Friday, May 31, 2013

Collinsport Shipping: Fusion and Con-Fusion


It’s not a complicated concept, so why can’t I wrap my tiny brain around the idea of crossover fan fiction? Alright, I get what it’s supposed to be: a story combining one piece of fiction (movie, TV series, book, play, etc.) with an otherwise unrelated piece of fiction, to create a unique story. I believe the roots of this genre can be traced to 1960s television, when the Clampetts would visit Hooterville and Petticoat Junction for no apparent reason. They could not all have come from the same town. Oliver and Lisa Douglas bought a farm, not real estate in the Appalachian Mountains where Jed kept his family fed.

Fusion fiction isn’t as easy as it sounds. Where nature has no problem merging the genetic material of two specimens to form an amalgamated offspring, finding the perfect pairing in fiction writing can quickly go from the sublime to the ridiculous.

There’s a whole article here about the flurry of  DS/Star Trek Photoshops, so here’s just one.
Crossover stories are not wildly popular among Dark Shadows readers. Top scores in that category go to Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Twilight, and that crowd, but they also have the big numbers in non-cross fiction as well, so it makes sense. Obvious choices for a DS combo story would be something of a similar paranormal or gothic nature, like:

  • Supernatural (Sam and Dean hunt down a vampire or a ghost or a phoenix or a werewolf, you choose; there is a real SN/DS crossover, but I’m saving that for my column on slash fic)
  • Batman (I see drag races up the sides of buildings, and Nicolas Blair would be an awesome arch-villain)
  • Danny Phantom (ghost kid Danny meets ghost kid Sarah)
  • Sweeney Todd (the demon barber meets a customer who’s not interested in meat pies, just the sauce)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (whatever, I never watched that show) 
  • Addams Family (Count Petrofi’s hand meets Thing)
  • Shaun of the Dead (Shaun and Ed team up with Quentin and transform the Winchester into a zombie club)
  • Bewitched (Angelique can battle it out with Samantha Stevens, and Cassandra might as well have a go at Sabrina while they’re at it, probably fighting over who gets the wig.)

I believe there is even a Dark Shadows/Dark Shadows crossover in which I incorrectly assumed BarnaFrid meets BarnaDepp (credit for these terms goes to my Tumblr friend, Dork Shadows). In fact, the story (titled of Of Vampires and Werewolves by Vila-Restal) is a sequel to a previous TV-series-based story but, in this outing, it is explained how (2012) Carolyn became a werewolf. Sounds interesting; I will check it out, but would still love to see a meeting of two Barnabases. Hell, all the recreated characters, for that matter; Julias, Rogers, Angeliques. What an interesting challenge that would be. I’m sure the two Willies would just stare at each other with WTF looks on their faces.

Vicki 1: I don’t understand.
Vicki 2: Let me explain it to you.

Or there could be same-actor crossovers, Julia Hoffman meets Bellatrix LeStrange, for example, or Roger gets together with Langley Wallingford, or Lorraine’s Dark Shadows/Harvey and Lacey combo platter. In Role Reversals (Peekaboo Fang), which is not a crossover, Jason McGuire and Paul Stoddard share the stage. I keep humming the theme to the Patty Duke Show.

Perhaps more intriguing are the unusual mixes, wherein Barnabas might battle wits with Mr. Spock or Lucy Ricardo, but these scenarios can be difficult to pull off, even if it’s played for laughs.

So I looked at the DS crossovers listed at Fanfiction.net. I didn’t read all 23 of them, because some of the authors seem to share my confusion of how these things are done. Some of the more amusing ones included Star Trek, Pokemon, Ally McBeal, Dallas and The Series of Unfortunate Events. I was partially through the Harry Potter offering when I realized DS does have a troll story on that site. A troll, as you may remember, is an intentionally horrendous story, terribly written with a ridiculous plotline and unbearable grammar and spelling. At least, I think it’s a troll. If you are the author of that story, and were just trying to be humorous, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. But seriously, use your spell check.

The problem with many of these mixups is that once the author removes a character from its natural environment and places it in a foreign one, it often breaks character. Of course, this is not always the case. Alondra (more about this girl in another article) has a clever retelling of “A Christmas Carol,” wherein Barnabas (Scrooge) is visited by three ghosts who warn him to be nicer to his clerk, Willie (Cratchit).

My favorite all-time crossover fan fiction is a Dark Shadows/Quantum Leap piece titled Leap into the Shadows by TrudiRose. Its premise involves Sam “leaping” into the body of Barnabas in order to prevent the murder of a young woman. Problem is, he doesn’t know he’s a vampire or why his employee is so scared of him.

Quantum Leap, by its nature, is a perfect vehicle for crossovers. Sam Beckett finds himself trapped in time—"leaping" into the body of a different person in a different time period each week, and often does something to change history. At some point in each episode, Sam stares into a mirror to ascertain his identity. Uh, yeah, he’s going to have a problem with that this time.

TrudiRose perfectly captures both casts of characters, from the displaced Barnabas and confused Willie to scientist Sam and his hot-headed hologram pal, Al. The story is very well written; it’s suspenseful, funny and has a perfect ending. The author was nice enough to talk with me about herself and her work.

Madame Rose is a 48-year-old freelance writer/editor and stay-at-home mom. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, daughter (13), who writes "Supernatural" fanfic under the penname AwesomeActress1001, and son (16), who does not write fan fiction.

I’m always interested in how fans got hooked on Dark Shadows. Trudi had a story relating to that.

I started watching Dark Shadows in an unusual way: when I was in my teens and early 20s, I used to watch "General Hospital," and at one point, briefly, ABC ran old "Dark Shadows" episodes right after," so I ended up watching them. It started with Willie opening the coffin until Maggie got rescued, and that was it, but it was enough to get me interested. Then, a few years later, a really obscure TV station started showing it—I can't even remember the station, it was WAY before cable. I remember it was a station that didn't come in too well, so there was sometimes static! But they showed a lot, going all the way through the 1795 storyline. So at that point, I became a big fan, and I got my friends to watch it too, and I started going to conventions and subscribing to fanzines.

I'll tell you a fun story: I met my husband through a personal ad in the newspaper (again, this was before the Internet—no Match.com or eHarmony!) In his ad, he mentioned liking '60s TV shows and '60s music. So when I first spoke to him, I asked him if he knew about "Dark Shadows."

He said, "Oh, yes, I love 'Dark Shadows'!" I took that with a grain of salt, thinking that he was just saying that so I'd like him! But then he went on to say, "But you know what I always wondered? What happened to Adam after he left Professor Stokes' house?"

I said "Didn't he fall off a cliff?"

He said, "No, that was earlier! He fell off the cliff, and then he was at Professor Stokes' house, and then..." And he went on and on about it, and recalled the entire plotline much better than I did! So I told him I was going to a "Dark Shadows" convention in a few weeks. He didn't know they had conventions, so he went with me, and we had a great time! Definitely a fun date. And so, a great romance was born, and we've been married over 20 years now.

And that is how Dark Shadows will spice up your love life. How did you go from watching to participating? By the way, I had no idea she was a Willie Loomis fan, swear to God, that is a complete coincidence, and this was the first I heard of it.
I started reading stories in the wonderful fanzines “Inside the Old House” and "The World of Dark Shadows,” put out by Kathleen Resch. My favorite character has always been Willie—I felt so bad for him — so I especially loved the stories of Mary Overstreet, who wrote tons of excellent Willie stories. Mary also put out several volumes of stories about Willie and other John Karlen characters written by herself and others, in a publication called “Karlenzine.” I loved those publications.

