Friday, July 29, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 28


July 28, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 34

Vicki meets with Burke to find out what his detective found out about her past. Burke presses for dinner at the Blue Whale and the detective report in his hotel room. Vicki wants to skip to the hotel room. (Wowza!) At Collinwood, Joe comes to, not knowing how he got there. Ninety minutes have passed, but he’s sobering up. Carolyn reveals that he made an enemy in her, but she’ll get him coffee, anyway. He has no memory, and blames what he said on the hooch. He’s incredibly sorry. He reveals that he was emotionally shattered over the loss of the boat. He’s wildly apologetic. In Burke’s room, he reveals that he was curious about Vicki. She wants answers more than he does. Back in the drawing room, Carolyn is helping Joe. She’s worried about him, but suggests he apologize to Burke. She reveals that Burke had nothing to do with the accident, but his real anger is at Burke making a pass at her. They kiss and put it in the past, but he still won’t apologize to Burke… that man wants to hurt the family. Elsewhere, Vicki sees that Burke’s report tells her nothing new. No one at the foundling home had ever heard of Collinwood. Burke offers to keep helping. His feelings for Vicki are separate from the Collins clan. She fills him in about the letter left with her when she was an infant, as well as the monthly checks for $50 until she turned 16. Burke suggests that thing will get worse at Collinwood. If she won’t leave, he’ll have to protect her. As she goes to the washroom, Joe arrives to pay off the bar bill Burke covered. Vicki sees Joe pay him and leave. Vicki leaves before dinner, but not before accepting a rain check.

Sometimes an episode exists to tell us what happened in the last episode.  This is that episode. I think the most remarkable moment is when Vicki almost-more-than implies that she’s ready to sleep with Burke to get the information she’s after. Trying to get a fix on 1966 standards and practices is a tough endeavor. Beyond that, though, it’s even tougher to get a read on Vicki. She’s a city girl, no matter how little she claims to understand. I think Vicki sees an exchange coming, and Burke’s comportment is a wonderful rebuttal to that assumption. So, chalk one up for the good guys.

(Episode 24 airs on this date.)

July 28, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 812

Quentin is awakened by Edward, under a hex and believing himself a criminal, strangling him. Trask and Nora interrupt the strangulation. Trask takes Edward away so that Quentin and Nora can speak. Trask chastises Edward as if he were a servant and sends him to the tower room. Quentin assures Nora that he’s going to break the spell on Edward. Quentin is resolved to find Tim Shaw and the hand. In a fine hotel room, a dandified Tim Shaw looks at the hand under lock and key. A woman comes to his room... one who cites his many secrets. The woman is Amanda Harris, who never wishes to speak of the past. He has a special mission for her, and he also wants her to hide the hand. Meanwhile, he plans to meet Trask with a vengeance. Amanda goes to Trask and explains that her circumstances are dire, soiled dove that she is. She claims to be the victim of a strong, controlling, willful man, almost a disciple of the devil! She can’t keep running. Quentin enters and is introduced to her. She says that she is at the Collinsport in. Trask will be with her tomorrow. Trask reveals nothing about the departing Amanda and goes upstairs. Back in Tim’s room, Amanda returns in victory to Tim, but chafes at his insistence that she keep a low profile. Quentin, meanwhile, arrives at the Inn having followed Amanda. Still, he sees her leaving with Tim. While they are out, he ransacks Tim’s room. The couple returns, with Amanda none too pleased with how boring Collinsport is. Quentin hides as Tim finds his room a shambles. She returns with the box containing the hand. Tim takes her locket and leaves with the hand. Tim goes to visit Nora with the box containing the hand. He gives her the locket and asks her to hide the box. After he leaves, she begins unwrapping the box.

Tim Shaw. He must ascend in fortunes so that his tragedy can, well, be tragic. Or something. You get what I mean. Not only is he looking fine, in the best outfit 1897 has to offer (don’t tell Aristede), but he’s dating Amanda Harris, who is, well, kind of a jerk. But he’s no paragon, either, and there’s the painful irony that he leaves the hand with Nora, who immediately starts to unwrap it. The quest for power is a, well, a euphemism for Amanda Harris that rhymes with “itch.” What I really like in this episode is how firmly Quentin mounts the white stallion to calm Nora’s fears about her cra-cra father. It shows an outstanding and credible evolution of Quentin, and the influence of Barnabas is clear. Also, David Selby’s sideburns are completely natural by now, and this leads to a DARK SHADOWS corollary to the DEEP SPACE NINE/“Bald Sisko Rule.” In DEEP SPACE NINE (a show that is Mycroft Holmes to BABYLON 5’s Inspector Clouseau -- and I say that with the simultaneous request that you keep Jerry Doyle in your thoughts, because I just found out he died, and he was a nice man), you can tell a good episode from an iffy one by whether or not Avery Brooks is bald. If he’s bald, it’s a good episode. With Quentin, if he has real sideburns, he’s developed a moral compass. Important, also… welcome Donna McKechnie, on her way to making a sensation in A CHORUS LINE. Along the way, however, she would appear in 1970’s COMPANY, a musical that would redefine the medium of American musical theatre the way in which BIRTH OF A NATION redefined narrative film. But without the Klansmen. If you have any interest in theatre or art or music in the twentieth century, put COMPANY alongside PET SOUNDS and DANZIG II: LUCIFUGE and FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY as an absolutely essential work that will give you nothing but pleasure and insight into being human. Oh, and probably something by Rachmaninov and Gershwin. But Sondheim? It doesn’t get any better.

(Episode 806 airs on this date.)

July 28, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1071

1995. Gerard’s spell on Julia broken, she and Barnabas seek a means of escape from 1995. Finding a door, they arrive in 1970, where Hallie Stokes demands to know who they are. She looks like the girl in the playroom, but is not the same. They realize they’ve traveled through time on the stairs. She reveals that she is Stokes’ niece, living at Collinwood since the death of her parents. In the drawing room, Quentin tells Liz that a strange woman was in the flaming Parallel Time room. At the moment they doubt the survival of their friends, Julia and Barnabas reenter and explain what had happened. They also tell of the trip to 1995, where they explain the impending catastrophe. They tell of the six events in Carolyn’s note. Quentin tries to dismiss it, but Barnabas is adamant. Hallie listens in on the conversation. Later, Barnabas and Julia pour over family histories. In the books, Barnabas finds that a Daphne Harridge was a governess at Collinwood in 1840. They go to the cemetery to find out the year of her death. Later that night, Hallie visits Quentin with eerie premonitions about Barnabas and Julia, wondering if they are good people. Quentin is astounded that she found them in the west wing. She has a feeling of impending doom, and he assures her that they are fine people. As for her trip to the west wing? An uncontrollable urge. In the cemetery, Barnabas and Julia find that Daphne died at the age of 23, and not of natural causes. They see that Gerard is buried next to her. Later, Barnabas is summoned to Quentin’s room. Both have questions for the other. Quentin wants to know how Barnabas arrived via the west wing rather than the east wing containing the PT room. Barnabas has no idea how or why. Quentin is stunned to hear of a playroom in the west wing. Neither man know of such a thing. But someone appearing to be the ghost of Hallie led them there in 1995. The ghost led them to a door with a staircase. Beyond the other door at the end? The west wing, 1970. Barnabas goes off to show Quentin the playroom. In the drawing room, Julia questions a nervous Hallie about odd events or a “Rose Cottage.” Hallie says no and goes to bed. In the west wing, the door that Barnabas takes Quentin to is a linen closet. And on the other side of the wall? The outside. But the camera takes us to a playroom, nonetheless.

