Tag Archives: pronoun trouble

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Episode 970: A Less Rational Explanation

“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

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Episode 915: The Walkback

“You can’t let sentimentality make you careless!”

For the last six weeks, Barnabas Collins has been behaving oddly, even by eccentric millionaire standards. He’s been freezing out his friends, and striking them with cars. He’s revoked his Murder Club membership by warning his family that werewolves are dangerous. He’s appeared unbidden in other people’s dreams, and he’s arranged for the remote involuntary circling of dates on calendars.

But we finally have an explanation for everything. He was being sarcastic!

Continue reading Episode 915: The Walkback

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Episode 907: Barnabas v Julia: Dawn of Justice

“I’m in the curious position of knowing the criminals, but not the crime.”

There’s a popular myth that vampire Barnabas Collins is “redeemed” at some point during the run of Dark Shadows, and becomes a “sympathetic” character. In fact, that myth is so popular that pretty much everyone believes it except me, and even I believe it sometimes.

Still, it’s difficult to identify a moment in the series when he isn’t willing to murder someone, or cover up a murder, in order to protect himself or further some goal that he has. It is true that sometimes the person he’s planning to murder is not very nice. Whether that counts as “sympathetic” depends on your opinion of mass murder as a lifestyle choice for fictional characters.

At the moment, Barnabas is participating in a conspiracy led by the Leviathan people, an ancient and perplexing time-traveling death cult that appears to be mostly interested in Carolyn Stoddard’s love life. This cosmic conspiracy now includes several members of the Collins family, as well as the people who run the antique shop where Carolyn works.

As a collective, the Leviathan-minded characters have done the following:

  • Opened a box
  • Adopted a baby
  • Boarded up some windows
  • Read a book
  • Bought some clothes
  • Gave medicine to the baby
  • Stayed out later than they were supposed to
  • Talked to somebody at the Blue Whale
  • Pretended that a weird noise was the radiator even though it wasn’t
  • Invited their ex-husband to move back in
  • and drew circles on a couple of calendars.

And that, I think, is the extent of the current reign of terror. Except for Barnabas Collins, of course, who intentionally ran somebody down with his car, and is now planning to finish the job by choking the life out of the unconscious victim in his hospital bed.

As usual, the only person who’s even thinking about murder is Barnabas. Everybody else is basically fine.

Continue reading Episode 907: Barnabas v Julia: Dawn of Justice

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Episode 867: Nothing Up My Sleeve

“I know that vampires sleep very fitfully.”

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to show you a little game called Find the Vampire. It starts out very simple, all I need you to do is remember this card — Barnabas Collins.

Simple enough, what card do you have again? Okay. You can turn it over, take one last look. Now Barnabas Collins is right here in this coffin — let’s say it’s in a cave, all right? Barnabas Collins, in a cave, in a coffin, with a stake through his heart. That’s a dead vampire. He’s not going anywhere.

Great, now it gets a little tougher; we’re going to add another card into the game. This one is a mysterious presence at the rectory, Julia was left behind to take care of something when Barnabas was destroyed — that’s Barnabas, in the cave. This is a different card, over here, something in the rectory.

Now, I’m going to add one more card to the game, make sure you’re still — which card was yours again? The vampire, right, keep your eye on the vampire. Julia leaves the game, and then Angelique takes over, there’s a switch, and now we’ve got another mysterious presence, in the cove at Shipwreck Point. That’s a cove, not a cave. Don’t get those mixed up. The vampire’s in the cave, there’s something in the cove, one, two, three, and if I ask you, find Barnabas Collins, which card would you choose?

Continue reading Episode 867: Nothing Up My Sleeve

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Episode 862: Z-Jay

“Why did you come out here at this hour, and why are you wearing that gown?”

As you know, I hate to speak ill of the dead, especially when they’ve gone to a lot of trouble and they’re only trying to help, but I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a ghost successfully deliver a coherent warning to anybody. Either they moan a person’s name and nothing else, or they issue a bunch of unheralded pronouns and don’t explain the context. They put all this spectral energy into piercing the veil between the living and the not, but when they get through, it turns out they haven’t really figured out their messaging.

The current example is even more baffling than usual. Kitty Hampshire — known Josette lookalike and alleged reincarnation — finds a note in her bechamber that says, “Know yourself. Be who you must be.” Then she hears the hypnotic chimes of a music box, which direct her to a vintage gown hidden in the cedar chest. Putting it on, the damsel in this dress drifts down the stairs, and out to the cliffs atop Widow’s Hill, a popular nightspot for the young and doomed. This is all standard practice for gothic heroines who are gradually becoming aware that they’re somebody else.

Arriving at the rendezvous point, Kitty finds the specter of Jeremiah Collins, who was shot in the face a hundred years ago. “YOU MUST LEAVE THIS PLACE!” he bellows. “LEAVE COLLINWOOD, AND NEVER RETURN! IF YOU STAY — HE WILL KILL YOU!”

So Kitty just stands there, and screams her head off. And Jeremiah, honestly, what did you think was going to happen? You’re an undead creature with an untreated head wound. You are scary. That is a thing that you are now; you need to recognize that, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Continue reading Episode 862: Z-Jay

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Episode 766: You Have to Admit She’s Got a Point

“Do you think it’s right, to pray for a cursed thing like this?”

So it all turns out okay, obviously, it’s Quentin, of course it’s going to be okay. It takes more than a silver bullet to the chest to stop a phenomenon like Quentin. At this point, the only thing that could destroy the audience’s interest in Quentin Collins is a 95-minute MGM motion picture where he tries to drown Kate Jackson in a swimming pool. And what are the odds of that?

Continue reading Episode 766: You Have to Admit She’s Got a Point

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Episode 668: The Aristocrats

“Sometimes I get scared to like people, because I’m afraid.”

There are five more Ron Sproat episodes, and then, I swear to you, he is out of my life for good.

To catch up the uncaught: Over the last three months on Dark Shadows, there’s been a behind the scenes tug-of-war between two of the writers, Ron Sproat and Sam Hall. Ron’s been on the show since November 1966, and he lkes to slow things down and take his time. He writes a lot of recap scenes, and a whole week can go by without anything really happening. Sam joined the show in November 1967, and he’s the opposite. He’s smart, fearless and easily bored, and he wants to make the show faster, funnier, and more interesting.

Ron and Sam have been out of synch for a long time, and their disagreements are getting worse. That’s why the last few months have been a patchwork of exciting episodes and boring episodes, even more than usual.

By now, Sam has won, and Ron is on his way out. There’s only a handful of Sproat episodes left — and based on today’s episode, it sounds like he’s already cleaned out his desk.

Honestly, he’s not even trying anymore. I mean, he never really tried that hard in the first place, but now he’s not even trying to look like he’s trying.

Continue reading Episode 668: The Aristocrats

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Episode 642: Mind Over Manners

“There’s not much point in being both rude and mysterious.”

Over the last couple of weeks, Christopher Jennings has murdered at least two human beings — I know they were only day players, but even day players are God’s children, presumably — and yet we like Chris, and we let him get away with being really quite skilled at covering up for his ongoing murder spree, because he’s sexy and polite and interesting, and what does that say about us? Probably something terrible.

Continue reading Episode 642: Mind Over Manners