Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JANUARY 7


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 666

Ben stops Forbes from staking Barnabas, killing both him and the Countess in the process. In the present, Willie and Julia fret over how to draw Barnabas back to the present. In 1796, Barnabas helps Ben with disposing of Forbes and Natalie before being rechained in his coffin. Meanwhile, Willie’s trip to the mausoleum is fruitless. Later, however, the ghost of Josette implores Willie to return to the coffin. Barnabas materializes within, eager to escape.

The 1796 sequence ends with high adventure and some deeply satisfying moments, shifting back and forth between the past and the present. Seeing Nathan Forbes shoot Ben... only to have Ben shake it off like a an ineffectual mosquito bite... and come back swingin’?  THAT was fantastic enough for a week’s worth of episodes. But to have him induce a heart attack simply by looming over Natalie? Even better. Rarely has DARK SHADOWS cleaned house in quite that way, The 1790’s has been veddy, veddy good to the franchise and to audiences, and it’s nonetheless time to move on. If there were any real reason to do this sequence, it would be to close the lid on that, clean up the loose ends, and prepare the table for Uncle Quentin. 666 readies us for the insanity of 1897 by using the same kind of insanity to end 1796. We may still be at Collinwood, but the rules are wildly different.

Taking us full circle is the fabulous moment when John Karlen recreates his famous disentombing of Barnabas, and expectations have never been more skewed. Notable also is Grayson Hall’s turn as Julia. Standing in the cemetery, imploring the cosmos to return Barnabas, I am gobsmacked at how that character has changed from the hard-edged, empiricism-driven scientist we met back in 1967.

It’s been an interesting two years.

On this day in 1969, the WALKING DEAD’s Norman Reedus tore his way from his mother’s innards with a piercing shriek. So, happy birthday!

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