Friday, December 16, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 16


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1177

In Quentin’s lab, the Staircase roars to life. The door at the top flies open. In silhouette, cast against the primal forces of the supernatural, we see a muscled, masculine, defiant figure, arrogantly erect. Julia sniffs the musk in the air, feels herself swoon in an unmistakable way, and knows that only one force in the universe can have such a profound effect on the human female. In other words, T. Eliot Stokes has arrived. He had waited in the playroom until the staircase appeared, having read in Flora’s journal of Barnabas’ disappearance. Julia gives an in-depth description of the situation thus far. The cover story for the Professor is that he is Ben’s nephew, newly arrived in town. Angelique is made privy to the truth. They split up and agree for Stokes to publicly arrive at 9:30 that night. Waiting, Julia has a dream in which Roxanne appears to say that Barnabas is dying. Waking, she and Angelique go on a hunt that leads to Lamar’s. Meanwhile, Stokes arrives at Collinwood. Gerard, threatened both as a power and as a man, grills Professor Stokes. He must have Stokes’ secrets. With his eyebrow cocked insouciantly, T. Eliot Stokes bests him at every turn.

It’s not hyperbole when I say that this is the single funniest episode of DARK SHADOWS. Why? Grayson Hall clearly lost a bet to her husband Sam, who wrote it. At least half of the episode is devoted to Julia doing her best to recap the incredibly complicated storyline of 1840. It goes on and on like a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song, and I can only think of it as Sam’s revenge for some kind of domestic squabble.

When I wrote the Collins Chronicles, I knew how I wanted to handle the episode’s entry. I wrote it as a letter from Stokes to his affiliates in the notorious Hellfire Club. More than that… I wanted it to be a single sentence. When I wrote the live version for the 50th anniversary Festival and was asked to make it short and funny, I knew that a performance of it was the perfect stunt on which to end the show. Unfortunately, the events began to run over on the day of the performance, and I chose to cut the Stokes letter to keep the Festival as much on-schedule as possible.

Here’s “Stokes’ Letter”....
Here is the situation thus far:
Barnabas Collins has been missing for a week near Collinwood, whose master is now Gerard Stiles, but whose rightful master, Quentin Collins, is the subject of a witch trial where his cousin, Desmond Collins, served as advocate until being jailed for practicing the occult, himself, in a forced exposure probably engineered by Gerard, who suspects my friend Julia Hoffman rather than the witch, Angelique Bouchard, who has an obsession with Barnabas, a man once served by my ancestor Ben Stokes, who, when Julia first arrived, was one of the many live-on guests at Collinwood, along with the aforementioned Gerard Stiles who, at the time of Julia's arrival, was not the evil monster he would become but someone merely fabricating the details of the drowning of Tad Collins and Tad's father, Quentin, Gerard's best friend and husband of Samantha, a woman Gerard attempted to marry in the wake (ha-ha) of Quentin's alleged passing, and who would have done so, had it not been for the subsequent return of Tad and Quentin on their wedding day, causing interpersonal rifts which were furthered as Samantha chose the secretly gold-digging Gerard over Quentin, two men who later vied for the affections of Miss Daphne Harridge, a new governess to Collinwood, a house whose former master, Daniel, was dying at the time of the wedding, and who intended to bequeath all his wealth to Samantha, much to the consternation of Daniel's son (and Quentin's brother), Gabriel, an embittered malcontent in a wheelchair, who watched in glee as Quentin engineered strife between Gerard, his best friend, and Samantha, his estranged wife, by refusing to give up the son he had with her, Tad, a young man rendered helpless as Gerard moved to nearby Rose Cottage (with Flora Collins) but nonetheless maintained an odd friendship with Quentin, who still thought their friendship dear, while ignoring all of Gerard's bad qualities, such as his practice of witchcraft, a force insinuating itself into Collinwood in myriad ways such as the evil will of Judah Zachary, a powerful warlock decapitated centuries ago in Bedford, Massachusetts and the architect of mass chaos in Collinsport via the mental seizure of Quentin's cousin, Desmond (the man who brought the head to Collinsport as a gift for Quentin and who is now on trial for witchcraft), Letitia Faye (who has second sight and a keen singing voice), Dr. Julia Hoffman (a female physician who briefly attached the head to a body while under a hex), and now Gerard Stiles, supposed good friend to the one man Judah did not possess, Quentin Collins, despite allegations from the state that Quentin is carrying out Judah's grand design of revenge on the Collins family (whose patriarch, Amadeus, presided on the witchcraft trial that ended in his execution), and whose evil magic is powerful enough to overflow, causing strife with a neighbor whose cattle have died as well as a woman who perished with her forehead branded with the "mark of Satan" (hardly), which is a symbol also seen on the ring of Quentin Collins, a man later found kneeling over the body of his murdered brother-in-law, Randall Drew, a gentleman who resided in a cell managed by a sheriff whose wife was found dead outside its bars from occult means, a fact emphasized by Lamar Trask, a crazed mortician and the chief accuser of witchcraft, a citation he uses to hector his sworn enemy, Barnabas Collins, the alleged (and, as it turns out, true) murderer of Trask's father in 1795, the year when the elder Trask was walled up (for the public welfare) in the cellar of the Old House on the Collins estate, and the same house that Barnabas was leaving as he attempted to testify on Quentin's behalf, yet vanished in a manner as mysterious as the way in which governess, Daphne Harridge, changed her affections from Gerard to Quentin, a choice that made her sister to go mad after their infidelity some time ago.
Pardon me if I am late for brunch.

We will.

On this day in 1970, the Soviets were the first humans to land a vehicle on another planet… in this case, Venus. It’s time we went back, no?

UPDATE: The unsavory Jack Chick/Dark Shadows connection

It should come as no surprise to you that Jack Chick was not a fan of DARK SHADOWS.

The paranoid, hate-filled comics publisher died Oct. 23, 2016, at the age of 92, according to a Facebook post by Chick Publications. There are few people in America who have seen one of his tiny pamphlets, which tell violent parables in support of bigotry, fear and delusional myopia. Since 1961, Chick published more than 250 comics, tackling such crippling social problems as Dungeons & Dragons, rock music, homosexuality and Freemasonry. If it was the least bit fun, Jack Chick hated it.

Naturally, DARK SHADOWS was an easy target for him, though it's highly unlikely he ever watched an episode of the series. In 1972, not long after the ABC soap went off the air, Chick took a potshot at this show in his Chick Tract "Bewitched." Rumor has it story begins with Satan taking in an episode of DARK SHADOWS, it's distinctive gothic/serif font emblazoned on his television set.

"Why are these old re-runs so important, Master?" a nameless ghouls asks.

