“You’ve had too many victims! It’s over for you!”
Morgan Collins, the self-proclaimed god-emperor of the great estate at Collinwood, has learned that his emotionally explosive wife, who he had always feared was cheating on him with his cousin, was actually cheating on him with his cousin, to the extent that she is currently pregnant with her lover’s child.
Driven mad by this betrayal, in addition to the general background madness of being a Collins in the first place, Morgan has locked up Barnabas and Angelique in the cursed room that plagues this parallel hell. Everyone who spends a night in that room either dies or goes insane, at the pleasure of an angry ancestor who’s determined to spoil everyone’s fun. So far, the trapped lovers have been alternately possessed and throttled, but the evil wizard running the no-escape room hasn’t gone in for the kill.
As dawn approaches, Morgan strides down the hall towards the sealed portal, with a six-shooter in his hand. When he opens the door, if he finds that the couple has managed to survive the night, then he’s just going to shoot them, and take his revenge the old-fashioned way.
So I’ve got some hard news for Morgan this morning: opening that door is not going to benefit you in any way. Letting Barnabas out of a box is what got us into this mess in the first place.
Continue reading Episode 1245: Sunset at Collinwood
“You think I’m there? Well, I’m not. I’m here!”
Civil war has broken out in Collinwood, an unincorporated nation-state with its own history, founding myths, and independent system of justice. The reigning Collins family is consumed in internal struggle over trivial domestic matters, distracting them from the escalating crisis at the border. An authoritarian strongman, exiled from the well-lit areas of the house back in the seventeenth century, has declared total war on the family for no particular advantage to himself, and the inhabitants do not appear to have the basic survival instincts necessary to really get their minds around the problem.
The family’s basic strategic disadvantage is that they don’t like each other, and on the whole, they can’t stand to be in the same room for more than a couple of minutes before they long to go and be by themselves for a while. Given the current threat level, they should be building fortifications, running drills and sticking little pins in a map showing the location of enemy forces. This does not seem to have occurred to them.
This leaves them at the mercy of dissident elements, namely fifth-columnist Gabriel Collins, who is engaging in guerilla warfare. He’s running around the inside of the house, using secret panels and Jefferies tubes to access remote areas, and when he finds someone alone in a room, he suddenly pops out of a tunnel and attacks. When reinforcements arrive, he ducks back through the doorway, secure in the certain knowledge that the arriving parties would rather stand around and ask if people are okay than give chase.
Soap opera characters are not equipped for quick response time after a significant event; all they want to do is recap and discuss their emotions. Then there’s a commercial break, and they move on to other interests.
Continue reading Episode 1237: Chekhov’s Sword
“I’ve been insane for years! I just became sane, just a short time ago!”
Gabriel Collins is a new visitor to the mountains of madness, thanks to a recent half-hour soujourn in a Lovecraftian 4D immersive escape room that he has only recently escaped from. They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but apparently there are exceptions; Gabriel hasn’t managed to murder any of the three people he’s tried to extinguish tonight. And now that I think about it, not being killed by Gabriel has probably made Kendrick, Daphne and Morgan stronger, which means he’s even farther behind.
But he’s still in the game, and he’s currently lurking behind a tree with his knife, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk by. And here comes Kendrick, tromping through the woods en route to the police to report his recent brush with that very knife.
As Kendrick passes by, Gabriel grips the knife tightly in his fist, raising his weapon and preparing to strike.
But then he takes a look at himself, out in the woods, attempting murder for the fourth time today. In a moment of clarity, he looks at the knife, and asks, “What am I doing?” It’s the portrait of a man suddenly going stark raving sane.
Continue reading Episode 1217: The Next to Last
“Are you aware that you’re looking in the direction of the Old House?”
You know, I hate to be that guy, but if you can’t even do a duel properly, then I don’t know why you’re on television.
I mean, I remember the days when a Dark Shadows character could walk ten paces, turn and choose not to fire because they were being noble and heroic, and in return they would be shot in the face and die, like a man. And then they would come back as a revenant with an eyeball hanging out of their face and a different voice and they would say I WANT IN DEATH WHAT YOU WOULD NOT GIVE ME IN LIFE and people would be afraid of them and run away, and it would be crazy-looking and fun to watch. That’s what I expect out of a duel, some spectacle and excitement, and most importantly, an actual plot point that facilitates story progression.
But this? Bramwell stands there and lets Morgan shoot him in, I don’t know, the shoulder or something, and now he’s just saying sullen Bramwell stuff while he’s horizontal instead of vertical.
This is not romantic and noble. It’s not even story progression. This is just lying down and moping.
Continue reading Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House
“I regard anyone who tries to choke me as an enemy.”
Okay, the story so far: The Dark Shadows writers have decided that they want to stick around in the 19th century for a while, because the 1897 storyline is fun and popular. Plus, it’s got great characters, not counting the ones that they’ve murdered recently, which is most of them.
So we’re currently four days deep into the 1897 Relaunch week, where they start staffing up again for another few months on this uncertain and frightening journey into the past. So far, we’ve met Aristede, a dangerous, dark-eyed rogue from the Arabian Nights, and we’ve seen the latest reboot of Angelique.
Today, another mysterious stranger strolls into town, and he’s even more mysterious than the last one. We’re going to see a lot of mysterious strangers over the next month or so; it’s like an epidemic or something.
Continue reading Episode 794: Victor and the Wolf
“And after you see what happens, you will never be the same again!”
It’s the day after Christmas, and now on the show, a werewolf is tearing the hell out of Joe.
Continue reading Episode 654: Half-Hour of the Wolf
“You can be sure that death is no better than life, so don’t look forward to it.”
And then he was gone. He was ashes, he was memory, he was a dream that never came true. More specifically, he left show business and went into real estate.
Continue reading Episode 636: The Missing Link
“Well, never mind about that now. David was very nearly killed this evening.”
It’s a tough job, don’t let anyone tell you different. It must be one of the toughest jobs in television — writing the script for a daily soap opera. It’s not the long-term planning, which has got to be kind of fun. The brutal part is the scene breakdown.
The problem goes like this: We have a plot point to establish, and it requires these three characters to be on this set, in this kind of mood. Go make that happen. And sometimes there’s just no logical reason why that particular group of people would even be talking to each other. This is why you don’t see a lot of jolly soap opera writers.
Of course, on some days, you figure out a clever twist that solves the problem, and the world is full of sunshine, and that’s a good day. Gordon Russell is not having a good day.
Continue reading Episode 496: Father of the Year
“I’m back, I’m back! I didn’t die, I didn’t die!”
And meanwhile, in the present, everybody is still standing around in the drawing room, waiting patiently to finish the scene that they started four months ago.
This is a weird thing for a TV show to do. It’s so weird, in fact, that the opening narration — which usually lasts about thirty seconds and doesn’t mean anything — actually goes on for three minutes, all the way through the opening titles and into the first scene, just to make sure we know what’s going on.
Continue reading Episode 461: Leave Me Hanging
“I don’t believe any further explanation is necessary!”
Oh, great! More of this.
It’s been three weeks since we last saw time-traveling governess Victoria Winters, currently languishing in prison. Those were three good weeks. People seemed to laugh more, then. There were concerts in the park…
And now: Vicki and Peter. Pretty much nonstop for the next five episodes.
Continue reading Episode 452: The Great Escape