Friday, August 31, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 17

Episode 17 : "Words That Never Get Said"
July 19, 1966

David is beginning to feel a little guilty about trying to murder his father. Remorse is a new emotion for him, and he reacts like a dog does when you blow in its face: he knows something's not right, but he can't quite figure out what the problem is.

His first warning sign? When he tries to jump out of his bedroom window during a bout of night terrors. Liz walks in as the little maniac is climbing over the window sill while trying to "escape." He makes Liz swear not to tell his father about the incident, and she's exactly the person you want protecting your secrets.

What's curious is that David didn't prepare for failure. I think he'd have been dandy had the Butterscotch Bastard (my pet name for Roger) been killed in the wreck, but he goes from feeling guilty to terrified when the prospect of prison is raised. Frankly, if David went to the slammer, I'd feel sorry for his cellmate.

This episode sees the return of busybody Bill Malloy. His spider sense warns him that Roger's car wreck was the work of foul play, and he decides to take a closer look at what's left of the car. Roger insists the car's brakes were working just fine when he left home but, like the career of Channing Tatum, their malfunction was a recent phenomenon that makes no sense. (Note: it's during this dialogue that Louis Edmonds makes the famous blooper, saying the wreck happened "100 miles" from home. It's actually pretty amazing how well he bounces back from the mistake.)

It's during Roger's visit with the doctor that we learn the tiniest bit more about Burke Devlin's manslaughter conviction. The doctor apparently treated the victim 10 years ago, and Roger was somehow involved with the incident ... despite his protestations that he had nothing to do with it. But they still haven't disclosed what "It" is, yet.

Malloy figures out what caused Roger's wreck and gives him (and the audience) a quick lesson on how to repeat the process at home, on the off chance there's someone whose presence you'd like to permanently rid yourself of. He even draws a map to illustrate the role the part (a "bleeder valve") plays in the brake system.

Presented with this information, Roger moves to roust Victoria Winters out of bed (what the hell time is it, anyway? It's got to be 3 a.m.) to question her. Malloy, who isn't in the habit of storming into women's bedrooms uninvited in the middle of the night, doesn't think this is the greatest idea. Roger being Roger, though, he mostly ignore him, loads up in liquid courage and prepares to find out what the governess knows about the plot to kill him.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 16

Episode 16: "Everyone's a Suspect"
July 18, 1966

This is turning out to be one of the most strangely constructed mysteries I've ever seen.

At the end of the previous episode, a tree darted into the path of Roger Collins' car, resulting in a wreck and unspecified injuries. It turns out Roger suffered only minor injuries, but his sister suspects the wreck was the result of foul play. Which it was. Because DARK SHADOWS told us who did it last week.

This makes all of the finger pointing in this episode feel a little contrived. It almost works, though: Liz is so convinced that someone is out to get the family that all of her suppositions make sense. She implies handyman Matthew Morgan, who shows uncharacteristically good taste by disliking Roger Collins, might have tampered with the breaks. Burke Devlin was also seen near the vehicle before the wreck, and may or may not want to piss on the ashes of Collinwood. She doesn't know it yet, but Victoria Winters is in possession of a bleeder valve removed from Roger's car, as well as an automotive magazine that conceivably illustrates how to successfully fuck with someone's car to produce deadly results.

The real culprit is Roger's son, David. I don't understand the reasoning behind the decision to reveal this so early in the storyline, but it's there and we have to deal with it.

Joe Haskell takes much the same attitude with Burke Devlin, who has been invited by Carolyn to join them on their date at The Blue Whale. I need to make an animated GIF of Joe dancing at the bar because it's HILARIOUS. It's also the reason I don't dance, because I look just as silly ... only without Joel Crothers' dashing, Christopher Reeve-esque good looks.

