“We’re innocent — yet, terribly guilty!”
You know, sometimes you find yourself in the woods, in the middle of the night, standing over a perfectly rectangular hole that you’ve dug, dressed up like an angry leprechaun and surrounded by plastic trees. You gaze down at the disaster you’ve uncovered — the busted body of your sister Stella, recently killed and inadequately inhumed — and you ask yourself, what the hell kind of soap opera am I living in, anyway?
Continue reading Episode 1209: Birdland
“Tears never got anyone out of anything!”
Let’s talk about the decision-making process for the Collins family here in 1841 Parallel Time, a next-door existence where people have made different choices, all of them terrible.
In this version of the timeline, the Collinses are being held captive by a room in their own house. Refusing all entreaties and resistant to redecoration, this room has bedeviled them since before the house was even built. The room’s been there since 1680, and as I recall, they finished construction around 1795; they must have architected this entire mansion around the sinister locked door, which was floating in the air a couple stories above sea level.
I wish that I could say that was the stupidest choice this family ever made, but they have been breaking that record non-stop for as long as anyone can remember.
Continue reading Episode 1204: Minimum Security
“Then we shall simply have to change the course of history, and find him.”
Let’s face it: 1840 has been letting us down on the visual spectacle. There used to be a monster in this storyline, split into two parts: the Head glowering in a glass case, and the Body roaming the woods like a murderous pantomime horse. There used to be vampires, feeding on the blood of the innocent. There used to be a guy in a wheelchair, which isn’t a monster but at least it’s something to look at. Now the only monster is a smooth-talking warlock, who rigs court cases, and casts spells that make governesses fall asleep.
These days, the show is dominated by people wearing old-fashioned clothes, gossiping with each other about who’s responsible for what. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a zombie, or a skeleton, or even a severed hand flying around the room. Think back: isn’t everything better when there’s a mischievous, floating severed hand?
Continue reading Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream
“What of the witchcraft?”
Well, wills were made to be broken, and this one’s about as broken as you can get. Tower-dwelling invalid Daniel Collins, purportedly of sound mind and body, has slipped away from his lawyers and nurses, and scribbled himself a will that leaves everything to the black hat villain Gerard Stiles, who’s currently hosting the furious spirit of the legendary Judah Zachery, and if you can find a worse thing to do with your fortune then you’re welcome to it.
The situation is particularly dire because we know that it’s interfering with the proper course of Collins family history, which runs from Daniel to Gabriel, through some unknown mid-century child, and then on to Edward, Jamison, Elizabeth and points south. Finally, it ends up in 1970, when the family is scattered and the mansion destroyed by Gerard Stiles, aka the furious spirit of the legendary — oh, dear. He’s got us either way, hasn’t he?
Continue reading Episode 1161: The Monster of Collinwood
“This time, I can’t help feeling that the dead have nothing to do with what has been happening to me.”
Something dreadful is happening underneath the skin of the world, something unnatural and unreal. Our dreams are full of portents. Everywhere, confusion clouds the mind. Alien forces corrupt our intentions, taking hold and steering us to empty places.
Continue reading Episode 1136: Waiting for the Storm
“We cannot succeed without it, because without it he cannot live!”
You know, she’s done amazing things in the past, but now she’s even more in the past, and look what she can do. Displaced medico Julia Hoffman, thrust by circumstance into a time not yet her own, has assembled — in the middle of the night, in the middle of a graveyard, and in the middle of the nineteenth century — a pop-up artisanal mad scientist coworking space with all the trimmings, including assorted glassware lashed into an impromptu apparatus with bubbling liquids of uncertain purpose, along with tables and lamps and switches and samovars and who knows what-all.
She’s even got things wired up with electricity somehow, with a good old-fashioned Jacob’s ladder spark gap buzzing away in the corner, in case the Nobel committee comes by and she needs to science the place up a little.
She’s in a secret underground crypt, by the way, built by ignorant and superstitious villagers a hundred and fifty years ago as a long-term radioactive-waste storage facility, so they would have a place to put decapitated wizards that they weren’t using anymore. It wasn’t zoned for whatever the hell this is, so Julia’s technically a squatter, and she couldn’t hire anybody to help her drag the enormous Frankenstein-size slab through the narrow trap door beneath the unmarked grave, and down the winding stairs to this busted basement. And yet she did it somehow, in absolute silence and secrecy, all on her own. It’s incredible what you can do, when someone else puts your mind to it.
Continue reading Episode 1134/1135: The Graveyard Smash
“I have to go back and try to change history, so that this terrible night couldn’t have happened!”
She calls herself a Collins; they usually do. She says that she’s from England, by way of Pennsylvania, which is just as good of a cover story as anything else. She’s Barnabas Collins’ daughter, apparently, and she’s also Barnabas Collins’ sister, and frankly, given the chance, she’d be his wife as well. It’s complicated.
Continue reading Episode 1113: The War Doctor
“I remember the first sensation I had from him in the future.”
“Do you feel his presence?” Barnabas asks.
“Yes,” Julia shudders, “but not as strongly as before.”
So there you go, that’s our show this week: characters walking from room to room, consulting their ghost barometers.
Continue reading Episode 1078: Everyone Must Leave This House at Once
“Send someone to Collinwood for my medical kit, if your servants haven’t destroyed everything.”
Sky: Would you care for a glass of sherry?
Julia: No, I would not.
Sky: You don’t mind if I have one, do you?
Julia: I don’t care what you do.
Continue reading Episode 964: Julia Fixes Everything
“All we know is that there’s another force working in this house against the same people that we’re fighting against.”
“Now, that I don’t understand at all,” Quentin says, just like everybody does in this storyline, about everything, all the time. The Leviathan story may be one of the least understood in the history of the dramatic arts.
Specifically, he’s talking about Elizabeth, who’s under the sway of the malicious alien heptapods who are currently terrorizing Maine. “Yesterday, she tried to kill Maggie,” Quentin observes. “Today, she obviously lies, and smiles graciously, and wishes that Maggie were back.”
Julia shakes her head. “Quentin, this is a house of lies. The only way to bring these people back to the truth is to smile and lie, just as they do.”
And for the first time in my life, I have to ask the question: Is Julia Hoffman right?
Continue reading Episode 958: The Not Normal