Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: March 2


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 975

Bruno has Chris Jennings as captive, and uses the promise of safety for a nearby Sabrina to secure his cooperation. Chris won’t outright serve Bruno, but he won’t attempt escape, either. Barnabas takes Roger up to the parallel time room, but it won’t shift. Once Roger leaves, it does. Looking within, he learns that Roger and Angelique were once lovers, Carolyn and Will Loomis are married, and that Will is the author of a valuable and rare biography of Barnabas Collins. Meanwhile, Bruno persuades Carolyn to come over to his place. Once there, he locks her away with a transforming Chris. With Carolyn gone, Jeb will lose the will to live.

Beyond the magnificent architectural achievement that is Bruno’s hair, the most interesting aspect of this episode is the subtle visual snapshot of fashion that we get between Roger and Carolyn in parallel time. As in the world of Alfred Hitchcock, fashion in DARK SHADOWS is at once dated and of no real age. It has a strangely timeless quality. More than anything, it looks like, well, DARK SHADOWS… and that’s in any timeline. Nevertheless, if parallel time (1970 and 1840) is a triumph for anything, it’s in design. The storyline takes very few risks. (You know, excluding burning down Collinwood and having a major character kill herself as a major character.) What creates a world set just two inches to the west? It’s an impossible task. It’s not like you have Joan Bennett running around with a bare midriff and Roger with a beard. (Other than Cassandra.) It reminds us of just how much of “more” there was in the sixties. The show’s design scheme was actually so clear that it was easier to vary it than you’d think. Characters of long lines in clothing got short lines… Roger going from draped smoking jackets and vertical ascots to short jackets and neckerchiefs. And colorful, pert characters went long, straight, and dark. Carolyn comes to mind. Her fashions are aggressively Seventies with an almost goth edge.

But it’s all internally consistent. Please, never underestimate the work of great designers to pull together disparate elements that create a new, subtle, internally consistent language.

On this day in 1970, the world got much smaller with the maiden voyage of the Boeing 747. One of the great triumphs of the human imagination, it could hold enough cargo to pay for a journey without a single, human passenger. It’s influence on world travel was profound.

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