Burke seems amused by the situation and doesn't make too big an ass out of himself, even if he comes across like a slightly smug Fonzie. Joe knows the score but continues to ignore it, in hopes the problem will go away. When he foolishly steps away to make a phone call, Burke and Carolyn get a little more personal. Carolyn sees Burke as her ticket out of Collinwood, something that Joe can't give her (which is as polite a way as any to call Carolyn a habitual user.)  Burke goes along with this waltz until Joe storms out in a huff. Seeing that the game might have gone too far, he drags Carolyn out of the bar and goes in search of Joe. I'm starting to think that Burke Devlin sucks at revenge because, if he really wanted to cause trouble at Collinwood, nailing Liz's teenage daughter would be a step in the right direction.

Has Dark Shadows outgrown Victoria Winters?

Warning: The following column contains spoilers for the 2012 DARK SHADOWS movie.

I've had the opportunity in recent weeks to revisit the early days of DARK SHADOWS. I've been writing about these episodes in the new DARK SHADOWS DIARY feature, and took a look at how Marilyn Ross handled these pre-Barnabas Collins stories in the line of paperback novels. It feels a little like going home, but in a way I've never really left.

None of us have. Because DARK SHADOWS won't let us.

Alexandra Moltke
I don't mean that in a romantic sense. It just seems like the entire concept of DARK SHADOWS can't escape the arrival of Victoria Winters at Collinwood, even when it's entirely unnecessary. Those early stories have created a number of problems for later interpretations of DARK SHADOWS, beginning with HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS in 1970, right up to this year's film by Tim Burton. With the exception of NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, later interpretations of the original television series sought to "reboot" the story with the introduction of Barnabas Collins. The problem facing writers from the very beginning has been: What do you do with Victoria Winters?

Originally played by Alexandra Moltke, the Collinwood governess was the television show's heroine when the series launched in 1966. The mystery of her heritage, specifically her potential relationship to the Collins family, was the driving focus of the series ... until a certain vampire knocked on the front door of the mansion. Victoria later became the romantic foil for Barnabas Collins, but there was little doubt that she had been usurped as the central protagonist of DARK SHADOWS. When Moltke left the show, other actresses tried to fill her shoes, but it was too little, too late. Victoria Winters had become an obsolete concept and was written out of the series.

The show continued quite well without her, with the bulk of the romantic "heavy lifting" displaced to the shoulders of Kathryn Leigh Scott's "Maggie Evans." The two characters conceptually merged in the series when Evans was inexplicably made governess of Collinwood, with the two characters literally becoming one in the Tim Burton movie.

Joanna Going
The 1991 "revival" series also struggled to make use of Victoria Winters. The character, as played by Joanna Going, became a surrogate for the audience, a glorified tour guide for the world of Collinsport. She (again) became a romantic foil for Barnabas Collins, but the mystery of her relationship to the Collins family was dropped entirely. There was little for Victoria Winters to do in the series besides react to the events around her. It was a character with no goals, and was consequently lifeless. It's worth pointing out that the 1991 series was the first time Josette and Victoria became "spiritually" related, a plot point that emerged again in the 2012 film as the Maggie/Victoria/Josette knot became fully tied.

So, what's next for DARK SHADOWS? If the story is revived again it seems likely that it will be as a television series instead of a feature film. If the Tim Burton movie showed us anything, it's that DARK SHADOWS is simply too big to be contained to a two-hour movie. The story has to be about something more than Barnabas Collins being freed from his tomb. The residents of Collinsport are more than just prey for a vampire, and it's the richness of character that keeps audiences coming back to the original series as later interpretations are slowly forgotten.

But where does this leave Victoria Winters? As a character, she was the victim of natural selection when DARK SHADOWS evolved from a gothic romance into a funky brew of horror and science fiction. While its a source of constant disappointment to fans that the show's original mystery was never resolved, Dan Curtis figured out there was more to the show than Victoria Winters. Its most successful iteration, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, dropped the conceit entirely, and was better for it. Still, Curtis felt the need to revive it for the 1991 series, as did Tim Burton in 2012. Neither had any success making us care about Victoria.

