Tag Archives: indicating

Time Travel, part 13: Total Blood Volume

“Less talk, more crowbar!”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A man walks into a crypt, looking for buried treasure. He crowbars his way into a mystery box, and what does he find? A pain in the neck.

Today is Christmas Day 1970, happy holidays by the way, and the show is taking the day off. On pre-emption days, the blog is visited by the Ghost of Dark Shadows Yet to Come, often to our great and lasting regret. During previous pre-emptions, we watched the 1970 movie House of Dark Shadows, the 1971 movie Night of Dark Shadows, and the 12 episodes of the 1991 NBC revival. The short version is that they weren’t very good, because trying to catch lightning in a bottle is difficult, especially when you’ve already used that bottle a couple of times. Lightning’s funny that way.

Today, we’re taking a look at the next chapter of that story: the 2004 pilot for a new prime-time Dark Shadows, prepared for and rejected by the WB, which used to be a television network.

You see, Dan Curtis — Dark Shadows’ creator and executive producer — never gave up on Dark Shadows, except while he was making it, when he definitely did. Having tasted the thrill of unexpected success in 1968 and 1969 as the show’s popularity reached its peak, he decided to make a movie version, using the same cast, crew and writers, while the television show was still on the air. That left the show coasting for months on ABC-TV with the B-squad characters, and when Dan finally came back to the series, all he really wanted to do was make another movie, and that’s why the show came to a gradual, disappointing end.

In 1991, Dan decided to try again, making a 12-part prime-time series for NBC that used a lot of ideas from House of Dark Shadows, and it didn’t work out, for lightning/bottle reasons. And then he just kept on trying to remake the remake for the next 12 years, finally managing to convince the WB to spend five million dollars on a pilot that nobody liked.

I asked you to stop me if you’ve heard this before, but frankly, it’s no use trying. The only way that Dan could stop retelling the story of Dark Shadows was to die, and even then, I bet he’s up in Heaven, pitching Saint Peter on another series. I’m kidding, of course; executive producers don’t go to Heaven.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 13: Total Blood Volume

Episode 1162: The Tribulations

“Counselor, I do not need you to tell me the laws of this state that I am honor-bound to withhold!”

A death, a dream, a Trask yelling witchcraft — yep, just another episode of Dark Shadows.

Today, Trask finds Quentin kneeling over a dead body, just like he did in episode 1156, a little over a week ago. Then Gerard casts a spell that sends Daphne a sexy dream, just like episodes 1146, 1151 and 1158. And Desmond says that the evidence against Quentin is circumstantial, just like he did yesterday and the day before, and for all I know he’s going to say it again tomorrow, and every day for the rest of our lives.

Man, I wish something would happen today that we haven’t seen recently, and I’m sure I will never regret making that wish.

Continue reading Episode 1162: The Tribulations

Episode 896: Help Wanted

“I don’t believe that she’s not worried about Philip, either.”

Things look bleak for the global Leviathan conspiracy. The ancient book of prophecy has been stolen. The child is sick. The boss is spending all his time punishing the Chosen Ones. It’s only been two weeks, and the organization is falling to pieces.

We need a firm hand at the wheel, a steady leader in an unsteady world. We need a thirteen year old.

Continue reading Episode 896: Help Wanted

Episode 871: Give Me Back My Talent

“The time is over when no one would listen to you. The time is over when you were alone.”

“Angelique!” he gasps.

The wicked witch smiles. “Hello, Quentin.”

“How did you escape from Petofi?”

She looks away. “I just did,” she shrugs.

Okay. Well, screw you too, I guess.

Continue reading Episode 871: Give Me Back My Talent

Episode 617: Roger to the Rescue

“I was just having one of my moments of inexplicable hysteria.”

Here’s what the world sounds like before Roger shows up:

“I don’t understand you, Jeff, really I don’t!” says girl governess Victoria Winters, starting off the episode inexplicably petulant.

Jeff flashes a casual grin. “Well, I don’t know what could be plainer. I think we should get married next month, at the latest.”

“You know what I mean,” she frowns, and he doesn’t, and neither do I.

