Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 5


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 644

Amy and David continue their quest through the east wing, finding antique clothes exactly their size while led by an old tune emerging from an unseen gramophone. Is Quentin summoning them? Perhaps he can’t leave. Meanwhile, Roger, Liz, and Carolyn, propelled by a dream from Magda and Jamison’s phantom signature on a mirror, begin searching for the children. In the east wing, David finds a hollow wall. Pushing beyond it, he is stunned at what he sees.

I’ve talked about repetition in soap operas before. Yes, it’s necessary for a number of reasons, but in the same episode? David repeats his reasoning about the hollow wall almost verbatim, two scenes in a row. Meanwhile, the search party discusses searching for David and Amy in the east wing over and over again and then talk themselves out of it. Despite this, 644 is a marvelous study in atmosphere that adores the scenic possibilities of their tiny studio, it feels as if it were written by Sy Tomashoff. I enjoy seeing the core family play Scooby Doo throughout their own home, with Roger coming off as surprisingly alpha in the quest. One of the subtle gems of the series is the evolving relationship between Roger and David. Two years before, Roger would have been burying David’s body in the east wing, personally.  A year later, Roger would have warmed toward David, merely praying that the boy were never found. But now? He’s leading the charge. From Carolyn’s nightmare to the redrummian writing of Jamison’s name in the mirror, the sense of dread extending from the past into the present is electric, and anticipates Quentin’s none-too-soon arrival. Compared with a new, tall, dark Collins, it’s easy to see why Adam/Angelique/Nicholas fell short of grabbing the golden muttonchops of public excitement. It’s easy to see why the ratings were skyrocketing. Today, Quentin’s theme was heard, at last. Portending an oncoming stranger from the past boded well for Barnabas. As with so many things involving Quentin and 1897, this is a both a reboot of Barnabas and 1795… and the opportunity to put the same wine in a new bottle after it’s fermented to a more powerful and confident brew. And by having Liz and Roger acknowledge Jamison as their father, the mythos grows with a relevance that the series has lacked since the days when Jason grew misty-eyed reminiscing about Paul’s love for Carolyn. This feels less like an episode and more like an easter egg, taking us through Collinwood’s hidden rooms on a private tour. And that’s a good thing.

On this date in 1968, holiday audiences “delighted” to Otto Preminger’s unwatchable acid epic, SKIDOO, featuring Groucho Marx as God in his last role. Meaning, Groucho’s last role.

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