Tag Archives: writers

Episode 830: The Book I Wrote

“There may be only one way of preventing tonight from happening.”

Last cliffhanger, Charity had a vision of Quentin’s death (stabbed or something — lots of blood on his chest). At beginning of this episode, she is wandering in the woods. Magda finds her and Charity says Quentin will die in 12 days — September 10. Reverend Trask comes home and finds that while Edward + Jameson have been cured, Charity is still possessed. She says she’ll kill anyone who comes between her and Quentin. Trask asks Magda to watch Charity. Quentin realizes there’s a full moon that night and he tells Magda he’s going to stop the change.

Or, at least, that’s what happens in today’s episode according to the original version of Dark Shadows Every Day, which I started in a school notebook when I was fifteen. I might have chosen my words more carefully if I’d known that I was going to show it to people thirty years later. Also, I apparently didn’t know how to spell Jamison.

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Episode 791: Sign the Paper

“No, Judith — you’re not mad, you’re just… burdened.”

Reverend Trask is comforting his distressed wife. “Now, Evan here has a paper that will lift a great deal of that burden from you, as soon as you sign it.”

But Judith is too upset to focus. “I can’t read anything right now!”

“There’s no need to read it, Judith,” her husband explains. “Just sign it.”

She says that she needs to talk to her brother Edward first, but the Reverend and his lawyer-accomplice shake their heads. Edward, they say, is dead. He’s not, actually — at least, he looked okay, the last time I saw him — but Trask and Evan seem pretty sure about it.

“Why can’t I remember?” Judith cries. “What’s happening? Everything is going to pieces, I want it to stop!”

“Judith, it will stop,” Trask says, “when you sign the paper.”

“Sign the paper,” Evan agrees.

Judith turns to look at Trask’s dead wife Minerva, who’s just sitting there, glaring at her with undisguised loathing.

“She keeps staring at me,” Judith mutters. “She’s watching me, and waiting. What is she waiting for?”

Trask insists, “Judith, sign the paper. That is the only way I can make you stop seeing this phantom that doesn’t exist!” He picks up the pen, and puts it into her hand. “Sign the paper, Judith. Sign the paper!”

Now, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I’m starting to get the feeling that they want Judith to sign the paper. This has all the earmarks of being one of those sign-the-paper parties.

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Episode 723: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Vampires

“Now, I want you to stay here, and look after the ladies, take them upstairs, and lock yourself in a room.”

Well, it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down. Handsome rascal Quentin Collins has been stabbed in the chest, in the cottage, and in the prime of life, and that’s three strikes. We watched him bleed out on the carpet, and he’s currently the featured attraction at a swinging wake in the drawing room.

But dark sorcery has brought him back to life, sort of, by which I mean he’s lurching around with a glazed expression on his face. It’s not much of a life, more mannequin than man. Let’s say “life” with air quotes.

Barnabas is in this episode too, and he’s a vampire, so that makes two dead characters out of five today. Although I suppose from the point of view of the 1969 audience, everyone in the 1897 storyline is dead.

Actually, when you really sit down and think about it, we’re all dead — just a pack of not-yet-rotting corpses, advancing inexorably to the grave. That’s why I try not to really sit down and think about it.

Continue reading Episode 723: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Vampires

Episode 717: Mommy Weirdest

“They’re dolls! Plain ordinary breakable dolls! She has dozens of them, and can’t tell the difference between them.”

Mad Jenny Collins is loose in the haunted corridors of ABC daytime television, eyeliner askew and ready for adventure. She’s been locked up in the tower room for god knows how long, and from the looks of her, it hasn’t been a soothing experience.

She keeps breaking out of her cell and setting fire to people’s bedrooms, which isn’t a productive use of her time, and at the moment she’s got hold of a pair of scissors that must be left over from the Jurassic era. You know how they tell you not to run with scissors? You shouldn’t even walk with these. That’s a pair of scissors where you close the door and turn the lights off and hope it goes away.

It’s not easy to explain just how insane this situation is, so let’s see how Charlotte Brontë described it, in Chapter 20 of Jane Eyre:

What crime was this that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion, and could neither be expelled nor subdued by the owner? — what mystery, that broke out now in fire and now in blood, at the deadest hours of night? What creature was it, that, masked in an ordinary woman’s face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, and anon of a carrion-seeking bird of prey?

Well, I mean. You have to give it up to Charlotte B for that. I can’t speak for anybody else, but in my opinion I think she nailed it.

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Extra: An Interview with Violet Welles

“There were infinite possibilities in infinite combinations.”

Monday’s episode was the first credited to Violet Welles, one of the best writers on Dark Shadows, and one of the most mysterious. She was a theatrical press agent, working on a varied slate of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. She also wrote for several television shows, but almost always as a ghost-writer; Dark Shadows is her only credited work as a writer, and she had to be talked into becoming a full-time writer on the show.

There are several websites that list Violet’s credits as a press rep — Playbill Vault, Internet Broadway Database and the Internet Off-Broadway Database — but almost nothing is known about her television work.

Happily, there’s a fan resource to the rescue: The World of Dark Shadows, the flagship DS fanzine which ran from 1975 to 2001. Issue #59/60, published in June 1991, ran a four-page interview with Violet Welles, giving us a rare glimpse into the day-to-day experience of the Dark Shadows writing team. The interview is fantastic, and I’m going to post it here in its entirety. It was conducted by Meghan Powell-Nivling, who I have not contacted for permission, so I hope nobody minds. Here’s Violet.

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Episode 711: Let’s Twist Again

“We’re all on the same side, aren’t we? My side.”

I address myself and those here with me to the powers of darkness, he said.

I call upon the flame to summon you, he said.

I call upon the raven and the viper and all the dark creatures of nature to draw you like a rising mist from out of the darkness of the earth, he said.

And he said it over an active hellmouth that spews out vengeance-vowing fire demons on the regular. What could possibly go wrong?

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Episode 690: Laugh Like a Man

“It was just me. I was pretending to laugh like a man.”

Dark Shadows lost one of their writers a couple weeks ago; I may have mentioned that before. Don’t worry, he wasn’t one of the good ones.

There’s a new writer who’s going to join the team in March, but meanwhile there are a couple extra scripts that need writing. They need a fill-in writer for the next two episodes, so Gordon Russell calls Ralph Ellis, who wrote ABC soap A Flame in the Wind with Gordon from 1964 to ’66.

Ralph is just at the beginning of a long and successful career as a soap opera writer. Pretty soon, he’s going to join NBC’s Another World, and then CBS’ Search For Tomorrow, and eventually he’ll be a head writer for The Doctors, As the World Turns, Loving, and General Hospital.

Right now, he’s doing a couple days on this weird little haunted house show. Let’s see what he comes up with.

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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.

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Episode 669: My Boyfriend’s Back

“I’d like to meet the man that invented supermarkets, and wring his neck.”

We’ve talked a lot lately about the failure of the 1968 storylines, and I think it’s high time we move on, and talk about the failure of the 1969 storylines. You can’t live in the past forever, except for Angelique, apparently, and I don’t think I’ll ever figure out how she manages it.

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