Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: AUGUST 25


Taped on this date: Episode 1091

The evening begins with Maggie collapsing, showing clear signs of a vampire attack. Julia goes to the Old House and confronts Barnabas, who pleads innocent. Eventually, he convinces her to, at least, give him the benefit of the doubt. There must be another vampire loose in Collinsport. David is similarly concerned, and over Hallie’s wishes, goes to the playroom, where he implores Gerard for guidance. Instead, Carrie’s ghost appears, and David is delighted when she indicates that she will reveal his future to him. Julia and Maggie spar in her room. Maggie is on edge, and it’s clear that she is feeling the pull of her new master. When Barnabas sees her bedridden state, his own sins echo in his ears, and he vows that he will find the new vampire and drive the stake in, himself.

Did you read that? He will drive the stake in, himself. For me, that is Barnabas Collins. And that’s why HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS sits so uneasily with me. I was circumspect yesterday, but I’m feeling a tad more honest, now. We only got one shot at a Barnabas movie. It’s a shame that it went the easy route of reducing the great man to a cardboard villain. Barnabas was one of television’s most intriguing, nuanced, and thoroughly developed characters. This episode shows him at his Quixotic best. It is inevitable that must I paraphrase Dr. Clifford Scridlow, “For whenever intimidation and injustice vie with decency and honor, let the inner Barnabases arise, and arise they must. For within every one of us, there is a Barnabas. A dormant Barnabas. A supreme arbitrator who can be summoned to intervene when crises threaten the stabilities and wellbeings of our heartlands.”

If only Barnabas could have taken on a pimp named Mom.

We are nearing Kathryn Leigh Scott’s final episode. She was always one of the series finest actors. Her raw take as Barnabas’ prisoner gave the show a gravitas and immediacy. This was no longer romance. This was danger of the most visceral kind. Now at the end of her journey, she bravely allows Maggie an even darker edge. Perhaps she wants to become a vampire. Perhaps she wants to die. She is tired of fighting. She is tired of constantly living as Collinwood’s collateral damage. And more of ragnarok’s shrapnel goes about its bloody work. This is a terminal storyline. In Campbellian terms, it is a point of no return unlike any our heroes have faced, and few will survive to fight. This is happening to our big, warm, dysfunctional, surrogate family. This is apocalyptic storytelling.

That’s not to say it isn’t funny. When Julia confronts Barnabas, convinced he’s the vampire on the attack, it’s like a sitcom where the harridan housewife is convinced her husband is cheating, right down to, “Oh don’t try to deny it!”

It was one of my favorite Chronicles to write. This is the evening from Barnabas’ perspective…

I have never been a cuckolding husband, but if I were, and were I confronted by a long- suffering shrew of a spouse, and yet (as in a French farce) were genuinely innocent...?
Cast Julia Hoffman as the embittered wife and one Barnabas Collins as the blameless and bedeviled pater noster, and you have the scene that erupted in Collins Hall as I was just finishing a particularly juicy chapter of Tristram Shandy and attempting to relax before going to sleep. My formula was working marvelously, and then? Quick as boiled asparagus, Doctor Hoffman appeared in a blast of Chanel Number 5 and stale, cigarette smoke to accuse me of feeding upon Miss Margaret Evans. I most certainly did not, as the rumbling from my stomach and general, sour mood could easily attest. Miss Evans had been the victim of some other vampire. Thomas Jennings, Angelique, Dirk Wilkins, and Megan Todd clearly taught the community that I am not a single-sellership in the realm of the beast. Did Julia believe my declarations of innocence? It takes no Sebastian Shaw to penetrate the mystery of that inquiry. Regarding Julia's opinion? At this point, is there any person of reason who gives a tinker's damn?
I will sort this all out when the sun sets, but as for now, I simply lie here in an insomniac's helpless rage. I have no desire to cause violence to innocent humans. I merely want to parse fact from fiction, eradicate whatever vampire bit Miss Evans, and then try to move on with saving Collinwood from utter destruction. That was, as I recall, the entire point of our actions.
Does that strain the boundary of reasonable expectations? I think not.

Finally, in history, it was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. But not without note. It’s the birthday of Sean Connery, Elvis Costello, and Monty Hall. And behind door #1? Elton John’s first live appearance in the US on this very day in 1970. Welcome, Elton!

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