Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 6

Episode 6: Matthew Morgan has a way with the ladies
July 4, 1966

Ah, insomnia. You give so much and ask so little in return.

It's a little after 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and I can't sleep. I feel no particular anxiety. Nothing is troubling me. Whatever inner demons I've got kicking around inside have better things to do at this hour, leaving me alone to deal the slowly receding waters of sleep. So, I poured myself a glass of diet root beer, put on a little Chrysta Bell and decided to catch up on the not-so-current events of Collinsport, circa 1966.

We get another new set this episode: the cobwebbed clutter of the basement of Collinwood, presumably mothballed in later years to make room for the Old House locations. Victoria is searching for David, who she thinks is hiding from her in the deepest recesses of the mansion. While trying to open a locked door in the basement, she's accosted by the Collins family handyman, Matthew Morgan, who isn't aware there's a new employee on the grounds and takes her for a "spy."

This isn't the lumbering simpleton most of us are familiar with, as played by Thayer David later in the series. Morgan is played in these early episodes by George Mitchell, who presents us with a crotchety character that is much less imposing (and much less interesting.) Mitchell just seems like a guy who's just protective of his job, while Thayer is a rum-soaked manchild who looks like he strangles puppies in his free time.

Victoria is saved from Morgan by Liz, who wanders into the basement and explains the situation to the handyman ... who is none too happy about having a new colleague on the grounds. Liz is also unhappy with Victoria for trespassing into a part of the house where she has no business, and doesn't seem to entirely believe the governess when she explains she was searching for David.

Once alone in the basement, Liz finds the boy hiding and has a talk with him about Victoria, his absent mother and what's expected of him. Introduced to the show as a hateful little maniac, it's a pleasant change of pace to see David treated like an actual character instead of a plot device. We find out that David's mother is "not well" and isn't expected to return for some time, and that Liz fired the entire staff of Collinwood shortly before going into seclusion 18 years earlier.

There is also a locked door in the basement that Liz is highly protective of, and it's implied that she was in the basement for the purpose of making sure the door remained locked. Meanwhile, Vicky being Vicky, she tries to befriend Morgan just minutes after he attacked her. She also presses Liz on the origins of the money sent to the foundling home for her care for 16 years, but doesn't learn anything significant from her employer, who is a closed book. Undeterred, Victoria borrows a car from Carolyn and takes a trip to Collinsport in search of ... well, she doesn't say. But it's clear she doesn't buy Liz's story about how and why she was hired to care for David.

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