Friday, December 14, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 14


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 388

Can threatening the life of an innocent child land a girl the man of her dreams? Angelique is about to find out! Angleique: Lara Parker. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Angelique revels when she cajoles Barnabas into admitting that he hates Josette. His animosity is short-lived, however, and as Trask tries to exorcise Vicki, Barnabas admits that he still loves his former fiancée. Angelique reacts by threatening Sarah’s life.

Is it any wonder that Barnabas is so obsessed with Josette? Actually, I’m not sure that he is. If he’s obsessed with anything, it’s feeling like more than a dope. The one who’s obsessed with Josette is Angelique. It’s all some bizarre inversion of #MeToo as Barnabas is a vaguely powerless employer at his harassing employee’s beck and call. Not satisfied with destroying Barnabas’ engagement and landing his insincere kisses, Angelique won’t rest until he literally says he hates Josette. The only thing that would have satisfied her more would be if he’d crossed his arms and stamped his feet while he did it. Inevitably, this just makes him morbidly curious about why she hates Josette so much. Nothing drives someone into the arms of a rival like talking about them constantly.

It’s a painful episode for everyone. Angelique is uniquely relentless in her quiveringly ecstatic campaign to force Barnabas to curse his “new aunt” to the rafters. Frid’s native, on-camera jitteriness sells Barnabas’ uncertain commitment, at times looking like he’d rather kiss the Collinsport Afghan than plant one on Angelique. Nevertheless, he later shows more compassion than most when having, I kid you not, a “let’s be friends” treaty with Angelique. As unspeakably cruel as she is this this episode, extending her envious rage even to Barnabas’ kid sister, I can’t fault Angelique for not accepting the demotion. It’s the extent of the refusal that is appropriately appalling. Angelique’s strength lies in her audacity. She is emotion given life, and as such, an anti-Spock… and the Klingon that Martok only thought he was. The character is eventually one of the show’s most admirable. She just has to kill a child, first.

Her threat is so horrific that Barnabas wouldn’t fathom anyone, even Angelique, carrying it out. That’s evil’s secret. It’s shockingly honest. They got it wrong when they stuck Satan with the title, “Prince of Lies.” Lies are small-time and timid. Lies are products of fear. Real evil is fearless, perhaps out of ignorance. Perhaps out of audacity. It not only makes its plans known… it serves them up under glass. It’s anticipation and delivery. Angelique delivers both.

On her part, she learns the eventual decency to make up for it. It’s under strange circumstances… immortality, where the memory of your misdeeds is probably a worse punishment than the agnosticism that accompanies death. Atonement becomes a lifestyle by necessity. Barnabas exists on both sides of the spectrum. He would live -- and not live -- to take her seriously. The guilt, anger, and ongoing memory of powerlessness explains the spectrum of his behavior. Evil used him, so he might as well use it. In for a penny, in for a pound. All of that. And then, like Angelique, a cycle of constant reconciliation. It’s a ruthless contrition for both of them, but contrition anyway. In a story of many breaking points, is this not just a one, but THE one? It can be hard to respect Barnabas as the endlessly complex, troubled hero that he is when you see his actions upon first arriving in the 20th century. He’s become old companions with death. The acquaintance costs him everyone he loves. We know what he goes through to see Sarah again. To have even one of the others back -- Josette, in this case? Yes, murdering strangers to feed, kidnapping to court, and brainwashing to propose? That’s nothing compared to what he feels he condemned Sarah to suffer. This is moral madness, and Angelique is both architect and minotaur. Maybe, his eventual navigator. Unforgivable? Yes, she is. But what else are you going to do? In a life of mortal length, unforgiveness is a luxury. Immortals haven’t the time.

This episode was broadcast Dec. 20, 1967.

Step back in time with The Collinsport Historical Society podcast



Where has the time gone? One minute you're having a perfectly innocent séance with some friends and family, the next you're standing on the gallows with a noose around your neck and weathering accusations of witchcraft. Time really flies when the laws of physics no longer apply.

