Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: NOVEMBER 2


Taped on this day in 1967: Episode 356

Julia secrets her notebook from Carolyn and Barnabas. It’s location? The foyer’s grandfather clock. Barnabas tells Julia that she’s a dead woman as soon as it’s found, but Julia counters by saying it will be released to the outside world if it’s found. She and Carolyn come to a stalemate over it… until the Collinwood clock refuses to chime.

In this orgy of suspicion and insinuation, if feminine eyebrows were arched any higher, they’d be cracking through the floor of David’s bedroom. More than any episode of SEINFELD, this is truly an episode about nothing... but posturing, going from icy standoff to icy standoff that you just know is going to go nowhere. The stakes are high enough to make people cranky, but compared with Quentin’s ghost forcing the family out of Collinwood or Laura trying to burn David alive, things are clearly not at a “to the batpoles” level of emergency. I can’t imagine this didn’t bore the writers. And yet, there are things to consider. Barnabas must know that Julia is stubborn enough to not surrender the notebook. Why doesn’t he just bite her and extract the information? Perhaps, on some level, he knows that it would be wrong. Or simply a pain to deal with. And if the notebook were found, so what? They would appear to be the ravings of a pathological liar who’d been scamming the family for months, pretending to be a biographer. Good riddance. However, he needs Julia for one thing: reverse whatever whammy she has on Vicki. And that’s a noble purpose, indeed. At least he has Carolyn. I’ve always enjoyed the perverse Barnabas-Carolyn relationship. She’s the one agent for Barnabas who seems to take pride in her work. She may be ineffectual, but that doesn’t mean she’s not trying. Overall, however, Barnabas truly faces the Curse of the Metrosexual. He’s surrounded himself with women who spend all of their time either making him miserable or trying to tear each other apart. I’m not saying that he needs to become an MRA and spend all of his time watching soccer in his man cave, but he’s clearly in need of a Quentin to hang out with.

There are other reasons, related to production, as to why this section of the series is so stagnant. Burke is dead, and with him, the last of the pre-Barnabas tension is forever gone. Barnabas can’t remain a villain, and Julia is too interesting a Jiminy Cricket to do away with. Besides, Grayson Hall's husband, Sam, was about to see his first script for the show filmed the very next day! Yep, on November 3, episode 357 was Sam’s debut on the show. It wouldn’t be long before his punchy gravitas vitalized the show. I think what we’re seeing are the last gasps of Barnabas-as-villain winding down. We are just less than two weeks from the 1795 flashback, a storyline that would humanize Barnabas, bring in two real villains, and wind up back in a future where Barnabas would be cured quickly before he and Julia would team up against years of truly malevolent foes. I’m sure that the staff had figured out this general tonal shift. At the same time, they were stuck with two more weeks of programming. No storyline could be so vast as to be unsolvable in two weeks… nor could it be so innocuous that viewer tension would drain away before the great experiment of the 1795 origin story.

In the top 10 charts at this time was the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints,” a song that is an immediate ambassador to the era, used for great effect in BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY. 

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