“Trying to transcend that other time level can be very dangerous!”
Eccentric mass murderer and explorer of the outer realms Barnabas Collins is pacing the Collinwood drawing room, frowning heroically and making excuses. He’s been having one of his spells again.
His friend Julia takes a lap around the track. “Barnabas, why did you do it?” she wails. Barnabas drank Megan dry a few weeks ago, and now he’s about three-quarters of the way through Sabrina.
“I stayed at the Old House, and fought the urge to leave,” he says, striking an apologetic pose. “And then she came to me.”
“You couldn’t help yourself,” Julia observes.
Barnabas swivels, and snaps, “Do you think I do this by choice?”
“No, Barnabas,” she reassures him. “I know what you’re going through.” Yeah, he’s going through the entire female supporting cast, is what he’s going through.
Continue reading Episode 980: Next Stop Keystone City
“Not anything’s going to keep me from destroying you!”
More than once upon a time, there was a little lost princess…
Continue reading Episode 967: Vicki Ruins Everything, part 3: The Way It Happened
“Who are ‘they’, Mrs. Trask?”
Let’s start at the middle, and work backwards from there.
Mrs. Minerva Trask — devoted wife and helpmeet of the celebrated Reverend Gregory Trask of Worthington Hall — arrives at Collinwood with a jar of damson plum preserves, and proceeds to make herself comfortable — or, at least, as comfortable as Mrs. Trask ever allows herself to get.
She’s come over to give the preserves to Judith Collins, because that’s what you give to a multi-millionaire who lets you operate a for-profit business in her back yard rent-free. But instead, she ends up talking to Judith’s dissolute brother Quentin, who’s currently dissolving in the drawing room.
Continue reading Episode 762: Dark Shadows’ Agents of THEY
“We know you were destroyed by some evil force! Now is your chance to destroy it!”
It’s a situation that only happens in long-running serialized narrative. The main character has run away, never to return, and she didn’t even bother to make up a decent excuse. “I’m going to go and live with my husband’s past-life doppleganger,” Vicki said. “If you need to reach me, I’ll be in the 18th century.”
So what can you do? You hire a new governess, and you move on with your make-believe life. The Collins family has lost their lost princess, and to take her place, they’ve found Maggie Evans, a waitress with no experience in education, and a gaping hole in her LinkedIn profile that she can’t explain.
It hasn’t been an easy transition for Maggie, because the process of Vickification involves stripping away all ties to her old life. In fact, on the night that she was offered the governess job, both her fiancee and her house were torn to pieces by a wild animal. I don’t know how you arrange for an onboarding process like that, but it definitely made the point. Her father and her fiancee are gone, her home is destroyed, her memory is wiped clean, and she has become Vicki.
But that interpretation assumes that there’s only one Maggie, and one Vicki. It’s more complicated than that. There are actually four Maggies, and most of them are Vicki.
Continue reading Episode 682: The Four Maggies
“She did have to undergo the hanging, yes.”
Victoria Winters is dead!
Sorry, spoiler alert. I always forget to say that. Sorry!
Still, this hardly counts as a news item anymore. VDub has tried to leave the show twice now, and they keep on dragging her back on screen. A few weeks ago, she disappeared from Collinwood, traveling back to 1796 to reunite with her husband Peter “Jeff” Bradford-Clark. Then she found out the authorities still wanted to execute her for witchcraft, so Barnabas had to cross the barrier of space and time in order to save her.
Unfortunately, Barnabas arrived too late to stop the execution, which makes you wonder why he chose to shatter causality just to show up at the last minute. And now here’s Vicki, freshly hanged and laid out to dry.
Today, the sorcerous soap vixen Angelique stands over the body, and says a bunch of words about putting Vicki under a spell, and now Vicki’s going to be buried alive. Angelique is super into burying people alive these days, even though it sounds like a damp fizzle of a story point. It’s like an annoying song that’s stuck in her head, and she can’t shake it.
And hey, you know what would be great to see right now? David Selby.
