By PATRICK McCRAY
June 13, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 1
Victoria Winters speeds by train from New York to Collinsport to take the position of governess to David Collins at the isolated and underpopulated mansion of Collinwood. His father, Roger, objects to strangers in the house. His older sister, Elizabeth, the family head, hired her. Liz stands her ground when Roger confronts her, and when she leaves, a quietly furious Roger crushes the brandy snifter in his hand. Collinsport is so isolated that the train hasn’t stopped there in five years. Vicki is curious. She was invited by post, but she’s never heard of Collinsport nor the patron. When the train arrives, Vicki is followed off of it by Burke Devlin, a brooding stranger. He knows Collinwood, and helps her to the inn, but remains strangely stoic. He advises her to avoid Collinwood, and although the innkeeper seems merry to see him, Burke has no interest in conversation. The cab to Collinsport has a flat, so she’ll be at the inn for a while. Burke receives a disturbing note and leaves for the Blue Whale. There, he meets a private detective named Strake. He’s to deliver all of the dirt possible on the Collins family. At the soda fountain, Vicki meets tough-talking waitress and gossip who warns her away from Collinwood. At the Blue Whale, Burke learns that Liz Stoddard has stayed up in Collinwood for 18 years, but there’s no reason why. Finally transported, Vicki arrives at Collinwood to be greeted by Liz.
A quiet day at DARK SHADOWS.
Soaked in atmosphere, this unusually metaphysical episode aptly portends the epic to come.
June 13, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 262
Vicki gets off the phone. They’ve found Maggie… dead! Vicki is lost in sad nostalgia for how she was treated by Maggie on her first night in town. Sam will have no funeral to feed morbid curiosity seekers. Liz tries to comfort her and moves on to a request: be the legal witness to her marriage. But, knowing the circumstances, Vicki would have to object. Marrying Jason is easier than hurting Carolyn with the truth. Vicki will let Liz know if she can be witness. Later, Vicki gives Carolyn the news about Maggie. The conversation turns to the wedding with Buzz. They argue, but Carolyn says she knows what she’s doing. Vicki implies there are things Carolyn doesn’t know. After opening the room in the basement, Carolyn says that it’s proof that Jason has no hold over her. But there may be more to the story. Vicki becomes strident in her defense of Liz. There is so much Vicki wants to say, but can’t. Carolyn storms out. On a hill with Burke, Vicki speaks of the transience of existence, lost in thoughts of Maggie. Burke wants to hunt down her killer. Vicki wonders if there was some compulsion the killer couldn’t help. Burke worries that there’s no way to stop Carolyn or Liz, and the weight it all has on Vicki. It is Vicki’s dark night of the soul. Later, Buzz returns Carolyn to Collinwood, upset that she’s canceled their plans. He wants to go, she wants to stay. She tells him that she’ll see him tomorrow; he implies that he might move on. Chump. Carolyn saw Joe out almost in a daze. It moved her to want to be alone. Seeing that Carolyn is full of sympathy, Vicki urges Liz to tell Carolyn the truth. Liz is frightened, and Vicki assures her that she will be her legal witness.
It’s one year, and where are we? It’s substantially different show than what began. The greatest mysteries in DARK SHADOWS concern whether or not -- and when -- people will take ownership of the past. Vicki, as a woman with no past, is an ideal observer. You know, like Spock. In that they both have dark hair and look good in blue. The bond between Alexandra Moltke and Joan Bennett deepens. It’s clear that the daughter has become the mother. After one year, it feels as if this story is really rounding itself out. Also appearing for the first time in Collinsport is Anthony George. With a varied career in action and adventure shows, the man born Octavio Gabriel George changed the tone of Burke at an ideal time. Psychologically healed of his thirst for revenge and in love with Vicki, the new Burke is fully believable, if very different from the serrated edge on Mitch Ryan. That is a thankless act to follow, but George put on his boots, grabbed his script, and did what actors do: their job. And with able dependability.