I can even tell you my two favorite Willie stories. One was a story by Mary Overstreet about everything that happened to Willie from when he opened the coffin till he showed up at the Collins' house days later. She got into his head SO well. Another favorite is a very poignant story called "Merry Christmas, Willie Loomis" by Virginia Waldron.

"Leap into the Shadows" was my first fanfic, and I wrote it for "The World of Dark Shadows." The idea came to me because, at the time, I was a big fan of "Quantum Leap," and that was a show that REALLY lent itself well to crossovers, because Sam could leap into ANY time or place, and his goal was always to "fix" something that had gone wrong, so it made for an easy plotline. What I enjoyed most about writing it was that Sam was able to understand why Barnabas acted the way he did, and Barnabas and Willie became friends by the end of the story, as well as Barnabas being permanently cured—It was a "healing" kind of story for both of them.
Okay, I wasn’t going to put a spoiler in here, but it’s her story . . . but, while we’re here, Sam’s solution for curing Barnabas is wonderfully done, and the ending is refreshingly happy, but not sappy.
I've only written one other multi-chapter crossover story, and one crossover one-shot. I only write crossovers if an idea comes to me and I think I can blend the two fandoms together in a creative way.

Most of my fanfic is for Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." That's my favorite movie, and for some reason it REALLY inspires me in terms of writing fanfic. I post all of my stories on Fanfiction.net. I wrote "Leap into the Shadows" in the early '90s, but didn't write anything after that until 2004, when I started writing "Beauty and the Beast" stories. Since then I've been writing constantly.

You may wonder why I still have a hard time with crossover fiction — because I can’t do it; it is a talent beyond my abilities. Oh, the ideas are there. I can picture teaming Dark Shadows characters with almost anything. There have been lengthy threads on the Dark Shadows Official Facebook Fan Club page about how each of us would cast various classic films, musicals and Shakespearean plays with DS actors/characters.

Lots of fun but, is that really a crossover? I’m going to call that crossover parody. Now that’s something I know about. Having been raised with Mad Magazine and then graduated to Forbidden Broadway, I can picture our favorite characters bursting into song or parroting famous movie lines, because it would be really funny coming from them. And I have lots and lots of examples, which I will share in Part II of this article, so stay tuned.

Same bat time. Same bat channel.

PS: Happy 80th birthday to Johnny Karlen, the inspiration for so many fan fictions. Love you.

Marie Maginity is the author of the six-part Willie Loomis World Series, and writes under the names Mad Margaret and Lizzie Bathory. She has a BA in Theatre and works as a professional actor, director and drama teacher. She has had many “straight” jobs, including bartender, gas station jockey, graphic artist, website designer, facepainter and film projectionist. Once, she bullshitted her way into a newspaper job as a reporter and, over the next eight years, became a copy editor, feature writer and assistant editor. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with one husband, two daughters and two cats.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Big Finish: THE PHANTOM BRIDE

I've got an eclectic, often obsessive taste in music. While maturity has let me slowly let go of the arrogance that comes along with those passions (I no longer start fights with strangers for daring to listen to BON JOVI in my presence,) I still feel a sense of distance from mainstream traditions. There's a universe full of music to explore, so it's difficult to understand why anyone would want to listen to music on the radio. For people like me, there's  nothing sadder than coming across a "greatest hits" album in someone's music collection.

Which is why I've been procrastinating on this review for the last few weeks. This website has introduced me to many DARK SHADOWS fans over the last year or so, but some of them are fairly pedestrian in their habits. Others can be selectively fanatical, pouring over specific elements of the show while violently excluding all others. If you want to see this in action, find a DARK SHADOWS-themed Facebook page and mention JOHNNY DEPP. But don't say I didn't warn you.

For a lot of people, the show begins and ends with JONATHAN FRID, and those can be the hardest people to reach when it comes to  audio dramas from BIG FINISH. While there have been a few sly references to Barnabas Collins, Frid appeared in only one installment, leaving Frid-ians occasionally disinterested in Big Finish's offerings. Which is a shame, really, because their products are usually entertaining, and sometimes even great.

And then there are episodes such as THE PHANTOM BRIDE, which became available for sale from Big Finish this week. If DARK SHADOWS were DAVID BOWIE, then THE PHANTOM BRIDE would be TIN MACHINE. It's an delicacy for hardcore fans, but those looking for the show's patented blend of gothic tragedy might be a little confused by its shirttail relationship to Collinwood.

Returning for this episode are JERRY LACY and LARA PARKER, reprising their roles of Tony Peterson and Cassandra Blair/Angelique. Here's the episode summary from Big Finish:
 A liner sailing across the ocean to London. Happy couples enjoying a relaxing few days of fine food, fine wine and the fresh sea air. Until they start dying. Because also on board is a ghost seeking vengeance. A ghost of a woman who died in 1929. Private detective Tony Peterson and the witch Cassandra find themselves embroiled in yet another mystery. Can they solve the dead bride's murder before they, themselves, become her latest victims?
Now, I included the "official" summary because, as is the case with many of Big Finish's stories, THE PHANTOM BRIDE is confoundedly difficult to discuss without letting every last cat out of the bag. I didn't slug this post as a "review" in the title, because I don't plan on discussing its story here in any great detail. It would be like discussing a joke with someone who hasn't heard it yet.

What the official summary doesn't capture is the episode's tone. THE PHANTOM BRIDE falls somewhere on the spectrum between the movies of William Powell and Myrna Loy, film noir and a campfire ghost story. Having actors like Lacy and Parker in the cast lends the story a lot of credibility (THE PHANTOM BRIDE probably wouldn't have worked with other actors) and goes a long way toward making it relevant. Not only do you have Lacy's "hard boiled" delivery, but Parker proves to have a talent for comedy that never got a chance to really bloom in her film and television roles. (I'm pretty sure she makes at least one other appearance in this episode as a snooty Southern belle who gets harassed by Cassandra.)

THE PHANTOM BRIDE is an oddity, though, even by the already odd standards of DARK SHADOWS. Relying of some of the show's obscurities gives it a sense of freedom not granted when using its core characters. Tony Peterson just kinda disappeared from Collinsport, while Angelique's alter ego of Cassandra Blair helps to set this episode on a nebulous, dreamlike place that could run parallel to existing continuity.

All of this should be taken with a grain of salt. As I mentioned at the start, I can be deeply obsessive when it comes to art and entertainment. That's not to suggest that fanatics are more forgiving. Quite the opposite is true: We've got a more developed palette and are known to overreact. It's taken restraint to keep from delving into spoiler territory, but THE PHANTOM BRIDE is a fun romp with some witty dialogue. While it's probably not going to be essential listening for casual fans of the series, this episode is a clever way to revisit elements of DARK SHADOWS that went mostly unexplored during the show's original run.

I say check it out.

(NOTE: At the beginning of May, PATRICK McCRAY spoke with MARK THOMAS PASSMORE, the writer of THE PHANTOM BRIDE. You can listen to them talk about DARK SHADOWS, THE PHANTOM BRIDE and what's it like to work the the show's original cast members.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 88


Episode 88, "Lost and Found"
Oct. 26, 1966

Revisiting these early episodes in such a fanatical manner has left me feeling cut off from the heart of DARK SHADOWS. It's not that these episodes aren't fun. They certainly have a sense of mystery that will become forgotten in later episodes, but it's a little odd to be running a DARK SHADOWS blog that spends so much time devoted to stories sans vampires. For the time being, I'm going to have to make do with the benevolent ghosts of Bill Malloy, Josette DuPres and the other unnamed ghosts of Collinwood.

