Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: September 13



By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this day in 1968: Episode 557

Barnabas believes Adam’s threat to kill Victoria, so he reasons with Julia about furthering the experiment to give the promethean a mate. Upon visiting an unusually cranky Professor Stokes, Barnabas learns that Stokes revealed Adam’s origin to him. Stokes then visits a usually cranky Adam, whose bitterness at being created shocks the professor. Adam vows, again, to kill Vicki if he is unsatisfied.

Poor Jonathan Frid. He must have had a rough night. I am usually oblivious to his infamous (and completely understandable) line trouble, but in this one, it is so palpable that I totally understand why he retired from TV after DARK SHADOWS left the air. In his early dialogue with Grayson Hall, you can see sheer terror in the eyes of both performers as Barnabas haltingly recalls a trip to the hospital. This is followed by the “Frid Surge,” where Barnabas becomes far more committed and energetic when he turns to face the teleprompter. Of course, this gives him that great sense of vulnerability that was the secret to Barnabas’ success. However, when you counter this with Thayer David’s turn in the episode, which brims with articulate assuredness and passionate integrity, it hurts. The pain doesn’t come from embarrassment. Rather, it comes from my confidence that Frid could have acted the doors off the collected ensemble had the poor guy just been given another frickin day to study his sides. He’s still truthful. But it makes you wonder.

I especially wonder with a marvelous Gordon Russell script like this. While it brought out the shrill in Roger Davis, Robert Rodan issues a highly cerebral, emotionally packed performance. Rodan never receives the credit he deserves. Much of Adam’s stint on the show finds him equipped with an eloquent, even sesquipedalian command of the language. His inner conflict is as existential as it gets. No one sets a standard for virtue like Stokes, his one-time advisor. And yet, none match Nicholas Blair for charm and warmth. Oh, and he’s been friendzoned by Carolyn and is going through puberty. Great. Just… great. Where do you turn? Rodan balances this absurd chimera of conflicts with effortless aplomb that makes Cirque du Soleil look as clumsy as a Matt Helm fight scene.

Jonathan never gets this shot in this episode. But… he has more lines.

On this day in 1999, a radioactive explosion on Moonbase Alpha tore the moon in half, sending hundreds of scientists and pilots hurling into the farthest reaches of space. From the entire staff at CHS, we wish them well.

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