Tag Archives: silver

Episode 1178: The Mary Sue

“Linger, my friend, while I tell you my fascinating thoughts.”

“Mr. Collins, are you there?” calls Lamar Trask, talking to a brick wall. He’s excited, this is his first murder.

Trask has walled up the trans-temporal eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins in a basement alcove, for vengeance purposes. First he thought that Barnabas murdered his father, the Reverend Trask, fifty years ago. Now he knows that Barnabas isn’t a vampire, but he still thinks that Barnabas is responsible for his father’s death. Or maybe it was Barnabas’ father who was responsible. It’s not clear to me what Trask thinks. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, one way or another.

“Mr. Collins, something has occurred to me,” he continues. “Something I think you might find interesting. Shall I tell you?” From behind the wall, Barnabas says yes. Apparently he’s still taking calls.

“Good,” Trask smirks. “You’re not dead yet. Linger, my friend, while I tell you my fascinating thoughts.” Which kind of sounds like what I’m saying, at this point in the blog.

Continue reading Episode 1178: The Mary Sue

Episode 1070: Gangsta’s Paradise

“You don’t understand the enormities of your problems!”

It’s not really about the future, of course. If it was, they wouldn’t be doing Turn of the Screw II: The Returning. 

Dark Shadows has a future, of sorts, in reboots and reruns and spinoffs, but right now, they’re running out of energy and ideas. They spent the spring making House of Dark Shadows, a feature film that explicitly rejects the idea that Dark Shadows is a continuing story, and kills off every character that you could possibly be interested in, just to make sure that there won’t be a sequel. (They make a sequel anyway.) Now they’re back to making a daily TV show, and they’re finding it increasingly difficult to imagine a future that runs as far as the next six months.

But for two weeks, at least, they’ve managed to put together a tight, emotionally engaging mini-storyline set in 1995, which focuses on exactly the right characters and manages to turn the familiar sets into an alienating nightmare landscape. Today’s episode is essentially the season finale, with Barnabas directly challenging the Big Bad, and daytime soaps don’t even do season finales. My argument, based on this episode, is that they should.

Continue reading Episode 1070: Gangsta’s Paradise

Episode 961: Protagonizing

“I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”

“My, my, Mr. Jennings,” Bruno says, splitting his face with a lunatic’s grin. “How you’ve changed!” He’s sneering at the snarling werewolf that’s currently chained to the wall of this desolate crypt, and he’s staying just outside the creature’s reach, like Foghorn Leghorn standing at the dog’s leash limit.

“Does the tone of my voice anger you?” Bruno jeers. “Good! I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”

This is not typically a problem for werewolf handlers, because the entire point of werewolves is to be a metaphor for unchecked fury and explosive violence. You don’t need to rile up a werewolf. They come pre-riled.

Continue reading Episode 961: Protagonizing

Episode 960: Time and Temperature

“Well, the spirit’s certainly acting in a very strange way.”

So, let’s say you’re a Leviathan. Not the hooded sparkle-face kind, or the secret transforming alien octopus kind, just the regular human type Leviathan, who was given a ring and a membership card by an occult entity who promised that you would get power and money and revenge on your dad if you agreed to work seven days a week for no salary, performing dangerous assignments that you don’t understand.

Look, you’re stupid. Let’s just say that you’re stupid.

And here you are, in the middle of the night, in a drafty crypt, in some fish-factory town in Maine. You read in a book that your boss is vulnerable to werewolves, which you didn’t realize there were any, but guess what, there are. Also, there’s vampires, you just found that one out too. Apparently there’s everything.

You met some spooky girl with white hair a month ago, who seemed like she knew who the local werewolf was. You just happened to run into her again tonight, and you shadowed her to her boyfriend’s house. You broke in, you found some clues, you found the werewolf. And there’s going to be a full moon tomorrow night, so you’ll know for sure that he’s the wolfman before you shoot him in the head with a silver bullet. It’s hard to call that a lucky break, but you might as well try. This is some nightmare version of “lucky” that’s basically all you have to look forward to.

Continue reading Episode 960: Time and Temperature

Episode 928: Another Day in the Uncanny Valley

“I suppose I’d better pay a visit on the antique shop which specializes in a succession of strange, disposable little boys.”

Scene One: Grave, Indeed

EXT. PHOTOGRAPH OF COLLINWOOD — DAY

PROFESSOR STOKES (O.S.)

For Maggie Evans, a time of terror at Collinwood has ended, and the source of her torment has been identified as Michael, the boy who lives with Megan and Philip Todd at the antique shop.

FADE IN:

INT. ANTIQUE SHOP BEDROOM — DAY

Michael stares directly into the camera, waiting for his cue to begin acting.

PROFESSOR STOKES (CONT’D)

And now Michael faces his own time of terror. For with shocking swiftness, he has fallen ill, and as she examines him, Julia Hoffman knows his illness is grave indeed.

Having received his cue, Michael shuts his eyes and rolls around on the bed. Julia positions a stethoscope somewhere in the vicinity of his heart.

JULIA (THINKS)

Come on come onnnnnn when do I get to inject him with something

Continue reading Episode 928: Another Day in the Uncanny Valley

Episode 923: Probably Her

“If we can find more realities like that, maybe we can get him out of the mist.”

