Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 10


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 301

Barnabas is dissuaded from killing Devlin -- immediately, anyway -- by Willie, who stresses that Burke is well-liked, unlike Jason McGuire. Meanwhile, Vicki parses through her decision as Devlin mends fences with Elizabeth, a chat with whom helps Vicki make up her mind. Barnabas and Burke enjoy a tense drink at the Blue Whale as it becomes clear that Burke is amassing information to use against him.

The centerpiece of this episode may be the series’ most famous verbal battle… that doesn’t result in gunplay, witchcraft, or a hurled brandy glass. It is widely reported as one of Jonathan Frid’s favorite scenes. Burke and Barnabas enjoy drinks at the Blue Whale. It is a study in the fine art of playing the opposite. The more vicious the implication, the wider-eyed the innocence in asking, the more genteel the invitation to rumble. Burke likens their relationship to a game of cards. For Barnabas, it’s a saber duel. Burke takes the moral high ground until Barnabas points out that a card game can be just as deadly. There is a strange glimmer of affection from Barnabas to Burke, but I think it’s just the certainty of Devlin’s upcoming murder that is warming Barnabas’ heart.

Why did Frid love the scene? Playing opposites is always great fun and makes any actor feel like a smartypants. It’s all about implication, and that makes it into a game. Hinting at menace is great fun. Showing it is ultimately undignified. As far as hints go, these are some of TV’s most lethal.

On this day in 1967, BONNIE AND CLYDE was a box office champ, spreading the Gospel of the Anti-Hero across America. DARK SHADOWS got there first.

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