Tag Archives: reviewing the case

Episode 1168: How I Long to Be Wrong

“Whatever they know, I’m afraid it’s a great deal more than we care to imagine.”

You know, people say that Dark Shadows storytelling is slow, but just look at Gerard and Lamar; it was only yesterday that they even thought of looking for secrets in Ben Stokes’ diary, and now here they are, all the way downstairs in someone else’s house, tearing into the architecture.

“It was during the witchcraft trial,” Ben wrote improbably, “that the Reverend Trask made his last trip to the Old House. He made the mistake of finding the secret in the basement.” Upon reading this, Lamar Trask remembered hearing something bumping behind a brick wall a few weeks ago, and less than one minute later, he and Gerard have broken and entered the Old House, stormed to the cellar, and banged on a brick wall with a hammer and chisel, and now — ta-dah! — they’ve uncorked it, the co-star of The Cask of Amontillado.

And here he is, the Reverend Trask in skeleton form, hanging on a hook behind a pile of bricks, just like he was when they unveiled him last time, in spring 1968. I don’t know how many times they’re planning to unimmure the same guy; at a certain point, you ought to just leave him upstairs in a glass case and charge admission.

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Episode 1127: The Unexplainable Happenings

“You accept the fact of unexplainable happenings!”

Well, this is just typical. A young man awakens an ancient horror and sets it loose to prowl the countryside and spread havoc and despair, and as soon as he’s done it, he decides he didn’t mean it and he wants to take it back. I guess there were irresponsible millennials back in the nineteenth century too, eating avocado toast and not buying houses.

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Episode 1097: Dawn of the Honey Badger

“Why can’t I understand my own behavior?”

They died young, is the problem. I don’t know what they died of, but the leading cause of death for children at Collinwood is ghosts, so I assume that Tad and Carrie were probably possessed by a matching set of identical ancestors from the 1720s. Eager to pay it forward, they’ve lurked in the crawlspaces and hidey-holes of the great estate, waiting for another pair of gullible travelers to happen by. And so the cycle of life continues, in a way.

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Episode 1034: Mistakes in Justice

“I tried slapping her, and telling her there was no such person as Alvah.”

And so, as Sabrina sinks slowly in the west, we wonder: is there any other version of this story we could pay attention to instead?

I mean, the current storyline on Dark Shadows basically entails Barnabas struggling to save fake Maggie from fake Angelique, as they fight over an imitation Quentin made of straw and food coloring. Sabrina is gone and Julia is on the ascendant, but still, it’s Parallel Time and there’s only so much I can deal with. So how about today we turn to an equally ersatz band of time, and see what’s happening over at the Paperback Library?

Dan “Marilyn” Ross is currently pumping out Dark Shadows novels at the rate of 159 pages a month, and honestly they’re just as canon as anything else, so we ought to keep an eye on them just to make sure they’re not hurting anybody. The current installment as of May 1970 is #17 in the PBL Gothic series: Barnabas, Quentin and the Avenging Ghost, the second book to use the “Barnabas, Quentin and…” construction.

The cover blurb says “Barnabas and Quentin join forces against Collinwood’s ghostly killer,” which isn’t strictly accurate, in that they don’t join forces, it’s not necessarily Quentin, there isn’t a ghost, and nobody gets killed. Besides that, it’s fine.

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Episode 994: Polterguest

“Blood in this room. Why? First the piano playing, then downstairs, the picture of Bruno in the drawer. Blood there, too. Then Dameon in the chair. And here again, blood. But why?”

We’ve been spending the last several weeks settling into this new Parallel Time storyline, which takes place in a separate universe where everything is the same, except that people have made different choices, including the choice of whether to make their soap opera make sense or not.

They’ve boxed up the vampire, the crossover character who is technically the only person in this storyline from ABC-TV’s Dark Shadows, and they’ve put him into cold storage while the actor scurries upstate to appear in the Dark Shadows movie, leaving us with a handful of pinch-hitters from the other side of the sun.

