Tag Archives: mythology

Episode 1026: The Seventh Level of Witchcraft

“Relax, and enjoy the spectacle of Barnabas Collins trying to prove anything.”

Imagine there’s a man who’s seen the truth.

Have you ever woken from a dream, and felt like you were losing touch with the world where you belonged? Like the world in your dream was the real world — where you were happy, where things made sense — and when you were there, it was so easy to see how everything fits together?

Don’t you get that weird itch sometimes, in the back of your head, like there’s someplace else that you’re supposed to be?

Imagine there’s a man who’s stepped through a crack between the world you know, and the world as it should be. Imagine that he understands how to trace back through your life, to find that awful choice that you made, the moment when you made the wrong turn. He knows your deepest regret, and he’s seen the world where you didn’t do it. He knows the person you might have been.

And he knows it instinctively, without even trying. You walk into the room, and he knows your name. You’ve never seen this man before, but at a glance, he recognizes who you are, who you should be, and where it all went wrong. He knows everything about you. He knows things about you that aren’t even true.

Has he come to save you? To take you by the hand, and bring you to that other place, where you can live the life that you were always meant to live? Or is he here to destroy this false world, while you’re still in it?

Imagine there’s a man. For the sake of argument, let’s call him Barnabas Collins.

Continue reading Episode 1026: The Seventh Level of Witchcraft

Episode 933: King Kong vs Godzilla

“I’m caught in something — a web!”

So Dark Shadows is pivoting, is the point, away from a weird story that nobody likes, and off into the uncharted territory of an even weirder story that nobody expects. And when Dark Shadows pivots, god damn, they pivot hard. Today, Fortune’s wheel takes a hairpin turn, directly into traffic.

There’s action and adventure today, up to and including frantic phone calls, rickety bridges, slammed doors, abrupt edits and giant fuck-off spiders, and if we’re not careful, we might lose a couple cast members before we’re done. And it’s only Wednesday, too. Nothing happens on Wednesdays, everybody knows that, but giant spiders don’t punch a timeclock. That’s a thing that you need to understand about giant spiders.

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Episode 804: The Other Puppeteer

“I’ve never seen anyone possessed quite like that.”

The Devil tells the truth, because he has nothing to lose. He’s not trying to protect your feelings, or your friendship. He doesn’t care. He sees you clearly, and he tells you what he sees.

Now, I’m not saying that everything the Devil says is true. He’s the Prince of Lies, after all, and misleading people is part of his job description. I’m just saying that the Devil is the only one who respects you enough to tell you the truth. Everybody else lies to you 24/7.

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Episode 719: Haunt You

“Anyone who believes in voodoo must believe in me!”

Let’s talk for a moment about the tremendous advantages of having a gypsy on your television show.

Number one, obviously, ethnic, which means there’s all kinds of comic value just sitting there for the taking.

Number two, ethnic, which means you can always kickstart a plot point by showing her something that she wants to steal.

And number three, ethnic, which means that if you can’t think of an exciting way to end an episode, then she can just run into the room, point at a cast member, and scream The MARK! The mark of DEATH! Soon! SOON! You will DIE! and then you superimpose a Chromakey skull over the guy’s face.

And yet I can’t think of a single other show that has a gypsy. I swear, it’s like people don’t even want to make good television.

Continue reading Episode 719: Haunt You

Episode 714: Inherit the Win

“This is my house, and I decide what is legal from now on.”

Let’s begin with the Trojan War. I know, I’m always nattering on about the Trojan War, but bear with me for a second.

It all started with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Peleus was a hero in Greek mythology, but not one of the good ones; he’s mostly known for killing his half-brother and his stepmom in hunting accidents. Thetis was a shape-changing sea nymph, and Peleus got her to marry him after he snuck up on her and tied her up while she was sleeping. They were a terrible couple and shouldn’t be marrying anybody, really, but you know the ancient Greeks, anything for a party.

Anyway, they had the wedding on Mount Pelion, which is amazing, because usually it’s booked, like, two years in advance, and all of the deities were invited, except for Eris, the goddess of Chaos and Discord.

Irritated by the snub, Eris showed up anyway, probably in a Lady Gaga meat dress, and she tossed a golden apple into the middle of the room, inscribed with the word “Kallisti”, which means “to the fairest”. Pretty soon, the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite were all squabbling over who the apple belonged to.

Now, think about that for a moment. Aphrodite was so beautiful that she was literally The Goddess of Beauty, and Hera and Athena still thought they had a shot. That right there tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Greek weddings.

The three goddesses asked Zeus to decide between them, but Zeus mumbled something about a very important phone call that he suddenly needed to make, and he pointed them at Paris, the prince of Troy.

The girls all tried to get on Paris’ good side. Hera offered political power, Athena promised skill in battle, and Aphrodite said she could give him the love of the most beautiful woman on Earth. Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite and ran off with the beautiful woman, who happened to be Helen, the queen of Sparta. This started the Trojan War, and a ten-year siege that ended with the destruction of both the Achaeans and the Trojans.

