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Episode 958: The Not Normal

“All we know is that there’s another force working in this house against the same people that we’re fighting against.”

“Now, that I don’t understand at all,” Quentin says, just like everybody does in this storyline, about everything, all the time. The Leviathan story may be one of the least understood in the history of the dramatic arts.

Specifically, he’s talking about Elizabeth, who’s under the sway of the malicious alien heptapods who are currently terrorizing Maine. “Yesterday, she tried to kill Maggie,” Quentin observes. “Today, she obviously lies, and smiles graciously, and wishes that Maggie were back.”

Julia shakes her head. “Quentin, this is a house of lies. The only way to bring these people back to the truth is to smile and lie, just as they do.”

And for the first time in my life, I have to ask the question: Is Julia Hoffman right?

Continue reading Episode 958: The Not Normal

Episode 951: Into Darkness

“May that breathing never come from any room again!”

So our main character is dead again, hooray! Dark Shadows can fight its destiny as much as it likes — periodically sending Barnabas to rehab, distracting us with other monsters — but the fact is, this is a vampire show. It always has been, even before the vampire showed up, and it always will be, even after the vampire turns into a guy named Bramwell.

The novels say that Barnabas is a vampire, and so do the comics, the board games, the joke books and ABC’s marketing department. And now, thanks to the only worthwhile thing that the Leviathans ever accomplish, even the vampire show has to admit that their vampire is a vampire.

Continue reading Episode 951: Into Darkness

Episode 937: The Predator

“Now that you’ve killed her father, the wedding must be postponed.”

We start today’s show with young David somewhat the worse for wear, following an improperly motivated “boo” attack earlier in the day. He was riding his bike down Crown Street, when all of a sudden, a tall blonde man jumped out from behind the bushes and knocked him off his bike. You’d think that David, living as he does in the world’s most haunted house, would be used to things jumping out and scaring him. I guess everybody has an off day, now and then.

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Episode 925: The Wolf of Wall Street

“I am concerned with the safety of other people, not what’s right.”

Michael is staring at Maggie Evans.

Maggie is a pretty young woman who used to be a waitress, and now works at Collinwood as David’s private tutor. Michael is a seven-week-old baby monster who came out of a time travelling box, and will someday cleanse the Earth of its human population. Everybody has to be something, I suppose.

Michael’s come over to the house today, unannounced and uninvited, because he wants to play with David and be insolent to grown-ups. Maggie was in the middle of a lesson with David, but now Michael’s here, and she’s not sure what to do.

The problem is that Michael is such an odd little boy. He says things that sound polite — “You wouldn’t do that, would you, Miss Evans?” he says — but he keeps his eyes locked on hers, unblinking, in a way that people generally don’t, unless they’re planning to murder you.

Maggie finally decides that it’s okay — she’ll grade David’s paper, and the boys can play in the drawing room. But as she’s gathering up the papers, she feels Michael’s eyes, still following her. She turns, and sees that he hasn’t moved; he’s just standing there at the door, staring her down.

She tries to collect herself, and says, “Michael, is something wrong?”

He keeps sizing her up. “What could be wrong, Miss Evans?” he asks, with a faint smile.

“You keep staring at me.”

Anxious to break the tension, David cries, “I’ve got it! We can play Wall Street. Do you like Wall Street, Michael?”

“It doesn’t matter what game we play, David,” the boy sneers. “You know that.”

So, yeah, of course they’re going to play Wall Street. This kid is the living embodiment of the Big Short.

Continue reading Episode 925: The Wolf of Wall Street

Episode 916: The One of Us

“There are two things you’ve got to know. One is that I think he’s slightly mad.”

And we’re back! Yesterday’s Dark Shadows episode was recorded three weeks out of sequence, and slotted into place in order to signal an upcoming storyline course correction. This is a situation that does not occur in nature.

They had this idea, you see, where Barnabas Collins, the main character of this daytime creeps machine, would suddenly swear allegiance to some kind of interplanetary invasion force of shapeless pre-prehistoric essence, which is plotting to replace the human race with a population of quick-growing four-headed snake monsters. Or something. It’s hard to explain, which I guess is the problem.

The kids who hang around outside the studio door after school said that a) they didn’t understand the storyline, and b) they wouldn’t like it even if they did, so the producers said I know what let’s do, let’s make a special episode where we explain that Barnabas doesn’t really want to be doing all the things that he’s been doing lately, and stick it in three weeks early, to signal to the audience that we’re aware that our story doesn’t make any sense, and we’ll change it as soon as we can. And then they went ahead and did it.

What I’m saying is, that’s a really not-normal way to run a television show, especially a high-rated show like Dark Shadows. Yes, the ratings have been slipping a bit since they started the Leviathan story, but that’s coming down from an all-time ratings peak that they hit only two months ago. There’s still a lot of people watching this show.

So what just happened was that the main character of a television show went to sleep, had a dream where the show apologized for the current storyline, and then woke back up and continued on as usual. I can’t think of anything to compare that to. That’s an approach that begins and ends with Dark Shadows.

Continue reading Episode 916: The One of Us