Case in point: Today marks the sixth anniversary of The Collinsport Historical Society podcast. It feels like yesterday that I first tried my hand at adding a multi-media aspect to the website, when in fact it was 2,190 yesterdays. We've published more than 80 episodes since then and it's been a terrifying, rewarding experience. The series stalled not long after the birth of my child and has since been kept afloat but the folks at Big Finish and, more recently, Bodice Tipplers. During our presentation at the 2016 Dark Shadows Festival we had requests to bring back the podcast, which was incredibly flattering. The idea was to reboot it in earnest this year (I even have a cool new theme for the show!) but the production has since been rolled into a larger plan that will come to fruition during the first quarter of 2019. We've got big, big plans for the new year and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

None of this was a factor back in 2012, though. It's not a secret that the podcast happened almost by accident. Kathryn Leigh Scott had agreed to do an interview with the website and I was looking for an alternative to writing notes by hand while speaking with her on the phone. Recording the call was the easiest solution to that problem and, after that, it seemed more interesting to simply share the audio. I roped in Patrick McCray, Will McKinley and Jessica Dwyer to provide commentary on House of Dark Shadows and a single-episode experiment turned into a series. It remains our most-downloaded episode, even edging out interviews with Humbert Allen Astredo, John Karlen and our Remembering Jonathan Frid special.

If you haven't heard it, you can listen to the episode below. Click HERE if you want to go spelunking in our podcast archives.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sexy Pirates Podcast Alert!


If you subscribe to The Collinsport Historical Society podcast you already know there's a new episode of Bodice Tipplers available. Feel free to go about your business. For the rest of you, the latest episode (the fifth!) is about the 1977 Fern Michaels novel "Captive Passions." I made the image at the top of this post because I find that kind of shit funny, but it's not far off from the tone of the actual book.

What does this have to do with Dark Shadows? Not a goddamn thing! But my wife is one of the podcast hosts, and I love her and want her to be successful in life. That should be a pretty easy concept to grasp.

You can listen to the "Captive Passions" podcast below. You might want to visit the Bodice Tipplers website first and review their content warnings before diving in. They've also got a cookie recipe and information about their musical guest Futtock Shrouds.

Also: Look for Bodice Tipplers on Twitter and (ugh) Facebook!

I'm beginning to think Facebook might be evil, y'all



If you're reading this, you probably didn't get here from Facebook.

About a month ago the increasingly sinister social network "adjusted" its analytics for the umpteenth time, contiuing to alter who sees what on Facebook using an opaque, draconian system of values that it refuses to disclose. This happens often, suggesting a great many things ... none of them especially good. In the past these changes were often followed by pleas from content creators asking you to adjust your own behavior to overcome these new obstacles put between us by Facebook. "Don't forget to 'follow' our page!" "If you like our page, don't forget to leave a comment!"

I see fewer of these requests than in the past, mostly because content creators have given up. Facebook makes its money by selling advertising, but the value of that product changes from week to week. Facebook will ask you to pay to promote your page to gain more followers, and then ask you to pay to "help" reach those new followers. And then it randomly (?) adjusts its analytics so that fewer of those new followers see your content. Wash, rinse, repeat.

And the system is only getting more obtuse. Facebook doesn't like its users to leave Facebook, so links to other pages receive less visibility. (They do such a good job at this that we frequently find people who think The Collinsport Historical Society is a just Facebook group.) If you use an image or photo with "too much text" (however that is being defined this week) those images can also be flagged as possible advertising and be hidden from timelines. Frequency is even a problem: Post too often during a single day and the bartenders at Facebook will cut you off.

About a month ago Facebook adjusted its analytics and the traffic to this website dropped precipitously overnight. I've never seen such a sudden change in traffic here. You can review some of these changes yourself on The Collinsport Historical Society's Facebook page by looking at the number of engagements on post take a steep dive ... we are reaching fewer people on Facebook  despite having the largest audience we've ever had. It doesn't make much sense to invest sweat equity into a platform that is so invested in self destructing. It feels a little too much like lending money to a junkie.