The A-story these days is about Angelique — what she was, how she died, and whether she’s come back as a ghost, or a twin sister, or not at all. There’s been a decent amount of forward progress in that story lately — so much, in fact, that yesterday they slipped some important story information in the middle of a conversation about something else, and then acted like they didn’t even notice. But there’s still quite a bit of time to kill, and they need to slow things down a bit.

So today, they unveil the exciting plot twist that nobody saw coming: Dameon Edwards is back!

Okay, clearly you didn’t hear me. I said, Dameon Edwards is back!!

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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.

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Episode 943: From Within

“To think that on this night, this strange night, you might have come back to us in that dreadful condition.”

Well, Maggie Evans is all locked up again, as part of the Leviathan party’s continuing war on women. Well, on one woman in particular.

Three weeks ago, Maggie found herself on the far side of a door in the strange desert otherworld known as Collinwood’s secret passages, being menaced by an untamed teenage slime god who was pursuing some kind of board-game related vendetta. After three days of confinement, Maggie managed a daring escape by waiting for somebody to open the door for her.

Now she’s locked up again, this time in a crypt, by a zombie and an assassin and a guy with a box. So it’s just like the good old days, isn’t it, when Ron Sproat would bring the story to a screeching halt by locking up a pretty girl and keeping her there, while everyone else walks in circles and talks to police officers over the phone.

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Episode 934: The Pet Detective

“I don’t know what to say either, except that he died horribly.”

A man is dead.

Like, super dead. You know how some people are dead? Well, this guy is even more dead than that. Way more.

Kneeling, the Sheriff pulls a discreet sheet over the deceased, shaking his head.

“Have you told his family?” he asks the people who were in the room when the man died but claim that they have no idea what killed him.

“No, I didn’t quite know what to say. I thought after you saw him…”

“Well, I’ve seen him,” nods the sheriff. “And I’ve seen that room that he was destroyed in. I don’t know what to say either, except that he died horribly.”

He paces around the crime scene. “I’ve never seen a room destroyed the way that one was, or a corpse that looks like that!” He sighs. “I haven’t the faintest idea who, or what, murdered him.”

Yeah, no kidding; you’re a Collinsport sheriff. You live in the most murdery town in America, and you’ve never solved a single crime.

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Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home

“When you were putting Miss Balfour’s room to rights, did you find a dead snake on her dresser?”

Shadows of the night, falling silently. “Quentin’s Theme” is steadily climbing the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and pretty soon everyone’s going to be humming that tune, whether they want to or not. In this world that we know now, Quentin Collins is a bona fide Dark Shadows phenomenon, with a hit record and everything.

And this phantom melody is even starting to intrude on the hazy parallel world of the Paperback Library gothic romance novels. This peculiar line of spinoff books has been spinning its own cracked version of Dark Shadows for several years now, first chronicling the adventures of an ersatz Victoria Winters, and then tumbling head over heels for Barnabas Collins.

We last checked in with the Paperback Library four months ago to read Barnabas Collins vs the Warlock — the 11th novel in the series, and the sixth to feature Barnabas. By that point, the PBL was following clear editorial guidelines that the greatest human being who ever lived is named Barnabas Collins, and everybody else can go to hell. His only flaw is that his hands are cold, and hands are not everything.

But even the Paperback Library can’t ignore Quentin forever. They can ignore consistency and common sense and the limits of human patience, but Quentin Collins requires a response.

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Episode 593: Missing Persons

“It is true that he tried to kill you, but he was only acting out of fear.”

Carolyn Stoddard is dead, killed by a freak mad science experiment. And that’s just the beginning; the evening gets worse from there.

Choked with rage and grief, Adam the enormous Frankenteen tells Barnabas that he’s heading straight to Collinwood, and he’s going to murder everyone he can find. Then Adam punches Barnabas in the gut, drops him like a bad habit, and makes for the wide open spaces.

Barnabas tries to stagger after the crazed killer, but he can’t even make it to the front door before collapsing into Julia’s arms. She leads him to a chair and tries to help him recover, but Barnabas is desperate. There are three people living at Collinwood — more than that, if you count the help — and they are moments away from being entirely massacred. There’s not a moment to lose.

And hey, you know what? This would be a great moment for somebody to own a fucking telephone.

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