The highlight of this episode is a short conversation between Liz and Roger that underlines the family's secretive nature. Until now, neither of them have had a serious discussion about the property's long-standing reputation as Maine's Most Haunted House (TM.) Victoria's revelation about her time locked in the West Wing has forced the dialogue, though. "I've seen and felt things, things I couldn't actually explain.," Roger tells his sister. "You can't tell me it hasn't happened to you, because I know better."

Liz admits nothing, but the argument really isn't about ghosts. The conversation is another veiled negotiation between the siblings, this time about Victoria's future at Collinwood. Roger wants her gone; Liz wants her to stay. Neither reveal their motives to each other or the audience, though.

Roger and Liz aren't the only ones talking spooks and specters. Victoria has gone full Mulder, announcing with no uncertainty that she saw a ghost while locked away in the West Wing. As usual, nobody believes much of what she's got to say, and she's actually a little disturbed that few people at Collinwood seemed to notice she was missing. Roger throws a cloud of ambiguity over the situation by also denying that David intended any harm to the governess. "He's confused," Roger says of the boy. "We'll never know the truth of it." All of this leads to yet another declaration by Victoria to leave Collinwood, which suits Roger just fine.

Doubting both David and Roger's version of how Victoria became both lost and found in the West Wing, Liz  leads her brother on a search of the crime scene. In the locked room she finds David's drawings, books and toys in the room and calls bullshit on his story about how he and Victoria got "separated" while exploring. The little monster had clearly been nesting in the room and was quite aware of its location.

Further complicating things? Liz finds a pile of wet seaweed on the floor of the room, suggesting that Victoria's close encounter was more than just a hallucination.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two-Fisted Tales of the Rondos!


The RONDO HATTON CLASSIC HORROR AWARDS took place last Saturday at WonderFest, which is an annual "hobby expo" in Louisville, Kentucky. I wasn't able to attend, though I made an incorporeal appearance when the time came for the COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY to receive the award for BEST BLOG of 2012. Luckily, PATRICK McCRAY was there, and I spoke to the audience via his cellphone from the front porch of The Kraken Gastropub in Columbia, S.C. Here's what happened, courtesy of THE CLASSIC HORROR FILM BOARD FORUMS:
Patrick and "Wallace," via cell phone.
"CAN YOU HEAR US NOW? One of the highlights of this year's Rondo Awards Ceremony was when Dark Shadows fan Patrick McCray accepted the Best Blog
Rondo for The Collinsport Historical Society. At one point, Patrick called Collinsport's blogmaster, Wallace McBride to have him address the crowd by speaker phone. "I can't believe this,'' Wallace said. "Are there really people there?" The audience
responded with a huge roar."
There are more photos and videos from the event, which you can see HERE. And don't miss what Patrick had to say about the event over at THE COLLINS FOUNDATION.

I'm both shocked and flattered by this award, and hope my absence from last weekend's event wasn't interpreted as disrespect. When I launched this blog more than a year ago, many of my models for  "successful" websites were previous Rondo award winners. The idea of actually getting one myself was kind of absurd, though ... so it's appropriate that my "appearance" during last weekend's ceremony was a little bizarre. None of this could have happened if my readers hadn't taken time from their day to vote, or without the other bloggers who have contributed over the last year to help make this a more interesting place to visit. I owe you all a debt of gratitude.

- Wallace McBride

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Collinsport News Bulletins


* NANCY KERSEY is accepting pre-orders on the upcoming book, REMEMBERING JONATHAN FRID. While the final book will cost $30, those who order now will save $10 on the cover price. Here's her message that's been making the rounds on Facebool:
"This book takes a look at the man behind the legend and what made him tick. Former, long time personal assistants, fellow actors, cousins, nephews, friends and fans share insightful stories and memories that have not been aired or published before. 100 plus pages, including many rare black and white photos. Some proceeds benefit the John H. Frid Fund (Hamilton Community Foundation). Pre-orders accepted through June 30th. Publication in Fall of 2013. Send $20.00 via paypal to skippy1253@aol.com or a check/money order made out to Helen Samaras, 541 Birch Street, West Hempstead, NY 11552. Selling price of this book after June 30th will be $30.00 so don’t miss out on this special pre-order price!!"
* THE DARK SHADOWS EXPERIMENT will be starting this weekend. On Sunday, PATRICK McCRAY is going to spent 60 days watching the "core" storyline of DARK SHADOWS. For each episode, he plans to write a diary entry about the events of the episode as one of the characters from the show in an effort to "to gain a deeper perspective on the show." For me details, visit THE COLLINS FOUNDATION.

* A giveaway for KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT's latest novel, DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HEELS,  ends tomorrow at the LIBRARY GIRL READS AND REVIEWS blog.

* An "exclusive" digital edition of issue #2 of DARK SHADOWS YEAR ONE is now available from COMIXOLOGY.

"Watch your tenses!'


DARK SHADOWS fan Eileen shared this image with us on our Facebook page, saying: "I was going through some boxes in the basement and came across this old school assignment I wrote in 1969 when I was in 7th grade!" Frankly, I love this kind of stuff. So many relics of fandom are lost, whether they're classroom doodles or fan club letters, so it's always a delight to find something from the show's glory days.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 87


Episode 87, "Secret Passage"
Oct. 25, 1966


Just when I was expecting a lengthy sequestration for Victoria Winters in the West Wing, she's freed from captivity. And it happens in a way that I don't think anyone was expecting.

This episode is visually dynamic in a way that defies the claustrophobic Manhattan television studio where the series was filmed. We get our first look at Collinwood's many secret passages as Roger slips away through a hidden door in the drawing room to go spelunking in the West Wing. Prompted by David's cavalier attitude about Victoria's disappearance, he decides to take a look around Collinwood's less-visited areas, but does so in secret. It's a credit to the work that Louis Edmonds has done so far that we're willing to make this motivational leap with him. We don't question why he's being so sneaky about his investigation, because we understand that his motives are rarely altruistic. When he turns off the lights in the drawing room and quietly opens the secret passage, it's understood that Victoria's rescue is far from assured.

And Roger's journey is pretty fantastic. The camera follows him down cobwebbed passages and a spiral staircase in a lengthy tracking shot that surely involved a little camera trickery. Not only is the photography top notch, but the live editing used to illustrate Roger's trip to the West Wing is so deft that most viewers would forget it's just an actor (and possibly a stand-in) walking between sets on a single soundstage. It's as impressive a use of space as I've ever seen on DARK SHADOWS.


Not to be outdone, Alexandra Moltke, who's essentially been benched during Victoria's captivity, pulls out all the stops upon her rescue. Roger finds Victoria has become a frazzled mess during the hours she's been missing. Not only has she been tormented by a very real ghost during her stay in the West Wing, Roger takes a moment to secretly  terrorize her by banging on the walls and using his spookiest voice to warn her to leave Collinwood. He finds out in the episode's final scene, though, that the very real ghost of Bill Malloy had beat him to the punch.

Whatever empathy Victoria had for her charge has dried up. After referring to David as a "monster," she tells Roger, "He tried to kill you and now he tried to kill me." She's not wrong on either count, but she's probably confiding in the wrong person.

