Tag Archives: the whole point of television

919 dark shadows tate head rolls

Episode 919/920/921: The New Neighbors

“That’s right, I’m a werewolf, and that’s why you’re gonna start painting right now.”

Here we are, in another haunted mansion, and sitting at the front desk is an audio-animatronic Charles Delaware Tate. He speaks, he turns his head, and his chest moves up and down like he’s breathing; I’d estimate this action figure has maybe six points of articulation. But it can’t be the real Chuck D, because he should be seventy-two years older than this.

Quentin and Chris are visiting this weird wax museum because they’re hoping that Tate can paint a picture for them. But Tate laughs at them, just laughs and laughs, until Quentin picks up a vase of flowers and hits him square in the chest with it.

And that’s how Charles Delaware Tate dies laughing, the target of a floral drone strike. He falls face first onto the desk, and then his head pops off and rolls across the floor.

Continue reading Episode 919/920/921: The New Neighbors

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Time Travel, part 7: Here We Go Again

“You know of such things as zippers and machine wash, and you do not even know the year?”

Vampire playboy Barnabas Collins has been out of his box for six weeks now, and to be perfectly honest with you, he has not used his time productively.

Twenty years ago, Barnabas was bound up in chains and sent into cold storage, because ABC Daytime couldn’t think of anything else to do with him. In 1991, he was released for good behavior, and given a sweet prime-time slot on NBC. Yes, I know it’s on Friday nights, but think of all the starving vampires in Africa who don’t even get a show on Fridays.

The way that I understand it, this new iteration of Barnabas is supposed to be a charismatic bloodsucking charm machine, fascinating and sexy and passionate. What we’ve got is more in the area of mopey and spiteful, a self-involved bully who’s unable to form emotional connections with other people. He’s murdered at least four people so far, including a member of the Collins family, and last week he turned another Collins girl into his blood slave, and made her commit crimes that absolutely would have resulted in a prison sentence, if she’d turned out to be any good at it.

Barnabas’ big redeeming feature is supposed to be that he’s pining for girl governess Victoria Winters, who reminds him of his long-lost love Josette. But apart from a couple candlelight dinner dates, he’s hardly even talked to her, and instead he’s been using up all his romance time on blood-fueled makeout sessions with his own descendants.

Fortunately, Dark Shadows comes equipped with a built-in escape hatch, constructed in 1967 because the original series couldn’t figure out what to do with Barnabas either. It’s a custom bespoke time portal, carrying Vicki back to the late 18th century, on a sightseeing tour of the Collins family history.

So Vicki goes tumbling down the ruby slipper hole, to take another shot at rebooting the reboot. Look out below!

Continue reading Time Travel, part 7: Here We Go Again

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Episode 714: Inherit the Win

“This is my house, and I decide what is legal from now on.”

Let’s begin with the Trojan War. I know, I’m always nattering on about the Trojan War, but bear with me for a second.

It all started with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Peleus was a hero in Greek mythology, but not one of the good ones; he’s mostly known for killing his half-brother and his stepmom in hunting accidents. Thetis was a shape-changing sea nymph, and Peleus got her to marry him after he snuck up on her and tied her up while she was sleeping. They were a terrible couple and shouldn’t be marrying anybody, really, but you know the ancient Greeks, anything for a party.

Anyway, they had the wedding on Mount Pelion, which is amazing, because usually it’s booked, like, two years in advance, and all of the deities were invited, except for Eris, the goddess of Chaos and Discord.

Irritated by the snub, Eris showed up anyway, probably in a Lady Gaga meat dress, and she tossed a golden apple into the middle of the room, inscribed with the word “Kallisti”, which means “to the fairest”. Pretty soon, the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite were all squabbling over who the apple belonged to.

Now, think about that for a moment. Aphrodite was so beautiful that she was literally The Goddess of Beauty, and Hera and Athena still thought they had a shot. That right there tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Greek weddings.

The three goddesses asked Zeus to decide between them, but Zeus mumbled something about a very important phone call that he suddenly needed to make, and he pointed them at Paris, the prince of Troy.

