By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 900
A near-blithering Paul Stoddard is besieged by phone calls telling him that his time is up. Carolyn finds him sitting in pentagrams and gives him her own amulet for protection. Of course, it vanishes. She tries to get him to see Dr. Hoffman, and when he finally does, threatening telephone messages follow him. Meanwhile, the doctor finds Barnabas to be more distant than ever, completely disinterested in the chance that Quentin and Amanda Harris may be alive. Barnabas meets Paul Stoddard at the Blue Whale to give meaning to the menace. He has him relive the night he left Collinwood in 1949. That evening, he met a Mr. Strak at the very same bar and makes a bet. Strak will give him success and wealth, and Paul will give him… his most valuable possession. The joke is that Paul has nothing of value. In hearing this, Barnabas smiles. Paul says that if it’s soul they want, they can take it. Barnabas replies that they are uninterested. Then what do they want? What is his most prized possession? When Carolyn enters the bar, Paul is horrified to realize that she is the answer.
Saki it to me, baby!
Another DARK SHADOWS episode that nearly works as a self-contained thriller/morality tale, 900 is a tiny gem that puts Paul Stoddard center stage. It also gives us one of our shortest flashbacks -- 1949. On the downside, the script asks Dennis Patrick to play the overwrought pedal sans relent. It’s not the first time, and it sure won’t be the last. At least we get a number of treats along the way. Carolyn’s magic charm is straight out of a Universal Monsters movie. (And the way it vanishes on Paul Stoddard is one of the series’ great, metaphysical jump scares. This is a huge and evil universe they stare down, indeed.) Jonathan Frid is having a ball perverting Barnabas into a grinning Iago worth every bit of his Shakespearean salt. Arctic with Julia over Quentin, obsequious with Paul Stoddard at the Blue Whale. He’s on vacation from the fraught and hapless goody-goody melody. That belongs to Julia, brilliantly emerging as the gritty heroine of what is, essentially, an adventure about an occult pandemic. Who better to face it down? And it ends on a helluva punchline.
Quiet day in 1969… unless you’re on a plane with Jim Morrison. In that case, you’re watching him be arrested for, well, being Jim Morrison. Guard your lizard. Meanwhile, in 1966, they’re still filming inserts in DARK SHADOWS country.