“I’m leaving! I’m going where the action is!”
Hey, guess what, we’re still killing Jeb Hawkes. It’s been three weeks since the royal teen rebel smashed his box and exploded the Leviathan altar, and two weeks since Angelique tagged him with a wiggling shadow of imminent demise, and one week since I really seriously stopped caring about what happens to Jeb Hawkes.
Continue reading Episode 979: Jeb Hawkes Must Die
“Would you like to try and resist this hand again, my dear?”
The story so far: Count Andreas Petofi, magical gangster from the Boston Carpathians, is engaged in a tense low-speed chase with a pack of howling vengeance gypsies. For all his bluster, all Petofi really wants to do is run away and hide — in somebody else’s body, living in somebody else’s house, and traveling to somebody else’s time zone. It’s not much to ask, really, and so far it’s been going pretty well.
But as the poet said, the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley, and this one is drifting in an agley direction. It turns out he’s not the only mouse in town.
Continue reading Episode 866: The Briar Patch
“Are you trying to make us doubt our senses? We saw you fling a man over the sea cliffs!”
So that’s where we find ourselves, halfway through this special feature on the 1971 Dark Shadows comic strip — on the knife edge of a story untelling itself. Starting just a few weeks before the television show jumped into a gypsy caravan and drove off into the night, the daily comic strip stayed behind, performing a dark ritual of — well, what’s the opposite of summoning? Cause that’s what the comic strip is doing.
Distilled down to three characters and a house, the Dark Shadows comic strip was the remains of a party, after most of the guests have gone home. Gee, look at the time, they all said, glancing at the calendar. See you all next week, on Ryan’s Hope. Then they were gone, chased off by the dreadful chimes of the church bell tolling April Third, April Third.
Now, only Barnabas is left, accompanied by the pale shadows of Elizabeth and Carolyn, performing his dark ritual of dispersing.
Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 6: The Thousand-Year War
“If he dies, the whole future of the Collins family will not be existing!”
Well, it’s another August afternoon, and everybody on Dark Shadows is down in the basement, wasting a perfectly nice day. I can remember a time on this show when people would take a walk in the woods on sunny days, and have genial chats with little girls who they didn’t realize were ghosts. It was awful; I hated those walks. Turns out all the cool stuff was happening in the basement. Take that, mothers of America!
Continue reading Episode 817: A Night in Casablanca
“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
“I’ve never seen anyone possessed quite like that.”
The Devil tells the truth, because he has nothing to lose. He’s not trying to protect your feelings, or your friendship. He doesn’t care. He sees you clearly, and he tells you what he sees.
Now, I’m not saying that everything the Devil says is true. He’s the Prince of Lies, after all, and misleading people is part of his job description. I’m just saying that the Devil is the only one who respects you enough to tell you the truth. Everybody else lies to you 24/7.
Continue reading Episode 804: The Other Puppeteer
“The more one learns, the worse one feels. I did not realize life was like that. But probably it is a well-known fact that no one bothered to tell me.”
There’s big news from the royal family, as usual. They think that just because they’re rich and powerful, that means they’ve got a patent on the epic tragedy — although to be fair, they usually do. Regular people don’t poison each other and throw themselves off cliffs; they just don’t have the time.
So here’s the top headlines: Barnabas, Prince of Collinsport, killed his uncle Jeremiah in a duel. Barnabas was then killed by his own wife, the witch Angelique, and cursed with eternal life. After dispatching Angelique, Barnabas courted his dead uncle’s wife, Josette, and planned to make her his vampire bride.
On Friday — confused and frightened by a vision created by the ghost of Angelique — Josette rejected the undead Prince, and killed herself by jumping from the cliff on Widow’s Hill. It’s basically a cross between Hamlet, Macbeth and the juicier episodes of Dynasty, as directed by George Romero.
Continue reading Episode 426: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
“Those strange feelings I had earlier this evening, they must mean something. And your reading of the Tarot cards just now, and this blood that keeps appearing on my neck.”
On Friday, Barnabas Collins decided that he was sick and tired of his witch-vixen wife, Angelique, interfering in matters that were none of her business, namely: his plans to leave her, and run off with his ex-girlfriend. This was a tricky interpersonal conflict to navigate, and in situations like this, Barnabas likes to express his feelings through the medium of bullets.
So Barnabas shot Angelique, winging her in the shoulder. As she lay bleeding on the floor, she fired back a curse, at point-blank range:
“You will never rest, Barnabas… and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die!”
Which pretty much sets up the plot for the next three years. Now, it’s not super clear what malevolent force is going to power this curse, once Angelique is gone. There’s a bunch of people who love Barnabas — he’s got parents, a sister, a fiancee and at least a couple of close friends that he hasn’t shot in the face yet. That’s a lot of clean-up work for Beelzebub or whoever to take care of.
Oh, and then a magical killer bat smashed through the window and tore a hole in Barnabas’ jugular vein as he screamed and screamed and screamed. Apparently, that was part of the curse too.
It’s actually a super-complicated curse; I’m surprised that Angelique was able to come up with it off the top of her head in the middle of bleeding to death. I can’t imagine she had a curse like that just sitting in her back pocket this whole time.
Continue reading Episode 406: Unbreak My Heart
“Stop thinking like a woman, and start thinking like a doctor.”
Here’s a lesson from Supervillain 101: Don’t sacrifice your only henchman.
I know it’s tempting, but seriously, try to keep it together. Willie was kind of a pain sometimes — prone to backchat, and not fully committed to the corporate vision — but on the upside, he did the occasional perimeter check.
So here’s Dr. Woodard, leaving the Old House after a mutually threatening conversation with Barnabas. He bumps into Julia on his way out, and says good night. As soon as she enters the house, Woodard takes four steps over to the window, and helps himself to their conversation.
Barnabas really should have a more complex security protocol by now. This is not a new problem.
Of course, it’s not easy to keep things on the D.L. in a soap opera, because the format requires a level of exposition usually reserved for 24-hour cable news channels. It doesn’t matter if you’re hiding from the Nazis, and an SS patrol is walking by with sniffer dogs and infrared goggles. You’re a soap opera character, and you never stop talking.
Continue reading Episode 338: Think Like a Woman
“This is gonna be soft and soothing. And you’re gonna listen to it, and you’re not going to hear anything.”
Here’s today’s supervillain human resources moment: Barnabas has promised Dr. Woodard a sample of Willie’s blood. I guess it’s basically the same concept as a mandatory drug test, but Willie’s taking it pretty hard; he’s shaking and sweating and begging Barnabas to reconsider. The doctor saw a “skirmish” going on in Maggie’s vampire-infected blood, and Willie’s convinced that his blood will reveal the same thing.
Now, I’ve seen television before in my life, so the fact that Barnabas is clearly not concerned about the situation means that he probably has some kind of plan in mind.
The interesting question is: Who are we supposed to be rooting for?
Continue reading Episode 245: Tragic Malady