By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 741
As Szandor and Barnabas crack open the tomb of the original Laura from the 1700's, to find it empty. At Collinwood, Barnabas finds a telegram from Alexandria and then encounters Quentin. Barnabas questions him on Alexandria, brandishing the telegram as evidence that something happened there. Reading it, Quentin asks Magda if Laura has occult power. Magda disavows it. At the cottage, Quentin visits Laura, asking why she has returned. He threatens her with the telegram, revealing that it is from the police in Alexandria. In it, they confirm that Laura died there in 1896 ... death certificate to follow.
A Ben Franklin T-chart, with plusses on one side and minuses on the other, would go on for about three feet in assessing Laura Collins. It’s a… um, challenge. Recounting the positive feels like apple polishing, gee, Mr. Curtis, sir. Listing the negative feels grouchy and critically parsimonious. A bit like kicking a cute puppy, albeit one on fire. She is the show’s first monster, and that’s important to note when Barnabas comes up in conversation as a huge and original risk for the show. In some ways, because her brand of monstrosity was wholly original, with no built-in market nor familiarity, she was a bigger risk than bringing in the vampire. Yes, I know that there is everything kinky and transgressive about a seductive night dweller, and that equals production risk a go-go. But this is a flame spirit who wants to set children on fire! Some would argue that this is equally uncouth. Why did they cook her up as a character, so to speak? A pretty blonde stealing your kids was a crazy cross-section of 1960’s, domestic threats. It actually gets even more disturbing. It’s one thing to mate and kill. It’s far darker to mate, and then kill the resulting progeny. The fact that she’s a “new monster” makes her difficult to label, and that means that two storylines lose copious airtime to just explaining the villain over and over. However, the cleverest part of Laura is that she is going after Louis Edmond’s kids. Few things would get him to show fatherly concern (and Roger only barely does). This is one of them.
Happy birthday to Broadway actress, Isabella Hoopes — the elderly Edith "Grandmamama" Collins from 1897! Born in 1893, Ms. Hoopes lived to 1987, a fact that astounds me. It’s also the birthday of Blue Whale regular, Tom Gorman, who also played Mr. Prescott, Vicki’s gaoler in 1795. He did double duty in/from that era as Ezra Simpson, one of the ghosts who served at the trial of Barnabas when the spirit of Trask walled him up in 1968. Although Gorman was many years older than David Selby, but both hailed from Morgantown, WV.