By PATRICK McCRAY
July 12, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 22
Burke visits Maggie at her cottage looking for Sam. His business is private, but Maggie asks if it’s about the accident. She drops her cup when she hears him say they think it was attempted murder. At the Inn, Sam visits with Roger, much to Roger’s reluctance. He wants to know about Burke, and if he had to do with Roger’s accident. Roger explains about the wrench incident. Roger had planned to buy him out of Collinsport, but now he’s determined to send him to join him. Roger says that only he and Sam really know what happened ten years ago, and with one dead, the other needn’t worry. Sam returns to the cottage, and Burke asks if Sam still has a grudge. Sam berates Maggie for speaking about him, and Burke suggests that his life and Burke’s extremely connected. Burke says he has no interest in his private life. He just wants to commission a portrait. A $1000? Sam refuses, but Maggie persuades him otherwise. He wants it to go over the Collinwood mantle. At Collinwood, Joe calls for Carolyn. She’ll see him... after she sees Roger. Roger arrives, looking for the constable. He’ll be arriving soon. Carolyn is worried that he’ll have Burke arrested. Roger confirms that he wants to see Burke as far up the river as possible. Carolyn is ambivalent. Where’s the proof? Roger is incensed and goes to Vicki. Carolyn follows, pleading Burke’s case. Tempers flare, and Roger charms her into submission. It’s clear that it’s just an act, though.
Highlights include Burke’s masterfully ominous intentions behind the commissioning of his new portrait, followed by Louis Edmonds’ handling of his final scene with Carolyn. It’s a scene of terrific range. Edmond’s charm rests in his ability to lie his way from A to Z and have us go with it, even though we know he’s full of monkeyfeathers. Being lied to by Roger is the price of admission for basking in his wonky majesty. As the new waitress at the Inn, meet Colleen Kelly. Her other claim to fame is appearing in CORONET BLUE, a thriller television series created by Larry Cohen, auteur behind Q, THE STUFF, and IT’S ALIVE.
(Episode 12 aired on this day.)
July 12, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 286
Barnabas starts the episode with just about the best night of his life as Vicki asks if he would mind if she stayed the night. As an orphan,kinship to Josette gives her identity. As they discuss Josette, she asks from whom she was running. Barnabas claims that she was running from Jeremiah Collins. Perhaps Josette never understood him or his love. This pulls Barnabas into a guilt-fueled memory. He once again gives Vicki the chance to go, but she insists on staying. She goes to sleep in Josette’s room, and downstairs, Willie reports finding a child’s ball in the basement. He again describes a child like Sarah having been seen around. Perhaps she left it. Barnabas goes to investigate. Sarah’s voice, singing ‘London Bridge,’ awakens Vicki, but no one is there. She wanders downstairs, and Willie is alarmed to find that she wants to stay there. Barnabas overhears him give yet another warning to a lady and puts the kibosh on his attempt to shuffle Vicki away. She reports to Barnabas about the voice and the singing. He reassures her that things are fine and sends her upstairs. Later, Willie asks about the little girl, and Barnabas cannot deny the existence of the ball. Willie then admits that he was trying to warn Vicki about Barnabas. Willie pleads for him not to harm her, and it’s clear that Barnabas is wracked with conflict over how to treat her. Alone, Barnabas enters her room and leans over the bed.
DARK SHADOWS is many different shows. If you’re looking for a tight, melancholy study in change, guilt, desire, and self-discovery, then look no further. Great storytelling is about change, and Vicki, Barnabas, and Willie all show wonderful moments of it. She’s embracing Josette. Willie is taking ownership of how protective he’s become, no matter the consequences. And Barnabas is faced with his most unique crisis of conscience -- what do you do when Josette shows up and is willing? Set against candlelight and thunder, the haunting voice of Sarah Collins, and all that her memory conjures, perfects the episode. Again, when people wax nostalgic about the dark, early days of the show, this is the kind of episode they’re talking about.
(Episode 273 aired on this day.)
