Monday, December 5, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 5


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 644

David and Amy search for an escape from the storage room in the west wing as Carolyn awakes from a nightmare about their deaths. Along with Roger and Liz, she sees her grandfather’s name -- Jamison -- written on her mirror. The family is galvanized into a search, but find nothing. Meanwhile, David and Amy find antique clothes that fit them all too well. A gift from Quentin? A sweet, Edwardian tune on a Victrola pulls Amy toward a wall that turns out to be hollow. Although the adults -- seemingly guided by the voice of Magda -- are fruitless in their quest for the kids, David finds a secret panel leading to an unknown chamber. They begin to crawl within.

When I hear ‘Dark Shadows,’ I don’t immediately think ‘vampire.’ Do you? I think haunted house, late at night, with a tempest outside hurling down rain like shards of rock from the hand of an angry god. 644? You deliver, and thus we get a marvelously respectable example to show someone as their first episode of DARK SHADOWS. We’ve known that Collinwood was haunted as hell since our first lectures on its history, and at last, the living residents take the battle to the undead, probing within to uncover their mysteries, armed with nothing but courage, foolishness, and candlelight. This is an episode where the characters don’t just allude to the past; they wrestle with it. Roger and Elizabeth must solve a riddle involving their own father. 1897 might sound like ancient history to use, but to them, it’s only seventy-one years in the past. For us now, that would be the equivalent of 1945, a time when my own my stepfather was a teenager. Doesn’t feel like so long ago, does it? (And, just for the hell of it, Dan Curtis was 25 in 1945.) We also begin the motif of ghosts forcing children into the clothing of their ancestors, a strange parallel to what the show was doing with their actors.

Also, let’s celebrate the first DARK SHADOWS performance of Quentin’s Song, “Shadows of the Past Night.” 1897 is such a gift to viewers, and a sentimental, inviting tune like this draws us further inward toward the mysterious, allusive world of Quentin Collins. It would go on to be a Grammy-nominated, Top Ten single in 1969, notably recorded by Andy Williams and Vic Fontaine.

On this day in 1970, the world lost Fred Stewart, the actor who played Dr. Reeves in the early part of the series. Stewart had an admirable Broadway career, appearing in original production of THE CRUCIBLE and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. But not as Maggie. 

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