Tag Archives: knife

Episode 1070: Gangsta’s Paradise

“You don’t understand the enormities of your problems!”

It’s not really about the future, of course. If it was, they wouldn’t be doing Turn of the Screw II: The Returning. 

Dark Shadows has a future, of sorts, in reboots and reruns and spinoffs, but right now, they’re running out of energy and ideas. They spent the spring making House of Dark Shadows, a feature film that explicitly rejects the idea that Dark Shadows is a continuing story, and kills off every character that you could possibly be interested in, just to make sure that there won’t be a sequel. (They make a sequel anyway.) Now they’re back to making a daily TV show, and they’re finding it increasingly difficult to imagine a future that runs as far as the next six months.

But for two weeks, at least, they’ve managed to put together a tight, emotionally engaging mini-storyline set in 1995, which focuses on exactly the right characters and manages to turn the familiar sets into an alienating nightmare landscape. Today’s episode is essentially the season finale, with Barnabas directly challenging the Big Bad, and daytime soaps don’t even do season finales. My argument, based on this episode, is that they should.

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Episode 1048: Claw North

“There’s a skeleton in every closet — and there are lots of closets, baby!”

Here’s what we know about Claude North: he drinks milk. Or, actually, now that I think of it, we don’t know that he drinks milk; we only know that when we saw the secret room in the mausoleum where he appears to be staying, there was a half-finished bottle of fresh milk on the table. But if he actually liked to drink milk, then he would have drunk it, right? And there it is. So maybe we could say that he’s lactose-tolerant, but only socially.

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Episode 1039: Barnabas, Julia and the Lady in the Back Parlor

“It never ends, does it, when one begins to unravel evil?”

Angelique’s dad owns a lady that he keeps lying on a table in the back parlor with a sheet over her, and about 95 percent of her life force is being projected, apparently through WiFi, to keep Angelique upright. This is an approach to grief that Kübler-Ross never saw coming.

But Angelique’s dad is some kind of brilliant crackpot voodoo science futurist, like Nikola Tesla running a psychic hotline. It’s all done with injections and candles somehow. I don’t know how he landed on this lady in particular.

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Episode 1034: Mistakes in Justice

“I tried slapping her, and telling her there was no such person as Alvah.”

And so, as Sabrina sinks slowly in the west, we wonder: is there any other version of this story we could pay attention to instead?

I mean, the current storyline on Dark Shadows basically entails Barnabas struggling to save fake Maggie from fake Angelique, as they fight over an imitation Quentin made of straw and food coloring. Sabrina is gone and Julia is on the ascendant, but still, it’s Parallel Time and there’s only so much I can deal with. So how about today we turn to an equally ersatz band of time, and see what’s happening over at the Paperback Library?

Dan “Marilyn” Ross is currently pumping out Dark Shadows novels at the rate of 159 pages a month, and honestly they’re just as canon as anything else, so we ought to keep an eye on them just to make sure they’re not hurting anybody. The current installment as of May 1970 is #17 in the PBL Gothic series: Barnabas, Quentin and the Avenging Ghost, the second book to use the “Barnabas, Quentin and…” construction.

The cover blurb says “Barnabas and Quentin join forces against Collinwood’s ghostly killer,” which isn’t strictly accurate, in that they don’t join forces, it’s not necessarily Quentin, there isn’t a ghost, and nobody gets killed. Besides that, it’s fine.

Continue reading Episode 1034: Mistakes in Justice

Episode 1014: Are You the Quentin

“But there’s always violence in love!”

Barnabas is trapped in Parallel Time, a fantasyland where everything’s the same as our world, except the stuff that isn’t. To the extent that there’s any logic at all, it’s the logic of dreams. People appear and disappear, taking various forms and shapes. Things that seemed dramatic and important in an earlier stage melt away, replaced by other concerns that are equally difficult to express. The ring. The seance. Someone is humming. Where is that sound coming from? Evil, calling to evil. Didn’t I tell you to take down that painting? The people in that room are different, but the same. Who was standing nearby when she died? We couldn’t explain it, so we burned the body, and nobody saw the fire, because we were quiet. Come, we will burn the book together. What happened to the ring? A skeleton, hanging in the cupboard, extinguished by candlelight. She was in Italy visiting with friends, now she’s in our house, visiting with friends. Does she have a job? What does she do for a living? Shouldn’t one of us be going to work occasionally?

