By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 961
Bruno visits the werewolf at the crypt and whips him savagely. He then locks Davenport’s zombie inside to be destroyed by the wolf. Megan is bitten once more by Barnabas, but has no knowledge as to Chris’ whereabouts. Bruno learns that Megan is under the control of Barnabas, but keeps it a secret. He explains to Jeb that the werewolf is contained in the crypt and sends him there to destroy him once and for all. Locked within the crypt with the werewolf, Jeb fires his pistol at him, unaware that Bruno has replaced the silver bullets with ones made of lead.
Another great installment to show those who claim nothing happens on DARK SHADOWS. Zombies, whippings, werewolves, vampire biting, and general skullduggery abound. This is the twenty-sixth episode with no pre-Barnabas cast members, and that may explain part of it. Most of these cast members are relative short-timers and play characters introduced after the show increased its strangeness and pace. Although my father had seen a few episodes here and there, this began the first stretch that he watched consecutively, and that says a lot about the heightened action and intrigue. This episode has a marvelous Universal Monsters feel to it, including the closest they came to FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, as Davenport (very briefly) squares off against the lycan Chris. If this episode belongs to anyone, it’s Michael Stroka. He manipulates Jeb with believable aplomb, keeping things just this side of believable.
It was a profoundly quiet day in Lake Wobegon. Historically, however, Marie Wallace celebrated my father’s 30th birthday by narrating her first DARK SHADOWS opening, while a jealous Ed Riley decided that he would no longer appear as Sheriff Davenport, saying, “Go ahead. Have the guy eaten. See if I care.” Okay, not really. But it was the first time she narrated an episode and it was Davenport’s last appearance. The Zombie Davenport looked a lot like Solomon Grundy, and I wish they’d kept him around.