For the past two years, Collinsport Historical Society correspondent, Collins Foundation webmaster, and overachieving madman Patrick McCray has conducted four immersive studies of DARK SHADOWS and BABYLON 5. The DARK SHADOWS projects have lasted for months, the first of which involved watching the entire show in only 45 days. The second found him following the series from the perspective of Barnabas and penning a 90,000 word, online epistolary novel based on the show. This summer, he’s moving from from the undiscovered country of un-death to another Undiscovered Country … that other TV phenomenon of the same era, STAR TREK. The CHS caught up with Patrick and grilled him on his deteriorating sanity regarding these projects.
CHS: As we asked back in 2012, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
PM: That’s a vast question best left to seasoned occultists. The most I can say is that it’s become like an extreme sport. People think it must be very easy work, but it’s really, really difficult. It requires tremendous patience and mental discipline, and when things inevitably run behind, it can take a physical toll as well.
CHS: What’s the payoff of these marathons?
PM: Getting to see the whole show at once as a single text. In that concentrated a dose, you can still recall the beginning when you get to the end. The whole experience becomes richer, and weird patterns emerge.
CHS: I can see that with DARK SHADOWS, but the TREK franchise spans six series that go in wildly different directions.
PM: Yeah, the purpose of this one is different.
CHS: In what way?
PM: I want to see a number of things. Are they still good, or are these shows good only in memory? It’s been a while since anything new of substance has been written about STAR TREK. Is that because it’s been exhausted or because there’s very little new material out there or because tastes in storytelling have become so dark? I don’t know. But there’s more. I also want to compare the series to each other immediately. How do they evolve, parallel to each other? How do they reflect each other or deviate? And how do I keep myself from going crazy from the monotony of weeks of one of the series I’m not too crazy about?
CHS: So, how?
PM: I was really dreading this project in a lot of ways. I only considered it after another project fell through and I realized that visiting friends — the lifeblood of my sanity when I do these things — would kill me if I didn’t take a summer off from DARK SHADOWS. STAR TREK kept being suggested, but it sounded like such a cliche. But then I thought about watching the shows in concert. What if I watched the first hour of each in a row, the second hour, and so on.
CHS: Will you be doing any kind of “Captain’s Diaries” like you did with the Collins Chronicles?
PM: I’m incredibly proud of the Collins Chronicles, but they just about killed me. Creative writing every twenty two minutes for twelve hours a day? No, this will be like the first Dark Shadows Experiment. I’m going to enjoy myself, absorb the shows, tweet and blog when I want to, make my videos, etc.
CHS: What is it about STAR TREK that makes it so special for you?
PM: There are a lot of sentimental reasons, but the thing I like most about it is the thing that drove the later writers crazy. Gene had the audacity to say that human life would improve, our perspective on one another would improve, and that we would have to make that happen as a prerequisite for making it into the future. Most literature is so pessimistic. This isn’t.
CHS: It’s a stretch, but do you see any DARK SHADOWS connections?
PM: Absolutely. Both shows deal with regular humans having to expand their world view to include those who are different. Now, in DARK SHADOWS, they usually want to attain humanity, but so does Data. Of course, those who are different do pose a threat in DARK SHADOWS, but that’s often because they misunderstand themselves. Often, their differences end up saving the day. How can differences be harnessed so that all can benefit? It happens with Angelique, Barnabas, Chris Jennings, and so on.
CHS: Where can people monitor the progress?
PM: I’m keeping things at http://collinsfoundation.net. There’s even a schedule so that you can follow along. I’ll have YouTube videos and you can find me on twitter @therealmccray. And the more interactive people can be, the better.
CHS: Finally, best captain?
PM: Does Sulu count?
|Patrick McCray and ENTERPRISE star Anthony Montgomery at ConCarolinas last weekend.|