Tag Archives: scooby-doo

Time Travel, part 13: Total Blood Volume

“Less talk, more crowbar!”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A man walks into a crypt, looking for buried treasure. He crowbars his way into a mystery box, and what does he find? A pain in the neck.

Today is Christmas Day 1970, happy holidays by the way, and the show is taking the day off. On pre-emption days, the blog is visited by the Ghost of Dark Shadows Yet to Come, often to our great and lasting regret. During previous pre-emptions, we watched the 1970 movie House of Dark Shadows, the 1971 movie Night of Dark Shadows, and the 12 episodes of the 1991 NBC revival. The short version is that they weren’t very good, because trying to catch lightning in a bottle is difficult, especially when you’ve already used that bottle a couple of times. Lightning’s funny that way.

Today, we’re taking a look at the next chapter of that story: the 2004 pilot for a new prime-time Dark Shadows, prepared for and rejected by the WB, which used to be a television network.

You see, Dan Curtis — Dark Shadows’ creator and executive producer — never gave up on Dark Shadows, except while he was making it, when he definitely did. Having tasted the thrill of unexpected success in 1968 and 1969 as the show’s popularity reached its peak, he decided to make a movie version, using the same cast, crew and writers, while the television show was still on the air. That left the show coasting for months on ABC-TV with the B-squad characters, and when Dan finally came back to the series, all he really wanted to do was make another movie, and that’s why the show came to a gradual, disappointing end.

In 1991, Dan decided to try again, making a 12-part prime-time series for NBC that used a lot of ideas from House of Dark Shadows, and it didn’t work out, for lightning/bottle reasons. And then he just kept on trying to remake the remake for the next 12 years, finally managing to convince the WB to spend five million dollars on a pilot that nobody liked.

I asked you to stop me if you’ve heard this before, but frankly, it’s no use trying. The only way that Dan could stop retelling the story of Dark Shadows was to die, and even then, I bet he’s up in Heaven, pitching Saint Peter on another series. I’m kidding, of course; executive producers don’t go to Heaven.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 13: Total Blood Volume

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.

Continue reading Episode 1034: Mistakes in Justice

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.

Continue reading Episode 993: All I Know Is Danger

Episode 844: Those Meddling Adults

“I must go. I have a feeling that there are evil forces at large tonight.”

As you know, it’s September 1969, and our vampire soap opera is reaching the peak of its popularity. After school, the kids all hurry home to check in with Collinwood, and find out what the vampires and witches and mad scientists are up to. Dark Shadows owns Mondays through Fridays — but on Saturday mornings, where we least expected it, a new creature is born. It has five heads and twelve legs, and it will run forever.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is an occult-tinged mystery-adventure cartoon sitcom about four hep teens and a talking Great Dane, who travel around the country in a van called the Mystery Machine. Each week, they visit one desolate tourist attraction after another — an abandoned circus, a deserted mansion, an old marina or a haunted hunting lodge — where they inevitably find a ghost, a witch, a Frankenstein, a phantom (which is a kind of ghost), a mummy, a zombie, a killer robot, or a snow ghost (which is also a kind of ghost).

The monsters are thrilling, but they aren’t real; the creature is always caught at the end of the episode and unmasked, revealing that they’re actually someone that the teens already know. This is a comforting, rational world, where there’s no such thing as a monster — there’s just your Uncle Stuart, or that nice archaeologist, or the curator of a local museum, and they’re dressing up as monsters because they’re committing a crime, and they want to murder you.

On Dark Shadows, of course, there are actual monsters, and the real mystery machine is the television, which is broadcasting directly at a defenseless audience of housewives and children with twenty-two minutes a day of black magic and werewolf attacks. For the last two and a half years, we’ve been asking the question, “How did they get away with this?” The answer, as far as I can figure, is that nobody actually cared. Everyone thought that Dark Shadows was perfectly acceptable children’s television; that’s why they made trading cards and View-Master reels and joke books.

But as summer wanes, that begins to change. The fall of 1969 is where we start asking the flip side of that question, namely: How did they stop getting away with it?

Continue reading Episode 844: Those Meddling Adults

Episode 692: The New Mischief

“It is strange, isn’t it, how suddenly the swamp seems to be playing a leading and sinister role in the affairs of Collinwood?”

Let us speak, then, of Barnabas Collins Versus the Warlock.

It’s book #11 in Paperback Library’s long, strange line of Dark Shadows-inspired novels, and it’s the first one in a while that actually takes inspiration from the show in any meaningful way.

In this book, governess Maggie Evans has to save her young charges, David Collins and Amy Jennings, as they — more or less — fall under the influence of an evil phantom that stalks the halls of Collinwood. It’s complicated.

Continue reading Episode 692: The New Mischief