Tag Archives: mansplaining

Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House

“Are you aware that you’re looking in the direction of the Old House?”

You know, I hate to be that guy, but if you can’t even do a duel properly, then I don’t know why you’re on television.

I mean, I remember the days when a Dark Shadows character could walk ten paces, turn and choose not to fire because they were being noble and heroic, and in return they would be shot in the face and die, like a man. And then they would come back as a revenant with an eyeball hanging out of their face and a different voice and they would say I WANT IN DEATH WHAT YOU WOULD NOT GIVE ME IN LIFE and people would be afraid of them and run away, and it would be crazy-looking and fun to watch. That’s what I expect out of a duel, some spectacle and excitement, and most importantly, an actual plot point that facilitates story progression.

But this? Bramwell stands there and lets Morgan shoot him in, I don’t know, the shoulder or something, and now he’s just saying sullen Bramwell stuff while he’s horizontal instead of vertical.

This is not romantic and noble. It’s not even story progression. This is just lying down and moping.

Continue reading Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House

Episode 1206: The Eyes of Children

“The fire which will burn Collinwood cannot destroy a figure of four!”

So what, you may ask, of the young set? It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with the middle schoolers, who used to be one of the driving forces of the show’s popularity.

They got on board with Dark Shadows in early ’68, as the show took a hard swerve toward Halloweentown, with a vampire, a witch and a Frankenstein monster all featured at the same time. The young set is here for the skeletons, the dream sequences, and the disturbed graves. A magic mirror that lets you peek into a basement full of mad science equipment. A werewolf, crashing through a plate glass window. A woman screaming, trapped inside a ring of fire. A devilish man, calling to the dark creatures of nature as he passes his hands over the body of an unconscious babysitter. These discerning viewers demand playground games, and if Dark Shadows doesn’t provide them, then there’s a risk that they’ll drift over to Scooby-Doo, and stay there.

And now, it seems like that’s a demographic that the show is no longer interested in serving. This 1841 PT storyline is just people talking all the time, and occasionally pulling knives on each other. Nobody’s casting any spells, or bringing anything to life. They just put people’s names into a vase, and then take them out again and throw them away. There’s nothing here to stir the soul of a ten year old, and give them ideas for interesting things they could do with a curtain tie.

Continue reading Episode 1206: The Eyes of Children

Episode 1190: The Years of Time

“Nature puts a bar between the worlds of the living and the dead for a reason.”

The sun rises once again on the house on the hill; Collinwood wakes to a new day. Many changes have come to the house, and to those who reside therein, as the years of time have swept by.

And it has been years of time, hasn’t it? Specifically, it’s currently August 2003 and this is the Brooklyn Marriott, which may not be the time or the place you were expecting. That’s time for you, I guess; it’s sneaky that way.

This post is another installment of The War for Dark Shadows, the decades-long struggle that’s taken place after the show’s finale to define what Dark Shadows is, and find fresh perspectives. Today, we’re going to jump into a Dark Shadows Festival in full flow, and listen to the Big Beginning.

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Episode 1073: Steer the Stars

“It’s different here. I don’t have to imagine things.”

Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is perturbed, and for good reason. Her houseguests vanished into a dimensional fissure they discovered in a closed-off wing of the house, and when they returned, months later, limping and gasping and covered in space dust, they issued dire portents of calamities to come.

The house of Collins will fall, they say, collapsing into each other’s arms and weeping deliriously, and when you ask them for details, they fall to pieces. We don’t know, they say, keening. Nobody would tell us anything. The future is super cliquey.

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Episode 1037: The Things That Have Been Happening

“I’ve just been thinking about the things that have been happening around here — not just to me, but to everyone!”

The audience applauds, as Kermit the Frog takes the stage. “Tonight, we’ve got a real treat for you,” he promises, “because our very special guest stars are that world-famous knife-throwing act, Lesley and Warren!”

Then a woman walks onstage to correct him, and the penny drops.

“Wait a minute,” says the frog, “you’re not Lesley and Warren, you’re Lesley Ann Warren — the actor, the dancer, the singer!”

She smiles. “Yes, thank you.”

“So, how come you’re doing a dumb knife-throwing act?”

Lesley shakes her head. “You know, Kermit, I thought you were the one person on this show who wasn’t crazy.”

“Me, not crazy?” asks Kermit. “I hired the others!”

Continue reading Episode 1037: The Things That Have Been Happening

Episode 1032: The Curse of Blinovitch

“I must go back to that time!”