June 13, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 517
Cassandra, consumed by flames, summons her full forces to extinguish them. She vows vengeance on both Trask and Barnabas. She returns home to hear Vicki on the phone with Joe, reporting that Sam’s had an accident and that she should check on Joe. Joe goes to the hospital, first, regretful that his absence allowed Sam to be attacked by Adam. But it was an accident. Adam intended no harm. Cassandra enters also. She had to see if there was anything she could do. She offers to watch Sam so that Maggie can get a short coffee break and clear her mind. Alone with Sam, Cassandra puts a powder into some water that she gives to Sam. Sam needs to tell Maggie something… Adam is his friend. It wasn’t Adam’s fault. He collapses before he can say how Barnabas knows Adam. Now, the only important thing is that he have the dream. Indeed, he does, with Vicki as his beckoner. Behind his door, he sees Maggie in mourning clothes, leaning over his casket. He awakens, screaming that he’s not dead. Maggie runs in to hear of him speak of the dream. He must tell Vicki! At Collinwood, Joe summons Vicki to the hospital, and she goes with him. From Sam’s room, Maggie calls Stokes and reports on the dream, and that Vicki is on her way. Stokes is on his way to help. Sam is convinced he’ll die and must tell Vicki before he does. Cassandra exacerbates this from afar, casting her will to Sam, because Vicki will carry it to Barnabas. Vicki arrives before Stokes and asks for Sam to tell her the dream.
A ticked-off Angelique moves the plot along faster than any other force on the show. She has gone from wanting to punish Barnabas to seeking complete eradication. This won’t be pretty. Sam has the dream curse, and David Ford really goes the limit in expressing terror. What I can’t figure out if he’s blind in the dream. It doesn’t matter. Those shades stay on. The story is that Ford insisted that he wear the glasses so that he could read the teleprompter with abandon.
June 13, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 780
Having escaped from the secret room, Carl Collins races to others. Trask interrupts an intensely melancholy Quentin, listening to his song. He has visited to see Judith, but she’s not available. With a meeting at dusk, Quentin leaves. Later, Carl enters and finds Trask waiting and asks for Quentin or Judith, neither of whom are available. Carl slips into fear and paranoia as dusk approaches. He outs Barnabas as a vampire, and Trask accepts his invitation to go see. Trask reassures Carl that he will be safe, for he wears the cross. Barnabas rises to find that Carl has escaped, but it’s Quentin who comes through the open door. Just as Barnabas did for Quentin, Quentin tells Barnabas Quentin understands Barnabas’ mission. Now, Carl is on the loose. Quentin goes to Collinwood at Barnabas’ command; he needs to stop Carl from talking. Barnabas has other business. In the cemetery, Trask and Carl approach the mausoleum. Inside, the door is closed until Carl triggers it. The room is totally empty. Carl tries to convince Trask that he is not crazy. It just gets worse and worse. Carl runs out and Trask states that he will drive the devils out of Carl’s mind. Carl returns to Collinwood to call the phone operator. Then, all Hell breaks loose. A bat. Wind. Doors slamming. Blackouts. Barnabas’ thundering voice.It semands that he tell him who knows. Carl refuses to speak. Barnabas appears and chokes Carl, demanding the truth. He senses someone approaching the doors of the Drawing Room. He hides as Quentin enters. Quentin is shocked that Barnabas killed Carl only on a suspicion. A knock at the door… it’s Trask. Quentin answers the door, giving Barnabas time to hide the body. He is successful… until an arm pops out from behind the curtain behind Trask, comically. This is followed by his entire body. Quentin feigns panic. At the Old House, Trask visits. He claims to know the truth! Barnabas shrinks from the cross. Barnabas admits to killing Carl, because there is no proof. The only evidence that will convince Trask that Barnabas is innocent is if they stay awake through dawn. Somewhere, a cock crows.
Three things stand out to me about this episode:
1. I completely believe the fealty pledged by Quentin to Barnabas. 2. It’s fascinating to see Barnabas’ rage when it’s directed at the right person. That’s a button that Frid is loathe to press, and he’s wise to keep its use rare. 3. The wonderful farce of Carl’s body flopping out from the curtain in front of a powerless Quentin. These writers knew how to have a good time. They were just droll about it.