Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 29


Taped on this day in 1969: Episode 836

David hangs at the brink of death, forcing Julia into the abandoned Collinwood. There, the ghost of Beth appears to her and describes the events that led to Quentin’s death. In 1897, Angelique relishes telling her of Quentin’s change in affections and of their subsequent engagement. Jamison finds Beth distraught at the news, and when he confronts Quentin, the argument boils into his total rejection of his uncle. Quentin is heartbroken. Later, when Beth and Quentin finally speak, their row ends with her shooting her former lover. This, we learn, is followed by her suicide. Thus, Quentin’s obsession with claiming David into the realm of the dead. David reminds him of Jamison, and by taking him with him into death, it is his only way for them to be together. Quentin’s ghost appears, delighted with David’s demise. When he dematerializes, David dies. Stokes arrives, and it’s clear that Julia must venture into the past to alter events and save the lives of Quentin, Beth, and David.

Powerful, driving love stories needn’t be romantic, and it’s touching and mature that the love story that has driven Quentin is about Jamison. After hinting around at the secret for so long, it’s generous for the series to simply lay out the truth, and it also makes for a clever way to sneak an 1897 episode in the midst of one in 1969. We’re also reminded of Quentin’s mystery and rage. After maturing him so beautifully in 1897, this is a great callback to what got us started on that storyline. I know I keep coming up with reasons to marvel at the inventiveness of the show’s storytelling, but after wading through The Turgid Year of 1966, it’s so heartening to see the writers find newer and increasingly exciting ways to throw out the rules.

This episode is a little gem and a genre watershed, not to be overlooked. Seeing the story from two different centuries shows how gutsy the writers had become. Terry Crawford is especially strong in this, and watching the ghosts shift back and forth into their pre-noncorporeal, human lives gives her a great variety to play, and gives us a new reason to appreciate her with David Selby. She also plays Beth’s despair with a wholly credible intensity that makes David Henesy’s job very, very easy. On the other end of that is Angelique, who once more puts a plan into motion to rid herself of the local “good girl.” Her psychological sabotage of Beth comes off as one part planned, one part surprising. With only the flicker of a smile, Parker managers to say, “I knew it would work, but I had no idea it would work this well.”

This episode was shot on a quiet day, so let me get ahead of myself to the day it aired, Sept. 8. That’s also the birthday of actor, Alan Feinstein. Alan appears as the clapping guy in the striped shirt who’s digging Carolyn’s moves the very first time we visit the Blue Whale. Alan is a marvelous actor, still teaching in LA. Not only was Alan on, I think, every single series shot between 1975 and 2000 (including a recurring role on FALCON CREST as ‘Malcolm Sinclair’), he was also a busy actor in New York, notably appearing as the lead in AS IS. I got to work with Alan in a mondo gigante production of AMADEUS where he played Salieri in 1993. He was thrilled that anyone still knew of DARK SHADOWS, and was (and is) a fantastically generous teacher. He had just finished playing Mitch Ryan’s son in LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, and the resemblance is eerie.

Speaking of birthdays, Aug. 29 is a humdinger. Ingmar Bergman, William Friedkin, Michael Jackson, Charlie Parker, Sir Richard Attenborough, Elliott Gould, Robin Leach and most vitally, Deborah Van Valkenburgh. She was one of the honeys on TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT as well as appearing in the classic DEEP SPACE NINE episode, “Past Tense,” and as William Shatner’s squeeze in FREE ENTERPRISE. Oh, and she was in THE WARRIORS and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. (Editor's Note: And let's not forget STREETS OF FIRE, Patrick. Jim Steinman! Diane Lane! Sledge hammer fights!)

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