Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: NOVEMBER 2


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1142

Gerard, thinking he’s rid himself of Judah’s head, is none too pleased to have a cultist named Charles Dawson present him with it. Gerard is unable to resist the seductive power of Judah’s head, and after donning the Mask of Baal, becomes completely possessed by the warlock. Delighted to be among the living once more, “Judard” counts the loyal descendants of his coven and plots revenge against Angelique (once known as Miranda) and the Collinses -- those responsible for his execution. A witch trial should be a perfect way to do so. Dawson admonishes him to be careful… he’s powerful, but the body of Gerard is not immortal. Later, “Gerard” takes the opportunity of the time in and around Roxanne’s visitation to encourage Trask to blame her death on the occult. Could it be Barnabas? Gerard and Dawson then seduce a classmate of Roxanne’s, Lorna Bell, into an occult ceremony. When her dead body is discovered with the “mark of the devil” (similar to the symbol on Quentin’s ring) on it, Trask concludes that Quentin is the guilty occultist.

Imagine, a DARK SHADOWS storyline with so much action and plot that it moves with the tight pace of a weekly series, only with the frequency of daily installments. I can see why this might have been disorienting to viewers of 1970, numbed by the glacial pace of the Leviathan and PT storylines. Ultimately, it’s a reason to celebrate. 1840 is reaching its fever pitch, layering the patterns of the past on top of one another with the bonding mortar of irony, this time with a witch trial wherein the Collinses are more than accusers or casual bystanders… now, they’re on trial, themselves. By this point in the series, the SHADOWS saga must be nearing its end. As DARK SHADOWS turns on itself, it doesn’t rehash past storylines; it refines and reconfigures them to reach the show’s grandest and darkest intensity. This is no longer wine; it’s grappa. Resurrected Masters of the Black Arts! Occult Ceremonies! Maidens Murdered by Cursed Daggers! Masks of Baal! A Trask Driven by Love and Regret! The Devil’s Ring! And Revenge! Revenge! REVENGE!!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?

In theaters at this time, you would have had the opportunity to see what is arguably the best Sherlock Holmes movie ever made -- that you may have never seen -- THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. Written and directed by the man behind both SUNSET BOULEVARD and SOME LIKE IT HOT, this film fuses both of those works with an elan that is decidedly Sherlockian and proto-steampunk to boot. And let's not forget that it features Christopher Lee as Mycroft!  Originally intended as a stately, roadshow release, it was cut down at the eleventh hour and opened on October 29, 1970. Thanks to its episodic nature, it survives despite the cuts. Still, the film has a strangely epic sense of sweep, thanks in no small part to Miklós Rózsa’s score, by turns bombastic and poignant. The CHS says check it out.

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