“Fight me? When I’ve already won?”
It seemed to me, as I sat there in bed, staring at the wall, at the sunlight coming in at the window, at Maxim’s empty bed, that there was nothing quite so shaming, so degrading as a marriage that had failed. Failed after three months, as mine had done.
For I had no illusions left now, I no longer made any effort to pretend. Last night had shown me too well. My marriage was a failure. All the things that people would say about it if they knew, were true. We did not get on. We were not companions. We were not suited to one another.
I was too young for Maxim, too inexperienced, and, more important still, I was not of his world. The fact that I loved him in a sick, hurt, desperate way, like a child or a dog, did not matter. It was not the sort of love he needed. He wanted something else that I could not give him, something he had had before.
Continue reading Episode 1025: Rebecca to the Rescue
“All we know is that there’s another force working in this house against the same people that we’re fighting against.”
“Now, that I don’t understand at all,” Quentin says, just like everybody does in this storyline, about everything, all the time. The Leviathan story may be one of the least understood in the history of the dramatic arts.
Specifically, he’s talking about Elizabeth, who’s under the sway of the malicious alien heptapods who are currently terrorizing Maine. “Yesterday, she tried to kill Maggie,” Quentin observes. “Today, she obviously lies, and smiles graciously, and wishes that Maggie were back.”
Julia shakes her head. “Quentin, this is a house of lies. The only way to bring these people back to the truth is to smile and lie, just as they do.”
And for the first time in my life, I have to ask the question: Is Julia Hoffman right?
Continue reading Episode 958: The Not Normal
“But why should God be angry at Judith?”
Barnabas is staked, Quentin is swapped, Charity is possessed by a woman she hardly knows. As usual, the Collins family is full of supernatural ne’er-do-wells, who scream and scheme and stay up late, desperate to save each other from their latest fate worse than death.
Meanwhile, the grown-ups in the family go to work, and manage their investments, and take care of the property. They pay servants. They sign documents. They make decisions.
Some of those decisions are terrible, of course, especially in their choice of spouses, who tend to be monsters and murderers and reincarnations of people, but at least the grown-ups don’t dabble in the dark arts. Judith wouldn’t know a dark art if it came up and bit her, which, come to think of it, it actually did.
Continue reading Episode 863: Sin and Sincerity
“Well, I’m sorry, I think the idea is absurd, and impossible to grasp.”
Okay, we’re finally here — the big finale for Laura the phoenix, filmed in full color Cinemascope, with a serious uptick in the ol’ suspension of disbelief.
Now, I know this has been a lengthy battle with a lot of extra distractions, but according to the opening narration, the family has really taken their collective eye off the ball.
A violent conflict rages within the great house of Collinwood, between two supernatural forces — one determined to snuff out the lives of two young children, the other equally determined to save them.
Only Barnabas Collins is aware that the safety of Jamison and Nora is vital to the whole future of the Collins family.
So — wait, really? Barnabas is the only one who’s aware of that? Cause those are the only two kids in the house, and looking at the adults, I don’t see a lot of reproductive potential. If they really don’t understand that you need kids to have a future, then somebody needs to have a long talk with the Collins family, while we still have one.
Continue reading Episode 760: Light Fuse and Get Away
“I was just having one of my moments of inexplicable hysteria.”
Here’s what the world sounds like before Roger shows up:
“I don’t understand you, Jeff, really I don’t!” says girl governess Victoria Winters, starting off the episode inexplicably petulant.
Jeff flashes a casual grin. “Well, I don’t know what could be plainer. I think we should get married next month, at the latest.”
“You know what I mean,” she frowns, and he doesn’t, and neither do I.
How exactly could you get yourself into this particular conversational logjam? Jeff comes bounding in, all smiles, and she’s just staring daggers at him. Jeff says, Hello, Vicki! So happy to see you. He gives her a kiss. She glowers at him. He says, Guess what I’ve been thinking about. She sighs and frowns. He persists: I think we should get married next month, what do you say?
And that, apparently, is where we came in. I can’t really picture it. It’s possible that I’m over-thinking this.
Continue reading Episode 617: Roger to the Rescue
“I’m sure that you can recognize the difference between a cellar with a coffin, and a cellar without a coffin.”
In 1948, James Thurber wrote a five-part series of articles for The New Yorker called “Soapland”, an in-depth look at the world of radio soap operas. One of the many strange things that he learned was that some listeners apparently had a hard time understanding that the shows were fictional. When a popular heroine on Just Plain Bill was going to have her first child, listeners sent hundreds of baby gifts to their local network stations, and when the child died, the stations received stacks of sympathy cards.
That stereotype of the half-deranged soap audience lasted for a long time, and every Dark Shadows-era interview with Jonathan Frid would include at least one paragraph on the weird mail Frid received from female fans, begging for a bite.
But from what I’ve seen, soap opera fans are exactly the opposite of that stereotype. There are currently two weekly magazines on newsstands that are exclusively devoted to documenting the behind-the-scenes mechanics of daytime television production, where producers and head writers are expected to explain and justify every single storyline and casting decision. Following a daily soap opera is like getting a graduate degree in Open-Ended Serialized Narrative in Theory and Practice.
This means that we’re constantly analyzing the soaps we enjoy, measuring the current state of the show against what we’d like it to be. We’re an audience of active backseat drivers. When a favorite character dies, we don’t send sympathy cards — we write letters and emails and furious tweets, actively campaigning to bring the dead back to life.
It’s not just that we don’t believe the characters are real. We barely believe that the show is real.
Continue reading Episode 334: All Those Dead People
“I believe a lot of things, but that doesn’t prevent me from being amused by them.”
On Friday, Barnabas’ pleasant costume party was interrupted by several strange incidents — Liz felt a piercing cold, the door flew open, and a bunch of candles blew out. For some reason, everybody decided that a ghost was trying to communicate with them, rather than the obvious alternative explanation, namely: it’s windy outside and we’re in a drafty old house.
So now they’re all sitting around a table with their fingers touching, conducting an impromptu seance. Just as they’re ready to give up, Vicki starts to moan: “Run… please, faster… I must run. Don’t stop me! Don’t STOP me!”
Continue reading Episode 281: Ancestral Exercises
“You look ghastly, Loomis. I mean this only as a compliment to your histrionic talents.”
It’s morning at Collinwood, and hey! Willie’s back. Now Jason’s angry, Willie collapses, and there’s a very good chance that we might end up doing the last three episodes all over again.
Continue reading Episode 219: Addled Quacks
“Forgive me. Nothing that ever happened here was funny.”
Vicki comes to the Old House looking for David; it’s after dark and he’s probably run straight to the haunted house. Someone comes down the stairs, and she’s relieved when she sees that it’s Barnabas — she thought it might be someone dangerous.
After an awkward silence, Barnabas gestures upstairs, and says, “I was revisiting my ancestral past.” Naturally, Vicki doesn’t say anything. How do you respond when someone tells you that he’s revisiting his ancestral past?
Continue reading Episode 214: Very Much Alive