Her mission was compromised a week ago, when she was tied to a tree and exorcised by the spirit of Reverend Trask, an 18th-century witch hunter.

Nicholas is now staying at Collinwood, posing as Cassandra’s brother, and his mission — if he chooses to accept it — is to locate the tree where the witch was burned, and bring her back.

Continue reading Episode 525: The Blair Witch Project

Episode 524: Dead Man Walking

“What’s impossible is that you can’t remember something that just happened a minute ago.”

Well, that was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? It’s been seven weeks since the last time we saw Jeff Clark, going all the way back to early May, before Adam the patchwork Frankenstein man was even a guy.

Jeff’s been in Portsmouth all this time, apparently, trying to track down information about his past. It didn’t go that well, by which I mean that he came back and now he’s on my television show again.

Continue reading Episode 524: Dead Man Walking

Episode 507: The Spirit of St. George

“According to my calculations, only one more person must have the dream.”

I knew this was going to be hard. When I started this uncertain and frightening journey through Dark Shadows, I knew that the Dream Curse storyline was waiting for me, and it was going to test my endurance more than anything else on the show. But here I am, six weeks into the story, and I just looked at my episode guide, and I’m only halfway through. We’re currently at the beginning of June 1968, and the Dream Curse ends in mid-July.

I know I keep saying “Here’s the problem with the Dream Curse,” but here’s the problem with the Dream Curse: characters just saunter in and out of the storyline, and it doesn’t seem to matter. The allegedly terrifying chain-letter dream sequence moves from one character to another, and once they’ve passed the baton on to the next person, they drop out of the storyline.

Remember when it was a big deal that Mrs. Johnson needed to go to Boston, so she wouldn’t pass the dream on to Jeff? Or was that David? Or Julia. I’m pretty sure it was either Julia or River Song. No, wait, that’s Doctor Who. I’ve got this written down somewhere.

Continue reading Episode 507: The Spirit of St. George