Friday, December 9, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 8


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 384

When Josette learns of the duel, Angelique bolts from the room and Andre refuses to end the upcoming fight. However, each visits Barnabas later. Angelique gives him a charm to help him in the duel while Andre asks him to call the whole thing off. Even though Barnabas has never been in a duel, he refuses. Meanwhile, Josette tries to persuade Jeremiah to withdraw from the upcoming melee, but he refuses as well. Josette takes the blame for the situation, but it’s clear that he’s obsessed with self-destruction. Jeremiah and Barnabas finally meet, and Barnabas is convinced that Jeremiah has been plotting his end all along. They leave to duel… news that makes Josette faint. By the time she awakens gets to the Collinwood garden, Jeremiah has been fatally wounded.

1795 is easily the most mannered and stiff of the DARK SHADOWS time jaunts, and that’s fine with me. Each episode is like a little, well, trip through time, except I’m thinking more about performance style and dialogue. I feel like I’m watching Sheridan by way of Cotton Mather. No acting challenge on the show more distinctly separates one school of actors from another. They all -- well, mostly -- sound credible, but some come across as if that’s simply the only way to speak, and others sound as if they may be punished if they dare use a contraction. Jonathan Frid, of course, makes it sound as effortless as ordering a pizza. The 1795 syntax fits Louis Edmonds so well that his modern characters become the awkward ones. And David Ford was clearly getting his Hancock up and ready for 1776.

This episode is one two-hander after another, each heading toward the inevitable duel, each unfolding like a Japanese tea ceremony of protocol. The last of them is between Barnabas and his uncle. Jeremiah can’t deny his love for Josette, but that doesn’t mean he understands it. Hence, the scene and ensuing duel have a strange, bewildered sadness to them. Both Jeremiah and Barnabas prefer to remember the former as he once was, not as he is. So, you know, let’s shoot the present version.

It’s our last chance to see Anthony George on DARK SHADOWS. He lived in Mitch Ryan’s shadow, and although the writers changed the character… probably to favor George’s strengths… I don’t think he ever found a good fit in the DS universe. He’s an excessively earnest and stalwart gent, and DARK SHADOWS had a sarcastic edge that was far more on the 1970’s side of the 60’s, whereas George seems like he’s suited more for the 50’s. He went on to more soap success for five years on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW and then teamed up with many DS alums on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. He was good pals with Earl Holliman, one of my father’s least favorite actors. My father does a good Earl Holliman impression. If you want to hear him do it, contact me and I’ll arrange it.

On this day in 1967, The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” finally goes on sale. Everyone tries to enjoy as much of 1967 as they can before the year becomes 1968 and everything Officially Goes to Hell. But for now, Merry Christmas!  

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