Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JUNE 9


June 9, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 259

Liz receives a call that Carolyn, driving drunk to Buzz, almost hit a woman. There was a crash, and the almost-victim saved her. Carolyn is now in the klink, and Liz is beside herself. On top of all of this, Carolyn was rude to the woman who saved her from the burning car. Instead of sending Roger, who has vast experience with car crashes, Vicki suggests that Liz leave the house for the first time in 18 years to pull Carolyn out of jail; the ultimate gesture. Liz, tortured, initially refuses. Reconsidering, she asks Vicki to drive her there. In a shot that is the DARK SHADOWS equivalent to the last one in THE SEARCHERS, Liz departs Collinwood to rescue an insolent Carolyn from a distressingly mustachioed Sheriff Patterson. She and the Sheriff bickered so much, she was glad to stay in a cell. When Liz enters, Patterson is stunned. Carolyn is equally amazed… transformed, in fact. But then Carolyn twists the gesture as indicative that Paul no longer means anything to her, and neither does she. Carolyn asks to go back to her cell, and Patterson refuses. They leave. Later, Jason says that it is proof that Carolyn is beyond reach. Liz again threatens to tell her the truth about Paul’s murder. Jason suggests that trying to reach Carolyn is self-torture… let her go. But why would she stop with Carolyn? And with Carolyn gone, nothing would stop Liz from confessing to the police, thus drawing in Jason. She’s desperate to scream the truth, but cannot. In her room that night, Liz is crying so loudly that Vicki goes to see what’s wrong. Why won’t Carolyn forgive her? Vicki says that Carolyn is cruel, not Liz. Liz eventually blurts out to Vicki that she killed Paul Stoddard!

Finally… an episode in The Story Arc That Forgot Barnabas where something happens! And Joan Bennett. The woman can act. Her style is not today’s. That’s today’s loss. Like Norma Desmond says, it’s the pictures that got small. It’s acting for scripts and emotional codes from another era. I’d say a better one. She is an elegant lightsaber to Scarlett Johannsen’s unsubtle blaster. Which makes me wonder what Marvel character I’d like to see Joan Bennett play. You know, a young Joan Bennett. It’s too bad Galactus is a guy. Because she could pull it off. My main takeaway from this episode is that I want to see Joan Bennett as Galactus. Louis Edmonds as the Silver Surfer. David Selby as Reed Richards. John Karlen as Johnny Storm. Nancy Barrett as Sue. The Caretaker as Willie Lumpkin. You have to pull in Dan Curtis himself as Ben Grimm. Jonathan Frid as Doom. Kathryn Leigh Scott as Alicia Masters because Marie Wallace would be Medusa. And a guest appearance by Humbert Allen Astredo as Doctor Strange. Don Briscoe as Bruce Banner. Chris Pennock as Hawkeye. What about Thayer David? Shave that man’s head and call him Professor Xavier! Or Kingpin. Or the Watcher. Give the other one to Dana Elcar. Which makes Michael Stroka the John Romita Peter Parker. And don’t let Selby’s superchops fool you -- James Storm IS Wolverine! Which brings me to Dennis Patrick as Nick Fury. Back in Hell’s Kitchen, Mitch Ryan is Matt Murdock while Joel Crothers is Tony Stark. And just because I love them both, to hell with it, I want Dazzler and I want Lara Parker to play her!

Toto, I don't think we're in Collinsport anymore.
Joan is really tops in this one. With nearly a year as Liz Stoddard under her, she makes the walk out of Collinwood about twelve feet and eighteen years long. It’s a symbolic shot ... perhaps the most psychologically pertinent of the entire show. She and Moltke have developed a rapport commensurate with the women they play, and an episode like this is their reward for a year of hard work. I really forget it’s acting. No one’s going to mistake me for Anita Sarkeesian any time soon. (I’m more of a Karen Straughan man, myself.) I could go my whole life and passionately not give a rat’s caboose about the Bechdel Test. I shouldn’t have mentioned it, because you’ll probably look it up and think it’s a good idea. Crap. Oh, well. Chalk one up for Social Justice. Anyway, my point is that there are two very powerful, very feminine moments of superb acting and writing for women on DARK SHADOWS, which is, eventually, a very (complexly) masculine show. This is one of them. The next one is a bit of a way’s off in 1897.

June 9, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 511

Thanks to the seance, Reverend Trask is in da (Old) House! And this time, he knows the actual identity of the witch. The wall concealing his skeleton shatters. Tony senses the presence of Trask in the room. Although Ben hated calling him Reverend, Stokes has no reservations, calling for him. He then calls for Tony, who momentarily seemed in a daze. Julia thinks his spirit may have connected with him. He has no memory of being Trask’s medium. His spirit may be within Tony, who storms out in skepticism. They persuade him to stay. Stokes informs the empty air that Cassandra is Angelique. But before he can summon Trask fully, Adam’s tape from Lang begins playing, drawing Stokes near the stairs. It’s David in the Old House sitting room, playing with the tape recorder. David is simply playing with the recorder as Julia said he could. Stokes senses energies in the ether, and Julia sends him away. Before the lad leaves, Stokes and Julia ask him to not tell Cassandra that Stokes lives. But can they count on him? Stokes’ curiosity drew him upstairs, despite the danger. He wants to know why Julia said, “Adam,” when she heard the music. Stokes has seen Adam and describes him precisely. He says they met last night after the dream, and after the unsurvivable leap from Widow’s Hill. Julia is rescued from the rhetorical corner by Tony, who calls them down to show that the skeleton is missing. Stokes again implores the spirit of Trask to manifest himself. After Tony and Julia leave, Stokes hears a sigh, who tells Trask to take his revenge and rest in peace. With the confidence of a pimp, Stokes strides away. Barnabas later arrives home to noise in the basement. He is horrified that Trask’s wall is disturbed and that Trask is waiting for him. Barnabas tries to play off Trask’s execution on his ancestor, but why would Barnabas know his name. Trask lays a hand on Barnabas, stunning him. Julia enters upstairs, not hearing that Trask is below, walling Barnabas up in the same place he was punished in 1795.