And so what I refer to as Ragnarok truly begins. What a series. Now, everyone is in on the impending doom, making the stakes as high as they’ve ever been on DARK SHADOWS. It’s interesting to see Quentin so galvanized into being “on the team,” even if he can’t corroborate Barnabas’ findings. When I was a kid, it was impossible to gather much information on DARK SHADOWS. The show was shown in tiny chunks of syndication, if at all. No home video. No YouTube. No internet to ask. People hoarded Marilyn Ross novels, so you were SOL, there. So, I always wondered who the hell Quentin was. People had to reach back to memory, only, and that was hazy. I’m especially talking about the days before the invaluable MY SCRAPBOOK MEMORIES OF DARK SHADOWS by Kathryn Leigh Scott. So, yeah, one of the coolest-designed characters in all of hair, makeup, and costume history, but was he a good guy?  A bad guy? Did he and Barnabas team up and fight crime? The answer I’d get, “Um, sort of, I think, maybe, it depends.” Which was actually pretty accurate. It’s in an episode like this that I see them as the action team of occult investigation that I always dreamed of. If it’s not too out of place, I’m really grateful to DARK SHADOWS. Wallace is a journalist. He has to be “fair,” “accurate,” and “objective.” I have no idea what those words mean. I’m just his goofy pal. And as such, I have the leeway to say that I just love this show to a gobsmackedly nutty extent. Episodes like this are reasons why. Equal parts peril and heroism with the best fighting the worst under circumstances they can’t possibly comprehend. But does that stop them? Hell no. So say we all.

(Episode 1067 airs on this date.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 27


July 27, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 33

Carolyn finds her mother in darkness, and is filled in on David’s patricidal antics, predicting the problems will never end. They should leave the matters to be within the family. Carolyn thinks Burke is owed an apology, now seeing David a bit more like Roger does. Meanwhile, Joe drinks it up too much and stews in class envy when Burke joins him. Joe unloads on Burke and warns him away from Carolyn. Burke calms him down and finds out the Joe’s business partner with whom he was buying a boat is pulling out to have a baby. Burke reiterates his financial offer and says that marriage isn’t always the way. At the same time, Liz is eager for Carolyn to get married and flee Collinwood. Meanwhile, she shocks her daughter by saying that David will stay at Collinwood to heal. Upstairs, Carolyn finds Vicki investigating her past and wishes she could do the same. Vicki asks if she can borrow her car, and she says of course. Her worst fear for Burke is dragging him into the family. At the bar, Joe laments something similar. Joe tries to drink more, and Burke tries to cut him off. Joe leaves, awash in self-recrimination. As Vicki readies to leave Collinsport, a drunken Joe enters, asking to see Carolyn. She comes downstairs, and Joe gathers everyone in the drawing room. Joe excoriates Liz for warping Carolyn, claiming she’s turned her daughter into a spinster. Carolyn, he says, is too scared to marry Joe. He blames Liz and staggers to the couch, warning Vicki that Collinwood’s a prison. But Joe is trapped by his love. He then passes out. Carolyn tries to reassure Liz that nothing he said was true. Meanwhile at the Blue Whale, Vicki meets Burke.

Just when I want to sit here on my Tempur-Pedic futon throne and pontificate about how dull the pre-Barnabas storyline was, here comes an episode to kick me in my self-satisfied caboose. Each scene crackles with the truths no one had been brave enough to say. At the core? Yes, Joan Bennett and Nancy Barrett are gold standards in acting, but Joel Crothers is an absolute rocket.

Until he played Nathan Forbes, Crothers languished thanklessly as a sane, normative character. It’s thanks to the slow-burning soap format that he finally gets his turn. Drunk men tell no lies, and never has this been truer on DARK SHADOWS. Playing drunk is so often an excuse for bad actors to exaggerate, generalize, and let overblown gestures and slurred deliveries do the work. Not so with Crothers. This is one of the most intelligent actors I’ve seen, and he uses the license of Joe’s drunkenness to express what the show has needed to say about the denizens of Collinwood since the first frame. The precision of his choices is microsurgical, but it’s far from a cold and calculating reading. He fuses that marvelously insightful text work with a heartfelt connection to his fellow actors. I have no choice but to love him as an actor as well as the character he unforgettably portrays. Moral centers are such pains in the neck. Not in this case. Crothers and Joe are voices from the heart. Joel Crothers adamantly establishes that -- despite future window-dressing of the supernatural -- this show was, is, and will always be about decent, fundamental humanity. It’s theatre’s job to remind us of those things. That’s what acting is all about, and there’s no finer ambassador to the art than Joel Crothers.

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for Harvey Keitel in this one. I’m telling you, that kid has a future.

(Episode 23 airs on this date.)

July 27, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1072

Back in present time, Quentin shows Barnabas that the playroom is but a linen closet. But when they leave, the playroom reappears. Barnabas feels that Daphne’s ghost would help him. Downstairs, he hears Carolyn crying, and ponders her mourning for Jeb. She asks about Jeb’s PT double, Cyrus. He changes the subject to Rose Cottage and the phrase “the night of the sun and the moon.” That night, Hallie visits David with a sense of impending dread. She was eavesdropping on Barnabas explaining impending disaster. She feels watched, and on cue, Barnabas enters. Is she afraid of him?  No, she says, just different. Alone with David, he again asks of Rose Cottage and gets no answer. Downstairs, Stokes arrives. Barnabas explains his PT adventure to Stokes as we transition upstairs. Carolyn, hearing ghost noises, is anxious to send the kids to bed. Hallie hears the sounds, David says it’s in their imaginations, and the sounds stop. Downstairs, Stokes asks about the ghosts of 1995. There, Quentin denied that the ghost was David. Barnabas asks Stokes to cancel his trip to Europe… that’s where he’ll be when disaster strikes]. But Stokes has no such plans. His niece? High strung. Sensitive to the supernatural. But taking her away would alarm Liz. Eliot and Barnabas must work closely on this. Carolyn comes downstairs and reports having felt watched. That night, David dreams of the carousel, now in the foyer. Hallie appears silently, in 1800’s garb. She dances and ignores David until she vanishes. David awakens after discovering the carousel is missing. Meanwhile, Hallie finds the dress from David’s dream on her bed.

I take your hand.

“It’s okay.  Statistically, and by that, I mean statistics that I made up from guesses, this may be your least favorite part of the show.  I understand that you feel that way, and I believe that you believe that, wholeheartedly. We’re going to try an exercise. Just a game. Imagine that you have a pair of glasses that let you see this as one of the best parts of the show. And you can take those glasses off at any time. But for now, let’s put them on.

“We’ve heard the allegro. Now it’s time for the sonata. It builds like a symphony. With the glasses on, tell me why this is such a marvelous part. I’ll take notes. Okay, fast pace. Treats you with intelligence. Sense of impending doom that Barnabas must fight. And it’s cyclical? In what way? Oh… the show repeats storylines, but adding something newer and richer each time. And the new ghosts? Conflicted and malevolent?

“Okay, take the glasses off. Not so hard now, was it? What do you mean I’m a condescending schmuck?”

Hey, whatever it takes.

(Episode 1066 airs on this date.)

When Lara Parker met Wink Martindale

Memphis Magazine has an interesting piece about Lara Parker as part of its "Ask Vance" feature. It's a Whatever Happened To? style series which touches on a lot of familiar highlights for DARK SHADOWS fans. Still, there are a few surprises (and some great photos) in the summary, including this little tidbit from the very beginning of Parker's career as an entertainer:
Well, she had begun appearing in several plays (in Memphis), mainly working with the old Front Street Theatre, and then in 1958, at the young age of 19, she was selected to be Wink Martindale’s lovely assistant on his hit TV show, Dance Party. 
Like Parker, Martindale was a native of Tennessee. Dance Party was broadcast out of WHBQ in Memphis, and featured one of Elvis Presley's first television interviews just two years earlier. (It's widely noted for being the first "recorded" interview with Elvis, whatever that means.)

