Tag Archives: trolling

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Episode 970: A Less Rational Explanation

“I have the feeling that perhaps all of us are leading a different life in that room.”

Yesterday, eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins had a strange and frightening experience, namely: watching an episode of Dark Shadows that he wasn’t in.

He was poking around in the deserted east wing of Collinwood, opening doors and closing doors and hunting for a coffin — you know, typical Dark Shadows stuff — when he suddenly came upon a room where Elizabeth and Julia were dressed up in other people’s clothes, and talking about other people’s problems.

We’re meant to be intrigued by this strange desert otherworld, so they made use of that great guarantor of television mystery: the unheralded pronoun.

“I’m cleaning out her clothes,” says Liz. “You will not touch her clothes,” says Julia. “It will be their room,” Liz proposes. “It is hers; it will always be hers,” Julia counters.

She is dead! She’ll be back! and back and forth they went, acting for all the world as if proper nouns were prohibited by law, and then they slammed the door and ran away into the night, giggling.

It’s a good gag, if you can pull it off. Other people have trolled Barnabas in the past — like all gloomy and self-involved people, he is particularly susceptible to trolling — but I don’t think anybody’s ever done it by just standing around in a room and pretending they don’t notice him. They’re breaking new ground in the field of Barnabas-bothering.

Continue reading Episode 970: A Less Rational Explanation

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Episode 868: A New Man

“This man is dead! We know he’s dead, don’t we?”

So I suppose you could say that there’s good news, and bad news. The good news is that Dark Shadows hits its all-time ratings peak this week, thanks to the return of TV’s cool ghoul Jonathan Frid, who’s just coming back from a month-long vacation.

Barnabas has been off camera for four weeks now, chained up in a coffin with a stake through his heart. Yesterday, we finally saw him again — but he’s still staked, still chained, not getting much use out of that FitBit we got him for Christmas. And yet, here he is, the deceased Barnabas Collins, lying around in a doctor’s office and getting his pulse taken, like the show-off that he is.

We’re going to spend the next few days trying to figure out if this really is Barnabas, or some unlikely lookalike with the same name and address. Either way, there’s some kind of narrative sleight-of-hand going on, and everybody’s tuning in to see how they’re going to pull it off. The ratings have been going up steadily all year, thanks to Quentin and the 1897 storyline, and this week is the apex of Dark Shadows’ popularity. That’s the good news.

Continue reading Episode 868: A New Man

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Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 9: The Treachery of Images

“Let’s all go up to the top of the west wing and look for that missing room!”

So I think we can all agree at this point that the 1971 Dark Shadows comic strip is extremely dangerous, and must be stopped. I’ve been spending the last two weeks writing about this hazardous spin-off — it seemed like a good idea at the time — and now I’m starting to understand just what I’ve unleashed.

The Dark Shadows comic strip premiered on March 14, 1971 — and within three weeks, the show was cancelled. Then the strip just kept on going, sauntering away from this obvious patricide and looking for new worlds to destroy.

So far, the comic strip has kicked out most of the cast. It’s defanged Barnabas, turning his senseless, selfish crimes into a tepid “bite of love” that doesn’t even draw blood. It’s rewritten his never-ending war with Angelique into a failed ploy to get Barnabas to join up with Mr. Sinestra, some sea cow in a caftan we’ve never heard of. It’s even killed Carolyn’s dog.

And now it’s coming for us.

There’s only one thing that we can do — fight fire with fire, even if it’s the cool green flame of witch’s fire. We have to unwrite the comic strip, and make sure that it never exists. I am being completely serious about this.

Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 9: The Treachery of Images

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Episode 701: The Most Important Thing About Quentin

“Life was more exciting, when I was around.”

So, the lesson, I suppose, is that you shouldn’t lock up your relatives, build paneling over the door, and pretend that they went to France.

I mean, I understand the impulse. Quentin is selfish and mean, and practices dark sorcery. You’ve tried to kick him out of the house, but he just laughs, and keeps on drinking other people’s brandy. And then there’s a sale at Home Depot, and you think, This could be so easy…

The downside, of course, is that then your descendants come along and unseal the tomb, because they’re young and curious, and you forgot to write “Dangerous ancestor, do not open” on the entrance portal. Although they probably wouldn’t have paid attention anyway; descendants are dumb like that.

So now the genie’s out of the bottle, and nobody knows the magic words to get him back in. The sinister specter is running roughshod over the house, stealing children, throwing mediums down the stairs and messing with people’s hairstyles. But eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has decided that enough is enough, so he uses the mysterious Chinese art of I Ching in a desperate attempt to communicate with the ghost.

