Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 76

Episode 76, "Showcase Showdown"
Oct. 10, 1966

It's getting harder to like Burke Devlin.

The shadow on the door at the end of the last episode? While we were led to believe it was Sheriff Patterson (presumably holding a hot-off-the-presses arrest warrant for Roger Collins) it turns out it was Burke. And he wasn't happy.

Not that he's ever happy, mind you, and I don't know if a visit from Burke is better or worse than a visit from the local authorities. The worst Sheriff Patterson can do is arrest someone. Burke favors a scorched earth approach, one where throwing Roger Collins in prison is just Step One. As this episode begins, though, he throws his cards on the table and reveals the full extent of his plans to both Roger and Liz. He wants nothing less than to control the family's holdings, both home and business.

He's fairly polite about it, even as he swaggers around the drawing room  redressing it in his mind. Devlin offers to pay top dollar for Collinwood, offering more money than the property is actually worth. Roger LOVES the idea of getting rid of the gloomy old place, saying the family should use the money to buy a more practical home and pocket the change.

Liz isn't quite as ready to sell out the family's heritage, though. When she refuses, Burke reveals he's spent a long time studying the family's finances and knows exactly where to hit them. And he doesn't stop there. Devlin admits the portrait he commissioned from Sam Evans will someday soon be hanging over the fireplace at Collinwood.

Unsurprisingly, Victoria isn't convinced Burke is a serious threat. "What's he going to do, bomb the house?" she asks Carolyn, who is heartbroken at having been duped by Devlin. He admits to having been lying to Caraolyn all along, feeding her campaign oratory. "It's what you want you hear, but you're not necessarily expected to believe it," he tells her. "I almost got elected, didn't I?"

This is the most traditionally soapy episode so far of DARK SHADOWS, and features lots of repetitive dramatic blocking. It's not without purpose, though. Burke has come to Collinwood to drive a wedge between the members of the Collins family, and the blocking drives the idea home in scene after scene. He's shown standing between his rivals in most of the shots, usually in the background with a shit-eating grin on his face.

And he's fairly successful in his efforts. Before the credits roll, most of this episode's players have accused each other of something nasty. Carolyn argues Burke's true motivation is not in exacting revenge for his prison sentence, but for losing Laura Collins to Roger. Meanwhile, Roger says Liz doesn't want to sell Collinwood because of the mysterious absence of Paul Stoddard. He stops short of accusing her of murder (and of keeping the body somewhere on the grounds,) but the implication is certainly there.

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