Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JANUARY 2


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 664

Crystal’s body is delivered to Barnabas by Angelique, a woman fresh from Hell, and ready to settle down in the era to which she’s been sentenced by Diabolos. She’s there to save Vicki’s life, wanting only Barnabas’ allegiance in the bargain. With no time to fret, he agrees. However, at the execution, Victoria dies. Later, over her body, Angelique savors her plans to come.

This may be the most shocking episode in the arc. It changes both the tone and stakes of the DARK SHADOWS universe, and it does so with unusual atmosphere and economy. If DS were made for HBO in twelve-episode seasons, this is what it would feel like. Angelique retreads her blackmail toward Barnabas, and he has no more time to play Hamlet. Now, he’s Henry V. Her seemingly cruel twist at the end gives the show one of its truly shocking and most unexpected moments -- the hanging. Roger Davis really rises to the occasion with this one, balancing pathos and dignity with leading man aplomb. Lara Parker also seems to be having a ball, returning Angelique to her former powers. This story also demonstrates how fluid the rules of time would be for her, getting us ready for 1897. Interesting also is the chance to see the 1790’s sans Josette, with Vicki as the focus. I never really bought it until now, and Jonathan Frid completely sells the shift in affections that genuinely makes Victoria central to the action of this era.

Dan Curtis emerges in this episode as the most artistically daring of the DARK SHADOWS directors. Of course, it’s good to be the king. Never before (in color) have I seen an episode use candles and the suggested source lighting to create such mood and sense of the era. More than the costumes, Curtis’ lighting conveys the 1790’s with a rare verisimilitude. The make-up crew was ill-prepared for the shift. Frid’s shadow-and-highlighted Ben Nye cheekbones are really on parade, but it doesn’t matter. The atmosphere conquers all. Taking charge of his complete toolbox, his love of close-ups combined with a camera that often moves as it it were a prowling animal betrays the Alpha swagger and restlessness for which Curtis was famous.

On this day in 1969, Allan Sherman’s musical romp concerning his recent divorce opened on Broadway for a whopping four performances, despite starring the screen’s first James Bond, Barry Nelson. Sherman is best known for his album, “My Son, the Nut.”

Regards from Camp Grenada.

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