Friday, September 30, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 30


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 596

Eve comes to life and is far more articulate and cogent than Adam, although she panics herself into unconsciousness when Julia attempts to administer a tranquilizer shot. Stokes arrives with news that she is the vessel for the vile Danielle Roget, for which Leona Eltridge was an anagram. Is this Nicholas’ doing? Upstairs, Eve seduces Adam, easing his insecurities. This puts him in no mood to hear Stokes’ bad news about Eve’s life force. As Adam stews over this, Eve hears the voices of her tortured spirits of France. She gloats and vows never to return to them. (And I’m not sure how she would.)

Marie Wallace. She was the first new hottie on the show to join “the Majors” since Angelique, and the first redhead. I always had a strange crush on Wallace (you know, Marie Wallace, although Wallace McBride has an exotic and potent musk, to be certain), and the bizarre appeal may go back to her unveiling in this episode. It’s one thing for Adam to be brought to life in a turtleneck and slacks. Odd, but whatever. But Eve is revealed in an elaborate bouffant, makeup, gown, “foundation garment,” and stockings. Or pantyhose. Who put them on? What if Adam had walked in? Was it Julia? Or Willie? Anyway it’s envisioned, it’s as amusing as it was awkward. Eve is a strange character, and I don’t feel as if the writers really knew what to do with her. Wallace is a fine actress, capable of taking chances and playing great subtlety, but here, I feel as if she’s asked to be little more than snarling set dressing. I wanted to write a piece about Danielle Roget, but she’s a complete work of fiction by the writers. I kind of wonder why they chose to do that rather than recruit the ghost of Elizabeth Bathory, which would have combined both Frankenstein and Dracula.

On Sept. 30, 1968, the world got a little smaller with the unveiling of the 747. Designed to pay for overseas travel based on cargo, alone, this luxury airliner made jet-set living a reality for millions of Americans thus making us all a bit more like a Collins.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Meet the cast of Dark Shadows in October!


If you missed this year's Dark Shadows Festival a few months back, you're in luck: A 50th anniversary celebration is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles next month that will feature a number of original cast and crew members.

The event takes place noon until midnight at the Hollywood Women’s Club, located at 1749 La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, California. You can download a flyer for the event by clicking the image below. Hardcore DARK SHADOWS fans should take note that the October event includes an appearance by original "Willie Loomis," James Hall. That's going to be kind of a big deal for autograph collectors, I suspect. The event will also serve a a showcase for Lara Parker's latest novel, "Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood," which is available for pre-order from Amazon.

The guests for October's event include Lara Parker, John Karlen, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Roger DavisNancy Barrett, James Storm, Lisa Richards, composer Robert Cobert, scenic designer Sy Tomashoff and James Hall.

Here's the official announcement:

Dark Shadows 50th Anniversary
Halloween-In-Hollywood with the Stars!

CLICK TO ENLARGE
Activities include the advance premiere of Lara’s new Dark Shadows novel, Heiress of Collinwood, complimentary autographs and photo opportunities with the stars, guest Q&A sessions, dramatic and musical performances by our guests, a Dark Shadows Halloween Costume Party, video surprises, contests, a wide variety of Dark Shadows photos, books, collectibles, and new Dark Shadows merchandise available for purchase, plus more spooky fun.

Sandwiches, beverages and snacks will be for sale on site and there are numerous restaurants nearby. Fans of all ages are encouraged to participate in the DS/Halloween Costume Party on Sat. evening. Please contact Marcy Robin at ShadowGram@aol.com for more information.

A charity auction with rare and unusual items will feature Nancy Barrett’s original “Carolyn Stoddard” vampire fangs from the 1970 movie House of DS, and Kathryn Leigh Scott’s original 1966 “Maggie Evans” hairpiece and DS script. The auction also will offer the special opportunity for 10 lucky fans to win Sunday brunch (Sun., Oct. 30) with Kathryn at her Beverly Hills home, before visiting the nearby Greystone Mansion with Kathryn.

The celebration will be followed by an optional Sunday, October 30th free visit to the nearby Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. This expansive hilltop estate was the filming site for Collinwood in the 1991 DS and the 2004 DS pilot. Fans are encouraged to carpool, uber, or taxi to Greystone at 905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Website: http://www.greystonemansion.org

Admission for this 12-hour event is ONLY $20 per person and must be paid in advance by Oct 24.

(Note: All attendees will receive a special DS gift bag with over $50 worth of complementary DS merchandise!)

For payments by postal mail, please include the full name(s) of each person for whom you are paying plus a SAFSE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope) with your correct postal mail address. Send check or money order payable to:

DARK SHADOWS, P.O. Box 1766, Temple City, CA 91780-7766

Or for PayPal payments: Only use the recipient email address: ShadowGram@aol.com

You must include each attendee’s full name and a complete current postal-mail address or your membership badge(s) (which is your receipt) can not be mailed to you.

PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PAY OR ORDER MEMBERSHIP BADGES FROM THE DARK SHADOWS FESTIVAL WEBSITE OR POSTAL-MAIL ADDRESS IN MAPLEWOOD, NJ.

Airports: Burbank/Hollywood Bob Hope Airport and Los Angeles International

Transportation: The greater Los Angeles area is served by Amtrak and local train lines, particularly the regional Metro Link Train & Bus systems. Fans also may consider Uber, taxi, car rental, local Metro bus service, carpool with other fans, or other transportation options.

Hotels include Hilton Garden Inn, Best Western, Holiday Inn, Loews Hollywood, Hollywood Roosevelt and others. Fans can refer to Google Hotels in Hollywood, California and include the Women’s Club street address. Various online travel information sources also explore possible hotel options.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 28


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1966: Episode 73

Sam nervously checks in on Patterson, who claims that Roger and Burke just left. No news from the coroner yet, but it’s coming. At Collinwood, there is similar tension. Both Liz and David wait on the same news. Things grow tense when Liz suggests that Patterson may finger Burke. David, horrified at the thought, runs away. Conveniently, Sheriff Patterson arrives and lets Liz know that Bill’s death was ruled an accident. At the diner, Sam reviews possibilities with Maggie when David arrives. Sam and David meet, and the warmth turns to sadness when the two find an easy bond that is not to be.

David Ford and William Daniels on stage in 1776.
It’s another Orgy of Waiting, as only the Bill Malloy storyline can deliver. The tension in this one isn’t related to danger as much as resolving the inevitable. That means that the actors get to sit back and work the intricacies of their craft with truth and sincerity rather than Sweat, Bellow, and Look Uncertain. In that regard, this episode belongs to David Ford, hands down. After reading various pieces about the making of the show, it's difficult to watch Ford. I have the strange feeling that he was not the most savory character on the DARK SHADOWS set. Nevertheless, he is an actor of incredible depth and warmth; it's easy to see how he charmed such a wife and had such a fantastic Broadway career. Of course, we know him as musical theatre’s John Hancock. But did you also know that he ended up taking on the role 1776 bad guy, John Dickinson, and was apparently magnificent in that multifaceted and deeply principled role? Watching him deal with both his daughter in the episode, and then with David, we see a man of superb depth and heart and compassion… a marvelous father who had to raise his daughter completely on his own, and because of that and because of human weaknesses, easily swayed by the bullying and of Roger Collins many years before. In this episode, especially in his brief dealings with David, we see such grand humanity and mercy and love lurking beneath the surface. We very easily see why Maggie loves him, and we very easily see who he could have been. More than that, we see that he knows it. It's a subtle scene with David at the diner, but because we've taken these months to know him and his demons, I found it impossible to watch wholly dry eyed. This really is an opportunity to spend every night with superb actors and a tale worth their artistry. For anyone interested in stories and those who bring them to life, Dark Shadows represents in exchange time for which television has few equals.

Today is the birthday of actor Joel Fabiani (b.1936), best known to us for playing Paul Stoddard in episode 271, wherein Liz tells all. He continues to have a rich career in TV, with a resume that includes recurring roles on DALLAS and DYNASTY (as, and I love this, ‘King Galen of Moldavia’). It’s fitting that his character on FALCON CREST was named ‘Quentin.’ Oh, and he was briefly married to Katharine Ross. Want more? He was one of the crimefighting heroes of DEPARTMENT S, the precursor to JASON KING, starring the ill-fated Peter Wyngarde. Also, Morrissey chose a picture of Joel as the cover for The Smiths’ album, Singles Box.

He got around.   

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 27


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 595

Adam brings Leona Eldrich -- vessel for the spirit of Danielle Roget -- home to the Old House to be the life-force for Eve. They are not to speak of her connection to Nicholas. When Julia and Stokes arrive, they are astounded to find a ready volunteer. She agrees for Stokes to question her and explains her willingness to help; she was Lang’s lover. The story seems unbelievable, but there’s no going back. In the lab, she refuses the pain medication. The experiment begins, and Adam hovers over Eve until he has just cause to exclaim, “She’s alive!”

Yes, it’s that episode. It’s a teasingly little mystery, but that investigation ends with a shrug and agreement that there are more important things to do. We now have Eve! More than that, we get the singularly wacky performance of Erica Fitz as Leona Eldrich. She manages to be completely disingenuous, with total transparency, and yet we just go along with her anyway. Why? It’s unusual to find such a deeply committed liar. Especially one who surfs on such a tsunami of sensuality. It’s bizarre, shameless, and otherworldly. Of course everyone falls for it, despite knowing better! What choice have they? That is such a rare combination, it sort of commands assent. Her refusal of an anesthetic is the cherry on the kink cake.

Who was Erica Fitz, besides being of the the only DARK SHADOWS actresses (besides Clarice Blackburn) to athletically fight for the appellation of “Sixties Sex Kitten”? Born in Chicago in 1942, she can also be seen in HERCULES IN NEW YORK. Broadway audiences knew her as Jon Pertwee’s co-star for THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP. She’s either a marvelous actress or a terrible one. I can’t tell. One thing is certain -- there’s no one like her. And what was the Soviet Space program doing around now? Well, they sent an unmanned capsule -- the Zond 5 -- to the moon and back. I guess that showed us. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 26


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 858

Petofi and Quentin have switched bodies, and the magician keeps a watch as his now pudgy prisoner buries the woman used as a test subject for an I Ching jump into the future. Petofi swears he will keep looking as Quentin vows to stop him. Visiting an unaware Angelique, Petofi is all too happy to go along with her marriage threats, if only to bring her into submission. Quentin, however, attempts to turn things to his favor. To rally allies, he must convince them that he is Quentin Collins, within. He visits Beth and implores her to question “Quentin” about why Jamison turned him away. When “Quentin” answers her with predictable inadequacy, the story seems to make sense. Quentin then goes to Julia, who needs less convincing. She’s been feeling strangely, and hears voices from her present. She convinces Angelique to take a stand against Petofi. As the episode ends, Julia is laying out her battle plan, but vanishes from sight before she can finish.

This episode is a 100%, unalloyed peach. Just when the low-stakes, repetitive, toothless yakety yak of the show’s drier spells becomes intolerable, Uncle Dan gives us one of these. It doesn’t remind me about when I fell in love with the show, because that had happened long before. An episode like this is why I shall have no show before this one. I am Dr. Alfred Bellows, and this episode is a pink elephant in Major Nelson’s dining room. Normally, I’d vow that “I’ve finally got him this time” and get General Shaffer to see that I’m not cracking up. Which means I’d get someone who knows nothing of DARK SHADOWS but hates it anyway to come over and see it. But by the time they’d arrive, it would just be an early Leviathan episode. Then they’d tell me that I needed a long rest… perhaps reassigned to Alaskan air command. And I’d wonder if they were right. What’s stranger about all of this is that I’m not Dr. Bellows. I am Roger Healey to Wallace’s Tony Nelson. But who is Jeannie? Probably the CollinsBabe who posed for the MONSTER SERIAL cheesecake picture.

Back to the episode, there’s a lot going on in it, so I’ll cover things as vacuously and superficially as I can. First off, we get two of the show’s finest actors at their best. Thayer David can pull on the heartstrings with an authenticity matched by few, if any. Petofi’s bizarre hair and outfit now make him huggably sad, and the glasses magnify all of the fear in his lunar eyes. Meanwhile, David Selby gets to really cut a rug as Petofi, reveling in evil with a vicious glee. Just as Jonathan Frakes was wasted in drama when his true calling was comedy, it may be that Selby is one acting’s great villains, unrealized. This is Quentin unbound! Perhaps this was a chance to show what Quentin was intended to be, sans his alcoholic’s insecurity and melancholy. He kisses Angelique with a passionately ruthless relish that makes Rhett kissing Scarlett look like Charles Grodin kissing a dog. And then what does “Quentin” do? He brags of the submission he’ll take her to and shrugs when she goes to her millner. In a lot of ways, it’s the carpet calling that she’s had coming. Nice guys are always advised to be less, well, nice, and that women like bad boys. I never understood that, but I’ll pretend I do in this case. I think Angelique knows she’s pushing her weight around and must get bored. Finally, “Quentofi” pushes back. Was she angry when he kissed her, laughed, and put her in her place, or was she aroused? Intellectually, of course.


Speaking of Angelique, this episode represents what I see as a marvelous turning point. As Julia is being drawn back to the 20th century, she nonetheless charges Angelique with saving the family. Read that one again. There’s a fair degree of fear in Angelique’s eyes at hearing that precisely because there is no fear behind the request. Despite herself, she has earned Julia’s trust. This is one of the great hints that, like Barnabas, Angelique has the capacity for revealing the hero within, and Julia clearly recognizes that. They have some wonderfully relaxed two-handers together, and it’s a strange, unexpected, and marvelous thing to see these two one-time antagonists to Barnabas now quietly ruminating on how they can support his Quixotic crusade. Who saw this coming two years ago? Me neither. And that’s why DARK SHADOWS must be 1,225 chapters long. (More or less.)

Last gem in the crown? A very clever bit of subtext (or maybe just text). A simple message. Greg Mank mentioned it when talking about THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.... “Very pretty people can do very nasty things.” Petofi, I think, is measurably nastier and cruel in Quentin’s body. Now looking the rake, with height and lean muscle to back it up, he needs humor, charm, and facetiousness far less. Oh, those things exist, but they exist now as unsheathed weapons rather than the inflatable boppers of irony used by Petofi the Plump. We are trained to feel sorry for the physically ungainly and the humor they often employ to win friends and deflect criticism. Well, I don’t. Actually, there’s a proper humility there that can bring out astounding measures of humanity. I feel sorry for those people who lose weight or get significant others and then become royal cretins. I see it again and again. There is a smugness that takes hold, and on behalf of the rest of us, it’s not your best side. So, have you just lost weight? Found the partner of your dreams? Pretend you haven’t. At least in the full-of-selfness department. Sincerely, the Management. Need proof? Watch Quentofi in this episode.

In DARK SHADOWS news, Hugh Franklin died today in 1986. He was family lawyer, Richard Garner, in the early part of the series and, as noted elsewhere, was married to author Madeleine L'Engle. At this time in 1969, we’re about nine episodes away from the end of Jonathan Frid’s well-earned month off. As for Sept. 26, 1969? Visionary storyteller Sherwood Schwartz once again challenged our notions of storytelling, nation, and reality with the premier of THE BRADY BUNCH.  This was written by me for the DVD boxed set. It was rejected. For now:
When maverick producer Sherwood Schwartz gave us THE BRADY BUNCH, it was considered more science fiction than science fact. Nearly five decades later, history has established that Schwartz was a prophet as well as a poet. Far too many of the ominous predictions he made in this series have come to pass. And many more of his dangerous visions seem to be approaching swiftly.  He is our dark mirror. Given this, it was once said that an audience receives from Sherwood Schwartz exactly what they bring. What you see this on these discs might delight you. It might shock you. It might even even arouse you. The iconoclastic, enigmatic Sherwood Schwartz: heretic or hero? Madman or messiah? To find the truth, we must explore the only testament we have: his bold words. The art of Sherwood Schwartz is an art that demands to be confronted.  A voice that demands an answer. Join me in the arena as we hear that voice and answer that call together. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 23


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 855

Quentin swoons in and out of consciousness as the ring he wears now makes him susceptible to Count Petofi’s mind transfer. At the mill, Beth has no idea what’s going on, but Aristede hints that it is the most diabolical thing that can happen to a man. Quentin, dazed, wanders over to the Blue Whale, where Pansy Faye is in the doldrums. How does he lift her spirits? By playing the only song she knows on the piano. Magda tries to warn Beth that Quentin is in danger. Compounded by Aristede’s teasing and her own nostalgia, she races to Collinwood to find Quentin unconscious.

Man, when Aristede suggests that Count Petofi’s doing to Quentin is the most diabolical thing that can ever happen to a man, a mind penetration is not the first thing that occurs to me. But I’m not sure it occurs to Aristede, either. Starting with that, we get one of DARK SHADOWS’ oddest filler episodes. This is enough padding for ten Schumacher Batsuits, and like those Batsuits, it has the virtue of at least being perversely amusing. David Selby has gone from playing a menacing phantom to a bipolar drunk, stumbling into bars and perking up at the first floozie he sees. And I respect that. We can smell our own. Yet again, we get a long tour through “I Wanna Dance with You,” leading me to wonder what the audiences of the day might have thought. With the album a recent success, I can only assume that the producers were hungry for a quick repeat of that success. Although it had (in various versions) both Selby and Nancy Barrett, it was no “A Visit to a Sad Planet.”


And here, DARK SHADOWS nears a tipping point with which it would wrestle for the rest of its run. With the soundtrack album, DARK SHADOWS knew that its gravy was as a pop phenomenon. Yeah, that’s the result of a fortuitously-timed cocktail of actors, fashions, characters, design, and a million other things, but it goes nowhere without story. Even CHARLIE’S ANGELS had a writer to put them in chains. With an episode like 855, most of which feels like (another) pre-MTV ad for one of their pop songs, the producers clearly veer toward presenting DARK SHADOWS as a bubblegum phenomenon, needing only a few threats and familiar costumes to swirl around a song for you to buy and enjoy long after being reminded that this was a Dan Curtis Production. Think the song is too sappy? Not when the #1 hit single is “Sugar, Sugar,” by the Archies.

The show would try to make up for this precarious self-judgment with occasionally superb storytelling, but was it too late?

On this day in 1969, the trial of antiwar activists, the Chicago 8, began... certainly one of the wackier trials of any era. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 22


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 334

Burke and Dave arrive at Collinwood and break it to David that there was nothing in Barnabas’ basement but basementy stuff. David, however, remains convinced that Barnabas is up to no good. He goes so far as to break his promise to Sarah and reveals his knowledge of the secret room in the mauseoleum. This immediately gains the young wraith’s ire, and David knows it as ‘London Bridge’ begins to play. Throughout the episode, Roger has been especially contrarian to Dave and Burke, attempting to dissuade them from their involvement with David. Later with Vicki, Roger reveals that he’s actually very fond of his son and deeply concerned for his well-being. Will he have to be institutionalized? Maybe. At the mausoleum, David fails to trigger the door for the secret room, but upon leaving, he finds Sarah’s flute. At last, tangible evidence of the great beyond.

Okay, it’s safe. We’re alone. No one can hear me typing this to you. We can admit it. Sometimes DARK SHADOWS is slow. In fact, there are two types of slow. Slow-slow and DARK SHADOWS-slow. When the show goes to the latter, it feels like more of a practical joke than a program. These are always the episodes I accidentally show to people with doubts about the program. A show like this is akin to watching someone of exquisite sadism stretch out ‘the Aristocrats’ joke as long as they can. In many of those cases, when the punchline is so tantalizingly close, events slow down more and more to keep us from reaching it. It’s like Zeno takes over as showrunner. Anyway, this is an episode that could have been done in five minutes, but they stretch it out to a conspicuous degree. Here is the actual matter in the episode:

Burke: I’m sorry, Davey, but there was nothing in Barnabas’ basement.

David: Then he must’ve moved it to the secret room in the mausoleum. Can we please look? Please?

Woodard:  Why not? No stone unturned and all that.

Roger: David, please, this is insanity!

David (hearing Sarah’s music): Sarah, I’m sorry. But I had to….

Burke: Roger, let the kid try. 

Roger: I still say that this morbidity is the limit.

Burke, David, and Woodard exit.

Vicki: Weren’t you awfully hard on him?

Roger: I’m too worried to be anything less. I’m still his father. 

Later, at the mausoleum, David yanks at the ring in the lion’s mouth.

David: I don’t get it. This was supposed to trigger the door. The room’s behind it. Honest!

Burke: Well, we can’t win ‘em all, kiddo.

David: Gee whiz… hey, this flute, it wasn’t here before. It’s 
Sarah’s! She really is real!

As David skips out…

Burke: Dave, did you see this flute here before?

Woodard: I can’t say… and that worries me, Burke. That worries me.

-fin-

Highlight? Roger’s admission of love for David. It’s been a long time coming, and is deeply satisfying to hear. Once Barnabas arrived, Roger’s character transformed into something far gentler, and the writers handled the transition with subtle restraint, and that’s where this episode shines. It also shines in a different melancholic sense.  This is Robert (Dave Woodard #2) Gerringer’s last show. He refused to cross the picket line during the 1967 NABET (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) strike and was replaced. That fits. Gerringer’s Woodard is a wise, cranky, pragmatic, passionate man of curmudgeonly principle. Exactly the sort who’d support a just strike. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 21


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1115

Barnabas appears in Roxanne’s room, and his remorse at feeding is met with her smitten rapture. Has he found love at last? Downstairs, Gabriel finds Samantha sitting in mournful contemplation over her lost son, Tad, and -- to a much lesser degree -- her estranged husband, Quentin. Gabriel pouts that the family fortune should be his, but instead, Daniel’s will states that it should go to Quentin and Samantha. With Quentin lost at sea, that means he had better be nice to Samantha. Later, Gerard Stiles tries to woo Samantha, but his plan is disrupted by Gabriel. In private, Gabriel reveals that he’s done research on Gerard, and has found his real name to be Ivan Miller. He changed it ten years prior in London, and is wanted globally for all manner of crimes including dabbling with the occult. With knowledge of this safely protected, Gerard is at his mercy. Gerard’s first task as Gabriel’s puppet? Poison Samantha. She, however, has conferred with her sister Roxanne, who has slept late and seems a tad frail in the daytime. Roxanne reveals that a new man is in her life, but cannot say more. Elsewhere, Barnabas writes to Ben, begging his forgiveness. In the garden of Collinwood, Roxanne gives herself to his thirst. Satiated, Barnabas leaves her to die… and rise?

Well, well, well. Ivan Miller. I guess I’d change it to “Gerard Stiles,” too. Was his middle name, “Hair”?  I jest.

Only a week into 1840, and the times are rife with intrigue. Finally taking a cue from the audience and representing a very counter cultural sentiment, the writers give us Roxanne. Like most of the audience, she was all too happy to have eternal youth and beauty and superpowers in exchange for supping on the occasional extra. Come to think of it, there are vast stretches of Barnabas’ vampirism where he goes on a rather extreme diet. It’s not like they have to feed that often, apparently.

I often compare STAR TREK to DARK SHADOWS. One of the shared principles is the importance of compassion toward the other. (In DARK SHADOWS, the other usually wants to assimilate. But that’s an issue I dealt with in a different essay, on September 6.) For DARK SHADOWS, rooted in a fear of the unknown that would seem like an irony, but all it did was reflect public sentiment. We all feel like monsters -- the misunderstood kind -- at times, but at least at Collinwood, we have good hair and the latest off-the-rack from Orbach’s and Junior Sophisticate. They took our fear of being the other and glamorized the taboo possibilities. Of course she wants to be a vampire. Everyone does. Perhaps Maggie was symbolic of the last generation to not glamorize their sense of difference. She had to be carted off as insane rather than remain a voice in the new era.

This is the Daybook’s first 1840 episode. I was always fascinated with how the relative pasts of Collinwood looked. Before we got to those storylines, I eagerly anticipated how the designers would create yet another new world. 1840 doesn’t disappoint, and just like the show’s story, the visual world of 1840 distinguishes itself in a heavy, thunderous manner. The colors are darker and the scenic elements feel weighty. 1795 was about shape, in design elementese. 1897 was an orgy of color. 1840? Texture, and that’s so appropriate for what may be the show’s most textured era.

On this day in 1970, the world gained Monday Night Football. Dan Curtis put golf on tv. There’s a connection for ya. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 20


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 590

Barnabas arrives home, fraught with tension over his new discovery; Maggie’s memory of last year’s events have returned, and she’s fingered him as the vampire. Barnabas poignantly sinks into regret, begging Julia to erase her memory. The doctor refuses, citing the experiment. In the eyes of Barnabas, killing her is the only other alternative, and he decides that with no happiness. Barnabas later equivocates on the matter, and soon after, Adam arrives to resume the pressure on Julia to finish the experiment. Barnabas and Julia try to swap Maggie out as the life-force and in the midst of the talk, Willie appears on the balcony of the Old House, brandishing a gun! Adam quickly disarms the scamp and hurries them on with creating Eve. They even persuade Adam to let Willie hang around like a kid at a cocktail party, promising that he’ll remain upstairs. Later, Barnabas sends Willie to the mausoleum to watch Maggie. Willie rues the past, but Barnabas contemplatively directs him to focus on the future; the past should be forgotten. Willie asks what he should say to Maggie, and Barnabas stammers that it can be anything he likes, as long as he keeps it quiet. Downstairs, Adam warns Julia to treat his mate better than she treated him. They quibble. She explains that the process will be very painful for Carolyn as the life-force. As he hurries them toward the experiment, Adam roils with megalomaniacal purpose. He must have his mate!

In any genre or series, different stories emphasize different parts of the “5W-How” spectrum. Some episodes are more “what” or “why” driven. This one is very squarely a study in “who.” Adam has taken everything wrong from Stokes and Nicholas, and is elevated to a smug, Nietzschean tyrant. Willie shows all of the compassion that defines his character at its best. (Both he and Barnabas are on a trajectory that seems to say, “If I can’t rule them, I’ll die protecting them.”) Julia keeps it together with Adam, bludgeoning him with iron fists of logic and German Catholic guilt, cast in the velvet gloves of a deadly serious idle conversation. And Barnabas? It’s so easy to become numbed by his ubiquity and take him for granted. What a mistake. In the face of the other actors, it’s easy to take his stagecrafted stiffness and nigh-unto-constant fretting as actually-not-the-most-interest-acting-on-the-show. Note, I said “interesting.” From a writer’s perspective, I agree that Frid gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop. At first, Barnabas was called upon to elicit all manner of dramatic modes and moments never asked of prior actors in vampire stories. This hooked audiences with the unique mixture of pain, regret, tenderness, and ruthlessness that defined the character. And then… we enter this phase of the series. A fine one, don’t get me wrong. But for a man who experiences little but trials, this section showcases them at their most excruciating. In 1795, he endures trials of love. In 1966, his relationship with power is put on trial. Then, his relationship with secrets. Now? He navigates the trials of reclaiming the best of himself from the worst while the thunder of his past sins echoes like thunder on Widow’s Hill. So, is the performance one-note? Only if you fail to really look and really listen. Frid smartly keeps Barnabas as a man of his era, with all of the attending social and emotional reflexes that defined a well-groomed aristocrat of the time. In this episodes, he glides through remorse and determination with the nuance that Vermeer used with shadow and light. What’s more remarkable is that it is a tone of controlled ambiguity and possibility that rubs off on John Karlen, whose acting has improved by miles since Frid’s debut. In fact, for an episode with such broad strokes, everyone seems to have picked up Frid’s sense of emotional contemplativeness and cerebral perspicacity. The writing ain’t bad, either.

In history, today will mark the debut of the longest-running crime series prior to the CSI dynasty. Of course, I refer to HAWAII 5-0. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the debut of STAR TREK, and Jack Lord was offered the lead. One can only imagine what that would have been like. Yeah, Shat’s not such a bad actor now, is he? Hell, he’s downright Actor’s Studio. But Lord has his place, and we can thank all involved for giving us an excuse for the greatest theme song in TV history. Behold!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 19


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped in this date in 1966: Episode 66

Roger and Burke square off, with Burke openly accusing him of driving the car that ended a life… and Burke’s freedom. Roger explains that it’s all been legally settled, so Burke better have more. He does. He openly accuses Roger of offing Bill Malloy. He says that that at the meeting, Malloy was going to pin Sam Evans down and, despite his sweating, thrashing, and protests, make him come clean about Burke’s innocence. But as we know, Bill never came at all, and that’s thanks to Roger. In speaking with Burke, Roger presents an elaborate alibi that involves time consuming home paperwork that robbed him of the free time necessary to kill Malloy. He adds that Vicki can corroborate this. Meanwhile, she’s busy explaining to Liz that she’s in the habit of sending herself letters so that she has mail to open. Roger summons her downstairs to satisfy Burke’s alibi-curiosity. When she kinda-sorta does, Burke leaves in a huff, vowing that he’ll be back.

Say what you will, DARK SHADOWS never leaves you wanting for a richness of character exposition. I was about to write that we get yet more of Vicki’s sob story related to a masochistic Liz, but there’s a flip side. DARK SHADOWS gives its characters the invaluable gift of time. Used wisely by the writers, it allows them to enhance and reveal the characters with an almost artisanal care, carefully varnishing layer upon layer. When Vicki comments that nothing really happened in her life prior to Collinwood, Liz has a pained expression that asks all of the right questions and coyly answers none of them. Does she regret it? Is this just part of Collinwood? Did she know she would be sharing the wealth? Did things only hit the fan when Vicki arrived? Does she feel guilty that Vicki’s life was so dull in New York?

The episode is one of the great chances to sit and allow Burke and Roger to cross swords when each finally has a sharpened cutlass in his grip. Burke has the moral high ground of truth. Roger pretty much has the situation licked. So often, Roger fights from a position of fear and weakness, and after a while, this makes his contribution to the story a bit shrill and predictable. No longer!

Mythologically, the most intriguing element to the episode is Vicki’s de-meta’ing the opening narrations by acknowledging that she scrupulously writes down everything that happens at Collinwood. I love this because it does something real and narratively intrinsic to her introductions, both grounding them in common sense and positioning her as far more aware than we might be moved to believe.

Quiet day in the news, perhaps as a prelude for what I think of as the Big Story tomorrow. As always, though, you’re asking if it were a good day for Chuck McCann. Yes, his cartoon series, COOL MCCOOL was in full swing, all thanks to the creative talents of Bob Kane, perhaps relieved that with this, he might finally make a cultural statement.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 16


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1966: Episode 56

Burke arrives at Collinwood and refuses to leave until he’s had it out with Roger. Liz tolerates his visit, despite his bragging about a fortune that exceeds hers by many times. Eventually, she turns the tables on him, citing his youth. Meanwhile, Roger corners Sam at the Blue Whale and demands to know what he said to Bill Malloy. Sam’s words were innocuous, but tension between the men surges. Roger offers and withdraws bribes, and Sam seems all too happy to see Roger’s paranoia mount. Roger finally returns home to find Burke all too ready for a final confrontation.

Mitch Ryan. It’s been too long. If you’re looking for a tight and intense character study, these early episodes deliver with tense and bitter eloquence.

Okay, that’s my way of saying that it’s pretty boring compared to GERARD’S ZOMBIES PULLING COLLINWOOD APART - AIIIEEEEEEE!!!!, but at least there’s wry, competitive dialogue, acted with intensity and wit. As always, Ryan has a ball, coasting between smug brio and a roiling insecurity. It’s the same recipe that fuels Roger, but with the brio and insecurity in reverse proportions. As he goes for the throat, Joan Bennett amps up the cattiness to stay one step ahead. The show becomes leaden by comparison whenever we go back to the Blue Whale and watch Louis Edmonds and David Ford try to beat each other in a sweating contest. Finally, let’s throw in a golf clap for Vicki working in the words, “dark shadows” into the opening narration!

September 16, 1966 was a bit quiet in the world of news, but we can thank it for being the birthday of Allen Funt, BB King, Peter Falk, and the most fabulous woman alive, Molly Shannon.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 14


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 859

Petofi holds office hours, and the first to arrive is Lady Kitty, convinced that he’s haunting her with a music box. He deflects the concern, but not before awakening the Josette within. Across town, Quentin asks Julia if she can put Amanda up until he can skip town. Kitty arrives and reveals that she knows full well that the “late” Barnabas was a vampire. Meanwhile, back at the mill, Aristede has returned, and the news of the new cravat he’s purchased will not distract the Count from his failure to kill Julia Hoffman. Aristede intrigues his master by pointing out that a bullet passed right through the doctor without harming her. Petofi investigates this by attempting to poison Julia, only to learn that it does nothing. Why? What he sees in 1897 is only her showing her astral projection. Her body is in 1969. Barnabas was killed because he had a body to enter in 1897. Now, Petofi needs a body in 1969 to escape. Who? After granting Beth a vision of the future, he sees that Quentin is alive and well in 1969, and will make a delightful host body.

From Roger fretting about a pen to the cosmic journeys of a mop-topped sorcerer using the idiosyncrasies of time and astral projection to escape a horde of gypsies, DARK SHADOWS has completely thrown out the rules. Especially with the introduction and expansion of that dark Dr. Lao, Count Petofi, I feel as if DARK SHADOWS is finally a wholly autonomous, creative universe, crafting its own myths rather than adapting those from other authors… even though THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY is one of his key storylines. In a show that created a number of mostly-original characters (all of whom were improvements on their inspirations), Petofi easily stands as the wittiest and most interesting. I’m not even sure he can be called malevolent… maybe just impishly self-driven. In RPG terms, he’s Chaotic Neutral with a naughty streak as wide as Canada. I can’t be the only one who cheers him on (a little guiltily) as the Count plans to use Quentin’s hideously-dressed, 20th century body to leave 1897 far behind. And now he has Beth as a moll! This is like an episode of THE OFFICE. Side characters swirl through meetings with a boss who is completely preoccupied with other matters… until something comes up that’s too good to resist. Like body snatching!

Henry Kaplan now has his second significant day in a row. Yesterday, he was born, and today, in 2005, he died at the age of 79. Also on this day in 1969, September 14 was chosen as the first military Draft Lottery date. In stories of constant, impending doom, where your body can be stolen at any point as food or fodder by powers almost beyond human reckoning, this seems both poignant and a Zeitgeisty reason the show was resonant to younger viewers (and their moms). 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 13


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 585

With time running out, Julia and Barnabas realize that there can be no reasoning with Adam, who either wants Maggie for the lifeforce or Vicki to exact his revenge. As Barnabas sends Julia to Collinwood to rescue Vicki from an impending abduction, he readies his rifle for Adam, even though it will end his chances of surviving as a human. Adam bursts into the Old House, and although Barnabas tries to cover the delays with fast talking, it’s to no avail. Before he can use the rifle, Adam disarms him and knocks him unconscious. He later repeats this with Dr. Hoffman in the woods. After reviving, Barnabas races to the Old House to protect Vicki, but it’s too late. Adam has no real desire to harm Vicki, but feels that since Barnabas has taken love from him, by stalling on the creation of Eve, this is only fair. He accosts Vicki in her bedroom as Barnabas pounds on the door.

For a character who wrings his hands and frets, seeing Barnabas lock (if not load) a rifle is just about perfect. He is the NRA! One of my favorite points is when Adam finally attacks Barnabas and we hear the barrel of the gun hit the soundstage floor. Either his attack is so vicious that he tears apart the rifle or Barnabas never assembled it properly in the first place. I actually prefer the latter. Poor Barnabas. This is a man of 1795 who hasn’t had a moment’s rest in two years (elapsed). And now, he has to remember that a rifle isn’t a musket? I have no doubt that he was looking for a horn, musket ball, and a ramrod just moments before. Michael Bluth speaks his inner monologue, I have no doubt.