How exactly could you get yourself into this particular conversational logjam? Jeff comes bounding in, all smiles, and she’s just staring daggers at him. Jeff says, Hello, Vicki! So happy to see you. He gives her a kiss. She glowers at him. He says, Guess what I’ve been thinking about. She sighs and frowns. He persists: I think we should get married next month, what do you say?

And that, apparently, is where we came in. I can’t really picture it. It’s possible that I’m over-thinking this.

Continue reading Episode 617: Roger to the Rescue

Episode 611: The Love Object

“Now I understand why I have the urge to kill Adam.”

So here’s the latest: Eve, the Bride of Frankenstein monster who used to be a French psychopath named Danielle Roget, is in love with Jeff Clark, the amnesiac who used to be an 18th-century lawyer named Peter Bradford, and she killed her lover to be with him, only to have him reject her and fall in love with a time traveling governess who’s on trial for witchcraft.

Now, I adore the absurdity of this plot point, but it’s only been around for three episodes so far, and already I’m checking the episode guide to see how often I’m going to have to explain it. The answer, fortunately, is not very often, so I’m not sure why I’m even bringing it up.

Because it’s not exactly one of the great romances of our time, is it? It’s soap opera mate-matching at its most cynical — just taking two random characters and saying, “This one is desperately in love with that one,” even though they have nothing in common and it doesn’t seem like it’s in character.

Continue reading Episode 611: The Love Object

Episode 589: In the Fewest Words Possible

“Did you see his face?”

It’s a Ron Sproat episode today, which means that nothing really happens, and the dialogue is functional rather than decorative. Plus, it’s Thursday, so they’re really just setting up for the Friday cliffhanger.

I have now watched this episode three times, trying my hardest to find something worthwhile to say about it, and it simply can’t be done. The first act is the same thing that happened yesterday, the third act is the same thing that’s going to happen tomorrow, and the second act is an entirely inert substance.

It’s the kind of episode that you can recognize as being an example of the thing that it is, but it’s so ordinary that it ceases to exist as soon as the credits roll. In other words, this is the Jeremy Renner of Dark Shadows episodes.

So you know how some days I manage to scrape together a blog post that’s a beautiful little slice of postmodern lit-crit poetry, with funny observations and random 1960s trivia and it leads up to a stunning insight that makes you look at the show in a new and surprising way? Well, this is going to be the other kind.

Continue reading Episode 589: In the Fewest Words Possible

Episode 484: Chekhov’s Gun

“Julia! Why am I leaving the room, Julia?”

So it’s been a rough ride, this returning to the present day. Deciding to do a lengthy 18th-century time travel story was a leap into the unknown, but once they’d started, they had a general outline to work from. They needed to turn Barnabas into a vampire, get Josette to jump off a cliff, kill pretty much everybody else in the cast, and hang Vicki as a witch. That was a plan that they could execute, if you’ll pardon the expression.

But returning to 1968, the writers face another weird challenge. They’ve decided to pretty much reboot every ongoing storyline that they had — hastily wrapping up, reversing or straight-up ignoring all of the old story threads.

This is a very unusual move for a soap opera. These last five weeks have basically been the equivalent of a season premiere, a narrative structure that even night-time shows weren’t doing in the late 60s. Dark Shadows has changed some core relationships, introduced new characters, and brought back Angelique as this season’s Big Bad. Structurally, this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but thirty years early and from the monsters’ point of view.

Continue reading Episode 484: Chekhov’s Gun

Episode 482: Witches Be Crazy

“I should go to Collinwood, and drag her from the house, and BURN her!”

So, what do you do with a guy who just refuses to understand what kind of story he’s in?

I’m not talking about a Mulder-Scully dynamic, where the tension between belief and skepticism is the whole point of the series. I’m talking about a guy who’s standing smack in the middle of a spook show, and he can’t get his mind around the fact that there’s a witch who’s trying to kill him, even though she’s already openly attacked him using her magic powers. I’m talking about a guy who needs to have the situation explained to him over and over, plus he’s obnoxious and a terrible actor and he shouts all the time.

All right, it’s Lang. I’m talking about Dr. Eric Lang. He’s driving me crazy, and he’s got to be stopped.

Continue reading Episode 482: Witches Be Crazy