If you like what we do, I'm not going to ask that you dive into your Facebook settings and make a bunch of changes that benefit us. But you might consider skipping Facebook entirely and visiting this website directly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 12


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 922

When Amanda Harris has a long delayed date with death, Julia learns that the best is yet to come! Werewolf: Alex Stevens. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Grant Douglas investigates the Tate house only to confront a werewolf and promptly punch him. The werewolf flees only to briefly encounter Amanda Harris, who confesses to Julia about her past. Spurned by Quentin in 1897 New York, on a really impressionistic bridge set, she tried to leap to her death after being greeted by an aging dandy named “Mr. Best.” Going unconscious, Amanda wakes up in a strange, otherworldly hotel lobby called “The Stopping-Off Place.” Mr. Best agrees to keep her young until a day on which she is destined to die. She needs to find Quentin, first. Decades later, she is still young. As she finishes telling all to Julia, a knock on the door reveals, you guessed it, Mr. Best.

There is so much going on in episode 922 that you would need the combined powers of all of Craigslist to unpack it. I mean it. And it has more Zen implications than a Kung Fu reunion movie. Right here.

This minor storyline? This old thing, you ask? Why are you making a big deal out of that? Aren't we just waiting for Christopher Pennock to show up?

Well, cosmically, we always are. But let's focus on Dark Shadows. Mr. Pennock will be glad that there will be actual, serious, Zen material later in the article, but I gotta talk about my vampire stories, first.

Because it doesn't really feel connected to anything as important as the Barnabas/Josette/Angelique core story, and because it all kind of loiterers at the beginning of a Leviathan storyline that will still be going on, bafflingly, months from now, this segment is easy to write-off. Or maybe it's easy to write it off because, while its story elements are more interesting than anything else going on, the show's treatment of them feels almost dismissive, at best. Yes, I realize that they are in a hurry to get Quentin back, but once they do, they don't seem to know what to do with him. Here. In the Stopping-Off Place. Because here, dueling with Mr. Best, he has a purpose. And his immortality gives him the unique sparring partner that only an anthropomorphised death could really be. Unfortunately, this is almost a case of, “what if someone gave a storyline and nobody showed up?” Like the prior episode, “Quentin, Chris, and the Foppish Android,” this is a great idea with so little airtime and arc impact that I have to remind myself that it happened. I need to consider this my permanent Post-It. 

There is a huge question lurking in and around this episode, and that’s “Who’s in charge?” In a little over a year, we have met three contenders for the Ultimate Boss of Evil in the DSU, and it can be debated who are the puppets and who is the hand….

Bachelor #1 runs an immense operation of punishment, demons, and Gothic office furniture. He likes the music of JS Bach, blonde women, and dominating the world through an army descended from the union of reanimated cadavers. Give a sunny Burbank welcome to “Diabolos.”

Bachelor #2 is a already hooked up, but looking for a third! He and his partner may be snakes in the grass, but that’s only because these nature lovers predate time, itself, and they wish to bring about the rebirth of an ageless serpent god to consume the planet. Heads of an immense, secret cult of powerful publishers and ludicrous, fur coat-wearing hipsters, get out the heat lamps for Oberon and Haza.

Bachelor #3 is the special guest star of this episode. A smooth-talking man-about-town, he loves fine suits, friendly wagers, and A View from the Bridge. Drop in at his saloon, The Stopping Off Place. And don’t be in a hurry when you say hello to the original ladykiller. Won’t you find out why they all call him “Mr. Best”?

I’d like to say that my money is on the Caretaker, but I think I can build a more solid case for Mr. Best. Why? It’s a process of elimination… and of limits. Oberon and Haza are much like Diabolos -- all three are obsessed with ruling the world. When you have an entire universe of planets to meddle with, wanting to rule these balding and squabbling apes seems a tad unambitious. I guess it’s to get back at a god who displaced them, but they must not be that great or they would never be bent on revenge. And who needs to rule existence, anyway? The upkeep and insurance are outrageous. And don’t even get me started on the utilities. As I shoulder all of that burden, does existence raise even a finger to help me? I think we both know the answer. All existence does is take perfectly good matter and turn it into energy, leaving me to spend half the morning turning it back into matter. And existence still doesn’t even have the decency to come by once a week or so and watch an episode with me for the Daybook.

