Tag Archives: postulate

Episode 993: All I Know Is Danger

“You must try to expect nothing from me!”

Angelique Collins was murdered. We all agree on that, right? Stroke, no; murder, yes.

It’s not our Angelique, of course. I’m talking about the Parallel Time alt-universe Angelique, who was murdered six months ago, at a midnight seance in the drawing room. We know that she was murdered, because last week, they re-enacted the seance, and a ghost-possessed dental hygienist pointed at Angelique’s identical twin and shouted, She’s dying, she’s dying, murder, murder, murder. Apparently the spirit speaking through her was re-enacting too.

The other reason that we know Angelique was murdered is because of course she was murdered, this is a television show and they’ve been talking incessantly about her death for weeks. ABC Television isn’t funding this daily blastoff into the uncharted regions of tormented space just to tell the story of a woman who happened to die of a stroke.

After the seance, everybody did what people do in Collinwood after an accusation of murder; they went about their normal activities. If the Collins family stopped to investigate every single mysterious death that happens on their property, life as we know it would grind to a halt. When somebody dies, that means there’s one fewer person in the cast to have conversations with, and the survivors have even more on their plates.

So Quentin and Alexis have been going on as usual, grooming houseplants and making up excuses for things. In this version of reality, Quentin used to be Angelique’s husband, until she was murdered, and Alexis used to be her twin sister, until ditto, unless it turns out that Alexis actually is Angelique, back from the dead to reclaim her rightful place at Collinwood, which would mean that everybody needs to update their entries on Dark Shadows Wiki.

Continue reading Episode 993: All I Know Is Danger

Episode 972: Gold-Hatted Lover

“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

Episode 963: The Golden Key

“Must you read meanings into everything I say?”

“Why do I feel this sense of doom tonight?” Barnabas Collins asks, in thinks. “Why can’t I shake it off?” I don’t know why he’s asking us; it’s the first we’ve even heard of it.

Barnabas is pacing the living room, following a house call from Dr. Julia Hoffman, his private physician. Julia came over to give him a good, stiff belt of anti-vampire sauce, both shaken and stirred, and injected directly where he needs it the most. This off-label concoction is supposed to unleash a stream of metaphysical scrubbing bubbles on his immortal soul, wiping it clean of sin and sickness. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be working.

Suddenly, he stumbles. “What is happening to me?” he squawks. “Why do I feel this way?” He lunges for a passing armchair.

“No!” he says. “NO!”

And then: “I must have BLOOD! I’ve never felt this NEED for blood so strongly before!”

Now, I’ve seen this entire episode and the ones that follow, and as far as I can tell, there is absolutely no explanation for why Barnabas gets this irresistible craving for the red stuff. Possibly, it’s a reaction to Julia’s injection — there’s a hint that Julia doesn’t realize that Barnabas has been drinking blood lately, so maybe it’s not the right dose or whatever — but there’s not a lot to go on. He just feels the need, that’s all, and once he drains his victim dry, then he’ll settle back down, like it never happened.

That’s because we’re not watching a regular episode of Dark Shadows today. Episode 963 is actually an issue of the Gold Key Dark Shadows comic book, which they decided to air on television this afternoon for reasons that surpass all understanding.

Continue reading Episode 963: The Golden Key

Episode 946: Universal Monsters

“Be cautious with it! We don’t want a string of strange deaths in our group.”

But it’s the age old story, isn’t it? Man comes into contact with something other — something beyond our grasp, beyond understanding, beyond words — and it changes us, occasionally for the better. And we take that encounter, and we turn it into story.

I mean, not this story, obviously. This story is insane. You know how Joseph Campbell and the Mythkateers say that all mythic narratives are just variations on a single great story? Yeah. This is one of the exceptions.

But even the strangest sound has an echo, and here, in the midst of the ragged and unruly Leviathan tale clattering across our screens in double-time, we can reach out and grab hold of another story that’s following a similarly erratic track.

There is another story where Barnabas very gradually fights an otherworldly menace, where Quentin appears and disappears with little consequence, where Maggie experiences carefully controlled doses of mild peril, and where an upsetting reptile pulls the strings, and makes the puppets dance.

This is a story that our people tell. We call it Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy’s Curse.

Continue reading Episode 946: Universal Monsters

Episode 876: The Curse of the Caffeinated

“How strange to think that such a place could trap one forever!”

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, says Beth, as she slips off the cliff, and into something less comfortable. Running away from her lover, she throws herself off of a mountain and into the sea, which is just like what happened to Josette, except this time it’s Beth and nobody cares.

So Love is dead, as a motivating force behind soap opera storytelling. It had a nice long run, but nothing lasts forever, especially in this town. Beth is dead, and Amanda is gone, and Angelique has vanished, and Kitty is turning into Josette, and Judith has decided to concentrate on vengeance and nothing else. As far as heterosexual love stories go, there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver.

We’re currently stumbling through the dying days of the 1897 storyline, and this week is especially grim. The next five episodes are wall-to-wall villains and henchmen, each one entirely devoted to exterminating all of the others. Count Petofi, Reverend Trask, Charles Tate, Evan Hanley, Tim Shaw, Aristede — it’s the entire 1897 rogues’ gallery, minus the ones that we like.

In fact, tomorrow, one of the villains decides to kill another villain by using a third villain to summon a brand-new fourth villain, who then marches around for the rest of the week strangling literally every single person that he sees.

Dark Shadows is currently taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, with the few scattered survivors driving around in the desert, and challenging each other to Thunderdome cage matches. So, fine, if that’s how they feel about things, we might as well skip the show today, and go read another comic book.