The biggest problem with using Victoria Winters as your hero is it requires writers to combine two very different television shows into a single narrative. One story tells of the arrival of a governess to Collinwood in search of her lost family. The other is a horror story about a vampire let loose upon the world after 200 years of bondage. Neither have much in common besides setting, and Barnabas' romantic interests in a woman who might be a relative adds an icky layer of incest to the tale. But using Victoria Winters while dropping her backstory is also a pointless endeavor, because that backstory is the only thing that makes her interesting.

As a fan, I hope the next creative team to carry the torch for DARK SHADOWS figures out how to properly incorporate the character into a new story, or decides to abandon her entirely. I've got no interest in seeing yet another regurgitation of Victoria Winters In Name Only.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Make your own Barnabas Collins costume

The Haunted Dead recently spotted a BARNABAS COLLINS costume pattern for sale at Hobby Lobby. It's a basic pattern for a traditional Inverness cape, but among the illustrations for the different things you can create from this one pattern are illustrated on the back of the package ... ideas that include Sherlock Holmes and Barnabas Collins.

You can purchase the pattern online HERE.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 15

Episode 15: "The Dark Threads of the Past"
July 15, 1966

It's Friday on a daytime drama, do you can bet something huge is going to happen ... relatively speaking.

DARK SHADOWS hasn't exactly spoiled us with weekend cliffhangers so far, but the show has been building to a specific moment all week. It's actually surprising the suspense was drawn out longer, but it finally happened: Roger Collins had an unhappy accident behind the wheel of his car, courtesy of his own son.

For a child who hasn't yet seen his 10th birthday, David Collins is a master manipulator. He doesn't get any points for bamboozling Victoria Winters (which is like shooting fish in a barrel) but he's laid the groundwork to fluster the more authoritative adults at Collinwood in upcoming episodes. Even though he and Burke Devlin have a lot in common (i.e., their distaste for Roger Collins) it's doubtful Devlin is going to like the attention the car wreck is going to attract to him. Having been seen loitering around Roger's vehicle in the previous episode, he's going to be the obvious culprit. Certainly more so than Victoria, even though David's planted some damning evidence in her room.

David is a profoundly disturbed little boy, jaded and bitter beyond his years. He tells Victoria that everyone lies, and that he believes compliments are nothing but tools used to get over on the world. After the governess shares a story with him about a child at the foundling home who struggled with bullies and low self-esteem, David suggests the solution to that problem was to line up the bullies and gun them down. He uses a capgun to illustrate his Machiavellian philosophy.

David is not reacting simply out of boredom or casual cruelty. After overhearing his father threaten to institutionalize him, he's worried his time at Collinwood is coming to a close. And he really, really doesn't want to leave. In the last episode, we saw that he removed a part from Roger's car, and has placed the item (as well as a magazine about automotive maintenance) in the care of Victoria. She thinks she's made a friend in David; he knows he's found a patsy in the new governess.

Both Roger and David show uncharacteristic signs of rationality in this episode. Roger tells Victoria that he wanted her to leave Collinwood for her own safety. He does a stellar job of selling this line of bullshit. (I almost believed it, myself.) On the off-chance that Roger was in danger of becoming likeable, he stops to warn Victoria about trusting David. "You can't buy friendship from David," he says of his own son. "He has none to give. Give him enough time ...he'll destroy you."

Victoria managed to almost reach David, who comes close to having a change of heart about his plot to murder his father. After revealing his true feelings for Roger ("I hope he dies!") he ambushes him in the foyer, possibly looking for some sign of love or compassion. At this point, it's not too late to turn back. But Roger doesn't know he's being tested and fails miserably, dismissing David on sight. He leaves Collinwood, on the way to a business meeting at the Blue Whale with Devlin, when his car spins out of control. Liz gets a call about the accident, ending the week on an unlikely note: the caller (whoever they are) can't tell Liz about the condition of her brother. If I remember correctly, Roger walks away from the incident with a few bumps and bruises. I wouldn't think you'd need a doctor to disclose that bit of information, but Dan Curtis rightfully wanted us to tune in again the following Monday. Thanks to DVD, I don't have to wait that long.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 14

Episode 14: "We're All Pals Again"
July 14, 1966

Burke Devlin returned to Collinsport after a ten-year absence to settle an old score with Roger Collins. He might have saved himself the trouble, though, because it looks as though Roger's son is going to beat him the the punch.

