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.)

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