Well, existence, you’ll get yours. You gotta sleep sometime, and when you do? Bang! Kobayashi Maru! That’s my friend, Mr. Best. You know… your other binary half. Did I say half? I meant more than half. Death is the transition between being and nothingness, and he is the Lord of Nothingness. Have you ever tried to take Nothing away from him? Nothing. Not just the absence of something. Nope. Nothing. Nothing in a form we can’t even conceive, because to do so would be to dignify it with a name, and once you describe it, it stops being Nothing and becomes a Thing. There you go, Mr. Best. Ruler of everything as it goes on to become something indescribable.

So, what does he do? Well, he’s the ruler of death, not time. He’s not psychic. Now that matter exists, he might as well do a tad of wagering. Amanda Harris. Wants to off-it by jumping off a bridge. Well, Tate created her, so who knows if she’ll die? But… wait. By creating matter from only imagination -- and from bending both matter and energy through paintings that transmute or bestow the effects of both matter and energy….

Oh, man. Mr. Best isn’t the most powerful being in the DSU anymore. I actually think it’s Charles Delaware Tate.

Roger Davis. Roger Davis. 

Yeah, Charles Delaware Tate.... and he still lost a babe to Quentin! 

Why? Because, as this episode demonstrates, Quentin can punch a werewolf right on the jaw. That’s the important part. He lands the ladies because he knows all of the werewolfian weaknesses.  We can pontificate all we want, but we tuned in for a man punching a werewolf. A man punching a werewolf we received.

And that’s how you get Capone.

This episode was broadcast Jan. 6, 1970.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 11



By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1172

As Barnabas faces his ultimate reckoning, can Julia risk an alliance with Gerard? Lamar Trask: Jerry Lacy. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Trask walls his father’s murderer up in the basement of the Old House in a grand gesture of revenge. Julia smells foul play, and Quentin faces a trial without a key witness. Meanwhile, in trying to contact Joanna, Daphne finds herself in a trap.

It occured to me that he could have just slugged Trask.

But he doesn’t.

I keep waiting for an episode to come along where I can depict Barnabas with Falstaffian grandeur and call him “the great man.” Those come along sometimes, but he’s usually just a man. Yes, sometimes “the man,” but just as frequently, a man. With or without fangs. And therein lies what makes him so rich and compelling and fallible as a protagonist. A matinee idol like Quentin would have wrestled Trask for his gun when faced with the alternative of locking himself in shackles for a last taste of amontillado. Barnabas realizes that he has a better than average chance at being shot and dying very painfully on the spot. Does he imagine that Julia and Angelique will come to his rescue? I’d like to think so, but more than likely, he is just out of plans. Not that he was ever much of a planner. Only in times such as 1897, when facing off with Laura, does he really emerge as a chessmaster of note. For the most part, Barnabas, like all of us, is a lucky improviser. Sometimes, aided by his unique and inconsistent application of honor. Often bested by it.

At least he appreciates the irony of becoming definitively mortal just in time to die from it.

Chances are, Barnabas is a coward. And so what? Like Graves’ Claudius, it’s kept him alive. Yes, yes, he shows bravery many times. Usually out of immediate necessity. Sometimes out of love. Maybe even the right thing. But out of all of literature’s heroic protagonists, Barnabas consistently finds himself over his head and struggling to get by. For all of Quentin’s propensity for scrapping, where does it get him? Aristede, Jeb, and even the occasional werewolf may be slowed down a tad by his right hook, but just slowed down. Had he dematerialized like any self-respecting Collins, the most it would have cost him is a little pride. For all of his moments of impudence, Barnabas has far more episodes of being bullied at the core of his mantle of apparent strength.

Bless him for it.