David begins the episode with a little technical research, some plundering and a jovial facade that would shame Devlin's previous "nice guy" performances. Victoria catches the rascal plundering through her drawers, but he's less interested in rifling through her (probably dull) undergarments than he is in planting evidence for a future crime. We seen him reading a copy of "Mechano Magazine" shortly before attempting to stash some kind of automotive part in the governess's bedroom.

The boy covers his ass by insisting he was trying to giveVictoria a gift. He shows her a seashell he claims he was trying to leave in her room, but neither of them bring up the issue of why it was necessary to deposit the shell in her underwear drawer. I guess Victoria would prefer not to think about it.

Carolyn is busy running a game on her boyfriend, Joe Haskell. After convincing him to take her to The Blue Whale instead of the movies, she arranges for a not-so-accidental meeting with Burke Devlin. Carolyn makes goo-goo eyes at the family rival, and Devlin quickly joins them for their date. Joe is understandably upset, but doesn't do too much about it. Devlin and Carolyn insist they spent the night mending fences with the Collins family, but this doesn't give Joe much of a reason to enthusiastically entertain his girlfriend's crush.

As Carolyn is busy making the audience hate her, Victoria keeps her regularly scheduled date with danger. She sees a locked door to the west wing open and close by itself, and suspects David is playing a trick on her. When David steps out of his room behind her, it's clear he wasn't responsible ... but she's not willing to accept David's claims of ghosts, either. David continues his sham friendship with Victoria, who offers to have her father bring him home some gifts from town later that night. When David learns Roger is driving to town, he gets ... well, not weird. He's already pretty weird. But he withdraws immediately, leaving Victoria with the automotive magazine, a car part and the possibility of a criminal charge.

Book Report: DARK SHADOWS by Marilyn Ross

A word of warning: I'm about to spoil the plot of a 46-year-old book.

As you might know, I'm presently revisiting the early days of DARK SHADOWS, and thought it was a good time to take another look at the early Marilyn Ross novels. Published a few months after the launch of the television show in 1966 (and running until after the cancellation of DARK SHADOWS in 1971), fans of the program have an uneasy relationship these books. They kinda-sorta feel like the DARK SHADOWS we know and love, but suffer from a manic sense of continuity and arbitrary deviations from the television's story. The original series produced some of the wildest, craziest programming to ever be broadcast on television, but the books felt like the daytime show's heavily medicated sibling. Once in a while the books forget to take their meds (resulting in stories like the batshit insane BARNABAS, QUENTIN AND THE BODY SNATCHERS) but too often they're a snooze.

Part of the problem of the first book in this series, simply titled DARK SHADOWS, is that it's tired ground. Victoria Winters arriving at Collinwood and discovering it's mysterious inhabitants? Been there. Done that. Can we just get to Barnabas Collins already?

As is the case with the other Marilyn Ross books in this series, the novel reads like the second-generation retread that it is. Ross lived in Canada and didn't get to watch the television show, so the books have the uneven desperation of a bad liar. The usual cast of characters is present and accounted for, only their literary  interpretations are significantly muted. David Collins suffers the most, and is downgraded from juvenile sociopath to a milquetoast brat. Burke Devlin gets mentioned for reasons that are anybody's guess (he plays no role in the story) while a few new characters are added to the mix to serve as exposition machines.

Inhabiting the spooky halls of Collins House (I know) are Elizabeth Stoddard, her daughter Carolyn, her brother Roger and his son, David, and Ernest Collins. Yes, Ernest Collins. He's a professional violinist and some kind of cousin to Elizabeth and Roger, though it's never quite explained how he's related to the central family. I pictured him as the mutant offspring of Ted McGinley and Robbie Rist.