The girls all tried to get on Paris’ good side. Hera offered political power, Athena promised skill in battle, and Aphrodite said she could give him the love of the most beautiful woman on Earth. Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite and ran off with the beautiful woman, who happened to be Helen, the queen of Sparta. This started the Trojan War, and a ten-year siege that ended with the destruction of both the Achaeans and the Trojans.

So who triumphs in this tale? Only Eris, the goddess of Chaos and Discord, who orchestrated the destruction of empires, just to hear the funny sound it made as it all shattered to the ground. Then Eris invented television, and you know the rest.

Continue reading Episode 714: Inherit the Win

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Episode 672: Werewolf By Night

“There must have been something about this bracelet that kept the animal from killing me.”

Okay, let’s get right into it, because pretty much everything happens today, and I don’t have time to mess around. This is one of those episodes your mother would have warned you about, if she was dead.

Continue reading Episode 672: Werewolf By Night

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Episode 556: Apotheosis

“I intend, my dear, to create a race of superbeings who will serve my master and control the world.”

It’s about surprise; it is always, always, entirely about surprise.

I’ve been dissatisfied lately with the show’s focus on Adam, who’s been sitting around in a storage room for several weeks, getting progressively grumpier. The problem isn’t Adam, because I like him, and it’s not that he’s doing mean things, because he’s fictional and who cares.

The problem is the word “progressively”. If Adam gets a little more demanding and a little more self-centered whenever we see him, then there’s no point in our checking in on him every day. He’s getting predictable, and that’s the opposite of television.

Solving this problem in the most efficient possible way, Dark Shadows unveils its latest plot twist — Nicholas has brought Angelique back to life, as a vampire. Now, it’s not clear exactly how he accomplished this — the last time we saw Angelique, she’d just died of old age in an armchair, so how could she be a vampire now?

Answering that question is not important. Angelique is a vampire!

Continue reading Episode 556: Apotheosis

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Episode 483: Free Willie

“He could be perfectly normal by now.”

We open today with Julia puttering around in the Old House with absolutely nothing to do, just staring into the fire. Barnabas walks down the stairs, sees her sitting in the drawing room, and smiles as he approaches.

He says that there’s something he has to do before Dr. Lang’s experiment on Friday, and he needs her help. She says, “Oh, I’ll do anything for you. You know that.”

So I’d say that’s pretty much the final destination of that particular journey. Barnabas + Julia: Best Friends Forever. And now that we’ve got that settled, it’s time to get the band back together. Gas up the car; we’re driving out to Windcliff Sanitarium to spring Willie Loomis.

Continue reading Episode 483: Free Willie

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Episode 476: Monster Mash

“I created it — and your life force will make it live!”

Laugh at ME, will they! The FOOLS!

That’s basically how it starts.

They scoff at me; they dare to think me mad! Because I have vision, a will of my own, because I do not swear allegiance to their committees and their trifling sentimental concerns! Well, they can say what they like now — but I will SHOW them!

And from there, it’s pretty much just like regular apartment-hunting. You want high ceilings, and room to spread out, and you’re definitely going to need a lot of electrical outlets. In-unit laundry is probably a nice-to-have.

Continue reading Episode 476: Monster Mash

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Episode 392: Christmas Stalking

“All the things that we once shared together, I never thought that we would share remorse.”

The whole point of television is to surprise you. I’ve never understood why somebody would watch a boring TV show where it’s exactly the same thing every time, like a police procedural, or a cooking show, or the news. Your own life offers you plenty of opportunities to be bored; you put the mystery box in your living room because you want it to bring you something new.

So here we are on the day after Christmas, 1967, and we’re watching the gothic soap opera that gradually turned into a free-wheeling spook show. And just for today, it turns all the way back into a drama again. Who saw that one coming?

Continue reading Episode 392: Christmas Stalking

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Episode 381: Runaway Bride

“I believe you can do anything — and the meaner it is, the better you can do it.”

So there we were, all set up for the big royal wedding — Barnabas, the young prince of the wealthy and powerful Collins family, marrying Josette du Prés, the ravishing heiress of the Martinique sugar plantations. Young and beautiful and desperately in love, embarking together on their life’s journey.

And then, at the last moment, the bride runs off with the groom’s uncle, which is pretty much the exact reason why you need to hire a competent wedding planner. Have we learned nothing from reality TV?

Continue reading Episode 381: Runaway Bride