Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: NOVEMBER 10


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 364

The ghost of Sarah informs Barnabas that, although he taught her goodness, he has fallen away from it, and she must withhold affection until he discovers it once more. Meanwhile, Vicki learns that Burke died in a plane crash in Brazil. Finally, the ghost of Sarah informs David that ghosts from the past are observing, angry, and restless.

This episode always made a strong impression on me. When I watched the show for the first time, when I was eleven (or was it fourteen?), Burke was the closest thing to a hero I perceived on the show, and so the finality of his death was a strange bummer. Because I had no backstage knowledge, I had no idea why he was being written out. He seemed to be a fixture on the show, and so his death was that much more of a non-sequitur. I’m not sure I’d experienced a death up to that point. It actually gave me a hint of the associated feelings. Sobering, certainly. And nothing beats a sober eleven year-old. I was also struck by the concept that the dead were angry at the living… and capable of action. As someone perpetually in trouble with the living, I can think of nothing worse than having the transcendent dead angry at me, too. The first half of DARK SHADOWS does a marvelous job of painting Collinwood as an ancient battlefield. In its rooms and corridors, conflict upon conflict played out with such fury that their echoes can never be ignored. Warnings such as Sarah’s create that redolent atmosphere. At mythic moments like this, DARK SHADOWS creates a total immersion for the viewer… an immersion in mood, history, wonder, and portended doom.

On top of all of this, we have the resolution of Barnabas’ quest to see his sister. Be careful what you wish for. This is a vital glimpse into Barnabas’ humanity. It’s a tell on the writers’ part that they have an heroic evolution planned. Both Jonathan Frid and Sharon Smyth excel in this scene, and you know… you just know… that Barnabas will continue to do terrible things and he’s tortured by it. He is his own frog and his own scorpion. But now we know that there is an inner hero waiting to emerge. How did he become obscured? How will he overcome? With this episode, the key questions and possibilities for the rest of the series are laid. As such, it is -- in its own, quiet way -- one of the four or five most important episodes in all 1,225.

On this day in 1968, Tracy Morgan was born while TV Mail published this, “I always watch Dark Shadows and I would like to see it on for an hour, not a half-hour. What can I do about getting the change.”?

“Write to ABC, New York,” was the response.

It didn’t work. 

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