Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 68

Episode 68, "The Lady or the Tiger"
Sept. 28, 1966

I love you, Carolyn Stoddard, but you're crazy.  You're not Amanda Plummer nuts, but any guy who hooks up with you had better learn to drink.

Today, Carolyn, in her never-ending quest to be the center of attention no matter what the subject, stops by her uncle Roger's office to mention that she was in town to visit Burke Devlin. You know, they guy who's been trying to destroy him since the first episode of the series.  "Uncle Roger, he really thinks you killed Bill Malloy," she says in the biggest "DUH!" moment ... so far.

What's the purpose to all of this? On the surface, it's another case of wheel spinning as the writers struggle to draw out the show's latest mystery for as long as possible. DARK SHADOWS also has a need to repeat the premise of the mystery for new/tardy viewers, a practice that's made the mystery surprisingly convoluted despite being fairly simple. Usually, all of this noise plays to the strengths of the show's characters, making Roger, Burke and Liz all the more complex with their contradictory (and fully in-character) behavior.

For Carolyn, though, it just makes her look selfish and bratty. I don't think that's the show's intent ... Nancy Barrett knows she's playing a flawed character, but the scripts tend to make Carolyn look more stupid and unbalanced than dramatically conflicted. I think it's a good character, but the writers seem to understand her less than Barrett.

The "script noise" also plays to David's strengths as a character, making a crazy little monster look even crazier. In this episode he flies off the handle with Victoria (who's wearing her hair in the same style as her kind-maybe mother, Liz) after being provoked by ... well, I don't really know what. He's pissed off that Victoria didn't lie to support Burke's Theory of Everything (as in, "The Collinses are to Blame for Everything") and takes it as a personal slight.

His memories of Roger's fights with his as-yet-unseen mother Laura provide Roger with one more potential enemy. I mean, David already hates Roger (and has tried to kill him on at least one occasion) but now the boy's got more ammunition in their ongoing battle.

Faced with being flanked by Victoria and David, Roger falls back on his charms to defend himself. He pours in on a little thick with Victoria, asking to have dinner with her so that they can get better acquainted (it's not as sleazy as it sounds.) He also offers a softer side to David as soon as the brat flies into one of his paranoid rants. Instead of arguing with his son (or showing him brochures to Wyndcliffe Children's Hospital) he agrees with his every complaint. "If you had your choice," he summarizes, "who would you rather be rid of: me, or Miss Winters?" It's definitely a "Lady or the Tiger" decision for David, but a decision that is delayed until the next episode.

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