Monday, August 7, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 7


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 302

Barnabas is tense about the progress of his cure. He shares his frustrations with Julia, and discusses the growing presence of Sarah, and how he feels morally monitored. Later, Barnabas overhears Vicki accepting Burke’s marriage proposal. Since the costume party, Barnabas has likened Jeremiah to Burke (and Burke to Jeremiah) more and more. After overhearing the proposal, he tells Julia to finish her cure. He will win Vicki.

Today is the anniversary of both the death of Grayson Hall and the death of David Ford. In the realm of brooding, red meat, American practitioners of the Stanislavsky system, they may be the show’s most accomplished actors. This episode is a special treat for fans of Grayson Hall. Is she at her most athletic in it? No. People looking for pursed lips, eyelashes the size of palm fronds, and sandpapery shrieks will have to wait. Those are awkward installments for Hall, used as evidence to accuse her of inept performing. Moments such as those are incredibly hard to pull off, and we’re used to seeing ingenues in peril, not sassy, middle-aged women. These critics need to get over their ageism. People in peril generally do look awkward. Their lack of certainty is what puts them in peril in the first place. No one watching this episode could cite Hall for anything outside of insightful, shrewd, witty, subtle, and urbane gamesmanship. It is slick, truthful stage acting at its finest. A Hall performance in an episode like this has a subtly ferocious and predatory power. Maybe that intimidates some viewers into seeking out fault with her elsewhere. They’ll do it without my help. Hall really plays a subtle gamut in this installment, also. She transforms from confidence to caution to muted scorn as she goes from holding the cards with Barnabas’ cure to realizing that she’ll lose him to Vicki directly after. She also goes from on the rhetorical run from Liz’s q&a to running the conversation with a social magician’s aplomb. She doesn’t just ape the urbane sophistication we hope to see in the show; she embodies it.

On this day in 1967, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE was a box office champ. While it is a spectacle of the first order, it was the first time the Bond films went too far. The next offering would be a subtler piece, closer to Fleming. Thus, the Bond cycle of intense to outrageous begins. 

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