The other details are mostly the same as the television show. Victoria is invited by the Collins family to become the governess for David. The mystery of her past is touched on once or twice, but the suspense in this book is tepid and unfocused. Victoria mostly just wanders from scene to scene as the "plot" unfolds.

Upon her arrival at Collins House (ugh) Victoria strikes up a seriously inappropriate relationship with Ernest Collins. Bad shit tends to happen around cousin Ernest. His first wife, Elaine, was killed in a car crash. A girlfriend jumped off Widow's Hill. Another girlfriend got her face smashed in by someone with a grudge and a length of chain. It should come as no surprise that similarly bad shit starts to happen to/around Victoria, though with a much lower rate of success. Someone knocks her unconscious while exploring the west wing, her car suffers mechanical failure and crashes on the way into town, someone breaks into her bedroom and vandalizes it, etc. She survives these attempts on her life through her wits, and is constantly one step ahead of ... nevermind. That's Clarice Starling I'm thinking of. The literary Victoria Winters survives these attempts on her life through blind luck and having an especially thick skull.

As in it's television counterpart, Liz is protective of something hidden in the cellar. Unlike the TV show, though, Liz doesn't believe she's hiding the body of her dead husband. Instead, the family is keeping Ernest's first wife locked up. She not only survived the car crash that "killed" her, but she came out of the accident stark-raving insane, too. Rather than putting her in a medical institution where she could receive proper healthcare, the Collins family opted to keep her locked in the basement of Collins House (ugh.) And by "locked," I mean she pretty much comes and goes as she pleases. All the bad shit that happened to Ernest's other ladies was the work of this lunatic.

The end of the book coincidentally resembles the final episode of the TV series. Elaine walks Victoria at knifepoint to a terrace at the top of Collins House (sigh) where she plans to make the governess leap to her death. Because this is a Marilyn Ross book, Ernest shows up at the last minute and saves the day. Nobody much gives a shit. Skip this one and move directly to #6 in the series, BARNABAS COLLINS.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 13

Episode 13: "Win a Dream Date with Matthew Morgan"
July 13, 1966

I missed the mark in yesterday's prediction. By, like, a LOT. Not only did Roger storm into the drawing room as intended, but Burke Devlin was still inside chatting with Liz. I was sure DARK SHADOWS was going to drag out this plot point for a few more episodes, but the show's two antagonists have finally met face to face.

Roger puffed out his chest in one of the most awkward displays of false bravado this side of an episode of COPS. Burke was still playing the nice guy, but the subtext to his every utterance dripped wetly with murder. This guy's been practicing this moment every day for the last decade, and probably did a little violent "play acting" with his former cellmates. Roger, on the other hand, had spent the last decade preparing for this confrontation by hoping it would never happen.

We're getting closer to finding out what happened between these two guys ten years ago. We learn in this episode that a man was killed, and that Burke sentenced to prison on a charge of manslaughter. He admits a jury found him guilty of the charge, but can't quite bring himself to admit his guilt, even when it supports his pretense that he's not going to shank Roger Collins the first chance he gets.

We also learn that Burke was previously involved with Roger's as-yet unnamed wife, and that Roger and Mrs. Roger were married the day after Devlin went to prison ... which is pretty damn tacky. Devlin might not know it yet, but Roger took a bullet for him with that marriage. A psychotic, flaming bullet.

Victoria, forgetting that Matthew Morgan is a reactionary nutball, goes to visit him at his cottage unannounced in the middle of the night. Finding the door open, she lets herself in and is genuinely surprised when the disgruntled handyman is angry she's made herself at home. She piles onto her growing list of bad decisions by lying to Morgan, telling her that Liz knows she's there, and begins to quiz the handyman of what little he might know about her arrival at the foundling home 18 years earlier.

