Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 27


Taped on this date in 1966: Episode 33

Carolyn is shocked when Liz says that David will stay at Collinwood while stating that she’s eager for Carolyn to get married and move away. Meanwhile, a drunken Joe paints the town red, threatening Burke, rejecting his offer of business sponsorship. As Vicki readies to leave Collinsport, an even-drunker Joe enters, asking to see Carolyn. She comes downstairs, and Joe gathers everyone in the drawing room. Joe excoriates Liz for warping Carolyn, claiming she’s turned her daughter into a spinster. Carolyn, he says, is too scared to marry him. He blames Liz and staggers to the couch, warning Vicki that Collinwood’s a prison. He then passes out. Carolyn tries to reassure Liz that nothing he said was true.

Just when I want to sit here on my Tempur-Pedic futon throne and pontificate about how dull the pre-Barnabas storyline was, here comes an episode to kick me in my self-satisfied caboose. Each scene crackles with the truths no one had been brave enough to say. At the core? Yes, Joan Bennett, Mitchell Ryan, and Nancy Barrett are the gold standards in acting on the program in this episode, but Joel Crothers is an absolute rocket among rockets. Until he played Nathan Forbes, Crothers languished thanklessly as a sane, normative character. It’s thanks to the slow-burning soap format that he finally gets his turn. Drunk men tell no lies, and never has this been truer than on DARK SHADOWS. Playing drunk is so often an excuse for bad actors to exaggerate, generalize, and let overblown gestures and slurred deliveries do the work. Not so with Crothers. This is one of the most intelligent actors I’ve seen, and he uses the license of Joe’s drunkenness to express what the show has needed to say about the denizens of Collinwood since the first frame. The precision of his choices is microsurgical, but it’s far from a cold and calculating reading. He fuses that marvelously insightful text work with a heartfelt connection to his fellow actors. I have no choice but to love him as an actor as well as the character he unforgettably portrays. Moral centers are such pains in the neck. Not in this case. Crothers and Joe are voices from the heart. Joel Crothers adamantly establishes that -- despite future window-dressing of the supernatural -- this show was, is, and will always be about decent, fundamental humanity. It’s theatre’s job to remind us of those things. That’s what acting is all about, and there’s no finer ambassador to the art than Joel Crothers.

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for Harvey Keitel in this episode at the Blue Whale. I’m telling you, that kid has a future.

On this date in 1966, liquor was served for the first time in Mississippi in 58 years, thus ending Prohibition for good. Kind of appropriate for today’s episode. Bottoms up!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...