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Episode 1012: Trapped in a World (Not Mine Own)

“Nothing must disturb the sleep or sully the name of that other Barnabas Collins who died in this time.”

Trapped in a false dimension and freshly liberated from a chained coffin not specifically his own, the strange and brutal Barnabas Collins, fugitive vampire in a world he never made, is onboarding a new employee.

“Please let me go,” Will pleads, “and I won’t tell anyone anything about you.”

Barnabas gives the trainee a lopsided grin. “Go, if you want to go.”

Will concentrates. “I can’t get away!” he grimaces. “You know I can’t.” He stares helplessly into a future he doesn’t care for. “What are you going to do with me?”

It’s a close-up so we can’t know for sure, but the smart money says Barnabas is steepling his fingers. “Surely you’ve learned enough from our conversations recently to realize the position that you’re in.”

“I must do your bidding?” Will gulps.

“Precisely. Your agonizer!”

Will takes a step backwards. “No. Wait!”

Barnabas is firm. “Your agonizer, please!”

Continue reading Episode 1012: Trapped in a World (Not Mine Own)

Episode 1011: The Cast Came Back

“There’s someone in that coffin, isn’t there?”

It always starts with a box.

Now, there’s a lot I don’t know about storing radioactive material, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to open the lid every once in a while to see how everything’s going. It’s more of a binary situation — you’re either sealing this nightmare in a keep-out container for the foreseeable, or you’re trying to get us all killed. There isn’t much of a middle ground on that one.

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House of Dark Shadows: Let’s Not Play Insane Games

“I haven’t seen the light of day in almost two hundred years.”

Right this minute, teenage bad boy John Yaeger is in the basement of the Old House, pulling apart the locks and chains that keep Barnabas Collins shut up tight in his coffin. Six weeks ago, the Dark Shadows cast took off for Tarrytown to shoot a feature film, leaving the newcomers and second-stringers to keep the show warm while they’re gone. Now they’re cracking open the mystery box, and once more unleashing Barnabas upon the populace. Dark Shadows is back at work.

To celebrate, I’ve invited actual famous grown-up film critic David Edelstein to come watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows. David’s the film critic for New York magazine, NPR’s Fresh Air and CBS Sunday Morning, and he’s also a lifelong Dark Shadows fan and a friend of the blog.

Five years ago, David wrote a very funny review of the Tim Burton movie, which he figured was his only chance to write about Dark Shadows. But it turns out he’s got more in the tank, so we’re going to watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows together, and discuss the whole thing from start to finish. David saw HoDS when it first came out, and he’s always loved it, so yeah, I know, just another example of bias in the mainstream media.

Today’s journey involves Hammer movies, overstuffed sets, inadvertent love triangles, how you can tell it’s daytime, cameos, cannons, the color of blood, and the age-old war between actors and scenery, and it ends with the extermination of everything that you love.

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Time Travel, part 1: Mist Opportunities

“I’m just glad to be here.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Thursday’s episode of Dark Shadows was pre-empted this week, so ABC could air football on Thanksgiving afternoon. I want the blog to keep the Monday-to-Friday rhythm of the original broadcast, so today, the normal blog entry is pre-empted by our own Thanksgiving treat.

Today, we’re going to do some time travel, fast-forwarding to the mysterious far-off year of 1991. It’s a Sunday night in January, and NBC is airing the prime-time remake of Dark Shadows. This first episode is a two-hour journey into the unknown, so let’s get started…

Continue reading Time Travel, part 1: Mist Opportunities

Episode 328: Look! A Ring!

“There are a dozen reasons why that’s impossible.”

So here’s your standard, kitchen-sink soap opera situation: Willie was shot a couple days ago, and he’s still in a coma. Barnabas is pacing around the drawing room, waiting for Julia to come back from the hospital to report on the patient’s recovery.

But this is Dark Shadows, and what he’s really worried about is that if Willie pulls through, he’ll tell everyone that Barnabas is a vampire. So when Julia tells him that Willie is still alive, Barnabas explodes with anger.

“I know what you’re going to say!” he shouts. “You’re going to tell me to remain quiet and forget it. Well, I refuse to do that any longer! Willie must die!”

Continue reading Episode 328: Look! A Ring!

Episode 323: Fire at Will

“I haven’t spent the evening browsing through anything.”

At the end of yesterday’s episode, the trap was sprung — thinking that Maggie’s memory had returned, the kidnapper came to Maggie’s room in the middle of the night, and was shot by the police.

Today’s episode starts with a reprise of that scene, and darn it, the guy shows up and gets shot all over again. People in teasers just never learn.

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Episode 237: Cold Case

“And if that girl turns up dead, I’m going to book you… on suspicion.”

Soap opera cops have a pretty hard life. Somebody gets murdered, and it turns out that over the last couple weeks, eight different people have been walking around saying, “That guy makes me so mad I could kill him!” — often at the top of their lungs, in crowded restaurants. But the soap opera format requires the cops to be slow and methodical, chasing blind leads and arresting at least two innocent people before they find the killer. The night-time cops on CSI can solve a case in one hour; daytime cops have to go the long way around.

By comparison, the Collinsport police have it unbelievably easy. Three new people have shown up in town in the weeks before Maggie’s disappearance, and all three are currently involved in at least one crime. They have nonexistent alibis, and one of them can’t even produce a birth certificate.

And if those aren’t enough people of interest, then there’s also Burke Devlin, who recently came back to town after serving a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter. That’s not a bad place to start; maybe Sheriff Patterson should bring Burke in for questioning.

Continue reading Episode 237: Cold Case

Episode 232: Just Add Water

“They just kept asking me questions, nothing but questions!”

So here’s the thing about soap operas: just because it’s on every day doesn’t mean you’re actually supposed to watch it every day. I mean, you’re allowed to have a life of your own. It’s 1967, you’re probably tie-dyeing something.

You can tell how often you’re supposed to watch a soap by seeing how far back they’ll recap the story for you. If the characters are still standing around talking about something that happened two weeks ago, then you can probably just show up on Fridays and you won’t miss much. In the early 2000s, NBC had a soap opera called Passions, which was so glacially slow that the optimal viewing schedule was one episode every three weeks. Or, preferably, not at all.

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Episode 230: The Transylvania Twist

“I’m in a graveyard. How did i get in a graveyard?”

It’s been four weeks since we opened the mystery box and let the vampire out, not that anyone’s actually saying the word “vampire” yet. The show is actually strangely coy about it — nobody says the V-word out loud for nine months. They finally break it out in episode 410, and by then it’s not the craziest thing on the show anymore.

But who needs labels when you have howling dogs? Over the last month, we’ve seen hypnosis, nightmares, fangs and unexplained blood loss — and this is the episode where it all comes together. This is the first big Friday cliffhanger, and exciting things are finally happening.

Continue reading Episode 230: The Transylvania Twist