What a moral inversion! Trask was one of the series’ great villains, but only because he was misled. So is it a moral inversion or redirection? But how good can we feel when his first act is to attempt to murder Barnabas. But, from almost every other perspective, it’s fair play. With weeks, months, and years to spin stories and repeat motifs, DARK SHADOWS has the power to play these palindromes out. No other show in the genre had so many opportunities on such a vast surface. Dan Curtis was a helluva painter. He made Michelangelo look like a chump and the Sistine Chapel the size of a matchbook cover, kiddo.

June 9, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 776

1897. Judith, under hypnotic control, brandishes a gun at Rachel. Outside, Tim Shaw hears shots. He runs in to find Rachel mortally wounded and Judith standing by with the pistol. Judith says she had no choice. Later, Edward pleads to Trask that he was powerless to stop such a fast moving creature of darkness. The phone rings. It’s the sheriff, who has found nothing in the woods. Edward reports that Barnabas feels the monster is Dirk. But Trask mistrusts Barnabas. Edward persuades him to table the discussion as Judith enters, pointing the gun at Edward. He takes it from her, finding three shots fired. Judith answers nothing, except to say that, “It had to be done. I did what he told me to do.” Trask insists that she is possessed, and must go to bed. Alone, Trask prays for help. In the Old House, Tim bursts in with a dying Rachel, begging for Barnabas. He wants to go for a doctor, but Rachel catches him in a reverie about them singing sea shanties as children. Tim insists that she’s dying and he must leave. Later, Judith hears Dirk’s voice, asking her to come to him. She rises and walks out, past a flabbergasted Edward. He follows. Meanwhile, Rachel is still dying at Tim’s side. She says that her father is coming soon to take her and then passes away. Edward follows Judith to the cellar, where he opens Dirk’s coffin. Edward finds a stone to use as a hammer and searches for a stake as night falls. Having found one, he destroys Dirk.

Well, a Kathryn Leigh Scott character dies. That sucks. But it clears the way for Lady Kitty Hampshire, and that’s the most fun it looks like she had on the show. On the upside, Dirk is dead and we finally get EDWARD COLLINS: VAMPIRE HUNTER, which is the uncorking of a delightful brandy bottle of whoopass. Two death scenes. One touching. One kinda goofy. One by Kathryn Leigh Scott. One not. You can do the math as to the goofy one. If the answer is “Kathryn Leigh Scott,” go back and try again. Of course, how do you die as a vampire with dignity? Not always easy. Stanislavski never covered that, so I give it a pass.

June 9, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1037

Bruno has vital blackmail material for “Alexis,” and is surprised to be greeted by Maggie. On the heels of that, Quentin is no longer a cold, bullying blowhard toward Maggie. Upstairs, Bruno wants payment from “Alexis,” and she agrees to the $5000 fee. She can get the money in two hours, and he’ll return for it then. He leaves and she fondles a diamond necklace that would have shamed Liberace. Alone with Quentin, Maggie wonders if Cyrus were responsible for the odd actions. Quentin says that it was Yaeger, but Yaeger was a part of Cyrus. Angelique eavesdrops, reveling in the revelations to come. She brings Bruno the money and reads the secret journal of Cyrus Longworth, discovering her murderer. Cyrus claimed that it was Quentin! In the autopsy, he found that she had been killed by a hatpin -- a fact he hid. The seance drove QUentin temporarily insane with jealousy, and Cyrus forgave him. Angelique wants to stop him, and Bruno claims he was just jealous of him. She wants to exact revenge, but Bruno only gives her a few days. He has a “photostatic copy” of the page. When he leaves, she holds a mysterious pendant, saying that Bruno will be involved with her revenge… very soon. Downstairs, “Alexis” confers with Quentin and Maggie. Maggie excuses herself from the strain, and “Alexis” kindly offers to comfort Maggie. She brings the new wife tea, stealing a medallion in the process. At the Drawing Room fireplace, Angelique is dangling the medallion and telling Maggie she feels her will from across the mansion. Maggie is commanded to walk to the mysterious pendant. Downstairs with Quentin, “Alexis” feigns choking, screaming at Quentin to stop the witch. He races to Maggie’s room to find her fondling the pendant. Quentin accuses Maggie of witchcraft!

With all of this talk of “Cyrus,” I ask... once Miley Cyrus started acting nutty, should she have called herself “Joan Yaeger”? Who cares? I think she’s a honey. Both KLS and Lara Parker deserve acting props in this episode. Scott plays her trademark aptitude for subtly showing a working mind making journeys of discoveries, while Parker makes deadly decisions with unflinching commitment. Both powerhouses anchor the show. 

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