By PATRICK McCRAY
May 31, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 253
Maggie awakens in a prisoner’s robe in her cell in the Old House basement, clinging to her true identity. Her memory is fuzzy. Barnabas enters the cell as she begs him to stay away. He wants to make her a vampire so they may stay together forever. He insists that she is Josette, and advises her to cooperate. He brings the music box to help jar her memory. She reluctantly allows him to leave it. But is she playing along? Maggie agrees to cooperate if her father be given her ring so he won’t worry about her. Barnabas refuses, based on common sense. But if she becomes his bride, he will. Willie, later, is easier to persuade. Meanwhile, David sneaks into the Old House to see Josette. Willie catches him sneaking upstairs, to Josette’s room, and upbraids him. David says he knows what Willie and Barnabas are up to; they are trying to make her leave. Willie bodily throws him out. In doing so, Willie drops Maggie’s ring. David tries to give it back, but Willie will have none of it. At Collinwood, Vicki sees the ring with David. She sees an inscription inside… a name or mysterious initials. Barnabas arrives. Barnabas owes David an apology to David for Willie’s rudeness. Barnabas recognizes the ring and finds that it fell from Willie’s pocket. It was being given Willie to sell, so says Barnabas. Back at the Old House, Maggie plays the music box as Barnabas approaches. Maggie puts on the mask of cooperation. He shows her the ring, knowing the jig is up. He gloats at having foiled her plan.
The ghost of Josette is strangely absent. To a great extent, I totally grok why David is so concerned. Josette’s ghost seemed far more concerned with Matthew Morgan than Barnabas. Kathryn Leigh Scott’s performance gets better and better. Her secret is that we see a character bent on survival, not suffering. Put a bad actor into a frightening story, and we will simply watch them bitch, moan, and “be scared.” Scott is far, far too smart for this. Jonathan Frid is also mastering incredibly difficult material. Most actors would chew the scenery and leer with unsubtle abandon. Barnabas, for all of his anger and frustration, seems sincerely motivated by love. I think this is what made the women of America swoon. He mixes a passionate force of personality with a tender desire to win her over with as little brutality as possible. And he’s no one’s fool. This day also marks the thirtieth day of marriage between Elvis and Priscilla. As far as I know, Elvis never shot a TV showing DARK SHADOWS.
(Episode 243 airs on this date.)
May 31, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 506
The ocean churns as we hear Lang’s instructions that Adam must live for Barnabas to survive as a man. Willie and Barnabas search the rocks. Barnabas is certain that Adam lives. Adam must have run away out of self-preservation. But where? The abandoned root cellar at the Taylor farm, where he once secreted Carolyn. All Willie wants to do is tell Carolyn the dream, but Barnabas orders him to return to the root cellar. In Carolyn’s room, she defends Adam to Liz, explaining that he was more like a child than a maniac. After she goes to bed, Willie sneaks into her room, desperate to tell her the dream. He only gets partly through it before she bites his hand, screams, and forces him to jump out the window. Liz enters and hears what happened. Carolyn thinks he meant no harm. He was more terrified than by anything else in his life. Carolyn is afraid to sleep, especially of the dream. She’s afraid that if she has it, she’ll die.
In a show of evolving and complex characters, there is none more so than Willie Loomis. DARK SHADOWS is replete with characters whose golden hearts have been painted with lead. The joy of the show is watching them find the gold within. Usually, they are celebrated for it. But Willie is a man who can’t get a break. He is forced to learn compassion. The only problem is that his first impression is never forgotten… completely. This makes him the ultimate Everyman. Class issues bubble around the edges of DARK SHADOWS like the unacknowledged Chairman Mao in the room. Willie truly is Exhibit A. Both of these episodes richly portray that.
(Episode 505 airs on this date.)