It's not Roger's only show of dubious moral ethics in this episode. Before venturing out to find Victoria, he shares a little family time with Carolyn, where he waxes philosophical about the governess's transient personality. "She came to us from nowhere, and now it seems as though she's disappeared into nowhere," he says. Carolyn is rightfully worried about the disappearance, prompting a morbid form of reassurance that would chill Sylvia Plath. When Bill Malloy disappeared, he explains, it was equally mysterious ... but there turned out to be a "logical reason" for his vanishing. Of course, that reason involved murder, so Carolyn fails to see how that's supposed to be comforting.

The B Plot is surprisingly sweet and energetic, especially when you consider that its featured characters are a little square. This should have been a huge speedbump in the episode, but the writers and actors are invested in making this part of the story work. Their scenes include tales of misadventure on the high seas, a Joseph Campbell reference and a shocking amount of nautical lingo that left me stumped (and I was a Navy brat.) Maggie makes a definite impression on Joe when she rattles off her intimate understanding of sailing, and you can see the exact moment when Joe falls for her. Joel Crothers deserves some praise for bringing the right amount of naivety to the role, but it's Kathryn Leigh Scott that really makes these scenes sing. She not only has to make Joe love her, she's got to make the audience love her, as well. And she knocks it out of the park.

Monday, May 20, 2013

DARK SHADOWS & PUPPETRY


Last weekend, children and teens at the Albina Library in Portland, Ore., spent the afternoon taking part in the DARK SHADOWS ROD PUPPET WORKSHOP. Led by Sarah Frechette of PUPPETKABOB, the participants spent a few hours using craft and art materials to create vampires, werewolves and bats, inspired by Tim Burton's DARK SHADOWS film (which was, in turn, inspired by the classic '60s television show.) Frechette graciously shared some photos from Saturday's event, which shows off some of the workshop's final products. For more photos from the event, please visit our Tumblr feed, BLOOD DRIVE.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 86


Episode 86, "Camera Obscura"
Oct. 24, 1966

I started watching this story arc at the worst possible time. It's certainly going to drain some of the humor from this commentary for a few weeks, and I make no apologies for it. There's a right time and a wrong time for everything, even bondage jokes. It's not that I'm especially worried about offending anybody ... I'm just not in the mood for it.

Hey, it could be worse. I could be watching the arc where Barnabas kidnaps Maggie and spends a few months psychically tormenting her. Now THAT would be awkward.

Luckily for me, very little happens in today's episode, from a perspective of plot, at least. But, DARK SHADOWS can be deceptively complicated when it really wants to be, which isn't very often in these early episodes. Today's tale is a perfect example of this. The episode comes and goes without changing anyone's fortunes in any meaningful way, yet still manages to explore its various themes and situations in compelling (and often disturbing) ways.

When we last saw Victoria Winters, she was trapped in a room in an abandoned wing of Collinwood, locked away by her pupil, David Collins. Her situation remains the same when this episode concludes, temporarily making Victoria a non-player in her own story. But, much like the Barnabas/Maggie relationship, Victoria's struggle is also about identity. This kind of degradation isn't physical, instead striking at the very heart of identity. This is why we put people in prison: It removes them from the world, making them perpetual observers with no physical presence. It's probably a lot like being a ghost.

Victoria's makeshift prison cell started to change her even before she was even a formal prisoner, though. Terrified of being shuttered away with  discarded relics of Collinwood, she actually begged David to unlock the door, putting her in a reflexively submissive position. David is clearly enjoying his position of power, so much so that I'm surprised he doesn't pay her a visit to gloat.

For the first time in DARK SHADOWS, the stakes feel real. Victoria's danger is a legitimate one, which is more that can be said for the "Was Bill Malloy murdered or just fatally clumsy?" plot that's been driving the series in recent episodes. Thanks to the raging thunderstorm taking place in the background, as well as the manic sense of crisis that has distracted the rest of the cast, Victoria's predicament is genuinely suspenseful.

Things aren't going as well for David as he'd probably hoped. Roger suspects the boy knows more than he's telling about Victoria's absence, as does Liz, who finds a key to the locked wing in the boy's bedroom. These discoveries/accusations don't amount much in this episode, but they certainly keep David on his toes.

The B Plot is a little gross: Burke invites Carolyn up to his hotel room for a little innuendo, smooth jazz and party liquor, which is even creepier than you might think. Not only are we subjected to jokes about Carolyn being too young to drink (the subtext here should be obvious) before moving on to complementing Carolyn's "carriage" (i.e. her ass.)

That's about as far as things go, which is for the best. As soon as she leaves, Burke says (to nobody in particular) that she's going to soon find herself "in a whirlpool, with nowhere to go but down." It's been so long since I've seen these early episodes that I'd forgotten Burke was anything more than a charming rogue. He'd be a little more sinister if his ruthlessness was anything more than just pretense, though.

Friday, May 17, 2013

JONATHAN FRID speaks in vintage audio collage



This is a real treasure. NANCY KERSEY has uploaded a video to Youtube that includes tons of dialogue and sounds from the original DARK SHADOWS television, as well as the trailer for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. I've never heard this before, but apparently the audio portion has been circulating for many years. Here's what she says about the video in the Youtube description:

"This audio tape was circulating around fandom as early as the 1980s. It is home audio of Jonathan studying a Dark Shadows script, saying the dialogue of the other characters and then reading Barnabas' lines by very quietly saying them with his lips, thus leaving space between the other characters and his and for him to practice his lines. The rest of the tape has Jonathan doing elocution exercises by reciting tongue twisters and reading some material."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Collinsport Shipping: TWO SECRET LIVES

Let us assume it is safe to say that we all have dirty little secrets. Or we used to, before we started broadcasting them all over Facebook. Still, there are those who will park outside 7 Eleven, clandestinely indulging in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s before going home to dinner. Some people hide behind the bushes in the backyard to smoke a cigarette (or something else), away from the prying eyes of their parents (or children). Some people write fanfiction.

What’s wrong with fanfiction? Why are many people mortified at the prospect of their family or coworkers finding out that they post flights of fancy on the Internet? Surely there are worse things one could be caught doing online. Perhaps some of us are writing scenarios with a mature theme or enacting a fantasy role play that’s just too intimate to share with anyone but complete strangers.

This was my family’s reaction:
Extra! Extra! Read all about your favorite pairings!

Husband:
Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. By the way, is this why you still don’t have a job?

Teenage Daughter: I told all my friends that my mom is so cool, she literally writes fanfiction. They thought it was awesome. And weird.

Grown Daughter: I prefer Harry Potter/Avengers crossovers, but I’ll be your Beta, if you want. 

Mother: That’s nice, dear. Does it pay anything?

After my first blog, I sent inquiries out to several writers to ask if they would like to be profiled in upcoming columns. The response was almost invariably, “I would love to but, for God’s sake, don’t use my real name.”
One of these closet contributors is Peekaboo Fang. She writes a wildly popular serial on Fanfiction.net called Role Reversals. The only negative thing I can say about it is that chapters have been posted infrequently for almost a year now. She must have a real life or something. Peekaboo agreed to tell me about her fanfic writing career if I maintain her anonymity. She revealed only that she is “closing in on 30” and comes from a creative family obsessed with old-school horror and comics.

She was first introduced to Dark Shadows as a child, thanks to the aforementioned family members and their VHS collection.

“I was hooked right away. Those early episodes with Victoria and Barnabas were like Alice in Wonderland meets Dracula to me. [They] captured my imagination right away.

“I started reading DS pieces occasionally when I first discovered Fanfiction.net and Livejournal years ago, but went through a long period where I was consumed by other fic obsessions. I didn't get seriously into reading DSFF until more recently, when I heard that Burton was making a movie, and that re-sparked my interest.