For the last two and a half months, eccentric millionaire Actual Barnabas Collins has been time-tossed and unbound, falling backwards downstairs into a non-canonical dimension ruled by parallel people who don’t really count.

This is nothing new for Dark Shadows, of course; like all licensed properties, it’s spawned a sprawling network of untidy un-verses, just piling up on the store shelves. There’s Gold Key Collinwood, where Barnabas’ greatest foe is the Collinsport fire marshal; there’s Comic Strip Collinwood, where Barnabas is the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Osiris; there’s Paperback Library Collinwood, where Barnabas lights mummies on fire; and there’s View-Master Collinwood, which is pretty much the same as the regular kind, except shorter and in 3-D.

But all of those alternate dimensions have their own Barnabas, one apiece, as it should be. And then there’s Parallel Time, which was too lazy to create their own Barnabas, so they stole ours.

Continue reading Episode 1032: The Curse of Blinovitch

Episode 1000: Back From the Death

“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 someone 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.

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Episode 932: The Gates of Heck

“I find most mortals difficult to understand.”

So I guess there’s no way around it; I have to write about the Quentin/Amanda/”Mr. Best” storyline. Two weeks ago, I got so exasperated with my Quentin/Amanda post that I didn’t even finish writing it. I got as far as Mr. Best showing up on the bridge, and I couldn’t go any further. I just stopped writing and hit Publish, and that was that. My thinking basically went like this: Some of my posts are heartbreaking and brilliant; some of them are not. I guess this is one of the ones that’s not.

But here I am, dragged back to the scene of the crime. The Quentin/Amanda story is wrapping up over the next two days, and I can’t just pretend it’s not happening. Can I?

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Strange Paradise, Episode 3: Church and Estate

“We can only hold ourselves to the secret dreads and confessed fear of an evil soul seeking to control a saddened heart!”

But enough foolishness; let’s get down to business. We’re taking a break from Dark Shadows this week, to watch the opening episodes of the contemporary Canadian knock-off Strange Paradise. This daily supernatural soap opera aired for ten months in 1969-1970, to progressively smaller audiences.

It’s easy to imagine why a production company in fall 1969 would look at Dark Shadows, and want to take a crack at trying their own version. DS is at the height of its popularity during this period, and they’re making it look easy. Five or six characters per episode on a limited number of sets, taped as a stage play without retakes or editing, and using a mix of Freshman Lit and Universal Monsters for story ideas. That seems doable.

And if you’re a busy professional in 1969, you’re probably not watching Dark Shadows very closely. They didn’t have VCRs back then, to tape episodes and watch them at a more convenient time. You had to sit down in front of a television at 4 in the afternoon every day, which is a lot easier for housewives and teenagers than it is for people working on a medium-to-low-budget daily TV show in Ottowa, where I’m not even sure DS was being broadcast.

So it would be easy to miss Dark Shadows’ insanely detailed narrative complexity during this period. There’s probably a dozen overlapping story threads on the show right now, and the writers are expecting the audience to remember complicated plot points from more than six months ago.

Barnabas explains to Julia that Chris Jennings is stuck as a werewolf, locked in the secret room of the mausoleum, because he’s the grandson of Quentin’s infant daughter Lenore, who’s being raised in town by Mrs. Fillmore because Quentin’s wife Jenny went mad and couldn’t take care of them, and Quentin’s werewolf curse is being passed down to the male children of each generation — and four out of five of those characters haven’t even been on the show for months. We haven’t seen Chris since late February, and it’s currently mid-September and counting. For a daily soap opera in late 1969, the required cognitive load on the audience is staggering.

In other words: Sure, try and make your own Dark Shadows. Good luck with that.

So I’m not spending a week looking at Strange Paradise just because I want to have a new set of things to make fun of. I mean, that’s part of it, obviously. But I also want to know what a failed version of Dark Shadows looks like right now, to see what we can learn about why the actual show is currently a smash hit.

If you’re just joining us mid-week, here’s the other Strange Paradise posts, and if you’d like to watch along, there’s a YouTube channel with all of the episodes. I’m not saying that you should do that, necessarily. But it’s your life, and you can waste it however you want. Now that I think about it, that’s actually the motto of this blog. “It’s your life, and you can waste it however you want” T-shirts are now available in the Dark Shadows Every Day store, which does not exist.

Continue reading Strange Paradise, Episode 3: Church and Estate