Monday, September 19, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 19


Taped in this date in 1966: Episode 66

Roger and Burke square off, with Burke openly accusing him of driving the car that ended a life… and Burke’s freedom. Roger explains that it’s all been legally settled, so Burke better have more. He does. He openly accuses Roger of offing Bill Malloy. He says that that at the meeting, Malloy was going to pin Sam Evans down and, despite his sweating, thrashing, and protests, make him come clean about Burke’s innocence. But as we know, Bill never came at all, and that’s thanks to Roger. In speaking with Burke, Roger presents an elaborate alibi that involves time consuming home paperwork that robbed him of the free time necessary to kill Malloy. He adds that Vicki can corroborate this. Meanwhile, she’s busy explaining to Liz that she’s in the habit of sending herself letters so that she has mail to open. Roger summons her downstairs to satisfy Burke’s alibi-curiosity. When she kinda-sorta does, Burke leaves in a huff, vowing that he’ll be back.

Say what you will, DARK SHADOWS never leaves you wanting for a richness of character exposition. I was about to write that we get yet more of Vicki’s sob story related to a masochistic Liz, but there’s a flip side. DARK SHADOWS gives its characters the invaluable gift of time. Used wisely by the writers, it allows them to enhance and reveal the characters with an almost artisanal care, carefully varnishing layer upon layer. When Vicki comments that nothing really happened in her life prior to Collinwood, Liz has a pained expression that asks all of the right questions and coyly answers none of them. Does she regret it? Is this just part of Collinwood? Did she know she would be sharing the wealth? Did things only hit the fan when Vicki arrived? Does she feel guilty that Vicki’s life was so dull in New York?

The episode is one of the great chances to sit and allow Burke and Roger to cross swords when each finally has a sharpened cutlass in his grip. Burke has the moral high ground of truth. Roger pretty much has the situation licked. So often, Roger fights from a position of fear and weakness, and after a while, this makes his contribution to the story a bit shrill and predictable. No longer!

Mythologically, the most intriguing element to the episode is Vicki’s de-meta’ing the opening narrations by acknowledging that she scrupulously writes down everything that happens at Collinwood. I love this because it does something real and narratively intrinsic to her introductions, both grounding them in common sense and positioning her as far more aware than we might be moved to believe.

Quiet day in the news, perhaps as a prelude for what I think of as the Big Story tomorrow. As always, though, you’re asking if it were a good day for Chuck McCann. Yes, his cartoon series, COOL MCCOOL was in full swing, all thanks to the creative talents of Bob Kane, perhaps relieved that with this, he might finally make a cultural statement.

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