Victoria doesn't learn anything about herself, but Morgan says Roger and his wife never lived at Collinwood together. The couple lived in Augusta, Maine, until their mysterious split. Roger and David's tenancy at Collinwood is a recent change.

Burke promises he's leaving town in a few days, but invites Roger to the Blue Whale later that night to discuss a "business matter." Roger suspects the business involves a meeting involving his skull and a baseball bat and is noncommittal in his response.

After getting unceremoniously thrown out of Morgan's cottage, Victoria finds Burke lurking around the garage. He's standing near Roger's car, a wrench in his hand. He insists he's just interested in the vehicle, but you have to admit it looks bad. It's suspicious enough to trigger the episode's closing credits.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 12

Episode 12: "Things That Can't Be Said"
July 12, 1966

This has been a moment long coming: an episode of DARK SHADOWS that goes absolutely nowhere.

Momentary stagnancy is a necessary evil for a daytime drama. If you move too quickly, you'll begin to shed your audience because they can't keep up. Move too slowly, though, and folks will figure out they can regularly skip episodes. Factor in the fluid, endless nature of daytime television (that doesn't have a traditional "seasons") and you've got a format that's incredibly difficult to pace.

DARK SHADOWS has found its groove and is cheerfully beginning to explore its world. That means we'll occasionally have to suffer through episodes like this one, filled with long conversations that do nothing to move the story forward.

The bulk of this episode is spent with Victoria and Roger dueling over her relationship with Burke Devlin, and with Maggie Evans demanding answers from her father, Sam, over his recent panic attacks. We learn nothing new from these conversations. Even the characters learn nothing new: Maggie still has no idea why Fake Sam Evans has turned into a sweaty mess during the last few days, and Roger remains unconvinced that Victoria isn't some kind of spy in the employ of Burke Devlin.

We go round and round with a lot of ideas from the previous episodes. Roger still wants Victoria to leave, allegedly for her own safety. He also makes the same proposal to Fake Sam, an idea the drunken artist was already contemplating. We also get a re-run of the show's mythology, as Roger explains (again) that Jeremiah Collins built Collinwood and was not such a nice guy. I think the writers later split the concept of this ancestor into two characters. The Jeremiah Collins we neet in the 1795 flashback is a pretty decent fellow while his brother, Joshua, is an asshat. It's hard to imagine Jeremiah banning widows from grieving on the cliff, but Joshua? That kind of behavior is right up his alley.

There are still a few moments of weirdness in this episode. Carolyn goes looking for Roger and finds her uncle and Victoria having a chilly conversation on the edge of Widow's Hill. "What you you doing here? Planning a suicide pact?" she asks, unaware of how fucked up the question is. Carolyn also suggests Victoria pay an evening visit to the violent, disgruntled Matthew Morgan to ask him questions about her possible relationship to the Collins family, which won't go down in history as one of the best ideas ever.

When Roger learns that Devlin is in the drawing room with his sister, he looks as though he pees a little. His first instinct is to get the hell out of the house, but changes his mind and decides to confront is enemy. As he reaches for the handle to the drawing room door, he triggers the closing credits (which seem especially sensitive to major plot developments.) I have a funny feeling, though, that something will interrupt Roger's efforts to enter the room in the next episode, thus delaying the important plot development for a few more episodes.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Facebook Interludes: Angelique updates her relationship status

SWVampire seeks soulmate

Author P.N. Elrod posted this on Facebook and gave me permission to share it here. If you're visiting this site, chances are you're familiar with her work. I first discovered Elrod through the Ravenloft books, particularly I, Strahd, which existed in a phantom zone between Dungeons and Dragons and gothic horror.

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 11

Episode 11: "The Future"
July 11, 1966

After two weeks on the air, DARK SHADOWS is officially a cake. The ingredients have been assembled, mixed and baked, and it looks like the pageant of character introductions is finally behind us. It's reached the point where it can relax and begin to explore its concept.