"Because, stupid, that show paved the way for our occult and vampire programming viewed by millions today," Satan answers dickishly.

And he's not wrong. Without Barnabas Collins, we wouldn't have THE NIGHT STALKER, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and a host of lesser-known offspring. Chick takes a slightly dimmer view of DARK SHADOWS, though, using it as a springboard for his usual morality play about eternal damnation. In short, our protagonist, Debbie, does a bunch of acid before having her soul saved by the prayers of her grandmother. Awwww.

Again, some of this is just rumor. Later editions of "Bewitched" was revised: Debbie's name was changed to Ashley (why?) in later editions, and Satan's favorite TV show was altered to replace DARK SHADOWS with the credits for the sitcom BEWITCHED. (The curious reference to "vampire programming" remained.)

I've spent years casually searching for an original edition of "Bewitched," for no other reason than to satisfy my own curiosity. The 2015 book "The World of Jack Chick" includes a segment on "Bewitched" but does not mention DARK SHADOWS. For all we know, any appearance by the series in a Chick Tract  is myth.

UPDATE: Confirmation! 
A Mysterious Benefactor™ recently e-mailed me a scan of BEWITCHED as it was originally published. The legend of the DARK SHADOWS reference happens to be true. Below, you can see the titles of the series (in all its misspelled glory), as well as the revised artwork and text that had appeared in subsequent editions. Thank you, Mysterious Benefactor™!

We now return you to the original, unedited post ...

Chick has an even more interesting connection to DARK SHADOWS. But first, a word of warning: this post is going to go to some dark places.

One of Chick's associates was an evangelical Christian named John Todd, who first worked with Chick on "The Broken Cross," one of his company's magazine-sized "Crusaders" comics. "John is exposing Masonry which has infiltrated our churches," Chick wrote in 1978. "It’s an unseen enemy. John has given me valuable information on two new publications, 'Angel of Light' and 'Spellbound.' The latter on rock music will have a devastating effect on Christian rock music. I thank God John is risking his neck to warn us of the dangers and techniques used by the Illuminati."

Todd's narrative was that the Illuminati was actually a vast conspiracy of witches, a web that grew to include the KGB, Hollywood, the already mentioned Freemasons ... and the Collins family from DARK SHADOWS. Todd claimed his family was descended from Druids in Scotland, who fled the country after being persecuted as witches. His family name was "Kollyns," which was later changed to "Collins."

When he was a teenager, Todd claimed, he was asked to fly out to "Hollywood" with a diary he'd inherited from his great-grandmother. These diaries served as the basis of DARK SHADOWS, and his ancestor Lance William Collins -- a secretary for a coven that included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton -- inspired Barnabas Collins. (For the record, the DARK SHADOWS production was located in New York.)

Todd also claims DARK SHADOWS was "literally prayed off the television," which is the first time I've heard that particular explanation for the show's cancellation.

"I back John up 100 percent with all his faults," Chick said of Todd in a 1978 letter. "I know this brother is doing his best to advance the kingdom of God. We must keep one fact in mind. John is not a minister, but a Christian layman sharing what he knows about a very explosive subject."

Wikipedia politely describes Todd as a "conspiracy theorist," a tagline that omits a great many of the man's more sinister faults. Todd was a lunatic and conman, having gone by the names "Lance Collins," "Kris Sarayn Kollyns" and "Kollyns Christopher Sarayn" at various points of his dubious career. According to "The Occult World" by Christopher Partridge, Todd was convicted of incest in Kentucky in 1984, for which he received a probationary sentence. In 1988, Todd was convicted in South Carolina of raping a college student, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. During that time, the once evangelical Christian filed a lawsuit against the state claiming he was not allowed to practice Wicca, and demanded "personal items" such as a pair of women's panties and some pornographic photos be returned to him.

Todd was released from prison into the care of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, where he died in 2007. To this day, Todd has defenders who insist his arrests (and even his death) were the work of the Illuminati.Was Jack Chick among their numbers? We can only speculate. None of Todd's offenses were considered valid reasons by Chick Publications to discontinue any of the stories that involved John Todd. "The Broken Cross," which begins with Chick expressing his "deepest appreciation" to Todd, is still available for sale from the company.

Anyone else feel like they need a shower now?

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 15


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 923

Death, bearing the name of “Mr. Best,” arrives at Amanda’s flat to remind her that her contract for extended life is almost up. He grants her seven more days to persuade Quentin to declare his love for her. Later, Julia agrees to help by finding an image of Quentin that will jar his memory. Sabrina persuades Carolyn to visit Delaware-Tate’s home where a man was murdered that full-moon evening. Julia also arrives and when Sabrina suggests that she knows the identity of the killer, Julia slugs her and has Carolyn take her away. As they wait to go back to the hospital, Sabrina tells Carolyn that she is still in love with Chris. Meanwhile, Julia finds out from Amanda that the painting of Quentin now has another painting over it -- called “A View of South Wales.” Julia travels out to a secluded, Maine island to meet the owner, a publishing tycoon named Sky Rumson. He shows her the painting, and then he shows her a painting of his wife… the image is of Angelique.

In the last gasps of the creative boom of 1969, the writers send the year off in high style. Having met Satan (aka, “Diabolos”) and Elder Gods for Before Time Itself (Oberon and Haza), why not bring in Death, himself, as an antagonist? It always made me wonder about the hierarchy of evil in DARK SHADOWS. Arguments can be made for any of those big three as being the eldest. This is swift moving episode of high stakes (Amanda vs Death) and intrigue, with Julia traveling all over Maine to track down Quentin’s painting. That it should be capped off by the introduction of Geoffrey Scott as Sky Rumson? Well, let’s just say that it makes 923 memorable for whole new reasons. In all of DARK SHADOWS, no one actor has a style as memorably unique as Scott’s. His career is still chugging away, and he’s matured into his strengths, working with A-list directors like Ang Lee. Quite the athlete, he even recovered from having both legs crushed in a cycling accident. But the episode’s cliffhanger? One of DARK SHADOWS best zingers, and none too soon. December is a good time to be Lara Parker. She’s involved at this time of year in 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1970.

It’s a great time for movies. We’re only four days away from the world premier of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, arguably the best film in the James Bond series and one of the more faithful adaptations. 

Have yourself a scary little Christmas

During a feature about the #ShareKindness campaign this morning on THE TODAY SHOW, a piece of music closely associated with DARK SHADOWS made an awkward appearance: Josette's Theme. Yeah, it kinda/sorta sounds like Christmas music, but context is king. It's likely that many a DARK SHADOWS fan spit out their egg nog when they recognized the melody.

