Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: NOVEMBER 15


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 632

Nicholas is assailed on all fronts. Tom is late and Adam is missing. Well, at least he can marry Maggie -- he summons her just for that purpose. When Adam shambles in, Nicholas explains that she will provide the life force for the new Eve, but Adam has his reservations. Maggie later arrives and after much haggling, is persuaded to marry Nicholas. Meanwhile, Chris Jennings arrives at Windcliff to see his nearly abandoned little sister, Amy. She initially rejects his peace offering, but when he nervously proclaims that he will stay in Collinsport, she melts. He proceeds to the inn where he gets the most isolated room possible. Later, though, terrible crashing and moaning sounds in his quarters summon the innkeeper, Mr. Wells, who is attacked by something inside and killed. Meanwhile, Nicholas drugs Maggie and begins the black rites that will send Maggie to Hell and into his arms. 

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Bobbi Ann Woronko.
I probably left out the kitchen sink, because Diabolos knows, this one has everything else. I don’t even know where to begin, except to say that the team serves up another winner that will silence anyone who claims the show is boring or inert. Don Briscoe admirably commands the screen as Chris Jennings, exuding an authentic benevolence that counterbalances so much of the malevolence that traps the other characters. His kindness toward Amy provides one of the all-time warmest scenes on the show, and Denise Nickerson matches him with honesty and surprising steel for such a young performer making her debut on the show. Humbert Astredo also surprises in the episode by pushing Nicholas further and further beyond the cocky villain we first met many months ago. His humanity grows as his power wanes… or is it the other way around? Whereas once he could have commanded the dead with a mere gesture, he now has to slip Maggie a mickey just to get her to lie on a black altar. It’s a bad day overall for anyone associated with the Collinsport Inn, not just Maggie. Canadian hunk Conrad Bain is back to overwhelm the senses, and that much beefcake is just irresistible to a werewolf eager to sink his teeth into the beast called man. This also marks the debut of Chris as said werewolf, even though we don’t see him in lycan form. Finally, let’s give the clap -- the golf clap, thank you -- to beauty contest winner, Bobbi Ann Woronko, who appears in her contest prize role of Nurse Pritchett. It’s a performance so flat that it seems like real life. 632 is just one thing after another, including a surprising amount of blood on the late Mr. Wells. It’s his last appearance on the show, and such a wild episode reframes the show as something that is almost the total antithesis of episode 1, in which Bain also stole the show. Even though Bain probably only made scale, he’s so fine, there’s no telling where the money went. 

On this day in history, the Soviet Union shortage of potatoes and grain led to a need to import vodka from the US of A. I hope it was Burnett’s, which is the wise bartender’s secret, much the way that Old Crow can fool many bourbon snobs into thinking they’re drinking the good stuff. That’s how they roll at the Blue Whale, and that’s how we swing at the CHS. 

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