“Someone now dead lived in this room.”
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, our feature bout is a winner-takes-all cage match between the savvy psychic, Madame Janet Findley, and the sinister specter, Mr. Quentin Collins (deceased).
Quentin has been quietly haunting the halls of the great house at Collinwood for seventy years, lurking in his sealed-up chamber in the abandoned west wing. Lately he’s been reaching out to the two children of the house, urging them to visit his room, plot against family members, scatter tarot cards around the house, and listen to his hit song, not necessarily in that order.
Earlier this week, under their ancestor’s malign influence, David and Amy tricked Roger into falling down the stairs in the foyer. Concerned, Elizabeth has called in Madame Janet Findley, an exterminator for the already exterminated.
Madame Findley is one of the craziest dames that we’ve seen on Dark Shadows, and that’s getting to be a crowded field. She says surprising things, makes extravagant hand gestures, and goes into a trance at a moment’s notice. I will miss her terribly.
Continue reading Episode 649: The Rise and Fall
“I fear the séance didn’t put an end to what’s been happening here.”
The Turn of the Screw opens with a group of devoted thrill-seekers at a week-long house party, entertaining each other with ghost stories. Griffin has just finished telling the story of a young boy waking his mother up in the middle of the night, because a dreadful apparition had materialized in the bedroom, and he wanted her to see it. That is the beginning and end of that story, as I understand it, but it sounds like it was the hit of the evening, so hooray for low standards.
Unable to cope with his seething jealousy of the master raconteur, a guest named Douglas tries a bit of casual oneupmanship:
Before we scattered, he brought out what was in his mind.
“I quite agree — in regard to Griffin’s ghost, or whatever it was — that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender an age, adds a particular touch. But it’s not the first occurrence of its charming kind that I know to have involved a child. If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say to TWO children — ?”
“We say, of course,” somebody exclaimed, “that they give two turns! Also that we want to hear about them.”
Obviously, this is setting a bad precedent. It’s only a matter of time before Griffin comes up with a ghost story involving four children, and then Douglas ups the ante to a half dozen, until finally there’s a story about thirty-five children, each with his or her own personalized specter, and the bottom falls out of the ghost story market. This is not a scaleable business model.
Continue reading Episode 647: The Wire
“You have brought me to the edge of disaster, and I must find a way back.”
This week, we hit another minor milestone in our uncertain and frightening journey through Dark Shadows. It’s one of those trivial production changes that probably nobody notices when they’re watching the show on DVD, but which I will now spend the next few minutes trying to convince you is critical to understanding this period of the show.
The change is: each episode has four commercial breaks, instead of five. I know, I probably should have asked if you were sitting down before springing it on you like that. I hope everybody’s okay out there.
Continue reading Episode 590: This Old House
“Why, you –“
I was going to talk about free will today. I had it all planned out.
I’ve been reading up on determinism lately, and I’ve got a theory — you would’ve loved this theory, if I had the time to tell you about it — using the concept of a mad scientist as a metaphor to talk about whether moral choices are even possible, if mental phenomena are reducible to neurological materialism. Seriously, it would have blown your mind, literally and figuratively.
But that’s going to have to wait, because there’s a breaking news story that I need to cover: this is the episode where Roger Davis bumps his head.
Continue reading Episode 567: The Show Goes On
“Either she controls the portrait, or the portrait controls her.”
Hey, have I mentioned the Dream Curse yet? There’s this Dream Curse. It’s a spell that Angelique cast about a month ago, and for some reason, it’s still part of my life.
Here’s a quick rundown: Angelique is currently living in Collinwood, posing as Roger’s young wife, Cassandra. Barnabas has recently been released from her vampire curse, and she’s not having it, so she’s decided to bring the curse back to him through the most convoluted possible route. She’s initiated a long series of dreams, which pass from one character to another, and eventually the chain is going to reach Barnabas, and then he’ll die, or turn back into a vampire, or whatever.
This is a slow, grinding disappointment. Back in the 1795 storyline, where she came from, Angelique was the driving force of the entire show, moving people around like puppets, and sending the entire Collins family into a spiral of self-destruction. Now, frankly, she’s just coasting. It’s possible that 1968 is her retirement home.
Continue reading Episode 498: Diff’rent Strokes
“The point is that I am in danger!”
It’s another relaxing evening at the Old House, and Julia tells Barnabas that she has another treatment ready for him. She’s trying to discover a cure for his vampirism, which would be hard enough even if she had a fully compliant patient. But Barnabas is feeling cranky, and when he’s cranky, he tends to get a little strangly.
Here’s his problem: young David is convinced that there’s something spooky hidden in the Old House, and a couple episodes ago, Julia caught the boy tugging on the locked basement door. She didn’t tell Barnabas about the encounter, because she knew he would freak out about it.
Yesterday, Roger mentioned the incident to Barnabas, and guess what? He’s freaking out about it.
Continue reading Episode 332: Safe? Safe!
“I believe a lot of things, but that doesn’t prevent me from being amused by them.”
On Friday, Barnabas’ pleasant costume party was interrupted by several strange incidents — Liz felt a piercing cold, the door flew open, and a bunch of candles blew out. For some reason, everybody decided that a ghost was trying to communicate with them, rather than the obvious alternative explanation, namely: it’s windy outside and we’re in a drafty old house.
So now they’re all sitting around a table with their fingers touching, conducting an impromptu seance. Just as they’re ready to give up, Vicki starts to moan: “Run… please, faster… I must run. Don’t stop me! Don’t STOP me!”
Continue reading Episode 281: Ancestral Exercises
“If you feel it… sit it.”
Here’s how you know you’re not making a hit with your fiancee’s parents: When her mother opens the door, she immediately shrinks back and murmurs, “Oh,” as if she’s just stepped in something. And this is Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a woman who literally has not left the house in 18 years; you’d think she’d be happy with any new faces who come along.
But Buzz Hackett is an acquired taste, I guess. Liz says that she’ll tell Carolyn that he’s here. Buzz says, “Hey, can’t I come inside?” Liz says “No,” and shuts the door in his face.
Continue reading Episode 257: Bachelor Party
“Why do you say my name in such a curious fashion?”
Last week, David found Maggie, the Local Girl who has Mysteriously Disappeared, at his cousin Barnabas’ house, dressed up like the dead ancestor that he considers his closest friend. Yup, just the same old thing.
Maggie pauses on the stairs, and David runs up to the bannister, yelling, “Josette, it’s me! It’s me, David! David Collins!” Okay, kid, it’s you; why are you screaming at me? You’re like six inches away.
Continue reading Episode 241: Mrs. Snuffleupagus