Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: February 14


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 432

Barnabas rises to find Abigail on the prowl outside his coffin. He angrily explains how wrong she has been about the source of evil in Collinwood, but she remains obstinate. When she learns the truth of Barnabas’ fate, the shock kills her. At Collinwood, Naomi and Daniel chat, speaking of the value of honesty and kindness. Trask enters and asks to speak with Daniel alone. There, he presses the boy for information regarding Victoria, finding every inadvertent reason to cite her secularism as evidence of her occult leanings. Daniel takes exception to being told he bears the Devil’s Mark and flees. Naomi and Trask eventually hear him calling for them, and find that he has stumbled upon the dead body of Abigail.

This episode is one of DARK SHADOWS’ most inflammatory… if people pay attention. They underplay it so much, however, that it somehow slips by. That could be why it’s not on the cultural radar. Maybe religious viewers were less uptight back then. Maybe there was a sense of ideological safety in greater numbers. Or maybe they were simply smart enough to separate fiction from real life and see Trask as representative of nothing more than Trask. But if someone wants to be offended, and so many do, this is a great place to start. Trask and Abigail (“Trabigail”?) were never good representatives of the religious, but it’s Trask’s lack of ranting that actually gives this episode a sense of danger. It’s most insidious when he gladhands Daniel, casually questioning him, turning each statement regarding Vicki into “obvious” evidence of her guilt. He seems so convinced and full of conviction -- seemingly on Daniel’s behalf -- that even I want to rise up and follow him. Yet the content of what he says is pure, fear-mongering evil. Does he mean it? Is he just twisting a religious ontology to suit his needs? Or is it both, with a line so ambiguous that even Trask doesn’t know where it is? And doesn’t care. That may be the most frightening possibility of all.

A bit of housekeeping. Yesterday was Terry Crawford’s birthday, and I meant to note it. So, I’m noting it now. And on this day in 1968, the very first 911 phone system was being installed in Haleyville, Alabama. It would begin service in two days. 

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