You can read the entire story for yourself at Memphis Magazine.

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 26


July 26, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 32

Roger reveals to Liz that David tried to kill him and is stewing away under lock and key. Meanwhile, Carter calls Bill in for insight on the vehicular sabotage. Bill insists that the attempted killer was Burke and adds suspicious details about Burke’s private detective. Carter’s questions center on David. At Collinwood, Roger fumes over both Laura, David, and their individual betrayals of him. He reveals that Laura was Burke’s “girl” before she was with Roger, and David was born only eight months after the wedding. Roger reminds Liz that he and David have only been at Collinwood for two months. That means that Liz barely knows the boy. At the jail, Bill reveals that David and Roger had been fighting, but that doesn’t mean it would turn lethal. Carter cites David’s grabbing of the wrench, “ruining” the fingerprints. In truth, there are two sets of prints: David’s and Burke’s. Burke’s too smart to have killed Roger so openly. Also, David’s first set of prints are almost covered by Burke’s. It raises a helluva suspicion. In the drawing room, Liz reports that David is remaining tight lipped. Liz wants to go easy on him, asking if Roger has been the warmest father. She wants to help David, not turn him away. Nothing excuses David, but he’s been forced to live with Roger’s guilt. Even if David may not be Roger’s son, he’s (still kind of) a Collins and will be protected. Liz insists on it, and further insists that Roger leave him alone. Carter knocks on the door for Roger. Carter reports the issue of the wrench and David’s prints. Liz intercedes and says that the valve fell off by itself, and the handyman just mentioned it. The case seems closed. Roger predicts that Liz will regret it.

Farewell, Michael Currie and Sheriff Jonas Carter! This is his final appearance. Episode 54, where are you? That’s when a new justice comes to Collinsport. The kind that only Dana Elcar can bring in the role of Sheriff George Patterson. We don’t learn much about Patterson. For instance, we have no knowledge if he ever worked as a figure model for Sam, as did Burke. Or if he still works as a figure model for Sam. Or if he wears a yellow unitard in his spare time. Or if he practices Pilates. Or if he were the inspiration for the Jennifer Lopez character in HONEY, where she “teaches hip-hop at the Center.” Or if he wore that strange, skin-tight red outfit that Lopez donned in THE CELL. After all, they’re both crimefighters. Or if there is a connection between his disappearance in Collinsport and his eventual elevation of Chief of CONTROL as shown in the documentary, THE NUDE BOMB. What happened to Ed Platt’s Chief? Was Collinsport a recruiting station for CONTROL? Was Platt the predecessor of Sheriff Carter? Why was Carter skipped over for an executive position at CONTROL? Michael Currie, you may be a fine actor, but you leave more mysteries than answers.

(Episode 22 airs on this date.)

July 26, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 555

Nicholas quickly convinces Adam to reveal that Vicki is bound and gagged in his room. Nicholas sees this as clever inducement for Barnabas. Adam admits to lying about it to Carolyn, and he hates lying. Nicholas, of course, champions lying. They will soon move her to the safety of Nicholas’ home. In the meantime, the demon supplies Adam with drugs to keep her unconscious. Later, Nicholas lies to Carolyn and tells her Adam is innocent. Carolyn, however, reports that Barnabas was visited by Adam, who admitted to the kidnapping. Why? Barnabas didn’t say. Nicolas suggests that it was a ploy by Barnabas to discern Adam’s location so that he might call the authorities on the promethean. Jeff enters, terrified. He reports that the vampire victim was Tom Jennings, a kind man, barely alive. He was well-liked, making the attack all the more frightening. The sheriff is outside, and Carolyn volunteers to help in the search. Alone with Jeff, Nicholas reports seeing a panicked Barnabas running away from something in the woods. This is congruent with the odd behavior that Jeff saw from him in the woods. In Adam’s room, the promethean worries about Vicki’s silent slumber. Carolyn enters early with his meal, reporting that the search for Vicki has kept her up all night. Adam reassures her that she will be all right. After she leaves, Adam rouses a dazed Vicki. He unties her and tries to give her water, assuring her that he will not harm her. He asks if she loves Jeff and not Barnabas. She asks for his motives and he is evasive, slipping the sleeping draught into her drink. She tries to escape, but he catches her and threatens to kill her. He forces her to drink the drugged beverage. Adam attempts to be gentle once she is seated. Vicki says that Carolyn spoke of his gentility and asks for his pity. She then passes out. Nicholas arrives to take her. Adam insists that she not be harmed or go without her. Nicholas cites the consequences, such as Carolyn concluding that he is involved with her kidnapping. The demon then instructs him to wait for several hours and then bring her to the woods near the Old House. Why? Because Barnabas will begin the experiment. Soon, Vicki awakens in her new, locked room at Chez Nicholas. All she knows of her location is the sound of the ocean. Elsewhere in the house, Nicholas opens Angelique’s coffin where she sleeps as a vampire.

Normally, morality plays about lying involve children and adults. But with Adam, you get a very articulate adult, and he provides much more of a force of physicality and conscience against which Nicholas clashes. It’s so tiring to see the devil once again treated as the Prince of Lies, but in this case, the DARK SHADOWS writers present Nicholas’ position as a philosophically valid slice of realpolitik. Adam wrestles with very real issues, and I find myself identifying with him on his journey. Kudos to both Humbert Astredo and Robert Rodan for taking what should be an obvious dilemma and breathing real dimension and unpredictability into it. Poor Adam, caught in such a web of lies. We can see that it pains him, and yet Nicholas is so marvelously sincere that it’s hard to imagine the lug responding any other way.

(Episode 545 airs on this date.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

David Liebe Hart might have grown up in Collinsport

There's an interview over at City Pages with longtime Tim and Eric contributor David Liebe Hart that touches on my household's two most urgent obsessions: Pokemon Go and DARK SHADOWS. To nobody's surprise, Hart's childhood experience sounds more than a little like an episode of a gothic soap. Here's what he has to say:
On the last tour, Jonah (Mociun) bought me a Dark Shadows comic book since I’m a big fan of Dark Shadows. I enjoyed reading that very much. Growing up, my family had lots of antiques, just like they did in Dark Shadows. That was my white side of the family, who are related to President Grant. Then my sister got tied up with the wrong guy, and swindled her out of the mortgage money I sent so we lost those antiques. 
You can read the full interview with Hart here.

H/T to Will McKinley. Follow him on Twitter!

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 25


July 25, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 31

As Roger asks Burke where he got the valve, he also has to stop David from escaping the drawing room. Burke explains that he found the valve on the road where the accident occurred, and that David helped him find it. Burke takes David outside, and Vicki confirms that it’s the valve she found in David’s room. Outside, Burke explains that he lied because he likes David, but his father could have been killed. David proclaims his innocence, but Burke doubts him. Burke saw him with the valve in his hotel room. David apologizes for trying to frame Burke, and Burke explains that he knows what it’s like to be trapped. Burke works out of David that he removed the valve to avoid being sent away by Roger. As Roger ponders this, he receives a call revealing that David had been with Burke far earlier that day. Later, David brings Burke a photo of himself with his mother, who is in the hospital. David cites Roger’s cruelty as his motive for sabotaging the car. He wants his mother back and Victoria gone. Victoria found the valve, and he’ll get even with her for it. Burke is summoned by Roger, and is accused of colluding with the boy. Burke says that he hid the truth to sidestep Roger’s temper. And maybe the boy was just curious to see the monster and realized that Burke wasn’t such a bad guy. Burke cites the source of Roger’s anger -- that Burke is not the guilty party. Upstairs, Roger and David meet. Meanwhile, Burke assures Vicki that Roger won’t hurt David. It’s Vicki who should be frightened of David’s grudge. She should go home, and Burke only tells her because he likes her. But the mystery of her past keeps her in town. Burke will show her his detective’s report if she’ll have dinner. In Vicki’s room, Roger violently threatens to send David away. The boy runs to Burke, but he’s powerless to help. Burke is vaguely amused, calling it the judgement of the gods. He reiterates his warning to Vicki to stay away from open windows as he leaves.