THE TODAY SHOW appeared to be Robert Farnon's version of the tune. This was a piece of stock music purchased by Dan Curtis Productions during the initial "Barnabas Collins" storyline in 1967, making its first appearance in Episode 236. Curtis later commissioned Robert Cobert to write an original composition, likely because it was cheaper than paying licensing fees in perpetuity. (Note: Farnon's melody was also used in an episode of THE PRISONER, "Dance of the Dead," later in 1967.)

You can watch THE TODAY SHOW segment below. The melody begins around the :45 mark.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 14


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1171

Gerard unmasks a hooded figure attempting to stab him. It’s Samantha. She reveals that she is leaving the “notes from Joanna” to torture Quentin and drive Daphne from the house. Quentin once had an affair with Joanna. When Samantha refused him a divorce, he went to sea. Much as with his namesake decades later, the woman left behind -- Joanna, in this case -- went mad. Confined to an asylum, she revealed the depth of her love for Quentin to Samantha. Shortly thereafter, Joanna escaped and died on the beach. After Quentin’s return, Samantha used Joanna’s unread letters to him as a means of torment. Once she learned that she could forge Joanna’s handwriting, the missives took their more sinister turn. Gerard and Samantha unite in their quest for Quentin’s downfall. Meanwhile, having been seen in the sun, Barnabas is seemingly innocent of charges of vampirism. This inflames Trask, who manipulates the course of a dinner party to convince Barnabas that Roxanne’s ghost is appearing in the basement of the Old House. Going there, Barnabas finds himself ambushed by Lamar, who forces him into the shackles in which his own father died.

Many parts of DARK SHADOWS are about having fun, but 1840 is not one of them. It’s not supposed to be, either. We’re down a King and a Kennedy since the show first went on the air, and Vietnam is not showing signs of improvement. There is a sense of quiet pain in the performances of James Storm, Virginia Vestoff, and Kate Jackson. 1897 had whimsy. 1795 had hopeless romance. They are the party; 1840 is the hangover. There is no redemption in sight for Gerard, the world’s worst best friend, and Samantha, the scorned wife from hell. Revenge and greed are their singular goals and motives. That makes them seem a bit one-note compared to introductions of other characters. Almost all of the other villains on the show were undone by ultimate and universal human traits. Not them. If you’re waiting for it, I’m sorry. Had the show continued, perhaps they would have been recycled in the present, and we would have seen more dimension to them. I think their presence is why 1840 can seem like a depressing storyline if taken in the wrong context. It’s important to remember that they are support characters, only. They just happen to be support characters given a lot of screen time. Cosmically, 1840 is a short storyline… certainly compared with 1897. Keep that in mind. There’s only so much change and redemption one storyline can hold, and although she’s been absent for a bit, this era belongs to Angelique. And Barnabas. That will be more than enough.

This is an episode of deep dish exposition with Traskian irony as a chaser. In fact, it’s one of two expository episodes. (Just wait until the doozy of 1177.) But sometimes those are necessary, and it’s a credit to the ambition of the writers that they would take it on.

It’s a few hundred years off, but on this day in 1640, Aphra Behn was born. Who was she? Just on the heels of Shakespeare’s age, she was one of the first noted female playwrights in history. (She wasn’t a very good one, but, hey, she was there first.) Her most famous play was THE ROVER and she was also -- like Christopher Marlowe before her -- a secret agent for His Majesty’s Secret Service. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The 2016 Dark Shadows Holiday Gift Guide

DARK SHADOWS has been off the air (more or less) since 1971, but that hasn't stopped its merchandise from periodically flooding the shelves. This year is no different: 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the show's debut on ABC, and folks have stepped up to mark the occasion in wasy both big and small. Big Finish continued to expand the Collinsport Universe with such landmark tales as "Blood & Fire" while also tinkering with the audio drama format, delivering an epic number of new spoken-word novellas this year. Original cast member Lara Parker has also published her fourth DARK SHADOWS novel, "Heiress of Collinwood," which ties together loose plot threads from the original series. It's been a pretty good year.

Below you'll find a collection of nifty DARK SHADOWS items available online. These range from the traditional (such as the "coffin-box" DVD collection) to some original art created by fans. Enjoy@

Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood
By Lara Parker

Production description:
"An orphan with no knowledge of her origins, Victoria Winters first came to the great house of Collinwood as a Governess. It didn’t take long for the Collins family’s many buried secrets, haunted history, and rivalries with evil forces to catch up to Victoria and cast the newcomer adrift in time, trapped between life and death. At last returned to the present, Victoria is called back to Collinwood by a mysterious letter. Hoping to fill in the gaps of her memories by meeting with the people who knew her best, Victoria returns to the aging mansion. However, she soon discovers that the entire Collins family is missing―except for Barnabas Collins, a vampire whose own dark curse is well known. Victoria discovers that she has been named sole heir to the estate, if only she can prove her own identity. Beset by danger and dire warnings, Victoria must discover what dread fate has befallen Collinwood, even as she finally uncovers a shocking truth long hidden in the shadows ..."

Dark Shadows: Haunting Memories
From Big Finish

Product description:
"Four new tales of horror, romance and intrigue read by cast members from the original television series. Hell Wind by Marcy Robin: A young Josette Du Pres is terrified for her life as a deadly hurricane smashes into the island of Martinique. She rushes for shelter but she's not the only one fighting to survive. Communion by Adam Usden: 1861 and War rages across America. The preacher Elias Trask and his young son Gregory, are hiding from men who wish to kill them. But something else is already in their hiding place. The Ghost Ship by Lara Parker:The warlock Nicholas Blair has transformed the witch Angelique into a vampire to serve him. Her love for Barnabas Collins, though, will never die. A Face From The Past by Kay Stonham: Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is returning to her home town of Collinsport. But on the train, she is stunned to see the young man who was once the love of her life. Could he also have returned to the town that once tore them apart? The Dark Shadows story continues in these four original stories, based on the classic ABC-TV series with specially composed music and cinematic sound design. Actors from the series narrate four original stories. With Kathryn Leigh Scott, Jerry Lacy, Lara Parker & Marie Wallace."

Dark Shadows Collinwood Mansion Vintage style Keychain
From: Rosendale Retro

Product description:
"Barnabas has given you keys to the mansion. This is a high quality limited edition Dark Shadows Collingwood Mansion keychain. It measures 2" wide by 3.5" tall made of durable plastic just like the process in the 50's. Email me with any questions. Discount shipping on multiple items."
LINK: Etsy

Dark Shadows: 50th Anniversary Compilation
From MPI Home Video

Product description:
"This special 50th anniversary collection offers 38 complete TV episodes that are among the most popular in the history of DARK SHADOWS, serving as an ideal introduction to new fans as well as an enticing overview for longtime devotees.  Additionally, movie-length presentations of two of DARK SHADOWS' most popular stories are included. The Vampire Curse details how Angelique the witch caused Barnabas to become a creature of the night. The Haunting of Collinwood reveals how the children of Collinwood become possessed by the ghost of Quentin Collins.  Special Features include new episode introductions by David Selby (Quentin), Lara Parker (Angelique) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie), exclusive video interviews with Jonathan Frid & David Selby, and Dark Shadows promos."

