“Slow agonizing death is the worst kind, you know!”
It’s three days till Christmas 1970, and here we are in the dying days of Dark Shadows, a show that has specialized almost exclusively in dying days since its ratings peak in October 1969. Don’t tell the 1970 audience, but between you and me, the show only has 15 weeks left to run, which means, if my recent posting schedule is any guide, that this blog will shudder to a stop somewhere around the middle of 2075.
So we should get back to The War for Dark Shadows, the ongoing struggle to define what kind of story Dark Shadows becomes when it’s not a half-hour daytime soap opera anymore. This battle has been raging for decades in books, movies, comic books and the hearts of children, and there’s a lot of it, so we’d better buckle down and start taking this seriously. I mean, those deck chairs aren’t going to rearrange themselves.
Continue reading Episode 1172: The Deck Chairs
“I hope she’s not touched by what’s happening now.”
The Collins family files out of the mausoleum, marking the close of another funeral. Today they lay to rest Daniel Collins, who died in the tower room of finding out something surprising.
“What a dreadful day this has been,” groans Flora Collins, and she ought to know; her family has been experiencing one dreadful day after another for more than forty years. If anyone can recognize what a dreadful day looks like, it’s a Collins.
Suddenly, Carrie Stokes gasps, and every part of her face widens in alarm. “Someone’s been watching us!” she cries, and points at the scenery. “There!” I’m not sure why she’s getting so uptight, I believe people are still allowed to stand around in the woods if they want to.
Continue reading Episode 1163: Love in the Afternoon
“How can love change in three days?”
Dr. Julia Hoffman crouches down to examine the body of a man beheaded in the late seventeenth century. “No pulse,” she observes. “No heartbeat. No respiration.” This comes as a surprise, for some reason.
The doctor has been hypnotically press-ganged into surgically reattaching this body to its long-lost head, so it can rise again and wreak a terrible vengeance on its numerous enemies, real or imagined. This impossible medical intervention must take place in a crumbling underground crypt in the middle of the night, without the aid of electricity or common sense.
“At least now we know where we’re starting,” Julia says. “We have a great deal of work to do, before we can start the operation.” Yeah, you can say that again.
Just like yesterday, today’s episode has crypt scenes at the top of the episode and the bottom of the episode, and in between is the soap opera storyline, with people flirting and breaking up and talking about their feelings. Dark Shadows is divided into two pieces right now, like a severed head cut from its body, which they’re trying to join together using Krazy Glue made by actual crazy people.
Continue reading Episode 1132: An Armed Society
“I know it’s wrong to love the dead.”
This is what we currently know about Daphne Harridge:
She doesn’t speak.
She died 130 years ago.
She’s a governess.
She smells like lilacs.
Her hobby is encouraging living children to wear dead children’s clothes.
And she is partly responsible for killing everyone that Quentin knows.
So you can see why Quentin likes her so much, she’s a real catch. And it’s not like there’s anyone else who would want to date Quentin, except for one hundred percent of the population of the world.
Continue reading Episode 1077: The Scent of Lilacs
“Do you know why I brought you back from the grave?”
Who needs coffins? Coffins are for wimps and losers, say the grief-stricken loved ones of Sheriff J. Davenport.
Continue reading Episode 939: My Father’s Killer
“It was some kind of mumbo-jumbo!”
Meanwhile, it’s 1790, and governess Victoria Winters is trapped by time, stuck two centuries early with no ride home. She’s been locked up and accused of terrible things, and now she’s on trial for her life, represented by pop-eyed barrister Peter Bradford. Opposing counsel is the Reverend Trask, who’s assisted by reckless spinster Abigail Collins and his own eyebrows, not necessarily in that order. And the Countess Natalie DuPres is terribly worried about her niece Josette, a young woman who seems entirely unable to date anyone with more than a couple of days to live.
Oh, and Barnabas — d’you remember Barnabas? He used to be the main character on this television show — Barnabas is in a box, all by himself.
Continue reading Time Travel, part 11: Trial’s an Error
“When you were putting Miss Balfour’s room to rights, did you find a dead snake on her dresser?”
Shadows of the night, falling silently. “Quentin’s Theme” is steadily climbing the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and pretty soon everyone’s going to be humming that tune, whether they want to or not. In this world that we know now, Quentin Collins is a bona fide Dark Shadows phenomenon, with a hit record and everything.
And this phantom melody is even starting to intrude on the hazy parallel world of the Paperback Library gothic romance novels. This peculiar line of spinoff books has been spinning its own cracked version of Dark Shadows for several years now, first chronicling the adventures of an ersatz Victoria Winters, and then tumbling head over heels for Barnabas Collins.
We last checked in with the Paperback Library four months ago to read Barnabas Collins vs the Warlock — the 11th novel in the series, and the sixth to feature Barnabas. By that point, the PBL was following clear editorial guidelines that the greatest human being who ever lived is named Barnabas Collins, and everybody else can go to hell. His only flaw is that his hands are cold, and hands are not everything.
But even the Paperback Library can’t ignore Quentin forever. They can ignore consistency and common sense and the limits of human patience, but Quentin Collins requires a response.
Continue reading Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home
“The sensible option isn’t always the most interesting.”
When you get right down to it, what is a Dark Shadows story, anyway?
A couple months ago, I passed the blog’s halfway point, which means there’s now more Dark Shadows behind me than there is ahead. I mean, we’ve stll got plenty of time — it’s only 1969, and what does time really mean anyway — but it makes me start to wonder about what happens when there’s no more Dark Shadows.
One thing that I know for sure is that trying to retell the story over again is a bad idea. They’ve tried three times — the failed 1991 show, the failed 2004 pilot, and the failed 2012 movie — and there’s just no point to it. This is a story that can only be told once, and it’s not like it even made that much sense the first time.
But there’s another path for post-Dark-Shadows Dark Shadows which is marginally more sensible, and that’s the road taken by the Big Finish audio dramas, the Lara Parker novels and the Dynamite comics.
Instead of trying to squeeze the original story into a new shape, they say: Okay, it’s April 3rd, 1971. Now what?
Continue reading Episode 764: Straight Outta Collinsport
“I know Collinwood more intimately than anyone else in the family.”
Her name is Rachel Drummond. Her journey is beginning, a journey that she hopes will open the doors of life to her, and link her past with her future. A journey that will bring her to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea, high atop Widows’ Hill, a house called Collinwood — a world she’s never known, with people she’s never met, people who tonight are still only shadows in her mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of her tomorrows.
And, man, talk about linking the past with the future. Here we are three years later, and we’re still doing Jane Eyre.
Continue reading Episode 707: Another Jane
“I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. Why do you want to kill me? Are you insane?”
Okay, here’s the meet-cute scenario: Adam, our enormous new Frankenstein monster, was running away from home after getting a savage beating from Barnabas, who we might as well call his dad.
Alone, afraid, and with only a slight vocabulary advantage over Chewbacca, Adam stumbled into Collinwood, where he demanded the only two things he knows how to ask for — music and food.
Then Barnabas rushed in with a gun, so Adam picked up the closest thing he could grab, which happened to be Carolyn Stoddard, and carried her away. Oh, like you’ve never had a weird first date.
Continue reading Episode 502: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes