Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 6


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 382

1795. Attempting to reason out why Josette and Jeremiah eloped, the Countess and Abigail focus their attentions on the many ways in which Victoria is a little-too-coincidentally out of place. Naomi will have none of it, but while she confers with Vicki, Abigail searches her room. The rifling is disrupted as the cat explodes, revealing Joshua in its place. An interrogated Victoria hides behind a dim memory, a condition shared with a furious Joshua. As they try to understand what is motivating Josette and whether or not Victoria is responsible, Natalie and Naomi finish the search of the governess’ room, and they find modern clothes and a charm bracelet misread as occult. Abigail summons Trask from Salem.

Let’s just get it out into the open; I think it’s clear that Joshua remembers far more of being a cat than he cares to recall. He complains of a burning scent after regaining his human shape, but couldn’t he really be marveling at the taste of 1795’s equivalent of Whiskas still in his mouth? And the bigger question, still… and if no one else is going to ask, I will -- is his chamber pot filled with sand? Louis Edmonds has a feline quality, anyway. What habits remained? These deeply pertinent questions and observations are why we’re here. Are they dangerous to ask? Of course. But as Wallace explained when editing Sargon’s piece for the upcoming anthology, SMELL THE HAND OF MONSTER SERIAL, “I'm in command. I could order this, but I'm not because Edgar is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any reference to the fact that maybe Joshua liked being a cat a little too much, but I must point out that the possibilities - the potential for knowledge and advancement - is equally great. Risk! Risk is our business. That's what this Daybook is all about. That's why we're aboard her.”

Seeing Abigail as master detective is one of 1795’s highlights… much like the Ur-Mrs. Kravitz on steroids. The charm bracelet is a perfectly passable piece of evidence, but the 1991 series vastly improved upon it with the occult reading of Vicki’s clothes care instruction tags. “Cool iron,” indeed.

It’s taken the show a year and a half to name its ultimate bete noir, but in 382, “Trask” is mentioned for the first time. If he and his family are so intensely opposed to the Collinses, our stiff and secretive New England aristocrats are suddenly swingers by comparison. No, they’re not the anti-Collinses, but to devote so much time to their destruction? What do the Collinses have to earn such ire? Simple. For a Trask, that much power cannot exist with Abigail as the exception and not the rule. And each generation has different reasons for that. In 1795, it’s in the name of God. In 1897, it’s because the prideful are more easily gulled by the avaricious. In 1840, small-mindedness is advantageous to Trask in the saddest way; it’s a mediocrity commensurate with his own. Greatness is the birthright of a Collins, even if the greatness is grandly self-destructive. But even that kind of Gothic self-ruination requires a strange boldness and imagination. Trasks never lack for boldness. It’s much sadder than that. It’s the imagination they lack.

On this day in 1967, Adrian Kantrowitz performed the first human heart transplant in the United States, and the world took yet another bold step toward the future. I like that superstition was portrayed so honestly and ridiculously on DARK SHADOWS right before kids turned to the news and saw a life-extending triumph of science.

Never enough of that.

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