Dark Shadows: Blood & Fire
From: Big Finish

Product description:
"A two-hour adventure celebrating 50 years of Dark Shadows! Some are born with magic, some acquire magic, and others have magic thrust upon them. The year is 1767 and young widow Laura Murdoch Stockbridge is to marry Joshua Collins, heir to the Collins fortune. Meanwhile, Joshua's sister Abigail is in love with disreputable sailor Abraham Harkaway. But the course of true love never did run smooth, especially when the witch Angelique Bouchard is around. For Angelique has been sent back in time and she has one mission - to destroy the Collins family forever. Featuring cast from the original television series, Blood and Fire is a special audio drama to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Dark Shadows with specially composed music and cinematic sound design. Dark Shadows at Big Finish covers a popular range of 50 individual stories, two special four-story seasons, and the acclaimed Dark Shadows - Bloodlust serial series, released twice-weekly over seven weeks in 2015. The original American TV series has been a cult hit for decades, and consists of over 1200 episodes, and a Tim Burton film in 2012 with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.Recorded in the US and UK, the Big Finish Dark Shadows range use significant casts to tell a wide range of stories. CAST: Lara Parker (Angelique Bouchard), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Patience Collins), Mitchell Ryan (Caleb Collins), Andrew Collins (Joshua Collins), Daisy Torme (Abigail Collins), James Storm (Abraham Harkaway) and Jerry Lacy (Malachi Sands) with John Karlen (Alfred Loomis), Lisa Richards (Euphemia Spencer Stockbridge) & Christopher Pennock (Uriah Spencer Stockbridge)."

Dark Shadows - Echoes of the Past
From: Big Finish

Product description:
"The Reverend Trask performs his first exorcism...Maggie Evans encounters a ghost...Quentin Collins battles a force in 1958 Los Angeles, and Angelique Bouchard is forced to write a confession for the rest of time...Four new stories read by cast members from the original television series. The Dark Shadows story continues in these four original stories, based on the classic ABC-TV series in an all new story with specially composed music and cinematic sound design. Actors from the series narrate four original stories. Read by Jerry Lacy, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker & David Selby."

Dark Shadows: The Complete Original Series
Product description:
"This deluxe edition boxed set contains every eerie episode of the original Gothic suspense series DARK SHADOWS (1966-1971) plus a wealth of bonus interviews with the stars and creative members that made the supernatural thriller a cult favorite and an enduring television classic."

  • 131 DVDs with all 1,225 Complete Episodes
  • Commemorative large Coffin package (housing 22 amarays)
  • Deluxe booklet with episode summaries & photographs
  • Special Bloopers, Treasures & Behind The Scenes DVD s
  • Over 120 Bonus Cast & Crew Video Interviews 


Barnabas Collins Articulated Paper Doll
From: ArdentlyCrafted
Product description:
"Dark Shadows Barnabas Collins paper doll! Steal the show with this gothic soap opera bloodsucker. He comes with a removable paper cane that he can hold in his hand. A movable piece of art that makes a great gift for yourself or a loved one who love the TV show Dark Shadows. The original design is scanned and then laser printed on heavy 140# index paper (cardstock). He is cut and assembled by me with tiny brads to make him posable. He is about 13 inches tall and about 4 inches wide. He has 8 articulating joints and a removable cane he can hold in his hand."
LINK: Etsy

Painting of Josette DuPres from Dark Shadows
From: WoodhouseArts

Product description:
"This is a painting on a canvas board I did of Josette DuPres from Dark Shadows. She is in her bedroom looking at the black onyx ring given to her by her lover the vampire Barnabas Collins.
I've painted Josette mostly in artists quality water colours, which are very vibrant. I have used some acrylic paint pens and gel pens on her face and night dress.To add to the romance and beauty of Josette I've glued on a pretty crochet lace border and 4 metal embellishments ( the centre of which match the blue in the background). The lace suggests the lace on Josette's bed.The back of the board has been covered with pretty scrapbooking paper and signed. It measures approx 31 by 25 cms."

8-Bit Wonder - Dark Shadows PDF Cross-Stitch Pattern

From: CatLadyCrossStitch

Product description:
"This cross-stitch pattern comes with a full colour chart with floss legends in DMC. The digital file will be delivered INSTANTLY via download link once payment is processed. The pattern can also be accessed at any time through your "Purchases" folder. Due to the nature of digital files, no refunds can be given - thanks for understanding. You are responsible for downloading and printing the pattern - this is ONLY A DIGITAL FILE. This listing is for a PDF file of the pattern, not the finished product. You will need Adobe reader to open the files, which you can get free from"

Dark Shadows Retro Style Metal Lunchbox
From MPI Home Video

Product description:
"Full Color artwork with Barnabas, Angelique, Quentin and Collinwood. Dimensions: 10L x 5W x 6H."
Link: MPI Home Video

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 13


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 650

In the wake of Madame Findley’s death, Victoria fixates on Jeff’s watch. When it begins to tick, she knows that his spirit is active and capable of contact. This is bolstered when he actually appears to her, drawn by the power of love. After he vanishes, she becomes determined to return to him. After tearful and sincere goodbyes to Liz and Barnabas, a solitary Vicki sees Peter appear once more. When they join hands, both are drawn back to the past as Liz and Barnabas look on in astonishment.

Maybe it was the mood I was in. Maybe it was the ensemble at its best. Maybe it was the quietly dignified compassion shared between the characters. Maybe it was Ron Sproat’s sensitive, emotionally mature script. Or the passionate sincerity of the performances. Perhaps it was the result of these things combined, capping stories that have been years in the telling. But we said goodbye to Victoria Winters. I was transfixed, teared up, and felt both elated and terrible for everyone.

