By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 625
As Jeff awaits his wedding to Vicki, Eve appears to him with a letter he allegedly wrote as Peter Bradford. The letter was one to Danielle, explaining his love for Victoria and his hopes of seeing her in the afterlife, once the law has hanged him. Jeff puts a halt to the wedding plans until he can dig up Peter’s grave. If no body is found there, then he must be Peter Bradford. As Victoria succumbs to fatalism about the wedding, Jeff and Roger discover that Peter Bradford’s coffin is unoccupied.
I don’t care what might be going on in the other years of DARK SHADOWS on this day, the (almost) wedding of Victoria Winters is a milestone that demands attention. The episode is ripe with DARK SHADOWS logic, especially, “If the grave from 1795 is empty, then it follows that I am the deathless man who should have occupied it.”
Of course, as any school child could have explained.
It’s filled with DARK SHADOWS moments. Vicki doesn’t understand things… except for the sense of emotional entropy that is her birthright as a Collins. Roger keeps calling the groom, “Clark,” despite Liz’s disapproval. Great quotes abound. It’s terminal position in the storyline of the series’ first protagonist makes it essential viewing. I’m unsure how confident the writers were in the sense of cause and effect in the story. How did Jeff get there? Why is his identity as Peter Bradford such a dealmaker or dealbreaker? I would think Vicki would be delighted either way. More mysteries. There are times when this storyline feels like a project built with tools far more elaborate than necessary. “Well, we have all of this mythos stuff from 1795 hanging around. Renting a mythos is expensive, boys! Let’s use it for something!”
In 1966 on this day, you would have found the studios empty. The cast and crew were on another stock footage safari, shooting inserts on location. Less happily, this was a rotten day in 1989, as it marked the death of Robert Gerringer, the prime actor to play that bright, perceptive, brave agent of conscience, Dr. Dave Woodard. A fine actor who exuded integrity, Gerringer can also be seen in THE EXORCIST. He was only 63 when he died in 1989, meaning that he was barely out of his thirties when he appeared as Woodard. His sense of authority makes him read as much older. He truly comes off as an alien in Collinsport. A little too big city. A little too no-nonsense. A little too witty. But it’s an otherness that works, and his murder creates an even greater vacuum in Collinsport as a result. Robert Gerringer and Dave Woodard, you are both missed.