Tag Archives: promotion

922 jonathan frid fangs ring

Episode 922: To My Fans, the Audience

“Barnabas never ceases to be exciting.”

My husband opens the doors to the drawing room, and finds me deep in thought, puzzling over an old book. I’m reading carefully, and transcribing some of the more difficult passages.

As he makes his way to the drinks cabinet, he asks, “Is that for the blog?” I tell him it is, and I show him the cover. He asks why I’m writing about this now, and I say that the book just came out.

“But that looks old,” he says.

“Yeah, it just came out.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m in January 1970. This was published in December 1969.”

“Oh, I see,” he says. “You were meanwhiling.” This is why our marriage works.

Continue reading Episode 922: To My Fans, the Audience

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Episode 854: Positively Like a Beatle

“I tried to get it off my finger, but I can’t!”

In a way, Quentin’s having a tough week. He’s scheduled to marry a psychotic sorceress in a week’s time, the girl that he was planning to elope with went and eloped without him, his enchanted portrait was pinched from his bedroom, and now a wicked wizard is casting some kind of mysterious hoodoo on him that will almost certainly lead to ruin, desolation and despair, in that order.

But in another and much more important way, Quentin is having the time of his life. He’s currently in a streak of 14 straight episodes, and over the next six weeks, he appears on 26 days out of 30. He’s booked solid from Monday to Friday, and now they’re even sending him out on weekend excursions to wave at people.

Continue reading Episode 854: Positively Like a Beatle

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Episode 772: Nothing Lasts

“Apologies are the Devil’s invention. They just cover evil behavior.”

So like I said yesterday, Pansy Faye was killed after only one episode, a promising new character taken from us too soon by a wiggling plastic bat. And it’s a real shame, because it feels like we only scratched the surface on the entertainment value of a gold-digging fake-Cockney lunatic mentalist. But now Pansy’s dead, and she’ll never appear on the show ever again. Well, you can’t have everything.

Continue reading Episode 772: Nothing Lasts

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Episode 768: Number One with a Bullet

“I can’t take my mind off this bullet.”

Yesterday, somebody found a silver bullet outside Collinwood, and now Quentin’s taking it super personally. As a Werewolf-American, naturally he’s sensitive to displays of lycanphobic sentiment. Trying to explain that anybody could be killed by a silver bullet and that all lives matter is not at all reassuring.

Continue reading Episode 768: Number One with a Bullet

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Episode 749: The Big Break

“This was because Barnabas was only partly dead.”

Quentin Collins has been up all night, worrying about gypsies. He killed his wife Jenny yesterday, and as a result, Magda put a curse on him that will last all the days of his life. He’s terrified, naturally, as anyone would be, but eventually nature gets the better of him, and he settles into an uneasy doze.

He’s awakened by a woman’s voice — Jenny’s voice — calling his name. But that’s not super surprising; everybody’s been calling his name lately. He’s caught on.

Continue reading Episode 749: The Big Break

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Episode 716: The Generation Gap

“What is your blood type?”

It’s tricky sometimes, in this postmodern lit-crit racket of mine, to fully explain why one pop culture artifact was embraced by the populace at large while another was not.

Why was Star Trek cancelled for low ratings in its original run and then become a seminal science-fiction classic, while Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was popular at the time and is now utterly forgotten? Why did the Pac-Man cartoon click, while Rubik the Amazing Cube was a step too far? Did you know that America’s Best Dance Crew is still on the air, currently in its eighth season? It’s difficult to fully account for the vagaries of public taste.

Except in the case of the 1969 ABC game show The Generation Gap, obviously, which failed because it was terrible, and that’s all there is to it.

Continue reading Episode 716: The Generation Gap

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Episode 638: Win a Date with Jonathan Frid

“In 25 words or less, complete this sentence: I WANT A DATE WITH JONATHAN FRID BECAUSE…”

Every now and then, I like to break out of the usual dull routine of actually watching and writing about a Dark Shadows episode, in order to check in with some of the developments going on outside the walls of ABC Studio 16.