July 12, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 544
Stokes arrives, greeted by Nicholas Blair. It’s a polite standoff. Stokes has books that have aroused Blair’s curiosity. As Stokes mounts the stairs, Blair asks him about a man named Adam. He claims he was a humorless missionary. Carolyn enters, and Blair leaves. She says that Adam may have to leave. Harry Johnson slipped the latch and made Adam attempt to kill him. He may need to leave -- Adam is becoming attracted to Carolyn. Stokes visits Adam, and their exchange is articulate. Adam is thrilled with the books and writing pad. Stokes tells Adam to focus on studies, first, and Carolyn, second. She comes upstairs, telling Stokes that Julia is looking for him. He goes to see her while Carolyn visits with Adam, to ensure that his ardor has abated. The moment she goes to fetch him food, he returns to his romantic rhapsodies, very clearly writing her name. Downstairs, Julia tells Stokes that it’s crucial to find Adam. Stokes wants information in exchange. What of the last line of the riddle? And why would Barnabas ask to be buried illegally? And what of the strange connection between Barnabas and Adam. Julia does a lot of denying and looking indignant. Stokes drops the bomb that he knows that Adam is synthetic and that Barnabas is deeply connected. He then leaves. In the woods, Nicholas summons the spirits of those whose limbs were used to create Adam. In his room, Adam grows agitated. Carolyn delivers food and yet he is faint. In the woods, Nicholas’ summoning is successful. Two phantoms appear. One man headless and bleeding. One man armless. He commands them to lead him to Adam. They point to Collinwood.
Nicholas Blair Occult Fu A Go Go! In summoning a headless man with a bleeding torso, I can only hope that Dan Curtis also summoned some kind of elaborate bribe for standards and practices. I can’t see how this made it onto the air, otherwise. I used to think that mothers who kept their kids from watching the show were being worrywarts. Now? This is two steps away from Tobe Hooper, and all I can do is ask for more. Barnabas and Julia get away with so much on the show because no one is paying attention. When we see that Stokes actually is, our reaction is as stunned as Julia’s. Hero of the Beach: Eliot Stokes. And let’s not forget that one of our amputees was none other than David Groh, Rhoda’s husband on RHODA, as well as an actor with one of the richest guest-star resumes I’ve ever seen. Up to and through THE X FILES!
(Episode 535 aired on this day.)
July 12, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 801/802
1897.Fenn-Gibbon apologises to Magda for Aristede’s petulance. As he serves Magda a drink, she sees in his cuff button the mark that was on Julianka’s forehead. Quentin wrests his artificial hand off, and the truth is known; he is Count Petofi! His hand was sawed off a hundred years prior as payment to cure him of lycanthropy. He then explains that the saddest day of the Count’s life was when he woke to find that a wolf had killed his pet unicorn. But werewolves, Quentin points out, have no memory of what they do. This somehow proves that he is Count Petofi, and Petofi fesses up. He even cuts himself to prove to Magda that he is no ghost, as she assumes. Petofi gives them only a short time to bring him the hand. Quentin holds him at knifepoint and demands to know how he was cured. Petofi simply slaps the knife from his hand, and explains that everything has a price. Quentin has much to learn. Petofi leaves, and Magda recalls that Evan has books on Petofi and the hand. Quentin must make amends with Evan to find out more. Alone in his home, Evan remains terrified of the hand. He eagerly greets Quentin, who leans on him for help, but Evan is too frightened to assist. But he admits that Tim Shaw has the hand. Quentin reports this to Magda, including that Tim has left town on the evening train. They are powerless now, it seems. Back at Collinwood, Petofi tells Jamison that he’s leaving Collinwood, but may return. Jamison is overcome with affection for Petofi, and kisses him on the cheek. Jamison departs as Quentin and Magda enter, reporting that the hand is missing. Petofi orders them to get it. To vex them, Petofi chuckles that he’s left them a gift. He may return when they have the hand, and at that point, he might undo his mischief. He’ll be watching. Jamison appears, seemingly possessed by Petofi! He even has his hands in gloves… a sure sign that Petofi is in the house!
This episode was shuffled around for the moon landing, and nothing could be more ironic, given that it features a psychological duel between a werewolf and an ex-werewolf. With the proper introduction of Count Petofi, we finally get DARK SHADOWS most complex and unpredictable character. Don’t let literary snobbery lead you astray just because he’s of the comic book variety. Thayer David has what must have been the time of his life with this broad, pompous, humane, compassionate, ruthless, and lovingly amoral anti-hero. As much literary weight as I place on Barnabas and Angelique, the execution of Count Petofi may be the series’ boldest and most innovative move. Buckle up!