Well, there's one key ingredient missing from the recipe. We still don't know why Burke Devlin went to the Big House, but we finally know how long he was there: five years. I saw these episodes 20 years ago on the Sci-Fi Channel, so I already know Devlin went away on a felony drunk driving conviction. If five years seems a little light for killing someone, it's about 60 times as long as the conviction received by Motley Crue douchebag Vince Neil for doing the same thing in 1984. But this isn't a treatise on America's flawed judiciary. This is a Dark Shadows blog, so lets stay on point.

Devlin has a revenge boner for the Collins family, but is staging a lengthy piece of performance art to convince everyone he's let bygones be bygones. Nobody wants him around, but they stop just short of explaining why. It's pretty clear Devlin got fucked hard by the Collins family a decade earlier, but we still don't know who is feigning innocence, and who is legitimately clueless. Besides Victoria and Carolyn, that is.

Devlin and Liz Stoddard spar for the entirety of this episode. Devlin walks around Collinwood as though he's getting ready to buy the place, and surprise! He asks Liz how much she'd be willing to sell the dump for (he suggests Collinwood is worth about $250,000, which seems ridiculous.) Liz is a bit more wily than her daughter, but seems inclined to believe that Devlin doesn't have a beef with her family. She's not the type to take anything for granted, so I think she doubts his intentions out of reflex. And because she's not an idiot.

Collinsport is so gossipy that even the innkeeper (whose name is Mr. Wells, thank you very much) has a stake in social politics. Fake Sam Evans wanders into the inn looking for his daughter, and is as drunk as Thomas Jane on Tuesday. The innkeeper, thinking of Maggie's feelings, forces Sam to absorb some black coffee before seeing Maggie, plying him with trivia about Carolyn's recent visit with Burke Devlin. I think it's worth pointing out that both of these characters meet untimely demises later in the series. The innkeeper is killed by a werewolf, while Sam is murdered by a Frankenstein. Spoiler alert and shit.

Dark Shadows has assembled such a broad cast of characters that it's easy to forget that many of this episode's players don't actually appear on screen. Victoria Winters narrates the show's opening (and wrongly says Collinwood is "almost" 130 years old) but gets no screen time. Maggie, Joe and Roger are also mentioned throughout the episode but don't appear. Given enough time, DARK SHADOWS will develop a roster of characters second only to THE SIMPSONS. Right now, though, things are pretty cozy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Facebook Interludes: Joshua Collins is Keyboard Cat

Barbara Cason makes her mark on Collinwood

Actress Barbara Cason left a permanent impression on the Lyndhurst Estate during the filming of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. Playing housekeeper Mrs. Johnson, Cason discovered the body of Carolyn Stoddard in the hallway and dropped her serving tray in shock. The tray left permanent chips in the tile of the estate's hall, which Collinsport Historical Society reader Brook pointed out in a photo on our website.

Click on the photo to your right for a better look at the damage, and see the photos at the left for images of the final scene as it appeared in the movie.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Facebook Interlude: Aristide is Fabulous

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 10

Episode 10: "The Burke Devlin Show"
July 8, 1966

David's back! Hide the matches and keep an eye on your wallet.

I'm not sure I want to know what David's been up to during the last few episodes. I'm not even sure I want to know what he's been up to in this episode: toward the end, Liz awakes from a nightmare in the drawing room to find David standing nearby, covered in dirt. He's also holding a seashell for an added David Lynch-ian quality, and doesn't explain where he's been or how he got so dirty. It was a pleasant surprise to find out those stains weren't blood. It's just one in a series of misadventures David gets into during this short, 22-minute block of entertainment.

It begins innocently enough, with the child playing with a toy robot in the hall of Collinwood. He quickly finds himself hiding from his father in the drawing room where he overhears a conversation that cements his distaste for his father: Roger tells Liz the boy should be institutionalized. Liz responds by dropping a bomb powered in equal parts by exposition and venom: Roger only recently returned to Collinwood after a lengthy absence, leaving town shortly after Burke Devlin went to prison. Liz has allowed him back in the mansion only because she wants the child near and informs her brother that his continued presence at Collinwood is contingent on shutting the hell up about institutionalizing David.

