“And there it was… a MYSTERY BODY!”
The story so far: I began writing this blog two Labor Day weekends ago, starting with Barnabas emerging from the mystery box in episode 210. Now it’s Labor Day weekend again, and by some cruel trick of time, my journey into the past has reached the halfway mark.
This is the midpoint between episode 210 and the end of this uncertain and frightening television show, and to mark the occasion, I should probably say something profound and clever about this episode that sums up what these last two years have taught us about vampires and storytelling and character development and natural selection and chromakey and why you should never give a gun to an actor, even an unloaded prop gun, because honestly, they will find a way to hurt themselves.
Unfortunately, it turns out that I don’t have very much to say about today’s episode, except that this is the one where, for one tantalizing moment, it looks like Quentin and Barnabas are about to kiss.
Continue reading Episode 720: Halfway
“It is strange, isn’t it, how suddenly the swamp seems to be playing a leading and sinister role in the affairs of Collinwood?”
Let us speak, then, of Barnabas Collins Versus the Warlock.
It’s book #11 in Paperback Library’s long, strange line of Dark Shadows-inspired novels, and it’s the first one in a while that actually takes inspiration from the show in any meaningful way.
In this book, governess Maggie Evans has to save her young charges, David Collins and Amy Jennings, as they — more or less — fall under the influence of an evil phantom that stalks the halls of Collinwood. It’s complicated.
Continue reading Episode 692: The New Mischief
“We know you were destroyed by some evil force! Now is your chance to destroy it!”
It’s a situation that only happens in long-running serialized narrative. The main character has run away, never to return, and she didn’t even bother to make up a decent excuse. “I’m going to go and live with my husband’s past-life doppleganger,” Vicki said. “If you need to reach me, I’ll be in the 18th century.”
So what can you do? You hire a new governess, and you move on with your make-believe life. The Collins family has lost their lost princess, and to take her place, they’ve found Maggie Evans, a waitress with no experience in education, and a gaping hole in her LinkedIn profile that she can’t explain.
It hasn’t been an easy transition for Maggie, because the process of Vickification involves stripping away all ties to her old life. In fact, on the night that she was offered the governess job, both her fiancee and her house were torn to pieces by a wild animal. I don’t know how you arrange for an onboarding process like that, but it definitely made the point. Her father and her fiancee are gone, her home is destroyed, her memory is wiped clean, and she has become Vicki.
But that interpretation assumes that there’s only one Maggie, and one Vicki. It’s more complicated than that. There are actually four Maggies, and most of them are Vicki.
Continue reading Episode 682: The Four Maggies
Today’s the release day for the 13th and final episode of Dark Shadows: Bloodlust, the fantastic new Big Finish audio drama miniseries. I’ve written about the series a couple of times so far, and I want to mark the final release day with a list of 13 reasons why Dark Shadows fans should listen to and enjoy Bloodlust.
Continue reading 13 Reasons Why You Should Buy “Bloodlust”
“If my social life ground to a halt every time my mom was investigating a murder, I’d be a nun.”
Okay, here are some further thoughts about Dark Shadows: Bloodlust, because I have some and you might as well hear about them.
Bloodlust is a new 13-part miniseries by Big Finish, a UK audio-drama production company that is determined to fill up the world with things that we don’t strictly need. They’ve been at it for decades, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop them, so here we are. I wrote about episode 1 last week, and today I’m looking at episodes 2 and 3.
Now, the question that every DS spin-off has to answer is: What is the purpose of bringing more Dark Shadows into the world?
Because history is not on the side of people who think that they have Dark Shadows stories worth telling. The original excuse for making Dark Shadows in the first place was that the producers didn’t realize what kind of show they were making until it suddenly became a hit, and by then it was too late to do something more sensible. Everybody following them can only dream of having an alibi that strong.
Forty years later, we’ve seen movie adaptations and prime-time revivals, novels and comic books and View-Master reels. But Bloodlust poses a question that nobody’s ever asked before, namely: What happens if we let British people try it?
Continue reading The British Invasion (Bloodlust)
“We all know the supernatural is real and dangerous, and it’s time to do something about it.”
EVIL! That’s what’s here. You must leave this place! There is no peace for you here. The dead must rest!
Sorry, I’m having a little flare-up of my sudden-onset Caretaker’s Syndrome. While I’ve been going about my business in August 1968, an irresponsible troupe of time-travelers has been fooling around with the seals and sigils, recklessly summoning a fresh nightmare into our world.
Continue reading Another New Beginning (Bloodlust)
“I must throw them off the track! The secrets which are mine must remain buried within me! Ahhh… darkness!”
“I know this is going to sound incredible,” Maggie says to Joe, “but tonight, I saw a ghost!”
Joe says, “Don’t you think you’re letting your imagination play tricks on you?” because Ron Sproat wrote the script today, and in Sproat’s world, characters never learn anything, or accumulate experiences in any way.
It’s a recap-heavy show today, in a way that they haven’t really done in a while. Maggie and Joe cover the Dream Curse and Angelique’s portrait, and then we go over to Stokes’ place, where we get a lengthy recap of Adam’s entire storyline, in the form of a word association exercise.
So, forget it. If Sproat’s not going to bother writing an actual episode today, then I’m going to go read the first issue of the Dark Shadows comic book.
Continue reading Episode 529: Missing Adventures
“It is tragic that your Greta is so deformed, for she really could play the role of Josette to perfection.”
It’s a Ron Sproat script today, which means that Carolyn’s still stuck in the root cellar, and so are we. So I’m going to invoke my executive privilege to ignore a filler episode, and talk about something else instead.
It’s time to start looking at the Dark Shadows merchandise, because this is the period where it becomes a real factor in the audience’s experience of the show. While this episode was being taped, Jonathan Frid was on a completely insane ten-city publicity tour, where he was besieged by literally thousands of screaming teenagers who were desperate to get closer to Barnabas, and the show. Recognizing that these kids have allowances, ABC started to tap into that market, with some success.
The first piece of Barnabas-related merchandise was released in May 1968, just in time for the publicity tour. It’s a 155-page book called The Curse of Collinwood, and it’s the fifth in the series of Dark Shadows-inspired romance novels published by Paperback Library. The Curse of Collinwood has a picture of Barnabas on the cover, and it sells spectacularly well.
Unfortunately, Barnabas isn’t actually in The Curse of Collinwood, which is about Vicki and therefore not worth discussing, so we’re going to talk about the next book instead.
Continue reading Episode 504: The Ladykiller