“Just come, and bring all your amulets and herbs!”
Today’s episode of Dark Shadows begins with some people in Parallel Time talking about the Parallel Time room, where they’ve just seen some people from Parallel Parallel Time, i.e. whatever the opposite of Parallel Time is. Mainstream Time? The Curtisverse? Is there any kind of fan consensus on what to call whatever time it is we’re usually looking at?
Anyway, this is Parallel Quentin talking to Non-Parallel Barnabas, the dimension-hopping vampire crossover artist who came to this uncharted Collinwood accidentally on purpose and can’t figure out how to leave. Quentin and Barnabas have been in the east wing, taking a peek through the veil, and they saw some Regular Time people discussing their Regular Time concerns, like where do you think Barnabas went.
Quentin’s been mulling it over all the way downstairs, and by the time they hit the drawing room, he’s ready to deliver his verdict: Barnabas is the Barnabas they’re talking about in that room. Obviously this is the case, because the multiverse is big enough to hold several Brunos and anywhere up to five Sabrinas, but the good Lord only made one Barnabas.
But Barnabas decides to bluff it out, because they still haven’t developed the technology to determine whether somebody’s Parallel or not. He says that he’s not the Barnabas from the room, and Quentin’s just going to have to take his word on that. So Quentin shrugs and says okay, but it’s a weird coincidence, and Barnabas says that it certainly is. And there you have it, a pleasant and perplexing slice of afternoon television that accomplishes nothing of consequence.
Continue reading Episode 1013: What Does a Crazy Woman Want
“Nothing must disturb the sleep or sully the name of that other Barnabas Collins who died in this time.”
Trapped in a false dimension and freshly liberated from a chained coffin not specifically his own, the strange and brutal Barnabas Collins, fugitive vampire in a world he never made, is onboarding a new employee.
“Please let me go,” Will pleads, “and I won’t tell anyone anything about you.”
Barnabas gives the trainee a lopsided grin. “Go, if you want to go.”
Will concentrates. “I can’t get away!” he grimaces. “You know I can’t.” He stares helplessly into a future he doesn’t care for. “What are you going to do with me?”
It’s a close-up so we can’t know for sure, but the smart money says Barnabas is steepling his fingers. “Surely you’ve learned enough from our conversations recently to realize the position that you’re in.”
“I must do your bidding?” Will gulps.
“Precisely. Your agonizer!”
Will takes a step backwards. “No. Wait!”
Barnabas is firm. “Your agonizer, please!”
Continue reading Episode 1012: Trapped in a World (Not Mine Own)
“There’s a spirit at Collinwood that will not let you do what you plan!”
Haunted homeowner Quentin Collins strides down the hall in the east wing of his enormous mansion, headed for the suite occupied by his sister-in-law. Flinging open the doors, he finds himself face to face with an episode of Dark Shadows.
Quentin knows this room well; he’s in and out of it all the time these days. It’s mostly orange and pink, with a portrait and a piano and several dreadful secrets. But the doors have flung him into an unfamiliar space — the same room, but dark and empty and underutilized.
His son Daniel and niece Amy are standing in the middle of the room, having an argument. They don’t hear him when he calls, and he’s held back by some invisible barrier that he can’t penetrate. All he can do is stare in amazement at this new, grittier reboot.
This isn’t the television show that Quentin knows, but you can tell that it’s daytime programming, because the boy says, “Maybe if we stand here, something will happen!” and the girl says, “But I don’t want anything to happen!” That’s the new ad campaign for Parallel ABC Daytime.
Continue reading Episode 1004: The Way Home
“Trying to transcend that other time level can be very dangerous!”
Eccentric mass murderer and explorer of the outer realms Barnabas Collins is pacing the Collinwood drawing room, frowning heroically and making excuses. He’s been having one of his spells again.
His friend Julia takes a lap around the track. “Barnabas, why did you do it?” she wails. Barnabas drank Megan dry a few weeks ago, and now he’s about three-quarters of the way through Sabrina.
“I stayed at the Old House, and fought the urge to leave,” he says, striking an apologetic pose. “And then she came to me.”
“You couldn’t help yourself,” Julia observes.
Barnabas swivels, and snaps, “Do you think I do this by choice?”
“No, Barnabas,” she reassures him. “I know what you’re going through.” Yeah, he’s going through the entire female supporting cast, is what he’s going through.
Continue reading Episode 980: Next Stop Keystone City
“You don’t know what it’s like, suddenly seeing yourself walk into a room.”