A classic Burke/David episode. Honor among thieves and all of that, with Burke one step ahead of the lad all of the way. Easily the best chemistry on the show, it does all but point to Burke with a massive neon sign that says “David’s Actual Father.” It is a moving and legitimate friendship, although Burke is manipulating the hell out of David. Whenever Burke and David head for the stairwell, watch it. Mitch Ryan gives some of the best acting on the show. Do you think the mood, storyline, and cast carried DARK SHADOWS before Barnabas? Wrong! It’s was Mitch Ever-Lovin’ Ryan.

(Episode 21 airs on this date.)

July 25, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 554

Jeff and Barnabas search for Vicki in the woods, and Barnabas is stymied by the howl of wolves… a sure portent of the vampire. Jeff finds him and redirects his search, bewildered by the expression of feral emotion on Barnabas’ face. Elsewhere, Nicholas stands over a coffin in an iron doored room. As he exits, he encounters Tom Jennings, his handyman. He wants to inspect for structural flaws and finds the coffin. Nicholas feigns ignorance as to its origin. Tom, frightened, exits. Afterwards, Nicholas suggests that the worst is yet to come for Tom. What might that be? Someone approaches him and Jeff hears Tom’s screams. He finds Tom dead, bite marks on his neck. Nicholas, from afar, says that it begins. The coffin was Angelique’s, and the suffering is just beginning. At Collinwood, Barnabas sits in shock and terror at the sound of the wolves. He knows that something must have happened that night, and the possibilities horrify him. Nevertheless, he must search for Vicki. Barnabas explains to Julia that Adam is holding her hostage so they will make a mate for him. Adam is now highly advanced and more dangerous than ever. Julia also states that Adam knows who and what he is. Someone must have told him about himself. Barnabas moves to call the police, but
Julia stops him. It will mean exposure. Nicholas enters and claims that he saw Barnabas in the woods earlier, running away. Jeff then also enters to call the police to report Tom’s death. It’s clear that another vampire is loose.

Barnabas reluctantly begins to ponder the loss of his cure. What more appropriate force could make him a vampire other than another vampire… at last, Angelique. Nicholas is a crafty SOB and he deserves a lot of thanks for the irony. Also notable in this one... we have one of the first encounters with Tom Jennings. It's so odd to see Don Briscoe as a redneck, but he plays it well, and yet again proves that he is one the best actors on the show. It's my opinion that 1970s cinema would have looked extremely different had Briscoe survived. As it stands, he is the sad Brian Wilson of DARK SHADOWS. When I did the DARK SHADOWS experiment in 2012, I dedicated it to Briscoe, much to Mission Control’s understandable bewilderment in the post-mortem toast. Because, for some strange reason, my heart just went out to Mr. Briscoe.  I’ve even calculated how long it would take to get to Memphis and his grave. There is a strange soulfulness and is acting that moves me tremendously. Pay attention. Perhaps he'll have that effect on you. Oh, and some people think I look a little like him also.

(Episode 544 airs on this date.)

July 25, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 807

1897. The possessed Jamison roils in jail as Tate labors on the painting of Quentin with Charity in the room. Staring into it as Tate putters away, she screams as it becomes the wolf! Tate reasons with her that it was just her imagination, but was it? They return to Collinwood. In the jail cell, Jamison tries every trick he has to manipulate Magda with little success. Speaking with Aristede, Tate is clearly chafing under the count’s control, and we learn that his talent is a gift from Petofi. We also learn that the count has a matter of weeks to find the hand. Success means immortality. Failure is death. No good deed goes unpunished as Aristede later goes to the count’s cell to help him, but is trapped within by Barnabas. Later, the count finally succeeds at getting Magda into the cell, where he hypno-kisses her and convinces her that she is the cause of all of Collinwood’s woes. But she might get off the hook if she shows Petofi where the vampire sleeps.

Another weirdness-packed adventure to 1897. If you even want to introduce someone to the show, get thee to this storyline. This is the hellzapoppin madness that took me from loving DARK SHADOWS to seeing it as my favorite series ever. Sure. Now they throw in magical portraits that turn into werewolves. Why not, at this point?  In art, The Powers That Shouldn’t Be revel in saying ‘no’ to anything with imagination. I’ve been on the business end of that, many times. Here, though, it’s as if Dan Curtis said yes to everything. The result? Some of the most entertaining television of the 1960’s, led by, of all people, David Henesy, who never misses a beat. In the words of my ex-girlfriend (who welcomes you to all CHS podcasts), “God, I love that kid.” She was right.

(Episode 805 airs on this date.)

Quiz: I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

Last week's quiz went over pretty well, if my tracking numbers are to be believed. And it was a tough one, too: you had 90 seconds to identify the killers of 30 DARK SHADOWS characters, a time frame that didn't leave a margin for indecision. If anyone scored 100 percent on the quiz, they weren't bragging about it here in the comments section.

This week's quiz is ... easier. Maybe? I've left 90 seconds on the clock, but this time you've got only 12 dead people to identify. I've arranged 12 ghosts from DARK SHADOWS in a line up ... you just have to click on their photo to ID them!

Unfortunately, the game host doesn't allow for image-based quizzes to be embedded on this website, so you'll have to visit Sporcle to play the game. You can find it HERE!

And don't forget to come back and let me know how it works.

Via: Sporcle

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 22


July 22, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 30

After seeing a cloaked figure in the dark at Collinwood, the lights come on to reveal Roger. Was he the figure? Doubtful. Vicki and Roger go around and around about David’s probable guilt regarding sabotaging Roger’s car. Vicki finally prevails. Meanwhile in Burke’s room, the storm subsides, and Burke explains to David that he needs to take him home. David is reluctant, and Burke is more fatherly than ever, going so far as to promise David that he’ll buy him a dog -- the companion every boy should have. At Collinwood, Roger is furious with David, making him empty his pockets, sure he has the cylinder. When his pockets are empty, Burke reveals that he has the cylinder, having taken one for Team David.

Okay, now we’re talking! Victoria, alone in a blacked-out Collinwood in a storm, encounters a figure in a dark cloak by candlelight. It’s as is Dan got a memo from the future telling him which side of the bread his butter was on. Meanwhile, the chemistry between Mitch Ryan and David Henesy remains the most palpable on the show. It’s almost too appropriate, really selling the suspicion that Burke is David’s real father. In so many ways, the immediate bond between actors and characters creates a warmth and kinship of black sheep that the show desperately needed. It was the chemistry that I suspect Dan Curtis wanted with Alexandra Moltke and Joan Bennett, but these things happen in the unlikeliest of places. They are both the walking wounded, carrying the scars of Roger’s own pain. And that begs the question; where did Roger’s pain come from? What kind of father was Jamison? Given Jamison’s bitterness at Quentin (in this timeline), does this get visited on Roger? Did Roger, a fast-talking scoundrel, himself, remind him of Quentin?  (Perhaps only in Roger’s youth?)

(Episode 20 airs on this date.)