So who triumphs in this tale? Only Eris, the goddess of Chaos and Discord, who orchestrated the destruction of empires, just to hear the funny sound it made as it all shattered to the ground. Then Eris invented television, and you know the rest.

Continue reading Episode 714: Inherit the Win

Episode 643: Interceding with Oscar

“You must intercede with Oscar. Only you can save me.”

So here’s the lost secret of Lost: They had no idea.

ABC made Lost for six dazzling, frustrating, mind-boggling years, weaving a web of mystery and misdirection and nonsense, one baffling hour at a time. I don’t know if it did anything for you, but I loved it. I was one of the sad cases who rewatched the episodes in slow motion, looked up all the references on Lostpedia, and listened to the weekly cry for help that they called The Official Lost Podcast.

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the show’s producers and head writers, used the podcasts, Comic-Con appearances and magazine interviews to present an intricate paratextual metafiction about two make-believe people named “Damon Lindelof” and “Carlton Cuse” who totally, totally knew all the answers to every single question that a viewer might have about the show’s rich mythology.

According to this ongoing behind-the-scenes fairy tale, Damon and Carlton could totally explain everything to you right now, but they won’t, because a) it’s very complicated, b) it would spoil the surprise, and c) It’s Not Really About the Mythology, It’s About the Characters.

In reality, after a while, it wasn’t even about the characters. It was about whether Damon and Carlton actually knew what they were doing, or were they just lying this whole time, because they needed to keep the plates spinning for another day.

That’s the question that Lost fans were dying to learn. We didn’t watch season six because we wanted to know if Jack, Kate and Sawyer would survive. We watched because we wanted to know if Damon and Carlton would survive.

Continue reading Episode 643: Interceding with Oscar

Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

“The trouble, I guess, is that soaps are rather subterranean.”

Here’s a story that isn’t true:

In some ways the situation wasn’t unusual for a soap opera. A girl and an older man, in the process of eloping, had been hurt in an auto accident. However, the condition of the still-unconscious male patient baffled the examining doctors at the hospital. Although he had suffered only a minor head wound and was breathing normally, his veins were almost empty of blood and no heartbeat or pulse could be detected.

The treatment — massive transfusions — was already underway when the patient’s personal physician and a friend arrived at the emergency ward. “What do you think will happen to him?” asked the friend in a desperate whisper. “Who can tell?” was the M.D.’s equally tense reply. “After all, no one’s ever given massive blood transfusions to a vampire before.”

And then “a burst of eerie music is followed by a denture-adhesive commercial, and one more episode of Dark Shadows comes to a cliff-hanging conclusion,” except it didn’t happen that way.

Continue reading Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

Episode 596: Spook Fortresses

“I know you are men! She is a woman! I know this is a basement!”

They said we were mad, those fools at the Institute, but who’s laughing now? We found a loophole in the laws of nature, thumbed our nose at God — and what’s more, we’ve done it twice. Barnabas and Julia, those celebrated myth makers, have once again stolen fire from the heavens, and gamma-radiated a brand new monster.

And so, with a scream, a sizzle and a sigh, we offload a tedious day player, and zap some life force into our Corpse Bride. At long last, mourning becomes electric.

Continue reading Episode 596: Spook Fortresses

Episode 508: Dream Beater

“Why am I not opening your doors?”

What, when you get right down to it, is magic?

In the context of a story, anyone can have magic powers, and there really aren’t any hard and fast rules about how they work. Take Angelique, for example — a ladies’ maid from Martinique with reality-warping abilities, apparently granted to her by Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies.

Angelique started out with some rather modest household voodoo, choking a toy soldier to make Barnabas gasp for breath. But pretty soon, she was raising zombies from their graves, and turning people into cats, and generally wiping the floor with the Collins family.

By this point, she has a baffling assortment of abilities, including the power of getting really super old when somebody paints over her portrait. She doesn’t use that one very much, because it’s hard to weaponize.

Continue reading Episode 508: Dream Beater

Episode 428: Duel It Yourself

“They’re going to keep Barnabas away from me, and avoid the duel. That means that all of your lies and deception will go unpunished.”

In yesterday’s episode, we saw the beginning of Vicki’s witchcraft trial, the first example of any kind of sustained legal procedure on Dark Shadows. And this is an odd moment for them to be apprehending suspects, because the 1795 storyline is basically the moment when we say goodbye to law enforcement in Collinsport.

When they get back to the present day, we’ll see a few scattered appearances of the useless Sheriff Patterson and his even more useless successors, but they don’t amount to much, unless you count rising from the dead as a zombie and then being torn apart by a werewolf.

But in 1795 — even with a whole subplot involving a trial and a prison term — we don’t see a single police officer. There’s a couple jailers, a few judges and an executioner hanging around in the back somewhere, but there’s nobody representing the police force. In fact, the main characters don’t even consider calling in the police, despite the sudden rash of suspicious deaths in and around the grounds of the Collins estate.

Continue reading Episode 428: Duel It Yourself