“I never once believed that she could survive death — until tonight!”
It always starts with a box.
You try your best. You bury the dead. The evil twin dies, and you say thank goodness that’s over with, and then you put her in a box and plant it in the dirt. You figure it’s a one-way trip, no refunds and no returns. At that point, it’s somebody else’s problem.
It always starts with a box. It often ends with one, too. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell beginnings and endings apart.
Continue reading Episode 1000: Back From the Death
“I have the feeling that perhaps all of us are leading a different life in that room.”
Yesterday, eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins had a strange and frightening experience, namely: watching an episode of Dark Shadows that he wasn’t in.
He was poking around in the deserted east wing of Collinwood, opening doors and closing doors and hunting for a coffin — you know, typical Dark Shadows stuff — when he suddenly came upon a room where Elizabeth and Julia were dressed up in other people’s clothes, and talking about other people’s problems.
We’re meant to be intrigued by this strange desert otherworld, so they made use of that great guarantor of television mystery: the unheralded pronoun.
“I’m cleaning out her clothes,” says Liz. “You will not touch her clothes,” says Julia. “It will be their room,” Liz proposes. “It is hers; it will always be hers,” Julia counters.
She is dead! She’ll be back! and back and forth they went, acting for all the world as if proper nouns were prohibited by law, and then they slammed the door and ran away into the night, giggling.
It’s a good gag, if you can pull it off. Other people have trolled Barnabas in the past — like all gloomy and self-involved people, he is particularly susceptible to trolling — but I don’t think anybody’s ever done it by just standing around in a room and pretending they don’t notice him. They’re breaking new ground in the field of Barnabas-bothering.
Continue reading Episode 970: A Less Rational Explanation
“You begin to sound like some hysterical woman novelist!”
It’s been twenty years since Paul Stoddard was in town, and you can tell, because he is not in tune with the reality of modern Collinsport life.
Tonight, he noticed that someone had tattooed a four-headed snake on his wrist while he wasn’t looking, and then he had a worrisome conversation with a harbinger at the Blue Whale. Returning to his hotel room, he drew a pentagram on the rug with chalk, placed a candle at each point, and sat down in a chair in the middle of the unholy sign, just to stop the threatening voices who demanded payment.
That’s all that happened, and he’s super stressed out about it. He needs to pull himself together; this is a slow night for Collinsport. There’s a very good chance that he might actually survive until morning, and think how silly he’ll feel.
Continue reading Episode 900: The Long Con
“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
“You can’t just go on killing until you find the right hexagram!”
If the 1897 storyline has an overall theme — and it absolutely doesn’t, but let’s say it does for a second — then it’s this: Can villains build a better world?
It’s been about two years since the villains took over Dark Shadows, first with Barnabas and Julia stealing all the screen time, and then the rise of Angelique as the antagonist’s antagonist, reducing all the other characters to the role of chess pieces. By 1968, the continuing saga was essentially just the story of the Collins family enduring the intrusion of one monster after another — Adam, and Cassandra, and Nicholas Blair, and Danielle Roget, and a swarm of vampires, and finally a werewolf and a handful of angry ghosts. For the most part, the villains were the characters that drove the plot; they were the ones with story arcs. The would-be heroes basically turned into goldfish, swimming in circles in the background, as the villains clashed at stage front.
So as the 1897 storyline begins ambling towards a conclusion, the show is essentially asking, why do we even bother having characters who aren’t villains? If we assemble a diverse cast of gold diggers and grave robbers and spell casters, can they produce a long-term, productive storyline? Or does it all end with a big smoking hole in the ground, and a handful of singed survivors? At the moment, the smart money’s on big smoking hole, but stay tuned.
Continue reading Episode 858: The Woman Who Wasn’t There
“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
“I’m accusing you of painting a portrait of a wolf!”
“Things don’t always have to have explanations,” says Mr. Tate, and that might as well be Dark Shadows’ mission statement. “You don’t have to know about everything in the universe. Things just happen, it could be one of those things that –”
And then he’s cut off, by someone threatening to kill him. That happens a lot in 1969, when people start babbling about the universe.
Continue reading Episode 833: 3D Printing – The Early Years
“This is no time to try to understand anything.”
This is a world of magical foxes, who approach young children and try to convince them to jump into a well. It’s a world where recipe books appear in the strangest places, filled with the most dangerous ideas. A world where stopwatches run backwards, where ancient stones murmur secrets in lost languages, where the walls are smeared with tears and blood and substances no one can explain.
This is a world where anybody — literally anybody — can address any god they can imagine, and get a fair hearing. In this world, “magic” is just another word for interior design, the careful placement of mirrors and candles and arcane symbols scratched into the carpet. Magic is so close to the surface here, it crackles and hums on the back of your hand. It will kill you. It will definitely one hundred percent kill you.
And the only rule that keeps this world turning is: Leave the mundanes alone.
Continue reading Episode 761: After School
“I’m not going to be inside any pentagrams. I’m going to be doing something that makes sense!”
In the morning, Beth finds Quentin stumbling into the house, exhausted and dirty, his clothes ripped to pieces, and with no memory of what happened to him.
“Quentin!” she cries. “Where have you been? How did you get like this?” Yeah, and how do we get you to do it again?
Continue reading Episode 752: The One Where Evan Ruins the Carpet
“I understand a great many things, including her desire to kill you!”
Quentin says, “A lot has happened while you were away, dear brother,” and isn’t that the truth. Dark Shadows has been sprinting through plot points for weeks now, and if you need to catch up on current events, this is all the help you’re going to get.
“One night, my dear wife escaped from wherever you had her locked up. She found me in the cottage. Well, you can imagine how surprised I was at seeing her. But that was nothing, compared to how I felt when she put the knife in my chest.”
Edward cries, “Good heavens!” and Quentin just smiles, because Quentin is magical and lives entirely on surprise. “Rather shocking, isn’t it?” he says. “You know, at one point I was actually declared dead?”
“Dead?” gasps Edward, horrified. “Yes,” Quentin says, “but let’s spare the grisly details,” and then he just starts talking about something else.
Continue reading Episode 728: The Pacer