July 22, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 551

Harry finds Adam, despondent with the lonely knowledge that there are none like him, on the verge of suicide. Retrieving the weapon, he tells Nicholas, who again comforts Adam with the knowledge of his uniqueness and superiority. Adam realizes that his difference is the reason behind the gulf that separates him from Carolyn. Adam, now articulate and intelligent, returns to Barnabas, thinking him his creator. Following this reasoning, Adam insists that his ugliness and difference will not be noticed by another promethean. In this case a woman to be created by Barnabas.

The marvelous Robert Rodan portrays an authentic pain and anger that reveals him to be not only the wounded heart of the series, but a talent that should never have been let go. In a show that recycled actors, the eventual loss of Robert Rodan creates a vacuum that the show would never really fill. Similarly, Craig Slocum shows a heart and fear that is commensurate to Rodan’s pain. Adam, again and again, wrestles with deeply existential fears that go far beyond what should be expected from a soap opera. Although Nicholas is trying to manipulate Adam, his advice and insight into coping with difference is as compassionate as anyone’s on the show. I can’t help but be reminded of the fact that the Emperor and Vader are the only characters in STAR WARS who actually tell Luke the truth. Adam’s obsession with his ugliness is the ultimate irony of the storyline. Yes, he has some scars, but so do many. He is, in fact, quite handsome. Now articulate and soulful as well, he is the Cyrano de Bergerac of the show. In a show about loneliness, no character embodies it like poor, frightened, Adam Lang.

(Episode 541 airs on this date.)

July 22, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 808

1897. Petofi, still inside Jamison (in spirit), now controls Magda, who spills the beans about Barnabas’ temporal point of (most recent) origin. She also explains about his mission to save David, and these facts are corroborated by the discovery of the Collins family history from the 1960’s.  Petofi suspects that this could provide a means for his escape.  Meanwhile, Charity has a dream wherein she’s forced by the Universe to sing “I Wanna Dance with You,” as Quentin macks on some babe. When she comes to, she goes into the woods where she finds a post-lycan Quentin by the corpse of the very girl on whom he was macking.

As Petofi and his lackey gaze upon the book from the future…
“Look at the clothes they’re wearing.”
“You would notice that, wouldn’t you, Aristede?”
The closest we come to the outing of Aristede on the show.
It’s a classic moment for the couple, and one I’d been trying to find for a few years. Well, young Aristede, I have you now.
As for Quentin’s babe? Played by Deborah Loomis, who would appear again with werewolf/stuntman Alex Stevens in HERCULES IN NEW YORK.

(Episode 801 airs on this date.)

July 22, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1068

1995. Julia, under the control of Gerard, leads Barnabas on a wild hunt primarily devised to cause frustration and madness. Meanwhile, he tries to decode a letter given to him by the ghost of Daphne that says, “She will die.” The letter is later destroyed by Gerard, and it’s hard to tell to what degree the two ghosts -- Gerard and Daphne -- are working in concert or at odds. Quentin and Carolyn are reunited at the Old House, and she gives him a note summoning Barnabas. Quentin, petrified to near infantilism, almost destroys the note, but Barnabas manages to get the message and go to Carolyn at Collinwood, only to find her dead.

This plot is incredibly hard to follow. That’s its justified reputation. But for me, that’s what makes it so frightening. Ghosts do not follow cause and effect as we do. The very core of their destructive agenda lies in their ability to warp our expectations of causality. Gerard’s intent is to prove to Barnabas how little his powers of reason will save him. Only then, having eroded his mind, will he attack his body. The cruelties of DARK SHADOWS villains have always been served up with perverse élan. In the age of assassinations and riots and lists of dead soldiers streaming home on television every night, evil no longer wears the mask of elegant charm. Evil isn’t charming. Evil slaughters a pregnant Sharon Tate just… because. How does a gentleman warrior from the eighteenth century contend with such nihilism? In the confrontation with true evil, it is the one question DARK SHADOWS has never asked. Now, they have no choice.

(Episode 1063 airs on this date.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 15

NOTE: It’s been an adventure here at the Daybook Labs.  I don’t want to go into details, but after fifteen or sixteen weeks of staying ahead, inevitable weirdnesses struck all week.  For two weeks! Have faith, True Believers!


July 15, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 25

When a letter arrives from the foundling home, Collinwood is driven into a frenzy of suspicion. David thinks it’s more evidence that he’ll be sent away, grounded in his paranoia that he is connected to his father’s attempted murder. In fact, it’s a report that a detective under Devlin’s employ checked into the circumstances under which Vicki was hired. Liz bullies Roger into corroborating her story that he, himself, hired her based on the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance. Roger parrots this to Vicki, who’ll have none of it. Later, when snooping through David’s things, Vicki finds the bleeder valve for a master brake cylinder.

Joan Bennett does lots of Looking Worried on the show, but here, she’s somewhere between a bully and a valkyrie.  Who else could stymie Roger in his tracks? And Vicki shows backbone, too.  The early part of DARK SHADOWS works where Victoria Winters becomes one of daytime television’s sharpest detectives. The cliche is that she doesn’t understand. The reality is that she understands far more than we credit her for.

(Episode 15 airs on this date.)

July 15, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 546

Nicholas stops Angelique from killing Adam, thus shoring up his friendship with the promethean. Angelique nevertheless tries to kill Adam again, voodoo-style. Nicholas, his work seemingly never done, points out that her love for Barnabas makes her more his servant than Diabolos’, so he strips her powers. Roger enters and tries to force her upstairs. Evading him, she goes to the Old House to deal with Barnabas, human-on-human. When Barnabas again refuses to admit his love, she pulls a pistol on him to end his life in a way she’s certain will work.

Beginning with Louis Edmond’s first crack at narration, we once again see the show breaking new ground. Of course Nicholas stops Angelique, and of course he correctly points out that her master is Barnabas. What fascinates me most is what she does with her humanity. Lara Parker’s confrontation with Frid shows the range of her acting at it’s richest and most varied. And the crisp, deeply felt writing supports her every step of the way. The cliche in any scene is that we should never see where the characters are going. Well, duh. But in her final confrontation with Barnabas, we don’t. No matter how many times I see the episode, and see the integrity of her love, I never expect her to kill him as a man with the weapon of a woman.  How sad. How saw. How real.

(Episode 536 airs on this date.)

July 15, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 803

1897. Hoo-boy. Jamison, possessed by Petofi, makes hay across Collinwood. After stunning Edward with his worldly insouciance, he goes upstairs to leer at and play cards with Beth, immediately putting the whammy on her and having her proclaim her allegiance to Barnabas, breaking Quentin’s heart. Meanwhile, Quentin is in deep mourning over the death of his own son, confronting Edward about the truths he was never allowed to learn. Quentin moves on to confront Barnabas, who sadly explains that Beth was simply a means to an end. Edward, once eager to kill Barnabas, is hypnotized by Petofi into thinking himself a simple manservant. That, and Jamison gets his Petofiesque prosthetic hand ripped off.

Anyone who doubts that DARK SHADOWS contains acting as fine as any on television can watch this episode, and if they still disagree, consign themselves to a UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS marathon for all eternity. These are seasoned, stage actors, and I will assure you, that is not an easy thing to become. When Edmonds and David Selby go at it, it is with high stakes, virulent theatricality, and utter authenticity. This is backed up by writing that, for this author, matches the depth and eloquence of Arthur Miller at his finest. Just as 1897 departed from the norm in terms of its imagination, so then did it depart from the pedestrian humdrummery that lived in the language and content of the Soap Opera. This is not a soap opera. This is theatre at its very finest.

(Episode 797 airs on this date.)