And now, we come to the subject of bloopers. In this one, Jonathan has a hard time deciding to whom he’s talking. While holding Adam at gunpoint, he tries to send Julia to Collinwood, but has a hard time remembering her name, “You know what to do, Mag… Vicki… um, uh… You know what to do now, Julia.”

Now, if bloopers are your football, then call me Lucy, because I’m about to pull it out from under you. I could argue that they had very little time to do these playlets. I could argue that they had almost no space to film them in, necessitating lightweight scenery, easily struck, stacked, and stored. I could even argue that for the time, the special effects were cutting edge, and that AVATAR will look hilariously dated to people 45 years from now. But I won’t. In the case of verbal slip-ups and even missing lines, I’d argue that, for me, they make the show more realistic than shows with pristine linguistic precision. So many of these people are grown-ups in their forties. We miss lines in real life all the time. And if I’m not used to holding a rifle, much less in the face of a hulking madman like Adam? I’ll have no idea to whom I’m speaking. Mamet couldn’t have nailed a line like that.

It’s the birthday of Henry Kaplan, one of DARK SHADOWS’ most prolific directors. Kaplan was a busy New York director, whose resume includes other soaps, such as RYAN’S HOPE, as well as Broadway shows like P.S. I LOVE YOU and ANY WEDNESDAY. Most vitally, he cast Sorrell Booke as US Grant alongside Gene Wilder in THE WHITE HOUSE. On DARK SHADOWS, he was known for the distinctive conductor’s baton he wielded and his method of giving actor feedback by grading each by letter, as if they were in school.

If I know actors, I’m sure they loved it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 12


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 326

David dreams of Sarah, carefully guiding him to a coffin from which Barnabas springs erect. He awakens, and Victoria in unable to calm him. Is Sarah a ghost? Perhaps that was how she could communicate with him. Meanwhile, Julia reports to Barnabas that Willie still lives. Barnabas frets that he may speak upon waking and underlines this danger to the doctor. At Collinwood, she learns of David’s dream and holds a therapy session with him, intent on hypnotizing him as she did Maggie. Unfortunately, David’s dream included a dark woman and her hypnodisc. When David sees this in real life, he knows that Julia is up to no good. He dashes from the room and calls for Vicki.

What an interesting episode. David is set up marvelously from the beginning of the series, going from a bully to the bullied. To think that he begins as a master of information, wielding deceit, trickery, paranoia, and selective truths like the lovechild of Hedda Hopper and the editor of Pravda. He played adults for all he could, with a level of understanding far, far beyond what they thought he could possibly know. But none of us are beyond the reach of ignorance, especially when we’re at our smartest. It’s David’s intelligence and arguably dark heart that make him such a worthy victim. I don’t mean that he deserves it. He’s just an ironic target, perhaps because there is a frightening humbling that goes on with him. And yet, we root for him all the same. When Sarah gives him the vision of Julia and her hypnodisk, and he calls her on using it, cosmic justice is slathered on with with gusto, drowing Julia at the end in its wake. Just as he’s being out-smartypantsed by the supernatural, so is she… in his favor. At Collinwood, it raineth on the unjust and even-more-unjust alike. And Julia? She’s setting herself up for the fall for which she’ll spend the rest of the series in atonement. Ostensibly a healer, she’s out for her own ends, somewhere between power and dark romance, playing with the fire of Willie’s recovery while thinking she can best the cosmic force of Sarah’s conscience. She goes from bored psychiatrist, dreaming of being Ewan Cameron to actually trying her hand at it, only realizing that she’ll have responsibilities more vast than the forces of time and death.

Kudos also to the design team for making David’s dream vision like a Steve Ditko vision of Hell. Yeah, if you look at the strange, black beams near Barnabas’ coffin against a red backdrop, the Dread Dormammu can’t be far behind.  

One of the quietest days in history, perhaps it’s a welcomed rest. On this day in 1967, however, Louis C.K. was born, and that’s a good thing. Just a few decades before, we were given Barry White, as well. Popular also at this time was Roger Corman’s THE TRIP. Corman dropped acid to get the details right, so enjoy:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

PODCAST: Melody and a Whole Hird of Tormés


BY ROBERT DICK

On her visit to the UK last month, I caught up with Daisy Tormé, star of Bloodlust and Blood & Fire.

A life - long friend of Kathryn Leigh Scott, Daisy talks of how Kathryn brought her into the Dark Shadows world to be Bloodlust's Melody Devereux, a Victoria Winters for the 1980s. And she tells me how she approached taking on the established role of Abigail Collins in Big Finish Productions' 50th Anniversary Special Blood & Fire.

Along the way we discuss her career, her childhood in both the UK and the US, and growing up with parents famous on both sides of the Atlantic as she runs through the members of a dynasty the equal of the Collins of Collinsport.

This podcast also features the announcement of the winners of the signed copies of Blood & Fire and Echoes of the Past.



Find Us Online:
Big Finish: www.bigfinish.com, @darkshadowsbfp and @bigfinish
Daisy Tormé: www.daisytorme.com and @daisytorme
Robert Dick: @RobertDick
The Collinsport Historical Society: @cousinbarnabas


Friday, September 9, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 9


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1966: Episode 60

While spending the evening with Maggie, Victoria sees a portrait from the distant past that looks identical to herself. (Yep, pretty much what I said above.) While waiting to find out what it means from Sam, its painter, Vicki and Maggie chat about Collinwood and ghosts, and it’s clear that Victoria is becoming used to it all. Meanwhile, Burke harangues Patterson for his arguably lackadaisical approach to Bill Malloy’s murder. Patterson regards him coolly and undauntedly savors his sandwich. Later at the Evans cottage, Sam reveals that the woman in the portrait is Becky Handscombe, a local girl with whom he was probably involved many years prior. This leads him into the inevitable tale of the accident that sent Burke away. Drunk driving. Burke, allegedly. A man was killed. Burke was too drunk to convince anyone that he hadn’t been at the wheel. With them? Roger and Roger’s eventual wife, Laura -- formerly, Burke’s girl. They married shortly after Burke’s conviction. Inevitably, a knock on the door heralds Burke, asking if there’s an extra seat for dinner.

Come for the portrait, stay for the voice. That’s what I learned. I picked this one for today so that I could say, “Huh, I guess the show always had a thing about eerily similar portraits from the past. Ironic.” So there, I said it. But what I stayed for was The Voice. The voice of David Ford is the purring of a Maine Coon cat, and as smooth and comfortable as the skin of that same cat turned inside-out and made into a pair of men’s briefs. But made for John Houseman. It really rolls and rumbles with a mellow smoothness that made me understand why Nancy Barrett would have followed him into wedlock. Here, he’s at his most poetic as he describes the night of the crash. Because of the rather ripe backstage tales I’ve heard, I always had a tough time warming up to him. But to see him through Nancy Barrett’s ears? The attraction, while odd, seems clear. I like some of these early, Art Wallace scripts because they luxuriate in the possibilities of getting fine actors together in a room and letting them fill it with the relation of fine, true stories about our essence. 

Come see how the vampires do it in Pennsylvania


UPDATE: Here's a reminder about this weekend's screening of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS.

Life doesn't present many opportunities to see HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS on the big screen. It offers even fewer to see its controversial sequel, NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, on anything larger than the TV set in your living room. Next month, though, a drive-in theater in Pennsylvania is planning to screen both films in celebration of the 50th anniversary of DARK SHADOWS.