Betsy Durkin, in her final appearance on the show, again ably carries the episode, with a Victoria pushed beyond arguable madness and into an understanding of time and destiny known by very few. Her farewells to Liz and Barnabas are as credible as if she’d been essaying the part since 1966. Roger Davis puts in a performance both heartfelt and heightened, without ever straying into the hamfisted. The unsung hero of the episode is Jonathan Frid. In saying goodbye to Victoria, we see the character’s pain, his restraint, his compassion, and his wise dignity. Of course, for Barnabas, his knowledge of her is fresh. He’s known her maybe a year? That includes how they met in 1795. His feelings for her are fresher than we, the viewers, realize. No, they’re more than that. He’s seen the range of her bravery, going back nearly two centuries. She’s an extraordinary woman, and no one else there -- not even Peter Bradford -- appreciates it in quite the same way. His longing is so clearly articulated, but it’s punctuated by his decision to control when they part company. It’s the last and only position of self-respect. How much has he lost? How ruthless is he in the pursuit of his desires? We know what he’s capable of. Thus, his choice to move on shows a thoughtful self-command that can only be credibly crafted and appreciated in the daily storytelling of the soap. With their parting, she leaves, he stays, the baton is passed, and it becomes clear who the ultimate protagonist of DARK SHADOWS is destined to be. The show begins with one lost stranger coming to Collinwood only to find her destiny in the past. It continues and ends with a man of the past finding his fate in the future. Is Victoria, in her unblemished purity, the past that Collinwood needs? Is Barnabas the stabilizing voice of yesterday here to balance the moral scales of yesterday? They become bookends. Both finding meaning through devotion to families that aren’t really theirs. Both meeting their ends in trials.

Special kudos to Louis Edmonds, too. Everyone who thinks that Roger remains a heartless, condescending cretin needs to take a good look at his depiction in an episode like this. He is strength and sympathy in equal measure, and as with Barnabas, it’s a believable result of the character’s evolution. When he asks Barnabas to look after things in his absence, there’s a sincere warmth to the request, and again, it makes me realize how far both characters have come.

I am impressed by so many of the DARK SHADOWS installments, but few leave me as emotionally winded as this one. And yet, I can’t wait to watch it again.

On this day in 1968, the president of Brazil runs rampant over their constitution, but manages to stabilize the country. It’s unclear if a surviving Burke Devlin is involved.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 12


Taped on this date in 1966: Episode 126

Matthew intends to kill Vicki to satisfy the Widows. Meanwhile, David tells Burke and Roger where she is, leading the two men to break out the guns and go on a manhunt. As Matthew sharpens his axe, the ghost of Josette appears to Vicki to calm her nerves. Eventually, Bill Malloy’s ghost is joined by those of the Widows, who unite to kill Matthew by sheer fright. Or his diet high in saturated fat.

When we Collinsport Historical Society Irregulars did our “Ten Favorite DARK SHADOWS Episodes,” I’m not certain I’d yet re-re-re-reviewed this one. While it falls outside the essential Barnabas/Angelique narrative that I featured in my list, 126 is an unsurpassed twenty minutes of television, and it could be the most daring and important episode of the series -- even more so than 210 (or 211 or 212… whichever one introduces Barnabas in the way that works best for you). Episode 1 may be the premier of the show, but 126 is DARK SHADOWS’ first proper episode. If you get what I mean.

Okay, so what’s the big deal? This is not an episode that hints, teases, nor alludes to the supernatural. Rather, it blasts out out of the cathode cannon and right into the audience’s amygdala, ready or not. 126 establishes Collinwood as a place where the true and uncompromising residents are the ghosts, with humans as meddling short timers. This is not a program of mild supernatural innuendo, just delicate enough to leave sacrosanct the delicate sensibilities of those housewives who watch while putting the finishing touches on that ham loaf for the Wednesday church supper. This is not typical, thumb-twiddling, soap-opera time wasting. By God, Matthew’s got an axe, Burke and Roger have broken out the guns, and the ghosts of Bill Malloy and Josette team up to beat everyone to the punch. Patience? Bite it. Your day has come. On tonight’s DARK SHADOWS, we gotta rumble!

Episode 126 is also a taste of what I think Rob Zombie’s DARK SHADOWS would have been like. First of all, the story is told extremely well, with the actors hitting every note the writers set down.  Additionally, it’s raw, violent, and grimly funny, with Thayer David menacing and goofy as a deranged and deluded (down east) redneck killing machine.

History? It’s all over the place in this one. Kathryn Leigh Scott speaks as Josette, truly going from an apt-looking stand-in to inventing the role that would cement her as one of the series’ four or five most crucial actors. We bid farewell to Matthew Morgan, but with such panache that it was just a warm-up for Thayer David. Bill Malloy is seen once more… with a musical number! Short of some kind of Orbach’s engineered wardrobe malfunction, this is not only a great DARK SHADOWS episode, it’s also, as the ad copy for THE RIGHT STUFF declared, “where the future begins.”

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!  

Win a date with Jonathan Frid, 1968

Jonathan Frid's status as a teen idol has always been one of America's cultural phenomena. A few years back I read someone compare it to putting Alan Rickman on the cover of Tiger Beat ("Win a dream date with Severus Snape!"), which is as appropriate a description as any. It's a little unsettling to see Frid's face sitting next to Barry Williams, The Cowsills, Jack Wild and Davy Jones.

I had the chance to revisit this cultural dissonance last night after a car package from a generous reader arrived on my door step. Inside was a stack of magazine clippings published during the heyday of DARK SHADOWS. I'll be sharing these with you over the next few months, and decided to lead with the account of a 1968 contest held by After Noon TV. The contest, itself, is pretty typical, but it's coverage of the winner is what makes this piece so interesting to me. These kinds of promotional stunts usually result in a single photo of the winner and their "date" published months after the fact ... if the winner is acknowledged at all. After Noon TV took things quite a bit further and published something akin to an oral history of the event, speaking with just about everybody involved ... including innocent bystanders. It's a pretty neat little artifact.

You can read a transcript of the contest, the winning entry and an account of the "date" below.


The car.
Sometimes a contest prize is so fabulous that it needs almost no description. We will say simply this: The winner of this contest will not only have dinner with Jonathan Frid — Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows, that well-known vampire, and one of the most modest and nicest guys around, but Barnabas and his date will arrive at the elegant Manhattan restaurant in a chauffeur-driven Excalibur SS Roadster a beautiful car modeled after the 1927-1930 Mercedes-Benz. On this evening out you'll get a chance to ask Jonathan questions about Dark Shadows, about what it was like to grow up in Canada, and about what it's like to have so many people flipping over you. It's guaranteed that Jonathan will not bite his date. Incidentally, if you're worried about entering this contest because you're married, engaged or have a steady boyfriend, worry no more. Your husband, fiancé, or boyfriend is invited too. The winner will be the person who comes up with the best answers to the questions on the application. Photos of this wonderful evening will appear in a following issue of After Noon TV.

From left, Jonathan Frid, contest winner Irene Bran and daughter Arlene, 17.
Gentlemen :

I think I should win the contest because of the difficulties and hardships I have had to endure since my 17 year old daughter found out about Barnabas's vampire role in Dark Shadows.