“My favorite character is definitely Willie. I find his arc so fascinating, how he runs the gamut from scumbag to tortured slave to underdog hero. I'm also quite fond of Barnabas, Vicki, Josette, and I harbor a special soft spot for Nicholas Blair, so I naturally gravitate towards stories which showcase any of those guys. The Globetrotters and the Willie Loomis series is amazing; I'm a big fan of those.”
(The interviewee may be sucking up to me there.)

Zombie Josette is another one of my favorite DSFF authors. Her Roger/Victoria one-shots, in particular, tickle my fancy. For some reason, I like exploring unexpected pairings in DS fics (such as Willie/Carolyn in my current story). This only works if the author is competent, though, and Zombie makes the romantic tension between Roger and Vicki believable.

“I'm usually not a fan of modern retellings, but Joriki's Resurgam is a page-turner, figuratively speaking. It is unbelievably well written with unique twists and turns. My new favorite is A Gift From Above by Val76. It's about Willie/Maggie, my original favorite pairing, and it's still capable of tugging at my heartstrings, especially when it's done so sweetly and honestly. I'm a romantic at heart.”


This is not what they meant by closet writers
I asked Ms. Fang what inspired her to start writing her own fanfiction.

“Crossovers,” she replied. “One of the great things about fanfic is the idea of combining my favorite fandoms. You'll see a few on my page at Fanfiction.net. My first story came about when I became obsessed with combining two TV shows I love, Star Trek and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Even though they're both sci-fi, they're still such different products. For example, one is a drama, the other is a comedy. I liked exploring the possibilities to see how these very different sci-fi characters would relate to each other if forced to interact.

"Unfortunately, the Star Trek category at that time on FF.net was being bombarded by trolls and flamers, and so my crossover was infiltrated by really nasty reviews. I was young enough then to take it too much to heart. By the time I'd gained enough courage to try again, the well had run dry, idea-wise, for that particular story, so I moved on to other genres/categories.”

Trolling and flaming, for the uninitiated, are common occurrences in some of the more popular fandoms, like Harry Potter and Star Trek. A troll posts intentionally dreadful stories with horrendous grammar and absurd plots often involving sudden, unexplained sex scenes. A flamer is a bully who writes degrading reviews for the fun of it. Often, these twisted individuals harass their victim to the point of distraction, and the author will delete the story just to end the abuse. These rants are usually full of obscenities, misspelled and in all caps. I am pleased to say that I have never seen evidence of either activity in the (TV) Dark Shadows forum.
I asked Peekaboo about the stories she went on to create.

"I'm pretty eclectic in my tastes, so it's hard to pinpoint just what kind of stuff I write. I don't write for Dark Shadows only. On my FF.net page I've posted everything from multi-chapter adventures, most of which explore the tragic origins of various villains (Jackie, Role Reversals), angsty, romantic one-shots (Remember, Life Upon Her Yellow Hair But Not Within Her Eyes), goofy comedy crossovers (In The Very Distant Future, Jeeves and the Opera Ghost), to even a little femme-slash (She Knows), though that's not something I'll probably write again—mostly because I felt like it turned out kind of offensive and weird.

“Aside from Dark Shadows, I'm a sucker for Batman, Star Trek, Phantom of the Opera, and DC comics in general. And those are only the fandoms I've written fics for! There are tons of others I obsess over. I don't know if I'll actually write too many more fics after finishing Role Reversals (it's an awesome process but exhausting). But if I do, I've had a few plot bunnies for the show Once Upon A Time and Phantom. So who knows what the future holds!”


Let’s talk about Role Reversals, which has more “likes” and “follows” than any other story in my field of vision.

“Role Reversals. Hmm. Where to begin? One day, I started thinking about how things would have played out had Josette been the one cursed, not Barnabas. The switch in gender dynamics opened up all sorts of juicy possibilities, allowing me to explore in flashback how Josette would reconcile the gentle, well-bred young lady we know from the show to the powerful vampire she becomes in my story. And by swapping the roles completely, for instance, Nicholas hooks up with her—instead of Angelique with Barnabas—I could also delve into the ways men left their marks on women they would  ‘ruin’ back then. In effect, Nicholas punishing Josette with vampirism came to stand for men punishing women for expressing their sexuality.

“There comes a moment in a chapter I'm working on where Josette actively rebels against this punishment and decides, once she awakens in 1967, that she'll fight back. Unfortunately, the two centuries that pass really sour her outlook, and she commits vengeful, violent acts, obsessing over getting back what was cheated her (a happy life with Barnabas) in what she hopes is a more forgiving and independent time to women (1967 certainly wasn't perfect, but compared to 1795, it is better).”


Peekaboo didn’t mention it here but there are other clever switch offs in the story. It begins with an orphan Barnabas Collins who arrives at his cousins’ estate to become tutor to young David. The vampire Josette, of course, sees him as the reincarnation of her 18th century beloved. Her brother is a little boy named Stefan and Elliot Stokes is the doctor who discovers her secret. You would think Willie would have more fun living with Josette in the Old House than he did with Barnabas, but the guy still can’t cut a break. There are other twists and turns, but I don’t want to reveal them here. Read the story.

What happened with the crossover, Victoria Phibes?

“I'm a big fan of horror movies, and my earlier DS story, My Name is Victoria Phibes, is a crossover with the Vincent Price Abominable Dr. Phibes movies. Unfortunately, unlike with Role Reversals, I sort of charged headlong into that one without any sort of outline, and I quickly ran out of plot ideas. So, yeah, it's just dangling there, and darned if I know what to do with it, which is too bad, because I actually like what I came up with. Basically, Dr. Phibes's chief motivation throughout the movies is both to avenge his wife Victoria's death and revive her, and at the end of the second movie, (*SPOILER!*) he's heading toward the River of Life in Egypt to do just that. Unfortunately, thanks to Angelique’s and Nicholas's meddling, everything goes kerflooey and Victoria ends up a baby. To protect her, Phibes and his goddess aunt (this is very convoluted) decide to send her 40 years into the future where she'll be safe. Thus, she's Victoria Winters. And Phibes returns for his grown-up bride.

“And then I ran out of ideas. It worked wonderfully in my head, but on paper it just got too out of hand. However, it's an interesting read if you don't get too invested in what happens next. I promise that won't happen with Role Reversals. I definitely have to work out some kinks in the ending, but other than that, I've been following my outline and I'm only a few chapters away from being done. It may take a little while, but I'll get there.”


What are her readers like?

“I've gotten FANTASTIC feedback. I first posted Reversals only a few days after the Burton movie came out, before the movie had a category of its own on Fanfiction.net. So I think a few reviewers were new fans who hadn't seen as much original DS. They were receptive and curious, and I got to introduce one reader to Jason McGuire, and sent him a few clips from YouTube. It made me feel very knowledgeable and full of myself, emotions every author likes. Mostly, though, I believe I've drawn in original fans, especially once the movie got its own category and I got less traffic from that direction.

“I'm not too sure about what age group everyone falls into, so I'm guessing from all over the spectrum. But what I can say is the reviews have been some of the most thoughtful and helpful I've ever had. People are paying close attention and are incredibly well-educated about the settings and time periods. Someone pointed out the proper channels Barnabas would have taken to get from England to Maine in the 1960s, and someone noted when I said Collinwood when I meant to say Old House. I've had predictions, encouragement, and overall great excitement. As an author, there's nothing better than people who want more.”


