Monday, August 15, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: AUGUST 15


Aug. 16, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 826

Magda is bound and gagged by a large, mute gypsy soldier. King Johnny appears, savoring his victory of finding her. They take her to the cemetery, the place where the trouble started. The place where Barnabas was released. Johnny reveals that he tortured and killed Szandor, who spilled the beans, in return for Magda’s theft of the hand. They take her to the secret room in the crypt where she is to stand trial. It’s gypsy justice! They go inside and Johnny announces that her jury will be comprised of dead murderers, conjured by him in an elaborate ceremony. They are all she deserves. As he summons them, the gypsies appear out of thin air and take their places. He introduces her as the thief of Petofi’s hand… and to use on an outsider. The second charge? The murder of Julianka! The third charge? The death of the child (as the result of Julianka’s curse). Finally, the last charge. When he came looking for the hand, she defrauded him with a false hand. He tries to close the case, but she asks for a gypsy witness. He conjures the dead Szandor, in whom she entrusts her life. He appears, but she is forbidden from embracing him. They are only given the time of a burning candle. She tries to question him, but is constantly interrupted by King Johnny. Ultimately, as much as Magda was trying to help situations, she was always the cause of them. Johnny announces that her time is up as he blows out the candle. The case is closed, he intones. Szandor vanishes back to his grave, and the jury is asked if any believe she is innocent. They remain silent. The mute soldier, her judge, orders her to die. She asks how he will do it. Johnny announces that her method of death is a game called ‘hunt the weasel,’ and she is the weasel. He then frees her. If she hides effectively, she lives. When will it begin? She’ll have to learn. He tells her to run, and she does. He laughs maniacally after her. Inside the crypt, he orders the jury to play the game. The first to find her is sent away in a blaze of light with her gypsy power. She rejoices, but Johnny’s laughter cuts short her victory. But she can’t find the source of his voice. She runs once more. She finds herself back at the crypt. Two jurors appear, but because she doesn’t know how they died, she cannot banish them. They approach with arms outstretched. As they do, she commands both to return to death and they do. She begs Johnny to stop the game. He says the game ain’t over, and she runs once more. Once more Szandor appears to her. He wants to take her back with him. She says he belongs to the dead and tearfully banishes him from the earth. She is exhausted; Johnny approaches with his soldier and says that she has lost. The cliff of Widow’s Hill behind her, Johnny stalks Magda, forcing her toward the edge.

With a cast of nine, 826 is packed with both players and excitement. And yet, it has a strange intimacy; the only speaking parts are Johnny, Magada, and Szandor. Interesting to note that many of the gypsies should seem familiar. Henry Baker, who plays Istvan the mute soldier, can be seen as Jackal the Giant, towering over Jonathan Frid in Oliver Stone’s 1974 comedy, SEIZURE. Another, Joseph Della Sorte, was one of the “Buttons” that Joe Spinell witnesses about in THE GODFATHER PART II. (He was also on CAGNEY AND LACEY, a show with John Karlen.) Another gypsy, John LaMotta, also appeared on that show, as well as playing sweaty wife-beater model, Trevor Ochmonek, on NBC’s prequel to THE X-FILES. Of course, I’m referring to ALF. (Additionally, he was Jake LaMotta’s nephew.) Yet another gypsy, Victor Mohica, appeared in many of the same series as the others. I think they all appeared on that sophisticated comedy-of-manners, AIRWOLF. Norman Riggins, yet another gypsy, was a man of mystery. Know him by his subsequent appearance in THE ALIEN DEAD. As far as the final gypsy, Andreas, goes, we have feud on our hands. iMDB credits Joe Van Orden. But Craig Hamrick’s BARNABAS AND COMPANY, as well as THE DARK SHADOWS ALMANAC, cite the part as played by Ray Van Orden. Will any of us sleep? Joe only has one credit on iMDB, and it’s the episode. Nothing for a Ray van Orden. I can’t solve every mystery. I had a crush on Joan van Ark from KNOTS LANDING, if that helps.

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