Continue reading Episode 665: Vicki Ruins Everything (Reprise)
“But last night, she sent me a message… from the past.”
The morning of a new day at Collinwood. Plans have been made to take two children away on an extended trip. But there are unseen and evil forces at work within the great house — forces that have possessed both children, and decreed that — oh my god, Vicki, WHAT IS IT NOW?
Continue reading Episode 659: Gone Girl
“I’ll close my eyes — and when I open them, you’ll be here, and the watch will tick!”
And then, six hundred and forty-nine episodes later, she was gone.
This is girl governess Victoria Winters’ last day at Collinwood, so it’s a good time to go over her original briefing instructions, and see how well she scored.
My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning — a journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me, and link my past with my future. A journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place — to the edge of the sea, high atop Widow’s Hill. A house called Collinwood — a world I’ve never known, with people I’ve never met — people who tonight are still only shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows.
Well, she was spot-on with opening the doors, at least. Like every other Dark Shadows character, she spent the last two and a half years basically just killing time between opening and closing doors. So that’s a slam dunk.
What else? Widow’s Hill, Collinwood, people she’s never met — check, check. Yeah, I’d say she’s done pretty much everything on the list.
There’s just one more item that she has to check off — linking her past with her future. Well, she’s got one more episode; let’s see if she manages it.
Continue reading Episode 650: Happily Ever Before
“If you want tomorrow to happen, you will see me now.”
Dark Shadows fans don’t like Betsy Durkin. This is an established fact; ask anyone.
The Dark Shadows audience is unbelievably tolerant when it comes to acting styles — we have to be, it’s a survival skill — but it seems like nobody in the world has a nice thing to say about the actress hired to replace Alexandra Moltke as girl governess Victoria Winters. She doesn’t look right, she doesn’t feel like Vicki, she’s not a good fit for the role. And it seems like the producers agreed, because Betsy only appears in ten episodes, and then they cut her loose. She’s bad at Vicki.
Except that this is not actually the case. Betsy Durkin is fine. There are some serious irritants who pop up on Dark Shadows over the years — like Harry Johnson, who’s in today’s episode, working as hard as he can to ruin his scenes. Betsy is nowhere near that level. Betsy is fine.
So let’s see if we can figure out why fans dislike her so much, as the recently reconstituted sexy vampire boy Tom Jennings climbs in through the window and tries to murder her.
Continue reading Episode 631: The Goat
“What kind of life do you lead, Mr. Jennings?”
Two weeks ago, Dark Shadows entered a period that I’m calling The Great 1968 Wrap-Up, a long overdue narrative house-cleaning. Soap opera storylines are always a bit of a tangled web, but if you’re not careful, the structure becomes so dense that it collapses in on itself, and becomes a dangerous gravitational singularity.
- Barnabas Collins isn’t a vampire anymore, because his life force is shared with
- Adam, a Frankenstein monster who’s trying to start a family with
- Eve, a female monster who’s animated by the life force of
- Danielle, a French Revolution-era murderess, who’s madly in love with
- Peter, the 18th-century lawyer who’s traveled through time to follow
- Vicki, the Collins family governess, who was just left at the altar by
- Jeff, who’s discovered that he’s actually a reincarnation of
- Peter, and he’s not very happy about it.
Obviously, that’s a complex set of facts and relationships for the audience to keep in mind, especially because the one thing that absolutely everybody knows about Dark Shadows is that it’s the story of Barnabas Collins, who yes he is a vampire, what are you even talking about that he’s not a vampire anymore?
So that’s the level of mess that we’re dealing with here. We’re currently two weeks into this massive clean-up project, and we’ve now reached the stage where they’re just strangling cast members and leaving them in the closet.
Continue reading Episode 627: Bad Moon Rising
“The powers you have, they give you a certain amount of control over time and space.”
Once upon a time, there was a little lost princess…
Continue reading Episode 622: Heated Arguments on Somebody Else’s Lawn