Tag Archives: televisual literacy

924-dark-shadows-julia-angelique-side-eye

Episode 924: Pretty Woman

“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

905 dark shadows quentin wristwatch

Episode 905: Waiting for Quentin

“The room will undergo a change.”

And then the door opens, and a wristwatch walks in.

See, there’s this mystery man in town who we’re not sure who it is, but he’s tall and dark-haired and possibly sideburned and it’s supposed to be Quentin. Last week, we saw him — or parts of him, anyway — watching Megan and Carolyn through the antique shop window, and then sneaking into Collinwood to silently check out the furnishings. We got a hint of sideburns when he was looking in the window, but the rest of the time, we just saw his trenchcoat, his shoes and his watch. I can’t explain the watch.

So it’s time-tossed werewolf vagabond Quentin Collins, of course, the reckless idol of American youth, who we last saw three weeks ago, at the tail end of the 1897 time-travel storyline. Quentin left Collinsport to search the world for the magical portrait that keeps him alive and young, and now that Barnabas and Julia are back in the present day, obviously he needs to join them again, and resume his leading role on the show.

When we saw the mystery man last week, they made a big deal about his wristwatch for some reason. He kept putting his wrist next to things — a portrait, a doorknob — and holding it there, while the camera zoomed in for a close-up. Quentin was never particularly attached to timepieces, as far as I recall, but I suppose he’s had seven decades to pick up a new hobby.

In Friday’s episode, the silent mystery man walked into the antique shop, and the first thing he did was hoist his wrist up in an awkward position, and leave it there so the camera could give us another thrilling wristwatch shot. I don’t know, maybe it’s a metaphor for something.

Continue reading Episode 905: Waiting for Quentin

897 dark shadows megan scared

Episode 897: You’re the Worst

“I’m a monster! I have no choice but to kill!”

Megan is alone, on the display floor of her antique shop. Her husband left to buy cigarettes a few moments ago. The room is dim, and cluttered with scattered relics.

Megan is worried. Earlier today, she was suddenly overcome with the unshakeable feeling that someone is coming to kill her. She’s correct; somebody is actually coming to kill her. It’s been a weird day.

What follows is a five-minute solo spaz attack of epic proportions. When I was younger and less discerning, I thought of this as The Worst Scene In Dark Shadows. I’m not sure what I think about it now. I’m still trying to work that out.

Continue reading Episode 897: You’re the Worst

882 dark shadows quentin barnabas wake up

Episode 882: The Don’t Sleepover

“You drift away, love, you’ll drift back sadly changed.”

And then sometimes everything comes together, and they make all the right choices, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it lately but Dark Shadows is my favorite television show.

Continue reading Episode 882: The Don’t Sleepover

866 dark shadows angelique cave

Episode 866: The Briar Patch

“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

strange paradise 4 portrait jp

Strange Paradise, Episode 4: The Cryonic Woman

“I do believe you need me, to jack you up by the bootstraps.”

“Place it there, please,” says the man from the Cryonics Institute. He’s addressing three hulking men, who are lugging a heavy coffin-sized piece of science down into the ancestral basement crypt of the cursed Desmond family, here on this tropical island paradise where we, as you know, currently are.

The man from the Cryonics Institute is directing two underlings — large, late middle-aged balding men in turtlenecks — plus Quito, the silent man-brute who lifts all the heavy things around here. I don’t know what the Cryonics Institute would have done if the Desmonds didn’t already have a third large late middle-aged strongman on the premises. They’d probably have to pop somebody out of the freezer to pitch in. That’s the nice thing about working at the Cryonics Institute, you’ve always got another pair of hands if you need it.

Continue reading Strange Paradise, Episode 4: The Cryonic Woman

846 dark shadows tim pansy monday

Episode 846: Plan Meets World

“I have powers, I guess. I didn’t used to have, but I do now.”

On Friday afternoon, fluorescent floozy Charity Trask followed Quentin along the shoreline, until he entered a cave. She waited until he left, and then investigated the cave herself — and discovered the coffin of fugitive vampire Barnabas Collins, asleep and unprotected.

Picking up the hammer and stake that Quentin had conveniently dropped on the ground, Charity opened the coffin, and stared at the unholy ghoul who’d killed the only man she’d ever truly loved. And then she got down to business, hammering the stake through the creature’s heart, and putting an end to him once and for all.

As Monday’s episode opens, she staggers into the Blue Whale, vaguely traumatized and entirely thirsty.

“I done it,” she moans, a single tear trailing down her heavily rouged cheek, and then she bangs on the bar. “I need a drink!”

Tim Shaw, doing some work at a nearby table, suggests, “Why don’t you try getting some sleep instead? You can’t carry the party on indefinitely, you know.”

“Party!” Charity giggles, cuddling a bottle of bourbon. “It wasn’t no party, luv, believe me!” And then she laughs and laughs, until she collapses into sobs, and never recovers.

So: Mondays, huh? I guess they’re tough on everyone.

Continue reading Episode 846: Plan Meets World

810 dark shadows game young set

Episode 810: The Most Dangerous Game

“Satan is determined to take over Collinwood!”

In the summer of 1969, the young set gather every afternoon at four o’clock to watch one of the great pioneers in educational programming.

Not Sesame Street, of course; that doesn’t start until November. For the summer, at least, the kids’ choice is Dark Shadows, and what they’re learning is that murder is awesome, and you can totally get away with it.

Continue reading Episode 810: The Most Dangerous Game

785 dark shadows judith mrs trask

Episode 785: We Interrupt This Program

“This hand, it is not my servant. I tell it what to do, yes, but it has powers that I do not possess.”

If you think about it, it’s almost like this is a real soap opera. For months, the odious Reverend Gregory Trask has been slowly building a relationship with Judith Collins, the current mistress of Collinwood. He admires her virtue, her generosity of spirit, her strength of character, and (most of all) her enormous family fortune. If you admire somebody at close range like that for long enough, it’s going to make an impression.

Then a couple weeks ago, he arranged for his wife Minerva to be killed, and after a barely suitable mourning period, he laid his heart, such as it is, at Judith’s feet.

Now, looking at the structure of the other current storylines, it’s obvious that they’re just being made up from day to day — all this King Johnny Romano nonsense, and everybody suddenly knowing about the legendary hand of Count Petofi. Last week, Magda said that Julianka was dead, but she’s going to show up two weeks from now, alive and temporarily healthy. Barnabas’ fake “engagement” to Angelique, Edward becoming a vampire hunter, Jamison’s dream that had clues about Quentin’s death — remember that one?

All of those supernatural stories are just drifting onscreen and then off again, bumping into each other with no rational plan. But underneath, the writers have been carefully crafting this Trask/Judith seduction story, one story beat after another. There’s been an actual soap opera storyline just sitting there all this time, hiding in plain sight.

Continue reading Episode 785: We Interrupt This Program