From DS superfan Gene Caruso:
"This year marks the 10th Anniversary for Drive-In Super Monster-Rama and the 50th Anniversary for DARK SHADOWS. Monster-Rama is a two-day event which occurs annually every September and this year it will be screening great quality 35mm prints of both Dark DARK SHADOWS movies on Saturday, Sept. 10."
But wait! There's more! The original DARK SHADOWS movies will be followed by the Amicus feature THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD and AIP's THE BAT PEOPLE. Admission is $10 per person. Caruso says a few other DARK SHADOWS surprises are also planned for the event, as well a raffle offering items from both films signed by members of each cast. Creepy Classics will be on hand selling DVDs, magazines and T-shirts.

"This is a great chance to relive those old drive-in days," Caruso said. "The Riverside has the best snack bar around and camping is available on site and hotels are close. Come early and enjoy the pre-show socializing, shopping and eating."

The screening is scheduled to take place rain or shine at the Riverside Drive-In Theatre, located on Route 66 N, Vandergrift, PA, 15690,  about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh. For further information and questions, visit the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama page on Facebook.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Trek/DarkShadows: BLOOD FEUD


(NOTE: Today is the 50th anniversary of the television premiere of STAR TREK, which seems like a good opportunity to share this post from 2013 again.)

As a great man once said, "Idle hands are the devil's ding-a-ling." That's the only defense I can offer for this series of images, created when I had absolutely nothing better to do with my time. It started off with a single photo, something to share on Facebook as a gag ... and things quickly spiraled out of control.

These are a few highlights. You can see the rest on them in "The inevitable Star Trek/Dark Shadows Crossover" photo folder on our Facebook page.

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 8


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 323

Maggie’s trap works. As she “slumbers,” a man approaching her bedroom is shot five times. However, that man turns out to be Willie Loomis, who is quickly ushered to the hospital. While everyone is glad that the Strangler’s identity is known, the fact that it’s Willie seems to defy their expectations for how imposing he should be. Patterson visits Barnabas, forlorn over Sarah’s denial of affections, to seek information on Willie, and as the meeting continues, Barnabas learns that Willie fell into a trap. Barnabas visits Maggie to give his best wishes and finds that she still has no clear memory. He later worries what Willie might say if he emerges from his coma. Not only that, but David may also speak about what he has seen at the Old House. Barnabas has no shortage of anxieties.

A quiet day in Collinsport between the shots fired by Sheriff Patterson and his men. It is notable primarily for one of the most endearingly ludicrous moments from the show -- Willie’s ability to take five bullets to the back and only need a coma to sleep it off. It just goes to show that you can’t keep a good Willie down. Of course, it’s also the birthday of Blue Whale barfly, Alan Feinstein, as noted earlier.

DARK SHADOWS sister series, STAR TREK, debuted today in 1966. Not only would it go on to share the talents of Collinsport alumni like Art Wallace, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Mitchell Ryan, but it shared a similar spirit. Both shows feature humans standing resolute in the face of the unknown. Both shows use creatures from fantasy to address contemporary concerns. Both shows celebrate the other, it’s just that with DARK SHADOWS, it’s up to the viewer to embrace it, because the characters don’t quite yet know how. In DARK SHADOWS, the oddities are usually obsessed with becoming normal, and the audience recognizes a larger irony that is decidedly Roddenberrian.  At Collinwood, the differences which define the “monsters” are more than controllable; they are what often save their friends and loved ones. DARK SHADOWS is a very dedicated meditation on otherness and loneliness, but a meditation that ultimately unifies the audience in the understanding and support of the monsters. They may never fully love themselves, and while that’s sad, it’s also okay. We love them. We understand them. And if we’re paying attention, we carry that forward away from the TV.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 7


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1102

Julia collapses into a hypnotized daze as Maggie is lured to her sickroom window by a figure in a broad cape and slouch-brimmed hat. Before it can strike, Quentin enters and rallies Julia to stay awake. She contacts Windcliff, where she learns that the children are in increasingly dire condition. Barnabas takes the next shift with Maggie and ruminates deeply on his past culpability for her suffering. He divulges to Quentin that Rose Cottage is the old McGruder mansion, which leads the former werewolf to seek the living Daphne there. He’s successful, although she is of little help, preoccupied with Gerard. She tries to summon him to somehow aid the children, but to no avail. Later, she appears to Quentin at Collinwood, and against his better judgement, they proceed to Windcliff. David claims that his name is “Tad,” and raves about those from the past while drawing pentagrams on the floor. Is this Gerard’s revenge for their isolation from the house? Daphne attempts a summoning ceremony while Quentin stands guard. Julia bursts in, amazed by the sight.

I can completely understand what makes this section of the series a pariah, and it’s for those same reasons that I love it. Now, we have the luxury of seeing it in the context of the complete series on YouTube, which we lovingly pilfer. Back in the days of first run (and reruns, although I’m not sure the reruns ever got this far), I’d have been disturbed as hell if I thought this were the only DARK SHADOWS I was going to get. I remember when it left the air (for the third time, counting 1971) in Louisville. We were in the middle of 1970 Parallel Time, one of the show’s nadirs, and I knew the end was inevitable. It was a terrible storyline, and I’d be denied a full portion of the terrible-osity I so craved as a DS completist.

The disturbing elements are what I like. What makes this DARK SHADOWS different from all others? I’ve outlined a lot of examples before, but what I saw in this episode was the grappling with a plan so large, manipulative, and scorched-earth that it’s literally inconceivable to our heroes. It’s truly an Existential threat put up against Renaissance and Romantic agents. It’s like Doc Savage dealing with Christopher Nolan’s Joker as opposed to Fu Manchu. Barnabas works his tail off and we can see the panic when he doesn’t know where to turn. With Adam, he knew that all he needed to do was kill, isolate, or appease the lug to take care of business. Nicholas Blair? Send him back to Hell. You know. Simple enough. And Nicholas and Adam made their strengths and weaknesses pretty easily known. Heck, even the Leviathans, for all of their ancient mystery, had a team name and logo. But even they are far more complex than what Barnabas faced in the relatively simple days of 1795.

DARK SHADOWS takes him on a fascinating journey, and as he stands over Maggie in 1102, he has one of his deep, dark nights of the soul. In the face of Gerard, who is a sphinx of evil without the courtesy of a riddle, Barnabas’ powerlessness forces him to turn inward and truly question the collateral damage of his life. This is crucial for his journey. In 1795, his powers are thrust upon him, but they cost him dearly. Awakening in 1967, all he wants is to protect the few vestiges of home he can find, and does so viciously. Gradually, he learns both the futility of forcing happiness as well as the extent of his powers… and the fact that, while vast, they cannot the strange, fragile freedom of being human. He rediscovers his moral compass and finds that he is not alienated at all, but rather in the seat of love and friendship. When he becomes human, his willingness to take action against malevolence sets him apart. No, he’s no longer a troubled, supernatural agent of justice-by-night, but his sense of ethics is the same. He thinks nothing of traveling through time to save Vicki, and then David. By the time he is in 1897, Barnabas is wielding magic, teleporting, and confidently matching wits against Petofi with the smooth, clever confidence of Napoleon Solo. But is evil-smashing what his life is ultimately about? No. He’s compensating for loss and emptiness and separation from home. This final leg of the journey gives him a series of problems seemingly beyond his powers. What must he do? Fight his own battle… the battle of his conflicted heart, still confused and confounded over The Issue of Angelique. His inability to forgive and acknowledge that others who’ve done bad things can change and grow just as he has. By trusting Angelique, he ultimately trusts the reality of his own transformation to goodness, thus authenticating it for both of them.

