Tag Archives: manners

Episode 1002: Ordinary Circumstances

“Why should I drink this? Why should I be frightened?”

Here’s a tricky etiquette problem, if you’re in the mood for one: You’re spending time with friends in a relaxed social setting, and then, when they step out of the room for a moment, you suddenly and without warning transform yourself into a person to whom none of your friends have been properly introduced. Personally, I don’t have a contingency plan for that particular contingency; I figure if it ever happens, I’ll just report it to my commanding officer and wait for instructions.

But here’s Dr. Cyrus Longworth, pseudoscientist and dabbler in the unknown, relaxing after a hectic evening of corpse-related felonies, as his friend Quentin goes upstairs to invite the woman that everyone thinks is Alexis to join them for a drink. As Cyrus paces the floor, he suddenly doubles over in pain, and engages in an unintentional full-body metamorphosis.

What we end up with is John Yaeger, the yin to Cyrus’ yang, a more explicitly evil twin who’s lactose-intolerant in regards to the milk of human kindness. Cyrus has been bringing out his bad side lately by drinking a home-brewed chemical synthesis, but now he’s so hooked on the stuff that Yaeger comes out just because Cyrus is tired of waiting for cocktails.

With his host on the way back to the drawing room, Yaeger considers jumping out the window, but stops. “No,” he thinks, “it must look as if I left under ordinary circumstances!”

Except obviously people turning into monsters is an ordinary circumstance for Collinwood. Several people currently in the house have done this, up to and including both of the people you’re planning to have a drink with. This is what Collinwood is for.

I’m going to include Quentin in that tally of monsters, even though this Quentin isn’t supposed to be the same Quentin afflicted with lycanthropy, because we’re just kidding ourselves if we think these are two separate stories. They’re not. They merge together, along with House of Dark Shadows and the Paperback Library novels and the View-Master reels, and all the other Tales of Hoffman.

This incident proves that the Concurrent Collinwood of Parallel Time is what it always was — a house-shaped hole carved out of time and space that exists in order to facilitate transformations. And now you get to go home, John Yaeger, and figure out what you’re going to do about it.

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Episode 925: The Wolf of Wall Street

“I am concerned with the safety of other people, not what’s right.”

Michael is staring at Maggie Evans.

Maggie is a pretty young woman who used to be a waitress, and now works at Collinwood as David’s private tutor. Michael is a seven-week-old baby monster who came out of a time travelling box, and will someday cleanse the Earth of its human population. Everybody has to be something, I suppose.

Michael’s come over to the house today, unannounced and uninvited, because he wants to play with David and be insolent to grown-ups. Maggie was in the middle of a lesson with David, but now Michael’s here, and she’s not sure what to do.

The problem is that Michael is such an odd little boy. He says things that sound polite — “You wouldn’t do that, would you, Miss Evans?” he says — but he keeps his eyes locked on hers, unblinking, in a way that people generally don’t, unless they’re planning to murder you.

Maggie finally decides that it’s okay — she’ll grade David’s paper, and the boys can play in the drawing room. But as she’s gathering up the papers, she feels Michael’s eyes, still following her. She turns, and sees that he hasn’t moved; he’s just standing there at the door, staring her down.

She tries to collect herself, and says, “Michael, is something wrong?”

He keeps sizing her up. “What could be wrong, Miss Evans?” he asks, with a faint smile.

“You keep staring at me.”

Anxious to break the tension, David cries, “I’ve got it! We can play Wall Street. Do you like Wall Street, Michael?”

“It doesn’t matter what game we play, David,” the boy sneers. “You know that.”

So, yeah, of course they’re going to play Wall Street. This kid is the living embodiment of the Big Short.

Continue reading Episode 925: The Wolf of Wall Street

Episode 705: Prisoners of Emily Post

“I don’t know how you came back, and I don’t care!”

As we’re settling into this 1897 time travel story, the thing that’s really remarkable is how much the writers have learned about setting up dramatic conflicts within the core Collins family.

It’s early 1969, and by this point in the show, the present-day family has been entirely nerfed. All of their secrets have been exposed, explained and apologized for, and any future story-driving difficulties have to be imported from the outside.

Last year, we spent some time with the 1795 family, and they were actually pretty well grounded too. Naomi was a drunk, Joshua was a grouch and Abigail was a fanatic spinster, but they were a functional family who would have carried on pretty well, as long as they could avoid having sex with pretty French vengeance demons.

But the Collins family of 1897 is absolutely out of their goddamn minds. At the start of today’s episode, Judith walks into her dying grandmother’s bedroom, and finds her brother Quentin strangling the old lady, and demanding to know the family secret.

This is the second time in two straight episodes that Judith enters a room and interrupts Quentin in the process of murdering a family member. She doesn’t even have that big of a reaction, she just shoos him out the door and gets on with her day. That’s how insane this family is; a murder attempt means nothing to these people.