Continue reading Episode 876: The Curse of the Caffeinated

Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 10: The Do-Over

“Suddenly, a violent gust of wind erupts, wrenching Esau Collins from his own tombstone!”

I thought it would be fun. You know? I had to go away — to Germany, for a conference, not that it matters — and I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with an episode post every day. So I thought, I’ll spend two weeks writing about the 1971 Dark Shadows comic strip. That’ll be fun and easy, I can write them on the plane (which I didn’t, really) and I won’t have much to catch up on when I get home (which I really did).

The thing that I didn’t realize was: this comic strip is a wake. It started just before the show ended, and then kept going for a year, a drawn-out death rattle. This fun little two-week sidebar has turned into my first real encounter with the end of the show, a vision of April Third and what lies beyond: a Christmas Yet to Come.

I’ve written about other post-mortem spin-off material — the 1991 revival, the Big Finish audios — but this one feels different, because the comic strip was there, at the scene of the crime. And right now on the blog, I’m in the 850s, right at the peak of Dark Shadows’ popularity, and just before things start to go wrong. The comic strip is a vision of the near-future, and not a promising one.

But what is Dark Shadows, if not a contemplation of death? Yes, the show will be cancelled. The nighttime revival will fail, and the teen-drama reboot, and the several disappointing movies. Dark Shadows will never come back. I will die, and everything that I love will die. But at least I’m going to outlive this goddamn comic strip.

Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 10: The Do-Over

Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 3: The Bite of Love

“At last, after thousands of years, I shall be in the presence of the soul of my beloved!”

I’m traveling right now, so instead of writing regular episode posts, I’m doing a special two-week series on the 1971 Dark Shadows newspaper comic strip, because it’s easier to write these on planes. You might be wondering if having a book of vampire comic strips in one hand and scribbling sarcastic jokes with the other hand would excite comment among one’s fellow passengers. The answer to that question is yes.

But the interesting thing about the strip so far is that Barnabas has been a passenger too, riding shotgun on a storyline that was entirely about other people. He coasted through the magazine publisher warlock assassin story, which really could have worked itself out without him. Basically, he had one cool villain fight scene where he was temporarily enveloped in fire-retardant fire, and besides that, it was mostly thinks monologues. For Jonathan Frid, it’s hardly been worth showing up at the newspaper for work, really.

Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 3: The Bite of Love

Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 1: The Tortured Undead

“I thought there were only two Collinses left. That means there are three who must be destroyed!”

Now, I know that Quentin Collins is at a particularly thrilling crisis point right now — forced to wear jewelry that he doesn’t particularly care for — but I’m afraid we’re going to have to put his problems on hold for a minute, because I’ve got problems of my own. I’m leaving the country for a conference, and I won’t have time to write regular episode posts for the next two weeks. But I can’t just jump forward into the future and leave the rest of you behind, at the mercy of gypsies.

So I’ve come up with another crackpot idea for what to do over these two weeks, namely: write about the Dark Shadows comic strip, which ran for one year, starting in March 1971. These will probably take me longer to write than the regular posts would have, but I wanted a chance to cover the comic strip anyway, and you only live once, probably.

Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 1: The Tortured Undead

Episode 743: Stand Next to Barnabas

“I don’t understand it any more than you do, but I believe it.”

Okay, let me see if I have this right.

There’s a God — a Great Sun God named Amen-Ra — and he really exists, because it turns out the ancient Egyptians were right on the money. Tens across the board for the ancient Egyptians. They looked up into the sky, and they said, the sun is a boat, and Ra crosses the sky every day and looks down on the world that he created, before high-tailing it back over to the east so he can do it again with the moon. The moon is a boat too; they’re both boats. Everything in the sky is a boat.

Also, there’s a giant serpent named Apep that lurks just below the horizon, who tries to attack Ra’s solar boat, stopping it with his hypnotic stare and threatening to eat the sun. Luckily, every evening, the serpent is defeated by Set, the god of the desert, as described in The Books of Overthrowing Apep, which includes chapters on Spitting Upon Apep, Defiling Apep with the Left Foot, Taking a Lance to Smite Apep and Putting Fire Upon Apep. That will teach Apep a thing or two, is the basic attitude of the ancient Egyptians.

And according to the vampire soap opera that we’re currently watching, all of that is totally true. That is the way that the world works. The boat, the snake, the left foot, everything.

Well, I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it. With all due respect to the ancient Egyptians, there’s something about that story that doesn’t quite ring true for me.

Continue reading Episode 743: Stand Next to Barnabas

Episode 611: The Love Object

“Now I understand why I have the urge to kill Adam.”

So here’s the latest: Eve, the Bride of Frankenstein monster who used to be a French psychopath named Danielle Roget, is in love with Jeff Clark, the amnesiac who used to be an 18th-century lawyer named Peter Bradford, and she killed her lover to be with him, only to have him reject her and fall in love with a time traveling governess who’s on trial for witchcraft.

Now, I adore the absurdity of this plot point, but it’s only been around for three episodes so far, and already I’m checking the episode guide to see how often I’m going to have to explain it. The answer, fortunately, is not very often, so I’m not sure why I’m even bringing it up.

Because it’s not exactly one of the great romances of our time, is it? It’s soap opera mate-matching at its most cynical — just taking two random characters and saying, “This one is desperately in love with that one,” even though they have nothing in common and it doesn’t seem like it’s in character.

Continue reading Episode 611: The Love Object