“We’re all on the same side, aren’t we? My side.”
I address myself and those here with me to the powers of darkness, he said.
I call upon the flame to summon you, he said.
I call upon the raven and the viper and all the dark creatures of nature to draw you like a rising mist from out of the darkness of the earth, he said.
And he said it over an active hellmouth that spews out vengeance-vowing fire demons on the regular. What could possibly go wrong?
Continue reading Episode 711: Let’s Twist Again
“Don’t ask questions. Now, you mustn’t panic, or ask — or be afraid, or ask questions, because something unexpected may happen. And you mustn’t panic! Do you understand?”
So where do I even start with this? Barnabas Collins has handwaved himself back into his own history, where girl governess Victoria Winters is still awaiting execution for witchcraft. You’d think the statute of limitations would run out after 170 years, plus she’s already been hanged for this, so it’s double jeopardy. Also, it’s not even the real Vicki.
But Barnabas is doing what the Collins family does best, namely: rewrite their family history with a black magic marker, powered by authentic black magic.
This is the start of a challenging run of episodes, because Sam Hall and Gordon Russell — also known as the good Dark Shadows writers — are taking a week off to figure out what they’re going to do with the show following this little cul-de-sac in story progression.
So the next five episodes are all written by Ron Sproat, who’s not a very good writer, and directed by Dan Curtis, who’s not a very good director, and it’s smack in the middle of nine consecutive episodes featuring Jonathan Frid, who’s not very good at remembering his lines. It’s like the perfect storm of barely adequate television production.
Continue reading Episode 664: Sproat’s Last Stand
“She’s not like other people. She never was.”
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s not actually Thanksgiving for me, and it’s probably not Thanksgiving for you, but it is for the housewives, teenagers, assorted mental cases and inadequately supervised middle schoolers who make up the 1968 Dark Shadows audience.
On pre-emption days, I take a look at the 1991 Dark Shadows revival series, because apparently I don’t know what’s good for me. Here’s the rundown so far:
Episode 1 : Mostly gimmick shots, indoor mist, no clear idea what the purpose or tone of the show should be.
Episode 2 : Mostly about sweat and sexy biting time, including several ideas borrowed from House of Dark Shadows which weren’t even good the first time.
Episode 3 : Hot tentacles stretch upwards.
Okay, is everybody oriented now? Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s begin.
Continue reading Time Travel, part 4: I Was Just Noticing Your Harpoon Collection
“Your hatred for me could never be as strong as mine is for you.”
Fictional characters, if you want a quiet life, listen up: Stop declaring your arch-enemies out loud.
It’s difficult, I know. You’re out for a stroll along the Reichenbach Falls, idly juggling a lightsaber with your two working hands and thinking about Gwen Stacy, your totally alive girlfriend, when all of a sudden, there he is — the One Who Must Not Be Named, waxing his mustache with Kryptonite and standing next to a sign that says Rabbit Season.
You draw back with a gasp, and the words spring unbidden to your lips — Aha, it is you, we meet again! The battle is joined. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. I tawt I taw a puddy tat. And so on.
This is the moment. Take a breath. Remember your training.
And then you say, “Hi there. Have we met? I’m sorry, I am just terrible with names.”
Continue reading Episode 606: The Late Mrs. Collins
“I think explanations are so absurd, don’t you?”
“Barnabas, why do these things keep happening?” Vicki says. Barnabas sighs, and says, “One mistake can multiply into a thousand,” which is not that much of an answer.
But things certainly do keep happening, if by “things” you mean time travel and blood transfusions and dream sequences and harpoon attacks. And why would you ever mean anything else?
Continue reading Episode 473: The Twin Dilemma
“One cannot buy a witch in an antique shop.”
Today, Victoria Winters returns to the scene of the crime — the Eagle HIll cemetery, where she shot and killed a man two weeks and 172 years ago. I’m not sure if there’s still a warrant out for her — there’s a lot I don’t know about the statute of limitations in a time travel scenario.
She’s hunting for the grave of Peter Bradford, her 1795 boyfriend and accomplice, who was left behind when she returned to 1967. Or possibly 1968. It’s hard to say. I’m pretty sure it’s a Wednesday, if that helps.
I mean, she left in November 1967, but by the time she got back, it was already April 1968, and she’d missed Christmas and a new Beatles album, and her library books were, like, crazy overdue.
Continue reading Episode 463: Meanwhile, in the Past
“It can’t be! That woman is dead!”
The sun sets, the coffin opens, and guess what, there’s more bad news. It’s like every time Barnabas gets up, there’s some depressing new development. He’s got to be wondering why he ever bothered to rise from the dead in the first place.
This is probably the first truly original concept born from this unholy union of monster movie and daytime soap opera — the idea of a vampire waking up and saying, Man, this has been such a crappy week.
Continue reading Episode 435: Next Stop Kansas
“What if last night happens all over again?”
Today’s episode begins with a reprise of yesterday’s strange anti-cliffhanger, where the psychotic monster who’s been terrorizing the people of Collinsport for the last nine months talks his best friend into driving a stake through his heart.
“No matter what you are, no matter what you done,” Ben tells the vampire, “you’ve been my friend.”
“Think of it this way, Ben,” Barnabas says. “You’ll be performing an act of friendship. My destruction will be the only way to save me, my only salvation.”
Barnabas also tells Ben to make sure he helps Vicki escape from jail. After that, Ben should take some money and start a new life, somewhere far away from here.
Ben says he’ll never forget Barnabas, and Barnabas adds, “If you do remember me — remember what was good about me, as I hope others will.”
And oh my god, can you stop micromanaging this whole experience? I’ve never seen someone backseat driving their own suicide like this.
Continue reading Episode 417: Too Soon
“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