Monday, January 8, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JANUARY 8


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 405

Barnabas arranges for Josette to be moved to a remote location where he will later join her. When Angelique discovers this, she goes predictably ape and tortures Sarah via a voodoo doll to prove that she still wears the pointy hat in the family. Barnabas has had all he can stands and can’t stands no more, and just shoots her. It’s a fatal shot, but it leaves her enough time to curse him with words that will later curse even her: anyone who loves him will die. Much like with Bruce Wayne, a bat smashes through his window and bites Barnabas on the neck.

Barnabas Collins is the Inspector Clouseau of the DARK SHADOWS universe… and I mean that as a high compliment. In true Punchinello style, he mixes abject, hand-wringing fear with a bravado that has no interest in reality. When he smirks, it’s almost inevitably a sign that he’s in for a fall. I said ‘almost.’ Because of this, his moments of victory have the indescribable sweetness of the astoundingly rare. In 405, however, there is no victory… only the worst defeat of his life. We can rely on Gordon Russell to deliver a script of nimble power play between Barnabas and Angelique, and Jonathan Frid plays the build-up as if he were wisely navigating between Noel Coward and Edward Albee. His mellow smugness with Angelique is the perfect and satisfying retort to months of extortion and abuse. Barnabas finally has this one by the tail. For a moment. Unfortunately, he’s still no great shakes as a duelist and has never heard of a head shot. Come to think of it, poison would have done the trick.

Frid’s downplayed haughtiness portends the fall to come beautifully. He rarely seems this confident, and the same can be said for Barnabas. No real line trouble, either. Hijinx and exposition are senseless bores to memorize. Characters in vital action have easy lines to remember. The other hero of the episode is Lara Parker, who crafts such a playful menace that she must be a reincarnated cat. It’s the only explanation for her complex approach to mixing fury and sadistic fun.

The real hero of the beach, however, is Bill Baird. The guy swings a mean bat. He gets Frid on the neck with uncanny precision. A noted puppeteer, Bill had a ripe career in his field. He was the author of the steamy tell-all, THE ART OF THE PUPPET, and and was honored in 1980 by the Union International de la Marionette and Puppeteers of America at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Bil Baird with his lion puppet, Charlemane.

On this day in 1968, Jaques Cousteau became the most prominent, French seaman on TV with the airing of his first special. Mickey Dolenz celebrated this by having his wife give birth to their daughter, Ami, on the very same day.

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