Continue reading Episode 705: Prisoners of Emily Post

Episode 704: It Just So Happens

“Being startled is the most interesting thing that’s happened to me all evening.”

Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has used the ancient Chinese secret of I Ching to jump the turnstiles of time and transport himself back to the late 19th century, which he slept through the first time.

Here in 1897, Barnabas is pretending to be his own great-grandson, who’s the grandfather of the guy that he’s pretending to be in 1969. According to his cover story, the original Barnabas Collins sailed to England in the late 1790s, where he settled down and had tons of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of them identical. There are apparently hundreds of Barnabi of every age and gender littering the English countryside, all looking moody and forgetting their lines.

It’s a thin story, especially because he doesn’t have an English accent, but luckily there’s a portrait of the original Barnabas on the wall in the foyer, which he uses like it’s a driver’s license.

Barnabas was desperate to find Quentin, the evil spirit who’s tormenting the family in 1969, but now that he’s met the guy, he can’t think of anything to say. You’d think he’d be better prepared than this; he’s had negative seventy-two years to think about it.

Continue reading Episode 704: It Just So Happens

Episode 688: Mostly Charmless

“I was hoping you’d say it was just a wild coincidence.”

Barnabas Collins has driven a stake through a vampire’s heart, beaten a werewolf into submission with his cane, bricked up an enemy behind a wall, and burned a witch to death with a torch, and Dr. Julia Hoffman has done everything that Barnabas did, except backwards and in high heels.

So you’d imagine that these two heavyweights would have no problem dealing with an awkward social situation, like if a guy shows up at your friend’s house in the middle of the night, and you can’t get him to leave. And yet here they are, stymied. Us Weekly was right; celebrities really are just like us.

Continue reading Episode 688: Mostly Charmless

Episode 642: Mind Over Manners

“There’s not much point in being both rude and mysterious.”

Over the last couple of weeks, Christopher Jennings has murdered at least two human beings — I know they were only day players, but even day players are God’s children, presumably — and yet we like Chris, and we let him get away with being really quite skilled at covering up for his ongoing murder spree, because he’s sexy and polite and interesting, and what does that say about us? Probably something terrible.

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Episode 559: Everything You Deserve

“I specialize in human relations.”

Also, Nicholas is in love with Maggie.

Sorry to spring it on you like that, but it’s that kind of storyline. Nicholas Blair is some kind of evil wizard man, and so far we haven’t had any indication that he’s looking for a girlfriend. In fact, he’s been mocking Angelique relentlessly for having human emotions. And yet, here we are.

It’s not at all clear why Nicholas has chosen Maggie, either. He seems to have fallen in love at first sight, during a chance encounter at Collinwood. Maggie’s very pretty and very nice, but they don’t have anything in common. I’m not even sure that he’s human. He might as well fall in love with a puppy.

But there are four pretty girls on the show, and three of them already have a storyline, which leaves Maggie at a loose end. She’s got a dull job, she’s happily engaged to Joe, her alcoholic father has died, and it’s been a year since she was kidnapped by anybody. If Nicholas needs a human weakness, then it might as well be Maggie, I suppose.

Continue reading Episode 559: Everything You Deserve

Episode 509: Blind Date

“Germs — I’ve never been a big believer in them, but they do exist.”

A couple weeks ago, grouchy painter Sam Evans was struck blind, following an encounter with a witch that I don’t have time to get into right now. In a normal soap opera, a character going blind would be a huge focus for the show for months. We’d see all the doctor’s visits, they’d be trying out experimental treatments, and the character would go through a lengthy grieving process as they adjust to the loss of their sight.

But I don’t know why I even bother to bring that up anymore. I might as well say, “In a beach party movie, Annette Funicello would be singing about surfboards.” We may have reached the point where comparisons between Dark Shadows and normal soap operas are no longer relevant.

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Episode 493: Revenge of the Baby-Sat

“A man — No! He was a monster! A monster!”

You know that you’re in for a good day on Dark Shadows when the episode opens with everybody who has a speaking part all standing in a line and facing the teleprompter.

That means two things: there are four people on a cramped set that can really only accommodate one and a half, and the actors can’t memorize their lines because the things that they’re supposed to say don’t mean anything. In other words, it’s a Ron Sproat script today.

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Episode 238: Unreal Estate

“You can’t just walk into a place!”

It’s shaping up to be a pretty dull evening at Collinwood. Liz is sitting at a desk fussing with business papers, and Carolyn is assembling a moody jigsaw puzzle. Things liven up a bit when Vicki gets the evening paper, with the headline “LOCAL GIRL MYSTEROUSLY DISAPPEARS”. It’s bad news, obviously, but at least it gives them something to talk about.

Liz tells Carolyn and Vicki that she doesn’t want them walking around alone at night, until they find out what happened to Maggie. Liz gets up and goes to another room, and literally fifteen seconds later, the girls decide to go out and get some fresh air. What can you do with people like that?

Continue reading Episode 238: Unreal Estate