July 15, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1063

1995. Carolyn greets Barnabas and Julia at the tomb where both must play it cool to evade further suspicion. They end up on the wrong side of Collinsport’s new, good ol’ boy sheriff, who may be bamboozled by Barnabas’ story that he’s his own son, but nonetheless advises them to check on their property and vamoose.  He’s clearly in Carolyn’s pocket, and she further alarms him when she shows the sheriff photos from 1970 of Julia looking exactly the same. Back at Collinwood, Barnabas and Julia find objects moved from the previous day, knives coated in blood, poltergeist activity, and phantom lullabye music. After a bust statue nearly kills Julia, both beat a hasty retreat as a Victorian ghost sneers at them from the wings.

How did Collinsport get a good ol’ boy sheriff? And is Barnabas going to sneak Moxie in from Logansport in a truck with Julia driving a Trans-Am? All kidding aside, the horror -- genuine, apocalyptic horror -- mounts. Uncomfortable stuff, and just as brave.

(Episode 1058 airs on this date.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quiz: Can you ID the killers of these Dark Shadows characters?

Despite what they might tell you in Logansport, Collinsport is a pretty nice place to live as long as your address doesn't have the word "Collinwood" in it. While our murders are often savage, they are relative few in number. (Luckily, the FBI doesn't assign "bonus points" for decapitations and stake-related homicides.) Below you'll find a quiz about the many unfortunate events in our quaint little town, a list of 30 fairly notable murder victims ... and it's your job to ID their killers. It''s like Trivial Pursuit with a body count!

You've got 90 seconds to run the boards. As you'll see, Barnabas Collins and his sometimes-wife Angelique have been over achievers ... consequently, their names appear quite a bit. This is the first quiz we've created here, so feel free to leave feedback below. (Hint: You can also re-take the test as often as you want by refreshing the page.)

UPDATE #1: While entering the data for the quiz, Tom Jennings accidentally became his own killer. Not only has that mistake been corrected, I've also added an additional 30 seconds to the clock for you and your gallant crew. Enjoy!

Click play to begin!

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 14


July 14, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 24

Carolyn enters the Inn with arms full of packages. Meanwhile, Constable Carter enters and asks Maggie for Burke, who’s not in his hotel room. He’ll wait in the lobby. Carolyn orders lunch for Joe, who is on his way. Maggie asks how well Carolyn knows Burke. She says the Burke just asked her father to do a new portrait, and wants to know if Burke or Roger ever mentioned Sam. Joe arrives and seems none too thrilled that the conversation is again about Burke. In the lobby, Carter meets Burke. With Carolyn, Joe explains that he may be able to get his boat faster by pooling with another sailor, Jerry. Joe uses it as a sideways way to bring up marriage again. Burke orders lunch from Maggie, but evades discussing Carter. Burke approaches Carolyn and Joe, who refuses to let Burke visit. Burke looks forward to spending time with Carolyn after Joe leaves. Later, he and Carter discuss the accident. Carter remembers Burke’s vow when he was found guilty for manslaughter. But that was ten years ago. The sheriff explains that Burke’s fingerprints were on the wrench. Just because he picked up a wrench doesn’t mean he sabotaged the car. And he has no idea how the wrench wound up in the seat. Burke explains that if he were guilty, he wouldn’t be hanging around. Why is Burke back in Collinsport?  Downstairs in the Inn, Joe continues to be needled by Devlin’s presence. Maggie comes by and says that Carter wants Carolyn up in Burke’s room. She backs up Burke’s story, adding that she is the one who made him come to Collinwood. Carter leaves, but Carolyn stays. She feels used by him. Burke claims that he’s now in town for longer than expected because his plans changed. She doubts him and leaves. Bronson calls Burke and is told to stay in a separate area. They have less time than he thought.

Okay, this is the second time that Burke is Mr. Nice guy until he calls Bronson. I’m starting to think that Burke is insane and Bronson is his id. This episode is what I call “Housewife’s Delight.” Busy with a million other things, endless repetition was vital to keep up with plots. By that, I mean that comprehension of what was happening depended on reviewing the same material over and over again. Another way of saying it is that it was important to go over things from past episodes so that… oh, you get the idea. We get more of Constable Carter. Few things make a man go, “I could really go for some Dana Elcar right now.” What am I saying? I think that every time I put in a VHS of BAYWATCH.

(Episode 14 airs on this date.)

July 14, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 288

Vicki is lost in thoughts of Josette as she gazes out the window of the drawing room. David sees her and remarks that she’s daydreaming a lot. It’s almost like she’s someone else, and it frightens him. Vicki tells him it’s him imagination. Julia enters, having been given permission to do research. Vicki goes to find books for her. David finds that she’s looking for information on Jeremiah, Joshua, and Barnabas. David gives her the family album. David suddenly sees the picture of Sarah, but knows nothing about her, except that she looks like the girl he plays with. Maybe a ghost? Julia is doing the math faster than Watson. Vicki returns with books for Julia. Vicki notices that the portrait of Sarah looks like a police sketch they were shown after Maggie’s death. Julia wonders why the renovated Old House has no mirrors. She then borrows the book of portraits to show Barnabas. At the Blue Whale, Burke is puzzled by Julia’s interest. He tells Vicki that he’s concerned about Vicki’s interest in the spookier side of the Collins family. She’s starting to believe she’s Josette. Vicki reports hearing Sarah, and wonders if Burke’s right. Burke asks her not to go back to the Old House. She refuses. She just knows that she feels safe there. Julia arrives at the Old House with the family album. Barnabas greets her, somewhat bewildered. Barnabas has nothing to tell her about his relatives. She nonetheless shows him portraits. He is transfixed with portraits of Naomi, Joshua, and Sarah. As he turns away, she uses her makeup case to ascertain that Barnabas casts no reflection. She excuses herself and returns to Collinwood. She looks at his portrait and says she’s learned everything she needed to know.

Julia Hoffman: she’s like Bruce Wayne with guts. Julia’s journey is one of learning how much there is to fear, and then, in 1840, showing how she’s mastered it. Her adventure has Joseph Campbell written all over it. When Julia delves into Barnabas’ world, she can do anything because she has no idea how much it will cost her. Just as fools rush in, so does she, and the plot takes off like a rocket when she straps herself in. Grayson Hall is a monster of confidence, and that’s the one match Barnabas never expects. This episode also gets increasingly specific about the identities of Barnabas’ relatives, gearing audiences up for Victoria’s journey. Little did they know that they were getting a primer on the upcoming storyline. In literary terms, both Vicki and Barnabas are people without homes. Vicki’s is in the past, with Peter Bradford. She just has to find herself there. Barnabas home is actually in his future, with a family that needs him, respects him, and where, out of the shadows of Joshua and Jeremiah, he can become the man destiny has cast him to be.

(Episode 275 airs on this date.)

July 14, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 799

Magda has decided to destroy the hand to avenge her husband. She chops it with an axe, but that’s hardly the end. She wraps it in a cloth and burns it. At a tavern, Aristede questions Tim Shaw about Quentin Collins, and Shaw has nothing good to say. Aristede won’t reveal his plans for Quentin, so he needs a favor from Tim. At Collinwood, Quentin drinks and ponders his late child. He wonders about his daughter as well. Charity enters in a flirtatious mood, but Quentin wants none of it. He plies her with liquor nonetheless. She tries to persuade him to become a family man, but Magda enters reporting the hand’s destruction. It panics Quentin; it was his only cure. The hand reappears, floating behind Magda. It then vanishes. This is all a dialogue that Tim Shaw hears from the hall. He’s accused of having the hand, but the conversation ends up leading Quentin to meet Aristede at the Blue Whale. The fop explains that the moon will be full. Aristede claims he has access to the cure if he can get the hand. But the source of the cure is kept under wraps. They agree for Aristede to meet him at Collinwood. That night in the Old House, the hand flies through the air after Magda. Tim Shaw conveniently enters to find it on the floor.