But that's not all David has heard. After Roger finds him hiding in the room, David tells him he once witnessed his parents arguing about Burke Devlin. Roger responds by manhandling the boy and demanding to know what else the child overheard.  It's pretty obvious that David signed up for Team Devlin this episode, but I have a feeling Burke isn't going to to sign off on that particular trade so easily.

Meanwhile, Burke has staged an elaborate one-man play at the Collinsport Inn to convince Carolyn that he means her family no harm. We still don't know what his master plan is, but it doesn't really matter. The Collinses are so frayed around the edges that a stiff breeze could shatter their already flimsy family ties. His mere presence in Collinsport might be enough to send them over the edge.

Still, Burke feels the need to outsmart an 18 year old. It's interesting that he assumes Carolyn will automatically read a letter he not-so-carelessly leaves on the couch of his hotel room (which she does), which suggests he's familiar with the family's attitudes toward personal privacy. Burke also staged a fake telephone call about a business venture that's supposed to convince Carolyn his visit to town has nothing to do with her family. His vaudeville routine works like a charm. Not only does the ploy convince Carolyn that he's all Go Team Collins! but he receives an guided invitation to Collinwood, as well. The episode closes with Carolyn inviting the family enemy into the mansion, and re-introducing Devlin to her aunt, Liz.

The Collins kids are even more screwed up than the adults. When a vampire is the most well-adjusted member of your family, you know you've got problems.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Facebook Interlude: Your Daily Devotional

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 9

Episode 9: "Goblins"
July 7, 1966

Joe Haskell got dumped in this episode. He just doesn't know it yet.

Carolyn, who didn't opt for the Loyalty proficiency back at Level 1, found out the handsome stranger who intervened in the bar fight she indirectly started back in episode 2 was none other than Burke Devlin. Even though she's been warned repeatedly that Devlin is up to no good, she immediately takes an interest in him.

Carolyn slips away from Collinwood to "mail a letter," which translates to "I want Burke Devlin to lick me like a stamp." Actor Mitch Ryan must have been otherwise occupied, because neither of his two visitors at the Collinsport Inn lay eyes on Burke Devlin this episode. Regardless, it doesn't stop Carolyn from wistfully ruminating how Devlin threatened to "paddler" her the previous night.

While not getting hot and bothered by surrogate father figures, Carolyn goes all Lydia from BEETLEJUICE, reminding Victoria of the women who tossed themselves off Widow's Hill. She not only contradicts later versions of this tale (again saying Josette was married to the "madman" who built Collinwood, and that the women were all governesses) but her own story, as well. She says three women leapt to their deaths, and that a "third" was predicted to join them. This is what happens when you homeschool, ladies and gentlemen.

Burke's other visitor was local busybody Bill Malloy. If Liz knows more than she's letting on, Malloy knows significantly less. He's got enough suspicions to independently power an Oliver Stone movie, but he doesn't have anything resembling a fact. Devlin turns him away at the Inn, leaving Malloy to press Liz for answers. He has about as much success as anyone else.

"Burke went to prison because he committed a crime," Liz declares, again omitting one small detail: What the HELL was Burke convicted of? I've got to wonder if the writers had figured that detail out by this point, because it seems like an important omission.

A lot of this episode is spent recapping the events of previous episodes, mostly for the benefit of characters who missed the action. Keep in mind that we're nine episodes in and less than 24 hours have passed, so a lot of repetitive exposition should be expected.

The informational chitchat between Liz and Malloy is interrupted by a knock at the door. Liz goes to answer it but finds nobody waiting for her outside, and a broken teacup in the hall. Malloy thinks the whole thing is weird, but Liz takes it in stride, saying it was the work of a poltergeist "named David." Yeah, Liz. That's REAL normal.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...