Strictly speaking, this is unnecessary, because the kids already have a magic telephone that they’ve been using to communicate with Quentin for months. Barnabas could talk to Quentin any time he wants; Quentin just doesn’t care. Communications technology is not the issue.

Continue reading Episode 701: The Most Important Thing About Quentin

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Episode 683: The Very Last Ron Sproat Episode

“I want you to tell me what you know of a tall blonde woman in a long, flowing white dress.”

On February 5th, 1969, ABC aired what is generally considered to be the worst half-hour of network television, the first episode of a sketch comedy show called Turn-On. The show managed to be both offensive and incomprehensible, which is quite a trick, and on at least one station, it was cancelled during the first episode.

The conceit of Turn-On was that it was produced by a computer, which spliced together lots of little shards of not-funny. The show didn’t have any sets; it was just filmed against a stark white background. An odd-looking character would appear and do something strange, and then they’d cut to something else.

Almost all of the jokes were about sex, and sometimes they just flashed the word SEX! on the screen, in various colors. They also flashed captions with jokey references to sex and gay people, including “God Save the Queens,” “Free Oscar Wilde,” “Make Love Not Wine,” and “The Amsterdam Levee Is a Dike.” Sometimes the screen would be divided into four comic-strip panels, and the sketch would be performed in discrete chunks, one in each panel. The ending credits were split up into pieces and aired throughout the show.

WEWS, an ABC affiliate in Cleveland, took the show off the air during the first commercial break, and just didn’t show the rest of the episode. I don’t know what they filled the extra twenty minutes with, but it was better than Turn-On, so it could have been literally anything.

And on the same day — February 5th, 1969 — ABC also aired the last episode of Dark Shadows written by Ron Sproat. ABC was just having a bad day overall.

Continue reading Episode 683: The Very Last Ron Sproat Episode

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Episode 623: This Is Happening

“All we know is, she was hanged. But whether she died or not is something everyone in Collinsport is still wondering about.”

Gosh. So much to cover, and I can’t explain any of it. The Great 1968 Wrap-Up is in full swing, and I don’t have the energy to take care of bystanders today. If you aren’t completely up to date on the ins and outs of the spine-tingling nonsense they’re passing off as a storyline these days, then there is honestly very little that I can say that would help.

If you’re super brand new to the blog, then you might be better off reading yesterday’s post. Wait, sorry — yesterday’s was even goofier than today’s. I don’t know, there’s a lot of posts to read. Pick a number between 210 and 623. Okay, now put it back in the deck. Was it 497? Damn it! I suck at card tricks.

Continue reading Episode 623: This Is Happening

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Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

“The trouble, I guess, is that soaps are rather subterranean.”

Here’s a story that isn’t true:

In some ways the situation wasn’t unusual for a soap opera. A girl and an older man, in the process of eloping, had been hurt in an auto accident. However, the condition of the still-unconscious male patient baffled the examining doctors at the hospital. Although he had suffered only a minor head wound and was breathing normally, his veins were almost empty of blood and no heartbeat or pulse could be detected.

The treatment — massive transfusions — was already underway when the patient’s personal physician and a friend arrived at the emergency ward. “What do you think will happen to him?” asked the friend in a desperate whisper. “Who can tell?” was the M.D.’s equally tense reply. “After all, no one’s ever given massive blood transfusions to a vampire before.”

And then “a burst of eerie music is followed by a denture-adhesive commercial, and one more episode of Dark Shadows comes to a cliff-hanging conclusion,” except it didn’t happen that way.

Continue reading Episode 612: Reflections on the Golden Eye

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Episode 508: Dream Beater

“Why am I not opening your doors?”

What, when you get right down to it, is magic?

In the context of a story, anyone can have magic powers, and there really aren’t any hard and fast rules about how they work. Take Angelique, for example — a ladies’ maid from Martinique with reality-warping abilities, apparently granted to her by Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies.

Angelique started out with some rather modest household voodoo, choking a toy soldier to make Barnabas gasp for breath. But pretty soon, she was raising zombies from their graves, and turning people into cats, and generally wiping the floor with the Collins family.

By this point, she has a baffling assortment of abilities, including the power of getting really super old when somebody paints over her portrait. She doesn’t use that one very much, because it’s hard to weaponize.

Continue reading Episode 508: Dream Beater