By PATRICK McCRAY
Aug. 4, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode: 39
Burke is like an Ayn Rand hero set loose in real life. What am I saying? Compared to the worlds of Rand, DARK SHADOWS is real life. In sad news, this day also marks the death of actor John Baragrey. He played James Blair, the partner of Bronson, Burke’s business thug. Blair later loses a pen, and thus begins a storyline around it. One that suggests that Burke might have killed Bill Malloy. But it’s not that interesting. In fact, it is, in this author’s opinion, the single dullest storyline they ever cooked up. Just wait. Just wait. But John Baragrey, the actor, was an interesting man who appeared in GAMERA THE INVINCIBLE (1967) as his last film.
Aug. 4, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode: 299
As Victoria gazes longingly in the garden, Barnabas looks on. He almost bites her neck when she sees him. He apologizes for frightening her. Barnabas then rhapsodizes about the peace of a lifetime at night… a lifetime of moonlight. Vicki says it might appeal to her too. She’s a romantic. Barnabas says that he has more volumes of family histories, but she says that she can’t look at them for the next several nights. They will all be spent with Burke Devlin. Julia interrupts. Vicki goes to change for her date with Burke, asking to see the histories at another time. Julia reminds Barnabas that he was going to leave Vicki alone. A power struggle develops. She orders him to stay away from Vicki and he surrenders.
Upstairs, Vicki struggles to choose between two unflattering dresses of equally hideous colors and prints. Julia interrupts. Vicki asks her to choose. Julia chooses the ugly, unflattering blue one over the ugly, unflattering pink one. She then advises Vicki away from Barnabas because of the kind of man he is. Julia says that he’s a randy, single male, in little control of his outraged, bachelor’s glands. This dissuades Vicki. Later, she and Burke meet in the garden, and he comments on her quiet mood. They both say much in celebration of the virtue of not saying anything. Burke then points out that stars are in the sky, and then talks about how worthless his father was, beyond being an amateur planetarium guide who walked out on his family when Burke was nine. Vicki compares scars by citing her savior as an Irish nurse who gave her a doll she still strangely fetishizes. Burke and Vicki then proclaim love by not saying anything. No, I’m not making this up. They finally kiss. He says that it’s been almost a year since his return to Collinsport. A governess transformed his thoughts for revenge to ones of respectful and courtly lust. Burke pledges eternal love. A watching Barnabas makes other plans. Inside, as they leave, the inevitable Julia returns.
Okay, I was in a catty mood when I wrote this one. So sue me. Burke claims he’s been there almost a year. But according to the fine folk at the Dark Shadows wiki, it’s only day 110. If we presume that Day 1 was June 27, 1966, it would only be October 15. So, now I’m catty and pedantic. Yeesh. The vital things in this episode are the confirmation of Burke and Vicki’s romance, as well as the ubiquity of Julia Hoffman. For a while, she’s a bit like Dr. Bellows, always popping up when least convenient. At one point in an episode around now, it’s as if she just stands at the doors to the Old House for hours, waiting for poor Barnabas to open them.
Aug. 4, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode: 816
1897. Barnabas is now the captive of Petofi, who chains his coffin. Petofi says their battle will continue until Barnabas gives up his mission to the past. He will use military strategy: increase the pressure until surrender is the only alternative. Petofi will attack those in 1897 and in 1969. Petofi may begin his attack with the use of a single name: David Collins. Petofi enters a trance, commanding Jamison Collins to meld minds with David Collins. Jamison awakens with David’s mind, calling Nora “Amy” and demanding she call Quentin’s ghost on the phone. He has no idea it’s 1897. The real Quentin enters and is baffled by Jamison’s behavior. He recognizes the name of David Collins, though. He sends Nora away, and David falls into a sleep before he can explain to Quentin what he thinks is going on. Tim Shaw arrives in Nora’s room and learns of Jamison’s strangeness. Tim asks for the package. She admits she unwrapped it but did not see the contents. She can’t give him the box because Jamison took it. Tim is enraged, but he becomes thoughtful when he begins to consider that Petofi may have possessed Jamison to meet his ends. Tim runs to the drawing room, but Quentin refuses to admit him to see Jamison. He then tells Tim that Jamison doesn’t have the hand. Quentin then presses for information on Amanda. Quentin’s on to Tim. Where is the hand? Quentin tells him to go to the abandoned mill. Aristede can lead him to the hand’s owner. Back in the drawing room, an awakening Jamison thinks he’s dead, and that they are both ghosts. It’s just as the ghost of Quentin promised. A confused Quentin is determined to seek Barnabas’ help. Quentin attempts to summon Barnabas via telepathy. At the mill, Tim accosts Aristede with a gun, threatening to kill him unless he gets the hand. Petofi intervenes. Tim has no idea who he is and threatens to kill them both. Petofi reveals he’s 150 years old, and that the hand is his. He holds it aloft in victory. But Tim won’t be happy unless he has revenge on Trask and Hanley. Petofi may help for a price, and one day Tim may have something he wants. Tim leaves, and Petofi encourages Aristede to enjoy the thrill of near death before dismissing him. He senses two visitors approaching. If Aristede is to see Amanda at the Blue Whale, he is to give her Petofi’s regards. Quentin enters with Jamison, imploring him for help. He explains the possession of Jamison by David. It was a name Jamison mentioned from a dream. Quentin reasons that Petofi owes Jamison a debt for serving as a vessel. Petofi impishly wonders if he will or will not help. Jamison murmurs for Quentin. But how is that possible from a boy from 1969?
