“Life force? What does that mean?”
So it’s late 1968, and you’re, let’s say, fourteen. You started watching Dark Shadows on and off in the spring, and during the summer you became completely obsessed with it. You love the characters, you love the crazy stories, and you love that weird, intense connection you have with your friends when you talk about it.
You even know some kids who swear that they actually saw the episode when Barnabas shot Angelique through the heart — and with her dying breath, she turned herself into a bat and bit him on the neck.
But that’s the thing about afternoon TV in 1968 — it only happens once. They’ll run episodes of Bewitched or Gomer Pyle or The Carol Burnett Show a couple of times, but Dark Shadows is a paper-thin phantom that shimmers seductively for half an hour, and then disappears into the void, leaving a stunned audience of teenage thrill-seekers to rub their eyes and grope their way back into the daylight, talking about the wonders they’ve seen, and lording it over the unfortunate few who couldn’t get home in time to witness it for themselves.
You can’t catch Dark Shadows in your hands. It’s like the wind, or like a dream that you try to hold onto when you wake up. It’s like a ghost.
And then one day you get the chance to hold some precious fragments of the Dark Shadows life force, plus a stick of bubble gum.