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Episode 929: Les Disposables

“I like being the way I am right now, and I don’t want it to end.”

“Since Barnabas Collins returned from the past,” says a disembodied Nancy Barrett, “his actions have been a mystery, and a matter of concern, to many who had once been close to him.” Yeah, no kidding. We’ve had a front-row seat to both the mystery and the concern for a couple months now.

She continues, “No one has known of the strange force that has compelled him to do the things he has done — the people of the Leviathan, who hold his beloved Josette hostage, and threaten him with the return of the curse of the vampire. He has become desperate to find a way of stopping the menace that threatens Collinwood.”

Oh, well, that explains everything. Why didn’t you say so?

Continue reading Episode 929: Les Disposables

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Episode 815: The Time Television

“Count Petofi, do you think this is some sort of a carriage ride?”

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a mad god, an assassin and a vampire walk into a basement. The mad god says, “Look into that cupboard, Mr. Collins! What do you see?” And the vampire says, “I see the inside of the cupboard.”

All right, it’s not that funny, but you have to admit you haven’t heard it before. It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re hearing it now.

Continue reading Episode 815: The Time Television

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Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home

“When you were putting Miss Balfour’s room to rights, did you find a dead snake on her dresser?”

Shadows of the night, falling silently. “Quentin’s Theme” is steadily climbing the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and pretty soon everyone’s going to be humming that tune, whether they want to or not. In this world that we know now, Quentin Collins is a bona fide Dark Shadows phenomenon, with a hit record and everything.

And this phantom melody is even starting to intrude on the hazy parallel world of the Paperback Library gothic romance novels. This peculiar line of spinoff books has been spinning its own cracked version of Dark Shadows for several years now, first chronicling the adventures of an ersatz Victoria Winters, and then tumbling head over heels for Barnabas Collins.

We last checked in with the Paperback Library four months ago to read Barnabas Collins vs the Warlock — the 11th novel in the series, and the sixth to feature Barnabas. By that point, the PBL was following clear editorial guidelines that the greatest human being who ever lived is named Barnabas Collins, and everybody else can go to hell. His only flaw is that his hands are cold, and hands are not everything.

But even the Paperback Library can’t ignore Quentin forever. They can ignore consistency and common sense and the limits of human patience, but Quentin Collins requires a response.

Continue reading Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home

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Episode 780: The Establishment Vampire

“I’m always with fear, Barnabas, but we don’t have time to think about that.”

Okay, I get that it’s a rough way to wake up. It’s dusk, and Barnabas gets up out of his coffin, and the door to the secret room in the mausoleum is wide open. Someone’s been sneaking around his coffin, and obviously that’s an unpleasant surprise.

But then Quentin appears at the door, which is pretty much the best case scenario. If somebody’s going to suddenly appear in your bedroom, then it ought to be Quentin Collins, right? You can’t improve on that.

And this is how out of control things have become for Barnabas: he opens his mouth and bares his fangs. Dude, seriously. What are you planning to do? Put that back in your mouth, and try, for the first time in your long and ridiculous life, to be a grownup.

Continue reading Episode 780: The Establishment Vampire

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Episode 775: The Winner

“It may be the only way we’ll find out where the coffin is kept.”

Okay, here’s a rundown on this evening’s menu.

Dirk Wilkins has just risen as a vampire tonight, so obviously the first thing he has to do is set up his coffin. He stashes it in a room that everybody keeps saying is the basement of a farmhouse, and I don’t feel like arguing about it again, so fine. I will just point out that a) there is no farm, b) there is no farmhouse, and c) this looks nothing like a basement, but like I said, I don’t want to fight about it. Basement of a farmhouse. Roger that.

After Dirk gets his coffin set up, he goes out for a prowl. Returning to the farmhouse, he walks down into the basement, and there’s hapless fugitive Tim Shaw, just sitting there like a Christmas basket. So that’s meal number one.

Then Dirk strolls over to the Old House, which is an odd choice, since Barnabas is leading the vampire hunt. But nothing gets in Dirk’s way, not tonight. He rolls in, finds his old boss Judith Collins, and bam! He bites her too.

That’s a good first night out, so Dirk heads back to the farmhouse, and guess what he finds in the basement: girl governess Rachel Drummond, who’s looking for Tim. So Dirk bites her too, and now he’s got another blood slave. He’s building a whole staff; he must be getting a softball team together or something.

So, I’ve got to say — I have been watching Dark Shadows for what is it, more than two years now, and I have never seen this kind of performance out of a vampire before. Three takedowns in one night, and literally the only thing he did is walk from his coffin to the Old House, and then back. This is clearly a world-class vampire. Somebody needs to get J.D. Power and Associates on the phone.

Continue reading Episode 775: The Winner

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Episode 688: Mostly Charmless

“I was hoping you’d say it was just a wild coincidence.”

Barnabas Collins has driven a stake through a vampire’s heart, beaten a werewolf into submission with his cane, bricked up an enemy behind a wall, and burned a witch to death with a torch, and Dr. Julia Hoffman has done everything that Barnabas did, except backwards and in high heels.

So you’d imagine that these two heavyweights would have no problem dealing with an awkward social situation, like if a guy shows up at your friend’s house in the middle of the night, and you can’t get him to leave. And yet here they are, stymied. Us Weekly was right; celebrities really are just like us.

Continue reading Episode 688: Mostly Charmless

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Episode 674: Donna of the Dead

“Would you want to see a sister of yours, if you’d been responsible for everything that had happened here?”

“There is one possible explanation,” Barnabas says, as he paces the drawing room thoughtfully. “The man turned into an animal.”

And you know what? He’s right. That is the only explanation that anyone considers. Nobody else even tries.

Continue reading Episode 674: Donna of the Dead

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Episode 379: Nine Lives to Live

“Your aunt is right. The cat is a sign, the Devil’s pet. The laughter after the joke.”

“Governesses are supposed to be trusting,” the Countess du Prés smiles. “One has to be in dealing with children. Think of me as a giant child.”

Joshua Collins has disappeared, all of a sudden and in the middle of an argument. While the men are out pointlessly searching the grounds, the Countess has decided to re-enact the mystery, with herself in the starring role as Joshua, and Vicki pinch-hitting for Jeremiah. As usual, Grayson Hall is having a wonderful time in the role of Natalie, who has all of Julia’s swagger, none of Julia’s guilt, and a much more extravagant wardrobe.

And then there’s Vicki, who’s come all the way from the 20th century, and refuses to have any fun at all.

Continue reading Episode 379: Nine Lives to Live

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Episode 269: Loving the Monster

“You’re doing a wrong thing!”

Comforting thoughts, courtesy of Dark Shadows: Any time you think you’re having a run of bad luck, think of Elizabeth at this moment. She’s being blackmailed into marrying a man that she despises, and the only way out is to throw herself off the cliff at the top of Widows’ Hill. And who shows up to talk her down off the ledge? Her screeching, judgemental, charm-free governess, Victoria Winters.

But I’m sure it’ll work out, because there’s no sense of real threat here. I don’t care how many times Liz walks up to the edge; there’s not a single person in the audience who honestly believes that she’s going to jump. Even if you don’t watch a lot of soap operas, anybody can spot this as a narrative dead end. It’s just not going to happen.

So, for me, the real question is: Why do I love this show so much, when I can’t stand the main character?

Continue reading Episode 269: Loving the Monster