Three days out of a week she gets home from school in time to watch the program. What happens the other two days? I have to drop everything I'm doing and sit through a half-hour of this unbelievable series, just so I can enlighten her as to what had transpired in her absence. When it comes to the point where I have to stop my shopping short and grab a cab to get home by 4:00 P.M. so as not to disappoint by daughter, I feel I deserve to be rewarded in some way.

I've given a lot of time and attention to this series, and the first thing I would say to Barnabas if I were chosen the winner would be:


Irene Bran—Age 40 


THE PUBLISHER: I'm not saying I thought it was a bad idea. In fact, I thought it was a pretty good idea. I just wasn't so sure it was going to work. I was well aware that Jonathan Frid is the hottest personality in daytime television, but I just wasn't sure he'd go for the idea of having a blind date with a contest winner. I wasn't sure whether this thing could really get off the ground.

A SECRETARY: I heard about the Win a Date With Barnabas contest, right away I wanted to win. Then the Editor said that no employees could enter. I said that I'd tell my friend to enter, but the Editor said that this contest, like all After Noon TV contests, was strictly legitimate. The person who best answers the question why they should be chosen the winner and what the first thing they will say to Barnabas if they should win would get to be chauffeur-driven to the Promenade Cafe (CHS note: this appears to be the Promenade Cafe located at Rockefeller Center?) and have dinner with Jonathan Frid. "Oh, Nuts," I thought. I really wanted to be the winner. Then the mail started coming in. I was swamped—I had to open all of it. There were thousands and thousands of entries. Everyday I'd ask, "Did you pick a winner yet?" And the Editor would always say, "No, I'm waiting for one really great answer. "

MRS. BRAN WHEN SHE WAS TOLD THAT SHE HAD WON THE CONTEST: You're kidding. Someone must be playing a joke. I've never won anything before. I thought this contest was just a gimmick to see how much fan mail Jonathan Frid gets. When my daughters entered I decided to enter too and tell how it really was. When they kept saying they hadn't heard yet I said, "Don't worry, you won't. "

JONATHAN FRID: I'm always nervous about a blind date. I only think of myself as an ordinary human being. I had hoped it would be more than just a stunt.

THE PUBLISHER: The winner and her seventeen-year-old daughter were to meet at the After Noon TV office. I still wasn't quite sure what to expect. I read the winning letter, and it was great. I have to admit that. At about a quarter to seven Mrs. Bran, a Brooklyn housewife, and her daughter, Arlene, arrived at the office. These two ladies had spent the afternoon in the beauty parlor. I was getting myself, about this whole thing. I was upset only that it was a very windy night, but was delighted that it had stopped raining. We went downstairs and there, on Madison Avenue, was an English chauffeur standing in front of a magnificent red Excalibur automobile. Since everyone was a little ahead of schedule I decided to take the whole crowd out for a drink — including the chauffeur. Mrs. Bran is charming. She lives in Brooklyn but has only been as far in New York as Wall Street. Her husband owns a restaurant in Long Island. Arlene Bran is a senior in a parochial school in Brooklyn and will frain to be a legal secretary after she graduates. Mrs. Bran drank a Scotch sour. Arlene had a coke. I had the feeling, at this point, that the evening would work out very well.

THE CHAUFFEUR: It was to see, in this hard New York City, two people overjoyed with excitement about doing something a little out of the ordinary. It was also nice to see that the actor had the same feeling of apprehension and excitement.

JONATHAN FRID: As soon as I saw Mrs. Bran and her daughter waiting on the sidewalk I liked them. The car was marvelous. I knew right away they'd be fun. It was the first time I'd ever done anything like this.

RON MOTTRAN, THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I wasn't sure what time the car was coming, and I was standing near Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue freezing. Then the red, chauffeur-driven car pulled up, and a crowd gathered. I began taking pictures — it was fun.

GEORGE MEDINAS, PUBLICITY MANAGER, RESTAURANT ASSOCIATES: It sounded like a great idea, and I was very happy to have this group dine at the Promenade Cafe restaurant.

A PATRON IN THE PROMENADE CAFE: Mostly, I wanted to know what was going on. Here was a very cheerful group, and a photographer was taking pictures of them. I figured they must be famous; they were given great seats—right next to the window so they could see everyone ice skating. When I looked very closely I noticed that the guy in the middle looked familiar. I said to my wife, "Doesn't he look familiar?" and she said, "Sure, it's Barnabas from Dark Shadows." Once the photographer left everyone ordered a drink and really started having a great time. Not to be rude or anything, I tried to listen to what was being said. They were doing a lot of laughing, I can tell you ghat much. "Roast beef isn't a bad idea."

They really must have been enjoying themselves. They were talking about Dark Shadows, about the writers and producers, about fan mail. Every now and then they'd watch someone on the ice rink and burst out laughing. Then the Captain suggested that they get ice skates, but one of the women said she didn't want to tear her stockings. My wife wanted to ask for his autograph but I wouldn't let her. "He's so polite," my wife kept saying, "why can't you be like that?" They were joking around about his fangs. Then the younger woman said that she used to be called "fang. " Then everyone ordered roast beef. They also got a nice bottle of wine.

MRS. BRAN: It's something that you don't think will really happen to you. We were so thrilled, especially when the photographer took the pictures. The food was marvelous and Jonathan is much nicer than he is on television; he's so charming, and he made us feel so at ease. It's something that happens once in a lifetime.

JONATHAN FRID: Both the mother and daughter were very bright and I felt relaxed immediately.

A PATRON IN THE PROMENADE CAFE: When they were finished eating the waiter the big surprise came came out with a birthday cake for Barnabas, and everyone sang Happy Birthday. " I've never seen a celebrity look so surprised in my life. He started laughing, saying, "That's the only birthday cake I got this year." Someone said, "It has rum in it." Then he made a wish and blew out the candle and made one cut in the cake. My wife looked jealous. Then three more people joined them at the table. I asked one of the waiters what was happening. He knew the story. It seems that Mrs. Bran's other two daughters and the boy friend of one of them had come to the restaurant because she didn't want to travel on the subway at night. It was about twelve o'clock, and the restaurant was just about empty.

MRS. BRAN: It was a memorable evening, something we'll never forget

JONATHAN: It got late so quickly; I was all ready to go ice skating. Mrs. Bran certainly has three gorgeous daughters.

ARLENE: I really can't wait to go to school tomorrow and tell everyone about it.

MRS. BRAN: Can we do it again next week? 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 7


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. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

PODCAST — Dark Shadows: The Short Story Collections


In November 2016, across America and in the U.K., the first recording sessions took place for the 2017 Big Finish Productions DARK SHADOWS short story collections.

