Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: NOVEMBER 29


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 640

Amy and David continue trying to communicate with a temperamental Quentin, now via seance. Chris visits, and leaves Amy heartbroken with his reluctance to move her into his home. That night, after a date with Carolyn, Chris chains himself up and transforms into a werewolf, whereupon he returns to the Blue Whale and attacks the waitress upon whose forehead he saw a pentagram some time earlier. 

The Quentin and werewolf arc begins in earnest now that the Adam/Nicholas/Jeff material is out of the way. What follows is a set of storylines so tight and disciplined that they underline how lost-at-sea the show has felt since Dr. Lang’s death. Enjoyable? Of course. Well-characterized? Naturally. Confidently structured? Not so much. In this case, everything is geared toward highlighting the threat of the werewolf, tying him into Quentin, introducing that new character, and crafting a crisis so vast that it triggers a flashback which will last nearly a year. You can tell this early on, just by the way in which Amy and David’s experience with the ghost unfold. This is going someplace. Each visit to and from Quentin builds on the last. After just one episode, Quentin’s spectral wrath is mentioned, upping the stakes. On his introduction and origin, Barnabas was a victim, making the best out of a chain of catastrophes and coincidences. Quentin has had nearly a century to plan and wait. It reflects the writers, as well. With the Barnabas storyline, they were trying to capture the wild horse they’d accidentally loosed, keeping up with something that never should have worked. By this arc, they’ve built a colosseum. It is with a supreme confidence and command of the medium that this cocksure team of writers truly brings the show into its own.

So much of the sprawling tale to come will center back on a bachelor’s responsibility for children he can’t save. How appropriate that it begins in the smallest, warmest, most intimate way possible, with a bachelor unable to comfort the child in his life. Strange, poignant personal bookends on a rollicking story. Don Briscoe is a perfect choice to humanize this beginning. He and Denise Nickerson have a marvelous chemistry, and he adds a sincerity and heart to the show that no male lead on the show matches between the departure of Mitch Ryan and the arrival of David Selby. For a child performer, Nickerson plays existential pain like a Bergman regular, and her indecision and loneliness propel the other characters brilliantly.

The real star of 640 is the werewolf, making his DARK SHADOWS debut. A Byronic-looking take on Jack Pierce’s original makeup for Universal, this design combines the anthropomorphic relatability of Lawrence Talbot with a newer athleticism. Thank stunt coordinator, Alex Stevens, for that. It’s an impressive debut, complete with floating pentagrams and on-screen transformations, rounded out by a smashing entrance through the window of the Blue Whale. Stevens, who was Frank Sinatra’s body double, had to arrive at work at 4 a.m. to begin the transformation in Vincent Loscalzo’s chair. It was a lasting partnership throughout 1968, ‘69, and (18)97.

On this day in 1968, U.N.C.L.E. agent Mark Slate was unable to stop THRUSH from releasing John and Yoko’s album, TWO VIRGINS. 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...