I think this is the real secret of his appeal. He’s not Captain Kirk. Even one hour out of the week. That would be exhausting. Who can keep that going? He’s more like a vision that Q might show Picard of how he’ll end up if he doesn’t take a knife to the chest as a teachable moment. But Barnabas appears in and around 188 hours of Dark Shadows. Kirk? About 69 of his show. That leaves him 119 more hours than Kirk to dodge stakes, bullets, and hex-hurling wives. And he could really use a Spock, because Willie isn’t cutting it and Stokes has papers to grade. He has a McCoy, but only after she stops trying to blackmail and poison him for months and months. The guy is very often on his own. I don’t know about you, but it has a familiar ring for much of life. Not all, but much.

Sports and Lord of the Rings are for people with a steady flow of friends. It’s an ugly truth that sounds for all the world like mopey self-pity if I say that Dark Shadows is for the rest of us. And good for it. Sometimes, the friend stream goes dry because of bad choices. Sometimes, just bad luck. Sometimes, as with the Julias in life, we push them away because of incessant Goldilockism or because we think we don’t deserve them. And sometimes? We’re just, you know, vampires. This show is a bountiful companion, yes. 450 hours of it. But at its core, the program is that most dreaded of artforms; the teaching tool. And it exhorts us to persevere. Yes, Barnabas is often a stiff-necked coward and the most imperfect of heroes. But he endures. His plans often are incredibly sudden, ill-conceived, and born from compromise, but he has them. He tries to regain Josette. He goes to 1897. He returns to Parallel Time to save a Maggie he barely knows. These are his friends -- or the closest things he’ll concede. He may be a coward, but you’ll have to chase him the extra mile to call him that, because that’s where he begins. Most heroes are who we’ll never really be. But Barnabas? He’s who we are. Despite it all, he holds fast to survival, and he if can, so can we.

This episode was broadcast Dec. 22, 1970.

A Very Special Holiday Audio Review: A Collinwood Christmas


By JUSTIN PARTRIDGE

Holly Jolly SPOILERS AHEAD.

“Is there NO corner of this HOUSE without an imprint of DEATH?!”

Happy holidays from my cramped Dickensian office here at the Collinsport Historical Society! Ah, December! The snows! The sniffles! And the crushing panic that looms during Christmas! How better to alleviate said bad juju then by taking a look at one of the two audio stories with the word “Christmas” in it, A Collinwood Christmas! Taking place shortly after the 1897 storyline, Lizzie Hopley pulls triple duty here, writing a wonderfully twisted send up of A Christmas Carol and then delivering two powerful performances as gypsy wise-woman Ivanka Romano and Catherine Collins. The latter marking the first canon appearance of the character, Jamison Collins’ doomed wife, aside from passing mentions. If you have ever wanted to inject more of those ghosts stories that “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is always yarping on about while also delivering a moving tale of holiday character rehabilitation then Dark Shadows: A Collinwood Christmas is the audio for you!

So, not even five minutes into this audio, Jamison Collins (played by David Selby’s son and the man named after the character Jamison Selby) thumps his butler but good in the midst of a feverish nightmare he is having. You see, things have pretty much gone to rot in Collinwood and Jamison doesn’t really seem to care. After knuckling his man Steadman (played by Big Finish staffer James Goss), the embattled butler buttles over to The Old House where gypsy sage and spellcaster Ivanka Romano is residing, telling her that Jamison is off his nut and his children, young Elizabeth and Roger, are now her responsibility.

Just to state the obvious, Lizzie Hopley’s performance of Ivanka is...a bit camp to say the least. Maybe even a touch stereotypical in some instances. But I really believe that Hopley’s impassioned and empathetic take on the character on the scripting level and when it comes to her interactions with Selby really keeps it from skewing too hard into high camp, or even worse, offensive. Hopley’s Ivanka is driven by a true altruism and desire to see the children of Collinwood taken care of. That in itself gives the story instant emotional stakes, but Hopley’s script carries it a bit further once it starts building the relationship between her and Jamison.