Mine was not one of the helpful reviews. I believe I pointed out the impracticality of bringing cows into the Old House and leading them into the basement. I’m pretty sure cows are physically incapable of going down stairs. And what’s happening to the carcasses? I lie awake at night pondering these issues. Peekaboo graciously responded to my comment and explained the scenario in greater detail.

So, if she wants more readers, why doesn’t she tell her friends?

“Nah, I don’t want too many people to know. I like to think of FF.net as my way to share interests outside of my social circle. I'm sure they'd be supportive—in fact, I have a few family members/friends who write fanfic of their own—so maybe someday I'll let them know. But for now, I'm enjoying my anonymity. I feel like it's more freeing.

“Wow, how dumb am I? I just remembered my real name shows up in emails to you, duh.”


No worries, Ms. Fang. You will receive my blackmail instructions in due time. See Mom, I can make money from fanfiction.
 
_______________________________________________________________________________

Marie Maginity has a BA in Theatre and works as a professional actor, director and drama teacher. She has had many “straight” jobs, including bartender, gas station jockey, graphic artist, website designer, facepainter and film projectionist. Once, she bullshitted her way into a newspaper job as a reporter and, over the next eight years, became a copy editor, feature writer and assistant editor. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with one husband, two daughters and two cats.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Collinsport News Bulletins


* The Argentinian government reportedly pulled DARK SHADOWS from the air in the early '70s for being "too disturbing."

* Bloody Disgusting is saying Seth Grahame-Smith, screenwriter of last year's DARK SHADOWS and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE: VAMPIRE HUNTER, is lending his "talents" to a remake of 1984's GREMLINS. This sounds like a terrific idea, he said sarcastically.

* I quit reading Dynamite's DARK SHADOWS comics last year because I was running out of ways to explain how terrible they were. Yes, some of the artwork is quite nice, but pretty pictures don't automatically equate a good story. It's rather amazing that there are two DARK SHADOWS books on the market right now, but it's equally sad that they're well-drawn rubbish. Anyhoo, Dynamite has solicitation info posted for the next issues of this series, if you're interested. Also, here's a positive review of Issue #16 of the series, in the interest of balance.


* This isn't exactly news, but I thought I'd throw this out there: there's a shrub named Leptospermum "Dark Shadows."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 85


Episode 85, "Sea Shanties"
Oct. 21, 1966

I'm not entirely sure why I like Victoria Winters.

My problem? The character's concept is a little thin, leaving me to wonder of it's Victoria Winters, the idea of Victoria Winters or Alexandra Moltke that I'm fond of. Let's review her present situation: Having been outsmarted by an unbalanced child with no formal education, she's locked in a deserted wing of the house with no clear path of escape. Her pupil's facade was so transparent that a glass eye in a duck's ass could have seen through it (to paraphrase David Bowie) yet here she is, a prisoner in her own home. To make things worse, Victoria has so little to do in this episode that even the ghost of Bill Malloy gets more dialogue than she does.

But I'm not going to hold that against her. Victoria and I are still cool ... which is more than I can say for Carolyn and Joe. Stoddard the Younger is still fired up from Joe's mild rejection in the previous episode, and is determined to do something stupid. Bolstered by a child's overblown sense of importance, she's sure a little reckless behavior on her behalf will make Joe (and everybody else) feel sorry for her. Liz isn't having any of her rubbish and wastes no time putting her daughter in her place. "You think the world is coming to an end the minute Joe doesn't jump the minute you snap your fingers," she says. She also reminds Carolyn of her own dalliances, namely stalking one Burke Devlin. "The world doesn't revolve around Carolyn Stoddard."

Carolyn's response? To cover her ears and play the 'La-la-la-la I can't hear you game." (I made up the la-la-la part, but the rest is accurate.) Carolyn storms off into the night, probably imagining the looks on everyone's faces when she tells them she's pregnant with Burke Devlin's love child. That'll learn 'em!

When Carolyn arrives at the Blue Whale, she finds Burke and Sam Evans loudly basking in the "happy" phase of public intoxication. The two men had spent the evening talking about spirits both metaphorical and literal, including the lingering presence of Bill Malloy. Before Sam accidentally spills the beans about Maggie's date with Joe (and setting Burke and Carolyn's plans for revenge on a collision course with each  other's naughty bits) the two men tell us of Malloy's favorite public domain sea shanty. Not long after they sing their final chorus of Drunken Sailor, we hear the spooky voice of Bill Malloy singing the same tune at Collinwood. Victoria isn't all that happy about finding a dead man singing sea shanties lumbering around the dark, but she'd better get used to it ... Bill Malloy's won't be the last dead guy to creep on her in the night.

It's an effective scene, though, even if it requires little of either Moltke or actor Frank Schofield. Victoria stands and confronts the specter, who warns her "Get away before you're killed." His timing sucks, all things considered. When he makes his exit, he leaves behind a trail of wet seaweed, which is sure to trouble Victoria once the whole "It was juts a dream!" coping process inevitably kicks in.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Streets of Ancaster


CATHY ROBBINS, one of the masterminds behind the campaign to get JONATHAN FRID on Canada's Walk of Fame, has been visiting the actor's hometown of Ancaster, Ontario, this week. She's been sharing photos of her trip on the group's Facebook page, giving us all a better look at where Frid spent the first and last years of his life.

Historically, Frid's personal life and professional life have been neatly divided. Because DARK SHADOWS wasn't broadcast in Canada during its original run, many people from his hometown had no idea how big of a hit the show really was. Meanwhile, it's unlikely that many Americans could even find Ancaster on a map, creating a separation between personal life and career that Frid undoubtedly enjoyed. Thanks to the Internet, many fans now know that Frid's family was quite successful, but Robbins' photos are giving us a better idea of exactly how prominent they are in the local community.

Robbins has quite a few photos of her trip on Facebook, but interest in her trip (as well as the Canada's Walk of Fame campaign) has spread to other Facebook pages originating in Ancaster.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 84


Episode 84, "Panic Room"
Oct. 20, 1966

Damn, this episode is bleak.

DARK SHADOWS can be a surprisingly fast show when the mood strikes it. Because it didn't have the artificial structure created by primetime television "seasons," the pacing of DARK SHADOWS could often be wonky. Later on, you'll know a story arc is reaching it's end when characters start dropping like flies (usually at the hands of Barnabas Collins) but, in these early episodes, there's little opportunity for resolution. Devised as a fairly traditional soap opera, the early narrative of DARK SHADOWS was open ended, not to mention a little depressing. You can always count on bad shit to happen in these early episodes, but there's rarely any relief from them.

David Collins is the best example of this. He tried to murder his own father, but there wasn't anything the characters could do about it. The family dynamic is to hide these kinds of problems from the world, which makes proactive behavior almost impossible. Had David been successful, it would have been a much different story, but for the time being everyone seems to be hoping he'll grow out of his murderous impulses. In this episode, Victoria finds out how well that plan is working when she finds herself locked in the West Wing, abandoned by David to starve to death.

Well, eventually starve to death, anyway. He takes pleasure in showing her around his grody little hideaway in the closed-off section of the house, which comes furnished with a bed, canned food, candles and stacks of newspaper. I don't know what use the latter is, but I've seen enough episodes of HOARDERS to know that stacks of newspapers are the universal sign of crazy.

He cries for help several times to illustrate to Victoria how secluded the part of the house is, talks up his ghostly friends that sometimes visit the room, and then locks her inside. He later celebrates with a glass of milk and a slice of pie, telling Liz he has no idea where his governess is.

