“I’m caught in something — a web!”
So Dark Shadows is pivoting, is the point, away from a weird story that nobody likes, and off into the uncharted territory of an even weirder story that nobody expects. And when Dark Shadows pivots, god damn, they pivot hard. Today, Fortune’s wheel takes a hairpin turn, directly into traffic.
There’s action and adventure today, up to and including frantic phone calls, rickety bridges, slammed doors, abrupt edits and giant fuck-off spiders, and if we’re not careful, we might lose a couple cast members before we’re done. And it’s only Wednesday, too. Nothing happens on Wednesdays, everybody knows that, but giant spiders don’t punch a timeclock. That is a thing you need to understand about giant spiders.
Continue reading Episode 933: King Kong vs Godzilla
“We became friends in the past. Please, let us be friends now.”
Mrs. Rumson arrives at her palatial beach mansion on Little Windward Island, and greets her husband of six months, the handsome publishing magnate. She’s found peace at last, after so many years of struggles and schemes. She’s going to go straight, she said, and everyone laughed. But she’s on the level, this time. The dead past will bury its dead.
But nothing ever stays dead, not on this show. At least, not with Dr. Julia Hoffman around.
Continue reading Episode 924: Pretty Woman
“I feel like if we open it, our lives are going to change.”
The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.
So there they are, Pandora and her husband Phil, staring at a puzzle box that will wipe the earth clean, just licking their lips and desperate to get their hands on it. She’s wearing a necklace decorated with the sign of the Naga — a four-headed serpent, a creature without a soul, and the very latest Thing in fashion.
Now they’re at the Old House, these reckless antiquers, and they’re delighted to find a Naga-branded mystery box that would complete their stockpile of hazardous material.
“Is there anything inside?” she asks, and the owner admits, “To tell you the truth, I’ve never looked inside. Is that strange to you?”
“Well,” she grins, “we’re very curious people.” Yeah, you can say that again.
Continue reading Episode 891: Curious People
“I just can’t remember all the reasons why we should get rid of the vampire.”
Well, here we go again. Vampire fugitive Barnabas Collins — on the run, and spending his days sleeping in a cave, apparently — pirouettes into his secret headquarters at the old rectory, and tells his friend Julia — who has recently channeled the zeitgeist in order to travel back in time and help him — that they have to change their plans to defeat the mad old wizard who’s threatening the future of the Collins family, and all of the people that he loves. Why? Because he just ran into somebody who reminds him of Josette. That’s why.
It’s maddening, and just imagine how Julia feels. She came all the way here from the 20th century for this. Barnabas is the one who convinced her that they need to stay in this time so they can counter the wicked Count Petofi, and now, quelle surprise, he’s going off-script.
He was just out rambling around in the woods, like he shouldn’t be, when all of a sudden who should come along but Lady Hampshire, a brand-new character who’s played by the same actress that played his long-lost love a couple years ago, and therefore she is the actual reincarnation of Josette, according to rules that only seem to apply to this specific instance. And you know how Barnabas gets, when he thinks he’s found a reincarnation. This is his third consecutive swing at that particular plot-point piñata, and it’ll probably end the same way, with gunfire.
You know, I’m starting to see Count Petofi’s point. Barnabas Collins must die.
Continue reading Episode 845: Barnabas Collins Must Die
“Does he even know you are not, shall we say, an ordinary being?”
So once again the bat/man arrives on the scene, for a last-minute rescue. The supervillain has kidnapped Barnabas’ time-tossed best friend, and locked her away in a secret chamber hidden in the old mill. She’s bound to a chair with her mouth gagged, looking straight down the barrel of a revolver. There’s a string tied between the doorknob and the gun’s trigger, so that whoever opens the door becomes Julia’s executioner.
And how does Barnabas save his friend from this diabolical trap? Well, he doesn’t, obviously. He just opens the door, and the gun fires, and Julia dies. Duh. This is Barnabas Collins. He fails at everything.
Continue reading Episode 842: Graduation Day
“It’s all right. You’re here with us, in the past.”