Okay, so do you remember how pretty much all of last year I was saying that the writers didn’t have a big master plan that connected Quentin’s haunting with Chris’ werewolf story, and that they had no idea that they were going to use Charles Delaware Tate’s magic portrait skills to cure Quentin and bring him to 1969 to reunite with his long-lost great-grandson? And everyone was like, no, they planned that all out, they knew the whole thing, like, totally in advance. And I was like, no, they’re just making it up as they go along.

Well, here we are, in Tate’s big dark mansion, with the culmination of this master narrative — Quentin, werewolf, Tate, portrait. So what’s the big payoff?

Nothing! Because they didn’t actually have a plan.

So everybody else was wrong and I was right, and that’s why I am the god emperor of understanding how Dark Shadows works.

Continue reading Episode 923: Probably Her

Episode 876: The Curse of the Caffeinated

“How strange to think that such a place could trap one forever!”

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, says Beth, as she slips off the cliff, and into something less comfortable. Running away from her lover, she throws herself off of a mountain and into the sea, which is just like what happened to Josette, except this time it’s Beth and nobody cares.

So Love is dead, as a motivating force behind soap opera storytelling. It had a nice long run, but nothing lasts forever, especially in this town. Beth is dead, and Amanda is gone, and Angelique has vanished, and Kitty is turning into Josette, and Judith has decided to concentrate on vengeance and nothing else. As far as heterosexual love stories go, there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver.

We’re currently stumbling through the dying days of the 1897 storyline, and this week is especially grim. The next five episodes are wall-to-wall villains and henchmen, each one entirely devoted to exterminating all of the others. Count Petofi, Reverend Trask, Charles Tate, Evan Hanley, Tim Shaw, Aristede — it’s the entire 1897 rogues’ gallery, minus the ones that we like.

In fact, tomorrow, one of the villains decides to kill another villain by using a third villain to summon a brand-new fourth villain, who then marches around for the rest of the week strangling literally every single person that he sees.

Dark Shadows is currently taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, with the few scattered survivors driving around in the desert, and challenging each other to Thunderdome cage matches. So, fine, if that’s how they feel about things, we might as well skip the show today, and go read another comic book.

Continue reading Episode 876: The Curse of the Caffeinated

Strange Paradise, Episode 2: Crypt Kicker

“We must send that demon back to Hell. The mystic drums must sound again!”

This week, we’re taking a break from Dark Shadows to watch the first week of Strange Paradise, a strange Canadian/US knock-off supernatural soap that began here, in fall 1969. If you need the links, here’s the other Strange Paradise posts and a YouTube channel that has all the episodes, although you can consider this a week-long warning label, rather than a recommendation.

What I’m interested in is figuring out what happens when somebody decides to make a Dark Shadows-like show, using the same format and timeslot as Dark Shadows, with similar resources, and with exactly the same cultural context, and still winds up with something that doesn’t feel like Dark Shadows at all. I’m not sure what the rest of you are interested in.

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Episode 831: Crash of the Kaiju

“Your involvement with this man-beast has placed you completely at my mercy!”

So let’s say you walk into a guy’s bedroom, and you find your brother-in-law manacled to the wall, while his gypsy girlfriend is pointing a gun at him, which is loaded with silver bullets. The gun is loaded, I mean, not the girlfriend or the brother-in-law. Well, they probably are too.

Naturally, you’re going to jump to several conclusions, all of them entirely justified, but the question is: What are you going to do about it? Saying “Pardon me” and quietly leaving the room is not really an option. This is a situation that requires a response.

Basically, you can either a) make for the exit and try to put as much distance as you can between you and whatever the hell is going on right now, or b) grab the gun, tell the gypsy to beat it, accuse your brother-in-law of being a werewolf, pistol-whip him into submission, drag him down several flights of stairs by the collar, throw him into the jail cell which is built into the basement of your house for no earthly reason, lock him up, and then summon the police to your little homemade slice of Abu Ghraib, so they can congratulate you on your heroism and community spirit. Those are the only two possibilities. P.S. The smart money is on option a.

Continue reading Episode 831: Crash of the Kaiju

Episode 791: Sign the Paper

“No, Judith — you’re not mad, you’re just… burdened.”

Reverend Trask is comforting his distressed wife. “Now, Evan here has a paper that will lift a great deal of that burden from you, as soon as you sign it.”

But Judith is too upset to focus. “I can’t read anything right now!”

“There’s no need to read it, Judith,” her husband explains. “Just sign it.”

She says that she needs to talk to her brother Edward first, but the Reverend and his lawyer-accomplice shake their heads. Edward, they say, is dead. He’s not, actually — at least, he looked okay, the last time I saw him — but Trask and Evan seem pretty sure about it.

“Why can’t I remember?” Judith cries. “What’s happening? Everything is going to pieces, I want it to stop!”

“Judith, it will stop,” Trask says, “when you sign the paper.”

“Sign the paper,” Evan agrees.

Judith turns to look at Trask’s dead wife Minerva, who’s just sitting there, glaring at her with undisguised loathing.

“She keeps staring at me,” Judith mutters. “She’s watching me, and waiting. What is she waiting for?”

Trask insists, “Judith, sign the paper. That is the only way I can make you stop seeing this phantom that doesn’t exist!” He picks up the pen, and puts it into her hand. “Sign the paper, Judith. Sign the paper!”

Now, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I’m starting to get the feeling that they want Judith to sign the paper. This has all the earmarks of being one of those sign-the-paper parties.

Continue reading Episode 791: Sign the Paper