This episode also sees the formal end of the Nice Carolyn/Joe Haskell/Crazy Carolyn love triangle. Feeling a sense of buyers remorse over her most recent bratty outburst, Carolyn convinces herself she can patch things up with Joe with yet another empty apology. "Who knows?" she asks. "I might even tell Joe I'll marry him."

Joe's lucky she didn't make this decision a day earlier,otherwise he'd be screwed. Unable to reach Carolyn because she was actively freezing him out, Joe made plans to have dinner with Maggie and Sam Evans that evening. When she finds out about his plans don't involve her, Carolyn reverts back to character and throws Joe out of the house. It's a reminder to everyone within earshot that Joe just dodged a bullet.

It might seem like a bad thing that Victoria is still trapped in David's panic room, but at least she won't have to listen to Carolyn's whining for the next few days.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Podcast: THE PHANTOM BRIDE



PATRICK McCRAY speaks with MARK THOMAS PASSMORE, writer of the up-coming audiodrama THE PHANTOM BRIDE. The Big Finish episode re-teams Passmore with DARK SHADOWS characters TONY PETERSON and CASSANDRA BLAIR, played by actors Jerry Lacy and Lara Parker. Passmore speaks about his discovery of DARK SHADOWS as a child, how Peterson and Blair became the central characters in his audiodramas, and the recent renaissance in all things Collinwood.

The episode is streaming above, or download it as an MP3 HERE.

UPDATE: Canada's Walk of Fame


Jonathan Frid's "Walk of Fame" campaign poster, on display at Sammy's Restaurant in Ancaster, Ontario.
The nominating process for this year's Canada's Walk of Fame campaign ended April 30. Since then, we've all been waiting to find out if the campaign to get JONATHAN FRID inducted this year was a success. The organization has made no formal announcements about the names of this year's inductees, and it looks like we'll have to wait a little longer to see if Frid made the cut. CATHY ROBBINS, one of the administrators of the NOMINATE JONATHAN FRID TO CANADA'S WALK OF FAME page, says we probably won't find out until much later in the summer:
"I just called Canada's Walk Of Fame headquarters in Toronto, May 6, 2013 and they are now telling me announcement of the 2013 Inductees will be well after June 25th. The board of directors of CWOF is having a meeting right now 5/6/13 @10:19am. They will hold a press conference after the 25th and will release their decision to all of their media outlets then. Sign up for CWOF's Email and you will be notified on your FB news page. We will notify everyone here too."

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 83


Episode 83, "Sounds of Terror"
Oct. 19, 1966

Way back in Episode 70, we were treated to our first genuine confirmation that the ghosts wandering around Collinwood weren't the products of David's warped imagination. It was a landmark episode in the series, but those ghosts were immediately benched in favor of having the characters spend the next few weeks chasing a fountain pen.

If I had to guess, I'd say Halloween was the reason Dan Curtis let the spooks come out and play as October loomed. I'd also speculate that Halloween was the reason those same spooks were put back into the closets for a few more weeks. Episode 70 aired on Friday, Sept. 30, 1966, and not only served as the weekend cliffhanger but also set the stage for more creepy goings as Halloween approached. It was a magnificent tease, but perhaps it was too much, too soon. At this point in the series a ghost sighting in every episode might have been overkill, and anything short of seeing Josette flitting about the grounds of Collinwood like a supernatural Billie Burke would have been a let down.

Right now, though, it feels as though the mystery is winding down as we approach the Oct. 31 episode, which might finally reveal Matthew Morgan as the man responsible for Bill Malloy's death. I'm sure the DVD booklet would tell me if my Halloween Theory holds water, but having already seen these episodes (more than 20 years ago) I'm trying to maintain a modest level of suspense. Knowing how this story eventually plays out, though, it seems right to give Matthew Morgan a ghostly send-off on Halloween.
If I'm correct, it's interesting that a (presumed) ratings bump for a Halloween Special eventually informed everything the show would later become. Ghosts allowed DARK SHADOWS to introduce a more sinister antagonist in Laura Collins, who set the stage for Barnabas Collins. While these early episodes might be a little slow, they're packed full of great character moments, and the entire series owes a debt to the groundwork laid here.

While we don't seen any ghosts in this episode, there's certainly a lot of talk about them. David blames the disappearance of the fountain pen on ghosts, while Joe and Maggie chat a bit about the specters lurking around Collinwood. The episode even climaxes during a thunderstorm that sounds like something from Wade Denning's SOUNDS OF TERROR. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

When last we left Collinwood, Roger had stolen Victoria's fountain pen, a potential clue in the death of Bill Malloy. Interested mostly in challenging David's on-going struggle with honesty, Victoria launches a search for the pen before eventually accusing the boy of stealing it. It's not the worst assumption she could have leaped to. Even though we clearly see Roger digging a hole and burying the pen at the start of the episode, it's still easy to believe the lying little monster had something to do with it. When Roger intervenes in the argument, though, both Victoria and David are stunned when he takes the boy's claims of innocence at face value.

Naturally, Roger takes advantage of the moment to manipulate Victoria into keeping quiet about the pen. He makes a sales pitch that asks her to forget the incident as a means toward winning David's trust. He also speaks with David alone in a bod to win his silence. Both David and Victoria promise to keep their traps shut about the incident, which will be no small feat for either of them.

Also, David vows revenge on Victoria. Again.

This episode's B Plot involves the dying relationship between Joe and Carolyn ... though Carolyn is conspicuously absent. Joe pours his stoic heart out to Maggie at the diner about the impending end of his romantic interests in his bi-polar girlfriend, and Maggie wastes no time casting her hooks for him. She first suggests he "gets another girl," then later invites him over to "pot luck" with her and her pop that night.

Joe stops off at Collinwood to check on Carolyn, but decides to move on with his life when he finds she's not home (Victoria gives him a slight push by suggesting he's a fool for putting up with Carolyn's bullshit.) Joe's cameo is a brief interruption in David's revenge plot. Once confirming that he and Victoria are alone in the house, David darts off, sure the governess will follow him. When she finds him, he claims he stole the pen, then leads her into the deserted wing of the house "to find it."

I'm sure nothing bad will happen.

Notes:
* This is first Kinescope episode of the series. The Kinescope was used to record 16mm film from a TV screen, and was used by ABC as a back-up copy for the smaller-market stations that didn't yet own videotape recorders. Even though DARK SHADOWS was never designed to air in re-runs, the original tapes to almost every episode of the series still exist. A handful were lost, though, and MPI has replaced these episodes with the Kinescope copies, which lack the detail of their video counterparts. Honestly, I love the look of the Kinsescope episodes.

 * I'm pretty sure you can see the box that will later be used to hold the hand of Count Petofi (among other things) in the hallway leading to the West Wing.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Collinsport News Bulletins

From left, KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT, ANSEL FARAJ and LARA PARKER.
*   LARA PARKER has updated her blog with an entry about the recent premiere of DOCTOR MABUSE during the DARK SHADOWS ISLAND WEEKEND event. "What they didn’t realize (until the Q & A after the film was shown) was that the entire movie had been shot in front of a blue screen in Ansel’s tiny one car garage, and that the backgrounds were digitally inserted later," she said. "The result was weird and hypnotic with a very cool tone. And, it seems there will be a sequel, with Chris Pennock also in the cast." Read the entire post HERE.

* ShadowGram has announced the details of the 2013 Dark Shadows Cast Reunion, to be held July 13-14 at Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, N.Y., filming location of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS.