We see some of Barnabas out of his element here, but it is largely Quentin we see transformed. Serious, driven, but baffled by what’s going on, Quentin simply spins plates in the name of love. He is, as always, the wolf without a pack, and so love and belonging will always be his weakness and greatest source of need. Now, we take away the one-liners and braggadocio and even his reliance on the supernatural, which seems like a force he’s either beyond, bored with, or resigned to never truly understand. Unlike Barnabas, he is a figure of total indulgence, and now, when maturity is called for, his time to pay up has come.

It’s a tense little episode featuring a vampire at the beginning who looks like either of the pro/antagonists from SPY VS SPY. The characters get to do new things and speak new truths, and it’s a fitting send off for writer Joe Caldwell who, with Ron Sproat, created Barnabas Collins as we know him. Hall and Russell would become the Lennon and McCartney of the writer’s room, balancing each other marvelously, and perhaps Caldwell and Sproat get short shrift because of that. He was an enthusiastic author, clearly in love with the characters. Caldwell was also a novelist and winner of the Rome Prize, which apparently cut little ice with his students compared with his work on DARK SHADOWS.

It’s also the birthday of John Harkins, one of the most versatile members of DARK SHADOWS’ background ensemble. For a man with a distinctive face, he morphed into a variety of interesting and menacing roles brought to us with wit and commitment. John gave us Garth Blackwood, Mr. Strack, and Horace Gladstone among others. An Actor’s Studio vet, Harkins came to DARK SHADOWS with the solid stage chops that distinguished the company. A familiar character actor, he was a ubiquitous presence in film and television for several decades, specializing in humorlessness… which, oddly, must have been fun. Like every single human to ever walk the planet on the 1980’s, he joined John Karlen with a recurring role on, you guessed it, CAGNEY AND LACEY. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 6


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 579

Julia catches Jeff going through Lang’s notebooks down beside Eve’s dormant body. He says that he wants to know everything; Vicki’s life depends on the success of the experiment. Julia advises him that ignorance is bliss. Upstairs, Barnabas remains convinced that the vampire who turned Tom Jennings is still on the loose. Stokes arrives and tells the boys to quicken their pace in the Eve-making department. Adam is suffering from heartbreak over Carolyn’s rejection and will be particularly impatient. Jeff visits Collinwood. Vicki demands to know where he has been and what he’s been up to. Jeff, secretly trying to preserve Vicki’s sanity, refuses to talk. Vicki breaks their engagement.

Roger Davis. Allegedly a rascal on set, but an effective leading man. Maybe his characters are a tad overwrought, but so are the stories. To me, he seems like someone from the real world beamed into SoapVille… he realizes that he must play along, and yet, there are no actual consequences. So it becomes an odd amusement park. I enjoy him in any episode, but especially ones in which he’s a tortured hero. He’s not in the Curtis mold; Davis is modest of stature, with a tenor voice and brown hair as opposed to the towering, dark-coiffed gents usually favored. Somehow, that makes him seem like a secret agent from my side of the tracks. He shines in this one, and we genuinely feel for him as he has no choice but lie to Vicki. I keep wanting him to fess up, but where would that lead him. I’ve often seen that many women have an enthusiasm for that truth that would have saddened Oscar Wilde. Vicki, when he says it’s for your own good, well… sometimes it is.

Today we saw the Dawn of Mostoller! As if Ramse Mostoller isn’t dramatic enough in the moniker department, it’s as if she’s out to win a bet by finally, with this episode, becoming simply, Mostoller! I admire one-word named celebrities. Beyond DARK SHADOWS, she also designed costumes for RYAN’S HOPE, SESAME STREET, and SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. (That means she worked with Pia Zadora, who seems like a joke until you listen to her album PIA AND PHIL, and realize that she has incredible talent, making the joke-like nature of her reputation really kind of undeserved.)

Significant to DARK SHADOWS on this day?  Well, a few years prior, in 1958, THE BETTY FREEZOR SHOW aired, marking the dawn of the first color videotaped program. Do you know that while episode 579 was taped, Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine was being born in 1968? I don’t know who he is. What did the machine ever do to him? I know a guy who accidentally laminated his necktie, and he didn’t have any rage. Well, I guess he’s one of those long-haired, yeah-yeah, rockabilly, English types you read about. Stay off my lawn, you beatnik! Take your mandolin and bongos with you. Find a coffee house to haunt with your strange gyrations. More importantly, it’s Raquel Welch’s birthday. Pardon me while I don my white wetsuit and get small. But then I must needs grow up, because it’s the birthday of (and I have to word this carefully) the star of the best of the James Bond franchise, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, Mr. George Lazenby.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Inside Collinwood


This year marked the first time I've attended a Dark Shadows Festival, but I've had little time to discuss it here in the weeks (months?!) since. My schedule has been so cramped lately that there's little time to do anything more than make cameo appearances on social media. I've since banked podcast interviews with Marie Wallace, Will McKinley and Mary O'Leary ... all of which still await editing. Sigh.

Until I get my crap together, here are some photos taken during the festival of the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, N.Y. The property, which was the shooting location for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, was ready for fans that weekend. There were portraits of Jonathan Frid and Lara Parker on display, and one of the tour guides was decked out in full vampire regalia. I was unable to bring any camera gear with on on the trip, but my cell phone served as a decent enough backup. It makes me feel a little guilty about almost leaving it at an airport restaurant in Newark, N.J.

The format of this website isn't especially friendly for photo galleries, so I've posted the images at the CHS Tumblr feed ... which you can find HERE.

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 1


By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this day in 1967: Episode 319.

Barnabas, gripped by anxiety, attacks again, and the next day, the Collinsport Star reports that the Strangler is back! The Evans cottage is gripped by fear, as is the Old House, where Willie harangues Barnabas about his sloppiness. He recites every fear Barnabas has. Will he become human? Will he lose his powers? Will he remain a monster? Will he get caught? Will he ever overcome his sense of betrayal at Sarah withholding her love? It’s a wonder that Barnabas doesn’t kill him just to get a moment’s peace. Meanwhile, Dr. Woodard concocts a wacky scheme. If they out the fact that Maggie is home and regaining her memory, the Strangler might be lured into a trap. Sam rejects it, but Maggie likes the idea. Sheriff Patterson suggests that Sam “pretend” to be drunk and blab about it at the Blue Whale, which he does. Willie is hanging out there, but bolts upright at the sound of Sam’s voice. He goes home to tell Barnabas, who vows to stop her.

I love it when a plan comes together. Or starts to. Sam is more and more of a spineless worrywart, befitting someone I’ve long suspected of being a Stevenson democrat. But at the mention of pulling it off while drunk? He falls into Dana Elcar’s meaty arms, just as I knew he would. Kathryn Leigh Scott again proves that she wears the pants at Chez Evans, showing the kind of pluck and spunk that distinguishes Maggie so marvelously. 
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