Anchored to the tried and true structure of A Christmas Carol, the wise woman takes him on a journey through his and his infamous house’s past in order to stake him from his grief and open his eyes to the crumbling life he is subjecting his children too. I won’t lie, I kind of got a little misty thinking of poor tiny Roger and Elizabeth basically having to live in squalor with a slowly going loony father, so if that was the intention, Hopley friggen nailed it. My oversensitivity aside, the structure has become legendary because it bloody well works and it really works for this story in particular.

Aside from the emotional implications of it, it also provides some truly harrowing scares throughout, funneled through directors Joe Lidster, Darren Gross, and Jim Pierson’s keen sound design and staging. As Romano works a spell to shake Jamison from his funk, she unwittingly gives rise to literally dozens of ghosts and a long dormant sorcerer who has fused with the shattered glass of the house’s closed off dance studio, James Unsworth’s Redmond Van Buren, who gives the story a truly horrifying, cleverly designed Big Bad. This is a tremendous hook for the story and lets the directors and Hopley kind of play around with the history of the house, opening the spectral door for all sorts of juicy cameos in the form of clips from previous episodes. I was a touch concerned early on that this would feel like an untethered compilation of a bunch of stories that I hadn’t heard before, but I was pleasantly proven wrong by the way the story weaved them into the narrative, allowing them to heighten the heart and shocks of the tale throughout.

In short, I think fans of the period Dark Shadows arcs or those looking for a spooky Yuletide diversion into hopeful horror will find a lot to love about A Collinwood Christmas. I am not sure how it stacks up against the other “Christmas” Big Finish story, The Christmas Presence, but I certainly had a lot of fun with this one. It is rooted in the star crossed bedrock of the show’s “The Collins Family Vs. Gypsys” narrative, features a boatload of cameos from Dark Shadows heavyweights like Jerry Lacy, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and more, and, just for a top off of the ol’ eggnog, it is pretty great story just on it’s own! So if you are looking for something to cut through the monotony of the all-day Christmas Story marathon and you’ve already watched Scrooged a few times, turn down the lights, fire up some candles, snuggle in with your loved ones, and get spooked the hell out by A Collinwood Christmas.

From all of us here at the CHS, Happy Christmas, and I’ll be seeing you.

Justin Partridge has always loved monsters and he thinks that explains a lot about him. When he isn’t over analyzing comics at Newsarama or ranting about Tom Clancy over at Rogues Portal, he is building Call of Cthulhu games, spreading the good word of Anti-Life, or rewatching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace for the dozenth time. He can be reached at the gasping Lovecraftian void that is Twitter @j_partridgeIII or via e-mail at justin@betweenthepanels.com Odds are he will want to talk about Hellblazer.   

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 10



By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 919/920/921

When Chris and Grant match wits with a killer android, will they win… or will the werewolf? Chris Jennings: Don Briscoe. (Repeat; 30 min.)

At the home of Harrison Monroe, an eerily young Charles Delaware Tate taunts them from the dark until a hurled object decapitates him, revealing it to be a synthetic human. An aged Tate controls him from behind a curtain until Chris forces him to make a magic painting that doesn’t work to prevent his lycanthropy. Meanwhile, a new iteration of the Leviathan messiah, the teenage Michael, flexes his muscles against Philip.

The most notable thing to get out of the way is strictly mechanical -- what’s up with the numbering? The program had a numbering system that corresponded to the days on which they were shot and shown. With the interruptions of the Apollo missions, which were now three or more events (ignition, lunar excursions, and splashdown) longer than a few months before, they needed to force a realignment with certain days of the week to get their numbering pattern right.

The moon plays a significant role in the episode, of course, and it makes me wonder if Apollo mania had anything to do with the timing of the Quentin storyline. His first transformation was about a month and a half before the Apollo 11 launch. It’s a nutty reach to tie them too closely together, however, the world’s obsession with the moon certainly didn’t hurt at the time. It’s similar to the interest in vampires in 1967. The introduction of Barnabas Collins was shortly after Henry Kissinger confessed to being of the Nosferatu. You remember.