Poor Don Briscoe. Arguably one of the three or four finest actors on the show, and the one guy stuck with the most mediocre stuff to do. Watching his rise and then moral downfall due to the poisoning of wealth is a sad and complex slice of 1897. It’s a sincere dash of Ibsen, without the boring parts. It’s easy to forget that he has his moment as a major power player in this storyline. Among all the actors on the show, none surpassed Briscoe for his sense of strategic mischief.

(Episode 796 airs on this date.)

July 14, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1062

1995. An insane Carolyn comes into the cottage. When interviewed, she demands that Barnabas and Julia exit, calling them ghosts. They retreat to the crypt, wondering why she is no longer so sensible. Fortunately, Barnabas’ coffin resides in the secret room. Barnabas orders her to examine court records as he sleeps, despite her fear. As Julia leaves, Carolyn accosts her and demands she not say the name. Carolyn looks for her mother’s grave, but claims she’s not dead. Carolyn giggles, as if she’s purposefully leading her astray. She orders her away. When she exits, Stokes enters and they agree they must make her go. When Julia looks for the records, the clerk becomes evasive at the name “Collins” and the year 1970. He says the records are missing. He is similarly evasive. Outside, Julia sees Stokes who barely believes she’s there. Stokes also warns her away. Later, Barnabas wakes up and decides to go to Stokes. He doesn’t understand the danger Julia saw. Barnabas refuses to stand by and let history repeat itself. They meet with Flagler, a man who investigated Collinwood. He is partner was struck and killed by a mysterious object, as laughter rang out. That night, Barnabas and Julia return to the crypt to find it open!

DARK SHADOWS enters a period of entropy, here. The events of 1970 have a permanence that make Roger’s car accident look like nothing. In episode 1, Burke Devlin welcomed Vicki to the beginning and end of the world. Welcome to the end.

(Episode 1057 airs on this date.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Clippings: A 1972 interview with Grayson Hall "superfan"

Show dead, fan club carries on

By Mimi Teichman
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Jan. 24, 1972

Mark Messina is a Superfan.

He is 21 years old and president of the Grayson Hall Official Fan Club.

Grayson Hall?

She is the actress who used to appear in "Dark  Shadows," the television horror soap opera. "Dark Shadows" is no longer on the tube but Grayson Hall's loyal fans, led by Mark Messina, go marching on.

Mark, who lives at 2815 Dalton Avenue, was a fan from the very beginning. He was in the eighth grade at St. Aloysius grade school when "Dark Shadows" began. All through his four years at Southwest High School, Mark missed only four or five episodes. If he couldn't get home in time to see DS, he would watch it in the audio-visual room at school. When he couldn't be either place, he set up a timer with a tape recorder so at least he would have the sound for the show. There wasn't time for dating in those days. Between studies and TV, life was positively full.

The first DS fan club was the Lara Parker Club, started a girl named Paulette from Bronx. It was followed by the Chris Pennock Official Fan Club, the Don Briscoe Fan Club, the David Selby Fan Club, the Hümbert Allen Astredo Fan Club, the Joan Bennett, Alex Stevens, Donna McKechnie, David Hennesy, Jerry Lacy and Louis Edmonds Fan Clubs.

Mark started the Clarice Blackburn Fan Club. It had 30 Or 40 members and was active for about a year. But, lovely and talented as Clarice was, she wasn't interested in show business, so Mark closed down the club. At that time a girl in Pennsylvania was president of Grayson Hall's fan club, but wasn't doing much with it, so Mark decided to seize the moment.

"'I got Grayson's phone number out of the New York telephone book," he said. "I called her up with my heart in my mouth. I told her who I was and asked her if I could start. 'I'd be delighted' were her very words."

Mark and Grayson started communicating by telephone (busy Grayson hates to write letters). She sent Mark a check for $75 to cover the expenses of printing and mailing.

From the other "Dark Shadows" fan clubs Mark got mailing lists and he advertised in their newsletters. As true-blue Grayson fans expressed their interest, Mark worked till wee hours on the first club kit, which contained a biography, a welcoming letter, a membership card, pictures and a newsletter.

The newsletters are nine pages of single-spaced, spicy tidbits about Grayson and other members of the "Dark Shadows" cast.

"My cup runneth over with joy, or THE DAY GRAYSON CAME TO ST. LOUIS!!!! To my it's all the same, and it was just heaven!  ... Grayson eagerly tore open her welcoming present, explaining for the second time that she wasn't one to be dainty with gift wrappings. A large simulated wood-grain box held six ice cream sundaes ... and six different flavors of topping. Grayson exclaimed her thanks, and loaded the heavy box on her husband, who nearly stumbled with the weight."

In addition to the account of Grayson's St. Louis stop on a publicity tour for the "Night of Dark Shadows" movie, the newsletters, which Mark sends out six times a year, contain poems and other artistic efforts of club members, photo offers, reprints from studio pressbooks about the two DS movies.

Recent ones contained features Mark gathered when he visited New York two summers ago, such as a description of the DS set and an interview with the show's hairdresser.

After DS was cancelled by the network, the newsletter contained a plan of action for having it reinstated. Club members were instructed to write letters, circulate petitions, and picket their local stations.

Grayson Hall and Mark Messina.
There was an account of the wedding of a DS cast member in the 1970 fall edition and the newsletters always contain the latest lowdown on what the DS cast is doing. For example:  "Denise Nickerson is doing just about everything! She's in the new movie 'Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' and plays, I think, a blueberry."

"Jerry Lacy has been parading his handsome face around the sets of  'As The World Turns.' He plays Simon Gilbey, a millionaire playboy. He is also in a Hartz Mountain commercial for a flea collar."

The tidbits about Grayson in the newsletters are many. For instance, there was this account of doings in her bedroom: "Chaos is breaking loose in the Hall house right now. The whole point is, the Halls are doing some redecorating. Relax, all the red is staying. Grayson has decided to redo the bedroom. The master bedroom was a pale shade of blue. By now, it should be getting a little livelier. Grayson's having the whole thing covered in a floral fabric. The results should be smashing."

In the historic visit to Grayson's smashing New York apartment, Mark taped hours interviews which he uses in the newsletters as a regular feature.

"What was your first reaction when you saw yourself on screen?
"I threw up."

'What do you think of Melnac (plastic) dinnerware?"
"I've never heard of it."

"Are you a lover of children?"
"Yes, of course."

"What kind of vacuum cleando you have?"
"I have a little round hoover."

"Were you an extremely beautiful child?"
"Apparently, although I never thought so."

Although there is only one member besides Mark in St. Louis, the Grayson Hall Official Fan Club has 250 members throughout the country. Mark feels he knows them all, and says many are the "teeny-bopper type," but there are 15 to 20 adults, including the woman from Minneapolis who sends him Christmas presents and writes about the weather there.

"My club has prospered because there's lots of dedication involved," he said. "A person has to be willing to work. There are some people who start a club and then can't go through with its I'm very hesitant to recommend other clubs in my newsletter because of their lack of stability. Before I'll recommend one I have to review a sample kit.

"A fan is different from a teeny-bopper magazine, which is often inaccurate or sensationalized, because there's one person at the head of the club who is dedicated to telling it like it is about the star. The future of the club is good as long as Grayson's interested."

Grayson used to send him cartons of fan letters, which he answered for her. Because DS is off the air, she no longer gets them.

Mark Messina and Grayson Hall in the lobby of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.
Mark keeps the letters in a file that is a fan's treasure chest. It contains movie scripts, club member contributions, assorted photos, material for pending newsletters, clippings, etc., all in neatly labeled file jackets. In the back of the drawer are Mark's memories, his library of tapes of "Dark Shadows" and his super-8 movie cartridges.

