By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1167
Gerard begins to manipulate Daphne’s dreams to influence her romantic inclinations toward him. Lamar pushes to involve Barnabas as a subject of the trail, and with Gerard, begins researching him. Given what has gone on at Collinwood with Roxanne, is there a vampire at Collinwood? They consult Flora, who is writing on the subject. She reminds them of the Collinsport vampire incident of the 1790’s, and Lamar notes that his father disappeared at that time. Curious, they ask Carrie Stokes if her Uncle Ben wrote about it, and she directs him to her diary. Meanwhile, Mordecai Grimes’ son, Jeremy, begins to romance her. From the diary, they learn that Lamar vanished while investigating the Old House basement. Could the Barnabas of 1795 and his “son” be one and the same? Remembering sounds he heard in the basement walls, Lamar decides to tear through it. There, in the Old House cellar, he finds his father’s skeleton, a letter, and a newfound hatred for Barnabas Collins.
You can never outrun the past because it’s probably somewhere in your future. In DARK SHADOWS, anyway. This is again one of the special treats the writers serendipitously afforded themselves by not only crafting such a rich mythos, but by using time travel so inventively. I know that Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale are horror fans, and I can only hope that DARK SHADOWS was a part of their earlier TV diet. If so, it explains a lot about the BTTF trilogy. To those who feel that Barnabas is temperamental, and he is, the story has him pay the bill… often long after he’s learned his lessons. I love the symmetry of the 1840 storyline. Barnabas, a fairly passive man, comes into his own only through the events surrounding the witch trial of 1795. The irony of his final challenges as a man of action -- yet another witch trial, facing down the necessary deeds of his past and origin -- is one that can only exist in literature. The final kick in the cosmic pants? Trask’s course is set by Ben’s diary, which the manservant could only write having been taught by Barnabas. As is true in life, our good deeds tend to undo us as quickly as our sins.
Tom Happer, who plays Mordecai Grimes’ son and Carrie’s suitor, is a refreshing addition to the show, and it’s a shame they didn’t have more for him to do. He had some minor work afterwards -- including CRAWLSPACE (1972) -- but not enough as I would have liked. I like to speculate about what DARK SHADOWS would have been like had it continued into the 1970’s. Happer is a good example of a new generation being tentatively groomed.
It was on this day in 1990 that Joan Bennett died at the age of eighty. Was she the heart of DARK SHADOWS? Call me maudlin for saying so, but, well, yes. And its backbone, as well. I can think of very few celebrities about whom nothing bad has been notably said. Joan Bennett is one of them. At the same time, legends of her grace and moxie are innumerable.