Monday, August 14, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 14


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1085

Daphne slowly seeds the path of the children with further opportunities to identify with their past doppelgangers, Tad and Carrie. Meanwhile, Julia and Quentin investigate the family history of the 1840’s and find the journal of Quentin Collins I, who discusses his theories on time travel and outlines his plans to build a staircase through time in the west wing around the spot of the playroom. Upon investigation, it’s nothing but a linen closet. Quentin later struggles to gain freedom his fascination with Daphne as the ghosts of Tad and Carrie continue to beckon to David and Hallie.

At the heart of what is so often the most dismissed and unpopular section of the series is a story that is the quintessence of DARK SHADOWS and, in many ways, brazenly defiant of its shopworn conventions. Perhaps more than any other storyline, this one is devoted -- with a very tight focus -- to the supernatural. No potboiler elements are simmering elsewhere. Discounting the Roxanne storyline, it’s right up there with Parallel Time in its extremely tight emphasis on one major threat that consumes all of the characters to the exclusion of subplots.

In middle of this emerges a post-Barnabas romance Julia Hoffman, arguably the hero of this arc. She contrasts interestingly with Quentin, and it’s a good example of the writers knowing on which side of the bread they’ve spread the butter of audience vicarious identification. A largely middle-aged, female audience is finally given a strong, middle-aged female hero. Grayson Hall carries the show effortlessly as she plows through the Collins history to get to the origin of these particular shadows of the past. It’s gently nostalgic to see Julia with longer hair going through the family history in the drawing room, just as she did when we met her, but now it’s no longer as a cover story. It’s to save an adopted family… adopted in the same way that the audience has. Not a Collins, either, she makes for the ultimate surrogate.

Contrast this with Quentin. By the time 1897 winds down, the writers have no idea what to do with this invulnerable immortal. Instead of making him a Man of Action, they leave that to the unlikely Julia as Quentin slides into hopelessly impotent lovesickness, once the domain of the good Doctor H. By this point, having been scared shishaless by Collinwood over and over, Julia has seasoned into a dogged adventurer before the audience’s eyes. If DARK SHADOWS is a story about finding and transforming into your true self, few do it quite like Julia.

On this day in 1970, Stephen Stills was arrested for drug possession.

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