“The fact remains that every time there is a crisis involving Bramwell, you seem to have the most extraordinary emotional feeling!”
So here’s where we are: if you read yesterday’s post and it made any goddamn sense to you, then you’re aware that you and I are currently perched just outside the event horizon of the Great Unwinding, a long-prophesied series finale extinction event that threatens to erase Dark Shadows, and send us all tumbling back into the 4pm timeslot’s previous occupant, a dreary and unremembered soap opera called Never Too Young.
Never Too Young was a nine-month-long daytime soap flop about a group of rambunctious teenagers in Malibu Beach, aired every afternoon as a kind of eternal Beach Blanket Bingo. The show was told from the point of view of Alfy, who owned the local teen hangout, the High Dive. It included a lot of swinging music, both on the soundtrack and with frequent guest performers at the High Dive, including the Castaways and Paul Revere & the Raiders. The star of the show was Tony Dow (Wally from Leave It to Beaver), and his costar was the original kid from Lassie. Just thinking about Never Too Young is fairly grim, especially when you consider that this sun-and-fun beachside adventure was broadcast from September 1965 to June 1966, pretty much missing summer altogether.
And now we are threatened with the almost-certain obliteration of Dark Shadows from history, and an eternal plunge backwards into a timeline where there’s no such thing as a vampire soap opera. This will be a safer, sunnier, more predictable world, where late 1960s television was uniformly up-tempo and unsurprising, and it will be a hell on earth. The stakes could not be higher, and you know how vampires feel about stakes.
And this imminent, reality-crushing catastrophe has something to do with episode 1219, which does not, in fact, exist. So that’s a bit of a puzzle.
Continue reading Episode 1219: The Missing Step
“The spirits don’t care. They don’t care, they just want a sacrifice!”
The portal is open; the dark work is complete.
There is a haunted chamber in this mansion, made of hurt feelings and eternity, and it demands to be fed. At least once in each generation, the Collins family chooses the relative that they like the least — they say it’s a random lottery, but guess who gets chosen every time, go figure — and they throw that irritating uncle to whatever happens in this room after dark. Nobody knows what ordeal these luckless loners undergo, while they inhabit this solitary torture cell.
“Look at his eyes, filled with fear,” says Flora Collins, shuddering. “Yet now, this room is like any other room!” Sure, except that it sucks.
Continue reading Episode 1215: The Not Gabriel
“How can we know with any certainty whom this head possesses?”
So that was it! Oh, you clever boys; the Dark Shadows team has done it again. That’s why the horoscope was unfinished. Now we understand why Gerard needed to bring Tad and Carrie back to life, and the significance of the dollhouse and the carousel, and why Gerard showed up at the picnic, and where all those dead pirates came from.
It was all about the playroom, after all, just like we knew it would be. I bet anyone who thought that the Dark Shadows writers were just making things up as they went along must be feeling pretty silly, right about now.
Continue reading Episode 1197: The Night I Sang My Song
“It wasn’t an ordinary dream, it took place at the antique shop.”
You can always tell when a new actor feels comfortable on Dark Shadows, because all of a sudden there’s a lot more noise coming from that direction. Chris Pennock has been on the show for a few weeks now, and he’s getting one of those full-court-press episode streaks that they sometimes do for new villains when they’re just getting started. Overgrown teen tyrant Jeb Hawkes appears in 18 out of 20 episodes in his first four weeks, and in the ones where he doesn’t appear, they spend the whole time talking about him anyway.
And it’s here, in his thirteenth episode, that they’ve managed to convince him to stop worrying about his sense memory and animal work. You’re a villain on Dark Shadows. Just start shouting.
Continue reading Episode 948: War Games
“I’ve always wanted to at least not hurt you in any way.”
Welcome back to another week of Dark Shadows, the pop culture sensation that’s been gaining in popularity as its storylines grow progressively darker. It’s August 1968, and this crazy little daytime horror show is the success story of the summer.
Lately, we’ve been following Adam, the love-struck Frankenteen who’s hiding out from the police in an abandoned wing of Collinwood. He’s been there for a couple weeks, reading poetry and developing a full-scale crush on Carolyn, who just wants to be friends. Adam’s finally been told that he was created in a mad science lab, and there’s no chance that Carolyn will ever love him.
Left on his own, Adam picks up the knife from his breakfast tray, and considers ending it all. I believe the headline would be: World’s Largest Man Kills Himself with World’s Smallest Knife.
Continue reading Episode 551: Cruel World
“I owe my life to a man I vowed to kill.”
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the craziest show on Earth, where they inter and disinter their major characters at regular intervals.
Barnabas was attacked by a bat last week, and he died, because bat attacks are invariably fatal, as everyone knows. Convinced that he would rise as a vampire, Julia and Willie buried him in the woods, because they’re bad role models and that’s all there is to it.
This was bad news for Adam, our enormous Frankenstein man, because he’s been borrowing some of Barnabas’ life force this whole time. When Barnabas went down, Adam’s system crashed too. This is why, if you’re shopping for life force, you should just go ahead and buy the protection plan. I know, it’s an extra fifty bucks, but can you really put a price tag on peace of mind?
Continue reading Episode 538: The Shaggy Dog
“If Cassandra is still alive, why is Trask’s skeleton hanging in the basement of the Old House?”
Barnabas and Julia spent most of yesterday’s episode speculating like mad about whether the spirit of Reverend Trask actually succeeded in banishing Cassandra.
Today — as Elizabeth is quietly packed off to Windcliff, following a sorcery-assisted suicide attempt — the Junior Detective squad still continues to treat this question as an emergency stop-press concern.
“If Cassandra is still alive,” Julia says, “why is Trask’s skeleton hanging in the basement of the Old House?” The great thing about a question like this is that you can keep on asking it for days and days, and never get any closer to an answer. This is a good way to kill time on your television show, if you have one.
Continue reading Episode 521: Look Who’s Talking
“I should go to Collinwood, and drag her from the house, and BURN her!”
So, what do you do with a guy who just refuses to understand what kind of story he’s in?
I’m not talking about a Mulder-Scully dynamic, where the tension between belief and skepticism is the whole point of the series. I’m talking about a guy who’s standing smack in the middle of a spook show, and he can’t get his mind around the fact that there’s a witch who’s trying to kill him, even though she’s already openly attacked him using her magic powers. I’m talking about a guy who needs to have the situation explained to him over and over, plus he’s obnoxious and a terrible actor and he shouts all the time.
All right, it’s Lang. I’m talking about Dr. Eric Lang. He’s driving me crazy, and he’s got to be stopped.
Continue reading Episode 482: Witches Be Crazy
“I’ve been a prisoner because of this room!”
I’ve noticed a bunch of new readers showing up on the site this week, which is fantastic, but not necessarily the best timing. This is the final week of the last non-supernatural storyline, and it’s taking a minute to wrap up. The last time we saw the vampire was over a week ago, and all he did was talk to Liz about suicide.
So, new readers — stick around! The vampire comes back tomorrow, and next week he’s going to throw a costume party. Seriously, that’s the next storyline.
Continue reading Episode 273: All These Years