By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 334
Burke and Dave arrive at Collinwood and break it to David that there was nothing in Barnabas’ basement but basementy stuff. David, however, remains convinced that Barnabas is up to no good. He goes so far as to break his promise to Sarah and reveals his knowledge of the secret room in the mauseoleum. This immediately gains the young wraith’s ire, and David knows it as ‘London Bridge’ begins to play. Throughout the episode, Roger has been especially contrarian to Dave and Burke, attempting to dissuade them from their involvement with David. Later with Vicki, Roger reveals that he’s actually very fond of his son and deeply concerned for his well-being. Will he have to be institutionalized? Maybe. At the mausoleum, David fails to trigger the door for the secret room, but upon leaving, he finds Sarah’s flute. At last, tangible evidence of the great beyond.
Okay, it’s safe. We’re alone. No one can hear me typing this to you. We can admit it. Sometimes DARK SHADOWS is slow. In fact, there are two types of slow. Slow-slow and DARK SHADOWS-slow. When the show goes to the latter, it feels like more of a practical joke than a program. These are always the episodes I accidentally show to people with doubts about the program. A show like this is akin to watching someone of exquisite sadism stretch out ‘the Aristocrats’ joke as long as they can. In many of those cases, when the punchline is so tantalizingly close, events slow down more and more to keep us from reaching it. It’s like Zeno takes over as showrunner. Anyway, this is an episode that could have been done in five minutes, but they stretch it out to a conspicuous degree. Here is the actual matter in the episode:
Burke: I’m sorry, Davey, but there was nothing in Barnabas’ basement.
David: Then he must’ve moved it to the secret room in the mausoleum. Can we please look? Please?
Woodard: Why not? No stone unturned and all that.
Roger: David, please, this is insanity!
David (hearing Sarah’s music): Sarah, I’m sorry. But I had to….
Burke: Roger, let the kid try.
Roger: I still say that this morbidity is the limit.
Burke, David, and Woodard exit.
Vicki: Weren’t you awfully hard on him?
Roger: I’m too worried to be anything less. I’m still his father.
Later, at the mausoleum, David yanks at the ring in the lion’s mouth.
David: I don’t get it. This was supposed to trigger the door. The room’s behind it. Honest!
Burke: Well, we can’t win ‘em all, kiddo.
David: Gee whiz… hey, this flute, it wasn’t here before. It’s
Sarah’s! She really is real!
As David skips out…
Burke: Dave, did you see this flute here before?
Woodard: I can’t say… and that worries me, Burke. That worries me.
Highlight? Roger’s admission of love for David. It’s been a long time coming, and is deeply satisfying to hear. Once Barnabas arrived, Roger’s character transformed into something far gentler, and the writers handled the transition with subtle restraint, and that’s where this episode shines. It also shines in a different melancholic sense. This is Robert (Dave Woodard #2) Gerringer’s last show. He refused to cross the picket line during the 1967 NABET (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) strike and was replaced. That fits. Gerringer’s Woodard is a wise, cranky, pragmatic, passionate man of curmudgeonly principle. Exactly the sort who’d support a just strike.