Everyone’s talking about it! Here’s what people are saying about Parallel Time, opening Friday:
“I can’t help but be fascinated by that room, and everything I’ve seen there!” — Barnabas Collins
“Somehow, we must discover the secret of this room!” — Roger Collins
“You must take me to that room immediately, I want to see this for myself!” — Professor T. Eliot Stokes
“There must be something very special in the east wing, because suddenly everyone’s so interested in it!” — Elizabeth Collins Stoddard
I will regret this, I’m sure. I will regret all of this. The upcoming Parallel Time storyline will fail in some spectacular way — like Adam did, like Nicholas Blair and Count Petofi, and all the other disappointing men in our lives — and I’ll end this period of the show trying to figure out how it all went wrong, as I always do.
But this feeling, right now, this tickle of heightened expectations? Give me this. Even if it’s only for a little while. Just give me this.
Continue reading Episode 977: Things That I Already Like About Parallel Time
“My guess is that the time band is always there, but one can only glimpse it through the warp.”
Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!”
Continue reading Episode 972: Gold-Hatted Lover
“I have the feeling that perhaps all of us are leading a different life in that room.”
Yesterday, eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins had a strange and frightening experience, namely: watching an episode of Dark Shadows that he wasn’t in.
He was poking around in the deserted east wing of Collinwood, opening doors and closing doors and hunting for a coffin — you know, typical Dark Shadows stuff — when he suddenly came upon a room where Elizabeth and Julia were dressed up in other people’s clothes, and talking about other people’s problems.
We’re meant to be intrigued by this strange desert otherworld, so they made use of that great guarantor of television mystery: the unheralded pronoun.
“I’m cleaning out her clothes,” says Liz. “You will not touch her clothes,” says Julia. “It will be their room,” Liz proposes. “It is hers; it will always be hers,” Julia counters.
She is dead! She’ll be back! and back and forth they went, acting for all the world as if proper nouns were prohibited by law, and then they slammed the door and ran away into the night, giggling.
It’s a good gag, if you can pull it off. Other people have trolled Barnabas in the past — like all gloomy and self-involved people, he is particularly susceptible to trolling — but I don’t think anybody’s ever done it by just standing around in a room and pretending they don’t notice him. They’re breaking new ground in the field of Barnabas-bothering.
Continue reading Episode 970: A Less Rational Explanation
The guy has a suit and a tie, and a shocked expression. He’s holding a flashlight for some reason. He’s got dark eye makeup, and bangs that have been arranged into four little spikes on his forehead, and I have no idea who he is.
The doors of Angelique’s suite just fly open, and suddenly this guy is standing there, mouth agape. It looks like he’s trying to step forward into the room, but he doesn’t.
“I can’t get in!” he says, and looks around in panic. “Why? WHY?”
I don’t know, dude. Who are you? Have you been helped?
Continue reading Episode 969: PTED
“When I saw myself rising from the dead — with those fangs!”
There are eight turning points in the story of Dark Shadows — moments when the focus and direction of the show changed forever. Four of them are character introductions, and four are backstage events. Here they are, in order of appearance:
- the introduction of Barnabas,
- Julia’s offer to cure Barnabas,
- writer Sam Hall joins the show,
- the introduction of Angelique,
- Jonathan Frid’s ten-city publicity tour,
- writer Ron Sproat leaves the show,
- the introduction of Quentin,
- and MGM greenlights House of Dark Shadows.
Here we are in mid-August 1969, and we’ve reached that final turning point — the moment when a grown-up movie studio agreed to distribute a feature film about a daytime soap opera, using the same cast and crew, while the TV show is still in production. Everything that happens over the next year and a half of the show will be affected by that deeply peculiar decision.
The story that people tell about House of Dark Shadows is that creator Dan Curtis, like all artistic visionaries, was deeply misunderstood. He had a burning ambition to turn his vampire soap opera into a feature film, and nobody at the studios would believe in his dream. Finally, Dan found a kindred spirit in James Aubrey, the president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who recognized the value of a Dark Shadows movie and eagerly gave it the green light.
Once the film was greenlighted, the only headache to figure out was how to get the cast off the show for six weeks, while they filmed the movie. Dan and the writers came up with a way to focus on the actors who weren’t part of the movie cast, until the shooting was over. That way, the movie wouldn’t have a negative impact on the show, and when shooting wrapped, everything went back to normal. On release, the movie was such a success that it saved MGM from closing down.
That story is almost entirely false. This is actually the story of the destruction of Dark Shadows. It’s also the story of the destruction of MGM. And like all Dark Shadows stories, the line between hero and villain is not necessarily clear.
Continue reading Episode 818: The Green Light
“The powers you have, they give you a certain amount of control over time and space.”
Once upon a time, there was a little lost princess…
Continue reading Episode 622: Heated Arguments on Somebody Else’s Lawn