The Wild Wild West arc reaches its apex here. As tempted as I am to chide the show for letting a significant plot element go undeveloped, I also congratulate their discipline on not falling down that rabbit hole. While robots are a particular fascination for me, the show -- take note, for it may be news --  is not about robots. This may come as a shock to fans of Sky Rumson, but it's nevertheless true. Could they have fit them in? Yes. Clearly. Charles Delaware Tate builds one; Quentin destroys it. I am pleased enough that automata make a guest appearance in the DSU, and it's established that Robots Happen if you possess true genius, live long enough, can create cursed paintings and… wait!

That’s it!

Well, that explains it.

Clearly, Tate’s power resides in anything artistic.  This isn't a robot at all. It's more like a golem. A golem made to look like Roger Davis, because it's a sculpture of himself. I wonder if he even knew that it would come to life when he made it. If so, it must have been his prized creation and primary companion as he became Harrison Monroe. A narcissist’s dream of a RealDoll! To what extent did the sculpted RoboTate --brought to life by the second-hand Powers of Petofi -- appear to the world? Even more challenging and entertaining, did it also inherit the unique powers of its creator? Hey, Joe Lidster. I got it! The TateBot gets loose. Maybe it creates a secondary Amanda Harris? What if Nicholas finds out and enslaves it to finish what he tried with Adam? Petofi has to come back and stop him, thus pitting Petofi against Nicholas Blair. And they fight on the edge of a volcano. Yeah. I like the volcano part. And there's a car chase and an undersea lair and Petofi escapes in an aquapod with Jenilee Harrison. Not a character played by Jenilee Harrison. No. Jenilee Harrison. Then they drink champagne. 

Back to the drudgery of non-reality, let’s continue about Dark Shadows. The show was never about high-tech -- well, except for the high-tech used to bring Adam to life. Having robot duplicates running around would imply obligations to an entirely larger story. Perhaps a more interesting one. And who has time for that when there’s a remake of Magnum PI to actively oppose? But even if the RepliRoj is only a golem, it’s such an interesting new dimension of mythos that I wish the show had come back to it. At this point, the show is once again solidifying itself as a Jack Davis poster come to life, with an age-encrusted Roger as the Wizard behind the curtain as well as a young version skids to a halt by a taut extension cord.

Chris Jennings has come a long way from his entrance (kinda) a year ago where, despite being a werewolf, he scoffed at the supernatural chicanery of holding a seance. Now, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the actual Quentin Collins, facing down a golem and demanding a cure from a sorcerer-touched artist. Many Collinsporters just aren’t made for the supernatural. They go the way of madness and wind up like Joe Haskell. But Chris isn’t really from Collinsport. He’s a tortured swinger, and he’s learning to grab century-old men by the lapels and force them to paint, damn them paint! Why doesn’t it work? Lack of time? Lack of nuance? Maybe he’s old and it just turns a little werewolf. Whiskers. Maybe bad breath. You don't understand! Ngghh!  The pain!

Meanwhile, the Leviathan story loses some of its pervisity, but gains actual character depth as the bizarre tot despot, Alexander, evolves into Michael, a bright and aware teenage stage of the Jebolution -- a creature destined (like so many on DS) to be eventually undone by his capacity for love, and by that, I mean his libido. The power struggle puts viewers in a morally ambiguous spot, and that’s typical for the show and the medium… and maybe it’s the secret to its allure. In the words of Stan Lee, “Bring on the bad guys!”

Why do we watch stories? One of the reasons is to see the change that we experience all too rarely in life. Soap protagonists kind of match us because they experience a lot of struggle, but little true change. After all, soap heroes stick around, sometimes for decades. So, who changes? Short timers. Short timers destined to experience radical change. Other than victims, what other short timers experience radical change? Villians. If we want to see the change we rarely get in life, it’s hard not to quietly root for them. They’re the ones making things happen and shaking the barnacles off this one-lobster town. Villains have self-determination, and they revel in it. That's what makes them the secret heroes.

Even if golems.

This episode was broadcast Jan. 5, 1970.
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