His other memories, a scrapbook 20 inches high, is a real treat for the "Dark Shadows" fan, but it wouldn't fit in the drawer. There is a section for each character in the show. Most of the clippings are from daytime television magazines and teen mags.

"I began collecting almost immediately after the show began because I was so taken with it," Mark said. "The show has been gone for some time now, and of course I miss it, but I have lots and lots of memories."

Asked what he would do if Grayson retired, he gave a little gasp and replied, "Oh, she'd never do that. It's too much a part of her blood. When she's not working she becomes irritable."

About once a month Mark picks up his telephone and spends a few precious minutes talking to Grayson.

"I don't like to bother her too much because she's always busy, cooking or entertaining or something," Mark said. "I'm very proud of my personal relationship with Grayson. She probably thinks I'm a very dear person to be doing all this. She likes me, I can tell, or she wouldn't have anything to do with me."

Why does a college sophomore who wants to become an interior designer and whose other hobby is flower arranging direct a fan club? Why is the basement room he occupies in a southwest St. Louis house (shared with his mother, father and 13-year-old sister) decorated with horror movie posters?

"Everybody has to have a hobby," Mark says.

(Editor's note: the color images were taken from the defunct "Mr. Juggins" fansite. I'd link to the page, but it appears to have been infected by malware. Search for it at your own peril.)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 14


July 14, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 23

David reads Creepy Crawlers Horror Comics as Vicki enters. Meanwhile, Constable Carter enters to speak with Roger about the accident. While David contemplates guilt and culpability with Vicki, the constable is understandably cross with Roger for confronting Burke without calling him in sooner.  The constable then interviews Vicki about the wrench sighting. She reports her visit with Burke, with Roger insinuating meaning a’plenty. What was Burke’s motive, he wonders. Vicki affirms that Burke never threatened Roger. The constable remembers Burke’s threat from ten years prior. But that was temper. This is insanity. The constable also says that someone else may have planted the wrench and removed the valve. He then calls in backup data on Burke. He takes Vicki and company to the garage to see the wrench. As they leave, Liz cites David for eavesdropping. David wants to know why there is any doubt about Burke. He also wants to know about corroborate evidence. She explains that it’s additional evidence. Like someone else’s prints on the wrench. When they return with said wrench, David is terrified. The constable puts it down to answer the phone, and David eyes it nervously, knocks it down, and picks it up, “getting his prints on it.” Criminal. Genius.

If David “Moriarty” Collins had executed any of the villains’ later plans, Collinwood might have been reduced to cinders within minutes. By handling the wrench, David makes hay with the Gordian knot by weilding Occam’s Razor like Sweeney Todd. Simple. Brilliant. He truly is Burke’s son. Spiritually. I meant, spiritually. Sheriff Carter is played by Michael Currie, a successful character actor who played Lt. Donnelly in the last three Dirty Harry films, SUDDEN IMPACT, THE DEAD POOL, and THE BIRDCAGE. He also appeared in HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH as well as the cult hit, DEAD AND BURIED. Sheriff Carter is a no-nonsense predecessor to Sheriff Patterson, and has an intense dislike of mustard. I was kidding about THE BIRDCAGE. I would never kid about a condiment.


July 14, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 287

Barnabas stops just before biting Vicki and backs away into the darkness. The next morning, Willie shows her downstairs, finding that she slept beautifully during the night. Only once did she feel as if someone were in the room. Was it a dream? Was it Willie? He swears innocence. When she returns home, Liz and Julia are discussing the local strangeness. When Liz is thankful she was with Barnabas, Julia is highly aroused. Julia later presses for Liz to help her with her research. If Julia were allowed in, she could tell the truth in a way that would flatter the Collinses. Vicki adds that she could add a great deal about the true greatness of Josette. And the research ends with the last century. Only she and Barnabas need agree. But Barnabas is similarly reluctant. Liz leaves, and Julia implores Vicki to work on Liz. Later, Julia barges into Collinwood before sundown, and Willie tries in vain to get her to leave. She asks too many questions. How did he renovate so exactly without reference pictures? She insinuates far too much knowledge for someone interested in oxygen. Barnabas appears and declines to cooperate. She tries to interview him, but he evades. She teases that she has more knowledge and exits.

This looks like the beginning a beautiful friendship full of jealously, betrayal, deceit, suspicion, and eventual loyalty. Julia certainly gets everyone’s attention, and shows a bravery unmatched in Collinsport.  She’ll need it.

July 14, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1061

1970PT and 1995MT. Timothy Stokes, driven mad, has set fire to Collinwood. Barnabas and Julia race to Angelique’s room, but Roxanne is barred from entering. As he screams for her, they find themselves in Main Time without her. But… when? Barnabas is deeply wounded. It was his first chance of a life with love. Julia agrees… she’s not the only one without hope. They can get used to anything if they must. Turning their attention to the room, it is unusually musty. Beyond, Collinwood appears destroyed. The great house is a post-apocalyptic ruin. The ceiling is collapsed. The walls stripped to the brick. Overgrowth everywhere. No one is there. But this could not have happened in only a month. Julia finds a note from Elizabeth, saying they must leave Collinwood before the day is out. They then find a burned diary. The front door slams! Why? Who? Trees have grown right up to the door. Barnabas speaks to time warps and radiation. Julia is frightened but collects herself. Barnabas is too busy planning his next campaign of investigation and ass kicking. He must find his coffin, and quickly. In the graveyard, they find a new stone with a death year of 1995. There was a disturbance in the time warp! Then, they find an old grave… David Collins 1956-1970! Fresh flowers are on it. Who left them? It’s Mrs. Johnson, quite mad. She thinks them ghosts. They vanished 25 years before and have returned unchanged. She wails that no one could save him in the end. They cannot get her to divulge what happened. It was too horrible. And she can only visit at night because no one is to have anything to do with the name ‘Collins.’ Even speaking it is forbidden. Is the family alive? Yes. But far away. Roger and Liz are in Rome, she says. Quentin is married in South America. She’s babbling and lying, clearly. They let her go to her solitary madness. Before she goes, she speaks of the old shack at Findley’s Cove. There, they find all manner of Collins memorabilia. Is the person who lives here the instigator? Someone is opening the door!

This is one of the most vital episodes in the series.

Soap operas bounce along. The sets are always there.  The continuity rarely budges. Here, it’s almost as if the writers knew the show was doomed and began a slow painful decay of everything we hold dear. After all, we think we’ll bounce right out PT and into some other adventure. As in life, how were we to know that the end was nigh. Even though it takes place in only in the near-future, it has a nightmarish intensity and horrible, icy finality. Seeing Collinwood in ruin is like a personal wound for any DARK SHADOWS fan, and Barnabas is soon on the cusp of the most of the challenging decisions of his life. He is at the apex of his heroism. The test will not be pretty. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

See David Selby in EQUALS

EQUALS has been burning up my Facebook feed during the last few months, a promotional campaign that finally includes some work from our own David Selby. The film comes to us courtesy of director Drake Doremus and A24 films, the studio that's released some of my favorite movies of the last few years.

Yes, my two big draws for this film are Selby and A24. The plot to EQUALS otherwise looks like the kind of dystopian romance we get every few years. Whether it's "1984," "Brave New World," THX-1138, LOGAN'S RUN, EQUILIBRIUM, GATTACA, BRAZIL or what have you, every generation gets a variation on this same theme: a young couple dares to defy a sociopathic society through the power of love ... often with terrible consequences. I won't begrudge this generation their chosen dystopia, but I should admit to myself upfront that EQUALS was probably not made with me in mind. And that's OK.

Anyhoo, A24 has released a clip from the film, which features Selby and stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult. EQUALS hits theaters July 15. Visit the movie's official website HERE.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...