Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How do you solve a problem like Quentin?


Quentin Collins is a character largely forgotten by the general public, which has come to think of Dark Shadows as “that soap opera with a vampire.” All of the show’s subtleties, its expansive roster of characters and its centuries of (mostly) meticulous continuity have steadily been whittled down to a description that would fit nicely in a TV Guide program listing.
Quentin’s reduced standing in Dark Shadows lore was a problem sown on the show, itself. His first year on the program was an amazing feat of storytelling. Introduced initially as a ghost, actor David Selby spent his first few months on Dark Shadows without dialogue and was required to do little more than grin and leer at the few cast members he was allowed to interact with.
 When the story moved to 1897 the character literally came to life. A stoic monster was replaced with a flawed, selfish and incredibly charming anti-hero who delighted in his own misdeeds. He was equal parts Indiana Jones and Alistair Crowley, an adventurer and globe-trotting scoundrel who would be the villain on any other program.
 Even Selby has said he didn’t always understand the attraction of the character, particularly to women, saying Quentin was kind of a “bastard.” But Selby’s own sense of humor and ability to find the humanity in an otherwise amoral man made Quentin Collins one of TV’s most interesting characters.

All of that came to a thudding halt during the Leviathan storyline. I’m one of the few defenders of that arc but the decision to turn Barnabas Collins into a villain (again) while also bringing Quentin Collins into the contemporary setting without his memory was disastrous. It left the show adrift without protagonists, and the number of sympathetic characters only dwindled the more the Leviathan story unfolded.
"That dress would look lovely crumpled up at the foot of my bed tomorrow morning."
 I’ll go a step further and say that bringing Quentin into the 1960s without his memory and history was essentially severing David Selby from Quentin Collins. He was Quentin in Name Only which left Dark Shadows struggling to find a purpose for the character. It’s no coincidence that almost all of Big Finish’s audio dramas that featured Quentin have focused on the “lost years” between the 1890s and 1970s.

Quentin’s misfit status in the 20th century was also an issue that writer Marilyn (Dan) Ross met in his pulp/romance series of Dark Shadows novels. Even though Quentin was elevated to co-star status in the novels’ titles the character was rarely given anything to do. He would frequently show up (almost always in disguise) and make his exit before the close of the story.

Even the new comic book from Dynamite Entertainment can’t seem to find a real use for the character. He’s introduced in the first issue doing nothing more interesting that reading quietly in his room, and has since filled the role of Willie Loomis as Barnabas’ helper monkey.

It’s a little upsetting to see such a nuanced character become a footnote in Dark Shadows lore. I don’t think it’s irreparable. If the new Dark Shadows movie is both good AND successful, and we’re lucky enough to get a sequel, it would be a great opportunity to restore Quentin’s once shining status. (Who would you cast? Hugh Jackman? Leonardo DiCaprio?)

Dynamite also has the ability to do a little retooling of the character within the pages of its comic, but it’s likely Barnabas will continue to push Quentin further into the background.  Of course, THAT problem could be solved by giving Quentin his own series, hint hint.

If you feel like mentioning that idea to the publisher you can find them online HERE, and at Twitter HERE.

12 comments:

Sandi McBride said...

I can remember long after Dark Shadows was anything but a memory seeing actors who had played in the series and saying excitedly, "there's Quinton" or "there's Maggie" or whoever it might be...loved that series...

Anonymous said...

Joaquin Phoenix could play Quentin Collins.

Anonymous said...

Hugh Jackman, hands down. Just look at Wolverine.....

Cousin Barnabas (The Creep) said...

I've always leaned toward the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio because he and Selby look like they cold be related. Hugh Jackman is the obvious choice (and probably best) but Joaquin Phoenix would be cool, too. What's he up to these days?

Anne with an E said...

Dear Cousin Creep,
I like the idea of DiCaprio taking on the role of Quentin. I hated it when his character was "diminished"; my friends and I adored him (he was a gorgeous man!) but he was dashing and daring and dastardly (how's that for alliteration? lol)
Hugh Jackman could do a good job but I believe everyone is simply thinking of his Wolverine mutton chops like David Selby had to wear until Quentin was brought in to the present. And Joaquin Phoenix?? After making the movie where he played Johnny Cash (very well, I thought), he quit acting and decided to take up singing as a full time career. Heard anything from the Grammies?? That should answer your question "what's he up to these days?".... And IF we are lucky enough to get a sequel, Quentin could give Barnabas a run for his money -- that little "werewolf" problem could be introduced again and he could cause all kinds of mischief, madness and mayhem (sorry, couldn't resist).

Erica said...

I could never forget Quentin Collins. I've had a crush on him since I was 12!

I had the pleasure of meeting David Selby at the Dark Shadows Festival, 2010. First time I'd ever gone to one of those. Even got a picture kissing his cheek. :-D

I agree, the Quentin character was the most interesting in 1897. But I really enjoyed him in the 1840 Parallel Time storyline as well.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that the publisher ordered Dan/Marilyn Ross to use Quentin in the books after the character became popular on the TV show. The titles made him the co-star ("Barnabas, Quentin, and...") but he seemed more like a minor supporting player in the plots. Maybe Ross disliked the character, or just didn't know what to do with him. It was as if Ross used him under protest. (There was a similar situation in the Shadow pulp magazine in the late 1930's. The hero's girlfriend, Margo Lane, may have been included in the magazine stories only because she was popular on the radio show.)

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing Roger Davis co-starring on the tongue-in-cheek Western series "Alias Smith and Jones." David Selby was a regular on "Falcon Crest." John Karlen played Tyne Daly's husband on "Cagney and Lacey" and Helen Hunt's father on "Mad About You." Grayson Hall had a supporting part in the made-for-TV horror movie "Gargoyles."

majkinja said...

I can't see any similarity in looks between DiCaprio (round puffy face) and Selby. I agree that Jackman would remind viewers of Wolverine, that was the first comparison that popped up in my mind when I saw Quentin for the first time, Victorian Wolverine.
I saw on another board that Michael Fassbender was suggested. Judging by the photo that was used to compare him and Quentin I have a quite positive feeling about Fassbender in that role.

Selby couldn't understand why Quentin was popular with women, has he ever looked at himself in the mirror? The only reason Quentin was popular with the ladies despite his terrible personality was because he was damn good looking.

I've been reading the Dynamite comics and although he had something to do in the first four issues he doesn't seem to have much of an character to him. In the Dark Shadows/Vampirella issue he's almost unrecognizable, like the artist didn't care at all (he did a good job on Barnabas end Vampirella).

It's like that with most of the characters that graced Dark Shadows, there are so many that seems to have been forgotten.



Anonymous said...

Picking Hugh Jackman for the role of Quentin just because of his sideburn wearing abilities in the X-Men movies is the absolute HEIGHT of superficiality...

Melissa said...

I'd cast François Arnaud.

Erica Scott said...

I can't imagine anyone else playing Quentin. Then again, I couldn't imagine anyone else playing Barnabas, either.

Quentin's character during the Leviathan arc was indeed a letdown after the richness of 1897. But I think he became interesting again during Parallel Time, and definitely during the 1840 arc with Judah Zachary. He was never a villain again, but he was flawed, he had a temper, and he was always unbearably sexy. (well, to me anyway) :-)

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