Her feet immediately left the floor as she climbed fully onto the couch. She was 90 percent sure I was full of crap, but wasn't willing to bet the farm on it. I laughed, told her the snake wouldn't hurt her, and encouraged her to go looking for it. While she was doing so, I said "Boo!" (or some other ooga-booga sort of noise) and scared her. If you ever need a babysitter, feel free to give me a call.
I share this less-than-flattering story as a set-up for another. When I was three years old, my father gave me a glass of tomato juice, but told me it was strawberry Kool-Aid. I liked tomatoes just fine, and always have ... but you can imagine my surprise when the drink tasted nothing like strawberries. My schizoid relationship with tomato juice continues to this day. Tomatoes are still A-OK, but give me a glass of V-8 and I'll punch you in the throat.
There are two points to these stories. The first is that I wanted to lead with the V-8 anecdote, but was afraid of painting my father to be an asshole. (The misadventures of Charlie the Snake makes be the clear villain of this piece.) And the second is that it's never wise to underestimate the power of suggestion.
Last night, I had the house to myself. It was Halloween, but I was ill-prepared to deal with trick-or-treaters, unless they wanted handfuls of crushed walnuts, dog food or a glass of boxed wine. Rather than hand out disappointment and rejection to the neighborhood children all night, I turned out the lights, hid in the back of the house and listened to the new DARK SHADOWS audio drama from Big Finish, BEYOND THE GRAVE.
About 45 minutes into the episode's 55 minute running time, though, those lights came back on. I was a little freaked out by the episode's creepy soundscape, which was turned up to 11 in the story's climax. I think the sound design will be unnerving to a lot of people, thanks to the aforementioned power of suggestion. Luckily, some asshole kids were drawn to the dim light from my windows like moths to a flame, providing me with something else to worry about for a few minutes. By the time I returned to the story, the willies had been properly exorcised.
The lights, though, remained on.
|Kathryn Leigh Scott|
Despite the sizeable cast, this episode belongs to Scott, who carries most of the dramatic weight of the story. It's a terrific performance, and writer Aaron Lamont (who I spoke with in our previous podcast) makes the canny decision to explore some of Maggie Evans' public tribulations in this episode. Even though Maggie was confined to a sanitarium on more than one occasion in the original TV series, there were never any social consequences for her illness. In BEYOND THE GRAVE we find out that Maggie's credibility has suffered greatly in the community, which is one more crime that Barnabas Collins has yet to answer for.
I'm not sure that anyone can fully appreciate the juggling act needed to create a story like this. The depth of detail in this episode didn't happen accidentally, and required a great deal of coordination at all levels of production. Had Big Finish tackled this on an episode-by-episode basis, I'm sure the stories would have been fine. But, by planning ahead, they were able to create a few narrative threads that were loose enough to let the episodes have distinct voices, while also contributing to the multi-episode arc that makes this year's series so special.