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Episode 834: The What’s-Thatters

“Death runs faster than any man.”

A memo from young Icarus to his father, re: altitude. What are you talking about, Dad? These wings that you made from feathers and wax are working great. Why do you say that I’m flying too high? You’re supposed to fly as high as you can, that’s the whole point of flying!

And so, as Icarus sinks slowly in the west and learns some valuable lessons about swimming, let’s turn to Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis. In defiance of good taste and common sense, Dan has turned his poky little soap opera into a five-alarm spookshow spectacular, delighting the teenagers and housewives of America with larger-than-life characters, hair-raising plot twists and inventive special effects. The ratings are still climbing, which makes Dan wonder: What can I do for an encore?

Today, we see Dan’s first answer to that question — Dead of Night, a primetime pilot for ABC that tried to adapt the Dark Shadows formula to an hour-long nighttime drama. Dan produced this pilot in late 1968, with several members of his Dark Shadows family — director Lela Swift, writer Sam Hall, composer Bob Cobert, and actors Thayer David and Louis Edmonds.

ABC finally broadcast the hour-long pilot in late August 1969, because they’d already paid for it and you might as well. While he’s been waiting for it to air, Dan’s scaled his ambitions up even further — he’s currently pursuing a deal with MGM, to make a Dark Shadows film. So before that kicks off, it’s useful for us to take a look at this pilot episode, “A Darkness at Blaisedon”, and see Dan’s first attempt to bring Dark Shadows to a wider audience.

Constructed haphazardly out of feathers and wax, Dead of Night introduces a trio of new characters — psychic investigator Jonathan Fletcher, his live-in chum Sajeed Rau, and the beautiful young heiress Angela Martin — and throws them onto a haunted house set, to see how far they can fly. Icarus, you are cleared for takeoff.

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Episode 828: It’s My Skeleton

“The sealed room — that’s my room! And the skeleton is my skeleton!”

There’s a special guest star on the blog today: eccentric millionaire Stephen Robinson, a long-time reader and commenter who I wanted to hang out with and watch Dark Shadows.

Danny:  Hello, Stephen! I’m speaking with you through my time television, which is built into a cupboard that I wasn’t using anyway.

Stephen:  Hello! It’s great to talk to you.

Danny:  You too! Now, I have to warn you that this may actually show you a vision of your own death.

Stephen:  But probably not.

Danny:  Yeah, most of the time it’s okay.

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Episode 827: A Cloud of Bats

“I remember the firelight, how the knife gleamed as it came close to my hand.”

Imagine, if you will: A gypsy, emoting furiously, on a high cliff overlooking the sea. The night is rough, and thunder-kissed. She has banished the shade of her dead husband, refusing to accompany him to the world beyond. Then a mob boss from Boston in a check suit emerges from the darkness, accompanied by his muscular, partly-clothed assistant. “The game is over, Magda,” he says, advancing on her with a switchblade. “You lost.”

But you don’t have to imagine this scene, because here it is, recorded and preserved for posterity, using magnets and lasers and nostalgia and hope. They actually performed this scenario and broadcast it on television; I can’t say why. Surely somebody tried to stop them.

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Episode 801/802: You’re a Crook, Captain Hook

“Where would you go, with all that power in your suitcase?”

Once upon a time, there was a television show called Dark Shadows, and I swear to God it is getting crazier every day. We have now entered the phase of the show where absolutely anything is on the table.

For example: a man who collects magical artifacts is visiting a wolf man and a gypsy witch in their haunted house, when suddenly they rip off his hand and discover that he’s actually a mad god from a fairy tale kingdom that nobody knows how to spell. And then the conversation starts to get a little weird.

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