Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 9


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 304

As Julia and Victoria explore the implications of the girl known as Sarah, and question David accordingly, Burke begins thinking the unthinkable about Barnabas; could he be a vampire? It explains everything. At the Blue Whale, he gives Victoria one request: never go to the Old House.

Do you want the Rosetta Stone for DARK SHADOWS? Okay, here it is; these people aren’t the sharpest stakes in the hunter’s bag. They can’t be. In fact, no main character on a soap can be. If they were, the stories would be over in 3-5 episodes. From a writer’s perspective, that makes for a helluva challenge. The characters on DARK SHADOWS are seemingly about as bright as they are allowed to be. As the stories go on, the mysteries become far more cosmic, also helping. This episode shows a typical demonstration of the other saving grace that kept the characters from looking too dim: David. David is another face of the Cosmic Gilligan. The Cosmic Gilligan sees the most extreme of truths, but is never believed. We all feel that way at times, but children -- easily dismissed -- seem to identify with the Cosmic Gilligan most acutely. I think David is a woefully underrated reason for the show’s success. David is a bright kid who exudes untrustworthiness. The protagonists are seemingly intelligent, but have a primal unwillingness to believe David. Thus, all manner of skullduggery can take place over vast expanses of time as the characters are trapped by mutually dependent tragic flaws. And I have to credit the adults of Collinwood with this; David loves to lie, so they’re simply being vaguely prudent. With David as the keystone, though, the protagonists are led into new depths of misdirected disbelief, thus appearing far dopier than they are and slowing the stories to a soap’s pace. Today, though, Burke finally puts it all together, and you’d think that this would be curtains for Barnabas. Well, um, uh… no. That’s -- literally -- showbiz.

On this day in 1967, we lost the great, English playwright, Joe Orton. Author of LOOT! and WHAT THE BUTLER SAW, he combined the prurient irreverence of Benny Hill with the postmodern conscience of Tony Kushner. He was arguably one of the funniest men of the 20th century.

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