The collections feature the return of many favourite characters including Elizabeth Stoddard, Roger Collins, Dr Julia Hoffman, Professor T. Elliot Stokes and ... Harry Johnson.

I took the opportunity to visit the UK recording session to ask Stephanie Ellyne and Matthew Waterhouse about the stories they were performing. And Matthew, alongside fellow writers Rob Morris, Aaron Lamont, Alan Flanagan and Daniel Hinchliffe, joined co-producer Joseph Lidster to tell me about the tales they've got in store. You can listen to the discussion at the bottom of this post.

The last of the 2016 collections 'Haunting Memories' is out in December and  stars Kathryn Leigh Scott, Marie Wallace, Jerry Lacy and Lara Parker - reading her own story, her debut writing for Big Finish.

"Haunting Memories" is available for pre-order from Big Finish here:

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.

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. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 2


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 641

As Amy remains obsessed with the notion that her brother is appearing outside her bedroom window, crying, Victoria is similarly obsessed with Jeff. Strange sounds, the cry of the Widows (heard even by Amy), and the significant behavior of his watch all suggest that he is trying to reach her. Stokes, cock o’the walk as always, struts into Collinwood. Stopping short of setting off the smoke alarms with his testosterone, he nevertheless slays the ladies, including a charmed Amy. All too used to the fawning attentions of of emotionally disarmed women, Stokes turns his attention to Victoria. She implores him to, if not take her around the world, take her backwards in time to 1795. No dice. The only thing he knows is certain there is a hanging for witchcraft… it’s too dangerous, and so Stokes withholds the manly essence of his time warping workings. Later, hearing the calls of the Widows, Victoria makes a run for the cliffs of Widow’s Hill as Amy makes a call of her own… for the ghost of Quentin.

December 2! As has been said before, Thank God, It’s Frid-Day! Yes, it’s the birthday of Jonathan Frid, and what started as an annoyance to me now seems like a treat by Dan Curtis for the birthday boy; none of today’s episodes feature the Fabulous Mr. Frid. Yep, it’s JF’s feliz navidad, and I have no Frid Fawning to Savor. Sorry, kids. He’s the reason for the season, nevertheless, and like any good seasonal reasoning, I’m sure he’ll rise again for future entries. But for now, he has the day off.

Here's a photo, anyhow.
It’s a strange day at Collinwood… Fatalism Friday. We’re treated to a small-cast episode whose tight company and references to the Widows makes it a strange sibling to the offerings of the show’s first year. Is Vicki’s seeming desire to leap from Widow’s Hill total nihilism or an acknowledgement that at Collinwood, their unique temporal mechanics make death less than deadly? To know that death is the answer is both an utterly bleak end and yet, strangely, keys to George’s Argo is an oddly bittersweet powder that could only have come from the tip of Stokes’ pestle when swirled and ground in Collinwood’s mortar. Between the ghost of Quentin and the ghost of Jeff, I can’t tell who’s haunting whom. And that’s the great, cosmic mystery of the program.

Stokes is back in full strut in 641, issuing bon mots like confetti and revealing that, in the land of snappy zingers, writer Sam Hall is fully capable of giving Gordon Russell what for. It’s also the first of five consecutive episodes directed by “Penberry Jones.” I have to suspect that PJ was a pseudonym. Not only is it an hilarious moniker, like something out of FORBIDDEN ZONE, but the only thing I can find about Penberry is that he directed, yes, five consecutive episodes of DARK SHADOWS.

Warmongers rejoice! On this day in 1968, President Dick “Richard” Nixon named Henry “The Ultimate Aphrodisiac” Kissinger his security adviser. The world responded by giving us Lucy Liu on that day. Every action of aggression has an equal and opposite reaction by the cosmos.

Lara Parker Vs Lulu, 1971

Lou Reed released his last album on original music in 2011. LULU, an unlikely collaboration with Metallica, was called "one of the worst reviewed albums ever" by NME, which was one of the more diplomatic assessments of the sprawling 87-minute opus. The concept album was inspired by German playwrite Frank Wedekind's two "Lulu plays," which follow the misadventures of dancer-turned-prostitute who eventually runs afoul of Jack the Ripper. It was called "exhaustingly tedious" by Pitchfork, "an utter wreck" by The AV Club, and "one of the worst albums ever made" by The Quietus.

TL/DR: It was not well received.

By comparison, the 1971 stage adaption of the first of the Lulu plays, "Earth Spirit," got off light. It was savaged by New York Times critic Clive Barnes in a review that you can read in its entirety below. Lara Parker had the title role, leading an impressive cast that also included Dan HedayaDuane Jones of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DARK SHADOWS alumnus Geoffrey Scott.

As with the "Loutallica" album, it was not well received.

The Lortel archives claims LULU ran for just a single performance, which seems unlikely but not impossible. The only performance date listed is March 27, 1971, which was just three days after Parker taped her final episode of DARK SHADOWS.

"We worked four of five months on that play, and it went through many changes," Parker told me in 2013. "That play could have been wonderful. It suffered from too many ideas. When you’re acting, you’re trying to fulfill the needs of the director. ‘Say this line this way. You have to move quicker through this scene. Play her like a kitten. Play her like a prostitute. Play her like a trollop.’ You’re constantly getting badgered by all these ways to do things, but the person who’s doing the creating is sitting out in the audience."

She also blamed the play's failure on her own performance.

"It should have been played completely different than the way I played it," she said, "I played it like a kittenish little sexpot and the critics didn’t like it, as well they should not have. But, when you’re young you don’t care about bad reviews. You still have your whole life ahead of you."

Theater: Lulu Returns
First drama of trilogy by Wedekind revived

March 28, 1971


Lulu is not as bad as she was painted at the Sheridan Square Playhouse last night by a company called the Metropolitan Repertory Theater. Lulu is the eternal-feminine heroine of a classic trilogy by Frank Wedekind called "The Lulu Plays." The first of these, "Earth Spirit" is what is being given here under the more appealing title of  "Lulu."

The two plays of the trilogy, "Earth Spirit" and "Pandora's Box," form the basis for Alben Berg's great, uncompleted opera, "Lulu," and perhaps nowadays the opera is so well-known and so highly regarded that to perform merely the play is tantamount ti producing Victor Hugo's "Le Roi S'Amuse" rather than Verdi's "Rigolette." Yet, the Wedekind is a classic European play, and the prospect of seeing it was most exciting. Unfortunately, the anticipation was almost all of the pleasure. The evening proved most tedious, but I cannot be persuaded that Wedekind was much to blame. The staging was deplorable and the acting varied uneasily between the competent and the atrocious.

