By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date: Episode 312
As Victoria reveals her sensitivities, a seemingly sympathetic Barnabas tells her exactly what she wants to hear until she is lulled into inattention and he has the opportunity to strike. Inevitably, Carolyn interrupts. The search for David continues, and with that comes the discussion of Sarah -- David was looking for her when he went missing. Joe concludes that the Old House is the only place they haven’t searched. Over Willie’s objections, Barnabas encourages Joe and Sheriff Patterson to thoroughly case the joint. Barnabas’ reasoning? Willie has already made them suspicious; this is the only way to calm the waters. Barnabas maintains his cool until the search party demands to rifle through the basement. Thinking quickly, Barnabas claims to have lost the key, and just as Joe is offering to repair any damage done by kicking the door down, they find that David may be alive elsewhere on the estate.
Funny episode. The modern sitcom has all but eschewed the laugh track in swankier circles. Now, we have only the reassurance of a show’s genre to tell us it’s a comedy. If I told you that this were a wryly observational sitcom, and had you no other knowledge, you might agree. First, Barnabas does every condescending trick in the book to distract Vicki with the illusion of his sensitivity. He does everything but roll his eyes as he agrees with everything she says while plotting to get into her veins. Later, as Joe and Patterson come to search the Old House, he and Willie turn into the Honeymooners as they passive-aggressively bicker about whose fault it is that they’re being searched at all! Finally, just when we think Barnabas has pulled it off, Willie gets the last, nervous, inner-laugh when Joe just happens to remember the basement, and Barnabas stammers for an excuse to bar him, sounding as flustered as a prom date trying to rationalize the presence of a box of condoms in the back seat to his date’s father. Barnabas and Willie have one of greatest and most uniquely subtle comic partnerships in the history of television. Why does he put up with him? Wait, who’s the “he,” and who’s the “him”? Exactly. It could go for either. They need each other and, despite their better judgement, they love each other. Like all great romances. Platonic or otherwise.
Hey, welcome back, Dana Elcar. It’s been 38 episodes, and the overheated housefrau of 1968 America and I have been jonesing for our Pattersonian fix. I wonder what the show would have been like if Dana had remained a fixture, appearing in every timeline? Anyway, where was Dana in his absence? Maybe shooting THE BOSTON STRANGLER. It would come out in October. Perhaps that’s cutting it too close. 1968 was fertile year for Elcar. He appeared on six different TV series that year, two feature films, and two different movies of the week. Take that, Tab Hunter.
In history, it’s the birthday of Keith Moon and Barbara Eden. They never shot a film together. At least, publically.