“Absurd! Ha ha ha! Children’s chatter!”
Thanks to the flashback in yesterday’s episode, the Collins family of 1841 Parallel Time now knows that the terrible curse under which they live was invented by their terrible ancestor Brutus, who was mad at his wife and a guy that he worked with, who he killed and then was still pretty mad at.
Question: How does this information help the story progress forward? Answer: It does not do that at all.
Continue reading Episode 1232: My Coffin World
“Gerard, you took life from them once. Don’t do it again!”
“First, Gerard killed Quentin,” Tad explains. “And then, soon after that, Carrie and I died!”
“And then what happened?” Barnabas asks. He’s trying to figure out when we’re getting to the interesting part of this anecdote.
But never mind about that. Collinwood will crumble today, just like everyone thought it would four years ago. Turns out the vampire was a reprieve, not a cure; sooner or later, gravity reasserts itself, and Icarus takes a tumble into the sea. We’ll be leaving the Collins family as we know them, bound for the nineteenth century and points north, which means we’re not responsible for the future anymore, and Tad and Carrie can live or die in whatever order they choose.
Heads up, Collins family: Today is the last day of the rest of your life.
Continue reading Episode 1109: The Last Straw
“How do I remember all those lovely times we used to have?”
Gerard touches you, and you remember a life you never knew, a life of short concerts and strange hats, with impossible, inevitable rooms full of rocking horses and despair. The ghost has been systematically working his way through the Collins family, touching faces and changing lives.
Currently, things are about as bad as things get. As of this morning, six people at Collinwood are now possessed by malign forces — David, Hallie, Liz, Quentin and now Carolyn are working with the ghosts, and Maggie’s under the spell of a vampire. We haven’t seen Roger or Mrs. Johnson in months, so the unpossessed are basically surrounded.
So consider this: Barnabas and Julia are the only normal people left in the house. Shit just got unreal.
Continue reading Episode 1094: An Evening of Champagne and Whist
“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.
Continue reading Episode 804: The Other Puppeteer
“Can’t you tell what I’m doing? I’m choking you.”
Quentin lights three black candles, and we get the spooky summoning ritual music. “Oh, hidden spirit,” he chants to nobody in particular, “climb out of the pits of Hell, if that is where you be!”
He’s trying to reach Angelique, the sorcerous soap vixen, because sometimes things really are that bad.
“Hidden spirit… Make your presence known to me!”
His face was shredded by a legendary artifact called the Hand of Count Petofi, and just when he hoped to use the Hand again to cure himself, an intruder showed up and snatched it away.
“You are needed! NOW!”
But it’s no use, Angelique doesn’t show up. Last time he tried to call on her, she flew out of the fireplace on demand, but this ritual is a bust. That’s how bad things are for Quentin right now; his most desperate prayers go unanswered.
Magda tells him that they might as well give up, and run away. She rushes to the door, opens it — and finds Angelique, who’s just standing there on the porch. She didn’t hear Quentin’s summoning ritual or anything; she just happened to be coming by anyway. Angelique is a baller.
Continue reading Episode 793: The Puppeteer
“David Collins is nobody that exists.”
Back in ’97, Samuel Taylor Coleridge awoke with a splitting headache and a magnificent idea. Grabbing a pen and ink, his hands shaking with inspiration, he scribbled the first words of his masterpiece.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
David Collins is dead!
“That can’t be right,” Coleridge frowned, and scratched out the last four words, passing them along to the next available dreamer.
And so the crossed wires uncrossed, and the message wound its way from 1797 to 1897, whispering itself into Jamison Collins’ receptive ear.
But just imagine: if that mixed message had been traveling in the other direction, young Jamison could have become one of the great poets of his time.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
This is what Jamison got instead.
Continue reading Episode 767: Elegy for David C
“I would not let them be together in life… and they shall not be together in death.”
So far, there have been lots of surprises in the 1795 flashback storyline — some of them pleasant, and some not so much. I think the most disappointing surprise has been the characterization of Josette. She’s supposed to be the heart of the whole story, but as I’ve talked about this week, there’s not much there to hang on to.
Josette is basically just a spoiled rich girl. She never shows any real maturity, or makes any difficult decisions. She’s the blank slate that other characters write on — and not just the supernatural characters. There was that episode where Reverend Trask talked her into a weird, borderline-sexual exorcism ritual, and he didn’t use hypnosis. He just told her what he was going to do, and then he did it.
So, standing here at the precipice, the real tragedy is that Josette’s tragedy doesn’t feel like much of a tragedy. It’s the end of the girl as we know it, and I feel fine.
Continue reading Episode 425: Jump Street
“I believe you can do anything — and the meaner it is, the better you can do it.”
So there we were, all set up for the big royal wedding — Barnabas, the young prince of the wealthy and powerful Collins family, marrying Josette du Prés, the ravishing heiress of the Martinique sugar plantations. Young and beautiful and desperately in love, embarking together on their life’s journey.
And then, at the last moment, the bride runs off with the groom’s uncle, which is pretty much the exact reason why you need to hire a competent wedding planner. Have we learned nothing from reality TV?
Continue reading Episode 381: Runaway Bride
“They aren’t ideas, and I’m not imagining things.”
Well, it’s Friday, so we might as well talk about cliffhangers.
Over the next couple of months, the Dark Shadows writers are finally going to get the hang of how the show is supposed to work, and a crucial part of that is learning how to create episode endings that get people to come back for the next episode. That’s especially important on Fridays, when the cliffhanger needs to last us all the way to Monday.
High-quality cliffhanger construction is a very specific skill, and as the writers develop it, a cynical observer might start to wonder if the structure of the entire narrative is being twisted in order to service the audience’s bottomless hunger for bigger and bolder thrills.
In other words: Does this entire twenty-two minute slice of television exist only to set up a surprise twist in the last sixty seconds?
There are two answers to that question, which are as follows: a) Yes, it does, and b) Which is awesome.
Continue reading Episode 330: Twenty-two Minutes