“They become just as helpless as this pencil.”
Dr. Julia Hoffman comes home to her luxurious mansion, which belongs to other people. She’s brought a friend, a handsome young serial killer named Chris. They’ve just had an unpleasant afternoon with Chris’ ex-girlfriend, who was traumatized by Chris several years ago to such an extent that she no longer moves or speaks.
Chris is a little uneasy after the encounter, but Julia’s in full Murder Club mode, telling him that Sabrina still can’t speak, so she can’t identify him to the police. This is Julia’s idea of reassurance.
After Chris leaves, she’s joined by Professor Eliot Stokes, another dangerous houseguest who’s snapped his leash and is now wandering around at will, drinking other people’s liquor and planning unholy rituals in other people’s back gardens.
“I’m glad you’re here, Julia,” he smiles. “I’m going to exorcise the ghosts from this house tonight, and you are going to help me.” This is what Julia’s life is like, just one damn thing after another.
Continue reading Episode 693: Sticks and Stokes
“Curious, so many hearts should stop in this house.”
Okay, new game: Why is it difficult to host a murder mystery dinner party when the main suspect is actually a ghost?
Well, ghosts can walk through walls, for one thing, so you can’t really do a locked room mystery. They don’t have fingerprints, or leave any physical evidence, really, except maybe the faint smell of jasmine or whatever. The victims all die of heart failure, including the one who fell all the way down the stairs and smacked her head on the hardwood. Also, there’s not much you can do with a ghost once you’ve caught him, and now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure they don’t even exist.
In fact, I’d say it’s impossible to attempt a murder mystery story about ghosts. And yet, here we are.
Continue reading Episode 686: The Case of the Lifted Ledger
“So we’re at the mercy of a ghost.”
Let us put aside speculation, and confine ourselves to the facts.
On Monday, the unresting spirit of Quentin Collins directed young David to remove a small vial of strychnine from his rolltop desk. The next day, an unseen spirit entered the cottage of Christopher Jennings, uncorked his whiskey decanter, and decanted several tablespoons worth of strychnine into it. Chris helped himself to a glass, and now he’s flat on his back, thinking things over.
At Collinwood, Julia’s sleep was interrupted by the ghost of a sobbing woman, who led her downstairs and out the front door. Picking up Barnabas along the way, Julia followed the ghost, who led them to the scene of the crime.
Now, I’m fairly certain that we know whodunnit — it was the muttonchops that walk like a man, last spotted fleeing the scene and shouting, “You’ll never catch me alive!” The questions that we need to resolve are more along the lines of whythehelldunnit.
#1. Why did Beth go to Julia, rather than anyone else?
#2. Why is Beth suddenly trying to stop Quentin’s plan?
#3. Why does Quentin want to kill Chris?
There are solutions to all of these mysteries, which regular readers should be able to work out for themselves, without resorting to time travel by way of the DVD box set. Don’t bother with the head canon; all the evidence that we need is right here in this room. As the man said, You know my methods, Watson. Apply them.
Continue reading Episode 678: Chris Jennings Must Die
“But it isn’t possible, Julia! He exists by day!”
Tom Jennings — local handyman, vampire, and one of the cutest guys on Dark Shadows — died yesterday, following a brief struggle with a main character. He was 28 years old, not counting the last two weeks.
Now, Tom was a fun character, with family and friends and an entertaining story point and several attractive hairstyles, so we would be well within our rights as members of the Dark Shadows audience to mourn his passing, but it’s just not possible right now.
Barnabas and Julia are as happy as could be, and so am I, because Tom’s destruction means that they get to play Junior Detectives again.
Continue reading Episode 572: Junior Detectives
“You might as well prepare yourself for an ordeal.”
It’s a tough job, I get that. Police officers on Dark Shadows combine the inadequacy of soap opera cops with the inadequacy of monster movie cops. Police officer characters can do very well, if they stay in their own genres, but when they stray too far from home, they start competing with characters that are automatically way more interesting.
The outbreak of lawlessness that Sheriff George Patterson is currently investigating centers around Adam, the patchwork Frankenstein monster. If they catch him, they’re planning to charge him with being brought to life without a license, which I don’t think is even a misdemeanor.
So you’ve got to feel bad for the Sheriff, unless you forget all about him the moment he’s off the screen, like everybody else does.
Continue reading Episode 505: The Sinking Detective
“Our mistake is thinking that there are limits as to what can take place on this planet.”
Maggie’s still locked up at the Windcliff Sanitarium, recovering from her recent vampire abduction. Dr. Julia Hoffman — the noted blood specialist, psychologist and all-around smart person — is hypnotizing Maggie with a penlight, trying to bring her repressed memories to the surface.
They took a field trip to the Eagle Hill cemetery yesterday, and they found the Collins mausoleum, which triggered some frightening memories. Julia noticed that there was a grave marker for Sarah Collins in the mausoleum, and now she’s trying to learn if there’s a connection between the 10-year-old named Sarah who died in the 18th century and the little girl named Sarah who helped Maggie during her incarceration.
That is an incredible leap in logic, and I’m using the dictionary definition of “incredible”, as in: impossible to believe. Julia is going to make a lot of these intuitive leaps over the next week, making connections that no real human would ever make given the current information. And every single one of her batty conclusions is exactly correct.
Julia is therefore a completely unbelievable Sherlock Holmes type detective, who pulls insights out of the air and is right every time. And the audience loves her and believes in her anyway.
Continue reading Episode 284: Doctor Who