Guests from the original DARK SHADOWS series scheduled to attend include:
- Michael Hadge (Buzz)
- Donna McKechnie (Amanda Harris)
- Sharon Smyth (Sarah Collins)
- Barbara Woronko (Nurse)
- Marie Wallace (Eve/Jenny)
- Donna Wandrey (Roxanne Drew)
- Nick Besink (A/V)
- Henry Plimack (Audio)

From the 1991 REVIVAL series:
- Roy Thinnes (Roger Collins/Reverand Trask)
- Jim Fyfe (Willie Loomis/Ben Loomis)
- Ely Pouget (Maggie Evans)
- Rebecca Staab (Daphne Collins)
- Steve Fletcher (Deputy Jonathan Harker)
- Apollo Dukakis (Reverend Amos)

From HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS:
Chip Coffey (Collinwood Guest)
Chip also is a Psychic Medium from the Television Shows "Paranormal State" and "Psychic Kids". He will be doing readings at the event!!!

And from NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS:
Monica Rich (Sarah Castle)

Also, author Stephen Mark Rainey is scheduled to attend the convention. His credits include many horror and sci-fi books as well as Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark. He has also written two of the Big Finish Audio Dramas "Blood Dance" and Curse of the Pharoah."

Updates about this year's event can be found by joining the ShadowGram Yahoo News Group.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 82


Episode 82, "A Gift from the Sea"
Oct. 18, 1966

I'm willing to believe a lot of things. Alternate universes? Sure. One-handed, unicorn-slaying werewolf sorcerers? Why not? A time-traveling vampire attorney? Absolutely.

What I refuse to believe, though, is that anybody gives a good goddamn about a silver pen. This arc's MacGuffin has returned in recent episodes with a vengeance, but it's entirely worthless as a plot device no matter how much the cast tries to sell us on its importance. Most of the dialogue in this episode revolves around the pen, a "clue" that may or may not have been left at the scene of the crime during Bill Malloy's murder. The only person who thinks the pen and the death have anything in common is Burke Devlin, but there's no evidence to support his theory. Worse, his theory doesn't even have a point of inspiration. It's important for us to think the pen and Malloy's untimely demise are related, but the narrative task of extending this plot point is dumped on Devlin with no reason. Even though he's a force of destruction in the show, he's also supposed to be sympathetic ... and it's hard to work up any interest in a character who is right by virtue chance.

Roger's doing himself no favors here, either. As soon as he lays eyes on the pen he gets all damp around the collar and channels his inner Gollum. He manages to regain his composure, though, and falls back on the Collins family tradition of subterfuge. He tries to bribe Victoria into taking a job with "friends" in Florida, saying it's in her own interests to get out of Devlin's line of fire. He makes an overture to Devlin to pay for the cost of replacing then pen.

When those ideas don't work, he just decides to steal it.

Actually, stealing the pen was his first plan. While going to answer the telephone, he "accidentally" tries to leave with it still in his hand. Victoria and David remind him of his error, thwarting him. In the final scene of this episode, though, he gives up on outwitting his enemies and just steals the pen from David's room.

Besides that, it's a fairly uneventful episode. We get some fun Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog banter between Devlin and Sheriff Patterson which underlines the show's lack of faith in authority. Patterson is relaxing at the Collinsport Inn at the start of this episode, having a cup of coffee and reading a "detective novel" when Devlin shows up and starts to harass him about progress on the Malloy case. Patterson is understandably at a loss for words: Following the coroner's decision that Malloy' death was an accident, there is no murder investigation to discuss. Also, Devlin's theories about the silver pen are batshit crazy.

Speaking of crazy, David uses his crystal ball to deduce that Victoria discovered the fountain pen at the bottom of Lookout Point, where Malloy is presumed to have died. Victoria's "gift from the sea" might actually be a boon to David, who is still looking for new and interesting ways to get rid of  his father. I fail to see how the pen will help, but Robert Cobert's "Drums of Death" musical cue certainly makes the plot point feel ominous.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Your guide to the COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY

We've picked up a lot of new readers at the COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY during the last few months. I'd like to invite those of you new to the neighborhood to look around. This site has a deep archive of information, and includes features such as vintage media clippings, JOAN BENNETT WEEK commentary and the GRAYSON HALL BLOG-A-THON.

While the waters aren't treacherous, there so much information available that it might seem a little overwhelming. So, here's a quick primer on the various features you'll find at the COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY.



TABS: The most obvious tools are in the tabs across the top of the page. If you're looking for our podcast archive, click the PODCAST tab to visit that page. You can send me an e-mail by clicking E-MAIL, while the next few tabs will take you to our various social media sites.

First on the list is FACEBOOK. We currently boast more than 3,000 readers at Facebook, but those numbers are deceiving. The company has grown increasingly antagonistic toward its users during the last few years, creating algorithms that keep you from connecting with readers. The goal? To gets sites like mine to pay to "promote" our posts. The end result is a huge clusterf*ck that is turning the site into MySpace 2.0. We're fairly active on Facebook, but that doesn't mean you're always seeing our posts. If you rely on Facebook to learn about update at this site, you're certainly missing out.

Our TWITTER account is probably your most active connection to the COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. This feed is networked across all of our affiliate sites. If we post something here (or anywhere else, for that) you'll find out about it immediately in Twitter.

Next on the list is the tab for TUMBLR, which is primarily a photo feed. Titled BLOOD DRIVE, our Tumblr account includes lots of fun stuff that doesn't fit here, or flat-out won't work on sites like Facebook. Visit BLOOD DRIVE to find animated gifs, outside commentary, camp, kitsch and some of the wittiest DARK SHADOWS fans this side of Nicolas Blair. While I'm not convinced Tumblr is the next-gen platform that some seem to think it is, it's still a pretty fun place.

SILVER SCREAM is the sometimes-active sister site to the CHS, and is dedicated to classic horror movies from the golden age of cinema. Think of it as the COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY of classic horror cinema.

COLLINSPORT REGULARS is a list of links for contributors to this site, as well as the cast members for the various incarnations of DARK SHADOWS. If it's related to Collinsport and worth visiting, you'll find in on this page. Feel free to recommend a site to be linked here.


THE RAIL: Here's where things get a little more complicated. Down the left side of the page is a rail of buttons and links, some of which might need a little explanation. Most of the "buttons" are easy to figure out. Click on the picture of BEN CROSS and you'll find all of our posts about the DARK SHADOWS REVIVAL series. Click on the HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS button to find out posts about that particular movie, and so on.

At the top of the rail, though, are a pair of underutilized features that will help you stay better connected to the site. I say "underutilized," but that's only true for the SOCIETY MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING feature. If you've got a Google account of any kind, you can sign up for updates by clicking on that app.

You can also submit your e-mail address in the form marked FOLLOW US BY E-MAIL for daily updates. I don't have access to the data collected by this feature, so I have no idea how many people are using it. But, I signed up for it myself and get hyperlinked versions of this website in my e-mail once a day, so I know it works.

Beneath the SOCIETY MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING app is our GOOGLE+ badge. It's a site I'm still trying to figure out, though. If you're active at GOOGLE+, click on the badge and add us to your circles.

SUBJECT LINKS: And waaaaaaay down at the bottom of the page is one of our most thorough research tools: Subject links. Each of our posts are "tagged" with the names of its primary subjects, which are all linked at the bottom in alphabetical order. This is a "data cloud" item, which means the bigger the tag, the more posts we've got about the subject. Currently, our DARK SHADOWS DIARY feature and JONATHAN FRID appear to have the most entries.

And don't forget: Click on the COMMENTS button at the bottom of each post and tell us what you think!
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