“The more one learns, the worse one feels. I did not realize life was like that. But probably it is a well-known fact that no one bothered to tell me.”
There’s big news from the royal family, as usual. They think that just because they’re rich and powerful, that means they’ve got a patent on the epic tragedy — although to be fair, they usually do. Regular people don’t poison each other and throw themselves off cliffs; they just don’t have the time.
So here’s the top headlines: Barnabas, Prince of Collinsport, killed his uncle Jeremiah in a duel. Barnabas was then killed by his own wife, the witch Angelique, and cursed with eternal life. After dispatching Angelique, Barnabas courted his dead uncle’s wife, Josette, and planned to make her his vampire bride.
On Friday — confused and frightened by a vision created by the ghost of Angelique — Josette rejected the undead Prince, and killed herself by jumping from the cliff on Widow’s Hill. It’s basically a cross between Hamlet, Macbeth and the juicier episodes of Dynasty, as directed by George Romero.
Continue reading Episode 426: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
“I am your servant. You are my master. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it is to be.”
Okay, let’s talk some more about The Crucible, the 1953 Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials. Everybody knows that The Crucible is the inspiration for the Collinsport witch hunt that’s coming up next month, but the influence goes even deeper than that, all the way down into the soul of Dark Shadows.
The play is a dramatization of the hysteria in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts. A group of young girls is found dancing in the woods, in defiance of the strict Puritan laws against dancing, music and anything that might be enjoyable. Horrified at being discovered, and desperate to find a scapegoat, the girls pretend that they’ve been seduced and tormented by witches living in the village. Directed by the eldest girl, Abigail Williams, they become a terrifying mob who accuse dozens of their neighbors. Guided only by the “spectral evidence” of the girls’ testimony, the court convicts and executes 20 innocent people.
Abigail is a terrifying figure in the play — self-centered and vengeful, taking a special delight in wielding the power that she’s suddenly acquired. Abigail was a servant of farmer John Proctor, and her tangled relationship with him is the emotional heart of the drama.
Over the last few weeks, the crucial new idea on the show is to introduce these narrative collisions, weaving characters from other fictional worlds into the story of Dark Shadows. There’s a beautiful woman from another story walking into the house today, and things are going to get ugly.
Continue reading Episode 368/369: A Wicked Woman
“Do you want to stop it, Barnabas? Must you stop it?”
Hey, remember the Collins family? I could’ve sworn that there used to be a television show called Dark Shadows, about this rich family that lived in a big house on a hill.
For months now, the Collins family has been squeezed off the screen by a vampire, a ghost, two doctors, a lawyer, a marionette bat, and so on. Being a living human being with the last name Collins used to mean something in this town.
Well, they’re sick of it. One way or another, they’re going to get the Collins family back to center stage where they belong.
Continue reading Episode 365: Closing Time
“The point is that I am in danger!”
It’s another relaxing evening at the Old House, and Julia tells Barnabas that she has another treatment ready for him. She’s trying to discover a cure for his vampirism, which would be hard enough even if she had a fully compliant patient. But Barnabas is feeling cranky, and when he’s cranky, he tends to get a little strangly.
Here’s his problem: young David is convinced that there’s something spooky hidden in the Old House, and a couple episodes ago, Julia caught the boy tugging on the locked basement door. She didn’t tell Barnabas about the encounter, because she knew he would freak out about it.
Yesterday, Roger mentioned the incident to Barnabas, and guess what? He’s freaking out about it.
Continue reading Episode 332: Safe? Safe!
“You have to admit that you are the most unknown quantity in town.”
I haven’t written very much about the opening voiceovers that introduce the episodes. Mostly, that’s because they’re not very interesting at this point. They get a lot more fun later on, but here are some typical examples from mid-1967 episodes.
The warm night wind wails around the walls of Collinwood…
The night wind murmurs through the ancient trees surrounding Collinwood…
It is nighttime at Collinwood, and a balmy breeze blows in from the sea…
You see what I mean? Weather reports.
Once the show really gets rolling, they don’t have time for climate. Here’s the beginning of an intro from late 1969:
Not far from Collinwood, Chris Jennings and the man Julia Hoffman believes to be Quentin Collins have found the recluse, Charles Delaware Tate.
That’s right, you get four full names, and that’s just the first sentence! That’s an intro you can sink your teeth into.
Still, there are some charmingly loopy examples from this period, and I’m fond of today’s:
This is a time of suspicion, a time when trust has slipped away into the darkness, and doubts run high. There are those who find the finger of suspicion pointed at them. They react with a sudden fear of exposure.
Continue reading Episode 309: The Finger of Suspicion
“It could be a matter of minutes. Then again, it could be a matter of hours.”
On Friday, we had the first genuinely suspenseful Dark Shadows episode, with an exciting cliffhanger that promised an unpredictable change in the status quo. Today, they have to deliver on that promise. Let’s see what happens.
Continue reading Episode 261: Bigger on the Inside