Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 20


Episode 20: "Absolute Hypocrisy"
July 22, 1966

Mitch Ryan's a cool guy. You'd never know he was in the grip of a serious drinking problem while on DARK SHADOWS. He's got a confident swagger, the cool cynicism on Humphrey Bogart and a chin so squarely cut that Lloyd Bridges was probably envious. Even though Ryan's  been cast as the villain (of sorts) in this series, it's difficult not to take his side in his ambiguous rivalry with the Collins family.

The scripts seem intent on painting Ryan's character of Burke Devlin as a schmuck, though. For the second time in his life, Devlin is facing accusations of a crime he didn't commit, making him one of the most unlucky cats in Collinsport (Willie Loomis has him easily trumped.) Some of this is laziness on the part of the writers. The cast is supposed to buy into the idea that Devlin might be responsible for Roger Collins' car wreck. The only evidence were presented with is that Devlin, for some stupid reason, decided to take a look at Roger's car as he was leaving Collinwood earlier in the evening.

It doesn't help that the excuse to bring Roger to town (which lead to the car wreck) was total nonsense. Burke was going to offer to buy the Collins Cannery, an idea the script quickly drops like the stupid idea it is.

This is all the evidence Roger needs to believe Devlin is responsible. He even drums up a bit of dinner theater as he accuses Devlin of the crime and presents Victoria Winters as a "surprise" witness for an imaginary jury. I think he saw too many episodes of PERRY MASON and expected Devlin to spill his guts out of courtesy. He doesn't oblige.

The scene does allow Louis Edmonds the chance to parade his brand of smug sleaze for the audience. He brags to Victoria that $5 will buy any information he wants from the hotel clerk, which gets more disgusting the more I think about it. Roger is also oblivious to Burke's genuine concern for his safety after learning of his car wreck. It's like he'd already decided a course of action and is unable of revising his strategy, even when the facts urge him to do otherwise.

Not a lot happens in this episode, but there is one landmark worth mentioning. Actress Kathryn Leigh Scott is mercifully allowed to shed that terrible blonde wig, suggesting producers were warming to the idea of giving her character more to do. She certainly has more to do in this episode than serve coffee and pie. She calls Fake Sam Evans on his bullshit after he finds out she's had people in town keep tabs on his whereabouts. Sam acts like he's a lot angrier than he really is, and the dynamic we're presented is surprisingly subtle. Maggie has to play both the role of daughter and wife to Sam, a man who'd have drowned on his own vomit years ago if left to his own devices. Unlike Carolyn's daddy fixation, Maggie's issues with her father are sad instead of gross.


Anonymous said...

What we see in this episode is the beginning of the last few months Maggie has a "normal" life.

Melissa said...

"The cast is supposed to buy into the idea that Devlin might be responsible for Roger Collins' car wreck."

I grew up in a hick town that didn't look very different from Collinsport, and that really rings true to me. Once a small town has adopted a narrative about someone, no amount of objective facts is going to change it. If the town decides that Burke Devlin is a criminal who has it out for innocent Roger Collins, they're always going to look at him through that lens even if it doesn't make sense.

dmontgomster said...

There is a lot about Maggie that is submerged. I've gone through my third viewing as an adult of the episodes with Maggie and Sam, and to me it seems apparent her character his given up a lot to stay with him and take care of him: possibly the opportunity to go to college, leave town to pursue a career more demanding than be a waitress at the local coffee shop, marriage (girls in towns like that, if they don't leave, usually marry right out of high school, unless they are looking after ill or elderly parents). And just when she found happiness with Joe, it was all blown apart by Barnabas, then Nicholas and Angelique. Maggie was never again the spirited, sassy woman we saw that first year before Barnabas showed up.

burkedevlin said...

I disagree about Roger not having good instincts with regard to his strong opinion that Burke sabotaged his car. The biggest thing is Vicky seeing him by the car with a wrench in his hand! If I'm judge, it's 'case closed...next case'. The fact that Roger ultimately is proven wrong doesn't mean his logic was deficient in the moment.

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