“I can see Collinwood — but not the Collinwood of today!”
As we careen toward the conclusion of this rattletrap of a television show, I’ve been peering into David Collins’ crystal ball, which now happens to be in my personal possession for reasons that I’ll tell you about later, and I’ve been looking forward into the future of Dark Shadows, to see what happens to this story, once the story is over. This is the War for Dark Shadows, the battle to determine what this story becomes in the decades ahead.
As we all know, the organizing principle of Dark Shadows is Oh my god, what are we going to do next, the agonized heartcry of a team of writers and producers trying desperately to stay ahead of the audience. The only way to do this is to triangulate based on what the viewers are currently responding to, and then steer towards the next surprise.
Continue reading Episode 1216: Return to Return to Collinwood
“Nature puts a bar between the worlds of the living and the dead for a reason.”
The sun rises once again on the house on the hill; Collinwood wakes to a new day. Many changes have come to the house, and to those who reside therein, as the years of time have swept by.
And it has been years of time, hasn’t it? Specifically, it’s currently August 2003 and this is the Brooklyn Marriott, which may not be the time or the place you were expecting. That’s time for you, I guess; it’s sneaky that way.
This post is another installment of The War for Dark Shadows, the decades-long struggle that’s taken place after the show’s finale to define what Dark Shadows is, and find fresh perspectives. Today, we’re going to jump into a Dark Shadows Festival in full flow, and listen to the Big Beginning.
Continue reading Episode 1190: The Years of Time
“Then we shall simply have to change the course of history, and find him.”
Let’s face it: 1840 has been letting us down on the visual spectacle. There used to be a monster in this storyline, split into two parts: the Head glowering in a glass case, and the Body roaming the woods like a murderous pantomime horse. There used to be vampires, feeding on the blood of the innocent. There used to be a guy in a wheelchair, which isn’t a monster but at least it’s something to look at. Now the only monster is a smooth-talking warlock, who rigs court cases, and casts spells that make governesses fall asleep.
These days, the show is dominated by people wearing old-fashioned clothes, gossiping with each other about who’s responsible for what. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a zombie, or a skeleton, or even a severed hand flying around the room. Think back: isn’t everything better when there’s a mischievous, floating severed hand?
Continue reading Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream
“Slow agonizing death is the worst kind, you know!”
It’s three days till Christmas 1970, and here we are in the dying days of Dark Shadows, a show that has specialized almost exclusively in dying days since its ratings peak in October 1969. Don’t tell the 1970 audience, but between you and me, the show only has 15 weeks left to run, which means, if my recent posting schedule is any guide, that this blog will shudder to a stop somewhere around the middle of 2075.
So we should get back to The War for Dark Shadows, the ongoing struggle to define what kind of story Dark Shadows becomes when it’s not a half-hour daytime soap opera anymore. This battle has been raging for decades in books, movies, comic books and the hearts of children, and there’s a lot of it, so we’d better buckle down and start taking this seriously. I mean, those deck chairs aren’t going to rearrange themselves.
Continue reading Episode 1172: The Deck Chairs
“You cannot escape from the dead!”
It’s one of those complex evenings. In a secret underground crypt near Gallows Hill, a Cockney music hall performer with psychic powers places a tall glass case on an outcropping that contains a severed human head. It’s a terrible thing, the head, and it’s taken control of her senses.
The corpse in the corner grows restless. It rises, and approaches its long-gone head, grasping for its return. The head opens its long-dead eyes, and glares at the mentalist. They’re eager to be reunited, head to body.
“No, you must wait,” the woman says to the headless fiend, taking its cold hands in hers. “It is not time yet.”
Parking the body a few feet away, she looks to the head for instructions. “Now you must tell me, master,” she breathes. “What more is to be done?” They lock eyes, and merge minds.
“Yes, someone must help us,” she nods. “Someone very special. I understand, master.” Then she puts a velvet bag over the case, like it’s a parakeet cage.
Continue reading Episode 1131: The Perils of Memory
“This house is covered by a veil — a veil pierced by lightning!”
A hooded figure skulks through the Eagle Hill cemetery, as hooded figures do, making a yearly pilgrimage to the scene of the crime. She enters a free-standing mausoleum and pulls on a ring held in the mouth of an ornamental lion, and a secret catch uncatches, moving a panel that we all thought was a wall. Pushing it aside with practiced ease, the hooded figure steps into the room, raising her lantern to illuminate the coffin that isn’t there. “It’s gone!” she cries, as she lifts the lantern, and ta-DAH! It’s Angelique.
Now, I’m going to take a moment here to explain how this visitation fits into Angelique’s complex continuity. It doesn’t. There, that was easy.
Continue reading Episode 1130: Time and Tantrums
“There was one night I concentrated very hard, and tried to reach you.”
So Quentin is still on Dark Shadows, which is a huge surprise to everyone except the people who watch Dark Shadows. There’s always a Quentin, and there always will be, even after there isn’t a Barnabas anymore. And decades later, when the show turns into an audio download, you click play, and what do you hear? Quentin. The guy has a portrait; there’s nothing you can do.
So this I guess is Quentin number three, who’s the identical great-uncle of the original Quentin, or the other way around, if you want to be strictly chronological about it. Number two was the Parallel Time Quentin, and number four is the Parallel Time Quentin of number three, and then there’s Quentin number five in Night of Dark Shadows, and on and on, tumbling through time in endless iterations. It’s Quentins, all the way down.
Continue reading Episode 1121: Quentuplets
“I don’t feel anything. I’m just glad it’s over.”
The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.
And then Snidely Whiplash tied me to a barrel marked TNT, Daphne Du Maurier didn’t say, on the last page of Rebecca. She probably would have, if she’d thought of it, but I bet it didn’t even occur to her. I guess some people know how to write exciting conclusions and some people don’t, and that’s all there is to it.
Continue reading Episode 1060: Dreams of Manderley
“Twins usually do resemble each other, or haven’t you heard?”
Except it’s not Angelique, obviously. How could it be? She’s dead, probably.
Although Angeliques do have a habit of making post-mortem comebacks; they’re a tenacious people. It doesn’t matter how often you strangle them, exorcise them, shoot them in the shoulder, set them on fire, burn their portraits, or dump buckets of water over them and dissolve them into a well-dressed puddle. They always return, with fresh schemes. What a world, what a world!
Continue reading Episode 985: The Cassandra Complex
“We became friends in the past. Please, let us be friends now.”
Mrs. Rumson arrives at her palatial beach mansion on Little Windward Island, and greets her husband of six months, the handsome publishing magnate. She’s found peace at last, after so many years of struggles and schemes. She’s going to go straight, she said, and everyone laughed. But she’s on the level, this time. The dead past will bury its dead.
But nothing ever stays dead, not on this show. At least, not with Dr. Julia Hoffman around.
Continue reading Episode 924: Pretty Woman