Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 26


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 597

As Barnabas is about to come out of the coffin and confess his true nature to the family, Carolyn reappears, quite alive. She visits Adam, who asks to kiss her, knowing it’s her last night alive before the experiment. Sentimental, Adam goes to Barnabas and tells him she will not be the life force before issuing his last ultimatum of the day, declaring -- as he does every day -- that the experiment will be conducted that night! Nicholas, in search of a life force, conjures up the spirit of the most evil woman who ever walked… Danielle Roget! She assumes a contemporary form and dress and phases into the corporeal for only three hours. Will it be long enough? Barnabas is stunned to meet her.

Few on DARK SHADOWS convey sincere devotion like Carolyn. (Even if mind control is occasionally involved.) This is a big one for Carolyn in the selfless (and human) sacrifice department. She’s still down to be the life force. She’s finally giving a Thunderbirds Are Go to Adam for a full-on kiss! And she’s game to help conjure the demonic spirit of the most evil woman in history with surprisingly few questions asked. Without a doubt, Carolyn Stoddard is Collinsport’s go-to gal for a good time in the lab, on the slab, atop an ancient altar, in the ritual chamber, or at the Blue Whale juke box. Saucy as that sounds, it’s also true. But she’s a very nice girl for a shikse, and I think your mother will be very pleased.

All kidding aside, Nancy Barrett gets to show tremendous bravery, benevolence, and sensitivity in this episode. Her consummated kiss with Adam is an easily-forgotten highlight of that storyline. The fact that violins don’t go nuts and the lights don’t snap to red makes the whole thing more dignified and realistic. It’s a moment. It happens. It moves on. It transpires with the same casual brevity that you would expect from a kiss with a landlady who was once your prisoner when you were mute. We’re all adults, here. We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about.

Robert Rodan, as always, combines passion and nuance as he navigates between Carolyn and Nicholas. It’s fun to see Nicholas Blair continue to believe he’s running circles around the lug when it’s clear that the lug is catching up… especially in their chess game. Obviously, the most interesting performance in the episode belongs to Erica Fitz as Danielle Roget/Leona Eldrich. She works perfectly in the episode as a hellspawn hellcat, archer than the St. Louis skyline. Actors like this certainly get the soap vibe, yet fall short of the sincerity and elan seen in the core cast. Watching some day players, it’s easy to see the casting process at work. It’s clear why actors like Fitz remained in the rolodex, and it’s also clear why they stayed in the rolodex rather than the production office’s main contact sheet. And having her only around a for a short time makes the character more red-letter unique. The dreamy, Catwomanly turn as Leona is enough to both turn heads and arch eyebrows. It’s a wildly stylized performance that owes more to Russ Meyer than Sanford Meisner. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.

And she was later in “Hercules in New York” and earlier was seen on Broadway in “There’s a Girl in My Soup.” I believe she played the soup.

On this day in 1968, theatre censorship ended in Britain around the time of the loosening of prohibitions on homosexuality. The soon-to-be-written play, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, would directly celebrate this. How directly? The lyric It Ain’t No Crime from "Sword of Damocles" is a lot more pertinent and political than you might think.

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