By PATRICK McCRAY
July 21, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 7
Sam staggers home, confused of the time. Roger is waiting for him, and Sam insists on a drink. Roger insists that Burke will attack him. Sam won’t help Burke, if that’s what Roger wants to know. At the Inn, Burke sits at Maggie’s counter for coffee, and she reintroduces herself. He used to model for Sam, ten years ago. It’s a warm reunion. Vicki enters to make a phone call. She’s distant from Burke, and he’s curious about why they asked for Victoria to work at Collinwood. At Sam’s, Roger is incensed that he would visit her at Collinwood. Making a call, Roger finds that she’s in town, and he rushes to get to her before Burke does. Too bad. Burke is already having coffee with her. He charms and reassures her, fishing for whether or not she’d heard anything bad about him. He jokingly exaggerates his sins to make himself look harmless. Now, why did she leave the big city for Collinsport? A job, she says. It’s tutoring David for good pay. She tries to leave, but he charms her into staying with seductive and charming talk of clam chowder. Burke asks what Roger might have said of her. In the lobby, Roger finds that Vicki is having coffee with Burke. Shaken, he leaves. Burke insists that she must feel as if the house is haunted. Burke finds from Maggie that Sam has taken to drink. At Sam’s, the artist is drinking heavily. Burke enters to catch up. Sam is mordant, noting his negative changes. Burke leaves, unable to pull conversation out of Sam. At the Inn, Vicki waits on a call that finally comes. She’s trying to reach the Hammond Foundling Home. She needs Ms. Hopewell… it’s very important.
It’s Day 7 of the pre-Barnabas world of 1966. Supplies are running low. Historical records indicate that I have only 204 days left, give or take, until Captain Curtis returns. I’ve got to make the best of it. Just have to keep saying that to myself. All kidding aside, there are two major stars of this episode: Burke’s charm and Sam’s poetic morbidity. Both are examples of how well-written the show was, especially when dialogue was the only special effect. I’m being way too hard on it, actually. Art Wallace writes tight, tense scenes that never outstay their welcome and maintain suspense and mystery with admirable discipline. In my contention that DS must be looked at as one-big-novel-even-though-it-wasn’t-constructed-nor-conceived-as-such, we get a marvelous irony of Maggie stating that she would never work at Collinwood. Not only is this ultimately untrue, it has a double-irony. She was right all along to stay away; Collinwood will put her in the sites of Roxanne Drew, and this will eventually lead to her madness. Maggie Evans is only resilient up to a certain point, just like Quentin. Ultimately, both are the collateral damage of Collinwood. Maggie will be a victim of her trust in people. Quentin will be a victim of his trust in the supernatural and his own braggadocio. Quentin’s excesses are shared somewhat by Angelique. The point of 1840 is her getting past them. I wish I had something equally equivalent and palindromic for Barnabas. I’m workin’ on it. Oh, this episode also marks the first time Bob Lloyd would tell us that it’s been a Dan Curtis production. Thanks, Bob!
July 21, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 269
Liz again stands on Widow’s Hill as Vicki looks for her at the house, unsuccessfully. On the cliffs, Liz hears the widows call her name to her. Again, Liz tries to jump, but is stopped by Vicki, who has found her. Liz insists that she be left alone, but Vicki struggles with her to take her back. Liz says she can’t go back. There’s nothing left for her. Vicki says there must be another way… all they need is time. But the wedding is tomorrow, and Liz has betrayed everyone. Vicki counters that she has shown strength for eighteen years. Vicki fights for hope. If she dies now, Jason gets off the hook, and Carolyn would know she was responsible. It would destroy her. Vicki points out that, “Where there is life, there is always hope.” Liz embraces her and returns to Collinwood. Vicki agrees that the family not be told, and says that she needs to erase Liz’s death date in the family Bible. Jason enters and tries to excuse Vicki, but Liz insists she stay. Jason presents her with the wedding ring for her to try on. She refuses. Liz feels she has the strength to encounter Jason alone, and assures Vicki that it’s alright to leave. Alone with Jason, she tells Jason she’ll wear it at the wedding, but it will never be a real marriage. At the Blue Whale, Burke meets Vicki after getting of the phone with a report on Jason. From Hong Kong to Marseilles, he’s been a swindler, thief, and extortionist, and he always skips out before the law can close in. If he gives the information to Liz, she’ll call it off. After pondering it, Vicki agrees that it’s worth a chance. At Collinwood, Burke shares his proof of Jason’s background. Liz resists, and Jason arrives on the scene. Burke openly confronts Jason, but Liz tells him he was unsuccessful in dissuading her. Burke questions Jason’s character, giving Jason his rap sheet. Jason asks Liz if it bothers her, and she says no. In victory, Jason hands it back to him and invites him to the wedding.
At this point, Mitch Ryan’s Burke would have slugged the SOB. However, compared to what Anthony George’s Burke has accomplished toward helping Liz, it’s almost as if Ryan’s wasn’t aware that Jason existed at all. DARK SHADOWS has that odd habit of nothing happening until you blink, and then you realize that everything has been happening all along. DARK SHADOWS is like the finest works of Chekhov, but interesting. The fall must be coming because Jason is at the height of his powers. Presented with his own rap sheet by the one (hu)man in Collinsport who can Do Something About It, Jason transcends its danger, laughing it off. Laugh while you can, monkey boy!
July 21, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 527
I have to hand it to Stokes. We forget that he gets brought into the deeper recesses of the DARK SHADOWS universe by finding out about Barnabas and Julia’s involvement with something nefarious, and he still becomes their staunchest ally. Talk about a spider sense! Perhaps he chooses his friends by their enemies. After all, his next move finds him meeting Nicholas Blair in the heart of Collinwood, and the Professor knows exactly what that means. What does he do? T. Eliot Stokes stares down the devil like the stone-cold badass he is and pretty much outs him in front of Vicki. He essentially says, “Hey, you know that portrait that’s driven everyone crazy? The one that looks like Roger’s new wife? The woman we’re glad is gone? You know, the one who looks like you-know-who-in-a-black-wig? Well, this is the guy who was involved with it when I first saw it! What a coincidence!”
Big. As. Churchbells.
Pass the cheese and sherry.