Monday, July 17, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 17


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1065

Following ghosts and a phantom melody, Barnabas and Julia find a perfectly preserved playroom in Collinwood that they never knew existed. In it, an insane Carolyn is of no help as she laments a birthday party whose guests have vanished. Leaving her behind, they visit Stokes, a man not quite mad, but not entirely sane. He’s equally ignorant as to the cause of Collinwood’s ruin. When they leave him, we learn that he harbors Carolyn, and he is still seeking answers from her. Back at Collinwood, they find a mad Quentin, recently escaped from a mental hospital. Returning to the playroom, Julia and Barnabas find a birthday card to someone named Tad. Just as suddenly, David appears in a smart, 1970-era suit.

Eight years to the day after this episode was shot, actor Thayer David died of a cardiac arrest. He was only 51. It makes an episode like this incredibly poignant, showing the actor at an “old age” (sixty-eight) that he never reached. Anyone familiar with the daybook knows that Mr. David is the real star of the show and this column. A touch of that is camp, but it’s a sincere camp, sincerely inspired. Chris Pennock considered David to perhaps be the program’s finest actor. David had range, passion, and a committed sense of truth… and yet none of these grounded him so much that he lost his capacity for joy in his performances. Matthew Morgan, Ben Stokes, Count Petofi, and T.E. Stokes are all some of the show’s most memorable characters, and we have David to thank for that.

Curtis had already begun the motif of the phantom and disappearing room with the Parallel Time storyline. Is his fascination a concession to paranoia? Larger conspiracies manipulating events? Timing is everything. Why do they arrive now? To see the escaped Quentin, or does Quentin escape because he senses Barnabas and Julia? Either way, they are here because Judah Zachary wants them there. It’s a trip that is both catalytic and fatalistically demoralizing. The events of 1970 would have been baffling without a preview. With one? Barnabas knows exactly how powerless he really is.

On this day in 1970, over 30,000 people attended Randall Island’s rock festival in New York City. Like Altamont, it was total chaos. Prone-to-violence, proto-SJW political groups such as the Black Panthers and the yippies demanded pieces of the action and were at each other’s throats. Gate crashing was rampant. Stars such as Ravi Shankar, sensing they wouldn’t be paid, refused to perform. It was no Farm Aid. 

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