By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 469
In the secret room, Vicki recalls the circumstances under which she shot Noah Gifford in 1795. Vicki, Jeff, and Julia open the coffin, finding it empty. Barnabas springs up from his hospital bed, mad with the urge for blood. Lang explains that it is only a relapse, but Barnabas demands more information. Lang elaborates that the transfusion temporarily arrested his condition, but if Barnabas agrees to his treatments, the cure will be permanent. Later, Julia visits Lang at the hospital. He refuses to divulge his plans to Julia, explaining that Barnabas will remain his doctor after he leaves the hospital. Julia offers a guarantee for Barnabas’ cooperation if Lang will let her participate. If not, and if she senses danger, she vows to stop Lang. Clark enters, cutting their meeting short. Julia leaves and Clark explains that he saw her at Eagle Hill. Lang is angry because Clark was supposed to go to Stanhope Cemetery, where there is plenty of fresh activity. Clark wants to quit, but Lang insists that he cooperate or be sent back to the institution for the criminally insane. Lang knows that Clark and Vicki are attracted to one another, but wants nothing to interfere with his plans. If Clark defies Lang, the doctor threatens to tell her that Clark is a murderer.
Today, the Dark Shadows actors walked out of the studios to a world where Dr. Martin Luther King was minutes away from assassination. It would not be until December 21 that astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders successfully broke the bonds of Earth to orbit our moon for the first time in human history. According to history, one person wrote a letter to NASA in gratitude for that achievement, stating simply, “You saved 1968.” It was still several months from the murder of Robert Kennedy, but it was very suddenly a world that needed DARK SHADOWS. And over the next year, it delivered. Not as a diversion. Not as an escape. But as a model.
"Maybe we just needed it in the '60s," David Selby told DC Comics back in 2012. "They were shows that allowed you to escape … shows that made life a little easier to cope. I think about New York City at that time and all the things that were going on. The corruption, the racial conflicts, the unrest at Columbia University. There were protests everywhere. Then there was Chicago, and the election in 1968. The assassination of Martin Luther King, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Vietnam was raging. And then you had these shows. I’m sure some sociologist is examining all of this and working it out. But I think those two shows, Batman and Dark Shadows, they fit that expression, 'Whatever gets you through the night.'"
Barnabas, within one year of this episode, will make the most important changes of his life. He will defy Eric Lang’s directive to murder Jeff Clark. He will destroy Nicholas Blair’s attempts to create a master race. And he will risk everything to venture to 1897 because it is the right thing to do. DARK SHADOWS couldn't save 1968. But it offered a lot more than just a diversion.
It’s also Humbert Allen Astredo’s birthday. And that’s a good thing, too.