Monday, May 23, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: MAY 23


May 23, 1967
Taped on this day: Episode 245

Barnabas is allowing Woodard to take a sample of Willie’s blood, but Willie is resistant and fearful. With Burke, Woodard voices his hope that Willie suffers from the same disease as Maggie, and that could lead to the perpetrator. Burke wonders if if could have been a rabid dog or wolf. But who stole a slide? Willie? Woodard doubts it. At the Old House, Woodard takes Willie’s sample as Barnabas plies him with liquor and rhapsodizes about the romance of sacrificing blood. Willie tries to explain what the true stakes are but is sent away. Barnabas asks to see the slide and swaps it out with a fake as they speak of the beauty of blood. Barnabas learns that Woodard is seeking every connection possible between Willie and Maggie. Barnabas warns him that the man who broke into his office is of dangerous strength. Woodard says it’s both a beast and a man. Barnabas mournfully describes the villain as more than a man and less than a man, and someone he loathes very deeply. At the Blue Whale, Vicky and Burke dance, but she grows uneasy as a wolf howls. At the Old House, Barnabas reveals to Willie that he switched the slides. At the Blue Whale, Woodard reveals that Willie’s blood is normal, but Maggie’s was terrifying. There was a substance that should have been rejected. Instead, he saw and unholy union in her veins. It was as if Maggie were accepting into her blood something inhuman. The wolf continues to howl in the distance.

Today marks the first solo piece for writer Joe Caldwell.  Joe had teamed up on prior scripts, but this was his solo debut. It shows, in the best way. The language is poetic and evocative. Barnabas has moments of self-loathing and ambiguity that are gorgeously, hauntingly phrased, and the same can be said for Woodard’s exploration of science and mystery. Caldwell, also a novelist, professor at Columbia University, and Rome Prize for literature winner, considered vampirism to be a metaphor for compulsive sex. “Stop me or I’ll suck more,” he said was a way of phrasing it.  In an interview with Open Road Media, he said that the secret to barnabas was to write him very straight with very real emotional challenges. In that sense, he’s picking up a cue used to great effect by writers like Shakespeare and Stan Lee when dealing with humanizing characters of tremendous abilities.

(Episode 237 airs on this date.)

May 23, 1968
Taped on this day: Episode 503

Willie, haunted by the dream, is awakened by Julia, who knows exactly what he feels like. He recounts the dream to her. Willie is compelled to find Carolyn to tell her the dream, but Julia explains that it will harm Barnabas. Julia hypnotizes him to forget, but instead it taps into a psychic connection he has with Carolyn. He sees her “under the ground,” which is exactly where Adam has taken her… an old root cellar. She’s frightened and confused, and despite himself, Adam uses excessive force to keep here there. Eventually, the hypnodisk works as expected, It erases his memory of the dream. Or so Julia believes. But it doesn’t work. The only clue is that she’s underground. Slowly, Carolyn realizes that he may not mean harm. She teaches him to say, “friend.” In the excitement, he accidentally knocks her unconscious and leaves the cellar, sealing her inside for safety. The police arrive at the Old House, looking for the maniac they once saw near the house. And he wants to know why the maniac can say, “Barnabas.” The officer suddenly sees Adam peering in the window. He chases him out, discharging his gun. Adam isn’t fatally wounded, but with the help of twenty men, the sheriff captured him. After the sheriff leaves, both Willie and Julia are seized by fear.

Hidden in this episode is an interesting twist to the role of hypnosis in the Collinsverse. Through the dream curse, Willie now has a bizarre connection to Carolyn. If the DS writers committed any sin, it was forgetting or ignoring these powers. But then again, they were in the odd position of spicing up events with cool abilities, but not having them be so ubiquitous that stories took ten minutes to solve.

With Dana Elcar gone, we now have another Sheriff Patterson, Vince O’Brien. O’Brien was a successful character actor, appearing in films like ANNIE HALL and QUIZ SHOW. O’Brien would leave DARK SHADOWS in several months to act on Broadway in Burt Bachrach’s musicalization of Billy Wilder’s THE APARTMENT: PROMISES, PROMISES.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Frid’s tour of the USA continued in Flint, Michigan. Photographed with the great clown, Bozo, it’s uncertain if he met with Flint’s other great clown, Michael Moore. I kid, I kid. There were 5,000 people at the airport to greet Mr. Frid and 12,000 at a supermarket in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Fort Wayne is also the birthplace of test pilot and ANSA legend, Col. George Taylor, lost in the mid-1970’s along with Stewart, Brent, and Landon on the ill-fated Liberty I mission.  It’s unclear if Mr. Frid and Col. Taylor ever met up.  

(Episode 499 airs on this date.)

May 23, 1969
Taped on this day: Episode 765

1897. Quentin prowls as the wolf. Barnabas phases into Beth’s room, asking about her order of the pentagram. Barnabas bites her for both sustenance and control. He asks her who the werewolf is. Beth explains about Magda’s curse on Quentin and all descendants. This includes a baby boy. It all adds up. Barnabas must protect him and his secret. Barnabas intuits that she loves Quentin. He knows how it will end but not when. Meanwhile, Magda stands outside Collinwood, loading a gun with silver bullets. She tells Judith she’s there for Beth, and will wake her. Judith sends her away, but Magda sneaks in, anyway. She overhears Beth and Barnabas, and is angry that he knows all. Her only way to end the curse is to shoot him. Magda also finds that Beth has been bitten. Disgusted, Magda leaves and continues loading the gun. Quentin approaches Collinwood as the wolf. Beth finds her room a shambles. Judith leaves the drawing room to find the werewolf leaping down from the upper railing. Beth enters and frightens it out with her pentagram. Outside, Barnabas hunts and Magda observes him, gun in hand.  On the phone, Beth asks the sheriff to send men to guard the house. Recovering, Judith wants to know how Beth got the wolf to run. What does she know? This was no ordinary animal. Outside, the beast prepares to leap onto Magda, but she shoots him and he collapses.  

A fine episode… and a pivotal one. Barnabas learns that Quentin was a father, suggesting the Chris Jennings connection (by extension, making Joe Haskell a Collins, too). Magda also becomes the NRA as Alex Stevens does a spectacular stunt, leaping down from the second level of the great hall only to be shot by her.

(Episode 760 airs on this date.)

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