Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: June 28


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 535

With Vicki’s life hanging in the balance, Barnabas defies Julia to hear the Dream Curse. Julia encounters Cassandra and slaps her into next week, but it is too late. Barnabas has taken a sleeping pill and experiences the Dream, led by Cassandra, herself. After seeing the blazing light of the sun, he awakens, seemingly unharmed and victorious. Shortly thereafter, a bat attacks him just as it did in 1795.

This is it. This is a DARK SHADOWS episode so rich with payoff that it puts a blazing exclamation point on why we love the show. Not only does the Dream Curse reach its climax, but it does so with bravura performances by everyone involved, backed up by a script that showcases the characters at their strongest. Of course, seeing Julia slap the shisha out of Angelique is a moment that justifies a hundred episodes, but that’s just a marvelous appetizer for the feast served up by Jonathan Frid. Frid carries the episode like Hercules, and does so with his singular mix of Shakespearean braggadocio and deeply wounded fear. Seeing him ensnared by that terror and nevertheless push through it? A perfect capsule of why he is the lead on one of the most complex and nuanced programs of that or any other era. In a time when television leads were nothing but macho cartoons, he shows that authentic bravery comes from pushing through doubt rather than being immune to it. His love for Vicki will always be something of a non sequitur, but very few loves, ultimately, are not.

On this day in 1968, we were only one year away from the Stonewall Riots, a watershed event for gay rights and liberation.

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