Wedekind saw his Lulu as part earth mother and part immortal whore. She is all things to all men -- temptress, solace and eventually destruction. (In the sequel to this present play she ends up in London to be ripped by Jack the Ripper.) Writing at the end of the last century, Wedekind places his Lulu, a depraved yet gorgeous voluptuary, against a background of the shallow, pallid men who love her. The one man of substance who is tragically caught in her spell -- and the one man she loves -- she has to murder.

It is a strange play, full of a tortured Puritanism and that ambivalent just for sin that needs to extinguish the very thing it most hotly embraces. It is also a play that must surely be done expertly if at all. It is, after all, melodrama at a very high level, and without actors capable of walking its stylistic tightrope it crashdives to the ludicrous level of this present tatterdemalion travesty.

The director, Morton Siegel, has envisaged the play as a kind of commedia dell-arte harlequinade, which is kind of irrelevant mistake. Of course Wedekind demands a great deal of stylization -- as does his early idol Georg Büchner -- and there is nothing here that is intended realistically. But the stylization must carry a great deal more conviction that you will find here.

Lara Parker who plays Lulu is undoubtedly an attractive girl, yet Lulu needs perhaps less superficial prettiness and much more sensuality. Lulu is an animal -- Miss Parker is the kind of girl any boy would be proud to introduce to his mother, without any fear of Lulu seducing her.

The rest of the cast was far less attractive than Miss Parker. The whole production seemed rather a pity -- a chance bungled. But perhaps "Earth Spirit" is not the most viable of Wedekind. It might be interesting to see someone try his "Spring Awakening." But please, someone other than the Metropolitan Repertory Theater. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: NOVEMBER 30


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1165

Daphne finds a letter from Joanna as a hooded specter appears intermittently. Samantha accuses Daphne of bringing Joanna’s ghost with her. Tad implores his mother to testify on Quentin’s behalf, but she demurs and later tells Desmond that she wants Tad away from the evil influence of Quentin on one side and Gerard on the other. Desmond admonishes her that Quentin is benevolent, unlike Gerard. The witchcraft trial begins… but it almost doesn’t. The prosecutor quits the case rather than indulge in something so medieval. No matter, Charles Dawson takes up the post for the state. He calls Samantha to the stand, who accuses Quentin of summoning Joanna’s ghost.

We mark one thing today. Yes, I’m certain that Vital World Events were going on that day, and very proud we are of all of them. But those potatoes can be savored only with the aid of an electron microscope compared to today’s event in DARK SHADOWS-dom. On this day, 46 years ago, David Henesy filmed his 276th and final episode. He was only fourteen years old by then yet was soon for artistic retirement after logging nearly one hundred hours before the cameras over three and a half years.

Despite his youth, it could be argued that he was one of the best elements of the show. So much of acting begins with showing up, knowing your lines, hitting your marks, and not bumping into the furniture. Not the highest bar, but with 22 minutes to do it, every day, every week, for years and years? Falling short of those is a forgivable sin under such circumstances. Henesy rarely fell short. So often, in fact, he met the challenge with a gusto that eluded a number of his adult costars. But beyond such workmanlike competence, his creativity as an actor had a deviousness whose freshness never expired. Regarding the material with which he was supplied, David Collins was most interesting in the first year. Later, David’s misanthropy just became typical adolescence, but the absolute glee he took in the first two hundred episodes of the show is one of the show’s most endearingly perverse indulgences. He is everything wrong, and you just gotta love him. Then he turns around and connects with Mitchell Ryan like glue with utter sincerity. And his scenes always work. Time and again during my projects, guests have watched a Henesy scene and declared, “He nailed it again!”

Then, he begins his transition out of the business. I say that with no happiness because I marvel at what he could have brought to adult parts. But I have more sympathy than regret. After all of those episodes of DARK SHADOWS, what was left? No wonder he retired. Say what you will about David Henesy, he had more than his hour in the limelight, and he made the most of it. And to watch him grow up, sadly leaving him as a proto-adult desperately failing in his attempts to be manly? Well, it gives most of us DARK SHADOWS fans yet something else with which we may identify.

On this day in 1970, George “The One Who Was an Authentic Genius” Harrison released his triple album, “All Things Must Pass.” I’m sure the irony was not lost on David Henesy.

David Selby joins the X-Men universe

David Selby has joined the cast of FX's upcoming X-MEN spinoff series, LEGION, according to his official website.

LEGION is scheduled to premiere on FX in February, but it's not yet clear what role Selby will be playing. The television show's IMDb listing has the cast and crew for three episodes listed, but does not yet include Selby's credit. Hopefully, producers will recall his roles in DARK SHADOWS and FALCON CREST and let him play a badguy, which is something he doesn't do much these days.

David Selby and Hamish Linklater in LEGION.
But the real question on the minds of fans is "How does this fit into Fox's X-MEN movie series?" It's easy to dismiss this show as a one-off but, since the success of THE AVENGERS a few years back, every studio has been trying to build its own "shared universe." Fox's DEADPOOL film has breathed new life into its X-MEN series, and it feels unlikely that the studio won't try to connect these movies to LEGION in some tangible manner. (If they're successful, it would certainly give the studio a leg-up on Marvel, whose television shows feel adrift from its cinematic offerings.)

And the connection to LEGION and the X-MEN universe is fascinating. The title character, a mutant named David Haller, is the son of X-Men founder Charles Xavier. In the comics, he's incredibly powerful and seriously disturbed. Haller was introduced in 1985 in Marvel's NEW MUTANTS comic, which featured a younger class of students at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. I was an avid fan of this series at the time, but was both perplexed and amazed at the book's creative choices during these years. After more than a year of solid (if undistinguished) storytelling, editors paired writer Chris Claremont with artist Bill Sienkiewicz, creating a hybrid of superhero stories and arthouse comic. It's impossible to imagine that anybody was ready for that, but the book certainly had my attention.

Legion, as drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz.
Sienkiewicz was fresh off a head-turning run on MOON KNIGHT. Initially tagged as a Neal Adams clone, he began to expand his style on that book ... a style which exploded onto the pages on NEW MUTANTS in a way no mainstream comic had ever seen. Sienkiewicz rejected traditional panel layouts and line art in favor of a style that could barely even be described as expressionistic. It looked more like a psychic nightmare than a superhero comic. It was masterful work by a guy not even 30 years old at the time.

His art proved to be a problem for Marvel artists following in his footsteps, though. Many of his creations for the book were intensely idiosyncratic ... NEW MUTANTS characters such as Legion, Warlock and the Demon Bear looked utterly ridiculous when drawn by anyone else. It didn't take long for these characters to fall out of the ongoing story line after Sienkiewicz left the building.

While Sienkiewicz's style will also be an ill fit for television, the trailer below suggests it's still going to be a pretty nutty series.

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