“There is a evil here!”
It started with radio, of course, this war of the words, with Painted Dreams and Just Plain Bill and The Romance of Helen Trent. All those listening women needed something to listen to, and radio soaps offered fifteen minutes of pure uncut conversation. But there comes a time when even soap opera characters need to admit that they don’t know what they’re talking about, and pipe the hell down.
Take the parallel Sabrina Stuart, spouting nonsense at one of those pop-up seances which they construct on the fly in high-traffic areas on the Collinwood estate. “She’s dying, she’s dying!” Sabrina cried, pointing at someone who wasn’t dying. “Murder! Murder! MURD-ERRRR!” It wasn’t clear whether she was pro or con. It probably doesn’t matter, one way or the other.
Continue reading Episode 991: Parsing Sabrina
“At least the companions I pick are human!”
So here’s the method: First, you take a chemical synthesis. This can be homemade, or delivered from a chemical synthesis company. Either one, it just has to be worryingly potent. Turn on the apparatus, set those fluids bubbling in their beakers. Add some powder to the synthesis. Now it’s a compound. Approach some truths that are better left unknown. Pour the result into a juice glass, and down the hatch.
It’s a simple dramatic recipe, but I do have a few questions for the reckless chemist, starting with: Why test this on yourself first? You literally have a guinea pig right there in the room with you. Wouldn’t it be easier to jot down observations, if the composition that’s getting reoriented isn’t yours? Also, what were you expecting to happen? What was the beneficial outcome you were aiming for?
Continue reading Episode 989: Scientific Progress Goes Boink
“You can’t just go on killing until you find the right hexagram!”
If the 1897 storyline has an overall theme — and it absolutely doesn’t, but let’s say it does for a second — then it’s this: Can villains build a better world?
It’s been about two years since the villains took over Dark Shadows, first with Barnabas and Julia stealing all the screen time, and then the rise of Angelique as the antagonist’s antagonist, reducing all the other characters to the role of chess pieces. By 1968, the continuing saga was essentially just the story of the Collins family enduring the intrusion of one monster after another — Adam, and Cassandra, and Nicholas Blair, and Danielle Roget, and a swarm of vampires, and finally a werewolf and a handful of angry ghosts. For the most part, the villains were the characters that drove the plot; they were the ones with story arcs. The would-be heroes basically turned into goldfish, swimming in circles in the background, as the villains clashed at stage front.
So as the 1897 storyline begins ambling towards a conclusion, the show is essentially asking, why do we even bother having characters who aren’t villains? If we assemble a diverse cast of gold diggers and grave robbers and spell casters, can they produce a long-term, productive storyline? Or does it all end with a big smoking hole in the ground, and a handful of singed survivors? At the moment, the smart money’s on big smoking hole, but stay tuned.
Continue reading Episode 858: The Woman Who Wasn’t There
“The sealed room — that’s my room! And the skeleton is my skeleton!”
There’s a special guest star on the blog today: eccentric millionaire Stephen Robinson, a long-time reader and commenter who I wanted to hang out with and watch Dark Shadows.
Danny: Hello, Stephen! I’m speaking with you through my time television, which is built into a cupboard that I wasn’t using anyway.
Stephen: Hello! It’s great to talk to you.
Danny: You too! Now, I have to warn you that this may actually show you a vision of your own death.
Stephen: But probably not.
Danny: Yeah, most of the time it’s okay.
Continue reading Episode 828: It’s My Skeleton
“Don’t you ever do that to me, or you’ll find yourself beyond the borderline of death!”
This is how Barnabas’ life is going these days — he walks into the cottage, and finds his ex-wife Angelique standing over Quentin, who’s out cold on the carpet. And Barnabas just sighs, and says, “Is he dead?” in the resigned tone that you use when the puppy’s peed on the rug again.
After all, this is the second time that Quentin’s died, just in the last two weeks. It’s like the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow, except the aliens are sarcastic women and it all takes place in the same house.
Continue reading Episode 732: Rules of Engagement
“I hope I disappoint you, and die before dawn.”
Barnabas Collins looks around, and tries to focus.
“Where have you brought me?” he moans. “What is this place?”
His wife, Angelique, drifts to his side.
“You’re near the sea,” she says. “Far away from anyone who may want to find you.”
Unimpressed, he surveys the room, clearly thinking: Near the sea? Dude, we live in Maine. Everything here is near the sea.
Continue reading Episode 618: Stop Trying
“Let’s just hope that what we suspect isn’t true.”
Danielle Roget, the notorious 18th-century murderess — the most evil woman who ever lived! — has been resurrected by unholy means, and she now inhabits a freakishly strong body created in a mad scientist’s lab. So here she is, a one-woman weapon of mass destruction, posing a clear and present danger to everyone in glowering range.
Today, we find her sitting on the couch and staring off into space, bored out of her everlovin’ mind.
Continue reading Episode 600: The Mate That Fate Had Me Created For
“He will not be a monster then — unless, of course, you consider me one. I’m sure you do.”
Julia Hoffman has seen too much.
Yesterday, Julia went into Dr. Lang’s secret murder lab without permission, and found the monster that he’s been assembling out of corpses and bits of string. She knows that the monster still needs a head, which means one more person has to die to finish the project. This is dangerous knowledge. Julia must be stopped.
Now she’s locked herself in Lang’s parlor, and she’s calling the police. She’s also screaming and sobbing quite a bit. Barnabas and Lang are banging on the door, desperate to stop her. Lang has pulled his gun — he’ll kill to protect his experiment, if he has to.
In a last desperate bid to halt this disastrous chain of consequences, Barnabas shouts through the locked door to his hysterical friend.
“Julia, remember!” he cries. “Remember someone!”
Continue reading Episode 481: Remember Someone
“I was just noticing your harpoon collection.”
“I’m sorry, Sheriff,” Julia says, in a spot of unhurried telephone acting, “but Mrs. Stoddard is resting. I’ll be glad to give her a message.” Then her face darkens. “I see. Yes, I’ll tell her — and, please, call the minute you hear something else.”
Then Barnabas just walks into the room. Nobody let him in, which means that Julia must have given him a key, and therefore they’re dating and they’re totally in love with each other.
Continue reading Episode 472: Lethal Weapon
“The more one learns, the worse one feels. I did not realize life was like that. But probably it is a well-known fact that no one bothered to tell me.”
There’s big news from the royal family, as usual. They think that just because they’re rich and powerful, that means they’ve got a patent on the epic tragedy — although to be fair, they usually do. Regular people don’t poison each other and throw themselves off cliffs; they just don’t have the time.
So here’s the top headlines: Barnabas, Prince of Collinsport, killed his uncle Jeremiah in a duel. Barnabas was then killed by his own wife, the witch Angelique, and cursed with eternal life. After dispatching Angelique, Barnabas courted his dead uncle’s wife, Josette, and planned to make her his vampire bride.
On Friday — confused and frightened by a vision created by the ghost of Angelique — Josette rejected the undead Prince, and killed herself by jumping from the cliff on Widow’s Hill. It’s basically a cross between Hamlet, Macbeth and the juicier episodes of Dynasty, as directed by George Romero.
Continue reading Episode 426: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern