By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 366
Victoria finds herself outside of “Collinwood” (the pre-New House name for the Old House) in the year 1795. There, a young Barnabas and a living Sarah greet her, and explain that she must be the new governess, a recent survivor of an overturned carriage. Vicki, stunned, allows herself to go inside and change into period-appropriate clothing -- her only possessions save a family history book that has inexplicably accompanied her. She is grilled by a suspicious and superstitious Aunt Abigail but does not betray her true point of origin. Meanwhile, she learns that Barnabas’ bride, Josette, is on her way from Martinique. Vicki is delighted to see a man she thinks is Joe Haskell, but it turns out to be a skirt-chasing sailor, Nathan Forbes. And 1795 begins!
There was no other choice. Due to schedules and weekends and fate, the Daybook has missed out on a number of key episodes. But this one? What a moment. I had read about it for years, but when I finally saw it in my teens, the first glimpse of 1795 that it provided was just magic. The producers, I’m sure, had no idea what a significant storytelling move they were making by having the cast double up in other roles, but this is the moment that DARK SHADOWS moved into the country of metaphor as well as the literal. It is at this point that Louis Edmonds is playing something more than Roger or Joshua. Those are just two sides of a much more complex figure. Variations on American Aristocrat? Maybe. Both are fathers who connect with their sons only after the greatest difficulties. Both love power of the family name but lack the bravery and imagination of the ancestors who actually built the empire. Edward will add nuance to that. As will PT Roger, Daniel, and even Brutus. The player really missing in the equivalency game is John Karlen.
Yes, it must be noted that this timeline differs from what’s been described, but is that due to faulty memories, bad historicity, or fracturing timelines?
But rather than get bogged down in literary folderall, let’s just marvel at this moment. DARK SHADOWS is notoriously generous with its viewers, and actually stopping the show to take us on a multi-month origin story, rich with new characters, new cast members, and fantastic design is more than a ratings ploy… it’s a gift. Now, we can brag about the variety present in DARK SHADOWS, and back then I can only imagine that it was even more exciting. It was a statement that anything was possible, and that this was one soap that would not be bound to the literal and traditional. Sy Tomashoff is worthy of special congrats. With only a very small patch of brick and a door, he conveys a “Collinwood” that brims with such freshness that I wonder why they need a newer house. That says “time travel,” right there. And I also appreciate a small implication about the different sitting room furniture arrangement; it suggests that Barnabas truly makes it his own place when he finally has it completely to himself in 1967. And Barnabas? Jonathan Frid seems to have stepped right out of the Blue Boy with an Eddie Haskell demeanor that just demands a cheek-pinching.
And for once, Vicki has every reason to not understand. Just don’t look down at Nathan Forbes’ trousers too intently. Um. Just don’t. Clearly, they’d be making some revisions in costuming.
On this day in 1967, Theodore Maiman is granted a patent for the world’s first laser system. It was ruby-based. I wish I could say that he used it to hold the world hostage or something, and that Dean Martin had to defeat him with a freeze gun, but none of it would be true.