To really understand what’s happening on the show, especially as it’s ramping up in popularity, you need to look at the other sources of Dark Shadows knowledge that the audience absorbed by just living in America in 1968. Magazine articles, TV appearances, the View-Master reels, the gum cards, how annoyed your mother looked when you mentioned the show — in pretentious lit-crit circles, we call this paratextual information. I don’t know what the rest of you call it.

The merchandise and promotion are becoming increasingly important as we stumble towards the new year. 1969 was the peak of Dark Shadows’ popularity, and there’s a lot of extra material that we’re going to have to keep track of.

For example, if the phrase “the Charles Randolph Grean Sounde” means exactly nothing in your life, then I will make it my business to correct that situation. Mr. Grean is pivotal, and so is his Sounde.

Continue reading Episode 638: Win a Date with Jonathan Frid

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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

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Episode 588: Maggie Evidence

“Sometimes I was frightened of Barnabas, and sometimes I wasn’t.”

So, yeah. It’s been a weird couple weeks on Dark Shadows, and it was already a pretty weird show to begin with. We had some fun vampire time for a while, but that seems to have passed, and now we’re back in detention with the Bride of Frankenstein story.

Adam, our resident Frankenstein, wants Barnabas and Julia to create a female creature for his bride. They’ve got the body assembled, but now they need a woman to provide the life force to get the new girl up on her feet. This part of the process has been exactly as much fun as you’d expect.

The most perplexing thing this week has been this odd little plot cul-de-sac with girl-next-door Maggie Evans. Barnabas decided that Maggie would be the life force, but Willie’s got a crush on her, and he’s determined to protect her. So Willie’s kidnapped Maggie, as you do, and now they’re hiding together in the secret room in the Collins mausoleum.

This has jogged Maggie’s suppressed memories of being abducted and brainwashed by Barnabas last year, back when he was an evil Dracula. He’s cured now, and trying to put those days behind him, but if Maggie remembers what actually happened, then she’ll expose him, and he’ll be destroyed. So they’ve been doing some flashbacks to the 1967 story, showing us what Maggie remembers about her ordeal.

The puzzling thing about this sequence is that it doesn’t seem to be affecting the mad science story in any meaningful way. By the time Adam found out that Barnabas wanted to use Maggie, she was already gone. And it doesn’t even matter, because he wants to use Carolyn for the life force anyway, so it seems like the Maggie thread was just a pointless side trip.

But we’ve got it backwards. The “Maggie in the mausoleum” story isn’t here to support the Adam story. It’s the other way around — they’ve added a litle bend in the Adam story, so that they can do the flashbacks. Maggie’s flashbacks are the whole point of this week.

Continue reading Episode 588: Maggie Evidence

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Episode 554: Fresh Blood

“Why would you imagine dogs howling?”

It was the best of times.

“Mail for the show recently has been running to almost 6,000 letters a week since Barnabas soared to fame, with Frid himself receiving nearly 5,000 of that total.”

It’s late summer 1968, and Dark Shadows’ ratings have skyrocketed from 2.8 million viewers to 4.5 million, since Jonathan Frid debuted as reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins.

“Ben Cooper has licensed a line of masks and costumes based on the Dark Shadows theme and featuring Barnabas. Western Publishing is also on the way with a boxed board game, comic books and puzzles.”

Call it magic or genius or just being in the right place at the right time, but apparently what American housewives and teenagers want more than anything in the world is a vampire soap opera at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

“Several weeks ago, Frid appeared in three Stern Brothers stores in the New York City area as a guest at fashion shows displaying ‘Monster Shoes’ — the latest in girls’ and women’s footwear. Stern’s officials described his appearance as one of the biggest in memory.”

There’s just one problem: Barnabas Collins isn’t a vampire anymore. He used to be, once upon a time, but he was cured three months ago. Any viewers tuning in to see neck-biting will be sorely disappointed, and so will their 4.5 million friends. Continue reading Episode 554: Fresh Blood