Tag Archives: unintended consequences

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Episode 861: The Unvisited

“I feel a presence of someone!”

Previously, on Dark Shadows:

The Doctor came to a halt, his arms folded. “I won’t do it,” he said obstinately. “Whatever you want — I won’t do it!”

The Time Lord spoke one word. “Daleks.”

The Doctor spun around. “Daleks? Well, what about them?”

The Time Lord paused, as if collecting his arguments, then said, “Our latest temporal projections foresee a Time-stream in which the Daleks will have destroyed all other life forms. They could become the dominant creatures in the Universe.”

“That has always been their aim,” agreed the Doctor grimly. “Go on.”

“We’d like you to return to Skaro at a point in time just before the Daleks evolved.”

Immediately the Doctor guessed the Time Lord’s plan. “And prevent their creation?”

“That, or alter their genetic development, so they evolve into less aggressive creatures. At the very least, you might discover some weakness which could serve as a weapon against them.”

The Doctor tried to look as if he was thinking it over. But it was no more than a pretence. He couldn’t resist the idea of a chance to defeat his oldest enemies once and for all. “Oh all right. All right. I suppose I’ll have to help you — just one more time. Return me to the TARDIS.”

“No need for that, Doctor. This is Collinwood.”

Continue reading Episode 861: The Unvisited

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Episode 837: The Trip

“She’s got doom and disaster written all over her face!”

Edward Collins finds an unconscious stranger, just outside his front door. It’s a woman, with a strange hairstyle and an unfamiliar style of dress. He helps her to her feet, but she’s groggy and unsteady. Edward brings her inside, and she looks around like she’s in a daze, squinting and blinking as if she’s never seen the inside of a house before.

She’s docile, at least — clearly not a danger to anyone — and he’s able to lead her into the drawing room, and park her on the couch. Slumping in her seat, she stares at Edward, a puzzled look on her face.

“Can you hear me?” he asks, patiently. “Can you understand what I’m saying?” She just looks at him. He persists. “Why did you come here?” No reply. “Who are you?” Still not receiving.

At a loss, Edward cries, “Where have you come from?”

She squints up at him, and says, “I don’t know, man. I mean, where does anybody come from?”

Continue reading Episode 837: The Trip

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Episode 835: Meanwhile, in the Future

“It is my fervent hope that this letter will somehow survive time.”

Meanwhile, on Dark Shadows: Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has been time traveling for almost a year now, in one direction or another. He’s been slipping back and forth through the centuries, popping his consciousness in and out of his own body and sticking post-it notes all over his five hundred year diary. At this point, I think we’re up to three simultaneous Barnabi, but I’m not an expert at counting Draculas.

Continue reading Episode 835: Meanwhile, in the Future

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Episode 818: The Green Light

“When I saw myself rising from the dead — with those fangs!”

There are eight turning points in the story of Dark Shadows — moments when the focus and direction of the show changed forever. Four of them are character introductions, and four are backstage events. Here they are, in order of appearance:

  • the introduction of Barnabas,
  • Julia’s offer to cure Barnabas,
  • writer Sam Hall joins the show,
  • the introduction of Angelique,
  • Jonathan Frid’s ten-city publicity tour,
  • writer Ron Sproat leaves the show,
  • the introduction of Quentin,
  • and MGM greenlights House of Dark Shadows.

Here we are in mid-August 1969, and we’ve reached that final turning point — the moment when a grown-up movie studio agreed to distribute a feature film about a daytime soap opera, using the same cast and crew, while the TV show is still in production. Everything that happens over the next year and a half of the show will be affected by that deeply peculiar decision.

The story that people tell about House of Dark Shadows is that creator Dan Curtis, like all artistic visionaries, was deeply misunderstood. He had a burning ambition to turn his vampire soap opera into a feature film, and nobody at the studios would believe in his dream. Finally, Dan found a kindred spirit in James Aubrey, the president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who recognized the value of a Dark Shadows movie and eagerly gave it the green light.

Once the film was greenlighted, the only headache to figure out was how to get the cast off the show for six weeks, while they filmed the movie. Dan and the writers came up with a way to focus on the actors who weren’t part of the movie cast, until the shooting was over. That way, the movie wouldn’t have a negative impact on the show, and when shooting wrapped, everything went back to normal. On release, the movie was such a success that it saved MGM from closing down.

That story is almost entirely false. This is actually the story of the destruction of Dark Shadows. It’s also the story of the destruction of MGM. And like all Dark Shadows stories, the line between hero and villain is not necessarily clear.

Continue reading Episode 818: The Green Light

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Episode 512: Everybody Rise

“I am prepared to convene a jury of the dead in this room!”

He meant well, is the thing that you have to remember. There’s an evil witch who’s living at Collinwood these days, and she’s making life complicated for everybody, so Professor Stokes thought, hey, we’ve got a witch, why not raise the spirit of a bad-tempered 18th-century witch hunter?

Stokes learned that Reverend Trask was buried alive behind a brick wall in the basement of the Old House, so he figured, let’s wake Trask up, point him in the direction of Angelique, and then just let nature take its course. Stokes is something of a lateral thinker.

So, yeah. It’s not one of the top ten plans. But at least it doesn’t involve terrorizing a young child, so for Dark Shadows, it’s actually not that bad. You have to grade these things on a curve.

Continue reading Episode 512: Everybody Rise

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Episode 501: Say My Name

“Barnabas, Barnabas, please don’t go. Barnabas!”

Well, what’s the point of even having a Frankenstein monster, if he’s not going to go on a rampage every once in a while? You can’t keep him locked up in the basement forever. He’s a metaphor for the limits of human power, the unintended consequences of mankind’s sins made flesh and set loose upon the world. Now get out of the way, and let him do his goddamn job.

Continue reading Episode 501: Say My Name

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Episode 411: Other People’s Blood

“That’s what happened to me, isn’t it? I was in that coffin because I was dead.”

It always starts with a box.

The local nobility are up to their usual tricks — keeping secrets, sleeping with the help, shooting each other, generally making a nuisance of themselves — and it comes back to haunt them, as it always does.

So here we are, opening another mystery box, and something terrible is loosed upon the world again, for the first time.

Continue reading Episode 411: Other People’s Blood

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Episode 384: Life After Love

“Then I have reason to hate you. Because if you do not love her, you’ve ruined all our lives for nothing.”

So, it turns out there’s no such thing as magic after all. Angelique doesn’t cast spells; she’s just a superstitious girl who plays make-believe voodoo games. The “visions” are just dreams; the “enchantments” are just bad choices.

Josette and Jeremiah didn’t break Barnabas’ heart because they were under a spell. You can’t blame the magic rose water, or the spiked hot toddy. They’ve both been walking around saying things like “we couldn’t help it” and “we didn’t know what we were doing”, and Barnabas treats those excuses with the frozen contempt that they deserve.

And then Barnabas asks the one devastating question that they simply can’t answer, the question that blows the whole family to pieces.

Continue reading Episode 384: Life After Love