This episode would air on the day the Manson murders were announced. Suddenly, I suspect that television horror seemed much safer to the parents of 1969. I wonder if this somehow, even unconsciously, shaped the next storyline. The Leviathans are, if anything, a family. The episode’s highlight for me is Petofi’s impish uncertainty over whether he will or will not help Jamison. Sloppy writing? On the contrary. It is marvelously controlled chaos. Petofi is one of TV’s true original characters, reflecting the ripe ingenuity of the show’s writers. He is like Kramer in his wondrous uniqueness. I envy audiences of 1969. This is no longer a soap opera; it is grand opera... with a libretto by Stan Lee.
Aug. 4, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode: 1077
Quentin begs for Daphne to reappear. She materializes before him. Quentin is smitten. She gives him the bouquet and touches his face tenderly. She turns away and vanishes into the darkness as all lights extinguish. Quentin lights a candle, but she is gone. Only the bouquet remains on the floor. Upstairs, Maggie asks David to not take his boat out in the dark. He becomes distracted by a model of a boat. He says that he found it in the attic. They agree on its beauty and value. Maggie leaves, and as David looks at the boat, Daphne appears. He asks if Daphne gave him the boat. She nods yes, but will answer no more. Quentin knocks and Daphne vanishes. He offers David his camera for the picnic, and then smells lilacs in the room. He wonders who was wearing such perfume. Quentin discloses that a scent like that can indicate a spirit was there. Would that frighten him? David says yes. Quentin apologizes and leaves. Alone, David admits that he noticed the scent also. In the drawing room, Maggie interrupts Carolyn calling on the phone. She says that she was trying to call Jeb. He’s alive! They both admit that Sebastian looks like Jeb, but Maggie reminds her that Jeb is dead. Carolyn insists that it may really be Jeb. Maggie tries to talk her out of it, but Carolyn’s love continues to compel her to keep looking. Alone, Quentin ponders if David saw Daphne. She again appears to him and he follows her to a bedroom. He lights a candle and sees a note. It is a note that says that nothing has terrified her more than the thought someone loved her. The note is unfinished. Quentin says that he will help her if she reappears. The note then vanishes. The next day at the picnic, David is photographing Maggie at the picnic. He then photographs Carolyn. Finally, as a storm brews, he hesitates before taking a photo of Maggie and Quentin. He feels a presence behind him, but takes the photo, anyway. Quentin senses a presence. Inside after the storm breaks, Carolyn admits to Maggie that she was wrong to confuse Sebastian and Jeb. Quentin enters and Caroline leaves. Maggie mentions the futility of loving the dead. This smarts Quentin, but he discloses that a family history reveals that he had a great-granduncle who shared his name in 1840. Caroline finds David developing the film. David points out that there is another presence in the photos. A smirking Gerard looks on in the background.
Jeb is Carolyn’s Josette, and DARK SHADOWS spins its sad cycle again and again. The show plays the theme of VERTIGO as much as the older classics. It’s odd that Collinwood is such a repository for the echoes of the past when it was built to be a new beginning. Joe Caldwell is writing his heart out with these tightly plotted segments of the Ragnarok arc. How many people are there captured by loves from the past? Is that a soap opera staple or simply one of the most important stories from life that we need to tell ourselves repeatedly? That might be what Joseph Campbell would have said. If so, what do we take from it? Move on? Maybe. Or perhaps we should simply accept that we are carved more by our wounds than caresses? For good or ill, they are a part of us. A central Buddhist teaching is that there is no permanence. Characters in DARK SHADOWS seem to find happiness when they reconcile that the past is what has made them, but the future is where they are bound. Does embracing the future mean betraying the past? I don’t think so. Barnabas moves on in the most complicated relationship with future and past possible. Quentin is a sadder subject. How many loves has he consigned to old age and death? Perhaps only a ghost, impervious to the threat of death, is the only romantic partner with possibility for him. One more woman to save, but a woman he can never lose.