Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: NOVEMBER 28


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 908

Alex insinuates himself at Collinwood, giving new orders to Liz and keeping everyone well on task. Meanwhile, new guest, Paul Stoddard, knows he’s up to no good, and tries to recruit Maggie to help him. Roger arrives, shocked that Paul is being allowed to stay. Paul, thinking he’s chasing Alex out of his bedroom, instead encounters the breathing sound of a fully revealed Leviathan.

It’s impossible to watch this episode and not think of THE OMEN. Somewhere, Harvey Bernhard was taking notes. He just had to be. At the center is Alex, the new incarnation of the Jebspawn, played here by eight year-old, David Jay. Jay had a moderately active career as a child actor, but went on to other things as an adult. Because I remembered his performance in a troubling light, he was the chief reason I was dreading the episode. Well, either memory failed me or my tastes have changed. (And it’s a little too tempting to pick on child actors, as poor Jake Lloyd can attest.) Is his Carnegie Deli cheesecake-thick regional accent arguably unbecoming for the anti-Christ? Maybe, but when Marie Wallace is your foster mom, you’re going to pick up an accent. In retrospect, while it can be seen as absurd, it also gives him a cold-hearted toughness that a Tennessee twang couldn’t match. Maybe we were better off. Jay pulls off his main challenge, and that’s shifting from little boy to a strange, intimidating man in the space of a breath. When he gets down to the business of castigating Liz and demanding radios and portrait albums, he projects a confidence that rises above his years. Goofy-looking? Yes. Icy and disturbing? Yes. Especially in that way kids can be. I have always found young children to be disquieting and unpredictable. This episode captures the spirit of why. As a counterbalance, we see David and Roger at their warmest, and the presentation of that evolved relationship has made the past three years worthwhile and gives the heroes one more thing to fuel their fight. Another champ in this one is Kathryn Leigh Scott, who has to believe Paul even as he’s in a paranoid frenzy. She plays kindness and honest doubt with a wonderfully subtle mix that should not go unpraised.

On this day in 1969, Time Magazine unrolled an issue with an abstract statue of Raquel Welch to promote MYRA BRECKINRIDGE. I, however, have no issue with a statue of Raquel Welch.

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