Good news, everyone! Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has pulled off another daring rescue mission, reaching all the way back into the late 19th century, to prevent angry ancestor Quentin from turning into a broken telephone. This heroic customer service call lasted six months, with time out to pick fights with grandmothers and fire demons and lawyers and crazy ex-girlfriends. Naturally, it all came down to a miraculous last-second save, which Barnabas had nothing to do with and doesn’t even know about yet.
Quentin has passed through the ill-fated tenth of September and come out the other side, releasing the Collins family of 1969 from his terrible vengeance. Today is the first day of the rest of his life, which means we can all go home and celebrate by moving back into Collinwood, and finding a new monster to tangle with.
Except we’re not going to, because the 1897 storyline is so much fun that we’re going to stick around for weeks. So now we have to face the question that always haunts long-running serialized narrative, namely: What happens to a story, when the story is over?
Continue reading Episode 839: The Gods Laugh Sometimes
“Your involvement with this man-beast has placed you completely at my mercy!”
So let’s say you walk into a guy’s bedroom, and you find your brother-in-law manacled to the wall, while his gypsy girlfriend is pointing a gun at him, which is loaded with silver bullets. The gun is loaded, I mean, not the girlfriend or the brother-in-law. Well, they probably are too.
Naturally, you’re going to jump to several conclusions, all of them entirely justified, but the question is: What are you going to do about it? Saying “Pardon me” and quietly leaving the room is not really an option. This is a situation that requires a response.
Basically, you can either a) make for the exit and try to put as much distance as you can between you and whatever the hell is going on right now, or b) grab the gun, tell the gypsy to beat it, accuse your brother-in-law of being a werewolf, pistol-whip him into submission, drag him down several flights of stairs by the collar, throw him into the jail cell which is built into the basement of your house for no earthly reason, lock him up, and then summon the police to your little homemade slice of Abu Ghraib, so they can congratulate you on your heroism and community spirit. Those are the only two possibilities. P.S. The smart money is on option a.
Continue reading Episode 831: Crash of the Kaiju
“We borrowed a good citizen’s hand. His spirit is understandably restless and disturbed.”
I know, I’ve been hammering on this forever, but including a major subplot about gypsies in a television show based in Maine is a source of constant amusement to me, and I refuse to grow up and get over it.
Several months ago, free spirit Magda Rakosi liberated a rare and valuable magical talisman from her tribe, and the gypsies have had enough. I don’t think she’s been doing her weekly three hours of mandatory tambourine-shaking, either. The gypsy community is a lot more law-and-order than people think.
Now, Johnny Romana — King of the Gypsies! — has swung by in person, to take the suspect into custody. Magda asks what’s going to happen, and King Johnny announces, “We’re going to go — back to Boston!” Magda looks terrified, but I bet she’s also wondering if they could swing by Filene’s Basement on the way to the tribunal.
Continue reading Episode 821: The Big Switch
“If he dies, the whole future of the Collins family will not be existing!”
Well, it’s another August afternoon, and everybody on Dark Shadows is down in the basement, wasting a perfectly nice day. I can remember a time on this show when people would take a walk in the woods on sunny days, and have genial chats with little girls who they didn’t realize were ghosts. It was awful; I hated those walks. Turns out all the cool stuff was happening in the basement. Take that, mothers of America!
Continue reading Episode 817: A Night in Casablanca
“Can’t you tell what I’m doing? I’m choking you.”
Quentin lights three black candles, and we get the spooky summoning ritual music. “Oh, hidden spirit,” he chants to nobody in particular, “climb out of the pits of Hell, if that is where you be!”
He’s trying to reach Angelique, the sorcerous soap vixen, because sometimes things really are that bad.
“Hidden spirit… Make your presence known to me!”
His face was shredded by a legendary artifact called the Hand of Count Petofi, and just when he hoped to use the Hand again to cure himself, an intruder showed up and snatched it away.
“You are needed! NOW!”
But it’s no use, Angelique doesn’t show up. Last time he tried to call on her, she flew out of the fireplace on demand, but this ritual is a bust. That’s how bad things are for Quentin right now; his most desperate prayers go unanswered.
Magda tells him that they might as well give up, and run away. She rushes to the door, opens it — and finds Angelique, who’s just standing there on the porch. She didn’t hear Quentin’s summoning ritual or anything; she just happened to be coming by anyway. Angelique is a baller.
Continue reading Episode 793: The Puppeteer